CRM = Customer Rejection Management #crm #crmfail #customerservice

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Every major organization has some form of customer call center. You may have renamed yours “contact center.” They are manned by staff that are trained, tooled-up with technology and incentivized to support customers. The center is critical because it drives long term sales and protects repeat revenue. It may even be considered a “profit center.”

Customer Strategy

But your customers are calling you less, and only when they really have to. I would suggest that CRM stands for “customer rejection management” rather than customer relationship management; and this is by design. There are three strategies that companies are adopting that are driving customers away, giving you less insight into your customers and their needs, and, ultimately, alienating them.

These strategies are:

  • Outsourcing: lets a call center operator talk to your customers;
  • Self service: lets them find their own answers; and
  • Search/social networking: lets someone else help them.

All three strategies are driven by a cost-center/cost-reduction mindset.

But the one time you force your customers to contact you is when they don’t want to. This is called non-value demand. In other words, you are making your customers do something that has no real value for them.

Either you make them call a number and sit on hold after they have navigated through a labyrinthine list of menu options; or you make them go to an unintelligible website, register by entering a huge list of personal information, wait for a validation email, and then make them try to navigate your website – all with little or no guidance or step by step instructions. Sound familiar?

Here are some examples of non-value demand:

  • Report a fault or error in a product or service.
  • Fix a problem in a product or service.
  • Confirm or acknowledge a change of contract or other details.
  • Update personal details.

The opposite of non value demand is value-demand. This is something initiated by the customer that they want for their benefit. They may not want to talk to you but it is worth their time and effort. Some examples are:

  • Ask for an increase in credit limit.
  • Cancel a product or service.
  • Order a product or service.
  • Give feedback.

What makes both non-value demand and value-demand non-functional is that companies often compound it with poorly thought through, inadequately tested and inconsistently applied business processes. I am not just talking about the screens in the CRM application but the end-to-end process: the customer journey.

This makes the experience even worse for everybody. The customer is confused and frustrated. The call center operator is uncomfortable and frustrated; i.e., the customer leaves the call upset, no matter how good, positive or cheerful your call center person is.

Good process design

The explosive growth of social networking means that there is now a wide range of ways that a customer may get their question answered. They can call you, search your website, email you, search for the answer on a forum, post the question on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook, or on a micro-blogging site like Twitter.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to take a look at front office processes, and take a customer-centric perspective. Put the customer at the heart of the situation and think about their journey.

The good news is that most of the back office processes can stay the same.

This is the opportunity to take a faster, more effective yet proven approach to process capture/discovery, CRM design, and the adoption of new working practices for your customer facing staff. This can be done through interactive, collaborative process mapping sessions, rapid CRM system prototyping or role-based guided process walk-throughs delivering links to systems, videos, on screen entry, documents and forms, in the context of an end-to-end process.

Gone are consultants interviewing staff and producing complex flowcharts that cover the entire wall of the project office. The end to six to 12 month CRM/IT-centric projects. Say goodbye to offsite CRM systems training courses.

Just theory? No = Success.

Is this approach just theory, you ask? No. It can be seen on every street in the UK in Carphone Warehouse stores, with an initiative they call ‘How2’. (Full disclosure: Carphone Warehouse is a TIBCO client.)

If you can’t make it out of the office, Carphone Warehouse has documented its project in videos from several perspectives including a retail store, back office, the project sponsor. The results speak for themselves. Just from the deployment to 815 stores the ROI was 1100% in year one, customer satisfaction (NPS) was up 25%, an additional revenue of £5M in the first year and they’ve saved £50,000 per year on telephone support calls to stores. In fact, the company has just won a Gartner BPM Excellence Award in the Leveraging BPM Technology category.

Just theory? No = FAIL.

I’ll contrast this with the non-value demand experience of another UK retailer … which shall go unnamed.

Last year I moved the family to the USA and before we left we rented out our house. We called the UK-based retailer, 30 days in advance to cancel our TV/phone/broadband service (value demand). The person at the call center was very helpful. A letter arrived in the post confirming the cancellation of the TV. The letter read:

Sorry to hear you decided to cancel your subscription. Your viewing will stop on dd/mm/yyyy. (The date was wrong: non-value demand contact required.) We are delighted that you want to continue your service etc., etc., etc. (Wrong again = non-value demand contact required.).”

So we make a non-value demand call. A very helpful and friendly call center representative said that we would be receiving separate letters from each department (telephone, broadband, TV) cancelling the services.  Each, presumably, saying the other services would continue, confusing us or prompting more non-value demand calls. We were advised to simply ignore these letters when they arrived, which we did.

About a week ago we were sent a letter prompting another non-value demand call. There is a credit on the account and they wanted me to call them to let them know if we would like a check and where to send it. Far better would have been to credit our bank account or attach a check to the letter.

Processs-led thinking leads to happy customers

The people who design operational processes should think about how it feels from a customer perspective. Then how the effective use of technology can enhance the experience for everyone. The social media revolution taking place is the perfect catalyst.

Ahhh!! I feel better now. Who should I call to tell?

Conflicting data or the data divide? #bigdata

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This week there have been two reports released. One from OfCom (Independent regulator and competition authority
for the UK communications industries) which has reported that the UK’s mobile users are consuming more data on their phones and tablets than any other leading nation for the first time. A second from Office for National Statistics has reported that 7.63 million adults in the UK have never used the internet which is 15 per cent of the population. They have coined a moniker for these people – “the internots”.

So are the reports in conflict ie wrong? Or is there something else happening?

Let’s explore the reports in a little more detail.

Ofcom’s report, which you can download here, shows that the UK has one of the highest levels of penetration of smartphones in the world at 58 per cent of the population, while just fewer than one in five owns a tablet computer. As a result, British consumers are downloading the most data on mobiles and tablets. In December 2011, the average UK mobile connection used 424 megabytes of data, higher than any other leading country, pushing Japan into second place at 392 megabytes and the US into sixth at 319 megabytes.

One-sixth of all website traffic in the UK was on a mobile, tablet or other connected device, higher than any other country in Europe. James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, said: “Our research shows that UK consumers continue to benefit from one of the most advanced markets for communications products and services.”

Overall, the average UK viewer watches more than four hours of television every day, with only the USA, at 293 minutes, and Italy, 253 minutes, watching more.

Whilst at the other end of the spectrum, apparently 7.63 million adults in the UK have never used the internet. That’s 15 per cent. So who are these technophobes who have never gone online? Roughly half, it seems, are over-75s and/or defined as disabled, and not in a position to use a computer. But that still leaves over 3.5 million.  How dot the conduct their lives without email and Facebook?. But more importantly how to they managed to get things done with more and more Government and commercial services delivered as on-line, self-serve websites.

So is there an issue with the reports from the 2 organisations? Or maybe this is the consumer equivalent of the Data Divide that exists in the commercial world. The Data Divide came from a research project by Vanson Bourne and was highlighted by Mark Darbyshire, TIBCO’s EMEA CTO in some recent interviews.

The report highlights were covered by CIO.co.uk in this article, and Mark summarised neatly the challenges for UK businesses:

“It looks increasingly like UK companies are lagging behind their continental counterparts. The ability to alert and then convert a transient opportunity or avert an impending threat will be crucial for long term survival. Those trapped by the data divide will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.”

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Gartner Nexus of Forces. Scarier than Halloween.

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Scared. Threatened. Dragged out of your comfort zone. Struggling to make sense of the future.

You should be. The opening keynote was inspiring, theatrical and terrifying in equal measure. The key theme for Gartner’s annual Symposium IT Expo in Orlando last week and this week in Barcelona for nearly 10,000 delegates was the Nexus of Forces.

 The Nexus of Forces

“A Nexus of converging forces — social, mobile, cloud and information — is building upon and transforming user behavior while creating new business opportunities.

Research over the past several years has identified the independent evolution of four powerful forces: social, mobile, cloud and information. As a result of consumerization and the ubiquity of connected smart devices, people’s behavior has caused a convergence of these forces.”

Whilst most people recognize these forces at work in their personal and business lives, it is the implications that are either liberating or terrifying, depending on your viewpoint. For those business leaders looking to leapfrog their competition or a nimble start-up looking to wrong foot an incumbent it is an exciting time. However, Gartner raised a warning to senior IT leaders: “Their existing architectures are becoming obsolete.”

But it gets worse. These powerful forces are reshaping industries with a frightening ferocity. Those in the music, print, news and media industries have seen their world ripped apart in the last few years. Existing business models no longer work, and the incumbent players have had to completely reinvent themselves to compete with startups who have been able to scale rapidly unfettered by legacy operations and systems. But more critically, the startups are not constrained in their thinking.

CIO challenge: reinvent yourself

The challenge that Gartner set from the keynote was to CIOs to reinvent themselves. To think more like entrepreneurs. To obsolete their businesses before someone else does. That means the CIO cannot spend time thinking about “keeping the lights on”.  Whilst that is clearly important, designing the future state business alongside the CEO and CMO is far more important.

But, how many CIOs have the skills, vision and courage to think and act like an entrepreneur who is not afraid? Not afraid to fail. Not afraid the future. Not afraid of the unknown.

Is being a geek starting to be cool again?

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We were talking to my son, Max, about how he and his friend are geeks. But Max got defensive and said that he was a geek and was proud of it, and certainly his friend wasn’t.

That is great news. The biggest risk to the long term future of the IT industry is a lack of kids thinking that it is cool. A lack of IT talent is a global issue, according to recruitment group Hays Information Technology. How can’t be technology be cool? The iPhone, iPad, Kinect, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, the internet…

In fact, technology is at the heart of all of our lives. It has dramatically changed the way that we work, play, live, laugh and love.

But being involved in technology has huge negative connotations. Very few women get into IT, whilst there is absolutely no reason why they would be disadvantaged compared with men. That is over 50% of potential the workforce. And the other 50% are ambivolent.

How do we change this image? Being selfish, I will continue to set up and run technology companies, and I need a talented resources. But maybe there is a change as The Discovery Channel’s recent article Wide Angle: Cool Tech Jobs; Discovery Tech talks to technologists who love their jobs, shows.  And Max’s reaction.

Standing in the fire hose of data: drowning or refreshing?

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Big Data is a great topic.

Everyone recognises the rise the volumes of data being generated by individuals, systems and devices. There are some fabulous headline figures about data. It is the journalists, analyst and bloggers dream.

IT vendors are jumping onto the bandwagon and any analysis and reporting capability they have is being rapidly rearchitected to be able to cope with the dramatic increase in data volumes. Some of this is still marketing-ware. Others are already shipping. But this is reactive. A cynical response to “sell more stuff”.

Big Data – so what

What is far more interesting is the discussion that was a major part of the keynote of the TUCON TIBCO User Conference;  “What opportunities does Big Data open up?”

The strapline of the conference is “Everything is different” and the walls of the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas are littered with some compelling statistics about the exponential rise in data volumes.  The ideas is ‘whilst you were sleeping’, but of course we’re in Las Vegas, so sleep is a secondary item!!

However, some of the numbers are staggering, Whilst you were sleeping….

  • 294 billions emails were sent
  • 35 millions apps were downloaded
  • more iPhones were bought than babies born
  • 250 millions photos uploaded to Facebook
  • 2 million blog posts were written
  • information consumed on the internet would fill 168 millions DVDs

Big Data goes to work

The numbers are almost incomprehensible and they require different approaches to drive any value out of the stream of data.  There is simply too much to capture, store in a database and later run reports.  That is 20th century thinking.

The exponential rise in data requires different approaches and thinking. We need to analyst the “data in motion”, on the fly, in real time.  We need to glean some insights as it passes and much if it is only valuable  ‘in the moment’.

Real companies real examples

I have had the pleasure at TUCON of interviewing each of the keynote speakers for some video case studies. Whilst they covered different industries and a wide range of sizes of company, there has been a common theme.  They are harnessing the stream of data, making sense of it, and using the insights from the data to be able to transform their company’s products and services.  They are able to offer what Vivek Ranadive, TIBCOs’s founder and CEO, calls “extreme value”; something that differentiates the star performers from the also-rans.

Here are just 2 examples

Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors 

Rick Welts is President and COO of Golden State Warriors, the Bay Area basketball team. His entire career has been in the NBA and he is focused on using the different streams of customer data to dramatically improve the experience of going to a game. Interestingly, the enjoyment of the experience is not tied to the result of the game. Which is lucky because in the past the Warriors lost more than they won. But that is changing.

They look at the entire end to end process, from when you leave your house , park at the ground, watch the game, get refreshments, leave the ground and get home. The question they are asking is ”How can we improve every facet of that end to end experience”.

Technology has a vital role to play and TIBCO is helping them with analysis of the data and also the development of a mobile app that will enhance the fan’s connection with the team and enjoyment at the game.

Rick’s passion and enthusiasm for basketball and the potential opportunities to leverage data and technology were infectious. I hope that comes over in the video footage.

Tom Siebel, C3   www.c3energy.com  

Tom Siebel is best known in technology circles as the founder and CEO of Siebel Systems that was sold to Oracle in 2006 for $5.9 billion. He made enough that finding work was no longer necessary. But like most entrepreneurs he is driven and in 2009 he launched C3, an energy management company. He saw the opportunity to capture all the data being generated by sensors in companies and homes. C3 offers a family of software solutions that help companies to understand, optimize, and report on their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, in order to reduce cost, risk, and environmental impact.

A visionary Big Data company, considering it was launched years before the term Big Data was coined.

C3’s SaaS based software is driving incredible savings for companies such Constellation Energy and GE and the recent deal announced with Pacific Gas and Electric.

“We see significant value for our commercial and industrial customers from using C3’s energy and emissions management solution. With C3, customers can not only better understand the details of their use, but PG&E can also identify the most appropriate high value mitigation projects for rapid energy savings.”  Saul Zambrano,  Sr. Director, Products Group, Customer Energy Solutions PG&E

As Tom said, no longer do you need huge financial backing to be able to launch a software company, unlike the days when he founded Siebel Systems. With SaaS technology platforms available which are paid based on consumption the start-up costs can be low. The challenge is the integration of multiple streams of data from systems both inside his clients but also from 3rd party systems. That is where his long relationship with TIBCO comes in. Siebel Systems and TIBCO had a long relationship, and so Tom again turned to TIBCO for help on the really tough integration issues he faced with his clients.

What was refreshing was that Tom’s vision was to build a significant company over the next decade. He recognizes that value takes time to build. He and the other panelists at TUCON, (Vivek Ranadivé , Scott McNealy, K.R. Sridhar) were wonderfully dismissive of over-hyped social media companies with sky high but rapidly dropping valuations.

Big Data opens up new opportunities

So Big Data is allowing existing companies to deliver “extreme value”. It is a massive competitive differentiator, but it does require discontinuous, visionary thinking. The technology is available from TIBCO to make sense of the data, but the new opportunities will require reshaping their companies. That means process redesign and  reengineering. But the technology is also available to do that from TIBCO.

For startups there are huge opportunities to exploit Big Data, enter the market and side-step the incumbent players. And with cloud based applications paid on a consumption basis the barriers to entry have never been lower.

We live in exciting times. Let’s dive in.

Business is Social – the script according to Salesforce.com’s Benioff

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If you were one of the 90,000 who attended Dreamforce you would have been swept away in the energy and euphoria that is the Salesforce.com machine. Who couldn’t be. It is now the largest tech conference with 800 sessions, 350 partners and big name bands. And now Salesforce.com has a run rate of $3bn per year.  Impressive stuff.

Woooooooowwwwwww!!?!! I’m reaaaaaaaaaallly pumped.

For those who missed it, below is the first 17 minutes of Marc’s keynote. Make sure you have lots of room so you can jump around and punch the air.

But all that said, there are some very important messages here. Every year Salesforce.com extends its vision for the socially enabled enterprise and more importantly it is showing a road map for clients to follow. This is critical because the vast gulf between the “socially enabled enterprises” and the laggards is growing daily at a ferocious rate.

Luckily social is not relevant to us

And don’t think it only applies to retailers or B2C companies. The same rules apply for B2B companies dealing with their partners and customers and every company in terms of getting the best from their employees.

The social revolution is now upon us – well, most of us. 4.5 billion social users. Now 70% of businesses use social to connect with customers and McKinsey estimate there is $1.3trn of value to be gained by better use of social.

IDC estimate that the annual growth of social is 47%, and there is 123% growth in social customer interaction and at the last count there were 150m customer social transactions per day. That, ladies and gentlemen is the “customer revolution”.

A recent IBM Global CEO Study conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,709 CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders around the globe. These leaders confirmed that our new connected era is changing how people engage. How are CEOs responding to the complexity of increasingly interconnected organizations, markets, societies and governments? The key findings center on:

  • Employees. Empowering employees through values
  • Customers. Engaging customers as individuals
  • Partnering. Amplifying innovation with partnerships

Some really important things to consider here as I am about to fly to TUCON, TIBCO’s annual user conference.

The social revolution

So the question you need to ask yourself is, “Is your company going through a social revolution?

Cue the video

Is Microsoft paying $1.2bn to put lipstick on a pig?

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There has been a great deal of debate about whether social media inside the workplace is a fad or delivers real business value.  There are several reasons why social media has got such bad press.

The moniker “Facebook for the enterprise” has not helped, as Facebook is seen as a great way of wasting time outside work. Secondly, the “make it available and it will be used” implementation approach, or “provide and pray” as it is called, is successful in less than 10% companies. Finally, the lack of strong ROI driven case studies put social well down the pecking order when it comes to strategic investment.

But the market has just had a huge validation. Yammer was acquired by Microsoft for $1.2B. That’s ‘B’ for billion. Yammer will be tightly integrated in Microsoft Sharepoint.

“Microsoft Sharepoint is where people do work. Yammer is where they talk about it. Although Sharepoint has the ability to allow this, its interface is not as user-friendly as that of Yammer,” says Richard Edwards, an analyst at the international research company Ovum.

Taking risks

From where I am sitting Microsoft’s Yammer strategy is a risky punt.  There are 3 key risks which could scupper any chance of success:

  • Firstly, any collaboration in the workplace needs context. The discussion must be about getting a problem solved (ie part of a process) or improving a process. Therefore a tight integration with a BPM platform to give a process context is critical. Yammer does not have this.
  • The next issue is that few companies have a clearly understood and communicated set of end to end business processes. But many major corporations are now working on this as a priority, driven by a compliance need, competitive pressures or a move toward shared services. So there is often no process context.
  • Finally, those processes need to be adopted across the organisation. Without end user adoption and a mechanism for continuous improvement, what is documented and what is actually done will rapidly diverge.

So implementing a social product before you have got a real handle on your operational processes is simply putting ‘Lipstick on a pig”.

Buying champagne, razor blades and nappies/diapers means you are a thief…..

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With so much data available to retailers they are starting to be able to anticipate our every whim, and also spot the thieves masquerading as customers. What is making the difference is not data, nor aggregating the data into information, but turning that information into insights.

The high powered analytics and business intelligence software made available over the last 5 years has enabled data as transactions to be transformed into information.

But only now are events are allowing businesses to transform information into insights.

This is about identifying specific events and interpreting the implications and corresponding actions, and then looking out for those events. This is not randomly scanning transactions and trying to interpret what is happening. The volumes of data being generated “BigData” mean that this would be an impossible task.

An example

It has been identified that if a guy is in a store and is buying champagne, razor blades and nappies / diapers it is likely that the credit card he is using is stolen. Why?

If you are using a stolen credit card, I am reliably informed, you need to maximise the value of the items you purchase at the same time as minimising the chance of being challenged.

Champagne and razor blades are the most valuable items in the store. And the nappies means that he will appear a caring Dad.

Now, with event software ‘watching’ the transactions at checkout we can reduce fraud. – unless of course you are on the way home to celebrate the birth of your child and in need of a shave.

Why buy new when used is cheaper? Oracle licenses can be resold in EU #oracle #cio

Reported in TechMarketView today

EU court rules Oracle licences can be resold

One of Oracle’s quieter legal battles has been playing out in Europe over the right to sell secondhand software licences for downloaded software, and it has not gone well. The EU Court of Justice has just ruled that it does not have the right to oppose such resale.

Oracle initiated the action against UsedSoft, a German company who as its name suggests, is in the business of reselling software licences. Oracle argued that when it licences software (whether downloaded or delivered physically on a disk) it grants the customer non-transferable rights for an unlimited period. The Court has ruled that exclusive distribution rights are exhausted once the first sale has been made i.e. buyers have the right to resell the software, providing they remove it from their systems and destroy any copies.

This could have major ramifications for the software industry. First off, it opens the door to the emergence of a second hand software market – potentially establishing a parallel market. One of the tasks occupying many enterprises is how to reduce the cost of their Oracle (and other vendor) deployments in the light of reduced workforces, changes to the business that render certain software unnecessary, or unused licences, or after M&A’s. They are also keen to reduce the cost of annual maintenance. The opportunity to sell-on their software creates options e.g. cutting costs directly, moving to an alternative vendor. With mid tier vendors and cloud vendors already posing a threat to established vendors like Oracle, the incumbent providers have a lot to lose. There is a degree of relief for Oracle. We are not legal experts but the ruling seems to say that buyers cannot break multi seat licence deals into smaller packages and sell them off, which will no doubt complicate the situation.

A second hand market could also revitalise the third party support market which took a battering from Oracle’s successful theft action against SAP/TomorrowNow. As software vendors like Oracle generate half or more of their software-related revenue from maintenance, fees the effect in their business could be serious.

The ruling is not set in stone as the German courts need to make their decision but it is hard to see them ruling differently. And this ruling only applies to the EU, not Oracle’s home market in the US.

Wow. Has Microsoft answered my dreams, rather than Apple #apple #ipad #microsoft

Back in August 2010 I wrote a blog, Who wants my iPad. In that blog, the critical paragraph is

But what the iPad has done is realise what I REALLY, REALLY want: Tablet 3.0. It is a tablet with the same form function as the iPad with a high-definition touch screen that rotates.  But one with a ‘proper’ OS so I can run business apps, a large solid state hard disk, a couple of USB ports, a separate bluetooth keyboard and mouse, ….  oh and a battery life of 8+ hours.

Is that what the Microsoft Tablet is, launched in June 18 to a so-so response?

The Washington Post recently reported Microsoft aims to straddle two worlds with new Surface tablet

Microsoft unveils its Surface tablet to rival the iPad: Microsoft on June 18 unveiled the Surface, its own tablet that will run Windows 8. The tablet, which will be available in two different versions, comes with a built-in kickstand and a 3-millimeter keyboard.

But is it too late?  I now have an iPad and I am writing this on a 13.3″ Macbook Air which i LOVE.  Can Microsoft woo me and millions of others back?

Why social technology is lipstick on a pig #bpm #socialbpm

Companies entire BPM approaches are being built on staff collaborating to improve processes.  Some critical elements to this

-          Process mapping application supports live workshops rather than detracts from workshop.

-          Process content displayed via end user web application that has collaborative capabilities (social) when allow discussion linked to a process, document, metric.

-          There is a streamlined approach to driving any change through the change cycle so governance is not a barrier to innovation.

So SocialBPM is not new… it is collaboration.  The way it now looks (a la Facebook, Twitter) is new.   Mirroring that interface will engage thousands more individuals in organizations who would normally run at the mention of the word process. My blog Are you the victim of process discrimination described the problem with process.

Some customer stories to bring this to life and make it real ( BTW Head over to Chris Taylor’s BPM for Real blog for some great customer insights)

Avaya: process discovery workshops using webex for remote SME (subject matter experts) around the world and local teams together in workshops. The business case for the collaborative software was based on saving cost of airfares/hotel/travel

UTi Pharma – heavily regulated but wanted to innovate to improve. SocialBPM capabilities within a governance framework allowed innovative suggested for improvement to be implemented which still maintaining regulatory compliance

Carphone Warehouse: 1,800 processes deployed in 6 months using store managers as SMEs, then they established a Center of Excellence to focus the collaborative efforts from both front and back office staff, as you can hear in the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnvgbc3uGfU

New Balance:  Ran live workshops but didn’t deliver the results initially as they had no way of capturing and locking down the improvements , described in first 40secs of this video  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SodU0wIfuZU

So in summary:  Collaboration is made easier (crossing geographical / time boundaries) with the right technology.  But simply implementing a social tool in the enterprise (facebook, twitter, yammer) won’t help improve business processes sustainably across the business.  It will simply allow subsets of people to “chat” about how they get around the lack of clearly documented processes.

This is like putting band-aid on a major wound.  Or lipstick on  pig.

I have just met the future CIO – and he doesn’t work for IT #CIO #BPM

I have an interesting call with Ken McGee, VP and Gartner Fellow, yesterday who focuses on CIOs and not BPM. We met at the Gartner BPM conference where he delivered an excellent, thought provoking keynote on the Why BPM and BI have strong future together. He was researching how the role of the CIO was changing to be measured by “revenue generation” rather than “keeping the lights on” and this was a key theme of his keynote.

He wanted to tak to Nimbus because we are having great success with very tangible project ROIs  e.g. Carphone Warehouse Best Buy ROI was 1100%. He was interested if this was valuable data in his “CIO driven by value” research. Sadly he left the discussion empty handed interms of CIO data, but we both discovered an interesting insight.

The challenge with BPM when seen through the eyes of the CIO is that it is an automation technology to be installed. If you look through the eyes of the senior business transformation sponsor (COO, VP Business Operations, Hd of Business Excellence, VP Business Transformation…) then they look at BPM as a major transformation approach, where IT plays a supporting role. These individuals ARE motivated by how BPM can drive up revenues as well as improve efficiency.

What came out of the conversation is that the future CIO will not have a career path that comes up through IT, but will have a financial, product or operational background. The leading search and recruitment firms are seeing that when they are being asked to recruit CIOs, having a technical or computing background is not mandatory. What their clients is asking for is a strong business knowledge and how IT can help the business.

So the BPM sponsors or champions, our clients, are the potential CIOs of the future.

When the CIO has a change of focus (career direction, measurement, remuneration) from IT to business then BPM will gather greater momentum and remove many of the barriers to successful transformation.

Maybe when I say “We don’t sell to the CIO”, I should be saying “We don’t sell to the current CIO”.

So the cloud changes everything? Doh! But not how you expected it to. #bpm

A recent question How do you think the cloud will change BPM? raised by eBizQ got a flurry of conflicting answers.

Part of the problem is back to the definition of BPM (process discovery vs process automation vs operations platform). Some of it is possibly a theoretical perspective on  the cloud – the “It is just technology” view.

But at Nimbus we have had a cloud offering for 5 years, so my comments are based on real world experience for over enterprise 100 clients in every industry including Nestlé, SAP, Novartis, BP, BestBuy Europe and Toyota.

And what is surprising is that the behaviour is not as expected.  Yes, 90% of new clients use the Nimbus Cloud for reduced speed, risk and cost reasons. But they do not necessarily see the cloud platform (currently) as a long term answer.  This is not a reflection on the robustness or quality of the Nimbus Cloud service.

Let me explain:

The Cloud for business users speeds up implementation, reduces cost and risk.

Business users have a transformation project and they want to start mapping to understand/optimise their processes and want to then provide the mapped content as the operations guide / manual / platform to all business users, to the auditors and also to IT to reconfigure the back end applications (SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com) or build a new workflow application (BPMS).

Previously the options for the business users were

- get IT to find a server and install Nimbus Control (ie wait 3-6 months)

- be forced to use an “inappropriate” IT modelling tool (System Architect, ARIS, CaseWise, Provision)

- just start using MSOffice (Visio, Powerpoint) with the obvious limitations of lack of central management, collaboration and governance.

With the Nimbus Cloud users can get going immediately using the right tool for the job, purchase from OpEx rather than CapEx, and also prove the business case for wider rollout with reduced risk. Then after 6-18 months we are seeing many (but not all) clients decide to install the Nimbus Control application on premise.  As we offer both options clients have choice.

We are hearing the migration on-premise is for several reasons

- the tight integration with the core systems (Active Directory, email, document management, business intelligence, enterprise applications). This is possible with a cloud app (as Salesforce.com has proven), but it is easier on-premise

- the security of critical IP – the DNA of the business – processes, metrics, documents, policies, collaboration

- the scale of the roll-outs – 10,000-300,000 users – means it is a core centrally managed application

- and IT Departments exist to install and run applications, so the cloud is stealth outsourcing which takes jobs away.

A couple of quotes that bring it to life:

“Using the Nimbus hosted services helped us quickly get a pilot project underway and prove that our lean operations initiative was working”  Toyota

“We met the CFBA’s compliance requirements on time thanks to the rapid implementation made possible with Nimbus hosting capability”   ING Bank

“The project has been aided in a huge way because it was hosted by Nimbus”  Carphone Warehouse

Enough said.  Or maybe not.  Let the debate continue.

The Stealth Cloud has crashed #cloud #cio

At some point the cloud services will be as reliable at the electricity into our homes and offices. But I remember as a child in the UK in the winter expecting to have power cuts.  We took candles and matches or flashlights to bed. Wood was stockpiled to burn to heat the house.  Now, that is unheard of.  Ironically, as I write this the local electricity company Pacific Gas and electric (PG&E) have cut the power for planned maintenance work from 9:30am to 5:30pm. No electricity means no fridge, cooker, internet, telephone, music.  Luckily my laptop is fully charged and my smartphone has a signal. But I can always fall back to the trusty pen and paper.

So it was interesting today to read that Amazon’s EC2 cloud crashed overnight.  Twitter this morning was a blaze with “disruption to FourSquare “ For me it was a welcome relief not to have postings to tell me “Peter James has just gone into Victoria’s Secret in Las Vegas” or “Robert has checked into Marriott, London”.

But there are number of applications that run on the Amazon Cloud, probably snuck in without the knowledge, support or blessing of the CIO or IT Department, and have become core applications inside corporations. These I have been calling The Stealth Cloud.

If the CIO has no knowledge of these apps, there is no backup or contingency plan. No work around. So how do corporations assess the risk or impact of an outage? Will it simply mean that an internal department is less productive, or will it hit your customers? Does that cloud app have customer data, support cases, order data or financial information? When it comes back on line what are the processes for re-entering the backlog of data you’ve amassed manually whilst it wasn’t available.

Suddenly (possibly) the business can now understand the value of all those boring, laborious activities which IT does behind the scenes. The vendor assessments. The contingency planning. The backup, DR and restore processes. The things you don’t miss until they’re gone.

Like electricity.

To see a list of some of the apps that suffered read the blog Amazon’s Cloud Crashed Overnight, And Brought Several Companies That Rely On It Down Too