Can IT Open New Sources Of Revenue?

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to completely immerse myself in one of my client's problems. This time, it was at an IT strategy offsite where a senior director of IT asked me one simple question: "How can we use information technology to help our company open up new streams of revenue?" I found the question refreshing, mainly because nine out of ten CIOs I talk to these days ask the opposite: "how can IT reduce costs?" 

Fortunately for me, this client had invited lots of smart people from business and IT and outside experts into the room for two days to explore the revenue question. Challenges familiar to most life sciences companies got folks in the room in the first place: patent expiration foretold eroding profit margins for their blockbuster drugs, and expansion into emerging markets was an avenue for growth, yet one fraught with complexity and uncertain returns. 

So this group's charter was to think digital.

Taking inspiration from morning TED talks, four working teams presented ideas for revenue opportunities created by emerging technologies in tech markets like mobile, big data, security, and consumer experiences. The teams cited creative ideas — like algorithms that use public data sources to reduce production forecast variance and improve distribution allocations; modern IT security models, pioneered in financial services, that would enable them to cut the time it takes to on-ramp a new manufacturing partner from months to weeks; company-owned data that could be sold or licensed and made available through public APIs to third parties; and many more. 

The teams shared inspiring ideas that were big enough and bold enough to at least warrant further investigation.

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Can US Government Shift To Outside-In Digital Approach?

I’ll refrain here from my urge to inject cynicism upon hearing the US government wants to take a more user-friendly and efficient approach to serving its citizens online.

Instead, we’ll applaud United States Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, who just appointed the first class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. These 18 hand-picked, private-sector leaders will spend the next six months in Washington working on five impactful digital projects. Their mandate: to help better connect US citizens to government information, data, and services, all part of the Digital Government Strategy unveiled in May.

Embracing new ideas and technology to solve real problems and deliver winning customer experience management (CXM) strategies is separating winners from losers in business, so why not government? Thinking holistically from the point of view of your customers is at the center of Forrester’s new book, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by my colleagues Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine.

Each of the Fellows’ projects is compelling. You can read more about them here. (Follow the Feds’ innovation on Twitter at #digitalgov and #innovategov.)

Two projects in particular caught my eye.

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Delivering A Unified Digital Experience

Every day our clients flood us with inquiries on what to do about mobile and social software and smartphone and tablet adoption—not just as it pertains to their customers but to their employees too. Many firms seem to be scrambling to develop their mobile application strategy, spinning up new teams or working with outside agencies in a rush to introduce their own “killer app” or deploy some mobile capability on their CRM platforms. Smartphones and tablets are just the beginning of an explosion of digital touchpoints we will use to engage with each other, commercial enterprises, and public sector institutions. Gaming platforms, smart TVs, goggles, “magical mirrors”—there’s no end in sight.

 
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