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The Role of Content in Self-Service Design

Quality content plays a critical role in self-service design. Often a small change in a link, heading or sentence, can lead to dramatically higher task completion. 

What it Takes to Provide a Seamless Customer Experience

At the heart of creating a unified conversation across all digital channels are three core technology areas: web content management, e-commerce and mobile platforms. Each of these areas has its own nuances, but it’s the aggregate — the integration of all three — that will determine a brand’s ability to prosper in the age of the customer.

CMOs and CTOs are being asked to work together like never before to solve the technology integration riddle in order to achieve high levels of engagement, personalization and loyalty.

3 Things You Probably Forgot in Your Mobile Strategy

2014-25-July-Water-Test.jpgMobile has moved beyond a “channel” and become a behavior. A verb. A necessity. It’s safe to say that if you haven’t moved to mobile in some form — advertising, app, responsive name, you name it — you've fallen way behind. So I’m going to assume we’re all on the same page and have at least dipped our toe in the mobile waters.

Mobile is now the dominant channel in online advertising. And while many companies at least have a mobile site, most are missing that clear strategy for mobile customer acquisition.

SAP Jam's Approach to Social: It's All in the Work Patterns

2014-25-July-Loom.jpgThe social adoption and ROI discussions are getting louder as more and more enterprises implement social collaboration solutions and struggle to find success. Adoption and ROI are difficult areas to define, measure and implement. The Altimeter Group released a report on The Evolution of Social Business detailing how organizations that have implemented social have created technology silos and lack clear focus or strategy in how it should be deployed across the enterprise.

As social has become mainstream over the past few years, we have seen major software vendors across vertical markets and solution types integrate social into the fabric of their core products. Dion Hinchcliffe highlighted this trend in 2011 in his blog post “Putting Social to Work,” where he described the integration of social with ERP suites like Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft and SAP.

I recently spoke with SAP's Social Software Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sameer Patel about social adoption and ROI. We discussed how SAP views these issues and how it developed the SAP Jam platform to address them. Its an interesting approach that's worth exploring in more depth.

Dealing with the Reality and Myths of Omnichannel

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If you sell stuff in your and your partners’ stores and via e-commerce, you have probably heard today’s buzzword — “omnichannel” — meaning that your customers should be able to use any part of your commerce chain as if it were a single entity: find and buy anywhere, pick up anywhere, return anywhere, all of this working seamlessly for the customer and integrated so that transactions anywhere are recorded and available everywhere.

You’re being told that your customers want and will soon demand this kind of transparency, and that if you aren't there now, you had better get cracking. You’re also hearing that getting there will take time, a lot of it — Macy’s started in 2008 and is just now beginning to reap the benefits — and will be a complex, expensive and “significant technology integration challenge.” By this time, you may be feeling that rush of panic as you contemplate how you can possibly keep up with this brave new world of real and virtual commerce.

You’re not alone.

Retailers Face Challenges, But With Effort Comes Rewards

2014-24-July-Pittsburgh-Bicycle-Challenge.jpgThe term “channel” in a retail context has as many meanings as the disparate paths between merchant and consumer. As the variety of channels continues to grow — online, offline, mobile, kiosk, call center, website, store — retailers are challenged with meeting the expectations of consumers who pick and choose channels as their needs demand. Retailers want to provide these consumers with a consistent and seamless experience — many explicitly claiming strategies to enable an "omnichannel experience" — but converting the intention into crisp execution has significant challenges.

The Mobile Enterprise Exists, But Successes Are Few and Far Between

Mobile Enterprise, 2014-24-July-Marbles.jpgThe mobile enterprise has some roadblocks standing in the way from moving from an ideal to a reality. I recently wrote about how a lack of enterprise mobile apps will prolong the realization of the anytime, anywhere workplace. But the dearth of apps is only one reason for the delay. Another reason is a lack of clearly defined business use cases for mobile devices. Organizations are sailing in uncharted mobile enterprise waters today, with few proven successes to emulate.

The bulk of use cases that have surfaced emphasize generic mobile device capabilities, but do not demonstrate clear return on investment (ROI). Some examples include enabling executives to access documents or videoconference with colleagues when away from their desks, and enabling mobile employees to "connect" from coffee shops or from home.

One Consultant's Approach to a Small SharePoint Cleanup

A pilot SharePoint cleanup project is straightforward. A consultant facilitating a small project to clean up a company’s SharePoint intranet can reach the lessons learned phase with a few basic tools.

Recall the mantra: simple is elegant.

Want Engaged Employees? Show Them the Big Picture

2014-23-July-Big-Picture.jpgWhether they're building rockets, smartphones, microprocessors or cars, large organizations are under extreme pressure in today’s competitive environment. They are struggling to get the most from their people, generate more innovative ideas than their competitors, become more efficient and effective and — of course — bring their products to market faster than anyone else.

Within this landscape, the recent social business technologies have been recognized for their ability to drive productivity. McKinsey estimates employee productivity can be increased 25 percent through adoption of social technologies and establishing a "networked enterprise."

But little has been said about the unintended, long-term benefit of adopting an innovative social platform — the ability to connect employee's work to the bigger business strategy. 

What Television Can Teach Us About Digital Innovation

2014-23-July-Kevin-Spacey.jpgOn June 25, Aereo lost a huge battle in the Supreme Court which pitted established broadcast networks against the online streaming start-up.

A quick recap: Aereo is a company that lets consumers stream live TV over the internet. The Supreme Court shut them down for copyright infringement, saying Aereo antennas were redistributing private content without permission. The media is calling it the death of technological innovation in the television industry.

But here’s the thing: they're wrong.

The Problem With Yammer? People Don't Use It

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Yammer is being promoted as the new social layer of SharePoint. But Microsoft is also tying it tightly into Office 365. In the past two weeks, this has resulted in the packaging of Yammer with Office 365 small business plans, while the price of Office 365 is also about to be slashed.

There are problems with Yammer. But the problem lies not the product itself.

According to David Lavenda, vice president of product strategy at Harmon.ie, the real problem is that many people who have access to it just won’t use it — or any other social network for that matter.

Understand Your Customers with A/B Testing

2014-23-July-Choices.jpgImagine changing a flight or booking a hotel, comparing mortgage rates or researching healthcare providers. You’re probably thinking about specific websites that can help accomplish these tasks — or maybe a search that could start the process.

Now imagine doing any of these things on a smartphone. Chances are it would take several false starts and — if you were dedicated to the goal — a lot of struggle before the job was done. It has little if anything to do with the screen size. Instead, it’s a reflection of design and content that doesn't match the contextual needs of the user. And it doesn't take an extreme example to illustrate this point.

The Guy Who Believes in Disruption, Innovation and 'Memorable Stories'

Connecting with Bill Sobel

Jonathan Marks is a writer, broadcaster and researcher on a wide range of issues connected with the media.

And he has an interesting position: he "leads disruptive innovation" at Critical Distance, a creative guild of digital craftsmen and women based near Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In a more traditional sense, he is CEO.

But Marks just thinks differently. It's not quite clear what his objective was when he founded Critical Distance in 2003. But it doesn't really matter, because "last year, we rethought everything from the ground up. Why? Because routine is the enemy of change."

Today the company helps entrepreneurs "build, produce and keep really memorable stories."

"We inspire, guide and collaborate to build great companies. We specialize in digital strategy, cross-media productions, consultancy (at senior management level) and training the trainers," he explained.

Before founding the company, Marks was program director at Radio Netherlands. He led the development of online and mobile storytelling on projects in Latin America, South Asia and Africa.

Think Long-Term with ECM Strategy

2014-22-July-No-Heroes.jpgFixating on the cheapest and seemingly most user-friendly solutions can ruin your enterprise content management (ECM) strategy. What should IT departments do to resist the lure of cheap fixes and easy launches to ensure a successful, long-term ECM solution?

Information Architecture: The Engine that Drives Retail

2014-22-July-Steam-Locomotive.jpgUnder pressure from pure play e-Tailers such as Amazon and eBay, brick and mortar retailers are scrambling to defend their businesses. To stay competitive, most have now added an e-Commerce channel. The challenge for many legacy retailers is that e-Commerce has involved a long learning curve and now mobile and web channels have become part of core functionality rather than a cutting edge addition to the brand.  Add to this that many traditional retailers still lack a core competency in the technical nuances necessary to compete effectively with the Amazons and eBays.

Dusting Off Intranet Metadata and Search

2014-22-July-Antiques.jpgSome people assume that if a concept is old, it's no longer relevant. Since we looked at the continued relevancy of the quaint old fashioned concept of information publishing on intranets in last month's post, I thought we'd take on a few more of those dusty relics of days gone by today: metadata and intranet search. The concepts are interrelated in that the success of communicating content on a one to many basis — or an n to m basis, as you may have a small body of publishers or content creators putting out information to the company — relies on findability.

Why SaaS Saw Its Biggest Revenue Gain Since Recession

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Software companies led by entrepreneurs with experience in building successful software-as-a-service (SaaS) organizations are thriving. They as much as double revenue growth year-over-year, a new software industry report finds.

In other words, those in their second or third rodeos in SaaS software fare well.

The findings are reported in this month's 2014 Software & SaaS Financial Benchmarking Industry Report, the eighth annual study produced by Boston-based OPEXEngine in conjunction with the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

"Far more well-funded, venture-backed, companies are hitting their stride with growth rates of 50 percent to 100 percent year over year, than ever before," Lauren Kelley, CEO and founder of OPEXEngine, told CMSWire. "Many of these companies are being established by entrepreneurs who have already built one or two, sometimes three, SaaS companies before, and managed by executives with equivalent experience. These executives can get a new company up and running far faster than five or 10 years ago when SaaS was a new management discipline." 

Master Customer Experience in the New Age of Retail

2014-21-July-Sales.jpgProviding a high quality customer experience is critical for retailers, no matter the sector or audience. Delivering on this goal means more success in sales and more repeat business.

But our ideas around what constitutes a high level customer experience have changed in recent years. In the pre-internet days, it generally meant attentive sales people available to help with in store requests. But in today’s connected world, it’s more often associated with quick page loads, easily navigable sites and rich media.

How Free Puppy Syndrome Can Ruin Your ECM Strategy

2014-21-July-Bathtub-Full-Of-Puppies.jpgWhen it comes to selecting and deploying enterprise software solutions, including enterprise content management (ECM), many IT departments face pressure to control costs, decrease time-to-benefits and give end users what they want.

However, IT departments that fail to challenge this kind of short-term thinking are taking a risk — and that may be surprising news to many organizations. Conventional wisdom tells you to choose the software that produces the quickest win for the least amount of money that the end users like best and will quickly adopt. How could you go wrong with a choice like that?

Discussion Point: Where Does HR Go From Here?

Thumbnail image for discussion-pointAnother day, another disruption. 

Or at least that's how it must feel for most every department in organizations today. The repercussions of the combined digital, social, mobile trifecta radiate throughout the organization. But if you mix in economic factors, shifting skill requirements, distributed workforces and new expectations of those entering the workplace, then I think you know which department specifically we're talking about: Human Resources.

Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2014 (pdf) report identified the most urgent trends that HR professionals face today. Number one? Leadership development. Number two? Seventy-nine percent answered retention and engagement. Yet only 16 percent felt ready to tackle these and the challenges they face. 

A fundamental rethinking of the HR department is required to meet these demands.