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Business & ICT Trends, Applied to Your Organisation

2 kinds of private social networks

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by TimClaes

Private social networks – To be or not to be?


Social media is a powerful way to communicate with your peers, your friends, your customers… But how do you determine who to follow on twitter? Or how do you decide with whom to connect on facebook? And what about the linked in groups, which are the interesting ones? So basically where will you find the people you are truely looking for and how will you limit the overflow of incoming information.

And that is where the private social networks come in. In my opinion you actually have 2 kinds of possible private social networks.

1. An organization-wide private social network


Within 1 organization you set-up a social network, making use of tools like “Yammer” for instance, giving people within your organization the possibility to connect and to follow each other. In many occasions however this results into a platform for union talk, internal complaints and useless information. However if some ground rules are set up right from the start, it can be very helpful in your organization. I added 7 tips for you which I found on the web myself and have proven for me to be very useful in the field.

private social networks

 Tip #1: Set standards for Yammer profiles. Require real pictures of real people and insist on employees using their real names. Don’t do, as some people do, name your profile “Wonder Man.”

Tip #2: Create rules for messages on the site, the most obvious of which is: Company business only please. I’ll go further—practice Refrigerator Journalism by posting tips and information that is so helpful to colleagues, so practical and immediately useful, that in the pre-online days they would have tacked it to their refrigerators.

Tip #3: Yammer allows groups. Define what constitutes a group or you’ll see rapid proliferation. Within some companies, new groups sprung up under the titles: Editorial, conference division and The Millennial Mafia. 

Tip #4: Make sure you list your skills in your profile, yes, even if you’re a small company. This is huge help for new employees.

Tip #5: Think before you send a message. No one wants to hear about that bar fight last Friday night or your most recent blind date.

Tip #6: Like all social media tools, Yammer allows you to share links to useful articles relevant to your group or to employees companywide. No dancing panda videos from YouTube, please.

Tip #7: It’s OK to post questions—indeed, this may end up being the most efficient way for remote workers to get answers quickly—but remember the Golden Rule of social media: Return the favor by lending your expertise by answering queries from your colleagues.

2. Community private social networks


The key word here is the community. Anything that connects people together through a similar interest. I recently learned for instance that Toyota launches a social network for all toyota owners. You can think of any kind of community building here: politics, associations, big families, lawyers, doctors, patients… you name it and I’m sure you will find it somewhere on the internet. And if you don’t find it, you can build a private social network for free by using tools like “social go” for instance.

private social networks

But what are the chances of survival of these kinds of private social networks? Everything starts with setting up some ground rules as well and strict regulations on the content that can appear on these private social networks. The communities are brought together through their interest or their job, so the content in this private social network should go about that, and nothing else. The more you have the possibility to uniquely identify the persons, the better your chances are that the private social network will work.

I’m curious what the future will bring in this area. I believe we still have some exciting times ahead of us…


First who, then what – It’s all about people!


No matter which initiative you want to start within your organization (or across organizations for that matter) first gather the people around you and only then start discussing the content. Because in the end it is all about people! And more especially about individuals that make a difference.

Each business and ICT Trend you want to apply to your organization needs to be carried out by people who believe in it, that are able to deliver it and that are actively supported by your organization.

But how do you recognize someone is fit for the job?

Three rules of thumb you can apply:

1. Listen to the passion of the person. How eager is the individual to be part of the plan? Is he ‘begging’ for it, or is he thinking in conditional terms and “only if… then…” scenario’s. Everyone has a passion and has a talent. The art however is to un-cover these talents with your people and to bring them to their full potential. But sometimes people are also still trying to find out for themselves what their talents really are. And it is not always that easy – as a manager – to guide a person in this “self-assessment”. It tells a lot about people, and also about their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Does the passion of the person fit with your mission statement, but more importantly with the mindset of your organization/department? Where do you stand for? What kind of people do you want to attract? Who do you want to put in the spotlights? What makes your organization special? Or how do you want to be perceived in the market?

3. The basic competences must be in place. Typically each organization has its own set of core values or has a ’credo’ that describes what is of high value for them. Some examples are: Respect, teamplay, action oriented, professionalism, professional courtesy, … 

So don’t start off initiatives with people who do not fit with these 3 rules of thumb, because sooner or later issues will arise. Sometimes it is better to let the best persons go, because in the long run they will withhold the growth of your organization.


Will social media stimulate open innovation?

Posted on May 30th, 2011 by TimClaes

When will social media finally boost open innovation initiatives?


1. Importance of innovation


I strongly believe in the statement “It is not the strongest that survive, but the ones most responsive to change“, also in a business context. Having said that, innovation is one way of bringing change in the organization. As such innovation becomes an important part of any business strategy, especially open innovation.

2. How to integrate innovation into your organization?


In order for innovation to become truely an integrated part of your organization it needs to be part of your culture, only then you will be able to deliver continuous business innovation. This is easier said then done. A lot of change management needs to be done, but at the same time you – as an organization – need to make clear what you stand for, not only by your mission statement, but also by your mission mindset. What do you believe – as an organization – are your core values and why should your employees be willing to work for your organization/department?

3. Moving to open innovation


And if you take it one step further and start to innovate, not only across departments, but also across multiple organizations, you can start talking about open innovation. It truely opens a whole new world of possibilities. Sharing ideas and talking to people in other industries. Never expected this could be so exciting until I’ve met Jef Staes and the Engine of Innovation Academy. (thanks, Jef!)

4. Social media as accelerator?


But how can you share ideas with people from other organizations? How do you get connected to these people of other industries? This is where the current social media tools come in the play. All the technologies are in place to make this happen: twitter, linkedin groups, facebook, … you name it. But until now I see these social media tools as “one-off” information sharing environments and less as “interactive” information building environments. And this is what you really need when you want to start open innovation initiatives. So we still have a way to go… but that’s ok, we will get there!


3 key roles in any BICC

Posted on May 27th, 2011 by TimClaes

Roles & responsibilities in a BICC


Due to your major interest in one of the previous blogposts “Setting up a BICC” and because of all your comments, let me go a bit more in detail in 3 key roles that should be present in any BICC (Business Intelligence Competence Center). Although it will sound evident what I’m going to tell you when setting up a BICC, in practice I see too many companies fail in accomplishing this. And this is typically for 1 simple reason, you continue to do what you have been doing in the past with the same people but under a different name, no matter what the competences and the skills are of these people. So if it was not working before, why would it be working this time? A very big mistake, in my opinion!

I’m not saying it is not possible to do this with the same people, but it will require a large change in their way of working. You need to be aware of that.

1. BI Program manager


The first critical role in the BICC is the BI Program manager.  The BI Program manager role has mainly two big functions: the first one is to manage the BICC itself. He must coordinate the work within the team acting as a bridge between all its members especially in the case of a virtual BICC. He must check that the procedures and standards defined within the BICC are properly used. He will also define the priorities of the projects (in close harmony with the governance body) and make sure of their alignment with the corporate strategy and the business requirements. Finally, he must define and measure the performance indicators of the BICC in order to be able to report the success of the BI strategy and the performance of the BICC.

 The second one is to insure the promotion and the positioning of the BICC within the organisation. He must promote the usage of the BICC and of the BI & CPM tools within the organization by convincing the high management and the different departments/divisions of the benefits they can get from it. He must also make sure that there is no BI, nor CPM initiative taken outside of the BICC. Finally, he will also negotiate the funding and the necessary service levels.

In order to do so this person should be a politically savvy person, understanding the ins and outs from the organization, both from a business point of view as from a supporting processes point of view.

 This role is part of the core roles, it might even be considered as thé key role which determines the success of the BICC initiative. His capacity to staff and to drive the people within the BICC but also his capacity to promote the usage of the BI & CPM tools within the organisation will determine the success of failure of the BICC.

2. Solution architect


The solution architect is the second critical role within the BICC. And typically he will act as the right hand of the BI Program manager, internally focused (=inside BICC), where the BI Program manager is mostly externally focused (=outside BICC). He will be in charge for the complete design of the corporate data warehouse and make sure that the technical setup of the implemented solutions are correct. He should have a very deep knowledge of the BI & CPM concepts and technologies used in order to advice the project team on any threat or issue that might undermine the success of the project. He will be in charge of the daily operational project management. (sometimes this is handed over to the BI Program manager, if time allows)

The solution architect will have to work with technical specialists in subject areas like data warehousing, data integration and BI & CPM tools. He needs to provide assistance to the overall team on technical matters and will coordinate the technical testing phases. The solution architect will also advise which technology (star schemas, cubes …) to use driven by the business requirements. Finally, the solution architect is accountable for the overall quality assurance of the architecture and its correct usage. Here the solution architect also needs to take into account the future BI roadmap.

3. Business Analyst


The role of the business analyst is to be the interface between the end customers of the BICC and the different services providers. His role is to collect the needs and requirements from the business units and to translate them into components to be implemented. His role is also to make sure that both business and IT understand each other meaning that the business understands and accepts the constraints of IT and in the opposite way that IT understands that the business might change so they need to be flexible and to build flexible solutions.

He will be responsible for the requirement analysis and will also work with source application owners to refine the business requirements. Finally he will assist in the user acceptance testing phases. (In comparison with a source application owner, a business analyst has insight across many areas, where as a source application owner typically has in-depth insight in one area only.) In order to do so the business analyst needs very good communication skills and should be able to facilitate workshops in a productive matter.

In his role of representative of the business in the BICC day to day matters, the business analyst is also a core role within the BICC.


The High Performance Workplace in practice

Posted on May 24th, 2011 by TimClaes

High Performance Workplace – HPW?


People are your most important asset. Without your people you could not be running a business. In an organization you need all kind of people. You need different talents, different compentences and multiple skills. So it should be only normal that you create a working environment that fulfills the needs of each individual in your organisation. This is what they call a high performance workplace!

You put your employee as central pivot point in your workplace, instead of the other way around. You build your processes, methods, technologies around this concept. You also need to respect that each employee is a little bit different in their way of working and your processes, methods & technologies should be able to deal with this. The people are leading the processes, the processes no longer dictate the people. Also the book from Vineet Nayar, CEO HCL Technologies, “Employees first, Customers second: Turning conventional management upside down” illustrates multiple aspects in this area.

Now this sounds all very nice, but what does it mean in practice? In order to explain this I typically use the following figure.

High Performance Workplace

As a person you need to be able to do a lot of things at your workplace, on one hand you need to work with information, both structured – stored in CRM or ERP systems for instance – and unstructured – such as documents, e-mails… On the other hand you will split up your day in activities, both planned activities and unplanned activities.

Based on those two axes you have a scala of instruments that support the end user in their work, so it becomes a true productivity platform. The difficulty (or the challenge) is that you need to make this work by integrating all these tools together, so you need knowledge in all these areas to make sure that you are making the right decisions.


The potential of Location Intelligence

Posted on May 19th, 2011 by TimClaes

Location Intelligence?

At first sight you probably think of this as a niche solution for your business, with lots of ”nice-to-have” features, but with low priority for running the core of your business.

But if you start thinking about this in more detail, location could be an important extra dimension to consider when analyzing your data and could (or better said ’should’) influence your core decision processes. Address information is all over the place in your organization: customer data, account data, employee data, production sites information, facility management… Nevertheless organizations do so little with this.

If you’re lucky, location intelligence is already used in your organization by a single department (e.g. marketing –> for geomarketing, site selection, routing… purposes) using an isolated approach, but until now it is rarely integrated enterprise wide. However lately I see some movements in this area, where location intelligence is integrated in the complete enterprise architecture of organizations, where location intelligence gets integrated into Master Data management initiatives. I can only support this, because in the end it is not all that complex to set up. So with a minimal amount of extra effort, you can realize a lot of quick wins.

What needs to happen? First of all the address information needs to be geocoded, basically this means that you are going to attach an X and Y coordinate to the address information. (and in some cases – for 3D purposes – a Z coordinate) Simple services exist in the market who can support you on that. Doing so enables you already to visualize this information on the map (e.g. Google maps, Bing maps…) This is typically free of charge and we call them Map Viewers.

But you can also take it one step further for analysis purposes, where you will divide the map into polygons, representing either company specific information (e.g. sales territories) and/or geographic specific information (e.g. counties boundaries, cities…) These polygons will be stored in what they call a spatial database (SQL spatial, Oracle spatial) This information can be set up internally or can be bought. Typically you will buy the geographic specific information and build your own organization specific information starting from the geographic specific information.

And now it becomes really interesting because you can start building thematic maps, providing real-time business insights. It can show all kinds of information linked to address information (e.g. income of people, travel time to site, number of visits, interests of customer…) and doing calculations against the chosen polygons. For doing these kind of things, specialized tools exist in the market to support you, we call them Map Analyzers. You should look at this as an extension to your BI environment, offering you real-time information, combining different sources. Towards the end users easy web access exist and often integration possibililties exist  with your other information systems such as ERP, BI and/or CRM.

As such location intelligence can become part as a service in your organization (in line with a service oriented architecture), enabling anyone to use the location dimension as extra dimension to analyze information and to make the right decisions, at the right moment in time.


Business ICT Alignment… a topic with many angles. So thé key in this blogpost is the statement: “How to get more out of what you already have?” Especially from an ICT point of view.

As your organization most probably has invested quite a lot of money and time on this topic; you are not interested in how the ideal world would look like, but you’re more interested in how you can re-use your current investments to a maximum? You are interested in an APPLIED business & ICT alignment… applicable to your organisation.

As CIO/ICT director you are typically confronted with 2 types of high level questions:

  1. How can you optimize your current way of working and be as cost effective as possible? –> AS IS
  2. Where do you want to move to over the coming years to create an optimal business driven IT architecture? And what are your concrete action plans to make it happen? –> TO BE


Using a more abstract terminology to say the same thing would be using the term ‘Enterprise Architecture’. When people talk about setting up the enterprise architecture of an organization they basically try to answer the above 2 questions. It is not my intention however to start here a theoretical discussion about this buzz word. (I’ve been there and believe me I sometimes think enterprise architects keep this term so complex on purpose.)

No, I just want to assist you in breaking the above 2 questions down in more manageable chuncks, so that you can really apply business ICT alignment to your organization, starting with what you have in place and moving from there. In order to do so I simply make use of 1 easy drawing, which I call the ‘Unified Integration’ helicopter view.

Unified Integration

You need to look at the business ICT alignment from 8 different angles, and each time identify the AS IS situation and describe the ideal TO BE situation:

  • from a business process point of view: BPMS
  • from a governance point of view: SOA
  • from a proces integration point of view: EAI, User Interface Integration
  • from a data integration point of view: Data Quality, Master Data Management, Enterprise Data Integration
  • from a security point of view: Identity and Access Management


By doing so you can really identify the blind spots in your current architecture and you can carefully plan the TO BE architecture without jeopardizing the good investments already made so far. At the same time you can also identify multiple quick wins by simply starting to optimize your existing components in your current architecture. You will see that you’re getting more out of what you already have in place!


IPM Demystified

Posted on May 13th, 2011 by TimClaes

IPM – Infrastructure Planning & Management

Unknown by many, feared by some (typically by people who don’t know enough about it), but oh so important to have under control in your organization, especially towards the utilities & telecom sector  (gas, water, electricity, mobile, TV, …) and the (public) transportation sector (trains, busses, airplanes, …), but not exclusively. Also in other sectors you have plants, buildings, other important assests you want (and need) to stay on top of.

Aging workforces is a fenomenon that you need to deal with more and more nowadays, especially in the area of enterprise asset management/facility management/maintenance & infrastucture management. 20 years ago you had enough with the Autocad drawings and with the knowledge of the people on the floor, but due to cost reductions, more complex environments and work pressure it is no longer possible to keep everything in the heads of people. And on top of that the few people who were having all the knowledge are going on pension leave.

Aging infrastructure is the second fenomenon that is popping up more and more. Are you aware that you can be held responsible as an organization if accidents happen due to old and not well maintained infrastucture material? Based on my experiences it is actually pretty scary how many organizations don’t have the possibility to monitor this adequatly, and don’t have any records available about the age and the ideal renewal dates of material. And certainly in combination with the first fenomenon.

As such Building information modeling (BIM) become more and more important. BIM is not about the Autocad drawings itself but it is about storing the relevant information into a database with the objective to really manage the information. All possible relevant information about the used material is kept in the database. If it is stored in a spatial database you are also able to store the location of the material, allowing you to use location intelligence to combine the impact of different materials to one another. (e.g. if a certain cable is cut, what is then the influence on the rest of the infrastructure, based on the location relationships). The location can be kept in x,y coördinates (2D-model) or in x,y,z coördinates (3D models). (Also address information can be stored accordingly by geocoding the addresses)

And this needs to happen for the full infrastructure life cycle – IPM – from Infrastructure Planning to Management. Today all the infrastructure phases are typically dealt with seperately using seperate tools:

  • Planning
  • Conceptual design
  • Detailed design
  • Construction
  • Management

Needless to say that this results into a very chaotic mess – even if you use seperate databases per phase. It is impossible to still make the right decisions at the right time as you don’t have all the relevant information at hand. Especially if you know that many of these “projects” take multiple years to be accomplished, what makes it extra difficult to remember everything over time.

As such IPM  allows you to create a unique topology across the lifecycle of the infrastructure for your entire organization, linking many different departments together, allowing people to start from the same master data, to do simulations, to create new schedules, to start new infrastructure projects , etc. Then IPM truely becomes an important integrated part of your complete enterprise architecture an no longer sits at the sideline in the hands of the few GIS engineers.

A last interesting remark is the possibility to set up Digital Cities using IPM, running all kinds of 3D simulations, like you see in the movies.


CEM evolving to xEM?

Posted on May 9th, 2011 by TimClaes

Topic of the week – The Power of Customer Engagement Management (3rd article)

CEM evolving to xEM? What the hell is going on? Let me try to explain.

In the last 2 blog posts about Customer Engagement management we discussed already about customer experience, customer behavior and to follow the customer journey. But who is our customer actually? The best way to illustrate this, is by taking a closer look at xRM. But in order to do so, let’s first start with the basics: CRM, where xRM is an extension from.

1. CRM – CEM

CRM is much more than sales force automation, it also deals with service management and closed loop marketing. CRM is a way of doing business with your customer through any kind of front-end channel. In practice you see many links with Web Content management systems and information is typically stored in a customer datawarehouse in order to deliver progressive insights on the customer behavior. So the link between CRM and Customer Engagement Management, our topic of the week,  is obvious.

2. CRM -> xRM

So now let’s tackle the xRM question. Instead of only focusing on the classic customer, you can extend your scope to any kind of person you want to track/keep information on. E.g. Employee relationship management (ERM), Partner relationship management (PRM), citizen relationship management, student relationship management, prisoner relationship management, … But what is xRM then all about in practice? This means that a typical CRM solution can be used for any line of business. The CRM solution is used as a RAD (Rapid Application Development) environment to quickly fulfill all your specific business requirements. You will typically start from a standard CRM solution, with lots of standard functionalities that are similar to any kind of person (whether it is a classic customer or not – e.g. activity management, relationships between contact, address information, …) and then you start to tailor the rest of the functionalities to the specific needs of your organisation. This is called an xRM platform.

xRM Platform

3. CEM -> xEM

In parallel to the statement customer behavior becomes more and more important to engage ‘the customer’ (CEM – Customer Engagement management), you could extend the scope to ‘any kind of person’ and start talking about xEM, where the engagement of ‘the person’ becomes a central pivotpoint as it would be in your xRM strategy.


The evolution from WCM to WEM

Posted on May 6th, 2011 by TimClaes

Topic of the week – The Power of Customer Engagement Management (2nd article)

We already briefly discussed the idea behind Customer Engagement Management in my last blogpost with a clear focus on customer behavior and actively following the customer journey. This is indeed a very hot trend that needs closer attention, on the other hand the scope and the impact of CEM on your organisation is enormeous. So it is a good idea you first narrow it down to WEM – Web Engagement Management. Let’s first try to walk before you start running.

The principles behind WEM are the same as CEM, you need to focus on the customer behavior and you need to follow the customer journey. However the scope is limited to your website(s) and/or webplatform. This allows you to experiment in a more controlled environment, only with your on-line channel.

Let’s start with the ABC of Web Content Management. In the early days this was enough – Authoring, Branding & Control. By doing so you established an online presence – either static or dynamic. However today these are simply the basics to start building upon. And if you stop here, you will create the opposite effect towards your (potential) customers. We call this the “INFORMATION” building block.

So today you also need to focus on content optimization - pushing the right information at the right time to the right customer (sounds familiar, right?) and really embrace the web strategy as an integrated part of your business strategy. You really need to show what you càn, specific to the needs of the customer, by publishing white papers, blogs, customer cases, … You need to build that trust relationship and get the customer engaged. We call this the “EXPERTISE” building block. In WEM you can accomplish the content optimization by using techniques like progressive profiling, personalization, dynamic segmentation & targeting.

These regular expertise updates will result into extra traffic generation and in the end the on-line conversion ratio will increase. Whatever this last may mean for your organisation, it simply depends on your objectives in the first place (e.g. increase loyalty, convert prospect into customers, increase number of named users, …)

If you then also start to include the third building block, the “DIALOGUE” building block, by using the different social media possibilities, by allowing people to comment on articles or by facilitating forums, the interaction with the customer is complete and you are truely mastering the in’s and out’s of Web Engagement Management.


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