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Posts Tagged ‘concept’

Cloud Computing made simple!

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

No discussion on the emerging trends in EA delivery is complete without talking about the Cloud Computing and related stuff. Not many people are very clear on what exactly cloud computing is? What is the difference between Cloud, SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. This five-minute video explain all of this terminology in very simple way. 

2010: The year of exploring new avenues.

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Every one knows what happened in the year 2008 and 2009. The analysts have made thread bare discussions and post-mortem on the economic downturn. Now, when the economy is looking up, the businesses are again gaining their senses and gathering their strengths back to climb up the crest.

The climb, though exciting, will not be easy. The large organizations have already started making strategic alliances and partnerships to be prepared for the upturn. The smaller players are also pulling up their socks. Over the last few months, I have made a list of recommendations (mostly for small players) that will help them to gear up and make the most of the upturn:

1. Look for options: This is to make sure you don’t just jump on to the bandwagon in anticipation of success. Make sure that the bus is going in the right direction and at right speed before you decide to ride it.

2. Know yourselves well: The downturn has given companies a lot of time to retrospect, but still make sure you know waht you are good at and also know very weel what you are not good at. This will help in increasing the number of successes and decreasing the number of failures.

3. Alliances: Enter into a strategic alliance. Try to make an ecosystem around the customer so that when the customer identifies a requirement, he does not have to wander far and wide for a solution. Step forward and tell the customer that you can deliver it, if not, one of your alliance partners can deliver it.

4. Have a look at emerging markets: By emerging markets I do not mean the emerging markets like India, Brazil etc. , what I mean is look for a market of requirements. There will be lots of unment requirements and if you are an innovator, target the latent requirements of the customers.

5. Keep a track of your dollars: By this recommendation I mean, keep a track of the in-flow as well as the out-flow of cash. Cash in-flow (that too only from operations) is the real wort of the company. The economic downturn has put a lot of pressure on the fluidity and liquidity of finance options. So, make the best use of the money at hand!

These are just a few of the important observations that I came across in last few months. There are many other things organizations should take care of in the oncoming upturn, but, I thought of sharing just a few important out of them. 

Competing on Analytics: Part 3

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

In parts 1 and 2 we have seen the power of analytics and how companies have made use of analytics to achieve substantial gains. The last part of  in the series gives the details of some other important aspects of data.

Where to capture this data?

The modern enterprise has numerous channels from which the data flows. The data can converge into a single destination or may be stored at different locations in the integrated system. The various channels of data flow may be: call centre, direct sales, partner operations, IVR, Self Service-Internet etc. It is again the decision of the management team to identify which sources of data to tap. The Six Cs (Correct, Complete, Current, Consistent, Context, Controlled) of data play an important part in the identification of places where the data can be found. For Example in a telecom enterprise, the data may be available at a number of places such as the CRM database, the Billing Database, IVR Database, the Interaction Centre, the networks etc.

How much data is needed?

The amount of data plays an important part in the ability of the enterprise to leverage the ability of the system to convert the data into knowledge and insights. Any enterprise looking for reliable results should have data at least for two years. The organizations operations in an industry sector which faces cyclicity need even more data for making sure there is no cyclicity in the cycles.

The base line is “The more (without compromising the quality) the better”. The knowledge depositories using analytics solutions build over time. The irregularities are smoothened over time and with the refinement in analysing techniques. Companies should not expect instantaneous results from implementation of analytics. The results take some time to show up and the managers also take some time to pick the fine lines in leveraging the results.

Analytical tools and Analysis

Once the data is ready, the next important aspect is the data analyzing tools. The market is abuzz with tools ranging from very simple tools like XL- Spread Sheets to very complex and powerful tools such as SAS, SPSS, Minitab etc. The organization needs to again take a subjective decision on which tool to use. Some tools offer marginal improvements at a very high additional cost. Also, the analytical tool just provides the results of analysis and is a DSS (Decision Support System). The interpretation and implementation of results is again a function of the “human factor”.

Knowledge and Insights

I always tell fellow consultants and clients that the implementation of Analytics does not “give” knowledge and insights. It has to be “achieved”. The IT component is only a small part of the whole exercise. All the stakeholders have to play their part to achieve the two. Once the trends and patterns are identified, the managers have to play their part. Many companies implement these solutions but not many can leverage the results. The analytics (or any other DSS) can increase the accuracy in identifying more factors that influence the decisions. In the end it’s the manager who makes the decision. 

Competing on Analytics: Part 1

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Recently, while reading a book on Analytics (incidentally by the same name: Competing on Analytics, T.H Daven Port, J.G. Harris, Harvard Business School Press), I was astonished at the vast range of companies and industries making use of Analytics. The online movie rental company, Netflix uses analytics extensively to make use of data for ranking movies.  Based on the customer selection and ranking the movies are clustered into different segments, the delivery for various customers is prioritized and the demand for yet to be released movies is forecasted. The data generated is also used to the extent to forecast how many copies of a movie the company should order and what it should pay for a particular movie.

The use of analytics by Netflix is not a one off example. Analytics is being used in some areas where one would have never thought of using it a decade ago. Take the case of Boston Red Sox, who made use of analytics to end an eighty six year draught and won the World Series title in the year 2004. The team used analytics on piles of data that they had collected over decades. They analyzed the pitches, the role of weather, the abilities of different players to handle different situations etc. They also made use of data for various players to decide upon what fee to be paid for the player or how much money to be paid for a player in the event of an auction. This helped them to get the best team in the given constraints of money cap. The result was: the team went on to win the 2004 title of the World Series.

Similarly take the example of AC Milan, the team has a separate arm called Milan Labs which makes extensive use of Analytics for making sure the team puts best efforts for playing and winning matches.

The examples of competing on the basis of analytics are many. Pharma companies have made use of data for shortening the product development life cycles. The retail chains have used analytics for planning their supply chain and designing the store layouts and formats. Manufacturing companies have used analytics for planning procurement, scheduling production and saving on costs of carrying inventory. The list is almost endless.

But, the question is: Can every organization make use of analytics for competing? If yes, How?

The CRM Implementation- Introduction

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

    Many organizations have a need and a desire of implementing CRM and the related systems. Implementing these systems if a big decision for the companies and costs a bomb in terms of money and human resource spending. Even after meticulous planning and careful implementation, the companies are not sure if they will be able to achieve the desired results.

    I have started writing a series of articles on the planning and implementation methodology that may serve as broad guidelines for companies to implement these systems. The series will take the readers from the planning through the implementation and optimizing and fine tuning the system. 

Google Wave: Another step towards “Seamless Collaboration”

November 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Google Wave is another real-time information sharing platform. But is it “just another” social website. No. I would describe it as a hybrid of mail and chat (and much more).

Though Google has been a late entrant on the Social Media stage, it still has a huge fan following to make an impact. There are many features in G-Wave which separate it from the pack. As I see it, all these features take us a step closer to the “Seamless Social CRM”. Some of the features that are of interest are:

  1. Enhanced Chat: It is a major enhancement on the basic G-Talk. One can have conference chat, a one to one chat or a video chat. The chat has been really enhanced with all the features of formatting, highlighting, different fonts etc.
  2. Attachments: This helps in sending attachments in a chat. The chat can be directly sent as a mail with the attachment to the other members who might be offline at the moment.
  3. Collaborative e-mail: This is nice feature. Even at the time of drafting a mail (or for that matter even the contents of a document), one can add friends/ colleagues who can see the content being typed real-time. This helps in leveraging a collaborative effort in drafting such memos.
  4. The Waves: The Google Waves are similar to the Tweets but have the advantage that they are “real time”. One can share and see what is being shared real time. This all is not one to one, but can be many to one or one to many. Add to it the advantage of using photographs, online information etc.
  5. G-Maps: The best feature I found was the sharing of Google maps. One can access the map of an area while chatting and mark the positions and thus create his/her own map. I see a great potential in this application. The customer can explain their exact location to the sales rep. In case of emergency, the victim can use the G Map to tell the position to the emergency response teams. These are just a few examples. The applications might be infinite.
  6. G-Search: Another great feature is the G-Search on the tool. Even at the time of chatting or making an online memo/document, one can use the Google search option to find resources online and quote them.
  7. Embedding: There are a lot of options for embedding from documents to pictures to videos. These objects can be embedded from the desktop or by searching online from the net.
  8. Play collaborative games: One can play games with people across the globe. There are not many applications available at this moment to play these collaborative games but, will be available once the developers start to show their skills.
  9. Mobile updates: The mobile version of the Wave can be used to upload the photographs take from the mobile and create waves then and there with it.

What it means for Collaborative CRM?

These applications and features mean lot for the “collaborative and seamless” CRM. The collaboration that is being offered by G Wave has limitless potential if the business teams want to use it. For example there is an option of Yes/No/May-Be for online voting. This can be of tremendous importance when a decision has to be taken by voting. The team does not need to assemble at a place; it just has to click on one of the options in the voting tab displayed.

Oracle has come with something similar for Social CRM. It has some great features of collaboration between the various teams of the organization. It has more of business oriented features where as G Wave caters to the fun and light side of life.

But the big question is: Can it replace G mail? Yes. It has all the punch to replace the G mail. But, it will take time till all the people are on board the Wave!

Keep it Simple. But, not Stupid.

November 9, 2009 2 comments

 

Process

When it comes to processes, they can be as simple as one single step or as complex as multiple steps with various points where the optimum path is taken depending upon the logic. But, in any kind of process, whether it is of single step or multiple and/or parallel steps, one needs to keep it simple.

The concept of keeping things “Simple” has been given many jargons by many management gurus and successful managers. Everything comes at the same point: Cut the flab.

The job of cutting down the flab is tedious and has to be carried out with caution. The following steps might help in achieving the same:

      1.      Check the Results first:  Take a single process at a time. Make sure the result of the process is exactly what is desired. If not, first check and tweak the process to get the desired result. This because, there is no use of simplifying a process which does not give the desired result.

      2.     End-to-Front: This works for most of the processes. Check the processes one by one start from the end result and keep going up the value chain. Wherever you find a step that doesn’t add value to the next in line, scrutinize it and chop it off if it doesn’t add value.

            This step might sound easy but in practice it is not easy to remove a step from a process. One has to check the after effects (or what-if?) if the step is removed. Check with all the stakeholders and make sure that it will not cause “value-reduction”.

      3.     Front-to-End: For complex processes, having many forks and logic at each of these forks, the End-to-Front methodology might not work. Segregate these processes and treat them separately. For each of these processes, take each branch one by one and make sure that the redundant steps are removed and we reach at the end result with optimum use of resources.

      4.     Step Back and See: After simplifying each process, just step back and have a look at the bigger picture. The new, lean process should fit into the bigger scheme of things. For making sure the bigger picture is intact, segregate the processes into logical and manageable groups and before proceeding check if the processes fall in place.

           The end result of this exercise will be a simpler and leaner system. This exercise will help in achieving the same (or better) results with the use of optimum resources. Sometimes this exercise helps improving the results even before the implementation of the Enterprise Solution. If this is carried out hand-in-hand with the re-engineering while keeping the strategy and vision of the organization in mind, the results can be astounding!