Andrew has been co-founder and CEO of Apteligent (formerly Crittercism) since 2011. Prior to starting Crittercism, Andrew Levy was the co-founder of AdThrow, a Y Combinator company that built a data processing pipeline for real-time ad targeting. Before YC, Andrew worked at HP Software where he led teams specializing in agile programming methodologies and advocating rapid product iterations. Andrew also worked for several companies in defense and intelligence, such as Silicon Graphics Federal, Northrop Grumman, and Computer Sciences Corp. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. It is quite important to understand the state of the mobile app economy and its significance.
1. What is the state of the mobile app economy? What is its significance?
The mobile app economy takes many forms. Ask the average consumer and they might cite their in-app purchases (IAPs) they made in their favorite game. Ask a retailer and they’ll talk about mcommerce, not just sales driven directly via apps but also in-store sales driven via their digital channels. Talk to a travel industry expert and you’ll hear about how apps build a relationship with the consumer throughout their journey and enable new experiences from the airport to unlocking their hotel door. There has been a tremendous impact across every industry vertical which has drastically altered consumer behavior and expectations.
In previous years apps used to be a competitive advantage or a way to reach new audiences. It has transitioned to being table stakes where it’s no longer enough to “just have an app.” Now brands need to exceed expectations of their growing millennial audience and really think about how to drive a 5-star app experience.
The revenue opportunity is staggering and we’re still only at the beginning of the curve. A BI Intelligence report projects mcommerce growing more than three times by 2020 to +$284 billion in sales1. If you consider just retail projections, mcommerce is only 2.6% of total retail sales but saw over 39% growth from last year!
Each download of a mobile app matters. And so does each of the uninstall. It matters to the reputation and popularity of a mobile app. Each user has its own set of expectations and usage criteria. It counts if these expectations are met satisfactorily or the user stops using a mobile app out of desperation. It is important to gain each user’s experience in a collective manner so as so draw out critical metrics. It is also important to optimize mobile KPIs through user-centered app metric. A recently released whitepaper on the same subject brings out many key insights that are of deep interest not only for the app development organizations but also for the consumers.
The whitepaper released by Apteligent highlighted the lack of industry focus in developing objectively designed app-based metrics that helps product managers and app developers to assess and improve end-user experience and in turn business KPIs. It is always important to understand how well the app enables a user to satisfy on its purpose. But in practical, do we have such metrics in place and are these metrics helping a business in terms of revenue. Whatever business KPIs are driven on mobile, it is important to understand why their existence is critical for business. That is where this whitepaper comes into the picture. It creates the case for a new class of app performance metrics from the business and user perspective and thus formulates best practices and practical guidelines for monitoring them.
The basis of this report is data drawn from various researches done in this regard. Another source of data is from Apteligent, the company that produced this whitepaper. Mobile KPIs optimization is a key concern for most of the mobile app development organizations and so is the user-centered app metric that helps in the evolution of the former. The data provided by Apteligent has originated from insights from a large number of anonymous user-application interactions.
I had an interaction with Andrew Levy, Co-founder and CEO of Apteligent in this regard to gain his point of view on the subject. The interview would be covered in the next post.
Apteligent is a smart mobile app intelligence platform company in San Francisco. Recently, it released a new mobile app industry metrics along with a whitepaper titled “Optimize Mobile KPIs Through User-Centered App Metric”. Apteligent develops tools to empower mobile development teams and product teams to troubleshoot, resolve, and prioritize such issues that impact on users’ app experience. It sounds to be quite an important and necessary set of tools for mobile app development companies. The tools provide detailed and real-time information to developers in order to find out app crash, app freezing, and related issues in key user flows. Once the issues are identified, the same tools help in resolution.
Why such tools are important, is necessary to understand. Probably the requirement arose with the industry need to cater to the end users with a better experience in app usage. The development team with the help of KPIs provided create a dashboard to get global mobile industry and competitive insights. These insights greatly help product managers to better plan and focus their related initiatives. It also helps them in getting real-time visibility to app metrics thus enabling quick detection of issues, prioritizing their action plan based on the severity of these issues, and thereby build next releases for app improvement and better user experience.
Three of the top credit card issuing financial companies in US trust on the solutions provided by Apteligent. Similarly, two of the top three hotel chains, three of the top five media companies, three of the top five retail companies use Apteligent solutions to ensure the success of their strategic mobile app initiatives. The new mobile app performance benchmarks established by Apteligent has escalated its stature has mobile intelligence leader in building user-centered metrics that helps mobile app companies to deliver business success. These success factors for organizations are based on the tracking of business-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs) like customer engagement, new customer acquisition, revenue, crash-rate, churn etc.
We would be discussing the outcomes of this whitepaper recently released, in the next post.
Hitachi has decided to allocate major portion of its research and development budget to developments related to Internet of Things. In addition to this they also plan to open few more R&D centers outside Japan at a faster pace, as announced at Hitachi’s Tokyo headquarter. The company’s business model is to project it as a collaborator for innovation in the field of Internet of Things while offering various products and services. Keeping this in view, the company has overhauled their R&D policy and set new goals to achieve till 2018.
Internet of Things is Now
There is a huge increase in Hitachi’s budget for Internet of things related research to 64% for fiscal 2018 from 24% in the last fiscal year. This 24% accounted for new business creation and some basic work in R&D while 64% budget allocated will go in research work in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics and related areas. The company plans to increase its researcher’s strength to 3,000 by fiscal 2018 that is almost 12% higher than in fiscal 2015. The increased strength is for the new research centers to be opened in the Western countries in addition to the one recently opened in Guangzhou, China, in April. The core strength of these researchers will be AI and analytics. The new research base in China is currently focusing on internet of things applications for the manufacturing sector. There are two more bases in China in Beijing and Shanghai that have put entire focus on internet of things. The one opened in April takes their count of internet of things centers to 13.
A new concept is also coming up in Hitachi to open global collaborative innovation centers. In such centers there is a collaboration between company and its customers to create various business models. The first to come was Global Center for Social Innovation, Silicon Valley, California, North America in January this year. By fiscal 2018 Hitachi plans to open two more centers – in Beijing and London. There might be a change in its plan after Brexit regarding the new center to be opened in London. A similar facility for collaborative innovation at its Central Research Laboratory in Tokyo.
The United Kingdom is shattered internally post-Brexit. Future of Technology is not the same for the country now. The big question is will the United Kingdom remain united after Brexit? I think there will be re-polling for Scotland as a separate nation. And what about North Ireland? Few things are very clear as of now. The whole country is in a state of panic and shock. The whole EU community is eager to throw them out pressurizing them to start the exit procedure. Prime Minister Cameroon has decided to step down. There is no visibility of the next equally responsible leader in the country. There is a huge chaos beneath the carpet. It is like a silence before the storm. Like other things technology will suffer in a big way now in my opinion for following reasons. There is a clear visibility that future of technology in the United Kingdom is going to decline.
UK is divided in factions:
It is only Wales and London that are responsible for taking the poll in favor of exit to a majority. It is apparently clear that North Ireland and Scotland never wanted UK to exit from EU. The relationships between the four factions will deteriorate that will definitely impact business and technology. This brings future of technology in the UK at risk.
Future of Technology at risk
EU is gone biased towards UK:
All the 27 countries that are part of EU will not remain soft towards the UK henceforth. In fact, EU parliament has already shown their anger openly and clearly directing the UK to start the exit procedures at the earliest. Post September when Cameroon steps down as prime minister of the country, the relationships will further become harder to retain. Great Britain has probably lost its greatness and moved towards instability.
Enterprise IT in UK is bound to lose direction:
Enterprise IT will lose its direction drastically especially on international and European contracts. The UK is now out of limitations of following European privacy regulations. The companies might or might not keep working under those regulations. It will also take some time for government and businesses to absorb this shock and set a fresh direction. Internationally countries will prefer to do business with EU countries than Great Britain unless latter presents some lucrative incentives in terms of business and environment to the external world. Ireland will get precedence in getting business.
Pound will get devalued:
International Businesses will hesitate in launching new IT projects in the UK. Expansions will come to a halt. The economy will get shattered. There will be a scarcity of jobs and growth for professionals. The quality will start getting compromised and so will be the talent in the country. Budgets will shrink. Stock values will come down. Research and development will touch new lows in the country. A substantial number of international projects related to IoT and Big Data will lose their momentum thereby impacting globally.
China Mobile, Ericsson, and Intel are about to complete the world’s first ever application demonstration that is based on latest Cellular IoT technology. The demonstration is taking place at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2016. The joint demonstration is taking place with the help of Ericsson’s RBS6000 multi-mode base station and its pre-commercial software based on the latest Cellular IoT technology, assisted with the Intel XMM 7115 modem solution, and China Mobile’s environment monitoring application and platform. The complete setup and effort are aimed to achieve end-to-end interconnection and application of the latest Cellular IoT technology.
The data supports latest Cellular IoT technology
The demonstration involves capturing of humidity, temperature, brightness, PM2.5, and other data by multiple sensors based on environment monitoring application. The data that is collected using Intel’s XMM 7115 modem and Ericsson’s network with pre-commercial software supporting the latest Cellular IoT technology, shall be sent to China Mobile’s environment monitoring platform for further study and analysis.
What we learn from this demonstration is the fast evolving latest cellular IoT technology shifting from standard to products. As products evolve further, the same cellular IoT technology would universally be adopted in various areas such as smart wearables, smart meters, municipal IoT, smart home, smart building, smart city, logistics tracking, industrial IoT, wide area IoT, and so on, to take care of the exploring demands of IoT application.
The recent evolution in cellular IoT has been completed by 3GPP. This technology is assumed to stay there for some time, mature along with an increase in usage, and is capable of meeting the requirements of LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) IoT applications with a benefit of low cost, wider/deeper coverage, low power consumption, high reliability of transmission, and massive connections.
China Mobile launched a Cellular IoT Open Lab in their 5G Innovation Center in order to promote the cellular IoT industry and enhance the cellular IoT ecosystem in China. The purpose is to ensure availability of complete testing environment for various stakeholders in the ecosystem like industry partners, facilitate operators, developers, and testers to develop and test the product in the lab, and also to facilitate vendors like chip providers, device providers, system equipment providers, module providers, etc. The development and testing involve end-to-end interoperability testing, application testing, module testing, and product conformance certification. The lab also acts as an open industry collaborative platform to provide developers with the standard API calling basic communication capabilities thereby assisting developers quickly grab ready-to-use innovations in service, application and business model.
No business survives without automation. The extent of automation varies from organization to organization. Automation includes business applications that comprise of working software. A working software having a full documentation is a rare commodity in organizations. Over a period of time, any working software evolves that require changes. With every change, there is a change in the coding. With every change in code, there is a need of change in documentation. Any change must go in parallel for functional and technical documentation accordingly. But does it really happen?
Working Software with full documentation is rare
I remember many legacy applications that act as subordinates to the core application, stop getting attention in terms of updates in documentation. Such apps keep running on an as-is basis as long as they are able to cater to the needs of an organization. In my first organization, though we deployed a fresh enterprise application outsourced from a reputed company in Chennai, the company demanded a huge amount of customization for our payroll application that was solely developed by me. Thus we decided to keep the payroll application running as it is and procure the enterprise application without their payroll application. The integration was taken care of. The legacy payroll application kept running for almost two decades as it was easier to cater to the changes in that rather than developing that application afresh on latest platform. The documentation was taken care of till I worked in the organization. A decade later I was called by their CFO seeking some help in the same application as there were some changes to be incorporated in that due to change in incentives and salary rules.
I was surprised to see that the documentation was put on hold the day I left and none of the changes done so far, during the decade, were updated in documentation. What I could do in a few hours, because it was my baby, took me more than a week as I had to dig down the code to the extent of last changes done and then incorporated the changes required. The last thing I ensured before handing over was to update technical and functional documents.
Do you have a separate team responding to change in your organization or is it the same who is following a plan? Obviously, it is the same team that follows a plan responding to change as and when it happens. Following a plan is a day-to-day activity while change does not happen on daily basis. If you have good processes and tools in place, you won’t be changing them so frequently. There is always an internal or external (or both) factor that raises an alarm for a change in process or tool, or an individual performing that process or tool.
Responding to Change is a Quick action
Do you have a change management process in place in the organization? Does this process address to how the priorities change over in case a change request is raised? The change request automatically takes a priority over the plan in adherence. The reason behind this is the change itself. If there is a request for a change, it means there is some shortfall in the current process. This shortfall that was not until yesterday might have arisen due to change in policies, strategies, processes, a new business application introduced, or the introduction of mobility in the organization. It is a well-known phenomenon that whenever there is a launch of a core business application in the organization, there is a change in processes, roles, and responsibilities.
Following a plan is always good. It could be daily production plan, material procurement plan, development plan, testing plan, etc. If least deviations occur out of a plan over a period of time, it means the plan is well structured and matched with organizational needs. Change, as said above, does not occur every day. It arises out of a need. A need occurs out of a change. It is a cyclic behavior. A need catering to a change and a change catering to a need.
Processes and Tools are important for any project. More important is to understand the two key drivers of these. Whatever is the level of automation of processes and the advanced level of tools, it is the individuals and interactions that drive them. If the two sides are not synced well, it is doomed to be a failure or a big disaster. You just can’t keep your eyes closed or go for a sound sleep once you have a kitty of world-class processes and tools. There has to be a constant vigil and monitoring to ensure that the individuals or the team members who are supposed to use these tools or run these processes are well equipped with sufficient amount of knowledge to use those. Also, it is important to have a good governing process in place to ensure the two are going hand in hand in harmony.
Processes and Tools are important for business
A good amount of investment goes in design, development and deployment of processes in any organization. Similarly, when you talk about tools, it is either an investment in terms of procurement and deployment or there are internal development and deployment. Another set of investment goes in training imparted to individuals to acquire expertise in usage of these processes and tools. On top of everything, it is the individuals and interactions that happen in any organization that can give you the health status of processes and tools in use.
A loose link in the chain of users of any process or tools can bring a potential harm to the organization. This loose link might develop due to many reasons. It could be due to lack of knowledge, interest or training. As I keep telling my customers, put 4 individuals as independent heads of a crucial process. Monitor their performance on a regular basis. All four individuals will have a difference scale of performance. Choose the best and drop out the weakest. Let the best one be the supervising agency for the others working on the same process. Chalk out a rehabilitation program for the weakest to groom or place him on another process after analyzing his skills. Let no talent go waste. The same has to be done in terms of tools.
Customer Collaboration is a very important factor in a Software Development project. There is no success possible if a customer is not engaged well right since beginning of product development. In fact, the engagement has to start from contract negotiation, stay intact during product development and right through change management.
Customer Collaboration goes end to end
- Contract Negotiation:
A Contract can’t be finalized unless a customer is on the same floor as you. It has to be universally accepted between the two parties. The scope has to be well defined, or rather curated, to match the envisioned goals meant to be achieved through this development. The product which is right now on papers has to be carved well so that the development goes in right direction to achieve the desired goals. The design that is in mind put down on a chart has to sync perfectly with the development that has to happen. The negotiation has to happen in terms of time, commercials and deliverables. Though the scrum sizing is done at a later stage but that is done on the basis of reverse engineering.
- Product Development:
Once scoping is finalized, product development starts with appropriate team formations and role assignments. Even if this is an in-house activity, customer needs to stay in sync through this phase. It is important for a customer to stay connected and keep a close watch on the development of various pieces, and ensure the things are moving in right direction.
- Change Management:
Any change to any extent must happen in collaboration with the customer. After all, it is customer’s product that is under development. If a change is happening, it has to be in the knowledge of customer for making them understand the need for the change and its impact on the development.
As we see the importance of customer collaboration and its importance during software development is quite crucial and hence must be taken as a top priority activity.
Social Media is a wonderful platform to showcase your organization in a digital manner. You need to have a social media strategy for your organization to step in an organized and structured manner in the cumbersome world of social media. The key is to remain simple and straightforward. If you are able to raise engagement to a higher level on a regular basis, nothing like that.
Social Media Strategy is important
You need to allocate few hours for your social media management on a regular basis. Even in the case, it is outsourced to a third party, it needs to be monitored and managed. Never ever be under an impression that once it is outsourced, your responsibility is over. You need to customize social media workflow as per the needs of your organization. There is no standard pattern to it that can be adopted universally. It is not essential to jump on all social media platforms. It depends on the intensity of your direct engagement with consumers of your products or services. But even if you are an OEM supplier, your presence is essential on relevant social media platforms.
You need to have an official account on social networks. It is important to update social networks on a regular basis. These updates must include text, images, videos and voice. In parallel, you must plan and publish posts on your official blog. Sharing these posts on social networks widens your visibility. For your upcoming posts, there has to be a regular research (internal and external). Your posts must be highly informative and engaging in nature. for this, there are ways to curate relevant information through various resources. Tapping right kind of resources is important.
Listening is a great art even on social networks. You must generate capabilities to listen to your brand, product, service or organization mentions on social networks. Reply back with appropriate words of appreciation, solution etc. without any delays. Build relevant communities with a single purpose of enlightening your audience with right kind of information they seek instead of focusing on building your brand image. The branding will automatically evolve if you stay focused on former.
Build campaigns for increasing engagement on social networks. These campaigns might involve giveaways, contests etc. Collect all data and perform analytics to drive sense out of it. It might help you in appropriate decision making.
It is important to understand the fundamental approach of Agile Software Development. Once the basic elements are clear it becomes easier to adopt the methodology and move in right direction. The journey of Agile Software Development starts with a vision. There has to be a vision to clearly inscribe the requirements and purpose of this particular piece of software (the application for example) under development.
The journey of Agile Software Development starts with a vision
The vision helps you in finding out the gap between “what is” situation and the desired situation. This gap is called product backlog. The product backlog is the key driver for the whole journey. The journey ends with the successful launch of the software application.
The product backlog is like a long piece of a bun that is cut into smaller pieces that are used to make burgers. In agile terms, these smaller pieces are known as sprint backlog. Each spring backlog is like a raw piece of bun that is to be processed to prepare a bun with the help of requisite ingredients. Each pair of the bun is converted into a burger by putting several ingredients between the two buns and it undergoing a processing. Once the burger is ready, it is called a potentially shippable product in Agile terms.
Each sprint backlog undergoes some amount of planned work. This is called Sprint. Each sprint runs for 2-4 weeks depending on the size and amount of the sprint. There are two resultants of any sprint. There is a resultant shippable product that is equivalent to a finished burger that can be sold in the market. In this case, the shippable product can be handed over to the customer. If there is a gap in the finished backlog and planned, it is added in to the next sprint backlog. Usually, it does not happen. The planning and sizing of a spring backlog is defined so accurately that in normal conditions, it is achieved 100%.
To ensure the monitoring and controlling of a sprint, a daily scrum meeting is held every 24 hours.
ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning is taking a paradigm shift. Mobility and Analytics have to be two integral components of ERP. ERP or any business application’s main purpose is to help a business to reach to a matured level of a data-driven organization. A comprehensive business process management application can be termed as ERP if it permits a business to run an integrated application to manage, control, and run the business in a partial or largely automated manner to cover its mainstream functions related to sales, services, operations, technology, human resources etc. In today’s dynamic scenario mobility and analytics are the two major requirements of any business.
Business mobility and analytics provide a new power to business
The age-old phenomenon of capturing data at its point of origin, preferably in an automated manner still holds good. Various modules need to be well integrated to control the mainstream business activities like supply chain, inventory, procurement, production, finance, human resources, etc. The mantra is to integrate anything that impacts operations of a business directly or indirectly. Most of the organizations still have certain legacy applications in place performing some part of the core business even when they have ERP deployed. The basic fact remains true – More number of applications will create more chaos and problems and actually more wastage of time in identifying the real culprit behind the problem reported.
A good business application will have a single database controlled and managed in a centralized manner keeping in mind that this data has to be 100% clean, with no duplication of data, providing a single view to all users to avoid any confusions and ambiguities. Now a days ERP deployment takes lesser time as compared to earlier when it used to be complete deployment, customization, training, and execution. These days mostly it is on cloud, pre-configured, and parametric in nature. Complexities are higher where clarities are lower.
Most of the organizations have a demand for enterprise mobility from such applications. The business must not stop even when the people are on-the-go within or outside the business. An in-built analytics module is a cherry on the cake for any enterprise.
The rules of digital business plan work well provide you know the basic principles – Set right rules, vet them, and execute them with every top level leader’s involvement. Only then it can help you to stay in the competition. The relationship between plan and rules of competition is two sided. Both are dependent on each other. A right plan can enable you to set the rules of competition. A right set of rules of competition executed well will keep business ahead of competitors. But the game is not that simple.
Rules of digital business plan depend on right plan
Here are the rules of digital business to stay in the competition:
- A digital business plan has to fit the digital business goals. It calls for an altogether new business design where the physical world takes a back seat and the digital world takes the controlling front seat.
- The product has to be recreated to pass the digital world requirements. It might need a change in logistics, packaging, or even appearance & its design.
- No digital business will work in the absence of analytics.
- Cloud services will become an important tool to run the digital business.
- Top line priorities will change altogether to make the digital business plan work. Senior management will have to choose relevant projects to transform the business.
- There would be an evolution of new business models.
- Rights and authorities will take a new shape. There would be drastic changes in roles and responsibilities, the culture of the organization, and even the branding & visibility.
- There would be new dimensions to costs and risks that will require quantification.
- There would be investments to acquire staff with a different set of skills, newer technologies, integration, upkeep & maintenance, software & apps development.
- Information security will require new dimensions. Information assets valuation will be required. Risks and threats to these assets will also have new dimensions.
- Some legacies will have to be dropped, some new processes will evolve.
Digital Business Plan can act as a strong bond between CEO and CIO provided it is well evaluated, documented and executed engaging all the stakeholders. All good efforts go in vain if any of the above three steps fail or lack seriousness. CIO has to play a major role in the evaluation process being done by the board including CEO. CEO & Directors on board might lack complete knowledge in understanding and evaluation of digital business strategy.
Digital Business Plan brings a paradigm shift
The top management expects CIO to perform as their lead technology strategist and there is nothing wrong in it. But important to understand is if CIO is well equipped to fulfill expectations of the people on board? CIO is not only to be equipped with ample knowledge of the subject but also be able to educate senior management on the trends and industry standards being elevated in the outside world. CIO is supposed to work very close with the top leadership in the organization to build strategic plans that are powerful enough to enable business for future growth in these fast-changing technology environment.
The foremost goal of any enterprise is to grow, sustain, and stay competitive in the market. Most of the businesses are turning to digital as a worldwide trend. Whatever strategies or plans are deployed while turning to digital business it is very important to align internal knowledge bank and external consultants so as to achieve the target well. Since most of the CEOs and directors on board don’t carry that expertise in digital business as per Jorge Lopez, Vice President and Senior Analyst, Gartner, they start banking on CIO to lead the show. It becomes CIO’s responsibility to create and validate Digital Business Plan for the organization.
As stated by Jorge, a digital business plan will see the light of the day only if it executed well and to achieve that every leader on board has to act on it. CIO has not only to lead but also to ensure the action part. At the same time, CIO must be very clear on the business goals, its alignment with Digital business plan and a stringent process of evaluating it.
A substantial increase in urban areas is not only bringing new challenges but at the same time creating new opportunities to build a sustainable and scalable environment for households, enterprises, societies, and communities. A city is not only supposed to be responsive and responsible towards its households but equally towards a large chunk of population entering and exiting on a regular basis for work and education. The volume daily commuters increase manifold because of such inflow. All these factors bring smart city opportunities.
Smart City Opportunities are as high as its challenges
Smart city opportunities also have another challenge – to compete with other smart cities across the globe. There has to be a continuous economic growth, increasing business avenues, and the creation of new jobs. By 2050, 7 out of 10 people will be living in an urban area. This would be happening due to the expansion of urban areas and conversion of rural areas into urban areas. When a country grows, there is always a shift of rural population to urban areas for betterment in various aspects. The negative side of the increase in urbanization is the population increase that becomes a reason for the increase in crime rate. When the population of a city doubles, the increment in crime rate goes higher by 15%. Safety and security thus becoming a key area of improvement and automation.
Initial thrust is important to cater to smart city opportunities
Cities are more culprit in increasing pollution. Cities are responsible for more than 75% of energy consumption and Carbon Dioxide emissions. Another serious concern is of traffic congestion. To address all these issues there has to be a systematic approach adopted. Smart city opportunities increase manifold with the requirement of broadband Internet, cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT) services, and sensor-based networks. All these become prominent factors of ant smart city implementation.
Initial thrust is important to cater to smart city opportunities in order to build and gain momentum. Once the things come to shape, it becomes easier to sustain it further.
To know smart city challenges, opportunities, and solutions, it is important to understand what factors differentiate a city from a smart city. What makes a city smart? Some key features that make a city smart are –
- Environmental sustainability
- Smarter financial models
- More efficient and better-integrated services/devices in infrastructure
- Economic sustainable operating model for citizens
- Enterprises and tourists
- Better means and methods to ensure citizen’s health, wealth, and security
- Modular approach with easy integration
Environmental sustainability is a must for a smart city
Technology can play a major role in tackling all these smart city challenges. Some key challenges being faced by cities are:
- Exponential urbanization is shifting a larger chunk of population from Rural to Urban belts. This could be taken as a challenge as well as an opportunity.
- The rate at which population is being absorbed in urban areas increases the potential of a huge scope of improvement. There is a large amount of migration from rural areas to cities.
Worldwide awareness towards the need of environmental sustainability is increasing. Recently COP21 agreement was signed by almost 200 countries expressing commitments and evolving legal obligations.
- Cities are seeking smarter financial models to create more efficient and better-integrated services. The same goes for infrastructure so as to drive citizen, enterprises, commuting, transport, residence, traveler and other services in an economically sustainable manner.
- Administrative authorities are required to handle citizen’s health, wealth, and security in a more organized manner. Urbanization needs to be inclusive, social, and participatory in all aspects.
Smart City means Scalability, economic & environmental sustainability
The top 600 cities in terms of their size in the world are estimated to generate almost 65% of global GDP growth through 2025 as per a report published recently. IoT applications in cities would be having an economic impact of between $900 billion to 1.5 trillion per year in 2025. This all shows a tremendous scope of growth required in terms of the development of smart cities across the globe. A smart city will have to have a regular growth plan on its charter to sustain and grow.
This is the last post in the series of discussion with Shawn. We talk here about advantages to Agile eCommerce development over Waterfall eCommerce development, It all depends on the risk appetite of an organization that builds the courage to take Agile eCommerce development or Waterfall route as project management approach.
Advantages to Agile eCommerce development
6. What are the advantages to agile over waterfall eCommerce development?
Agile project management approaches are gaining in popularity – and for good reason. Without some agility in your project approach, you risk wasting resources and time developing a product that does not meet the needs of your audience.
Overall, companies that operate in a highly innovative space and are comfortable with a moderate level of risk are well-suited for an agile eCommerce approach. The more comfortable you are with embracing change, taking risks and iterating based on customer feedback, the more agile your approach should be.
On the other hand, if you work in an industry that is highly regulated or risk averse, you may be better suited with an approach that is more aligned with waterfall. Just keep in mind that waterfall projects tend to take much longer–think years–versus an agile project approach, which focuses on rolling out a minimum viable product (MVP) very quickly and iterating frequently based on customer feedback and market conditions. Agile approaches often keep you far ahead of the competition because you can release the new version of your product or offer several times throughout the year.
7. How important is Salesforce in CRM and project management?
Salesforce is the holy grail of CRM technology. It is the largest cloud software in the world and its growth is evident in its latest earnings statement, where it’s revenue rose to $1.92B from $1.51B in Q1 2016.
In terms of project efficiency, Salesforce helps our clients manage their customer relationships more effectively, especially when they do commerce natively on Salesforce. It saves them time because they use one technology for all customer interactions, and they can gain a 360-degree view of the customer experience–from marketing to sales to commerce activities.
The ability to customize permissions and responsibilities based on a person’s Salesforce role and have a holistic view of the organization from top to bottom makes it much easier to strategize, communicate, delegate, and prioritize.
This is the third post in the series. We are interacting with Shawn Belling on his valuable views on various topics like eCommerce Project, B2B & B2C, Project Management, Agile, Waterfall, Collaboration, Vendor Management, Vendor Relationships, eCommerce Portal, SaaS and a lot more.
Vendor Relationships can be much like marriages
4. How do you plan to collaborate with multiple vendors on a project?
Any technology project that involves external vendors requires a vendor management and communications plan. These relationships can be much like marriages, and everyone involved should strive for the best outcomes, but plan for the worst. Detailed communications plans must be discussed, negotiated and agreed to during commercial discussions. What’s more, project leaders from all vendors and the performing company must adhere to these communications plans.
Vendor management plans must include escalation plans and plans for addressing other possible situations that routinely come up during a technology project. At the planning phase of the project, create a comprehensive vendor risk assessment and mitigation plan to help prepare for unexpected roadblocks.
During project execution, the performing organization’s project management and governance team must rigorously hold vendors accountable for reporting status and issues, and for developing and executing plans to keep the vendor’s portion of the project in “green” status.
Vendor Relationships is like strive for the best outcomes but plan for the worst
5. What technology platforms you will prefer for building eCommerce portal?
More and more, companies are adopting SaaS, cloud-based commerce platforms to power customer experiences and digital purchasing. This is true for both B2B and B2C organizations.
Companies are adopting this technology, specifically commerce systems native on Salesforce like CloudCraze, because it allows them to go to market faster and generate ROI on commerce investments in a matter of weeks, not years. There is also a much lower total cost of ownership associated with commerce on Salesforce because you do not need to invest in infrastructure typically associated with hosted legacy commerce platforms.
This post is in continuation to the previous post. We started a conversation with Shawn Belling, Vice President that will be posted in a series of posts. In this post, Shawn is talking about eCommerce roadmap, eCommerce project, the key stakeholders in this type of projects, and how would we differentiate between a B2B and B2C eCommerce project.
eCommerce Project Governance Team must Embrace Change
1. What key points are taken care of while building B2B eCommerce roadmap in the context of project management?
The B2B eCommerce roadmap is a long-term program plan outlining the series of projects necessary for the company to realize its commerce vision. Program directors and managers at companies implementing a commerce platform should recognize that the strategy and roadmap will take place over a series of projects. Each of these must be planned and managed so they provide value with each release, while at the same time set up the next phase of the project in the program. The overall project governance team must embrace change in the roadmap as they learn from the early projects through feedback from customers, as well as internal and external stakeholders.
The most important external stakeholder in eCommerce project are the customers
2. In an eCommerce project who all are the key stakeholders – internal and external?
There are often several internal stakeholders, including executives, and the sales, marketing, customer service, product management, distribution, procurement, and finance teams. Depending on the company vertical and organizational structure, the involvement and influence of these stakeholders will vary.
Naturally, the most important external stakeholders in any eCommerce project are the customers. Business partners and suppliers also have a stake in the outcome of an eCommerce project, as well as investors and other performing organizations.
3. What are the major differences between B2B and B2C eCommerce project?
B2B and B2C projects are becoming more and more similar as consumers demand intuitive, easy, and automated experiences in both their personal and business lives. Whether it’s the B2B or B2C industry, projects vary based on the product and organizational structure. Factors such as the amount of strategic input necessary from teams and departments, corporate culture, product development, economies of scale, and risk aversion all make a big impact on the timeline and development of a project.
Shawn Belling has a Master’s certification in Project Management, a Master of Science degree in Project Management, and as a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) with PMP, ACP and Scrum certifications, Shawn Belling gives a unique perspective and expertise on versatile subjects of agile project management. He is a well-known speaker, teacher, and consultant on the subject. He is actively using this rich experience to transform the e-commerce experience by enhancing CRM structures.
Shawn Belling has an expertise in Project Management
Shawn Belling, Vice President, Product Development and Support, CloudCraze has expertise in project management, CRM, Salesforce, eCommerce, Agile, and a lot more. With the growth and expanding the complexity of SaaS (software as a Service) platforms, project management has been experiencing a drastic change over a decade. The emphasis is shifting more towards an agile over waterfall approach. Three key parameters of success that have evolved over a period of time are Speed, Accuracy, and Quality. That is the Mantra as per Shawn Belling.
Shawn happily talks about various topics related to Project Management, B2B eCommerce, eCommerce Roadmap, Art of Collaborating on a project, Advantages to Agile over Waterfall eCommerce Development, Role of Salesforce in CRM and Project Management etc. I recently got a chance to have a detailed discussion with Shawn Belling on various aspects and his perspective on these ever-emerging concepts related to the topics stated above.
Few important aspects that emerge out after the discussion can be summarized as below:
- The B2B eCommerce roadmap is a long-term program comprising of a number of projects.
- Key executioners implementing a commerce platform must understand the strategy and roadmap.
- Planning, Managing and Setting up for next phase must go in parallel.
- The overall project governance team must embrace any change in the roadmap.
- The key learning from a project comes from feedback from customers, as well as internal and external stakeholders.
The interview series with Shawn Belling is there in the next few posts. Continued »
Analytics has a tremendous amount of power. This power is not always constructive. It can be destructive too. It all depends on data based on which it is being done, the time frame during which it is being done, results you draw out of it, and people who have to take decisions based on this. If all these factors are synchronized well, you can get wonderful results out of it. And if any of the factors goes out of sync the results drawn can lead to haywire.
Analytics has a tremendous amount of power
Analytics has an ability to redefine your business model to such an extent that it becomes the biggest catalyst of growth. With so much being talked about technology, data visualization, 3D printing, Hadoop, data warehouses, cloud computing etc. across the globe, it is important to take a technology-centric approach where the solution is pushed rather can getting it otherwise. Though organizations have been accessing these technologies but very few of those would be sure of what to do with it. Operational and financial data is the biggest resource to get greater insights and objectively drawn business value with the help of Analytics. Such is the power of analytics.
The power of Analytics is not always constructive
Big Data is the next big thing being discussed aiming to solve big problems. In an act to be part of Big Data initiatives, companies have become overstressed how to use their data. In this race, they have lost the art of using the data at their fingertips. Therefore, to solve all important, high-risk or high-value problems and propositions reliability has gone somewhere else. To measure the value of a business, analytics can play an important role. But more than that analytics must add value to the business. It must help business in combating big issues like high absenteeism, overtime reduction, an increase in production, customer satisfaction, revenue growth, quality enhancement, timely deliveries, and so on.
Startups start with a big promise but then something happens that makes these startups fail after some point of time. This makes everyone wonder Why Startups fail? Around 40% are not able to cross their incubation period. Rest 30% fail within first 3-5 years depending on their ability to sustain and then opt out of the game when no juice left. Hardly 20-30% of startups cross 5 years of their early life and are able to sustain happily in terms of some juice left in them to survive. During this journey, some brighter ones are picked by existing big players if found suitable for value addition in their business. Some get funded by large groups, heavy individuals or similar kind in a wake of showing some substantial results. But overall, the journey is painful not mostly resulting into a healthy and happy ending.
Why startups fail instead of excellent projections
The biggest mistake startups make in demonstrating rosy projections for the sake of attracting lucrative funding offers leads them to a wrong direction. All projections are based on certain set of assumptions. If there are no assumptions it reflects half job done in preparation of the projections for that project. Missing assumptions or semi-presented assumptions are harmful to a project and may lead to failure. The absence of a full organizational structure is permitted in a startup but not its vision and mission. There have to be primary goals and secondary goals in place. These goals must carry some do-ables with concrete timelines. There has to be a regular monitoring for these critical tasks.
Lack of vision and mission is the reason why startups fail
Excess expenditures need to be controlled. In fact, all expenditures need to be controlled. No expense should be permissible unless it is for the sake of extracting oxygen for the organization only to help it survive. Usually, funding corrupts minds and leads to expenses that are not at all necessary but just to satisfy some top guy’s whims and fancies. Avoid it. Discard it.
Excessive unorganized expenses become reason for why startups fail
If you don’t have a digital strategy in place, formulate it. If it is there in place, here is a checklist if it is aligned well with your business or not. Having no strategy about the digital arena in today’s world is a crime, having a wrong one in place is a suicide. A haphazard strategy is powerful enough to destroy your business. And the opposite of this holds good equally. A well thought and designed strategy work well for the organization or business. Following are the key guidelines to ensure that digital strategy aligns perfectly well with the business strategy:
- Why Digital:
Why Digital? What is the need? Is important to understand.
- Business Goals:
While formulating the digital strategy for your organization, ensure that it is well aligned with your business goals. Your business needs will be the best thing to create digital strategy framework.
- Digital Strategy Goals:
Be Clear about your digital goals and ensure that that have to be in line with the organization’s vision and mission.
Digital Strategy lives on connect. No connect means no life
- Stakeholders Connect:
Ensure you are connected with the stakeholders digitally as part of your strategic goals.
- Social Media:
There are many platforms but you need to be clear which to start with based on your requirement and business product or service range. Which Social Media? How much? Plan of execution? Measuring factors? Measuring frequency?
There are many pointers that need to be taken care of while formulating the digital strategy for your organization. A structured approach is always better with well-defined goals instead of jumping in the river without any purpose and goal. If you have well-set agenda you will not wait for things to happen on social media to take action. Rather, you will be driving it as per your own wish in your own defined direction. In any case, engagement is the key. If you are able to engage your stakeholders well, you are bound to be a winner.
Businesses need to have a proper corporate digital strategy in place due to an exponential increase of penetration by buyers and consumers on digital platforms. There are businesses who decide strategically not to have a presence at all or a very mild presence on various digital platforms. This is basically a feature of those businesses that lack accountability towards their customers and other stakeholders. Less visibility will result in less interaction thus helping businesses staying stain-free. This is what a business with wrong practices thinks, but that is not the case anymore. Your digital absence itself is a negative impression. The more you hide, the more it goes against your business.
Corporate Digital Strategy is important in today’s digital world
Then there are businesses who are present on social media platforms but you will find the last post as stale as rotten eggs. What will a consumer gain if on visiting a business page on Facebook or on the twitter account, the latest post is a marked date that is earlier than a year or more! Your presence and at the same time staying inactive for a long period reflects more negative against the business. The trust seems to be gone if you have not been interactive on these media.
Corporate Digital Strategy has to have important ingredients
Well if you are there on social media platforms, at least two of them, and are active too, then what matters most is your level of engagement and interaction. One of the largest telco when approached by a consumer through a tweet regarding an issue, gets a fixed reply like
- Please contact our customer care number
- Someone will shortly connect to address to your issue
- We have passed the issue to the relevant department
and so on.
Corporate Digital Strategy – Formulate, Roll out, Engage, Drive
These tactics do not work now. You repeat your tweet raising the same concern and you get one of the same fixed replies which are of no help to you. You stay with your concern that keeps lingering on in a dark tunnel provided to you by the business. Businesses must avoid such “dark tunnels” while facing their customers. In today’s scenario customer will not tolerate it and will not hesitate in declaring you bluff openly on such platforms.
The demo zone at Nokia India Innovation Day was most lively with Nokia end-to-end Solutions being showcased. There were 8 segments and at each segment there technology and media enthusiasts to understand the innovative solutions being showcased. Here are the 8 Demos that were showcased:
- Nokia AirScale Wi-Fi:
Being an expert in mobile networks, Nokia has built cloud-based, carrier-grade Wi-Fi solution that has a unique combination of deployment simplicity and gigabit wireless performance. The launch of Nokia AirScale Wi-Fi will empower mobile operators integrate seamlessly Wi-Fi with their existing networks of any kind to improvise customer experience and create new avenues for creating revenue streams. The solution also enables service providers without licensed spectrum to run a Wi-Fi service so as to take advantage of mobile edge computing and analytics thus delivering advanced context-based services.
Live tracking is possible with a high level of coverage of NB-IoT as compared to the conventional LTE-based solution (Cat.4 modem). NB-IoT is in process of getting standardized in the LTE specifications of 3GPP Rel. 13 (LTE-Advanced Pro). It showed possibility of deeper penetration with NB-IoT in rural and inbuilding structures.
Nokia end-to-end solutions are quite innovative
- IoT Use Cases:
The demo segment showed how service providers can get advantage of newer technologies with the enablements of IoT-based business models. The project is based on connected service vehicle, smart bus shelter, smart university campus, and other smart buildings.
- IoT Scale Monetize and Secure:
It showed scaling and upscaling of the networks creating horizontal solutions for IoT. The solution involving protect and assure network, apps, devices, and data is powerful enough to monetize connectivity and gradually expand services across IoT ecosystems thus taking it to a larger scale.
- Smart Home:
Network providers (Telcos, Community Broadband providers, Cable MSOs etc.) can take advantage of the residential gateway already existing in each home, whether a fiber ONT or DSL modem, by expanding their services into Connected Home/ Smart Home.
- Smart City:
There were setups demonstrating Smart Parking, Smart Metering, and Smart Lighting. I would be taking these three in a separate post later.
- Nokia Airscale Radio Access:
This is a next-gen solution from Nokia called AirScale Radio Access that goes beyond imagination as it has a capability of radically altering the way networks are designed. Operators who will be using Nokia Airscale Radio Access will be future ready including high-end requirements of IoT, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Smart Factories and so on. This will also cater to the advanced technology requirements like Video streaming demanding extreme performance. A complete solution, and first of its kind, of Nokia AirScale Radio Access live, combined with 5G-ready air interface is being demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2016.
- Nuage Networks:
This demo was about controlling remote segments of networks in a very different manner. The Nuage Networks by Nokia VNS Solution, software-defined network (SDN) goes in a steady manner across datacenters in private, public or mixed cloud environments thereby extending to remote locations anywhere.
Nokia end-to-end Solutions would be exciting when rolled out in live scenarios.
It was exciting to attend Nokia India Innovation Day 2016 where Nokia demonstrated some of its innovative technological launches in various streams like Networks for Cloud, Transformation from LTE to 5G, IoT etc. Nokia has evolved as an end-to-end player in multiple technologies such as IP, Mobile, Fixed, and Optical that are promising at a global level in order to connect more and more people and things across through the programmable enablements.
Nokia India Innovation Day showcased many innovative brilliant ideas
Nokia India Innovation Day 2016 included demonstration of Nokia’s design of IoT-based solution to make it a reality for designing smart cities, smart homes and public safety solutions. The demo zone was equipped to showcase the connectivity of people and things in various ways and for various solutions. The biggest hurdle that comes in such large-scale solutions is ‘slow and complex’. Nokia demonstrated how it is eradicating these hurdles from the creation of IoT applications without any compromise with quality, design, and security.
Under Networks for Cloud Era, Nokia India Innovation Day 2016 has some wonderful solutions that showcased how large sized networks can get benefited from automation and virtualization while using less hardware with a high focus on drawing high levels of efficiency, innovation, business opportunities, and quality. Nokia has brought out it’s converged offering for fixed, mobile, IP, and optical networks. These solutions are blended well with connectivity and providing a new paradigm for the programmable world.
Nokia has been innovating in designing solutions for 5G that are promising to initiate the pace and the standards for 5G technology.
Jacques Vermeulen, Director Smart Cities, Customer Operations, Nokia talked about the real initiative happening in Nokia regarding IoT. With the increasing extent of urbanization worldwide, the possibility of connecting more and more devices is growing exponentially thus tending to make IoT a reality.
Milivoj Vela, Technology Vision Lead for Middle East Asia & India, Nokia highlighted 5G features and how it has become a new generation of radio systems and network architecture thereby delivering extreme broadband and ultra-robust framework. It results into low latency connectivity and huge networking for the IoT thus enabling the programmable world that in turn will transform individual lives, society, and economy in a big way.
Nokia India Innovation Day 2016 demo zone had various solutions at the display like IoT use cases, IoT-Scale Monetize and Secure, Smart Home/Building, Smart City, NB-IoT, Nuage Networks, AirScale Radio Access, and AirScale Wi-fi. We would talk about these in detail in the next post.
A project manager encounters various people related issues in a project.
When there are people, there are people related issues in a project.
Understanding people related issues in a project is an art.
There are all kind of people you recruit for your projects coming from different companies creating people related issues because of different levels of understanding and different standards of same things like performance. When people are there in an organization or a project, there are people related issues. A project manager encounters various people related issues during each project lifecycle. Understanding people related issues is an art. Some of these issues, if not handled properly, may lead to a critical edge. Following are the most common people related issues in any kind of organization:
1. Communication: Understanding same communication by different persons in an organizations is an issue. In a growing business communication of expectations plays a major role. A regular communication is a must. Initially only 15-20% of persons will be able to understand the expected action. Gradually as the teams and organization mature, the alignment becomes better thereby lessening the gap between sender’s and recipient’s levels of understanding.
2. Recruitment: The higher the employee turnout, the higher will be fresh recruitment. The higher is the fresh recruitment, the higher is the number of issues of disconnect. It is always better to define standards for each role. Each role must be clear on the minimum level of deliverables beyond which nothing is acceptable. Yes, as they progress above the level, they can be categorized as good performers and excellent performers. Initially people coming from different organizations will have different benchmarks of performance, good performance, and excellent performance.
3. Documentation: If a proper documentation of rules & regulations, processes & guidelines are non-existent, it calls for a trouble.
4. Feedback: A regular feedback to each member of the team is very important to close the gap in understanding what organization expects from them, and also lessens the chances of repetition of same mistake from an employee. A bad feedback will give a chance of improvement and a good feedback will give a chance to improve further.
5. Authority: Never let people take authority for granted. It must be clear to each one of them that authority comes with responsibility, ownership, and understanding. People who try to avoid responsibility can be improved by giving them some authority.
Hope this article helps in tacking people related issues in a project.
Data privacy, data security, and data control are key cloud adoption barriers.
Workforce management and business case are few more cloud adoption barriers.
To add the pain Infrastructure and resource management are also cloud adoption barriers.
Data privacy, data security, and data control are the first set of concerns that flash in the mind when we talk of cloud adoption barriers. Obviously, there are many hidden barriers that are over and above the traditional issues. For years you are managing your own data center, mostly on-premise, that has eaten a lot of dollars for its setup, maintenance, upkeep, and upgradation from time to time. When you think of moving all stuff that resides on your application servers, database servers, and any middle layer servers to cloud, it creates a big uproar as far as top management is concerned. It is a big decision, after all. What will happen to the infrastructure, resources, and workforce stands in front of IT to answer to the management.
Building a business case is important and projecting this transformation beneficial for business is equally important. You must understand the benefits of cloud adoption vis-a-vis cloud adoption barriers. There are many benefits such as:
- There would be improvement in productivity.
- There would be less controlling costs to reduce your operational cost in a significant manner.
- Your compliance risks would be minimized substantially. Your IT resources would get free.
- Your licensing costs would go down.
- Your upgradation costs and new software cost also would decrease.
And there are many more to it.
Only word of caution – a lot depends on cloud service provider (or partner). You need to do a good amount of research before zeroing down on your cloud partner. The vendor has to be there in the market for long, with a good number of satisfied customers, the older the better. Also you must be very careful in finalizing your SLAs (service level agreements) with the vendor.
Big Data Risks are not away from Organizations using big Data.
Advanced analytics can help businesses to mitigate Big Data Risks.
Big Data Risks in financial services have to be zero effectively.
Big Data Risks are not away from organizations using Big Data. Advanced Analytics can help in a big way to mitigate risks arising out of Big Data. big Data risks in financial services have to be zero effectively to survive business and customers. The more is the involvement of big data in a business the more is the risk. Big data not only contains large volume of data but it is mostly in unstructured or varied structure form and is also driven from multiple sources thereby implying multiple chances of risks. It is become quite a clear concern for organizations working in the financial sector. Advances analytics opens new windows for big data solutions thereby enabling new ways to mitigate financial risk arising out of big data. It also provides a prominent competitive advantage to the business. Obviously, lesser risk in a consistent manner means more business and large customer base. A business survival may become difficult in case it is not able to mitigate business risks thereby creating cautiousness among its customers to move away from it and find out a better deal.
Big Data management is not an easy task as it involves larger number of risks and challenges. Some of the risks can be listed as below:
Tons of data: If you tend to perform your big data analytics on a spreadsheet, you are sunk in a muddy water. A spreadsheet will never be able to give you real picture of trends, opportunities, threats etc. You won’t be able to sort such a large volume of data in desired format to chalk out relevant trends and patterns. Breaking into smaller chunks of data and drawing out conclusions will not be right. It will not be a fruitful exercise. There has to be a powerful analytics tool to ascertain all these things.
Delayed Analytics: If you are performing analytics on an older set of data, it will be of no use in terms of business benefit. Your analytics has be either real-time or near to real-time in order to read the behavior of your customers, markets, and other stakeholders and take appropriate actions. An automated analytics tool is required in this regard.
Unstructured Data, Multiple Sources: Mostly big data is stored in an isolated manner and it takes a lot of time to convert unstructured data coming from multiple sources into useful information that empowers you to act in the right direction. A lot of time gets wasted in cleaning of this data and reorganizing it in a useful manner for integrating it with your business applications.
Project Manager’s Rule Book is very important aspect.
Every project manager has to build his personal Project Manager’s Rule Book.
It is very important to follow your personal Project Manager’s rule Book.
As discussed in my previous post – 5 Golden Rules For Project Managers, a project manager need to carry his personal rule book for making any project successful. Though there are many rules that a project manager may add to his personal Project Manager’s rule book, based on my experience of over 25 years in project management I would keep following 5 rules on top of my priority list:
Delegation: A project manager has to be capable enough to estimate each team member’s core strengths and interests to draw out their capabilities. This will help in assigning tasks with least risk involved in timely and accurate closure of the tasks. Project timelines, tasks allocation, budget, and resources are the most critical elements of any project. If a project manager is able to delegate tasks in a most balanced preposition, there is nothing like it.
Transparency: A project manager has to be transparent in all aspects in multiple directions. It means transparency in terms of team selection, task allocation, chalking out project tasks, WBS (work breakdown structure), and all kind of project meetings. Stakeholders engagement and bringing things on the table in a transparent manner to them is very important.
Honesty: A project manager has to be honest. A well known verbatim – Charity begins at home – applies here as – Honesty begins at home. The foremost aspect of honesty is to be honest with yourself. If you follow this, being honest with others will not be difficult. If you do this, you will get the same in return from each team member and other stakeholders. Don’t keep a space for dishonesty in driving any project – either at your end or at others’. The message has to be clear to everyone in the team in bold.
Technical know-how: A project manager has to be strong in technical know-how of the projects he is working on. If you are not, there are possibilities of others playing tricks with you in this portfolio.
Empowerment: If you don’t empower other, people will stop acting proactively feeling lack of security, protection, and decision making.
Hope to know what you feel in my list of Project Manager’s Rule Book. And would also like to know what top aspects you choose in defining your Project Manager’s Rule Book.
These 5 Golden Rules for Project Managers are must to win their teams.
Golden Rules for Project Managers apply globally.
Golden Rules for Project Managers need to evolve regularly.
These 5 golden rules for project managers are a must to win their teams irrespective of project type or geographic location. These rules need to evolve on a regular basis. Although priority and hierarchy of these rules might vary depending on size of the project, on-site or off-site, and co-location of teams. Let us talk about a project manager Ravi who is working in a software company and holds a key position in making projects successful. A successful project means timely closure, within budget, with least deviation in teams and resources. All these are correlated components of a project. A hike in team size or even resizing will impact on progress of a project.
Similarly if your estimation of resources overshoots it is going to hamper not only your project budgets but also on the timely closure. this is because arrangement of resources take time and time is the most crucial factor in case of progress of a project. That is why Ravi stays cautious about his projects and ensures right budget, team size, team members, and resources estimations. He understands well that each estimate has to be as accurate as possible, right in the beginning of a project otherwise could lead to a disaster. He keeps evolving his set of golden rules for project managers.
For Ravi following are the set of 5 Golden rules for project managers based on his experience and hit rate. Hit rate for a project manager is achievement of success in projects out of the total kitty of project handled so far. Here we go for Ravi’s 5 golden rules for project managers that is continued in my next post – Project Manager’s Rule Book.
Having Data Scientist as part of IT team is a necessity of Business.
Data Scientist is a big boon for business in creating Analytics.
Businesses not anticipating need of Data Scientist will suffer.
Data scientist is a necessity today to be a part of IT team in the business. The necessity has evolved because of the need of business. Business footprints in digital world and social media have already started. Big Data and analytics thus become important for a business to handle to take right business decisions within right time frames. A decision delayed is a reason for loss in business. Ignorance is no more blessing these days. It is a suicide, rather. That is why having data scientist in IT team is critical. Before searching for IT talent outside in open world, look inside among teams and check within various teams for people capable of managing data projects.
Most of the enterprise CEOs worldwide have already felt the need of digital strategy in place and those who have not felt so far will be forced to by the end of 2017. Many organizations have already started developing data science team. The new skill set has emerged out as an independent entity within an organization. Organizations are looking out for data science specialists to fill the gap that has come due to digital, social media, and big data. Before recruiting a data scientist afresh it is always better to search the talent within the organization. With a little insight about each individual you can easily make out a list of people having expertise in managing data projects. These persons would already be doing some kind of data analytics without getting noticed for the same.
Once these employees are identified and brought together, they can start doing wonders for the organization. Look out for the employees who are expert in skills like data access, decision science, data visualization, data modeling, business acumen, data analytics, and managing any other kind of data projects. Instead of recruiting new faces, identify suitable employees, who can be trained further to enhance their skills in this direction.
A Data Science Team is a must today for any business.
Without Data Science team, a business lacks critical analytics.
In Digital world, survival is difficult without Data Science Team.
Data Science team has to be part of business or of IT, is a big questions. Since it is an emerging concept, business would impose it on IT. That might be a right step to start with but gradually it must come under business domain and should not stick under the umbrella of IT domain. In any case, building a data science team is a necessity these days to bridge the IT skill gap and to patch the widening gap in business analytics. The moment we talk about digital landscape, this necessity automatically evolves out of it. Most of the businesses, especially the consumer facing, are already ready to ripen the fruit of social media and big data provided that have the clear vision and concrete path defined in their digital roadmap.
There has been a great collaboration seen between businesses and social media. Businesses have learned that digital is the new mantra. There is no doubt that big data has tremendous power to provide substantial business value. A lot of innovation and revolution has been noticed in digital arena. Accepting this fact, global businesses are focusing on digital transformations. New technologies are acting as a catalyst to serve customer more efficiently in a real-time scenario. Businesses have thus started working smarter. Driving innovation is the key. Social media and big data are the key drivers.
The age old philosophy of creating a USP still holds good for any business. In a crowd of companies selling the same product as you are, you need to set not only your visibility but accessibility too. A robust data analytics team has to be there in place to support your business initiatives. Businesses have felt the gap in digital skills and respective talent in IT that created a challenge to overcome this hindrance. If digital transformation has to happen, digital and analytics experts are required in the organization.
Build right mobile marketing strategy to gain effective business results.
Effective business results emerge better using social media channels.
If you don’t gain effective business results, relook into your strategies.
This post is in continuation to my previous post where we talked about building an effective mobile marketing strategy to draw out effective business results. A good mobile marketing strategy has to ensure an active usage of social media channels to make your drive more impactful.
Best way is to pick two or maximum three channels that best suite your business requirements. Facebook is the most popular and has widest audience across the globe. If your business is image centric you might think about Instagram or Pinterest. In case your business is on the technical or consulting front, LinkedIn can be used as a channel to promote it. Twitter is a highly engaging channel if you need to interact with your customers in real time.
Another important point to note is that whatever social media channels you adopt as part of your mobile marketing strategy, if you don’t use this data for business analytics, you are not moving in right direction and the results might not be as effective as anticipated.
The design of your website ( assuming it is part of your marketing strategy) has to be responsive to adopt the size and shape of any smartphone screen. Otherwise it will appear weird and users might lose interest in it for browsing on mobile platforms. If there is a query form, the columns and Submit button have to adjust automatically when opened on any smartphone. Overall, it has to be an optimized in all senses. Companies have started taking advantage of big data analytics. Hadoop comes to mind as a first choice these days. Spark is another choice. But if you have a mobile marketing strategy in place, and are using social media channels as part of it, you must take advantage of big data analytics to get fascinating insights about your customers in various categories – age, location, education, preferences, income, and so on.
Mobile Marketing is the mantra of today’s world.
Business paradigm is moving from web to mobile marketing.
A business without mobile marketing strategy is like no future planning.
No consumer facing business can think of survival without having a mobile marketing strategy in place with the world moving to mobile platforms. In fact, every business on this earth has to be active in terms of mobile marketing and social media. There are ways to adopt and emerge as a winner in mobile marketing. with the increasing popularity in smartphones and other mobile devices, it has become essential to transform marketing strategies to mobile platforms. Desktop user base is squeezing and mobile user base is expanding. Most of the businesses have understood it and thus have changed their marketing strategy path towards mobile arena.
This is definitely a good switchover as a business must speak where its audience is. An important point to note in this regard is that this switchover is not a plain vanilla transformation. It has to be a wise and mindful move while moving from regular marketing to mobile marketing. Same techniques and strategies wouldn’t work. Organizations that are adopting or in fact carrying the same set of strategies and techniques they are losing impact. The same old techniques will not be as effective as it has been in the traditional marketing scenario. There has to be a different pattern of thinking and a fresh strategy in place to obtain optimized results in mobile marketing.
An important factor while building mobile marketing strategy is to ensure including social media platforms make it more effective. Most of the mobile users having data plans use social media at a very high rate. But it is important to learn which social media platforms to adopt as a part of mobile strategy among so many evolved in last decade. A wrong feeling is that the more social media platforms will fetch more business. This might not hold good if you are not able to put your energies on all those platforms. Each platform will have a different set of requirements and way of handling. You have to understand which social media platform suits your business well. Getting on to all at the same time might disturb your budget and lead to a dilution in results.
Read my next post that is in continuation to this.
A project manager has to have a decisive mindset.
A decisive mindset helps project manager to run the show faster.
A project manager lacking decisive mindset will lose respect among team members.
A project manager lacking decisive mindset will ultimately lose respect among team members and management. Quick and right decisions is a prime requirement that helps in running the show faster. When team members are involved in closure of micro tasks assigned to them and get stuck at some important juncture for a decision, it is the role of a project manager to understand the problem from its core and take a quick decision. To take a right decision within peak time of expectation from team members, it is important to understand the problem completely, assess various alternatives, and then take a decision. A good project manager would not mind asking various possibilities from the key team members (or may be all). It is always better to note how somebody else would tackle the same situation if given an opportunity.
Even management would not like a project manager lacking decisive mindset. Project management, after all, is the game of decisions. A project manager is supposed to present his opinion at the first place when seeking a decision from the management. Going to management for a decision with no solution recommendation from your side will put a wrong impression. It is not important that every time your decision succeeds. At times even a right decision may backfire. In such a situation, always be ready with a backup plan. If plan A goes wrong, or fails, there has to be Plan B in place to take care of the situation.
A project manager lacking decisive mindset will not be able to drive his project to a successful closure unless everything is in his favor throughout the project life cycle that no major decisions are required during it. But this usually does not happen in most of the projects. There are bottlenecks and unanticipated risks that arise from time to time and project manager is required to play prominent role in resolving and mitigating them.
The eMedha Paradigm by Rakesh Misra is a must read book for Project Managers.
The eMedha Paradigm – A Project Manager’s Billion Dollar Odyssey.
The book eMedha Paradigm gives Project Insights to Business, Project Teams and PMO.
The eMedha Paradigm by Rakesh Misra is not only a must read for project managers but for all stakeholders including management, project teams, and customer. It gives multidimensional and multi-directional insights on project management. /i received this book from the author in person and am thankful to get a chance to read it. In fact, I didn’t know there is so crisp book available in the market on the subject. Rakesh is known to me for around a year now. We met first time in a meetup on water data management held by some NGO from Netherlands.
The book is quite crisp, as I mentioned above, and has been penned in an interesting manner through a fiction story. But this short novel covered in 140 odd pages has a lot of learning hidden in the story. The message is crisp and clear. I was hooked to the book the moment I started reading and had to put other things aside to finish it. That tells about the interesting way it has been presented. But as I said, the insights and learning on project management go hand in hand and thus makes it more grasping and engrossing. The story throws light on shortfalls in all directions covering all stakeholders be it the project team, project manager, quality, customer, or the management.
The eMedha Paradigm tells how management grabs a project and gives false commitments to the customer about delivery and quality. It also projects how a project manager is made scapegoat as a result of project failure because of many factors and with least fault from his side. It tells how body-shopping of developers and other team members can mar the momentum and tempo not only of the team members but also of the project. I came across a new term blame-storming in the story. There are always a lot of loopholes in a project and at times its failure or success depends the games played by top management. You will find Sanketh and Marco in top management. You will also find project managers like Kalpana who never give up and dive to the bottom of the sea to get the stock of the situation when a new project is handed over to her.
Overall, The eMedha Paradigm by Rakesh Misra is an interesting book written in a fabulous way. You must grab it and read it to know the reality behind the scene. Also in our real life whatever role we are assigned, project management is always associated with our jobs in one way or the other.
Singapore launches new Cloud Outage Incident Response Guidelines.
Cloud Outage Incident Reponse is also termed as COIR.
COIR (Cloud Outage Incident Response) guidelines help in BCM and DR Plans.
Singapore recently launched new Cloud Outage Incident Response (COIR) guidelines. These guidelines help businesses in Business Continuity Management (BCM) and Disaster Recovery (DR) plans. The core purpose of these guidelines is to prepare for and mitigate the risks of cloud outages. These outages risk mitigation is required for business critical uptime or data sensitivity. In this era of rapidly emerging new technologies, it is quite important for any business to ensure zero downtime environment for its office to it avoid from any disruptions.
An enterprise has to be quite clear about what kind of agreement is there with their cloud service provider(s) (CSPs). An important missing parameter or clause in the agreement might create a big problem at the end of the day. A business must be very clear on what measures each parameter or clause proves its existence and is sacrosanct in achieving a business goal. At the time of occurrence of cloud outages, what are the measures and processes with what kind of response time so as to ensure minimal disruptions in the business and maximum uptime for the servers. Not a single transaction should get disrupted due to this. There has to be such kind of arrangement of switchover in case of failure of one server or ISP or fiber.
The government in Singapore keep creating a more competitive business environment so as to ensure the digital economy keeps enhancing at a regular pace. Creating a prototype plan for a smart nation is just a small step taken towards a long journey. But when you talk about smart cities or smart nation, cloud outage incident response guidelines play a vital role in the execution and existence thereafter. The COIR must be a complementing factor towards all the efforts being taken to drive ICT & Cloud standards. Not only this, there has to be a crisp clarity towards running businesses as cloud users. The guidelines must be an addition to the business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) body of knowledge for the industry.
Project Governance Challenges are an integral part of a project.
There is no point in avoiding Project Governance Challenges.
Project Governance challenges are an integral part of a project. There is no point in avoiding these challenges. The best way is to master the way in handling them. There is always a scope for improvement in any kind of governance. It can always be enhanced and improved to an optimized level. Once you reach an optimized level, it does not mean it has no further scope for improvement. The day you stop seeking improvement in its governance, your project conditions may start deteriorating.
Any project involves a number of stakeholders. For that sake, you need to have a better governance so as to manage a project. Any governance is useless unless it is accountable, objectively controlled, responsive, and transparent. For better governance you need to collaborate. There has to be a continuous information exchange among various stakeholders for which communication plays a major role. A structured and well-defined integration also is important.
The key project drivers are –
• a good business environment,
• funds as and when required,
• policies and procedures well in place,
• plenty of interaction,
• no dearth of technical knowledge required to run the project,
• no scope for politics in work.
Any project has to be assessed at every stage. There should be no risks that can’t be mitigated. There has to be a proper control on the whole mechanism. A project has to derive a profit to the organization (in any form – tangible or intangible, or both). If the resources, fund and people are not utilized optimally in a project, it leads to trouble and loss. The project governance body has to have a regular review mechanism to control the situation on all fronts. The review mechanism has to be structured to cover all aspects of a project.
Overall project governance challenges are not difficult to manage and overcome if the governance is in right hands doing their job perfectly.
A number of good initiatives building smart cities are in progress.
Japan and China in Asian Region spearhead the Smart Cities drive.
There have been a number of good initiatives undertaken by various countries in Asian Region in respect to building smart cities. Japan and China have already taken a lead in this regard by already building few in their respective countries. India is not far away in this race. A lot of initiatives have already in progress. A number of good initiatives building smart cities are in progress in India. India has to cover a wide gap as Japan and China in Asian Region spearhead the smart cities drive.
The biggest challenge for IoT is that it requires an uninterrupted communication. Most of the Asian countries face the brunt of it having a sub-standard infrastructure in this regard. India is among these countries facing a lot of disruptions from various fronts – Socioeconomic, Political, Social, and Technology wise. There is a wide gap in creating a cutting-edge governance model and technology infrastructure. A full heartedly initiative is required by governments (State and Central) to actively participate in the drive in a structured manner. Lacking smart cities in place will keep a far distant dream of a smart nation in dark and away from reality. A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model will work best-provided governments stay an active part of it. Initiatives being taken in isolation will not result in fruitful results and there will be a lot of repetitions. This will further result in frustration, funds & time crunch.
The simple concept is to engage a large number of stakeholders holding their expertise in respective areas. This has to happen at a micro level in a very clean manner. There has to be a governance body to oversee at the macro level each and every step being taken in this regard. Governing agency has to comprise of sub-agencies for vigilance, guidance and technology layouts. These initiatives for Smart Cities must be taken as projects with clear goals, strategies and processes in place.
Hubert Yoshida, CTO Hitachi Data Systems, talks about IoT developments and Top IT Trends.
Hubert Yoshida, CTO, Hitachi Data Systems owns company’s technology roadmap.
Hubert Yoshida, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Hitachi Data Systems talks about the upcoming technology trends and latest developments in the field of Internet of Things (IoT). He has a clear cut vision about setting his company’s technology roadmap for the coming years. He is a renowned for his deep knowledge of the storage industry. He has been on the advisory boards of a number of technology companies. He is the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Data Storage Institute of the Government of Singapore. He is also a part of the Technical Field Awards Committee of IEEE.
Hubert Yoshida, CTO Hitachi Data Systems talks about the support governments can give for IoT growth that is badly needed. He also discusses the foremost important IT Trends that a CTO must catch up to enhance technology capabilities in the organization. An assessment of IoT-related developments, taking place across Asian Region, is also on the platter.
Digital transformation is the most important IT trend that CIOs and CTOs must look out for. This bit of technology is emerging fast and is disrupting the organizations and industries across the globe.
Following are the key takeaways from the Hubert Yoshida:
- With emerging digital transformation the key focus is on empowering consumer or end user by catering to their requirements using social media, mobile technology, cloud and analytics.
- A personalized touch to a consumer is always taken on a positive note.
- Fast decisions need to be taken. Enabling proactive approach with the help of a wider range of data and analytics is required. Uninterrupted services are required through the cloud and mobile gadgets.
- Understanding customers and all other stakeholders have to be taken up as quite important.
- Agility and the latest technologies can help in serving customers in an enhanced manner.
In my opinion, if a CTO or CIO does not provide a right direction to the organization with above guidelines, the whole business ecosystem might get severely affected.
Intel’s new investment plans include 3D Imaging, Analytics, Big Data etc.
Intel’s new investment plans are entirely different from earlier ones that failed.
Intel’s new investment plans include 3D Imaging & Processing, Automation to a larger extent, Big Data, Analytics and high-speed Communication. It plans to go in a big way in self-controlled automated intelligent moving devices like drones, vehicles, robots, satellites and microbots. The focus stays on augmented reality, 3D Virtual goggles, automation and seamless communication including heavy video streaming. Based on the philosophy of Internet of Things (IoT) these devices will be tracked and controlled in an intelligent manner so that the devices behave intelligently with customized responses as per the situation.
Evidently Intel made huge losses in their earlier investment plans in Phones, Drones, Modems and other devices. These investments apparently contributed negligibly to profits and revenues. In fact, it accumulated to big losses and expenses. A wise decision has been taken to stop further investments in these areas and those investment plans have totally been discarded. Intel’s new investment plans in emerging technologies seemingly are more promising and realistic. Innovation and uniqueness are the keys to be a market leader. The new emerging technologies seem to be more relevant to the changing world scenario and customer expectations.
The way technology is changing, the future prediction is impossible. Relevance is the only key that can keep these investments aligned with the advancing technology. Intel can keep their hopes alive this time by thinking of relevant hardware and software advancements. IT is for sure that these developments will take their own time and will not happen in a short duration. The whole development plan needs a well-crafted planning with no scope for defects or failures. At least, for the initial two years, there will be a heavy investment on R&D, prototyping and testing.
Intel has already proven its mettle in designing seamless devices having powerful computing capabilities in heterogeneous complex environments. Skylake processor and soon to be launched Kabylake processor are the best examples to prove it. Intel’s new investment plans seem to create a big market in the coming four years.
Outsource right people for projects cautiously as freelancers or third party.
When you don’t outsource right people for projects you are bound to fall in trouble.
You need to outsource right people with ample verification done for projects. One wrong member in the team can spoil the complete show. I encountered a real-life example in one of my client’s location. A new overseas project got cleared with no appropriate time left for team composition. It was not a worry point for the management as they had best of the people in the organization. The project was to deploy an existing business app at client’s location along with the customization and requirement finalization taking place there only. The project was on man-month basis. A team was formalized the next day and a project manager was assigned. Logistics like travel, hotel booking etc. was to be worked out within next 2 days. All this had to be done by the customer, therefore, a final list of the team had to be sent to them at the earliest. There were no technical writers available for this particular project and two were required to travel along the team. It was decided to outsource them within a day so that the final list could be sent to the client.
The internal team of technical writers was consulted if anyone had any reference. Two references emerged and both the persons were called the same day for an interview. Since there was no time left for verification of what they told during the interview, both were finalized. The instance followed by two things – one good, and one bad.
One of the technical writers was found far below the expectation level. In fact, the writing skills were missing totally, while the other was exemplary above expectations. Then the expected and unexpected happened as one with no skills was sent back from customer’s location. This guy was not only a pain in the neck for the team but also for the customer. The guy kept boasting about his talent and work but when the actual task was assigned the results were unacceptable. The project head had to sit and correct the documents he produced almost completely. The other guy was giving excellent results.
Two actions were taken immediately. The first guy’s contract was canceled and he was sent back. The other guy’s contract was revised as he was committed and ready to take the extra load. The management initially feared as there was no replacement. But it was found that the replacement was not required.
The key factors ensuring project success must be imbibed well.
Project teams learning faster the key factors ensuring project success, succeed well.
There are many key factors ensuring project success. These factors must be imbibed well in order to attain a consistent success rate. Project teams that focus on learning the key factors ensuring project success faster succeed well in most of their project unless crossed by an unanticipated heavy risk. Let us understand what these keywords are. The post has been written considering overseas projects as well. The factors work equally well for very tight timelines and stringent activities. Here is the list of these key factors ensuring project success:
- Leadership: Leadership has to stay in the picture throughout with a lot of action in their kitty. It will be incredible if the leadership demonstrates their skills relevant to the project so as to keep the momentum alive. Remember that expectations and delivery is a two-way road. What you expect from your people down the line must get delivered for them to survive. At the same time, they also expect the same set of competence at a broader level in you.
- Team Composition: Be clear on what you will need on the journey. Ensure every team member is competent enough to deliver. You need some people with a single critical skill, but at the same time, you need to include some multi-skilled people in the team. Remember that less skilled team members will impact heavily on you. You will be creating a large buffer to cover them up. Better to take more experts able to deliver unfailingly.
- Resources: Be it an on-shore project or off-shore, resources are critical. A cut in resources means wasting skill you are carrying with you. Here you can add as much buffer as you feel necessary.
- Setup: Small things like ambiance, seating, cleanliness, facilities need to be in place in a best possible way.
Investment in Technology Startups is happening worldwide.
There are many fundraising programs helping investment in technology startups.
If one has to learn never to give up and transform with the pace of technology, Intel is the best example. Intel has set an example for others learning investment in technology startups that will never fail. If you are an entrepreneur or an investor, this is something good for you to understand when investment in these technology startups will never fail. These projects can be taken up blindfold as they belong to the present and future with a cutting edge in the field of technology and the Digital world. These are:
- 3D Imaging: NASA has recently launched a 3D printer in space that is a great achievement.
- Automation: Self-sustained and self-controlled automation are in demand from all sectors of industry across the globe. A lot of big organizations are already spending a huge amount on research and development. Gone are the days when a form is completed and you have to press a key (enter) to submit it. This is just a small example to show what the coming generation has in mind in terms of automation. If you have not “mobility” as a must-have factor in your automation project, you are going in a wrong direction.
- Big Data: Irrespective of the size of an organization, it has to move in this direction to stay alive in the business. Awareness about the customer and other stakeholders is quite important to capture. It is not possible that everything will be said or happen in your presence. A lot happens otherwise. Social media mentions about your product or service, customer feedback, complaints, negative vibes, positive vibes, everything matters these days. If you are not vigilant about it, your competitor is definitely on the job. One negative trend, if goes viral, could impact heavily on your business. Every bit on anywhere in the cyber world that makes sense need to be captured and converted to useful information. Big data is already on the top of the charts of many organizations.
- Analytics: All your business apps and useful information collected from social media and other sources in structured or unstructured form have to be used for business analytics. The more inflow of data will produce much useful analytics for making better business decisions. If your data collection and analytics are not automated to an extent of 70%, it is a waste of time and resources. And the information will not reach at your desk in time. There is no point in wasting time on analytics if you get today’s information after three days. It has to be with you in a real-time environment.
- Communication: Communication is the real backbone of any organization. It has to happen at lightening speed. A delayed communication means left with no other option than conducting a postmortem.
Improvement in Quality of effective project managers is a never ending process.
Quality of effective project managers makes a big difference in leadership and project management.
To become an effective project manager you need to imbibe and inculcate some unique quality of effective project managers. The foremost is to build a strong team keeping in mind that every member of your team would have a lot of expectations from you. These are the expectations in terms of leadership, mentoring, coaching, training and growth. When you think of developing members of your team, start with the weakest link upward but without losing an eye over the others. This does not require declaring someone in the team as the weakest link. You will have to do it smartly. A strong team always help in keeping a healthy business intact and improving it further.
There would be two set of people in your team – dreamers and executioners. Some members would be having brilliant and executable ideas but would be lacking the depth of practical know-how to execute it. Another set of team members would be the real executioners. The former lot can be called as strategists and the latter, warriors. You need both kinds of guys in the team so that generate brilliant ideas and successfully execute them. Think of this scenario while making new recruitments and see which slot the person fits into, if qualifies. But ensure to recruit the right person. If you have an abundance of executioners, don’t take more. Rather look for the other qualities in the person. This is the quality of effective project managers.
In today’s scenario of tight budgets, high risks, shrank timelines, and least resources; build your team having capabilities of fighting with high-stress levels. We would be talking about in next few posts about some key qualities required in project managers for this purpose, and otherwise.
It is very important to identify top performers in the business.
Business and Top performers in business grow hand in hand.
Top performers are the need of every business. They are the essential pillars for the growth of the organization. It is very important to identify them. The faster they grow, the better it is for the business. It is critical to retain top performers for a longer tenure in the organization. A regular employee turnout is a different story and does not impact on business to a larger extent. But it is the exit of a top performer that could put severe dent marks on the organization. It is always better to grow performance index within the organization among the existing employees rather than hunting them outside. A business or organization that is not able to identify the people that have that zeal or fire within to excel and become top performers is like having jewels like assets but treating them like dust.
It all depends on the size of the organization. In a large sized organization, it is important to find a number of talented top performers or those who can be grown to this cadre easily. The quicker you find them, the easier it will be for the business to groom and sustain them. Give them key positions in the organization and let them have space for taking key decisions. A large organization is in trouble only if one or two top performers leave the organization at any moment of time. But in a smaller organization is it the reverse. It is difficult to find them within the organization and it is equally difficult to sustain them. They will always be highly ambitious and having a dream of serving a large organization. Even the exit of a single top performer in a smaller organization can impact to a larger extent.
An excellent habit in top performers is that they can’t tolerate dumb teams. They would expect all team members to perform in alignment to their pace so as to get quicker results.
Metrics and Key Performance Indicators in Cloud Business help you to ascertain Quality of Service.
Without metrics and KPIs in place your Cloud Business may go haywire.
While you are running cloud business, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be in place to avoid business go haywire. With these in place, you are sure to bring the quality of service (QoS) and timely delivery as per the customer expectation. It takes a lot of efforts to design right set of metrics and KPIs. But this is a one-time effort. Once these are in place, nothing can stop you to succeed in the cloud business. Definitely, you need to review and evaluate from time to time in the changing dynamics of technology and customer expectations. If you don’t keep doing it, some other vendor will cross you with a faster speed and you will be lagging behind. Two things are very important in today’s business. One, to sustain existing customers. Two, to acquire a new customer base. Both are quite difficult in this competitive environment. You need to keep a competitive edge over competitors to stay ahead in the race.
You need to create a metric-driven culture in your business. Here are the important metrics and key performance indicators that you need to keep in mind while managing cloud business:
- Customer Satisfaction: New customer acquisition and existing customer sustenance happen only when your existing customer base is satisfied to a larger extent. Every customer requires close attention. You need to build certain score sheets. These scoring sheets must focus on improving response time. Customer voice, attaining concern, processing of information, reaction to a problem reported by the customer, and finally closure of issue – all needs to be factorized on a time scale metrics. Every function in the organization needs to be a component of this metrics for evaluation purposes.
- Time to Value: The metric emphasized on the value of time and deliverables. When a problem is reported the response has to be carrying a lot of value instead of just a set of commitments. The customer always needs quick closures, deliverables as per commitment, and substantial & object based response.
- Commercials: Every new delivery and support are associated with a monetary value. The delay in deliverables or call closure might result in customer dissatisfaction. Focus on the new cloud business is as important as retaining an existing customer for a longer period. The more business you get on the cloud, the more benefits business will draw out of it.
- Employees: Give importance to people working in the organization. Build a creative mix of people so as to keep complementing and supplementing each other in mind. Better to stay away from substituting.
- Mobility: Whenever building a new solution for external or internal customers, keep mobility in mind.
Cloud Strategy can be directly linked to revenue.
Purchase and deployment are not two separate processes in Cloud Strategy.
The pace at which people were moving to cloud few years back has increased tremendously. Cloud strategy is on the platter of almost every organization in the world. It is happening for all kind of organizations. In fact, the startups are more inclined to adopt cloud since the beginning. Issues like security, privacy and integrity have vanished. A right level of confidence has been provided by cloud service providers. The organizations dared to move faster to the cloud are in much beneficial position as compared to those still thinking about it. Cloud Strategy can be directly linked to revenue. Buying and deploying are not two separate processes when we talk of the cloud. There used to be a two-phased process in case of perpetual license world. The first step was to buy the solution, the second step was to deploy it. In the case of the cloud, these two phases are inseparable. The faster results help in gaining more customers.
For a cloud vendor, every solution has to be customer-centric. When you decide to move from on-premise to cloud, you need to build certain metrics to measure the success of transformation. The metrics must talk very clearly about phase wise movement. Each phase has to be clearly defined. The timelines for each phase has to be strictly adhered to. There would be quite a few powerful but invisible pressures like mindset change. This can be reduced to a larger extent by increasing employee engagement. The higher is the engagement, the lower will be resistance. Bind engagement with responsibilities and some kind of accountability. Transformation of any kind is never a straight path. It always demands a number of changes in the system. And changes always bring pain and resistance.
Overall if you are clear about your cloud strategy with a clear vision and an overall willingness of all team members, it becomes easier to execute and get quick results.