Posts Tagged ‘CIO’

Agile Commerce – Unlocking a Mobile Applications Strategy that works

October 18, 2011

One common misconception in creating an Agile Commerce strategy, especially in Retailing, is to think that the strategy is purely centered on technology.

Retailers must “operationalize” customer intelligence across channels from existing systems such as customer relationship management, web analytics, business intelligence, data warehousing and mobile applications.

Agile Commerce is not a solution looking for a problem to solve but a process for enhancing the customer experience and driving additional revenue and profit to the organization.  An Agile Commerce strategy and business strategy need to be developed in parallel.

Mobile Applications play an important role in an agile commerce strategy.  If implemented properly in accordance with the business/retailing strategy, Mobile Applications can improve the customer experience.

  • Mobile Barcodes: Mobile barcodes are a powerful way to drive in-store transactions. For example, retailers can provide a mobile application that enables customers to use the camera in their mobile phone to snap a picture of a barcode, which then brings up a special landing page for that product or group of products. This can provide customers with instant product and pricing information and create opportunities for cross selling or up selling. These same capabilities would also provide the ability to generate coupons or vouchers that encourage impulse buying in the store.
  • Location-Based Services: Mobile store-locator applications can guide customers to the nearest store, or the nearest store that has a specific product in inventory, and provide coupons for use in the store.
  • In-Store Shopping Applications: Mobile devices can become “virtual salespeople” by providing applications that enable customers to check product availability (both in-store and online), compare prices with other outlets and access reliable product information. (Enabling price comparisons with other outlets seems counterintuitive, but it actually is beneficial because it helps keep the customer in the store to negotiate pricing rather than having them leave to investigate pricing elsewhere.)
  • Multichannel Engagement: Mobile can become the first point of contact with a potential customer, who can then be transferred to other online or offline channels. For example, a coupon could be used as an incentive to download a mobile application, with the coupon redeemable at the online or offline store. Mobile is also an excellent channel for customer updates. SMS messages, email or automated phone calls can be used to notify customers to product availability or special promotions, driving them to online and offline stores, and providing them with vouchers while in-store to encourage impulse buying.
  • Closing the Sale: Actual mobile transactions have been slow to evolve since those initial Coca-Cola machine rollouts, due primarily to technical and security considerations. Most of those issues have been overcome today, making mobile a suitable mechanism for capturing customer information and executing transactions.

Mobile application technology should provide the flexibility to adapt to emerging business requirements, so it can support mobile commerce operations both today and in the future–even if future requirements are not yet known.

In addition to being fully integrated with a broader commerce platform, mobile commerce technology should have the following core capabilities that will enable a truly rich mobile commerce strategy:

  • Integrated Content Management: This will enable easy development of mobile-optimized websites and ensure content consistency across different sites and channels. The solution should have a single interface for content creation, and advanced search and navigation capabilities to make content access simple and intuitive. It should also integrate with promotions functionality, to facilitate the rapid creation and deployment of promotional content.
  • Mobile Barcode Generation: As detailed earlier in this blog, mobile barcodes open a broad range of opportunities to influence customer behavior – from driving them to online and offline stores, to encouraging impulse purchasing, to promoting up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
  • Standards-Based APIs: These APIs – most often based on Web services standards – will enable seamless integration with other systems and support for all varieties of mobile platforms. This enables mobile and commerce platforms to integrate with back-end systems, and all major mobile platforms.

In order for the agile commerce strategy to be implemented effectively two primary tenets need to be adhered to:

  1. Make agility and speed a corporate imperative. In order to win in the new era of agile commerce, organizations must overcome the IT bottleneck that comes with making e-commerce changes. It’s essential to be able to inject customized content into customer interactions seamlessly, throughout the sales cycle.
  2. Create a multifaceted/cross-functional team structure. You need to optimize more than your technology. The right people and processes must deliver the same level of continuity, engagement, and relevance across all touch points. No longer can a few members of the organization dictate the impact of digital marketing. Through a “cross-pollination of expertise” you can leverage the new technologies to create an army of margin makers at all levels of the organization, a business culture where all employees are empowered to influence revenue based on the ability to carry out great ideas quickly, with measurable and actionable results.

The role of today’s CIO is changing—why it’s imperative for the success of the organization

October 7, 2011

The CIO role is changing–it must continue to change so that IT organizations can become and remain successful. In her article for Bloomberg Business Week, Rachael King quotes Rebecca Jacoby, CIO at Cisco Systems (CSCO), on the changing role of today’s CIO:  “As technology plays a more central role in products and employees do more work on a broader range of devices, CIOs need experience running businesses and spurring innovation—not just keeping computers running.”

Read Rachel’s full post. Here’s my observation on why the role of the CIO should continue to change and why it makes sense.

The focus of the CIO role is now much more about the purpose of leadership.  Whether or not a CIO has come up through a technical track or not will not necessarily make that CIO become a successful business leader.  Technical experience alone does not give anyone the ability to lead an IT organization.

It has been my experience that many people within IT organizations may sometimes feel threatened by a non-technologically trained CIO taking the reins of a company that was once a technology dominated. Think about it. A successful non-technical CIO has no choice but to build an organization of great technicians that will help the organization to develop technical solutions for business issues.

The days of a CIO coming up through a technical track are quickly coming to an end.  IT organizations “stuck in the silo” and not working within the business community are doing a disservice to the organization and more than likely hampering the growth of the business. Nowadays a CIO must be very conversant in marketing, finance and accounting–really most of the core business leadership functions in my opinion.

It is myopic to think that a non-technical CIO cannot successfully run an IT organization just as it is myopic to think that a person that is technically competent cannot become a CEO, COO or CFO.

Be sure to read Rachel King’s Bloomberg post.

Customer Centricity on Steroids with Agile Commerce

August 10, 2011

Over the years the term of “Customer Centricity” has been the buzz word for retail organizations. Retailers are now focusing on operations to optimize the customer relationship.  This includes setting up as many touch points within the store and via web and print media as possible.  However, as we move into a social networking paradigm the term of “Agile Commerce” is taking hold and it has a lot to offer retailers on how they take “Customer Centricity” to the next level.

Many retailers recognize the need for visibility everywhere their customers are, but most don’t really know how to do this yet.  As a result, far too many retailers attempt to fit old-school marketing tactics to these new touch points. Display ads on social networks, non-conversational Twitter streams full of nothing but brand announcements, one-time deals attempting to buy fans–are (simply put) square pegs, and hammer as marketers might otherwise think, these types of online marketing programs just cannot fit  in round hole

The key to Agile Commerce is to deliver targeted content effortlessly and seamlessly across multiple touch points such as email, smartphones, social media, websites, print media, and within the four walls of the store.

But how is that accomplished when the constant spread of social means the number of these touch points increases every day?

One rudimentary answer would be to deeply understanding a customer’s needs, and proactively delivering content that meets those needs. Retailers must now “operationalize” customer intelligence across channels from existing systems such as customer relationship management, web analytics, business intelligence, and data warehouses. 

Forward thinking retailing CIO’s are beginning to tackle this issue and those that are not will place their organizations at a competitive disadvantage. 

Forrester Research has best described Agile Commerce as “... not just an incremental change; it’s a metamorphosis to a new form of operations and technology orientation. While the pieces and capabilities of an agile commerce operation may look similar to those focused for years on multichannel commerce, it’s how they come together and how the organization responds to the customer that represents the significant change. With the advent of agile commerce, organizations need to reconfigure resources and capabilities to stay ahead of the rate of change as consumer technology adoption and behaviors change. The customer is now at the center, and delivering relevant content, commerce, and service is the key to delivering on the new reality.”

So the big question is: How do you begin to develop and execute a strategy to better meet the needs of this new paradigm? 

Stay tuned, in my next post I will start to lay out the foundation that needs to be established and the tools that are now available to maximize the relationship with your customer.

SAS and EMC push High Performance Analytics technology

April 14, 2011

On Tuesday, EMC added three new models to its Greenplum Data Computing Appliance (DCA) line of products, including a system optimized for high-capacity and another optimized for high performance. The company also rolled out version 4.1 of the Greenplum Database.

Separately on Tuesday, SAS Institute said its SAS High-Performance Analytics technology will be added to EMC’s DCA products.

By adding the SAS technology, Greenplum users will soon be able to perform complex analytical computations on their data without having to first move it to a SAS environment.

James Kobielus of Forrester Research said, “The SAS integration is very important for EMC Greenplum at a number of levels. Customers of data warehousing solutions are looking more and more to run advanced analytics without necessarily having to move their data to specialized platform such as SAS.”

The integration of the two environments will let Greenplum users take advantage of their massively parallel, high-performance data warehouse appliances to run SAS analytics significantly faster.

Greenplum customers can now select SAS more easily because they don’t have to move their data out from one environment to another. Greenplum customers are clearly getting some analytics capabilities they didn’t have previously.

If SAS did not partner with EMC they would have had hard time surviving if the only way they work is to take data out of DB2 or Teradata or Greenplum and put it into SAS.  Data volumes are getting increasingly massive and a lot of data is simply not going to be in SAS going forward.

This is a very good move for SAS and EMC.

Cloud computing can be a time saver…..

April 12, 2011

Businesses and organizations of all sizes and orientation are undergoing a massive shift in how they acquire IT services and solutions. Today, provisioning new applications and services can be a complex design and integration exercise, with the business itself having to bear the risk and burden of the deployment. More and more, CIOs are looking for simplified approaches like Cloud services and managed services relationships that enable them to focus on their core business.

On average the typical IT department spends 70% of its budget on maintaining its existing infrastructure and only 30% on innovation to generate a competitive advantage for the business. The biggest challenge CIOs face is the need to react much faster to business demands and to get ahead of the curve toward using IT as a competitive differentiator.

While cloud computing adoption has been swift among startups and small-to-midsize businesses with little or no legacy IT operations, larger enterprises have been slower to adopt cloud-related services. Selecting the right providers and services is a gamble when products, pricing and performance change daily. Also, companies that have large capital investments in custom software or infrastructure can find it difficult to make a case for scrapping it all. Then there are the issues of integration, standardization, security and control.

But when the time is right, the cloud can be the way to grow, no matter the size of the enterprise. Not only can software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS) be fast and relatively cheap enablers of corporate growth, they can enable IT groups to serve the expanding enterprise more strategically. The cloud allows IT organizations to focus its efforts on improvement and innovation.

 

So you’ve been hacked–NOW WHAT?

November 9, 2010

Jill Liles of the Global Knowledge company has written a very good article that outlines the immediate steps required by Information Security Officers and CIOs  if they find that their systems have been hacked.  The essence of the article is below with a few additions.

First of all, don’t panic.  Obviously the plan that you had in place to prevent such an attack needs to be updated to reflect the current circumstances. But before you do that, you need to take the following  five steps in order to respond and defend against future attacks.

1. Execute your Emergency Plan

Every system should have some sort of disaster recovery plan associated with it before it goes into production. These plans usually cover such things as intruder scenarios and security breaches, natural disaster scenarios, man-made disaster scenarios and the steps required for remediation.

Like many first responders in critical situations the first step is to not make the situation worse than it is. Even though it will be difficult to stop your natural instincts to shut everything down and pull the plug on power or connectivity. You might be causing more issues than what the initial attack had caused.  Even though your efforts to protect the system or data have been compromised continue to evaluate the accuracy of your remediation plan as you learn more about the intrusion.

2.  Act Deliberately

Determine the extent of the intrusion by identifying which systems, routers, and data have been compromised.  Once this is done determine the amount of isolation that is required to limit the impact of the attack. Check inbound and outbound router logs to determine where the attack was initiated from.  Perform reverse IP lookups to see if the offending system can be easily located. Depending on the nature of the attack and the complexity of the attack

3.  Clean Up and Restore

Based on business priorities, bring systems back on-line and begin monitoring them regularly. Replace any hacked data with the most recent stable backup. Change the passwords for all affected devices, users, and applications, including the root password and default accounts.

4.  Prevent Other Attacks

Modify your security structure so this type of attack can be prevented in the future. Learn from this attack so remediation processes are updated accordingly. Some malware can lie dormant after being “removed,” waiting years for an opportunity to reactivate, so be sure you continually protect your network, including installing the latest software patches and performing a regular vulnerability assessment.

5.  Communicate

Depending on your industry, a security breach may require you to notify people outside the company, particularly if the incident affects your compliance with a regulation such as PCI, GLBA, or HIPAA.

If you want to pursue criminal charges or recover damages, you should contact your local law enforcement’s cybercrime unit or national law enforcement.

Can a remote employee work as security as one at Headquarters?

October 28, 2010

Cisco’s Jason Lackey certainly thinks so. In his blog post yesterday he has described a scenario where a mobile worker can work as securely as one at HQ.

Today, while we have seen that there is plenty of meat in Borderless Networks in the office, Borderless Networks has plenty of meat on the road as well. Bob, our enterprise worker, travels a lot, doing trade shows and customer visits and dispensing Kool-Aid of various types. When he knows he is going to have to do some heavy lifting with PowerPoint he is sure to take a laptop running AnyConnect, a secure VPN client that works with the Cisco ASA firewall back at HQ to give secure, encrypted remote access. Even if he is in a coffee shop using public Wi-Fi, he knows that his data is safe because everything is going back through that encrypted tunnel. But it is more than just connectivity that we are talking about here because traffic goes through a Cisco IronPort web security appliance, filtering spyware, trojans and the like. And, just like when he is in the office, TrustSec ensures that he has access to what he needs and can’t touch the things he doesn’t. Security is deeply integrated into the network itself, not just an afterthought or add-on appliance.

In today’s environment, security should be the number one priority of CIO’s, CSO’s, and CTO’s.  Mobile users are now one of the largest growing segments of the IT user groups. Mobile phones and more people working from home are necessitating the need for remote security solutions that are as robust as those at Head quarters.

CIO Movement from Cost to Profit and Social Media?

September 23, 2010

The concept of moving IT from a cost center to a profit center is still fairly new for most companies with the notable exceptions of Google, Facebook, Neilsen and the major telcos. But the role of the CIO is transcending its traditional function of automating and enabling other aspects of the business to driving profit utilizing the data that it is the steward of.

The CIO needs to possess strategic business smarts and superb operational ability. The ability to be able to work with the operational units in devising ways to look at the data that they have an monetize it effectively. Most business become aggregators of data, the ability to monetize those assets is becoming a crucial keeping a profitable business. The companies that understand this are looking at their CIOs and saying, “You own the data now help figure out how we can make money off this — or make more money off it.”

Wireless carriers are starting to realize they can monetize all matter of data collected from mobile users — specifically data that highlights their movement habits. According to MIT Technology Review, researchers and marketers are finding plenty of new uses for call detail records, or CDRs — which allow them to study a mountain of user behavior data. That data can be used by researchers or city planners to study travel behavior — but it’s likely going to be a gold mine on the marketing behavioral front.

The digitization of business assets– in concert with the rise of social media and networking as the vehicles of choice for reaching customers — increasingly puts IT at the center of the business’ marketing effort. It is now becoming very difficult in some organizations to tell the difference between the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer.

Harnessing Social Media – A new market for the CIO

July 12, 2010

In my last blog posting I spoke about how CIOs need to focus more on revenue generation than cost cutting. In this post I want to talk a little about how CIOs need to embrace social media and find ways to access new markets for their organizations through social media channels.  A study produced by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland sheds some light on this elusive topic.

The study concluded that American college students are social media addicts (tethered a Blackberry, iPhone, computer laptop, television, and iPods, etc.). When they were cut off from using social media for just 24 hours, students described having symptoms associated with drug and alcohol addiction: In withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy. They reported feeling unconnected, even to those close by, according to the study. The study found that they were most discomfited by their lack of access to text messaging, phone calling, instant messaging, emailing and Facebook–their primary means of connecting to friends and family.

“We were surprised by how many students admitted they were ‘incredibly addicted’ to media,” noted project director Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the ICMPA’s director. “But we noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family.”

The students also felt extreme anxiety about being cut off from information. Specifically, they worried about having less information than their friends, on everything from sports scores and TV shows to news about their classes and world events. In fact, it seems that the way students learn about news events is almost entirely through the prism of social media. Very few reported that they ever watched TV news or listened to radio news or read a local or national newspaper. “Yet student after student demonstrated knowledge of specific news stories,” the study’s authors wrote. “The young adults in this study appeared to be oblivious to branded news and information. For most of the students reporting in this study, information of all kinds comes in an undifferentiated wave to them via social media. If a bit of information rises to a level of interest, the student will pursue it, but often by following the story via unconventional outlets such as through text messages, their email accounts, Facebook or Twitter.” This indicates that to this group news is not something impersonal, but that it comes to you through your base of friends (filtered and biased by their views) and therefore makes the information much more personal.

The study’s findings have major implications for all CIOs. Companies spend millions on advertising and sales to promote their products and services. Never in the history of technology has there been such an opportunity to transform how revenue and sales are generated than by specifically targeting a product or service directly to an individual via a social-media means.  This  “New Holy Grail” is about our new ability to target a specific message to an individual that will cause that individual to produce a desire result.

Radio, Television, and the World Wide Web cannot do what social-media has the promise to do. Organizations need to start planning now on how to harness this new means of marketing and advertising.  A CIO’s challenge will be to build systems for marketing and advertising purposes that can identify this targeted individual and deliver a concise message to them.

Your next job might be a Temp

May 3, 2010

ERP takes the largest pie out of the IT investments of an organization and the success or failure of its deployment heavily impacts the growth and expansion plans in both ways.

It is well known that all ERP projects are not successful and a search for a sure shot recipe for success is still on by many organizations who currently depend on the experience and knowledge of their consulting partners to make their biggest IT foray into a growth engine.

This very quest, took a new turn in the recent economic downturn when organizations started “renting CIOs” specifically for these (ERP) jobs and few early successes are making this a not only a new trend, but also a best practice in the ERP field.

The article at InfoVerto discusses the best practice, its nuances and the pros & cons that will make a backbone of the framework that will drive this trend & best practice to grow further.