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Business & ICT Trends, Applied to Your Organisation

Next generation Cloud Computing companies…

Posted on August 7th, 2012 by TimClaes

Next Gen Cloud Computing companies

It only has been a year since I’ve written an article about cloud demystified. It seems like yesterday, but, boy, how much has changed since then!

1. From hosting companies to the big cloud providers.

In the past for many years multiple ‘hosting companies’ tried to launch IAAS, PAAS and/or SAAS concepts, but they never really succeeded. Security was typically the number 1 issue. But today, now that the big players (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, salesforce.com) have been promoting cloud computing for quite a while now, the adoption level to cloud has increased drastically amongst organizations and security no longer seems to be a showstopper. It still remains important and companies still ask questions about local law compliance; but there is an important shift in mentality: “other enterprise companies are doing it, so why shouldn’t we be doing it”. Mobility seems to become the main business driver instead. (So a positive attitude instead of a negative attitude)

2. From technology to business.

The big cloud providers reached a mature state. Offerings in infrastructure, platforms and business applications become common practice. Everyone is doing it. (Which is actually becoming a new challenge, which supplier is the best fit for your company?)

Over the last 2 years people start to understand that the impact of cloud computing isn’t technology. The real impact is about rethinking what is possible when you run your business in the cloud. It is about agility & innovation. A statement I like to use is a misinterpreted statement from Darwin: “It is not the strongest that survive, but the once most adaptive to change”.

3. A new kind of solution provider gains market share.

In the beginning you had ‘isolated’ cloud solution providers that positioned a cloud solution next to a set of on-premise solutions. E.g. salesforce.com implementation partners that were positioned against other CRM players. Or google apps partners that were positioned against other productivity platforms. The answer of many product vendors was to come up with on-line versions of their on-premise solutions. Traditional solution providers look at these players as just another solution provider.

But today you have ‘integrated’ cloud solution providers that start from a complete different angle than the traditional system integrators. They offer a broad range of cloud solutions and truely build a “cloud-powered business” for their customers. The concepts of cloudsourcing and serverless enterprise are introduced. This is much more disruptive for the traditional ICT market (professional services). They build solutions around the complete cloud adoption lifecycle. In the PLAN phase they create a cloud strategy together with the customer, in the BUILD phase they typically migrate application after application towards the cloud and integrate different cloud solutions with each other. They even offer help to the customer in the SUPPORT phase in managing their cloud. User adoption and customer centricity are central pillars in the complete approach.

These solution providers typically are less then 10 years old, have a complete different way of doing business with customers compared to traditional system integrators, and are gaining market share year after year. On top of that they typically partner only with true cloud providers such as Salesforce.com, Google and Amazon, less with the traditional product vendors (such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft…)

I’m curious how the traditional ICT implementation partners will react to these ‘integrated’ cloud solution providers as the cloud adoption will gain traction year over year. To be continued…

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Change management is much overrated

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by TimClaes

Change Management is much overrated… but oh so important!

 

1. Overrated…

When you start digging into ‘change management’ literature, you will find multiple theories and many complex models on how to deal with change. It almost looks like experts want you to be afraid to start kicking off change management programs yourself. So that you hire them to deliver expensive consultancy services. Why make it so complex?

2. But so important…

We all know – by nature – that people are resistent to change and that a change management process takes time during which people go through different states of mind. On the other hand I’m also a strong believer of the statement: “Change is the only constant”. So we better find a way to deal with change in an effective and efficient way. It is not the strongest that succeed, but the one most responsive to change.

3. In practice… 2 easy guidelines!

First of all… communicate. Always communicate in a transparent, concise and respectful way about the progress you’re making. Secondly communicate on a regular basis in a timely fashion. People understand that change could have an impact on their daily tasks, but not knowing what will be coming is the worst fear for all. So on a regular basis people need to get updated. Getting out the right message is often limited in time in order to get the right involvement of people.

In practice I typically use the following 2 pictures to help me with change management challenges. The first picture makes a distinction between willing to change and the ability to change. Primarily you need to focus in your communication on WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) before you start explaining how you will be able to learn the new way of working.

The second picture I like to use is a kind of detailed communication plan where I try to consolidate all the different communication touch points over time to different groups of people in 1 easy overview – typically in line with the implementation methodology you use within your organization.

 

 

This helps me to remember when I should be communicating what kind of information to which target groups of people. You should try it yourself. You will see it is quite easy to adjust to your own needs. So no more expensive external consultancy needed!

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OCO – Setting up a social db

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 by TimClaes

OCO – “Online Channel Optimization”

Today, enterprises expect Web Content management to provide measurable business benefits, not just to improve productivity. Thus – according to Gartner – enterprises have to replace older WCM applications that can’t meet the new demands. WCM achieves its greatest value as part of a wider strategy of online channel optimization – OCO – for maximizing the value of customer interactions across all channels.

Well, I couldn’t agree more, although I don’t understand why Gartner tries to put both WCM and OCO players in the same magic quadrant, because for me these are 2 different things. OCO is about orchestrating the customer touch points across multiple online channels, it is about making the dialogue relevant to the consumer and engaging no matter which online channel is used and it is about addressing the individual needs at the right time even if he is switching between channels to communicate with your organization.

So in order to make Online channel optimization – OCO – possible you should centralize all the consumer interactions in a social database, picking up all the ‘micro-decisions’ an online visitor leaves behind when he is navigating through the web. (e.g. which search words did he use to reach you, what were his clicks on your site, on which topics did he interact through social media…)

BlueConic - Customer Journey

A tool in the market that is possible to do this is BlueConic from GX software. Basically it continuously listens to all the online channels you want it to listen to (such as facebook, twitter, websites, splinternet, mobile apps, e-mail…) and it collects all the relevant information both from anonymous as from named users. The online profile information is stored in a social database. And now it becomes interesting, it allows the marketeer and/or the eBusiness manager to set up real-time dialogues that are personalized and orchestrated across all online customer touch points, based on the information from the social database.

You could look at this social database as an extension of a typical CRM database. To explain this I’ll use a picture from Peter Hinssen from his book “Digital is the new normal”.

Customer Engagement Management

CRM is becoming more and more a ‘middleware’ solution allowing you to store all the ‘macro-decisions’ of a customer (e.g. orders, complaints, sales visit reports…). CRM could be considered as the hub between all the front-end channels and the rest of your organization to deliver end-to-end integration. At the same time CRM allows you to store all the relevant customer information. This customer information can be used by any front-end channel to allow cross channel consistency. It is there that a social database comes in – to allow cross channel consistency – on a ‘micro’ level instead of only on a ‘macro’ level, as visually explained in the next picture from BlueConic.

micro & macro decisions - CEM

So a CRM solution, extended with a social database, is capable to capture all relevant customer information, both on a micro-level as on a macro-level, giving you insights in both the CRM profile as the online profile. This will become key for organisations to establish efficient OCO programs in order to get true Customer Engagement Management in place.

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Closed Loop Marketing… Old wine in new barrels?

Posted on December 19th, 2011 by TimClaes

Closed Loop Marketing… Old wine in new barrels?

Closed Loop Marketing is a definition that is around for decades. That’s not so new to blog about, so what is? Will this post be about old wine that is ”packaged” in new barrels? Not really. Basically I will be using the same old definition – Closed Loop Marketing – but illustrate that the content is potentially changed. So a better question would be… New wine in old barrels?

According to Gartner, CIOs will have lost effective control of 25 percent of their organization’s IT spending by 2014, and by 2017, chief marketing officers may have a bigger IT budget than CIOs do. And that is exactly what I want to talk about!

The CMO strategic agenda is about automating Closed Loop Marketing. 88% of best-in-class companies use Closed Loop Marketing where as only 43% of industry average performing organizations use it. (study of Aberdeen group) The 2 primary strategies are developing and maintaining a marketing database and automating Closed Loop Marketing with technology.

And the best-in-class technologies for Closed Loop Marketing are evolving fast, too fast to be able to follow adequately.

On the other hand Closed Loop Marketing can no longer survive without information technology. So as marketeer you should be able to deal with this new content for Closed Loop Marketing. Two take-aways are important for you in this new digital age:

1. Always go for an integrated sales and marketing database. You first need to have the basics in place before moving on. ROMI is an important parameter to convince non-believers in your organization.

2. Choose for the right mix of technologies. Don’t always go for the niche players, only when they fit into your overall Marketing technology landscape and your overall Customer Engagement Management strategy. Because before you know it, you’ll no longer have an integrated overview of what’s going on. On the other hand invest in technologies that make a difference, don’t always take the cheapest solution. The devil is in the details.

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