I recently made my first big purchase — a new vehicle — and I made my mind up pretty much before I entered the showroom floor, thanks to customer feedback I gathered on the Internet. What surprised me when I went to test drive my dream SUV was the lack of customer feedback management being done by the car dealers and makers.
I went to Consumer Reports and Edmunds to compare safety ratings, highway miles per gallon, handling and longevity, but my list of choices was narrowed down much further by comments made at the end of the reviews by current and former drivers.
I was sure I was going to buy one particular SUV but found repeated complaints about its small back window that caused huge blind spots. Another one on my list had a souped-up engine [based on customer feedback] but left the gas tank the same size, leading to another customer complaint that still hasn’t been addressed: frequent fill-ups.
I was overloaded by all the different complaints and accolades made by drivers, but when I asked the salespeople about the customer feedback I read on blogs and reviews I heard “I haven’t heard that” or “No one’s told me that.”
I don’t lay the blame on the salespeople — they might not even be encouraged to look at what people are saying on public forums like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, emails or YouTube.
But who is responsible for customer feedback management? The feet on the street, or management? How do you centralize all this information, and distribute it so front-line employees are on top of what customers are saying and equipped to respond?
Was my experience atypical, or are companies ignoring a channel that may decide what people actually buy? Are they paralyzed by some of the critiques, and choosing to ignore them instead?
This is just the experience I had when looking for an SUV. I won’t even go into how the dealer dropped the ball when it came to rating my buying experience.
Share your thoughts on customer feedback management, or the lack of it — but particularly if you work for a company that does it well. Email me at email@example.com.
This has been a tough year, yet there are always things to be thankful for. Indeed, the upside of the worst of times may just be to make that clear. Pondering this over the past few days with Thanksgiving approaching, I asked around to find out what things some of you were thankful for, from technologies to the softer side of managing. Here are some of your responses.
“What springs to mind immediately is that [the recession] has given us (IT) the chance to dig into regrouping, planning, reorganizing and streamlining our processes and architecture to be positioned so that we are able to meet increased demand with aplomb. Thank goodness we had that chance, because that demand has already begun with a vengeance!” – Kendyl Peebles, IT director/department manager, Clancy & Theys Construction Co.
“The sense of humor and the absurd of my staff; Windows 7; virtualization.” – Joanne Kossuth, CIO and vice president for operations, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
“I am thankful for having a talented and dedicated team of professionals who have never lost their focus, passion or commitment in these difficult times.” – Larry Bonfante, CIO, U.S. Tennis Association
“Our industry is going strong and gold is well over $1,100! We made a lot of headway towards standardization and process improvements and we have many key projects in our pipeline for 2010 that my team is excited and ready to execute.” – Shelly Barnes, director of PMO, IT Services & Infrastructure, Newmont Mining Corp.
“That my company considered IT part of the solution (rather than a target) to finding better, less expensive ways to get work done.” – Niel Nickolaisen, CIO and vice president of strategic planning, Headwaters Inc
“Not having lost anything that really matters during this year of greed and idiocy. I’m truly thankful for being reminded of what is important.” – Les Johnson, CIO, North Coast Electric Co.
And we here at SearchCIO.com and TechTarget are thankful for all of you, who contribute to our efforts in so many ways as readers, as sources, as advisers and even as friends. Thank you for a great year so far, and have a great holiday!
Last week was a busy one for SearchCIO.com, with SOA topping our slate. We have best practices for SOA implementation, SOA for business process transformation, SOA in action at Amtrak…you get the picture. We also quizzed you on your ITIL and ITSM knowledge and discussed application consolidation in four ssteps. For the full list of articles, click on the links below!
(And yes, if you sense some forced cheeriness, it’s because I’m still trying to recover from last night’s Patriots-Colts game. I don’t want to talk about it — still too painful to put into words.)
Best practices for a SOA implementation and application integration — A service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementation and application integration allow information to be transferred and supported efficiently. In this month’s CIO Briefing, learn more about SOA best practices.
SOA implementation propels business process transformation — When business process automation was insufficient and BPM products proved too narrow, a CIO turned to SOA to streamline business processes and boost productivity by 30%.
SOA best practices from Amtrak — Amtrak’s chief SOA architect offers advice to CIOs on implementing SOA services, from creating a plan and choosing standards to governance and monitoring.
Review the latest trends in ITSM and ITIL best practices — Many enterprises find that implementing ITSM and ITIL best practices leads to improved efficiencies and lower costs. Review our latest ITSM and ITIL content and take our quiz.
Should it stay or should it go? Application consolidation in 4 steps — In this piece, learn how to decide which applications to cut and which to keep when consolidating your application portfolio.
Last week at the University of Maryland’s 10th Annual CIO Forum, a succession of CIOs from the government, health care and publishing industries described how they are harnessing IT innovation with limited resources during the recession. The featured speakers also discussed what they see as the future of Web 2.0 in the business.
Bipin Patel, CIO of ProQuest, spoke to the audience about the ways that Web 2.0 is changing business and usage patterns at his company. As he observed, “the inflection point [for Web 2.0] has been met and passed. The old model of publishing is gone.” So, what has replaced it? “The users themselves – the researchers – are creating information and reacting with each other,” he said. “They are the publishers now.” They’re working collaboratively with their community to identify and feature useful information. As part of his company’s Web 2.0 efforts, Patel’s team has created an online community for graduate students, where they can publish their dissertations for public view. The online community, called GradShare, has been rolled out in about 30 schools.
Premal Shah, formerly of PayPal and now the president of Kiva, offered another example of how to leverage Web 2.0. He described how the “eBay for microfinance,” as he put it, has leveraged Web 2.0 to both sustain innovation and build out features that Kiva’s resources could not provide. Kiva has grown rapidly since its founding and now has made more than $100 million in loans from more than 600,000 people, with 103 microfinance partners globally. Shah said the microcredit model is working, citing a 98% repayment rate for Kiva loans, and that transparency in results is crucial to success. “Imperfect credit is OK, but imperfect data is not OK,” he said. “The donors of the world want transparency.”
”Radical transparency,” in fact, was one of three Web 2.0 principles that Shah listed, along with providing an addictive user experience and crowdsourcing against constraints. Since engineering resources were scarce for IT innovation, Kiva opened up its API to crowdsource development. As a result, Kivadata.org is online. Shah said that Kiva now also has about 500 volunteers that work as “virtual translators,” helping to translate profiles so that their projects can get funded.
Shah also offered advice on growing Web 2.0 communities: identity the influencers and power users. “Cater to your addicts,” said Shah. “Keep short feedback loops.”
Douglas Abel, CIO of Anne Arundel Health System, focused his remarks on how to manage growing demand for health care at a new health care campus in downtown Annapolis. He’s seen success using targeted IT innovation, like bar-coding medicine at the bedside to “check to see if it’s the right patient, right dose.” Now, as electronic healthcare records (EHRs) enter the system, he says the effectiveness of sharing data depends on standards, identifying bad data and avoiding duplicate records. Should his efforts succeed, Bell said that Anne Arundel Health System will be in the top 10% of automated hospitals. “It’s about building an infrastructure that’s patient-centric,” he said, “not venue-centric.”
Web platforms for health care information exchange are growing outside of major hospital systems. David Horrocks, former CIO and president of CRISP, discussed the ways that he’s building out Maryland’s statewide health information exchange and maintaining privacy. CRISP is Maryland’s statewide health information exchange, which moves clinical information electronically among disparate health information systems.
New models for IT innovation in telemedicine also are also emerging. Dr. Sean Khozin presented on Hello Health, a pilot practice in New York that uses a Web-based platform for primary health care. Hello Health requires an in-person initial checkup, after which virtual follow-ups use telemedicine, unified communications and EHRs.
When Deloitte LLP turned to IT outsourcing, “the business case was predicated on saving money,” said Larry Quinlan, CIO at the professional services firm.
“But now we stay for the value,” Quinlan continued. “We think we’re getting more out of the deal than we expected.”
Deloitte now has 40,000 employees in the U.S. and 150,000 people in more than 100 countries around the world. Speaking at this week’s Global Sourcing Forum + Expo in New York, Quinlan shared what he’s learned about outsourcing, including what he called nine global outsourcing myths, and accompanying outsourcing facts CIOs should consider:
Myth: IT offshoring is not successful. “That’s absolutely not true,” Quinlan said – if it were, why would so many U.S.-based companies be pursuing it? In its studies, Deloitte is seeing “a significant uptick in global outsourcing activity,” particularly in the Philippines, Mexico, China and Costa Rica.
Myth: Wage inflation negates the sourcing cost advantage. The global nature of this recession has depressed salaries worldwide. “There are very few things a recession is good for, but one of them is it takes away the whole issue of wage inflation,” he said.
Myth: Offshore labor pools have been exhausted. “There are a whole lot of things [U.S. companies] have to do to attract the labor pool we want,” Quinlan acknowledged. Still, as individual countries refine their outsourcing crafts, more and more up-and-coming professionals are seeking the schooling and training to provide needed IT skills.
Myth: There are only a few suitable locations for IT outsourcing. But different countries do offer outsourcing pros and cons, so if you’re starting out or thinking of changing locales, SearchCIO.com has gathered some information on some outsourcing locations in Asia and Latin America. “You do have to figure out, in a methodical way, where you want to be,” Quinlan said.
Myth: My competitor’s successful location will work for me. “It’s important not just to say someone went to Hyderabad or Sao Paulo, and say ‘That’s where I’ll be,'” Quinlan said. “There are more thoughtful approach factors you should consider.” Conduct your due diligence and really consider your needs as far as pricing and skills sought.
Myth: The risks are too high. The cost savings and skill sets make the case for outsourcing, but it’s certainly important to consider personal safety and the risk of a natural disaster or political instability in the country or countries in which you are considering outsourcing, Quinlan said. You can mitigate accordingly by diversifying your outsourcing base.
Myth: Shared services are difficult to manage. OK, this one might be a little bit true, Quinlan admitted. Time zone differentials, the cost of travel and the quality of staff interaction can be challenging to oversee when outsourcing. But nothing worth having comes easily, he said. “To do this well, you’ve got to put a whole lot of effort in and make sure it’s managed.”
Myth: There’s no need for captive centers – you should outsource everything. “You really have to think about what services you’re providing,” said Quinlan, whose company has two captive centers in Hyderabad and Mumbai, India, facilities that house 7,000 employees. If torn, he recommended considering a hybrid model, whereby firms establish a blend of a captive center (a firm’s own facility abroad) and outsourcing.
Myth: Offshoring is bad for the U.S. economy. Quinlan compared this to a religious debate with no definitive answers, and “religious debates cannot be won.” Yes, outsourcing sends jobs overseas, but it also provides for enterprise growth, which can in turn spur domestic job growth.
Is Quinlan on the mark? Are there any IT outsourcing myths you’d like to dispel? Share your thoughts below!
Good morning! We’re enjoying some beautiful Indian summer weather here in the Northeast — if only every Monday could start like this! Last week on SearchCIO.com, we talked to Virginia’s CIO about that state’s IT outsourcing problems, provided links to some free IT outsourcing templates covering SLAs, RFPs and more, and looked at various SOA implementation approaches. Let us know what you think!
How Virginia’s new CIO is fixing the state’s IT outsourcing problems — In a one-on-one interview, Virginia’s CIO explains steps being taken to improve oversight and performance of the state’s $2 billion IT outsourcing deal, which has been beset by delays and other problems.
SOA implementation evolves from open source to Oracle SOA suite — Though SOA is something you do, rather than buy, the CIO at the Screen Actors Guild found the best approach was to go shopping and solve the problem at the database layer.
Free IT outsourcing templates: SLAs, RFPs and more — CIOs pursuing IT outsourcing deals can benefit from templates spelling out SLA and RFP best practices. Here, we’ve provided links to some of the best free IT outsourcing templates on the Web.
I’ve been digging into service-oriented architecture this week again in an effort to understand a bit better the technical requirements of a SOA implementation. Daunting.
What I’ve found is that when doing a SOA implementation, wrapping an existing application exposes an interface in order to increase access. In addition, refacing an application provides a new interface to not only increase access but also to allow reuse. Deconstructing an application into components (“componentizing”), so that it can be reassembled exposes new services. And that feat, it seems, is the province of enterprise artists, tapping into the collective business and digital imagination of the company.
Reading up in preparation for some interviews with companies using service-oriented architecture, I kept coming across variations on the statement that doing a SOA implementation is more an art than a science. Knowing which services to expose for the maximum value requires judgment and taste, sensibilities rarely afforded much value in the world of IT. The notion that judgment and taste can make a huge difference made more sense after talking yesterday to Fred Falten, the chief architect at Amtrak. Here is Falten on designing for future generations with SOA:
“When you’re building a service, you need to plan ahead. Always think about how the service can be reused. Make the extra investment to not just have the project at hand be the mechanism that says, ‘Here is what the interface definition should be,’ but take the extra time to think about what would the entire company, or at least the next reasonable set of potential users, want.
“That pays dividends in so many ways, in terms of future savings. Don’t build services point to point, where you’re really defeating the purpose of SOA.
“The other thing I would say is granularity of the service. It’s extra work, but if you have existing environment it is all too easy of fall into the trap of taking the existing transactional environment and just exposing each transaction as a service. That makes it so fine grained that it is usually meaningless to other applications and other potential service users. It is exposing things at a level that no one knows what to do with, or if they did, it is a lot of extra hassle for them to figure out how to move all the little transactional pieces together. So, what you want to do, if you have a legacy environment that is highly transactional and has relatively small transactions in it, is take the extra time to think about how an external business unit would want this information to be presented, not the way the original team built it, but how it really means something to be business now.”
Check in with us next week to read details on how Falten dealt with the art and science of using SOA to make the Amtrak environment more fleet of foot, er … track.
Happy belated Halloween! I hope everybody who celebrated had a great time — any creative IT-related Halloween costumes you’d like to tell us about?
Last week on SearchCIO.com, we talked about demonstrating the business value of IT, agile development methodologies, a botched IT outsourcing contract and six ways to fail with your SOA implementation. (Come to think of it, the latter two probably provided you with some pre-Halloween shudders, right?) Check out the full stories linked below.
The Real Business of IT: Free chapter download — This book focuses on how CIOs can demonstrate the value of IT as a strategic partner. And who doesn’t like free?
Agile development methodology not easy but worth the effort, users say — The agile methodology is giving development organizations the “speed they need” to respond to changes in the market and bring more value to the business faster. Here’s how you can do the same!
Botched IT outsourcing contract shows need for governance, SLAs — Virginia’s $2 billion IT outsourcing contract has gone awry, with service interruptions and missed deadlines. Find out what lessons were learned on IT governance and clear SLAs. To share your views, read our post on IT outsourcing contracts without penalties.
Six ways to fail with your SOA implementation — A service-oriented architecture is one way to make application development more agile, a growing business requirement. Here are the top risks for SOA failure — avoid them if you want to do it right!
An end to information overload may be in sight. Call me late to the party (or perhaps naïve!), but I think I’m starting to make social media work for me, and not in the way you might think.
This is what I’m talking about:
Now if only I could find a way to get my LinkedIn updates, Gmail and other sundry faves from across the Web together in a similar fashion, I’d be even more efficient, informed and responsive than I am now. Yes, really using Twitter “right” (for networking, relationship building and so on) requires more than I’m giving it, but for now this approach fits my reality and my needs. I highly recommend it.
You hear a lot of analysts, clients and, of course, vendors touting the benefits of IT outsourcing, especially as the U.S. emerges from this economic recession, which the latest government numbers show is over. In larger organizations, outsourcing can help globalize operations, and proponents inevitably point to the bottom line: It usually saves organizations money.
But if you follow the news, you might have also heard about what must be considered an IT outsourcing failure in the state of Virginia, which is currently embroiled in controversy over its $2 billion IT outsourcing contract with security firm Northrop Grumman. Although there have been a number of missed deadlines and service failures, as we reported this week, breaking the current contract could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money – that’s no pocket change! It leaves the state with little choice but to get this deal back on track.
So what went wrong? Perhaps most importantly, there was a poor governance framework in place for overseeing this deal. I wasn’t so surprised to hear that – a lot of organizations struggle before successfully implementing a governance framework for IT outsourcing contracts. But I’m still wondering how the state could not include penalties for any missed deadlines and service levels below those specified in SLAs. Isn’t that the entire basis of a contract — to hammer out those details? It’s mind-boggling.
(And, just so you know I’m not new to such failures: As a community journalist, I covered the construction of a new high school with a budget that’s ballooned to nearly $200 million, almost double the initial estimates. So, trust me, I know government incompetence.)
I’m scheduled to speak to Virginia CIO George Coulter Friday about the corrective action plan proposed by Northrop Grumman and how the state intends to straighten this mess out. Do you have questions regarding IT outsourcing contracts or what went wrong here? I’d love your input.
Also, for those who view Virginia’s mess as a cautionary tale, remember to check out SearchCIO.com, where we have information on IT outsourcing governance, outsourcing trends going into next year, and more.