Posts Tagged ‘Rob Kruk’

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.

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.

How to make sense of messy data? Google refine is an excellent solution….

March 2, 2011

Do you want to make sense of messy data? Google refine may prove to be the right tool!

It allows for cleaning up messy data, transforming it from one format into another, extending it with web services, and linking it to databases like Freebase or MySQL to name a few. Another great feature of this tool is of course the “no cost feature.”

 

A Move to the Cloud will actually benefit cyber security protection

February 7, 2011

A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies observed the fact that the use of cloud computing technology could actually benefit national cyber security and data protection practices.   The study, by Network World reports, explains how actual cloud computing can actually “aggregate and automate” cyber security, because it takes data protection responsibilities away from customers and businesses and gives them to service providers, which are generally more capable of dealing with cyber threats.

“The move to the cloud is not a silver bullet that will solve all cyber security problems, but it is part of a larger move to a more mature infrastructure that includes the automation of security practices and monitoring,” the report goes on to state

It goes on to say that security practices will be further enhanced if government agencies can find a way to work more effectively with cloud service providers.

Both cloud computing and Cyber security are expected to play larger roles in government in 2011. In December, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo to federal agencies urging them to adopt a “cloud-first approach” to IT solutions.

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.

Offshoring: DO NOT Stop Sending IT Jobs Overseas

September 16, 2010

My response (and this is also posted in comments section of  George Tillmann‘s article/post on www.cio.com):

Offshoring: it’s Time to Stop Sending IT Jobs Overseas

The answer: DO NOT place a moratorium on offshoring!

Henry Ford drove the “Buggy Whip” and “Horse Cart” manufacturers out of business due to his invention of the assembly line and developing a product that could be purchased by the masses. The people who were designing and manufacturing “Buggy Whips” needed to retool their skill sets in order to be successful in a new market/economy.

I am sure that the owners of the Horse Cart and Buggy Whip manufacturers hoped that Henry Ford’s automobile would not succeed so they could continue on the status-quo. Unfortunately, similar to Henry Ford, offshoring is here to stay.

In order for US companies to be competitive in the world economy what we will need to do is retool our IT department’s skill sets!

Forrester Research Report: IT Chargebacks

July 28, 2010

A recent Forrester Research report details how with the ongoing economic condition, evolving service management processes and maturing tools in the market, CIOs are rethinking their position on charge backs. In the past, the technologies used to track IT services and the costs associated with them perhaps didn’t offer enough automation or proved to be cost-exorbitant. Now with added economic pressure and updated technologies from the likes of Apptio and HP, Forrester analysts say the best practice is garnering a second look from many IT executives.

Forrester had tracked since September 2008 inquiries around understanding IT services and found that 73% of some 30 requests focused on IT chargeback.

Nearly one out of four of these inquiries asks, “Why now – why has IT chargeback suddenly emerged as a strategic topic for CIOs and what are they doing about it?” Forrester’s report reads. “After years of either ignoring the need for IT chargeback or cruising along with the status quo, there is suddenly a renewed interest – in some cases, almost an imperative – to implement chargeback.”

IT charge back involves IT departments assigning a price to each service and billing departments for the services they consume. With such cost transparency, IT can prove its value to the business and show those it serves what their application or service demands ultimately cost the business, industry watchers say.

Forrester identified three drivers for the renewed interest in IT chargeback: the global economic recession, the inclusion of charge back processes in ITIL Version 3 and the availability of more mature tools. Still the reason that IT chargeback hasn’t seen wide adoption is because it’s not easy. It involves gathering data from several systems and developing a service catalog of sorts for IT.

“Providing this level of detail requires lots of information about costs, service performance and consumption, which in turn requires an automated approach,” according to Forrester analysts.

Forrester also identified the challenges organizations could face when adopting IT charge back. The research firm says IT shops will need to be able to assign financial value, or prices, to IT services that in the past had been offered seemingly for free or for one lump sum. This will require IT to organize services previously assigned to a specific domain in a more service-oriented fashion across, for instance, network, servers, storage and application groups. Reorganizing for service delivery will also require new roles such as service manager in many IT departments. “IT chargeback is fundamental to demand management and communicating ITs value proposition. There can be no more free lunch for IT customers, but at the same time, IT can no longer allocate IT costs as a lump sum,” the report concludes.

“Implementing IT cost transparency is no longer optional; it’s only a matter of when.”

Iomega does it again with the launch of v.Clone technology

January 13, 2010

Iomega, an EMC company and a global leader in data protection, today announced the launch of Iomega v.Clone software, an application that empowers people to create and carry on an Iomega hard drive an image of their primary PC which can be run on almost any PC in the world.

Iomega’s ground-breaking v.Clone technology will be available later this month as a download for purchasers of Iomega portable and desktop hard disk drives. In addition to being available by download, v.Clone software is expected to begin shipping with Iomega USB 2.0 portable hard disk drives beginning the first quarter of 2010.

“Iomega’s v.Clone technology represents the first time virtualization has been made easy-to-use and extremely convenient for consumers and small offices,” said Jonathan Huberman, president of Iomega and the Consumer and Small Business Division of EMC. “With v.Clone software, you can carry your PC in your pocket and access your files, email and applications on almost any computer anywhere, including netbooks. Taking the files on your PC or laptop with you wherever you go is simple with v.Clone technology and an Iomega portable hard drive. v.Clone is the perfect application for people with multiple computers – it allows you to use a virtual clone of your primary computer with your other computers, ensuring access to your digital content wherever you go.”

Developed in conjunction with EMC and incorporating VMware virtualization technology, v.Clone makes a virtual clone of a primary computer’s operating system, applications and personal settings and stores that content on an Iomega external hard drive (USB interface only). Attach the Iomega external drive with v.Clone software to almost any PC and the user now has access to everything that was on the primary computer. Data is not left on the secondary computer when the user is finished (only the application itself). v.Clone also syncs your data back when you return to your primary computer.

What makes Iomega v.Clone software novel is its ability to keep the virtual image updated with changes made to the user’s primary PC, and to synchronize changes back to the primary PC when the Iomega USB hard drive containing the v.Clone image is reconnected. These capabilities give users the freedom to move between the physical computing environment on their primary PC and a virtual computing environment almost anywhere they connect their Iomega external hard drive with Iomega v.Clone software.

 “Whether you’re using your friend’s computer or a family member’s netbook, at the office or even flying 35,000 feet over the ocean,” said Huberman, “v.Clone technology gives you computing advantages you’ve always wanted when you’re separated from all your data on your primary computer. Now you can have it with you with your Iomega hard drive.”

Netbooks, popular as they may be, lack onboard storage and are considered by most as not powerful enough to run more than simple web-surfing tasks. Not true. The dirty little secret is that netbooks are capable of running a virtual image of a fully featured PC using Iomega v.Clone technology.

Connecting an Iomega USB hard drive with a v.Clone image to a netbook turns it into an ultra-portable version of the user’s primary PC, complete with all of the applications, data and files that are typically used on the main computer. This capability provides an astounding level of flexibility for people who prefer the convenience of traveling with a netbook. Now they can do so without sacrificing the capabilities of their more powerful PC. Security is always important.

To protect user’s information and critical data stored in an Iomega v.Clone image, two levels of security are employed. The first level of security is password protection built into the v.Clone application. Individuals who cannot enter the proper password are prevented from gaining access to the virtual environment of the primary PC.

For security, v.Clone can be used in conjunction with an Iomega eGo Encrypt or Encrypt Plus Portable Hard Drive, which safely encrypt data stored on them. Security measures aside, because the user’s environment is virtualized and stored on their Iomega external hard drive, personal data is not left on a computer used to run the v.Clone image.

In case of emergency, in addition to its primary functionality as a supremely portable backup of a primary computer, an Iomega v.Clone image also provides a “never down” benefit. Should the user’s primary PC fail, the Iomega USB hard disk drive containing the v.Clone image can be used immediately on almost any available PC. Because the v.Clone image is kept updated automatically, the user will have access to their latest documents, email, settings, etc., and can even migrate documents and settings from their v.Clone image to a new computer. Upgrading to a new operating system and something doesn’t go right? With v.Clone technology, you can run your virtual PC on another PC until you remedy the new OS or upgrade issues with your primary PC.

Going Green in the Data Center

November 9, 2009

In the last several blogs I wrote about the prevalence of outsourcing to reduce cost within the Enterprise. I would like to take a brief look into another method of cost reduction which is gaining momentumand that is the “Green Data Center through Virtualization” and “Cloud Computing.”

IT is in the middle of a fundamental transition from the rigid traditional data centers toward a more responsive model where needs are met far faster and more efficiently. Over the past several years, many IT departments have committed to virtualization as a solution to the spiraling energy costs and inflexibility plaguing corporate data centers. By running applications on virtual servers and consolidating underutilized hardware, data centers can get maximum value from their equipment. By utilizing the existing servers in the Data Center in a virtualized environment the cost of energy utilized to run, cool and operate the data center can be impacted. 

While virtualization helps companies reduce energy costs and improve agility there is another step that can be taken (with care) by introducing cloud computing infrastructure solutions in to the environment. Cloud Computing is a form of computing in which all applications, information and resources are managed in a virtual environment. The term cloud computing and specifically the use of the word “cloud,” means to represent the nature and structure of a cloud. Cloud computing involves virtual hosted environments allowing users to connect to the services being hosted over the internet.

With that said, cloud computing is not for everyone, but is does pose an interesting solution to going Green with in the data center.

Rather than increasing the number of servers and storage in the data center even within a virtualized environment, a new cloud computing model will allow companies to get out of the computing infrastructure business–where appropriate–retaining only the portion that is essential to the enterprise. As the cloud environment becomes more mature and secure, purchase decisions will be framed by asking: Should we be really be doing this ourselves, or can someone else do it better and at lower cost?  Essentially it is another type of outsourcing.

In the end, the best way to think about this is probably to view it as being yet another type of application deployment architecture. If the challenges that cloud computing is facing today, such as security, can be overcome then CIOs have another tool to reduce overall IT costs and contribute to the “Green Data Center” Concept.