by Michael Maoz | January 21, 2014 | 4 Comments
If you are a CIO at a large corporation, you feel the pain of national governments that attempt to direct funds on behalf of the citizens of the country in new and innovative ways, only to find that almost all funds are mandated to existing programs. Maybe a few percentage points are up for real discussion.
A new wave of R&D is hitting industry in the form of sensors, monitors, networks, presence and location detection embedded in vehicles, equipment, structures, everyday objects and on humans. Triangulate these with ubiquitous smart phones and wireless connectivity and amazing things happen. Increasing R&D to leverage the technology is not necessarily the right answer. Take GM as an example, which cut its core R&D team by 25% about 18 months ago. Ask them why and they might tell you what you are experiencing yourself – innovation can be sourced from anywhere on the planet, and what does it matter if it is Detroit or Tel Aviv? Kansas or Kiev?
In the business software world, most profound innovations are not developed in the R&D labs of the major business software firms. Instead they buy. Just looking at a few vendors like IBM, Oracle and Salesforce.com illustrates the point. Collectively they have purchased nearly 100 software companies in the past seven years alone, and these are savvy tactics.
But as a CIO you look to the core for as much as you can as a way of developing the best systems of record for basic, essential processes. How do you marry that approach with the need to respond to the many innovations that are rarely the hallmark of the large application vendors? Just like enterprise knowledge that is easy to accumulate but difficult to purge, even when it is no longer relevant and likely a distraction, so is it difficult to unwind expensive home-grown software solutions or inflexible business application suites.
There is a good reason for innovation to come from outside of the large suites, in the same way that great art and literature come from the wild upstarts respectful of but not beholden to the established masters. It is as another outsider, Bob Dylan, sang in 1965 on the Highway 61 Revisited song, Like a rolling Stone: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” When you have no track record, no core to maintain, no maintenance license to distract you, or a sales force that knows what it knows, and no consulting companies driving you to repeat the past until you run out of the present, you can innovate quickly.
There are phenomenal young technology companies and new ideas popping up all of the time. In the CRM space there are companies like Eudata and FacilityLive and Earnix and Personetics and dozens of others that look at every emerging technology like natural language, correlation of buying behavior and location, connectedness with others, affinity towards a brand – and mix those with connection to your mobile device – and help support the new consumer in a myriad of ways.
But here is the rub: how to free up IT budget to innovate, and one key might be cutting out parts of your current spend and targeting at the new. It is not easy. We’ll have to rethink the impossible: return to our core software suppliers and re-open contracts, and replatform some applications in the Cloud, and get the Marketing department to lean-in.
The first step is to inventory the application portfolio and keeping a bright red line under the components that could be considered of lower value and what bits are missing. Get someone in Marketing to work with someone on your team to scout out the leading edge new technologies that could help the company differentiate products and services, and map out how to shift a small bit of investment over to these innovative technologies. To succeed you will need a CEO that allows you to think like the wild upstart, not beholden to the status quo, as though you were doing this for the first time, with nothing to lose.
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications Business Intelligence CIO Cloud CRM Innovation and Customer Experience IT Governance Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Software Strategic Planning Uncategorized Tags:
by Michael Maoz | January 10, 2014 | 3 Comments
It is hard to comprehend, but tomorrow it will be just ten years exactly since Mark Zukerberg registered his domain, THEFACEBOOK.COM. There was just about nothing of a social network before that. And smart phones? Even seven years ago we were tied to our laptops and desktops and non-smart mobile phones, and there was not much to do on social networks. Only in 2007 did most smartphone technology begin to emerge. But very much like an avalanche triggered by nothing more than a rifle shot gains momentum and speed and mass with incredible swiftness and devastating force, so has the power of networks buried most of our CRM strategies. Today as never before in history, the closer we get to the customer, the more cutting edge the processes and technologies must be.
The simplicity of this is empirically shown in a way that David Hume would appreciate. Look at the connectedness of the average consumer and/or business person: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Waze, Pinterest, text messaging, Facetime – and we haven’t gotten to telephone or email or chat or self service interactions.
Given the dauntingly complex skein in customer communication and engagement, how can an organization hope to create a meaningful path through the business or enterprise or department for the customer? How can contextual communication happen when so few of the threads are understood or owned by the business?
And how can any sense of a CRM Application Suite emerge to ‘manage’ the seamingly unmanageable? How can we begin to understand where in the experience journey our customer is at at any given place, time, or channel? Or what mode they are in? Not mood: MODE. Are they on business or not, stressed and hurried or relaxed, shopping or just looking, loyal or on the fence or upset and untrusting? Do they prefer to do everything themselves on their mobile device, or are there parts of the process where they want your help? Where are they failing?
Can any supposed ”CRM Suite” map the customer experience, the touchpoints used, for which process, the success of the engagement/interaction, and create, analyze and store these as metrics used to generate profit and launch the next step in the process?
The customer processes will only continue to splinter across more channels, and no software vendor will succeed in the next four years to deliver the technologies to support the key customer processes. The vendors can try – and they are trying: just think of the dozens of acquisitions in the CRM software space that have happened in the past three years. Just this week there were several more, including Microsoft’s acquisition of Parature (if you are a client you can see that here http://gtnr.it/KMV6n8 ) and Verint’s intended purchase of Kana Software.
For the CIO, the concept of ‘buying’ a ‘CRM Suite’ will be, to reference the character Pierre in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, a cauchemar, a nightmare. The alternative? Look at the best of the applications to handle core sales, marketing and customer support, while looking to best of breed applications and custom tools and processes for the customer engagement bits that are changing fastest, such as customer communication, knowledge management, analytics, and social media engagement.
What do you see happening? As always – thank you for your emails and insights!
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by Michael Maoz | January 2, 2014 | 2 Comments
About 90% of my overall shopping experience is online. I imagine it might never go higher, as I was reminded this week shopping for a new Carry-on flight bag. There are hundreds of sizes, colours, styles, pouches, attachments, wheels, and prices, and running the endless combinations on the internet is less than efficient. Especially as I found myself on the east side of Manhattan, not far from the most popular retail shopping mecca in New York City. It was a great experience, replete with lugubrious commissioned sales people plying the latest and greatest luggage.
It did not take long to sort through the myriad choices to the one or two bags that fit my needs, including eight-wheels and upright. And the most fun of all: what would I pay? There was the price tag to guide the conversation – and a 40% holiday discount. But there was tax and there was shipping, and one of them had to go. Haggling with a sales person in the Cairo’s Khan Al-Khalili souk off of al-Azhar street is one thing (entertaining and romantic), but on Lexington and 59th in 2014 we do things differently to shift the conversation: remove the iPhone and start to tap in words……
Suddenly I am Lex Luthor holding Kryptonite in Metropolis, and the salespeople look to one another and huddle together for a moment. (“Maybe he’s not a hayseed, Doug…”).
“Sir, (now I am sir, nice.) we can ship this from our supplier free of charge, and we have an additional 15% discount that we can apply to the purchase today.”
All great, and I got the luggage, delivered to the house, at the price that I wanted, and used the retailer for more than a showroom. But why the drama? Why not cut to the chase and provide me with the best deal. Here is the deal: in the original formulation of caveat emptor, ‘let him beware,’ it was translated as ‘let the buyer beware’ because it reflected a time when the one selling a product knew more than did the one purchasing. But the tables have turned, and now let the seller beware: the buyer knows as much, and often far more, than the seller.
To get to an enterprise that respects the buyers expectation to buy with trust, the enterprise will need to preempt the haggling and preying on buyer ignorance, as, sooner or later, the customer will figure out that they are not getting the best deal. Not only will they sulk and shop elsewhere, but they will take untold shoppers with them.
Let’s get ahead of the trend and sell differently – as partner with the buyer. For the times they are ‘achanging.
Are you there yet?
Category: Business Intelligence CRM Gamification Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Strategic Planning Tags:
by Michael Maoz | December 31, 2013 | Comments Off
Everyone is off on holidays, making this a thank you to those of you in abstentia. Michael Bloomberg, who serves his last day as Mayor of NYC after twelve years, summed up his time as Mayor in a speech to city leaders – not the politicians – this way:
“I have always been envious of you, because you work at the real level where the real problems are.” …“At my level, you talk about them, you look at the grand scheme, you look at averages, you have to deal with big numbers. Big numbers are easy to deal with. It’s much tougher when you deal one on one, looking at a person right in the eye who has a problem.”
Every working day I have the honour to work with amazingly talented IT professionals and Customer Support, Sales, and Marketing people who care deeply about the level of excellence that they deliver. This includes technology choices, process analysis, profit-and-loss, attrition rates, employee well-being, budgets, training, and measurement of business outcomes. It is work that their CEOs rarely appreciate fully. Even the CIO or COO is hard pressed to understand the commitment, day in, day out, year in and year out, that so many of my clients bring to their jobs.
I see it, I hear it, and it is truly impressive. There are people out there who are innovators and pioneers and risk-takers who make the difference to their companies or government offices. They are what Odetta was in music, or what Bracciolini was to the modern world, or Norman Borlaug to farming. Movers, makers, sometimes recognized but more-often not.
So…. as we enter 2014, may we all take a moment to celebrate what we have been given, what we have given, and what we are yet to give, to make the customer journey a more exciting journey, perhaps having fun along the way.
A final Owen Meany THANK YOU to all of the hundreds and hundreds of people who worked with me in 2013: you transform what could be just a job into a fantastic and rewarding experience. You are the ones who “work at the real level where the real problems are,” and without you we would be so much diminished.
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by Michael Maoz | December 18, 2013 | Comments Off
When Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he could have been speaking about the massive opportunity and challenge of changing CRM strategies and technologies. The dissonant chorus of banshee from the Cloud-vendors cries out about the demise of on-premise software, while their maenad counterparts in marketing rave about the all-is-possible capabilities of SaaS anything. No matter that it is still traditional on-premise software running nearly 100% of all complex ERP, complex billing, complex order management, and retail customer service and support desktop – look aside at reality and rush into the SaaS-Breech.
When is the last time that you read about a business leader complaining about a failed SaaS-CRM implementation of any complexity? Can we submit that there are two possibilities, both of which should give one pause: either it is because there are so few complex SaaS-CRM software deployments (global, complex business rules, model-driven design, multiple backend system integration, real time feeds…) to point to, or a virtual gag-rule is stifling access to failures.
“Complex” is still the realm of on-premise, hosting, BPO, or private-Cloud.
Success is still less because of the architectural model or delivery model, and mostly about good process design, great consulting and integration services, a top-notch relationship between the business/end-users and IT, oversight and control from the top, with innovative ideas from the bottom, and design simplicity.
As we head out of 2013, if you are a company focused on processes to support retail customers with complex sales and service needs, look before you leap. The pressure to believe should not outweigh your instincts to rely on a fact-based set of decision criteria on how to move your CRM technology program forward.
Thank you for a tremendous 2013!!!!
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by Michael Maoz | November 25, 2013 | Comments Off
The beauty of the new-age publishing process is that every word, thought and recommendation that we write for our clients on Gartner.com can be anonomously rated. Generally you hope for better than three stars – four or five are ideal, as it implies that you got their attention and they thought it was better than average. One Star is about as rare as hens’ teeth – it means you either offended someone, up-ended their holiest beliefs, or got them in trouble. And that is what I found when I looked at my newest research on the limits of Cloud Computing for complex customer service environments. Someone dropped in a “One Star.” (If you are clients, you can find the document here and judge for yourself: http://gtnr.it/IbU2rb [The Top Three Impacts of Cloud Computing for CRM Customer Service and Support]). We all learn the most from when someone finds a piece of research challenging – understanding the root issue yields great insights into what is a client’s reality. So…. Cloud for the Complex Customer Engagement Center in businesss-to-consumer…. what did I write?
For those of you who can’t access the research, here is the net of what I am saying: I have looked around the globe for a large, virtual multinational / global contact center supporting customers in a business-to-consumer setup such as global banking, telecommunications, hotel, airline, utilities, or BPO for consumer support, and come up empty-handed. I have asked businesses, I have asked outsourcers, consultancies, software vendors and fellow analysts. Everyone comes up with a reason why they believe it will eventually happen, and then point to global business-to-business, or local business to consumer outside of the complex, or works-in-progress. It is Eco’s The Island of the Day Before.
The other point I’ve made is that the hidden costs of SaaS for complex service and support are under-estimated: consistent mobile support, telephony integration, real-time integration with legacy systems, disaster recovery, customization, data cleansing, data privacy (outside of the US), consistency with social media channels (facebook, twitter, forums, communities…), training, analytics: these are routinely pushed aside as inconsequential.
Here is the challenge: it would be terrific to be found out incorrect – failing fast and often and keeping a sense of humility is what allows for change and progress. If I’ve gotten it wrong: let us know!!!
Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Customer Centric Web Innovation and Customer Experience IT Governance Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social Software Strategic Planning Twitter Tags:
by Michael Maoz | November 19, 2013 | 2 Comments
A few weeks ago, out in San Francisco, I attended a technology conference that had the zip and appeal of the Skoda Garda that my brother drove back in High School. Today I am back in San Francisco speaking at Dreamforce 2013 (and if you are at the event, it is Wednesday morning, 9:00am 0 10:00am at the Palace Hotel, Grand Ballroom – come join 850 of your cohorts to explore Customer Engagement and the Future of Customer Service http://bit.ly/HWROeV ). There are over 100,000 attendees, and whilst I don’t smell the wind through the trees at Woodstock ’69, there is a lot of the Yasgur’s farm vibe for the New Cloud age about the Moscone Convention Center.
Mad Money’ Jim Cramer interviewed Salesforce.com CEO, Marc Benioff, out in the courtyard (http://cnb.cx/17FBHJn ), and later Marc spent 15 minutes demonstrating the ServiceCloud, which is emerging as a $1 Billion revenue stream for the company. The themes of the new business are all here: Cloud computing, mobile applications, connected devices and connected people.
It is exciting for me, as my research has been on the engaged customer, employee, partner and products in what I have been calling a Customer Engagement Hub. It won’t all be about Cloud. My amazing colleague, Andy Kyte, points out persuasively that the five pillars of delivering capabilities remain:
- Buy and Configure
- Buy and Customize
This makes a CIO’s job ever more complicated. And they are here in abundance this week. Whereas in previous years the overwhelming mass of attendees were in Sales, and then five years ago began a shift to Customer Service, now the spectrum of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support are here, along with the technologists – the latter providing the adult supervision. Why? Because though innovation flows from the bottom to the top, decision making and prioritization flow from the top down. Never has the role of CIO been more critical, and their attendance here this week is validation of that. For more, see my colleague Tina Nunno’s fantastic work on the CIO. (You can even downloaded her new book to your eReader http://amzn.to/I2FWJ3 !)
The world of CRM applications is searching for its common platform, and for businesses selling and marketing and servicing other companies, Salesforce.com is the leader – upwind and downwind. In the business-to-consumer world where operations are much more complicated, disbursed, and real time, solutions remain partial.
What is emerging is a picture of connected devices, especially mobile. Mobile becomes your social interface, the way you manage devices, a set of business services, and much more.
Devices themselves begin to require the same level of connection and orchestration, and software/hardware providers like ThingWork, Digi, Axeda, Jasper Wireless and FitBit are telling us about our health, the health of our businesses and equipment, and even manipulating objects to tune them for best use.
Gartner has been leading on Cloud, Social, the Connected Enterprise and Social, and it is great validation that the largest CRM event in history is exploring these themes.
If you are at Dreamforce, what do you think of this Customer Idea Bazaar?
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by Michael Maoz | November 12, 2013 | 2 Comments
Though CIOs may be expected to support internal Business Intelligence initiatives, the idea that we must also treat our customers with respect by supplying them with key data points is overlooked. There is a certain BI paternalism that says, “we know what is best for you,’ that leaves customers in the dark.
It is nearing that time of year when I am required to re-enroll in my current health care plan, or select another. For those of you living in countries differently enlightened about health care, here in the United States the citizens of the country do not support universal health care. (As a sidebar, the notion goes something like this: it would be too expensive for the Federal government and would be a drain on the population. Yet per capita spending on health care in the US is about 75% higher than almost all other Western countries, and the US dedicates a higher percentage of GDP to healthcare than anyone. And for all that life expectancy in the US does not even make the Top 25 in the world.)
What would a customer investing a not-insignificant amount of money in a health care plan want to know in order to make an informed decision about next year? What did I get from my health plan last year and over the past several years? What is the benefit for dollar spent? How did the version of the plan that I chose for 2013 compare to the three other versions of the plan that I might have chosen? How often were my claims accepted? What percentage of each claim was covered, and which were not? What were the reasons? How has my consumption of benefits changed year over year? How do I compare to my cohort group? How do I compare to other demographic segments? Do I have more claims, or more types of claims, or higher bills, or higher deductibles than I require? Which physicians in my location are ‘in-network’ who also have the highest Patient-Rating?
Basically, whether we are talking about health insurance or taxes, or power consumption or rental cars or hotel stays or bank fees, consumers receive extremely limited data about the performance of their products and services and how they might better invest, purchase, or consume. What is fairly standard for wealth management sites is almost completely missing in other industries: a true statement that honestly reflects the benefits of a relationship with the company/enterprise/government that you are trusting to provide you goods and services.
The result of BI living in an internal bubble, primarily accessible to business managers and C-Suite, is that customers rarely feel confident that the products and services that they consume served them well. Instead they rely on memory, and memory is skewed to recall the negative.
Let’s do ourselves all a favor: push the boundaries of business intelligence tools beyond the enterprise and into the hands of the customer. They just might trust us more.
What do you think? Too much risk for too little reward?
Category: Business Intelligence CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Social Networking Strategic Planning Tags:
by Michael Maoz | November 1, 2013 | 3 Comments
Choosing a hotel for business travel for me means seeking a Gartner Preferred Hotel. Not based on chain, but on price. Sometimes you might go for a ‘non-preferred’ and run the risk of receiving the dreaded internal message with the label “Out of Compliance.” Why not always just comply? Well you might know there is free parking and wifi, or you will be walking distance to the client, or the place has breakfast and light food for dinner that actually brings the true cost into line or make it lower. And that is what I did at the Long Wharf in Boston this week: stayed at my personal preferred hotel chain. This one I like because they have always upgraded me to the concierge floor, which I enjoy only because it is high up and quiet, and it saves me time.
But a funny thing: I recently accepted the hotel’s offer of taking an affinity Visa credit card. I like the opportunity to move up to Gold Status, and over this year stayed at one of their hotels 16 times and have almost 45 nights. Rolling into Boston Monday night I checked in, but this time the desk receptionist said no free move to Concierge. No access to the lounge. When I asked the frosty but efficient person behind the counter why this time was I not offered Concierge level, unlike prior times, her answer was: “Well I have no way of verifying that.” AKA: you may be lying to me. Yikes. She added,“You can upgrade for $150 to a suite.”
I didn’t want a suite. There is a World Series baseball game on, and the lower floor, off of the atrium, above the bar, where my room was located, I knew would be loud. I wanted quiet, and I also wanted what I had received during all of the previous stays. So: suddenly the price isn’t justifiable.
First off: the world did not end, and all is well. But let’s decompose the experience:
The irony is that if they had data on me available in real time, they would see that I have four more reservations at their chain over the next 45 days, and then I will be Gold status and eligible for a free upgrade.
They could have seen that I stayed on the Concierge level the past six stays.
And they would have seen that I have stayed at this location every year for six years.
And they would know, and see visually, that across the chain I have been a loyal customer for 16 years. And that I only recently accepted the affinity card.
And that my company has a relationship with them.
Know if I am an influencer in social media
And they could have had a business rule that looked at inventory, looked at my current trajectory of status, compared to the past decisions, and either given me the upgrade or nicely said that this time they were not able to offer it. But not: “I can’t verify what you are telling me.”
Big Data doesn’t need to be that complicated. In fact it is quite simple. A bit of customer history, a bit of analytics, a couple of business rules, and presto – consistent service.
Red Sox won the next night.
What do I write on the feedback survey? “You had a nice run, and you are nice folks, but the folks at the Hyatt two doors down are also very nice.” Will they know or care or try to win me back? They would if I mentioned their name negatively on Twitter or in a forum, like the New York area cable company that sent four engineers to a customer’s house to install wireless after he posted a series of negative Tweets. The problem? They left the rest of the apartment building’s tenants without WIFI, and now they have 10X the negative posts/Tweets! As for me, I never post negative comments. Life is too short and never sweat the small stuff. Old school, and a dying breed. Does this hotel know which of those types I am? Or are they rolling the dice?
What is the curated experience all about? How important is it? And does consistency matter? A major issue today is that suddenly the customer comes armed with so much more information than ever before. All of my stays were on my iPhone, and selecting hotel A or hotel B is just a touch of an index finger, and the price comparisons and ratings are there on the screen, with a map to guide me down the street.
Easy, fair, consistent, meeting expectations: get those four correct and we win. Get them wrong and we lose.
Category: CIO CRM Gamification Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Strategic Planning Tags:
by Michael Maoz | October 22, 2013 | 1 Comment
While the West Coast High Tech mavens are schvitzing about the incompetence of the outsourcers who tried and failed to build a workable website for HealthCare.gov, none of these same pundits would really have wanted the job or the transparency they are now putting down. Maybe the US Government’s two major software developers are Schmendriks, or maybe they are highly competent but were put into an untenable position. No one yet knows. What we know is that 40+ million individuals who do not have insurance but are expected to get it are receiving a message: “The System is down at the moment. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Please try again later.”
There should be an expiration date on “Please try again later.” Better would be: “Please try again in five minutes.” Or: “We have no idea when you should try again, but leave a contact number and we will notify you.” One might also consider saying, “We are sorry.”
Maybe I am a perenial optimist, but eventually we will learn why the Canadian company and the US company that are at the heart of the $400m – $700m development project were not able to stress-test the system, and the US government will solve the problem, and new processes will be put in place, and all will be well. Because most folks have the memory- retention of gnats when it comes to history, few recall the concession by US Senator from New York, Charles Schumer in 2009 that the Air Traffic Control System in the United States was “in shambles.” Literally billions of dollars have been spent on the problem, tens of millions of lines of code written and tested, yet over 15 years the system has creaked to semi-modernization, with occassional glitches that stop flight. And with air traffic we are talking about life and death – not delays in filing for health care. Some stuff is just really hard, and even great minds and great wills fail.
So forgive my leniency. Yes, governments should be better at this stuff. But this ‘of the people’ and ‘by the people’ stuff makes things messy, and yes there is a lot of bureaucracy. And when governments do rush forward and make quick decisions, citizens also are unhappy. But here is what we can expect: transparency into what is up. There are brilliant people everywhere who could help crowdsource a better process going forward. The same West Coast startups and established software leaders who are crowing about their Cloud solutions could show where THEY support 45 million consumers with complex back-end integrations in real time, in the Cloud. Oh: except that they can’t. No amount of genius on RDF 3X or page-ranking, or API calls, or graph partitioning or Dremel or in-line memory compare to what HealthCare.gov is facing. This is not to suggest ‘put up or shut up.’ It is however, a time to show the cards on how it should be done based on real evidence. Not “Well HR Block data flows to the IRS so it’s possible” kind of illogic – but true cases of like-for-like.
Away with the useless criticism; in with the clear eyed and unbiased assistance. Other suppliers can say that they would have done a better job. I hear that from Fantasy Football people every Monday. And may those with the stones find that their houses are not made of glass.
Let’s wait and learn what there is to learn about leadership failures, software testing, procurement by those who do not know how to measure the thing they need to procure, and how projects are managed and reported on. I’m on an Amtrak train heading up the Eastern corridor at 1/3 speed because of poor engineering design. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. We move forward, regardless.
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