Archive for April, 2011

The digital paradox: 5 questions to address

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

We identified in our last blog that CEO’s face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to new digital technologies and adopt social media but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability?

Good inter-departmental collaboration is crucial, and we addressed how social media strategy shared across a company can act as a catalyst for change and engagement. Another more critical problem that organizations have to wrestle with is that their resources have been stretched thinly as the severe economic conditions of the last three years have forced them to focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Processes and systems have been tightened at the same time that personnel has been slashed, resulting in fewer people having to take on more.

The crisis occurs when these fully stretched, 100% loaded systems need to be fundamentally changed in order to adapt to new business model requirements brought about by the digital economy. It’s one thing to introduce a new system but if you don’t have the time and resources to provide the training and support to upgrade and develop necessary staff skills and knowledge, the business will likely implode.

No one is saying that this change is easy but it’s possible to plan and manage this transition effectively with forethought and assistance from external expertise. The key is for companies to have a clear vision and game plan that they can share, communicate and implement internally in order to be able to make this transition run smoothly.

The following are 5 initial questions that you should be asking as you consider embracing digital technologies and adopting a social media strategy for your business:

1. Is your organization structured to engage your customer base and respond proactively to your customers, or will it be you who has to react?
2. Do you have policies to guide & enable your staff to interact, monitor and evolve the message that you want delivered with social media?
3. Will your new digital business strategy and IT systems be architected to allow Marketing to have flexible best-of-breed tools, and at the same time enable integration into existing information solutions that ensure secure data storage?
4. What process will you use to capture ideas from social media , incubate them and determine future strategies?
5. What training & support will you provide your workforce to be better able to listen, analyze and use the information gathered, and at the same time cope with this change?

By considering these questions and having a strong game plan in place when embracing digital technology, it will mean reduced overload and more efficiency for your workforce, as well as more flexibility and adaptability for your organization. Once you involve your staff in the process, show them how simply the end result can be achieved and the benefits to both themselves and the company as a whole, they will be more willing to participate in helping you achieve this goal.

The ultimate outcome of these questions and decisions will be a transformation strategy to move the existing one dimensional business model into the multidimensional digital world in order to take advantage of the opportunities enabled by convergence technologies. Would you like a better understanding of these opportunities or do you need help addressing the challenges associated with this digital transformation? We’d be happy to assist you – just contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

IT and Marketing – why is collaboration key to digital survival?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

In many businesses there is a raging distrust between IT and Marketing, resulting in a lack of communication between the two functions. As a CEO or business owner, you should be asking: why is this and what can we do about it?

The converged digital marketing channels (television, radio, Internet, mobile platforms, social media) mean that marketing strategies not only have to be cross-channel, they have to be deployed rapidly to keep up with competition and the demands of Digital Life consumers. Decades old marketing approaches to measuring, testing and analyzing such aspects as direct mail and telemarketing have to adjust to the reality that social media plays across multiple channels, as companies now have the ability to interact directly with their customers in real time.

At the same time, due to the growth of cloud computing, there has also been a pronounced shift in the IT landscape. IT professionals are now having to move away from their traditional role of standalone systems, largely servicing finance and supply chain functions, to focus on more integrated and optimized service provision for the entire business, using both internal and cloud sources. Their challenge is to manage the highly complex data that’s being generated by each element of the business, and to integrate it into user-friendly and flexible solutions to drive the business in real time. This involves a holistic understanding of all the digital components, requirements and strategies of the business, as well as the opportunities for using external services to deliver capabilities beyond those of traditional marketing departments.

It was reported in “Information Week” that nearly 2/3 of marketers said they had problems with implementing marketing software; the number one reason given was the low priority that IT gives to the marketing function. It seems that many marketers would prefer to deal with outside marketing specialists than intimidating IT departments! Very often marketing doesn’t consult with IT when selecting marketing software. Marketers don’t think that the CIO understands their objectives, and as a result many prefer for a third party to manage and analyze data for them.

Back to the CEO’s of companies – they face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to and adopt these new technologies but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability? At KeySo Global, our research and experience has convinced us that the secret to success lies in breaking down the barriers and fostering better collaboration between all departments within an organization. Even more significantly, companies will be better able to respond to their customers’ needs as identified via social media; it’s almost impossible to orchestrate an effective response when departments become silos, and refuse to share information.

An effective accelerated approach is to encourage Marketing and IT to create a joint plan for social media that embraces the new emerging digital technologies, and to hold them jointly responsible to share and communicate their plan with the entire organization. They may need some facilitated help initially to achieve this goal but having a coordinated inter-departmental plan will become essential; particularly since the next major impact of digital technology on business will be the deployment of mobile technologies and eCommerce across the enterprise as a whole.

The next two years will be a very exciting time for many companies, and those that approach the challenges collaboratively will see greater and more rapid benefits; those that don’t will face some very tough issues and difficult decisions. As a business owner or CEO, it’s going to become crucial that you have a better understanding of the impact that digital technologies will have on your business, and we would be pleased to advise you on options and solutions that we at KeySo Global can help you with. Don’t hesitate to contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 for an initial discussion and assessment. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

How smart perspectives can reveal untapped opportunities

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the development of smart cities around the world that are taking advantage of emerging technologies to better manage scare resources. In a recent Fast Company article on water, this exact same trend was highlighted but it also reinforced another major theme that we at KeySo Global are passionate about, namely reframing perspectives.

Water is a resource that, in the developed world, is in plentiful supply and therefore tends to be taken for granted. We get up in the morning, head to the bathroom, run the shower, flush the toilet, make tea, brush our teeth, grab a bottle of water on our way out of the door and think nothing of it.

Those businesses that rely on water for their manufacturing processes, however, and take the economic value of water more seriously, are starting to think about and use it differently. One example given in this article is of a wool washing company in one of the driest areas of Australia. It became so concerned about the volume and cost of the expensive mains water it was using for its processes, that it came across the idea of using storm water that the town had been siphoning away instead, and for 2/3 of the price. Necessity spurred this company to look outside its traditional supply chain boundaries and, as a result, a new type of water utility was developed that benefitted both business and local government.

IBM not only talks about designing and building the smart planet, it has gone one step further and has seized Digital World opportunities with both hands! By changing the way it perceived itself – as not just a computing company – and adopting a more flexible and innovative business model, IBM has been able to create a new lucrative business – around water.

At its microchip plant in Burlington, IBM uses ultrapure water to produce semiconductors. Its monthly water bill for this amounts to $100,000. Wanting to find a way to use less water and use it more smartly, IBM took a step back and looked at the water cycle as a whole. It refined its processes and made them more efficient, so that between 2000 and 2009 the Burlington plant managed to cut its water usage by 29%.

Recognizing that water isn’t “smart” (most meters are still read manually) and that it’s crucial that it be better managed, IBM plans to take innovation to the next level – into Digital Life – by introducing a new age of “smart water”. Water sensors connected to computers that can analyze an individual household’s water consumption will mean that, in future, consumers will have a better understanding and appreciation of this valuable resource.

These examples of both a global multinational and a small backwoods company rethinking their existing processes, assumptions and methods are indicative of the necessity in these rapidly changing times to look beyond the confines of your traditional business models. Sometimes, if an urgent need doesn’t prompt this change of thinking, then an external perspective based on new insights can act as the trigger. It’s then that you can discover untapped opportunities afforded by Digital World technologies that are very often right there for the taking – you may just need help identifying them. We would be delighted to assist you with this nudge into the digital world. Just give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC