Why Customer Engagement Matters – Customer Dynamics and Business Judo

My briefing on The Customer Edge with host Butch Stearns and colleague Matt Healey from Technology Business Research provided the post-game interview with SAP Insider CRM 2014 conference.  Some highlights may also be found in my LinkedIn post this week, including some thoughts around generational shifts around social marketing expectations and the business judo that needs to happen to give the power of the brand back to the customer.

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Click on the photo to go to the briefing or select this link

 

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Filed under Big Data, Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Cloud Computing, Digital Content Strategy, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Millennial Worker Shift, Mobile Society, Operations, Strategy, Technology

Changing Intended Human Behavior, and Liking It

More on my coverage of convergence forces, recently I interviewed a number of customers and executives at the SAP CRM 2014 conference in Las Vegas.  One of the big topics was the focus of location-based services, social, and predictive analytics to offer real-time perks to consumers who have opted-in for such deals.

I’m walking through the park with my wife and I receive a notification on my smart phone.  Because my wife and I enjoy a particular film festival, an offer comes to us for a free ticket with one purchase to an event happening in a nearby venue.  When we finish a lovely movie experience, we receive additional offers for a bite of dinner from three local establishments which we have frequented in the past.  We have taken a leisurely stroll in the park and extended this into a full day of entertainment and relaxation.

Science fiction? Hardly, as we saw this week at the SAP Insider CRM 2014 conference in Las Vegas the citizens of Montreal can live this experience every day with the use of the Societe du Transport Montreal (STM) application.  This location-based customer engagement mobile app identifies where the citizen is, how they can route from point to point inside the city’s transit system, and offer perks and offers along the way by participating establishments which the citizen may or may not already have a customer history with.

This was just one of several customer engagement (CE) scenarios that were discussed with applications across a wide range of product and service industries from public sector, to telecommunications, to discrete manufacturers. Unlike other location based services apps driven by big data where data privacy issues surrounding dynamic pricing my create societal concerns, this fully opt-in community-based approach works.

I am posting the STM promotional video here as well.  For my full report on findings from CRM 2014 check out my blog on the SAP Community Network (login required for comment).

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Filed under Change Management and Leadership, Digital Content Strategy, Enterprise Performance Management, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Millennial Worker Shift, Strategy

Coffee Break with Game Changers 2014 Predictions Pt 3 – More on Convergence Forces

The popular internet radio talk show program hosted by Bonnie D. Graham returns for its third full season of predictions and trends which will impact business and technology. What will be the disruptive factors in the market in 20-14? I joined Bonnie and the panel during the fourth segment around 56:00 with my take on “convergence forces” to beg the question “can you fish in a tsunami?”

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My opening statement – besides my annual holiday Irish Cream recipe which you can find elsewhere on my blog – is summarized below. You can also find more on this blog and on my SCN page.

One of the big news stories in strategy, innovation and tech circles is the growth and convergence of four key trends from the past two years. These trends – social networking, mobile computing, cloud applications and big data – are not new.  In fact our firm covered these extensively in 2012 and continue to advise clients on how to leverage these trends strategically, both individually and collectively. What is occurring now as we move into 2014 is the cumulative effect of these trends into force directions of their own.  These so-called convergence forces – or what Gartner Group calls nexus of forces (NOF) – have a tendency to amplify and extend innovation in new and more powerful directions, much like strong winds, lunar position, and seismic disturbances can affect the behavior of ocean tides.  To put it another way, you might be able to plan to fish based on high tide but planning to fish during a tsunami is, well, a bit more complicated.

You can plan to fish in a high tide but fishing in a tsunami is a bit more complicated.

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Filed under Big Data, Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Cloud Computing, Cloud Readiness, Digital Content Strategy, Information Technology, Innovation, Marketing and Social Business, Millennial Worker Shift, Mobile Society, Operations, Strategy, Technology

2013 – the WordPress Review from C-Level

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. I hope you enjoy it. Peaceful and prosperous New Year 20-14!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Convergence Forces – The Coming Ethics Debate on Predictive Analytics and Location Based Services

One of the big news stories in strategy, innovation and tech circles is the growth and convergence of four key trends from the past two years. These trends – social networking, mobile computing, cloud applications and big data – are not new.  In fact our firm covered these extensively in 2012 and continue to advise clients on how to leverage these trends strategically, both  individually and collectively. What is occurring now as we move into 2014 is the cumulative effect of these trends into force directions of their own.  These so-called convergence forces – or what Gartner Group calls nexus of forces (NOF) – have a tendency to amplify and extend innovation in new and more powerful directions, much like strong winds, lunar position, and seismic disturbances can affect the behavior of ocean tides.

Photo credit, Cisco Systems.

One of the areas where we are seeing this play out is in the business to consumer pricing strategies of in-store retail.  Location based services – either by way of opt-in applications or mobile browsing cookies – allow known customers to log-in to store applications and view special VIP promotions, to quickly locate where items may be found in the store, and to recommend products which based on sentiment analysis and buying pattern might be of interest to the customer.  Location based predictive analytics can also help retailers determine the best location in a particular store to position items based on customer traffic (using big data to monitor your path via GPS as you actually browse the store or predict where you will go based on history and profile) as well as to dynamically create promotions based on your position and buying status.

Creating special offers and promotions based on an existing relationship is not new in the business to business world.  Suppliers and customers alike receive special treatment and extended services and bundle pricing based on volume of sales, excellent quality, and other relationship management KPIs.  In fact in the world of wealth management and retail banking, customers may find that with particularly large financial institutions the first question they are asked after pleasantries may be “what is your current relationship with us?” While this is hardly endearing to the uninformed, it does grant status to those who may, have for example, several accounts, a loan, a trust and other financial products all aggregated under the same customer portfolio with a particular financial institution.

Where things may run amok in the future is when customers (a) receive deferential pricing based on relationship without permission and (b) when a relationship is implied based on socio-demographic profiling or  when facial recognition technologies are employed.  Let me give two very possible scenarios.  I have an account at a sports and recreation retailer and I walk into the store. As a member I have given them permission to my specific profile information (where I live, what I purchase via history, my demographics) in exchange for an annual dividend at no fee.  The retailer has the ability while I am in-store to make me aware of specific items I might want and key promotions going on at that store on that day.  What the retailer can do is also annotate the base price while I walk through the store.  Meaning that what price I may see before logging in and what price I see after I log-in may be different.  Imagine digital price tags changing and updating dynamically as I walk through the store.  Now in this scenario I am going to assume that the incentive I have to purchase items is a benefit versus a cost so I assume that the store is truly giving me a deal even if they don’t.

Another scenario gets more futuristic but again the convergence forces suggest all plausibility.  I walk into a store that I don’t actively have a relationship with nor have I given permission to share my profile and demographic information.  However due to advances in facial recognition technology (such as what is available in Facebook and other applications commercially), the store can tap into vast image databases and make a best estimate at who I am based on my movements in the store and camera images obtained while I move throughout the store.  This correlation of implied relationship and implied demographics can, under the proper scenario, suggest promotions and product recommendations not aligned to my actual relationship nor my actual demographic and in extreme cases improperly tweak dynamic pricing levels.

While this extreme case is just that, convergence forces already have the attention of retail strategists, ethics experts, media tech publications and even sparked political debate. Earlier this year, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) suggested that analytics companies engaging in such practices without customer knowledge would be “intrusive and unsettling.” prompting the Senator to issue a statement with eight of the key location analytics companies in this space to a new code of conduct which would discourage such practices. Other industry segments have also begun to weigh in on the legitimate and ethical use of predictive analytics including higher education, which can use the technology as a early warning system for right-tracking student performance through degree programs.

Convergence forces in this area have already begun and the debate is reaching the mainstream.  What are your thoughts? And – outside of leaving your phone in the car or forgoing permission to give your profile information to any customer loyalty system or social media site – how do we as consumers protect ourselves from retail profiling when we don’t want it?

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SAP NetWeaver Gateway PAM – A New Productive Approach for Microsoft Users

I was happy to participate at the recent SAP TechEd US in the product roll-out of the new  SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft, or SAP Gateway PAM.  What is SAP Gateway PAM and why is it important?  From a forthcoming white paper, some specific background:

Today’s labor force is different. Knowledge workers demand easy and transparent access to critical business information in order  to complete their jobs. As such, line of business owners must take responsibility for their own employee retention. Business users, particularly the Millennial workers (generally considered those born between 1979 through 1999) who are making up more and more of the workforce, grew up learning how to play and fun was part of their learning pedagogy and educational upbringing.  So line of business owners need to make work fun and easy and for this IT must be in partnership with the business.  Whether it is via on-premise , on the cloud or mobile applications, business information must be quick and easy to access in order  to complete day to day operational tasks, and done so in a secure, easy to maintain manner across the entire enterprise software landscape.

Knowledge workers also have a tendency to prefer to work in teams rather than alone. As such, performance management systems which place much of the emphasis on independent contributions will give way to more team-based and group performance approaches.  Despite these trends, research has shown that line of business owners have a “hazy understanding” of what is needed to address this shift in worker business practices. This “lack of clarity” on the part of line of business owners is partly because knowledge work involves more diverse tasks than does production or clerical work which can be procedural and repetitive.

Since knowledge workers spend half their time on interactions, research suggests that companies should first explore the productivity barriers that impede these interactions. Common barriers may include lack of clearly defined expectations and outcomes, competing information sources for executing work tasks, and basic information accessibility issues.  The work environment itself may pose a barrier, whereby overly structured processes and systems deter knowledge workers executing tasks in team-based environments.

With this shift in worker behavior, performance metrics are hard to come by in knowledge work, making it challenging to assess how effective particular individual knowledge workers may or may not be against poorly defined goals and objectives.  Against this backdrop, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many companies settle for “scattershot investments” in staff development and corresponding IT systems and processes rather than to consider a cohesive environment that clearly supports knowledge worker behavior.

In recent years, many companies and research firms have taken a hard look at the need to increase accessibility of critical business information that exists in SAP Business Suite solutions and SAP data structures like HANA and BI across lines of business and functions in its many customer organizations.  By studying the demand for information  and the use modes of that information, SAP has determined that there is a “gap” between the accessibility and the use of business critical information.  In an ideal situation, all workers should be directly connected to the SAP back system to access information directly and quickly in order to execute processes efficiently. However for the majority of SAP customers only 25% percent of the business users are directly working on the SAP systems.  Given that over 400 million users access Microsoft Outlook.com email services and 1 billion Microsoft Office licenses currently exist worldwide, it is easy to see how a typical SAP customer would have business access to Microsoft based productivity like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Excel.  In addition, these business users are increasing their day to day consumption of business critical information via mobile channels, with more and more information consumed via smart phones and other mobile devices.SAP believes that by 2018 over 50% of business users will access SAP business critical information via non-native user interface (UI) modes, further increasing the need for broad integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft environments.

In response to this need, SAP has developed a solution that provides an extended set of tools and connectors to easily create bi-directional communication between the SAP Business Suite stack and Microsoft platforms in a secure, development friendly approach.  Called SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsoft (NetWeaver Gateway PAM), this new platform builds on the recent design improvements of the overall NetWeaver release with additional pre-configured extensions specifically for use in Microsoft application environments.  Using .Net programming options via its Design Studio and open data (OData) protocols, developers already familiar with the Microsoft stack will be able to quickly develop new and enhance existing extensions from SAP Business Suite applications directly into Microsoft user environments via Gateway PAM.  As such SAP NetWeaver Gateway productivity accelerator for Microsot becomes a single, unified and fully secured platform to bring the SAP and Microsoft environments  together in the lowest integration cost model developed to date.

SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (SAP Gateway PAM) allows for easy integration for Microsoft productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio.  Through the use of pre-configured extensions into these applications, workers connect to critical business information stored in SAP Business Suite solutions in a low-cost, highly transparent manner.

Ning-Jing Gao from the SAP Information Worker Unit interviewed me on the SAP Technology channel after I had an opportunity to review the release materials. Watch the full YouTube interview, below.  This is a next big step towards seamless UI and data integration between SAP Business Suite and Microsoft productivity applications.

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Filed under Information Technology, Millennial Worker Shift, Technology

Cyborg Cockroach Sparks Ethics Debate

I was interviewed by Emily Underwood for her recent article in Science Magazine on the “Robo Roach” by Backyard Brains, the world’s first commercially available cyborg.  I was able to test drive Robo Roach 12 at the recent TEDxDetroit show.

This concept is based on some of the same neuroscience that is used for treating Parkinson’s patients with the new “pacemaker” stimulation approach.  I have two family friends both in their first three months with a new neural pacemaker and while the effects vary between the two and across all patients who have the procedure, both have experienced a market improvement in their quality of life.

Here is the YouTube video showing how the cyborg is controlled by an iPhone app:

Thanks to Emily for her interest in this technology and the ongoing ethics debate.  What do you think, weird science or freaky cool?

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October 24, 2013 · 7:39 pm