Everyone’s using the term “sustainability.” And, I’ll admit I’m a little jaded. But, given that it’s around to stay for a while, let’s take a look at the term. What are the primary objectives of “sustainability” initiatives? Are they “green” – with an eye toward protecting the environment by reducing the effects of climate change? Are they economic – cost cutting, increasing efficiency? “Sustain” seems static, maintain the current state. But some are thinking about “sustainability” as a means of generating growth. A few weeks ago, I started an interesting discussion about “operational sustainability” with Rich Lechner, IBM Vice President for Energy and Environment. (I say started because it actually continued this week, and will likely continue further.)
“Sustain to grow” may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not. First let’s think about efficiency. What does it mean to be more efficient? Efficiency to me is the goal to “do more with less” – improving the ratio of output to input. So you cut and improve productivity ratios that way. But what if you’ve cut as much as you can, and you still want to do more, to improve those ratios? How can you grow within the limits of the resources you have? Sustain resources, increase productivity or capacity – in whatever terms or measures of capacity you use. This translates into the objective behind “operational sustainability.” How do you improve operations or processes in order to improve outcomes, within the limits of available resources?
As some of you know, I am hopelessly addicted to golf. I can already hear you asking, “What does golf have to do with marathons, and what do marathons have to do with business processes?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Before becoming a golf addict, I was a runner – running 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. My goal was to work my way up to a marathon. This is still my goal, but I learned a while ago that you can’t be a serious golfer and also be a serious runner – they both compete for long stretches of time on Saturday mornings (although I did have someone recommend that I combine the two into "marathon golf").
When I was a runner, I quickly learned that how you run a 5K or 10K is different from how you run a half-marathon. It seems obvious now, but when I trained for my first half marathon I didn’t realize how critical it was to hydrate all the way through and to also change your breathing technique. Ultimately, I found a training program that helped me get ready for my first race, and I ended up crossing the finish line in pretty good time and without killing myself.
Earlier this week, I sat in on a session at Oracle OpenWorld that highlighted the importance of scaling process governance as BPM initiatives expand throughout organizations. The session, titled “Rapid, Successful BPM Adoption,” laid out the key principles of process governance:
Establish standards for implementing process improvement projects.
Prioritize BPM projects so you work on the most achievable ones first.
Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the BPM project.
Put someone in charge with authority to enforce process governance rules.
Establish a BPM center of excellence to ensure steps 1-4 are followed.
Oracle, at Oracle Open World, has released their 18th version of CRM On Demand. This product integrates their Market2Lead acquisition, made in May of this year. It closes the gap between marketing and sales – and unifies the end-to-end life-cycle management of leads, including their nurturing track. Marketing and sales managers now can share KPIs and understand how lead generation and nurturing activities directly affect the outcome of sales.
The solution enables multitouch point marketing campaigns to be designed and executed. You can create personalized microsites and landing pages. There are robust analytics to measure their effectiveness, as well as progressive profiling capabilities that allow the company to gather more information about a lead at every step of the marketing and sales cycle. Basically, it adds the full marketing automation capabilities to the product suite. And it's attractively priced compared to having to buy seats from a standalone marketing automation vendor to access these capabilities.
My take: It’s a feature hole that had to be plugged, and it's priced well for adoption.
Vendor managers in companies with Oracle applications may have heard a lot of talk about its next-generation applications over the last five years. Well, the news from Oracle’s customer event in San Francisco is that Fusion is almost here. Oracle is extensively demonstrating the product here at the event, early adopter customers are already in the implementation process, and Oracle intends to generally release it in the first quarter of next year.
Oracle hasn’t announced final pricing yet, but Steve Miranda, SVP of Oracle Application Development, confirmed that customers on maintenance will get a 1:1 exchange when they swap the product they own now for the Fusion equivalent. That is good news, although to be fair, my Oracle contacts had indicated this, off the record, all along.
The packaging into SKUs will mimic that of the current product set, to make the swap easier. I.e., the price list for HR will look like the PeopleSoft price list, CRM like Siebel, and so on. That makes some sense, but I wish Oracle had taken the opportunity to simplify the pricing so that there are fewer SKUs. For instance, Siebel's price list is over 20 pages long, and there's no clear link between the the items in the price list and the functionality you want to use. As a result, some customers buy modules by mistake, while others fail to buy ones they really need. Hopefully Fusion will provide a clearer audit trail between functionality and SKU.
I attended Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco last week, one of the premier events for anyone interested in microprocessors, system technology, and of course, Intel itself. Among the many wonders on display, including high-end servers, desktops and laptops, and presentations related to everything Cloud, my attention was caught by a pair of small wonders – very compact, low power servers paradoxically targeted at some of the largest hyper-scale web-facing workloads. Despite being nominally targeted at an overlapping set of users and workloads, the two servers, the Dell “Viking” and the SeaMicro SM10000, represent a study in opposite design philosophies on how to address the problem of scaling infrastructure to address high-throughput web workloads. In this case, the two ends of the spectrum are adherence to an emerging standardized design and utilization of Intel’s reference architectures as a starting point versus a complete refactoring of the constituent parts of a server to maximize performance per watt and physical density.
Last week, I wrote a blog post summarizing the Day 1 opening keynotes at Forrester’s Security Forum. This week, I’d like to recap the Day 2 opening keynotes. The second or last day at any event is always a challenge; attendees are always tempted to leave early or to stay in their hotel rooms to get some work done or if the event is in Vegas, squeeze in some craps (my favorite) or drop a few coins in a nearby slot. Luckily, we held the event in Boston and the lobsters have nowhere to run, so most attendees were happy to stick around until the end of the day. Not only did we have great attendance on Day 2, but there was a palpable buzz in the air. The audience asked tough questions and no one was spared — Forrester analysts, industry guest speakers, and vendors. While the main topic of Day 1 seemed to focus on risk and overall strategy, governance, and oversight, Day 2 focused on coming up with the specifics — the specific plans, the specific policies. As Andrew Jaquith stated in his keynote, to provide better data security, “you don’t need more widgets, what you need is a plan.”
Below are some of the highlights from the Day 2 keynotes:
Contact centers are data and metrics driven. If you are an agent, you worry about your average call handle time, the number of calls/emails/chats you are completing per hour, how you are doing compared to your peers, how satisfied customers are with your answers. If you are a call center manager, you keep an eagle eye in real time on your group metrics.
But what is it that C-level executives care about in the boardroom? They are concerned with the quality, cost, and effectiveness of service, and the measurement of the outcome of their strategic decisions – for example, measuring the success of a service strategy like outsourcing operations. They need data to accurately forecast performance and monitor performance trends over time. They need to make strategic technology decisions that support their key business goals.
There’s a first order disconnect between customer service agents and supervisors who talk in the language of activities - AHT, SLAs, or number of emails handled - and C-level executives who care about outcomes - company performance, overall customer loyalty, and churn. What is needed is a bridge, a mapping between the language of agents and the language of the boardroom.
Take for example the request for a service manager customer to add a headcount to help edit content for their knowledgebase. To get buy-in, frame this request in the outcome of this program, not in terms of activities, for example: “We need to evolve our knowledge management solution to provide a better quality of knowledge to our agents. This will ultimately lead to a quantitative, measurable increase in our net promoter score, an increased first time fix rate, and lower operating costs.”
Have you started to link operational metrics to top-level business outcomes? What are effective examples that you use? Has this worked for you?
Readers of this blog are all likely to agree that EA is important, but it's also true that EA teams struggle for influence, laboring mightily in the shadows, out of the limelight. Forrester and InfoWorld have teamed up to end all that. Well, OK, we may not be able to do a lot about the struggling and laboring mightily, but we can certainly do something about the limelight thing.
InfoWorld and Forrester are working together to publicize EA programs that are making a difference to their businesses. A distinguished panel of judges, including Forrester analysts and real-world EA leaders from our EA Council, vetted detailed entries to the InfoWorld/Forrester EA awards contest, and we have picked five winners. These winners show different aspects of high-impact EA programs – but a review of their stories shows some things they have in common as well, including the insight to prioritize the right direction for EA at the right time.
The winners are, in alphabetical order:
Aetna: Capability maps
Barclays Bank: Road maps and strategic architectural alignment
Discover Financial Services: Driving value with EA
Skandia UK & International: Transformation delivered through EA
Wells Fargo: Living target architecture
We can all learn about the application of EA best practices from these companies’ stories. I strongly encourage you to read the write-ups here. As always, we’re very interested in your comments and ideas!
Enterprises are increasingly turning toward cloud deployment models (including SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.), attracted by promises of fast deployment, lower upfront costs, and greater elasticity in pricing and consumption models. This trend has been further fueled by resource constraints (capital and people); cloud solution maturity (sophisticated functionality, customization, and integration); and “empowered” workers (seeking DIY technologies to drive business results). However, the growing use of cloud technologies creates new challenges and questions in areas like TCO, security, support, and vendor management.
Enter cloud sourcing. Cloud sourcing typically refers to a model where third parties play a broker and consulting role in helping firms leverage the cloud strategically across business applications.
Cloud sourcing provides alternatives to traditional outsourcing, packaged application implementation, and application development. Cloud sourcing spans applications, utilities, and services. Cloud sourcing strategies include both the use of cloud applications such as salesforce.com and Workday to deliver business applications as well as the sourcing of complete managed processes via cloud applications plus associated services, such as offerings from Capgemini and Wipro.
Forrester will be part of an upcoming panel at Global Sourcing Forum in New York City on October 13 that discusses key elements of and considerations for cloud sourcing, including:
• How strategic sourcing decisions can include cloud-based solutions.
• What SaaS, Paas, IaaS, and BPO mean in the cloud context.
• Practical lessons and best practices for adopting cloud solutions.
• Challenges with cloud sourcing and how to overcome them.
• Emerging providers and solutions for cloud sourcing.