How Budgeting Impacts Digital Transformation

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Traditional budgeting in large enterprises interferes with digital transformation success. When projects are approved for a limited budget cycle (say 1 or 2 periods), the project’s value and potential to bring digital transformation begins to diminish as soon as funding stops. On the other hand, if the projects are funded with adequate sustained investment value can be maintained and increased over time. This consistent budgetary support brings about digital transformation. Technology projects have been operating for over fifty years and the lessons learned in that time will help us create better long-term solutions moving forward. For businesses looking to transition into more agile operating models, allowing for creating software operating models will greatly enhance business value and agility.

The Problem with Traditional Funding

The classic funding model for technology projects, that has been the norm for the past fifty years, starts with a business case for change. The project includes requirements, function points, an estimating model, and a work plan all rolled up into a budget request for funds allocation. When the project is approved, resources are provisioned and the work plan is initiated, working toward a completion date. What is missing from this scenario is the impetus for change. Most of these large projects resulted from a long period of dormant activity with the existing technology. Even though maintenance may have been performed on the original solution, this will not promote digital transformation. Without a sustained reinvestment plan, a gradual obsolescence turns into a mountain of “technical debt”. This debt will eventually interfere with business agility and competitiveness.

Moving Toward Agile Business Models

For businesses that desire agility and want to promote digital transformation need to not only speak about it but weave it into the overall strategy. A part of this new strategy is a reimagining on budgeting. A better alternative to the traditional project-based funding is to consider a sustained development program for the long-term, which emphasizes continuous development or “agile” methods. By reorienting the organization toward an operations funding model of this type, organizations reduce business risk associated with technical obsolescence and increase the lifetime utility of their software assets. Any budgeting strategy has its potential downsides. In the case of this agile funding and management approach, software investments can be greater on a net present value basis and it firmly places the software development program as an operations concern to be managed effectively. This potential downside is reduced when the organization and its stakeholders have the vision of digital transformation.

Business agility, as supported by software investments, is a key reason for the popularity of software as a service model. These organizations have converted to operational budget models, and have outsourced the ongoing development and maintenance. Business agility strategies see results from the continuous gain of utility delivered by new software features and the organization’s ability to take advantage of these features. These enhancements will avoid the organization from becoming a laggard and can provide a competitive advantage through the constant digital transformations.

Your Competitors are Neglecting These Content Marketing Tactics

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Content marketing may be the most important trend in digital marketing today. Industry surveys indicate that B2C businesses will spend on average 39% of their total marketing budgets on content marketing1. Its power as a lead generator is unmatched, and if you’re not doing it—and doing it right—you’re missing a critical piece of your marketing puzzle. Worse, you could be losing business.

Ok, ok, you’ve heard this before, right? The benefits are well documented. Experts will tell you that content marketing:

1) Builds awareness

2) Helps customers find you

3) Establishes you as a thought leader

All those are true, but there’s one major benefit that even experts often overlook, and that is: content is key to creating an irresistible brand.

What is a brand and how is it connected to content marketing?

A brand isn’t just a logo, typeface, and slogan. Your brand is the entire personality of your company. Think of it as the feelings and emotions that are evoked within a customer when they hear your name.

Brands are built slowly, piece by piece with each point of contact between you and your customers. Every ad, email, tweet, and blog post adds to your brand. Over time, good branding creates trust, establishes value, and fosters a sense familiarity.

In 2016, content marketing could be the most important tool for building your brand.

Why is content marketing so critical to creating a brand?

When you view your competitors’ websites, display ads, or marketing emails, do you ever feel they all look very similar? That’s no accident.

Today’s smart web developers and digital marketers know what makes people tick (and click!), and websites are finely tuned to be efficient and effective. The best digital practices are always emulated, borrowed, and replicated. This improves user experience, but as everyone copies the same successful strategies, variety and uniqueness decrease. This leaves many sites looking like they’re cut from the same template, because they are.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a new technique to differentiate. So what’s the best way to differentiate online today? Yep, you guessed it: content marketing.

Content marketing establishes your unique value proposition

More than any other aspect of your online presence, content marketing allows you to communicate your unique value proposition; the aspect of your business that tells customers “this is why you should choose me instead of my competitors”.

Content marketing gives you the time, space, and freedom to engage deeply with customers—something that’s impossible to do in a 728 x 90-pixel banner ad.

Best of all, content marketing brims with real personality because it captures your own voice. Content takes your business beyond a robotic marketing slogan. Sure, the tone of your content should be professional, but when that tone echoes your individuality, you stand out from a noisy field of competitors.

3 simple tips to creating content that makes your brand shine

  1. Produce content that reinforces your points of difference

Before you write, ask yourself: how do my skills, my experience, my expertise, solve customers’ problems better than my competitors? The answers are your points of difference and combined they form your unique value proposition. Write them on a sticky note and place it next to your monitor.

If your content clearly demonstrates your points of difference, customers will understand exactly why they need to choose your business.

  1. Think of content as the evidence that supports your marketing claims

Say your company’s slogan is “Manitoba’s Master of Tax Minimization”. That’s a bold statement, but why should customers believe you? In the past, businesses relied on word of mouth and testimonials to substantiate these claims. Today, content marketing is the tool that proves your expertise to millions of skeptical customers before they ever do business with you.

  1. Be consistent and find your own voice

Decide on a style and vocabulary that reflects you and your business. A casual and accessible tone is effective for some audiences while others expect you to be formal and authoritative. Whichever style you choose, be sure that it carries your personal voice. This will build stronger connections, and ensures that your content feels fresh.

Summing up

Good brands are not created by telling customers why your business is great, they’re created by demonstrating it. And in today’s competitive digital landscape, content marketing is the most powerful tool for proving your value and building a business that gets noticed in a crowded marketplace.

 

1 https://expresswriters.com/the-big-2017-content-marketing-spend-infographic/

Too Many Systems Collected During Growth: A Case Study

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Over a Canadian retailer’s 90-year history, they had built and inherited through acquisitions many one-off systems. The problems caused by the variety of disparate systems and data sources became larger and larger as the company grew and expanded. Now there is a need to consolidate all these systems and implement an agile system that can grow with the company. An additional problem with consolidation was the different use cases across the company both at the corporate and retail level. Several departments needed access to real-time information from a centralized access point to enable enhanced collaboration across geographies, business units, stores, distribution centers and corporate departments. The brand needed a solution that could help them achieve real-time collaboration while retaining brand identities from a single, centralized access point.

 

What We Did

To build a solution that met a Canadian retailer’s needs, Veriday built the platform using a Liferay portal.

Why Liferay?

With a modern architecture that’s deployable to the cloud, with its flexibility and agility to evolve with new technology and future growth, Liferay is the best foundation to build their required solution. The Liferay portal is accessible from any device, offers rich personalization, a Secure Single Sign-On (SSO), and is built with a history of excellent open-source fundamentals, providing a decade’s worth of innovation from thousands of developers with the flexibility to tailor the platform to meet development needs.

The portal solution focused on Supply Chain solutions with visibility into the entire flow of the supply chain. The portal allows for self-service solutions and real-time information, with detailed visibility into all orders, history, and status. This allows stores to be able to allocate and plan resources to receive new merchandise. The solution has achieved excellent adoption rates, with 90% of the retail stores using the platform on a day-to-day basis.

Results

The new portal solution that was built for the Canadian retailer was successful at solving the different problems faced by both the retail and corporate sides of the business. Some of the results include:

  • Increased agility for their in-house IT delivery team, who are now able to deliver new features quickly.
  • Increased internal satisfaction, by providing employees with the tools they need to do their job more effectively.
  • Made data more accessible, from any device, anytime.
  • Improved long-term value for the Canadian retailer’s portal technology, by providing a scalable foundation that can evolve and grow with them.

All of these results line up with the combined goals for their portal solution, improving overall productivity. We know that the portal solution we built will help one of Canada’s most iconic retail brand continue to grow today, and in the future.

Why Choose Liferay DXP as Your Employee Portal Platform

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Too often companies will buy into software for the sole reason of being the best overall and having brand recognition in the industry. This approach should strongly be avoided, especially when building an employee portal, as this does not equate to proper integration and optimizing its use. The promise of “Digital Engagement” is false. The world has been transformed by technology and the internet for decades, therefore employees and companies have been digitally engaged for a long time. The right platform should transform this digital engagement and provide a solution to the current method. Companies and the stakeholders responsible should examine the interactions at every level of the organization and where does the portal fit within that.

To begin, what are the engagements happening in an organization? For the employees, they are engaging with the company; using various systems to complete their tasks. Employees also engage with other employees, both in a social aspect and a collaborative aspect, using systems to communicate and work together. Companies also have their own set of engagements. To complete the tasks that are asked of the employee, the company must supply the tools and the information needed to the employees. Most of these engagements are happening digitally and across many different platforms, (Outlook, Gmail, Slack, and so on.). We know recognize that digital engagements are already happening.  The next step is really to unify everything so that there is a single point to allow for all these engagements, whether through augmentation or integration. Why Liferay works well and fits in many environments is because it allows for both augmentation (introducing Liferay out of box features) and integration (integrating with existing solutions).

An employee portal’s sole aim shouldn’t be to replace the legacy platforms currently in use.  It should allow for integration with best of breed solutions so that employees can perform their daily tasks in the most efficient way possible.   When properly designed and implemented, employee portals enable your employees to be more strategic, improve productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.  In turn, reducing operating costs while allowing more time spent on revenue-generating activities.

“Liferay excels in the portal as common architecture use case, and it exceeds the requirements for leading-edge customers across our other three use cases.”

Why Liferay is a leader

Liferay DXP provides an architecture for companies to digitize business operations, deliver connected customer experiences, and gather actionable customer insight. It combines and coordinates applications, including content management, search and navigation, personalization, integration and aggregation, collaboration, workflow, analytics, mobile and multichannel support. For the 7th year in a row, Gartner ranks Liferay as a leading provider of portal solutions.  We encourage you to read over the Gartner report so you can set your own opinions on how it ranks with other Digital Experience Platforms and see if you come to the same conclusion that we did.

 

How Blogging Has Transformed Advisor Leads

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Blog concept with young man holding a tablet computer

In an earlier article, we talked about using a compliance advisor marketing platform. Integrating a platform into an enterprise is only part of the solution. The other part of the solution is teaching advisors the value of content marketing and what blogging could add to their business. Many advisors fall victim to thinking they can’t have a blog because either their compliance department won’t allow it or they believe that they don’t have the time for it. These advisors fail to see the value that blogging can provide and the importance of making time for blogging.

What happens when an advisor adopts a blogging strategy?

Builds Credibility and Trust

As advisors start to adopt a blogging strategy, they begin to build trust and credibility with their audience. Prospective clients start to trust this advisor as a knowledgeable expert who understands their industry and how to deliver exceptional service. Clients will feel confident that their money is in safe hands and their advisor is looking out for their best interests. Writing original blog content is only the first step, next the blog article, needs to be distributed through social media, email or other distribution channels.

Builds Your Brand

When advisors make the commitment to blogging, they increase their brand presence. Not only is content good for Search Engine Optimization, it creates value and positive sentiment for customers. Consumers are using the internet to research information prior to contacting an advisor. Consumers have become very skeptical about all interactions for any businesses. If an advisor can provide that information to the consumer, they will be more likely to trust them and take further action.

Increase audience

The potential leads a financial advisor may be limited to an organic search, leaving the marketing in the control of the enterprise. The enterprise will create content for a very large scope, this may not directly impact the consumers in the advisor’s location. When the advisor has a content marketing strategy, they can deliver the exact content needed. People will share the articles with family and friends, more eye will reach the advisor’s content. The result of this will be an increase in email list subscribers and increase in potential revenue.

Transformation Story

One particular advisor in Canada resisted blogging for such a long time.  He said it took too much time. Finally, he decided to slowly right 1 blog a month and over time increased that to 3-4 a month. He found that more people were finding his website organically from Google than before. Specifically, he saw a 45% increased in organic traffic to his website. About 9 months after he started blogging he was meeting with a new prospect. When asked how he learned about him, the prospect said he had read an article of his about 4-5 months ago and have been following his content ever since. That prospect turned into a client and they have a strong relationship now. By creating new content and consistently posting it was this advisor able to generate this new business.

How to Turn Your Employee Portal Into a Digital Experience Platform

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Historically, employee portal technology supported a basic employee use case in providing a platform for communication with employees using basic content management capability with some systems integration capability and a few other things. These legacy platforms were suitable for the time but did not anticipate the changing nature of the employee interaction model, the social trend dynamics, the proliferation and the corresponding to search for data and documents and were constructed with the notion of being built once with minimal further investment. These platforms did not have the capability to meet or keep up with future needs and were not designed for maximum employee digital experience.

To truly transform an employee portal into a digital experience platform, companies must first think about their foundation. Do they have the proper foundational software to deliver the desired employee experience? Do they have the proper foundational software to deliver the capabilities required to enhance employee capability and productivity?  Do they have the proper foundational software to transform? The new software foundation must allow for:

  1. The enablement of a best in class digital experience
  2. Desktop, mobile, in office and remote access capabilities
  3. Personalization and social enablement
  4. More complex system integration
  5. Enhanced and dynamic search capabilities
  6. Advanced analytics
  7. Ability to leverage, enhance and protect a company’s employee investment.

What is a digital experience?

Digital experiences allow companies to go beyond digitizing paper processes in order to create services that are possible only because of the internet and other modern technologies.

They have two key components: they use digital technologies and they provide some kind of interaction between a single user and an organization. Mobile apps, websites and smart devices all provide digital experiences to the customers, partners or employees that are using them to interact with companies.

Device Accessibility

Employees are no longer confined to the traditional office setting. Some may work on a desktop with a keyboard, mouse, and multiple monitors. Others may be remote access on laptops, and other may do most of their work on a mobile device. Each device may have limitations on what can be accomplished, however, an organization’s objective is to provide best possible user-experience when working cross-device and ensure required capabilities are optimized for each device. Optimizing for a device should not only mean screen-size but also navigation and operation on the platform.

Personalize and Socialization

Traditional portals have been modeled and built in one configuration, for one device-type. However, consumers are expecting, if not demanding, highly personalized experiences. Employees are consumers as well; consumers of other companies products and searching, and consumers their employer’s information. A study found that the preference for personalization is caused by two factors: a desire for control and navigating through an information overload. It may not be overly evident for a company that their employees are feeling a lack of control and overloaded with information until there is an examination is the processes and looking ways to personalize the experience for different users.

Furthermore, organizations should also enable employee socialization. In the age of social media, each platform allows users to communicate and engage with people in a variety of ways. Using a social media platform brings great advantage for an organization. Employees will feel they have more of a voice and seek to engage more than with regular e-mail. Social media promotes the desire to share and interact and will result in greater knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees. Opening the ways of communication between employees creates the freedom to use the platform best suited for specific needs.

System Integration

A company’s employees may be required to use many different tools to complete their tasks. This forces the employee to have to log into may different platform, with different experiences. These many softwares will have different update cycles, requiring the user to constantly change how their workflow is executed. Using one central platform can integrate all these tools, removing the multiple logins, and the workflow hiccups. A successful platform will knock down walls.

Information(search)

A primary objective of an employee portal, new or old, is the access to information. At the core of every business are the crown jewels of information that are critical for the company and are required by employees. If the access to this data is not available or is difficult to find, it reduces the value of the information and limits potential. On traditional platforms, finding information was lengthy and costly. In a modern portal, information should be easy to search for and find.

Information should not only be easily accessible on desktop but should be accessible for all users in various work environments. For example, a retail company may have a desktop with the portal in the back, but the employees who are only on mobile devices cannot access that information. Therefore, ensuring agility in how information is searched for will give access to everyone.

Another way of providing information to end users is through notifications. Traditional portals would require users to log in, to find the receive any communications or updates. This was not a very effective method as what could be important information could be missed or forgotten days later. With notification, this allows for employees to not have to take time out of their work and to get the information where they are (pop up, email, SMS, etc.) at the right time.

Analytics

Historically, if a company wanted to understand how an employee portal was being used or what parts were successful and which needed improvement, the stakeholders would either guess, run focus groups, or take a survey. However, these methods could provide flawed or inaccurate data. With a modern platform, analytics will allow you to test and learn. If a page is being used a lot, should it be more readily available or made a quick link. If a page is used less, why is that? Is the information not valuable?

The objective of an employee portal is to knock down walls. To truly achieve this result, the old foundation must be replaced with an agile platform that can grow and pivot with a company and its people. This new platform should go beyond being a band-aid solution for one problem. Instead should seek to improve the experience of the users across all engagements within a company.  If done properly, the platform will amplify productivity inside of getting in the way. This is how companies can transform the digital experience with their portal.

 

Creating a Win-Win for Financial Corporations

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business people climb to the top of the mountain, leader helps the team to climb the cliff and reach the goal, business concept of leadership and teamwork

Across different industries, departments have remained siloed. Times have been changing and there is now greater collaboration. Involving marketing in the sales process and vice versa. However, certain financial corporation are not breaking down these silos when it comes to marketing. At the enterprise level, there’s an opportunity to better leverage their advisor teams. When an enterprise is able to engage their sales team in the digital marketing efforts, the result is a win-win-win.

Winning for head office

With budgets that are being reduced and goals that increasing, it can become increasingly difficult for the marketing team to meet objectives.  Including advisors in the marketing process will result in the marketing team growing exponentially with each advisor being able to market to their audience in the best way. It’s a big win for the enterprise in expanding the reach of their brand via the propagation of their content across each of their sales agents digital domains. With the increased in reach of marketing activities, naturally, the enterprise sees a lower cost per lead resulting in a higher ROI for their marketing spend.

Winning for Advisors

While advisors are experts in what their field; they may lack the time, knowledge, or ability to engage in new marketing techniques beyond outbound methods such as cold-calling or traditional advertising. Some advisors may have tried online marketing in the past but didn’t get the results they were hoping for. In providing advisors the platform to be apart of the marketing process. This is a win for the field agents as they will be gaining new economies of scale. They will be able to use the corporate marketing messaging that is relevant to their business and can augment it by creating their own material. The scale of this new marketing abilities could have never attained by way of traditional marketing techniques.

Winning for Clients

Consumers are now demanding a greater access to information. Instead of being educated by a sales-person, they are educating themselves before initiating contact with a company. Furthermore, there exists a distrusts for faceless organizations. If clients can establish a relationship with the corporation they are more open to doing business. Therefore, implementing a marketing strategy that includes advisors is also a win for the client or prospective client. They will have a better understanding of the value of the brand and the offerings. A level of trust and empathy will be established with the advisor that was not previously possible. The reason this was not possible is that the enterprise would market to the prospective client and even if they were convinced, they would not have an advisor to contact. Now, both relationships with the brand and the advisor are built through digital means during the education phase.

In Conclusion

Once the advisor teams have been brought in, it gets really interesting with respect to what avenues each of them takes.  Some may jump right into blogging and pumping out article after article to that specific niche they want to target. Others will become social media wizards and engage on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. in spreading their expertise and thought-leadership. While others may just appreciate the ability to leverage the enterprises’ content to stay top of mind with their audience and ensure they’re keeping a regular tempo of communications.

4 Platform Leaders To Consider When Choosing a DXP Platform

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Digital Experience Platform, DXP, is an emerging category of enterprise software seeking to meet the needs of companies undergoing digital transformation, with the ultimate goal of providing better customer experiences. DXPs provide an architecture for companies to digitize business operations, deliver connected customer experiences, and gather actionable customer insight. Organizations are looking to use DXPs as they move from web-centric to more pervasive, multichannel digital experiences. DXPs manage the presentation layer based on the role, security privileges and preferences of an individual. They combine and coordinate applications, including content management, search and navigation, personalization, integration and aggregation, collaboration, workflow, analytics, mobile and multichannel support. Using Gartner’s Magic Quadrant can help find the most suitable vendor for their needs.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is organized in 4 quadrants: Niche players, Challengers, Visionaries, Leaders. These groupings are created based on the two platform characteristic axes: ability to execute, and completeness of vision. Let’s examine a vendor from each quadrant to highlight some of their strength and weaknesses

Kentico Software

  • Strengths
    • Growth: Kentico is an emerging European vendor and have expanded rapidly.
    • Midmarket focus: Its appeal is to midsize business looking for packaged capabilities.
    • Price: Offers a clear and predictable licensing model at a low starting cost.
  • Cautions
    • Interoperability: while advertised for out-of-the-box solutions, it is difficult to integrate with third-party offerings.
    • Limited support: Customers report relatively low satisfaction with the quality, effectiveness and availability of professional services in the Kentico ecosystem.

Oracle

  • Strengths
    • Functional breadth: Offering a broad array of digital experience functionality, and a wealth of complementary technologies.
    • Industry expertise: Differentiated vertical solutions with off-the-shelf data models, processes, policies, user experience, analytics, integration and partners, for over 20 industries.
    • B2C use cases: Oracle’s CX Cloud Suite represents an appealing vision for organizations looking for comprehensive, preintegrated solutions that serve the entire customer journey.
  • Cautions
    • Product strategy: Oracle’s product strategy for the digital experience is somewhat misaligned with customer demand.
    • Deployment complexity: Customers report that deployment is an unexpectedly complex task, with a steep learning curve and longer-than-average implementation times.
    • Ease of doing business: Oracle is difficult to do business with, and that its DXP offerings are hard to find and try out without a significant commitment.

Liferay

  • Strengths
    • Flexibility and agility: Liferay shines when its technology is used to build highly customized experiences that incorporate external business applications.
    • Market responsiveness: Customers value Liferay’s organic innovation, which contrasts with the “innovation through acquisition” approach taken by many competitors.
    • Service and support: Customers report that they receive excellent customer support and an excellent overall customer experience.
  • Cautions
    • Lack of own SaaS or PaaS: Some Liferay customers regret the absence of a provided SaaS or PaaS offering to reduce the requirement for internal or third-party technical skills.
    • WCM capability:  Organizations with experience of best-of-breed WCM applications expect functionality that is easier to use and designed for business users.
    • Analytics: Customers scored Liferay’s analytics capability relatively low.

Bloomreach

  • Strengths
    • Machine learning: Has AI-powered personalization and content-marketing capabilities for midmarket and large organizations.
    • Flexibility: Provides a good balance of content management, portal and personalization functionality.
    • Architecture: Demonstrates architectural discipline with loose coupling of content, logic and presentation.
  • Cautions
    • Product integration: Integration of Personalization with Experience is a work in progress. Some customers report unmet expectations regarding combined features and functions.
    • Scalability: Customers report limitations with complex security and authentication scenarios when its platform is used in intranet and extranet scenarios.
    • Access to expertise: Customers have reported a steep learning curve and difficulty finding expertise for implementation.

 

Analysing the strengths and weaknesses are very important in the research of new employee portal. Organizations must examine how they fit into objectives of a platform transformation. There are other criteria an organization should consider, such as: understanding the employee needs, involving all departments, testing and more. To read more about what should be considered read our last article: Why Your Old Employee Portal Is a Problem?