simple processes

Simplify. But Never Oversimplify.

Tag Archives: Innovation

CEMEX’s Innovation Through Collaboration

4

 

“Self-organization, the most recent technology-fueled transformation. It’s employing technology to let people interact as they wish, with few or no workflows, rules, or hierarchy, then harvesting the good results that emerges.” – Andrew McAfee

Recently CEMEX was selected to participate in the Forrester Groundswell Awards for innovation in social media among employees. Learn more about what CEMEX is doing to leverage social tools for collaboration and its enabling platform called Shift. Participate in the Forrester Groundswell discussion online where you can vote, comment and learn more about Shift. 

CEMEX has embraced this Collaborative Revolution. It shows the commitment of the company to continue innovating for its customers. It demonstrates how it values collaboration without boundaries. CEMEX has joined the Collaboration Revolution by introducing an internal collaboration platform called Shift, designed to innovate and help make the company more efficient and agile by letting employees or groups of employees with similar objectives share opinions, thoughts, information, experience, knowledge and best practices. Since its launch more than 200 communities have been created and employees are sharing best practices across all operative units. The collaboration platform is also helping CEMEX to create new value propositions in order to maintain and improve the company’s competitive edge.

There are over a billion users of social media sites on the Internet. Between Facebook and Twitter alone there are more than to 700 million unique user accounts. Companies have stepped up to leverage these new social tools to enable self organization teams in the business with the objective of encouraging more collaboration, information sharing and innovation. One of the defining principles of social media is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together in a project. These new collaborative tools are designed to change the way we collaborate with our extended network. It is designed to provide less structure, simple mechanics, and allows users to lead the way. This approach requires employees to communicate, to share, to interact and to generate contents and value output.

Again, you can join in the ongoing Forrester Groundswell discussion online where you can read more about Shift, comment and submit your rating.

Understanding IT’s Value in Organizational Transformation

7

Do you spend a significant amount of time measuring performance and looking for ways to improve your service? When you delve into that process of evaluating your effectiveness and efficiency of service, you are, in fact, evaluating your value. Typically, big companies invest one percent to four percent of revenue in IT. This investment is usually spent on integrated digitized platform implementations, continuous innovations, and day-to-day IT operations. Businesses must see the value and return of these investments; otherwise, they won’t put their money in it. What are businesses doing with all that hardware and software IT is providing?

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management. In one of his articles for the Harvard Business Review entitled IT’s Three Key Organizational Transformations, he outlined what he thinks are main organizational transformations that IT provides the businesses. He wrote that companies in all industries are using Information Technology to accomplish three broad and deep transformations: they’re becoming more scientific, more orchestrated, and more self-organizing.

Run Scientific Methods 

Andrew McAfee mentioned the need for making the company more scientific. He meant that companies are able to use advanced scientific methods using new technology. “Computers, of course, are amazing tools for science” he wrote, “they can gather huge amounts of data, conduct sophisticated analyses of it in the blink of an eye, run elaborate simulations, and serve as experimental testbeds.”

I attended the most recent SAPPHIRE conference hosted by the German software giant SAP in Orlando, Florida. SAP presented its newest innovation on In-Memory computing. Co-founder of SAP, Hasso Plattner, declared that by using In-Memory Computing technology, companies can now store data of the whole enterprise in memory. This technology will increase the computing and processing speed of enterprise applications and will give rise to next generation business analytics. You can just imagine the type of scientific analysis companies can run with such high speed databases.

Orchestrating End-to-End Business Processes 

In this article, McAfee defined orchestration as designing how work will be done, and then assuring that it is actually executed as designed. Once re-engineered processes gets embedded in ERP and other enterprise systems it becomes much easier to ensure compliance. He gave an example to illustrate his point saying that applications like— CRM, sales force automation, supply chain management, procurement, and so on have brought tight orchestration to every part of the company, and pushed it down to almost microscopic levels.

One of IT’s major roles in most big firms is to implement and run digitized platforms. It is usually anchored on a major piece of purchased enterprise resource planning software- such as SAP and Oracle. Software companies are moving quickly on innovating applications to keep up with business demands. The unforgiving global economy brokers no excuse. Business expects IT to provide solutions that help them to stay competitive and in position for growth.

Enable Self-Organization 

“Self-organization, the most recent IT-fueled transformation”, McAfee wrote, “is the exact opposite of orchestration. It is employing technology to let people interact as they wish, with few or no workflows, rules, or hierarchy, and then harvesting the good results that emerge.” The paradigm of self organization has exploded in this part of the decade. In some ways, it started outside the confines of enterprises. There are over a billion users of social media sites on the Internet. Between Facebook and Twitter alone there are more than to 500 million unique user accounts. Companies, with the help of IT organization, have stepped up to leverage these new social tools to enable self organization teams in the business with the objective of encouraging more collaboration, information sharing and innovation.

How does your IT contribute to these key organizational transformations in your company? Does the business you serve view you as a value creator and partner? What’s your value proposition?

Will iPad Change How We Use Computers Tomorrow?

5

When I posted a link to an article about Apple’s new iPad on my Facebook page, the first comment I got was from my Mexican friend, Armando Rangel. He commented, “Esta bonito el ipodtote.” When a Mexican adds “-ote” or “tote” to a word it usually means the superlative or a bigger version of the root word. What Armando meant was that the new iPad is a bigger version of the iPod/iPhone. I think, in essence, that my friend is right.

The iPad is ready to run nearly all the 150,000 applications (or apps, for short) that have been created for the iPhone over the past two years. I am sure thousands more apps have been developed now for iPad. Isn’t it great? I mean if you love your iPhone, surely you’ll love this iPad too!

“(The) iPad will change the way you use computers, read books and watch TV- as long as you’re willing to do it the Steve Jobs way.”  – Daniel Lyons, Newsweek April 2010 Issue

Apple’s new iPad

So what’s the buzz about the recently released iPad?  

  • Keyboard – iPad is a type of portable device without the external keyboard.  For example, laptops have external keyboards.  Similar to the iPhone, it has a touch screen.  So imagine having a keyboard on the screen but you can’t feel the keys.
  • Price – The price of an iPad depends on the memory storage capacity. It ranges from $499 to $829.
  • Media – Most of what you will do with the iPad is what you are already doing with your iPhone. If you are reading books using your iPhone, don’t you get eye strain? iPad is designed for common media – books, websites and videos, etc.
  • Versus Kindle – iPad so much better than Kindle with it comes to look and feel and sleek page-flicking animations. If you like reading in the beach and poolside, you might consider keeping your Kindle. The black and white e-ink stands out nicely when you are reading in the sun.
  • Office – As I mentioned earlier, the iPad will support the same apps you currently use with your iPhone. Apple has also developed apps for Office that can create presentations, documents and spreadsheets.
  • Simplicity – If you know someone who is not ready to use a complicated computer (probably because they are beginners in using computers), maybe an iPad is a good start. The iPad is easier to use.
  • Versus your computer – For most people, the question is: will the iPad replace laptop and personal computers?  It depends on what you use your computer for. If you use your computer for work – such as creating things (for example, documents and designs) and run enterprise applications, then forget it.

I am sure that just like me, you have seen all the reviews and commercials about the iPad. However, there are some things you need to know about this new product before you decide to buy it. Check out this article from CNN if you want to learn more about Apple’s iPad: “Before you buy: 12 things to know about the iPad”.

Apple’s Innovation

Shortly after Steve Job’s first presentation about the new iPad last January, Roberto Verganti wrote about Apple’s innovation process in his article, “Apple’s Secret? It Tells Us What We Should Love”. He wrote, “The iPad Apple has not provided an answer to market needs. It has made a proposal about what could fit us and what we could love. It’s now up to us to answer whether we agree.”

Steve Jobs is a master of creating a signature customer experience. He steered Apple to deliver products that create new “meaning” to customers. This is the reason why Apple is not afraid to propose radical innovations. They are convinced that the product they create is the one that we should love. This is not like user-centered innovation where what you carry out mostly is what the consumers or market demand. This is perfect for incremental innovation, not for Apple. Steve Jobs is persistently creating innovative products that have changed our ideas about how things should work. Will the iPad change how we use computers tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine.

Photo courtesy of Apple.com

Imagine How Social Media Can Transform Your Company Part II – Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Challenges

2

This is the second part of my series on how Social Media can transform your company. In Part 1, I talked about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 to a company. I cited three key benefits: 

  • Improved Collaboration – One of the defining principles of Enterprise 2.0 is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together.
  • Information Discoverability – One of the key advantages of Enterprise 2.0 is knowledge sharing, retention and discoverability. Imagine how much corporate knowledge and information are held by only a handful of employees in your company.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience through Social CRM Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships through the social media channel—relationship that is built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums.

Governance Model for Risk Mitigation

To mitigate risk the first thing that companies should establish in an Enterprise 2.0 initiative is the governance strategy. Some companies, for example, encourage its employees to participate in mainstream social media. They support employees who write blogs internally and externally; however, they have to follow a set code of conduct. A common component of these policies is the “don’t tell secrets policy”. Companies want to safeguard proprietary and confidential information. Go to Social Media Governance Database if you want to see free examples of Social Media Policies from almost 100 companies. Let me share with you one of the most interesting social media policy that I have read online—the Social Media Policy of Intel. Over time, Intel created a comprehensive set of social media policies. These guidelines are now available in over 35 languages designed to help everyone use social media in a respectful and responsible way.

Cultural Change a Serious Challenge to Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

There are existing solutions in the market (such as blogs, wikis) that can be easily installed and applied to foster collaboration.  So some might think it is easy to implement Enterprise 2.0.  If that’s what you are thinking, you are wrong. I think implementing Enterprise 2.0 has little to do with technology. The most important component is adoption and cultural change. When I say culture, I refer to the way of work, values, behavior, etc. that altogether constitute the unique style of the company. There should be a strong strategic principle that guides the organization through an incremental adoption approach to ensure chances of success. It can’t be forced. There are no shortcuts.

Support from Users is Critical 

Here is a key question: how important is top management support in Enterprise 2.0 adoption? Like any other initiative, senior management support is critical. But more than that, an Enterprise 2.0 adoption needs support from all levels of the organization. Yes you need management support; however, to be really successful, companies need to focus on the benefits of the users first and then the value creation for the company next. You can’t convince an employee to change the way he works just because it will benefit the company. You have to convince employees that this will make their job easier. This approach is important. It will fuel faster adoption from the grassroots. 

Importance of Training in the Adoption Process

I would like to end this post about Enterprise 2.0 implementation with emphasis on the importance of training. Like any other project that includes implementing technology and process, training is a critical success factor.  By just having Enterprise 2.0 tools and social media policies do not necessarily mean an organization’s employees will understand them or use them in how they perform daily work. It is the training combined with a clear social media policy that will provide a structure for employees to increase their participation. With that in place, a comfort level evolves between employee participation and management’s concerns.

Image courtesy of sniki.org.

Imagine How Social Media Can Transform Your Company

10

If you have been following my blog since last year, I am sure you have read about these two related topics—Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. In the first one entitled, “New Internet Version” is All About Participation, I tried to explain Web 2.0 by comparing it to Web 1.0 or earlier version of the Internet. Web 1.0 is a general reference to the World Wide Web before the developments of advanced internet collaborative applications. The article about Enterprise 2.0 entitled, Web 2.0 + Application to Business = Enterprise 2.0, posted last October 2009 described what Enterprise 2.0 is and the challenges of adopting the model in the business setting. This post will take the discussion about Enterprise 2.0 even further.

Imagine This…

There are over 800 million users of social media sites in the Internet. Between Facebook and Twitter alone there are close to 600 million unique user accounts. Chances are you are one of them and you have several friends in your network. Now imagine this

  • Imagine having an “internal Facebook” in your company’s intranet.
  • Imagine your co-worker inviting you to become a collaborator. (similar idea as becoming friends in a common social networking sites)
  • Imagine becoming a fan of a project or initiative in your company that makes you a virtual member.
  • Imagine posting a blog about a marketing idea that creates a huge impact elsewhere in the company’s global operations because it matches the need of that country’s market segment.
  • Imagine being able to engage your customers in social networking sites and being able to provide value and gain value from that interaction. 

Are you still with me? I used to just imagine these things too. Now I have seen and read about companies adopting Enterprise 2.0 early. It is quickly becoming a reality. There are significant benefits but as well as serious adoption challenges. 

What Benefits does Enterprise 2.0 bring your company? 

Improve Collaboration – One of the defining principles of Enterprise 2.0 is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together in a project. Enterprise 2.0 tools are designed to change the way we collaborate with our extended network. It is designed to provide less structure, simple mechanics, and allows users to lead the way. This approach requires employees to communicate, to share, to interact and to generate contents and value output. 

Information Discoverability – If collaboration did not convince you about the value of Enterprise 2.0 maybe this one will. One of the key advantages of Enterprise 2.0 is knowledge sharing, retention and discoverability. Imagine how much corporate knowledge and information are held by a few employees in your company. How much information is stored in servers and shared drives? How many manuals are printed, book-bound and stored in filing cabinets? How much information and knowledge is amassed in emails? Sharing and finding information is one of the defining characteristics of Enterprises 2.0. If information and knowledge cannot be found, it is useless. There is no value. It is best to visualize this advantage by thinking about Wikipedia. If you have your own internal Wikipedia that houses your company’s process manuals it will be easier to find up-to-date and useful information. In this case you don’t need to get your own copy of the manual; you will have access to master versions that are kept updated by the entire community of experts and users. 

Enhance Customer Experience through Social CRM – Successfully maintaining a meaningful and sustained relationship with customers has become an integral component of a company’s commercial strategy. If close to a billion users worldwide participate in social media—the chances of finding your customers in that channel is high. Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships through the social media channel—relationship that is built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums. Enterprise 2.0 enables this connection between the managers and operators of the business and their customers.    

Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Challenges 

It will be interesting to see how the governance model will evolve as more and more companies are adopting Enterprise 2.0. When deployed Enterprise 2.0 fundamentally changes the dynamics behind how people work together as well as how they share and find information. Implementation strategy should account for the cultural change that needs to happen.

Risk management in Enterprise 2.0 is a serious challenge. The first thing adopters do during an implementation is to establish a policy for the types of information that can be disclosed. There is always risk (as in any other initiatives) but what I think is important is that managers study and understand the risk versus the reward.   

Governance, cultural change and risk management are some of the serious challenges that Enterprise 2.0 has to overcome to gain momentum. This will be discussed in more detail in my next article.

Connecting to Customers through Social CRM

9

Connecting to current and potential customers is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Significant resources are invested in creating and improving customer experiences. Even at this time of economic uncertainties, it’s hard to find a business that is not actively pursuing customer service improvements. The competition is stronger than ever as the economy begins to show signs of recovery. Initiatives related to customer relationship management (CRM) are embraced by many companies as a critical component to their overall business strategy. Organizations continue to spend heavily on CRM — $11 billion annually starting 2010 according to Forrester. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has evolved through the years. It started in the early 90s out of the need to store customer information. Today, through the fast development of social media, a new CRM dimension is starting to gain ground—social CRM or SCRM. Social CRM is the process of monitoring, engaging in and managing conversations and relationships with existing and prospective customers and influencers across the Internet, social networks, and digital channels. This article aims to differentiate between traditional CRM and Social CRM. 

Traditional CRM 

I think in order to understand what Social CRM is, we first have to understand traditional CRM. The strong suit of traditional CRM has been the following— enhanced customer analytics, improved operational effectiveness and improved coordination between areas that provides customer service delivery. 

CRM developed out of the need to store customer information. It started with businesses trying to build databases of customer contacts and converting filing cabinets full of customer files into easily accessible databases. Many organizations today are capturing terabytes of information about customers: interactions, cases, interests, demographics, responses to marketing efforts, and buying cycles. The key challenge for most businesses is how to capitalize on this information.

Traditional CRM applications provide necessary flexibility to implement and automate front-end processes. It is focused on operational efficiency and improving collaboration. Forrester, for instance, identifies 6 key processes that comprise the common CRM Processes Framework.  They are— Marketing, eCommerce, Direct Sales, Indirect Sales, Service and Field Services. Companies looking to implement these processes would turn to CRM.  There are many solution providers out there that cover the complete package. SAP, Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft are among the biggest providers of CRM solutions. Traditional CRM ensures that the proper activities and tasks will be performed by the appropriate people, in the correct sequences.

What is Social CRM (SCRM)?

According to Brent Leary, an SCRM expert who authored Brent’s Social CRM Blog, “Social CRM is growing out of a completely different need – the need to attract the attention of those using the Internet to find answers to business challenges they are trying to overcome.” The way I see it, Social CRM extends beyond traditional CRM by focusing on people and not on processes. Processes and information are covered by traditional CRM. Social CRM centers on meaningful engagement—it focuses on content and conversation.

Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums with your customers by:

  • Interacting with customers through wikis and blogs
  • Enabling customers to critique your products
  • Encouraging customers to share ideas
  • Creating platforms in partnership with customers that improve the company’s value proposition

To illustrate capabilities of Social CRM, I think it’s best to explore one of the leading providers of SCRM solution today—Lithium. Lithium provides SCRM solutions to build enterprise communities on-demand including forums, blogs, ideas, and a Social CRM platform. Barnes and Noble and Best Buy are two companies that implement SCRM. If you click on the links associated with these companies, it will bring you to their respective community pages. You will see that both companies are using the platform in different ways. Barnes and Noble uses it as a platform to recommend and discuss books while Best Buy collaborates with their customers to talk about electronic products and solve technical issues. You are welcome to participate in those forums as a customer or a potential customer of Best Buy and Barnes and Noble.

Social CRM adds a whole new dimension to customer relationship management but it does not replace the latter. I see it as a much needed complement to traditional areas of CRM. In today’s competitive business environment, you’ll have to go beyond CRM to create new relationships based on conversations and trust. Be reminded that the end goals are the same— customer attainment, retention and profitability.

Photos courtesy of Best Buy and Barnes and Noble.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

Innovation During a Recession

2

Innovation is bringing creative ideas to life. It occurs in the organizational context when individuals and teams work to spark new product development, to implement new technology and even to transform the organization. Innovation is always linked to performance and growth through incremental improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality and services. On the other hand, it is also associated with radical improvement like inventions, new products and radical changes in the business model. It is a balance of incremental improvements and radical innovations that keep the company competitive in a changing world.

NY StocksWe are on the brink of important change in the world— and it is economic in nature. We have seen massive job cuts, company bankruptcies, budget reductions, etc. We are in a period of profit-focused cost cutting. Innovation may be a low priority for many companies in this period of recession but I think it is a big mistake. Innovation ought to be a crucial element in a firm’s recession strategy. It will allow them to do more with less and to generate profit by exploiting existing resources.

Two kinds of Innovation that are especially valuable in a recession:

Internal and External Collaboration

Greater internal collaboration– between departments and business units, as well as external collaboration– with customers and suppliers, are essential if companies are to stay healthy during the recession. For example, internal collaboration could result to a Cross Selling strategy that could increase sales to the existing captured market while lowering cost of selling.  Collaboration can be a channel for transfer of best practices between operating units. Internal Collaboration can also result to inter-business-unit product innovation by creating new products and services from existing knowledge, technologies, products and brands.  External collaboration, specifically with key entities of your supply chain network — from suppliers to customer, is vital to staying in business during a recession. The big challenge to firms is to reduce cost while maintaining service levels. Businesses need to have open communication with suppliers and customers alike and ensure a more effective and efficient supply chain.

It is also important for firms to use new technology and cheaper options for collaboration. Leveraging Web 2.0 in the enterprise can be one option. Let me give you a clearer example. It is critical for companies to understand how customers reassess priorities, reallocate funds, switch brands and redefine value of products and services. Web 2.0 platforms can be both a source of information and a channel to facilitate this kind of collaboration in a cost effective way.

Leveraging Shared Services

If it’s all about cost reduction and economies of scale, it’s probably the best time to implement Shared Services. In these demanding times, companies are challenging themselves to discover business processes and business models that will open undiscovered synergies. Shared Services could be the answer to companies keenly looking for convergence and streamlining of an organization’s functions.

Shared Services has to ensure that they deliver the services required of them as effectively and efficiently as possible. In a recession, this convergence enables the appreciation of economies of scale within the function and can enable multi-function collaboration where there is the potential to create more synergies. A word of caution though, a Shared Services implementation involves a large scale cultural and process transformation; it must come with a well-planned organizational transformation and change management strategy.

In a nutshell

Shared Services has been around for years and companies have always strived to collaborate — internally and externally. I think the emphasis this time should be precision, timing, and bringing the best ideas forward. Forward looking and innovation-focused companies are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I strongly believe that this is the best time for innovation, for breakthrough value and for paradigm shifts. This is the best time to position your company ahead of the pack when the economy regains momentum again.

%d bloggers like this: