Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

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
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 Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Nokia and Microsoft – A window to heaven or 7 years bad luck?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

In January at CES (the Consumer Electronic’s Show in Las Vegas) CNBC’s star reporter “Money Honey” Maria Bartiromo asked Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer “What are you going to do with your $50 billion of cash? Are you going to buy Nokia or RIM?” Ballmer, of course, refused to comment. The consensus is, however, that Microsoft’s options for succeeding in the smartphone market are declining rapidly.

This week there is news that Stephen Elop, Nokia’s new CEO, has determined he and the company are on a “burning platform” and tomorrow is likely to announce a restructure of Nokia’s executive board, making it less Finnish; but more significantly, he is looking to make the company more successful, specifically in North America. Additionally, he is reportedly looking for a new head of operating systems, as well as a new head of research and development with strong software capability. This reorganization will be a major shakeup for Nokia. The question is (as was pointed out in a previous blog) will this consensus driven company that historically succeeded because of continuity of leadership make this transition, not only in strategy but culture as well?

Is this a marriage of convenience or desperation? Both Microsoft and Nokia are struggling in the smartphone arena, particularly in North America, where the latest Comshare subscriber data shows that Nokia has only 7.0% of the overall subscriber base and has no presence in the smartphone platform market. Microsoft is also desperately hanging on to 8.4% of Smartphone platform subscribers; this is compared to RIM that slipped to 31% under pressure from a rapidly accelerating Android and a solid Apple performance.

The scene is certainly set for some bold moves from a market share and business survival perspective, and this leads me to think about the outcome of potential acquisition activity. In reality the key question that should be asked is not “what are you buying?” but “what would the purchase develop into? “

The real issue is not about the strategic benefits and opportunities of such a merger, but whether or not the cultures of the companies can be positively blended. Does Steve Ballmer, in cooperation with ex Microsoft exec Steve Elop, have the stamina and fortitude to work with the Finn’s, where collaboration is more than just a word – it’s a national, cultural and management style? This culture is totally unlike most American “command and control” multinationals, and certainly nothing like Microsoft.

The probability is that tomorrow Stephen Elop will announce a close partnership with Microsoft on Windows 7 and next generation smart device operating systems. This will allow both companies to gain experience of each other, similar to an engagement. The final outcome of this is experimentation and open to speculation, but the reality is that, together or apart, the 2 companies are unlikely to be the dominant forces they were or currently are.

Contact us at KeySo Global if you’re interested in learning about the implications of digital life trends on your business. Call us at +1 847-478-1633 or go to our website at