Enterprises are increasingly operating in a dynamically changing and fluid environment. They are constantly changing gears just to keep pace. CXOs are constantly looking for ways to overcome or create disruptions in a world becoming increasingly complex. Infosys Consulting Blog gathers a community of subject matter experts who are driving pragmatic conversations around that which is changing and that which needs to be rethought, redefined and redesigned for enterprises to achieve market-leading performance roadmaps.

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October 10, 2016

Dreamforce 2016: When Einstein came calling!

Dreamforce 2016 is over and as the dust settles down, it is time for a retrospective. The event was as usual held at San Francisco with an in person participation of over 170,000 and innumerable sessions and key note speeches. There was a lot in terms of education and entertainment. Here is my attempt to summarize what I saw over the four days of this fantastic event!

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The topics that caught my attention:

• Einstein, Einstein and more Einstein

This appears to be the big message that Salesforce.com was pushing this year as Artificial Intelligence (AI) was all over the place, whether in the keynotes or sessions. Einstein is AI and is a part of the Salesforce platform architecture. As a foundational element, it powers all the cloud offerings and apps that are built on the same. In a three step process, it 'captures' data, 'learns' or processes the data and then offers predictive analytics capability by making suggestions and even automating some tasks. One cool example presented was that of an email being created automatically by the app and offered to the user to review and send!


• Salesforce Lightning Design System (SLDS) 

This was the first session I attended on October 4th. I went in expecting to gain some insights on the Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning topic but this turned out to be a new design system for user interface of apps. The SLDS is a platform agnostic CSS framework and user interface (UI) library to help clients create apps with UI that has the look and feel that is consistent with standard Salesforce user experience as UI developers only need to change values in "Tokens" instead of hard coding information.


• Salesforce DX 

I came across this in the Partner Keynote. This is an open and standard developer experience that includes capabilities like a new type of Salesforce environment called Scratch Orgs for testing and Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE). It is intended to allow developers to use the options that work best for them and thereby enhance their experience while they develop apps on the Salesforce platform. 


• Commerce Cloud

Earlier this year Salesforce acquired Demandware (cloud leader in the multi-billion dollar digital commerce market). Salesforce Commerce Cloud is its new name and is the newest cloud in the Salesforce product suite.


A few others that I would like to mention:

• Quip - the cloud-based word processing app

• Updated Salesforce1 mobile app

• Salesforce CPQ (configure, price, quote)


On the lighter or the "non-business" side of the event:

• As always, Marc Benioff's keynote speech was the big highlight of the event. Last year, Parker Harris, Co-Founder of Salesforce, turned up dressed as "Lightning Man" - this year we were treated to a "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" like experience when a cartoon Albert Einstein popped up on the screen next to Marc Benioff and Parker Harris.

• Musician Will.i.am of the music group Black Eyed Peas was a guest in the Marc Benioff keynote. We were treated to new music video that is raising money for education and featured stars like Justin Timberlake and Usher.


Overall, this was the year of Einstein at Dreamforce. Obviously the aforementioned topics are just the tip of an iceberg in terms of the information that was disseminated there. I would like to hear from you about the topics and themes that caught your attention and your opinion about the event itself.

September 30, 2016

Dreamforce 2016: There's a lot to Tweet about!

It's time once again for Salesforce's annual spectacular event Dreamforce with this year's event scheduled to start at SFO from Tuesday, Oct 4th. Salesforce has been in the news lately though not due to Dreamforce. The news is about Salesforce being one of the potential suitors for Twitter if that company is up for sale. With Disney and Google as probable competitors of Salesforce in this race, it makes for interesting news indeed. As a practicing consultant, I'd be interested to learn what the use cases would be for Salesforce to incorporate Twitter into their products and offerings, as Salesforce products already have good collaborative capability out of the box.

 

Coming back to the topic of Dreamforce, we need to get prepared for the deluge of information from Salesforce that will be available throughout the course of the event. Here are some areas that I would to like gather information on so that I can help my clients make better decisions about Salesforce products (whether they are existing users or are thinking about trying Salesforce products):

 

1.       Salesforce Lightning vs. Salesforce Classic:

Lightning is different user experience with a new user interface (UI) that moves away from the previous version, Salesforce Classic, which was characterized by tabs at the top the UI. As I mentioned in my blog post on Lightning in July (URL: http://www.infosysblogs.com/management-consulting/2016/07/frontiers_of_salesforce_-_part_3.html), from an implementation perspective there are some limitations that call for a careful assessment of which option is more suitable for the unique needs of my clients. I'd like to see what changes are on the horizon for Lightning and how that can shape future decisions on this topic.

 

2.       Einstein for Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Salesforce recently announced the availability of Salesforce Einstein - meant to help enterprises to deliver customer experiences based on predictive analysis i.e. AI for CRM. This appears to involve all the major cloud offerings of Salesforce (Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, etc.) and I am eager to see the demos during Dreamforce to understand where this is with respect to practical implementation in my client's projects i.e. the likely use cases for immediate application of this offering.

 

3.       Wave Analytics:

This has been around since 2014. However, I've seen more interest amongst my clients in recent times than before, which is not surprising as Wave Analytics itself has been gaining traction slowly. Salesforce has been working on areas like making it more declarative (more clicks less coding) and improving the ability to use multiple external data sources. Given the popular and successful capabilities of the Sales Cloud and Service Cloud offerings, a stronger Wave Analytics offering will certainly be good news for Salesforce fans.

 

Are you planning to participate in Dreamforce too (either in person at SFO or over media channels)? Are there Dreamforce sessions or topics that interest you? I welcome your comments. My next blog post will be immediately after Dreamforce and will be a summary of the event (similar to my last year's post: http://www.infosysblogs.com/management-consulting/2015/09/my_aha_moment_at_dreamforce_20.html). 

August 25, 2016

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Sectors: How social can they get?


                        Image result for social media                                    

The sole purpose of the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector is to maintain information privacy and that of  social media is to spread information. These two concepts are poles apart that is; information privacy versus information dissemination. To bring them together to co-exist by finding the right sweet spot is a fantastic idea in itself.


Social media until five years ago was considered a platform where people could merely exchange photographs, videos and messages with family and friends. Today, social media is probably the answer to any query or problem once faces in day to day life. It has grown tremendously over the years and caters to discussion on every topic on the planet from science and technology to food and fashion. Health was probably one of the least discussed topics until 3 years ago however, with the increase in medical problems, need for better access to medical education and facilities and pressure on the pharmaceutical companies to cater to the demand in a timely, regulated manner has indeed made social media an emerging platform of discussion in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector.


Why Social Media?


Social media connectivity is massively growing and with better internet connectivity and widespread use of smart gadgets. Here are some reasons enough to believe that it is indeed meaningful for the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector to invest in social media.


  • 65% Adult internet users engage in social media

  • User growth amongst older adults has almost doubled since 2012

  • Patients are able to connect to the healthcare providers for better drug/disease awareness as well as with other patients via blogs etc where they can share their story which might be beneficial to others.

  • People are using social media to collect information on adverse disease trends, drug effectiveness, understand factors influencing people to buy a particular drug and measure campaign effectiveness via sales trends.

  • People are using social media to create "super focused groups" for diseases like cancer, diabetes, depression etc, for better connectivity with medical care experts for effective treatment that can provide promising results.


It took a long time for the pharmaceutical industry to enter social media mainly because it has been a very regulated sector having access to sensitive personal information. Pharma giants like J&J, GSK, Novartis, Pfizer, Bayer and Merck are increasingly using social media as a platform for recruitment, brand management and marketing, patient communication and identifying adverse trends in the industry.  The pharmaceutical sector has thus responded by showing its widespread presence on social media.


  • In 2015, pharmaceutical companies published 530% more tweets than in 2013.

  • People are continuously turning to social media to seek answers to their problems and since 2013, twitter followers of pharma companies increased by 300%.


Sharing secure and authentic information in compliance with the regulations is definitely a big challenge but with a good legal team onboard and correct understanding of the role of regulatory governance this paradigm shift is definitely a pivotal opportunity for every company to consider.


Here's a pictorial depiction of the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies are facing on their emergence in the social media.


                       


How to overcome these Challenges?


Pharmaceutical companies


  1. Must follow social media best practices for effective, authentic and relevant information sharing.

    The first step is to examine and understand the regulatory framework, social media governance and public reaction for every small piece of information available. Publishers must work hand in hand with the legal team to ensure that authentic, relevant information is provided to the public in accordance with rules and regulations. A thorough content analysis is must for any information prior to be published on the social platform.

  2. Must ensure widespread social presence on sites like Linkedin, Facebook, twitter etc.


Widespread presence on social media is very important for better customer engagement. Recently, dengue cases had increased tremendously across the country and my friend was diagnosed with the same. She was treated for it, however; the platelet count seemed to still be fairly low. Everybody was suggesting of having goat's milk and papaya leaf extracts. This is when we got information about their availability on social media. It played a significant role in providing information about papaya leaf extract capsules for patients affected with dengue, the location (chemists/hospitals) where these capsules were available and also the various payment applications these medical stores had for online ordering. Social media not only helped in better accessibility of medical treatment but also reduced the action time under such circumstances.


3. Must update people with the current news, company's progress, drug information etc.


To ensure effective customer engagement, companies must present interesting facts about how their product works, what they are doing to improve accessibility of their products etc.,


4. Must have a portal where the customer can share their feedback, complaints and experiences.


Many pharmaceutical companies are coming up with dedicated portals for critical disorders like Multiple Schlerosis, Cancer, Diabetes etc so that patients and relatives can constantly communicate with healthcare providers and report any adverse drug reactions or complaints.


Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies are starting to use the rapidly evolving social media for a better business opportunity, brand management, marketing their products and for better customer retention. People today believe in a brand only with adequate access to information and its transparency.  It has almost become mandatory for every company to have a strong internal digital communication forum with established guidelines apart from the legal and regulatory forum to ensure that the right content is being published. They must not delay any further in making the paradigm shift as this would stunt their growth and lose their brand power in the long run.


Continue reading "The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Sectors: How social can they get? " »

July 20, 2016

Frontiers of Salesforce - Part 3: Lightning Experience

This is the final blog post in the trilogy on my experiences with some of the newest offerings of the Salesforce product suite.

 

In this post, I will focus on Lightning Experience. This is a new user experience with a new user interface (UI) that moves away from the previous version, Salesforce Classic, which was characterized by tabs at the top the UI. This capability has been introduced with a lot of fanfare and seems to be the general direction in which Salesforce.com is headed with its product suite. Of course, from a developer's point of view, the definition is more complicated and that eventually has an impact on the direction your organization may take with respect to this capability.

 

In an implementation for a client, we had to address a question - To build on Lightning Experience or Salesforce Classic? My observations from that experience:

·         Once Lightning is enabled for your Org / Instance, as a user you can switch between Classic and Lightning UIs from the drop down under your name at the top right corner of the screen. You will observe that the screen tabs in Classic that are at the top of the screen are displayed on the left corner of the screen in Lightning pretty much as it appears on the Salesforce1 app screen on mobile devices like iPads. When you click on a tab, say Opportunities, the data is displayed as a list (reminded me of an Excel worksheet, which isn't a bad thing given our love for spreadsheets!). And when you click on a record there, the data is displayed with a flow that is distinctly different from prior experiences. Obviously a lot of plusses here.

·         From an implementation point of view, the picture gets a bit complicated. As the Lightning platform is still evolving when compared with the Classic platform that is as stable as it gets, there are considerations that the Technical Architect on your team is likely to present to you that will call for a good deal of planning (like which objects can be built on Classic vs. Lightning, what will be rendered when a user sees the screen in Lightning, which objects are supported or not in Lightning, impact on interfaces and so on).

·         In addition to the technical nuances of this decision, you also need to factor in additional UI designer capability into your development team as we are talking about an experience that is unlike the Salesforce Classic's typical navigational flow.

 

Eventually we chose to stick with Salesforce Classic to build our solution with the expectation that when the Lightning Experience stabilizes in future, we would revisit the solution to assess a need to move to Lightning completely.  

 

Is you Org setup for the Lightning Experience? How is your UI experience? I welcome your comments on this thread.

 

With that, my trilogy on the frontiers of Salesforce comes to an end. Regardless of how my experience was with each of the capabilities, one thing that I am sure of is that it is exciting to be experiencing the cutting edge offerings from Salesforce.com as the domain of CRM moves from strength to strength and we evolve from one technology platform to the next better one.

Frontiers of Salesforce - Part 2: SalesforceIQ

This is the next blog post in the trilogy on my experiences with some of the newest offerings of the Salesforce product suite.

 

In this post, I will focus on SalesforceIQ. This is a product from Salesforce.com that enables small and medium businesses (SMB) to interact closely within their teams and with their customers via their email inbox (Gmail / Outlook) as well as an app for laptops and mobile devices. It offers limited capability when compared with the full blown Sales Cloud app and focuses on accounts, contacts, opportunities and reports. With an attractive list price of $25 per user for starter edition, this appeals not only to SMBs but also to large organizations that wish to onboard small teams in business units that are not already on the main Sales Cloud or Force.com Orgs that may exist in the company.

 

I recently had the opportunity to evaluate this product and determine its suitability for the needs of my client. Here are my observations from that experience:

·         Unlike the Developer edition of Salesforce where we can have a trial period as long as we choose, this app is available as a 14 days trial. As our assessment period was over two weeks, we had to use a couple of trial versions to complete our work - not a deal breaker but certainly not as convenient as the Developer edition of Salesforce.

·         While the setup via Gmail was fairly simple, the Outlook based setup was a bit more complicated as it involved the security protocol of the exchange server.

·         Once in, the thing that caught my attention was the way in which the emails that I exchanged with the fictional contacts and team members I created were seamlessly moving between the contact screen in the app as well as my Gmail inbox.

·         Given that this is a relatively simple app, the setup capabilities for the Administrator are limited - I guess the idea is for you move up the value chain to Force.com or App Cloud or Sales Cloud if your business has more complex requirements and the business case can justify the increased spend.

·         We had a requirement to enable a parent-child relationship between accounts and tie the same to products. This was achieved albeit with a creative workaround.

·         We had a need to automatically merge account records but that was left on the table as no immediate solution was visible.

·         The reports that we generated were fairly simplistic. It would be interesting to see how this app can perform if complex reporting needs are to be enabled.

 

On the whole, I feel that this app is a nice way for SMBs to sample Salesforce if they wish to explore of the capabilities of the platform and are apprehensive about the higher price points of the other Salesforce offerings. On the other hand, for my large clients, I would advise them to consider Force.com as a starting point as you get access a tremendously larger bucket of capabilities that should justify the additional cost associated.

 

If you are a user of SalesforceIQ or have some experience with it, I welcome your comments / opinion on its effectiveness vis-à-vis your business metrics and outcomes.

 

In the final blog in this series, I will discuss my experience with Lightning Experience.

Frontiers of Salesforce - Part 1: Salesforce1 Offline Edit

With the imminent release of the movie Star Trek Beyond, I admire our fascination with the adventures and experiences of exploring frontiers beyond known boundaries whether they may be in outer space or the deep sea. In the same spirit of exploration, as a Salesforce consultant I have recently had the opportunity to explore some of their newest offerings and wish to share with you my observations about the same.

 

As anybody involved with Salesforce technology knows, they release a constant stream of modules / products that involves catching up on a regular basis regardless of whether you are a practicing consultant or business user or a CIO. I've chosen three such topics for this blog trilogy.

 

While on the theme of movies, here's my tip of the hat to Netflix.  They have revolutionized TV binge watching by releasing entire seasons of popular series like House of Cards, so I wondered why not try the same for blogs. So, I am releasing all three blogs in this series simultaneously for your reading pleasure - Enjoy!

 

In this post, I will focus on the first topic, Salesforce1 Offline Edit. With the current version of the Salesforce1 mobile app, you can view and edit data in the app on your iOS or Android device while you are disconnected from any Wi-Fi connection. This is a capability that has been on many a wish list (including some of my clients) and it is finally here in a practically meaningful manner.

 

As the edit capability is still in Beta mode, I set out to test the waters for one of my clients by logging into the Salesforce1 app on my iPad and here are my observations:

·         If you already have an earlier version of the Salesforce1 app on your device, I suggest you reinstall it - it appears it did not automatically get updated from the App store and so the version on my iPad did not support the latest offline capability - so I had to reinstall to get the latest version.

·         If you are a field sales rep and intend to use the app in offline mode later in the day, I suggest you access the customer and other relevant data on your iPad that day while you are still online and then click on the 'Cache Now' button in the Settings section of the app - this will ensure that the relevant records will be available for you to view and edit when you do go offline later that day

·         If the Salesforce Org / Instance was setup such that little or no Salesforce1 focused configuration was done, then you will essentially be viewing the objects and data that is meant to be displayed out-of-the-box which means some features enabled for your specific business needs may not be active. You need to talk to your Salesforce Administrator about the same.

·         Once you do go offline, view data and make the edits that are permitted in the current version of the app, you will see an indicator on your screen that an update is pending. This is a cool feature as it lets you know that the system has noted your change and will apply the same when you get online again.

·         Thereafter, when you get back online again, the app automatically syncs up and your data is now up to date when viewed from any device.

On the whole, my experience was satisfying and I think this is a step in the right direction. If you are a field sales rep or a Salesforce Admin who has tried this capability, I welcome your thoughts / opinion about the same.

 

In the next blog in this series, I will discuss my experience with SalesforceIQ.

February 10, 2016

Online or Store? Do I have to choose?


The last couple of years have seen an ongoing tug of war between the online and brick-and-mortar shopping channels. Pure play online retailers have tried to increase traffic and conversions on their websites. Similarly, Brick-and-mortar retailers have tried to persuade consumers to purchase products from their stores.

The net result has been gains and losses on both sides. Showrooming started out as a prevalent trend and was a cause of concern for small and medium sized shopkeepers. Brick-and-mortar retailers fought the Showrooming trend and seem to have succeeded for now in countering it with Webrooming, and persuading the majority of consumers to return to the stores to make purchases. A 2014 A.T. Kearney Omni-channel Consumer Preferences Study has concluded that around 67% of shoppers prefer to purchase products in stores.

So what is the ideal prescription for a typical Retailer looking to draw customers and increase sales? Store purchases appear to be winning for now, so is it a winning retail strategy to drive traffic into stores? The curious thing about the apparent victory of in-store shopping is that it has been achieved not by marginalizing the online shopping channels but instead by embracing them as a core component of a shopper's journey, and providing shoppers in the store with ways and means to access online information such as product reviews and price comparisons, leading to the rise of the connected store.

So does the consumer prefer stores or online as their shopping channel? The answer from the majority of respondents to the A.T. Kearney survey seems to be, "Do I have to choose?" - an average of around 47% of shoppers prefer to use the store in the Discovery phase of their shopping journey, 80% for Trial, 67% for Purchase, 55% for Pickup and 73% for Returns. When A.T. Kearney asked shoppers to choose from 30 possible shopping journeys utilizing various combinations of channels, they discovered that 55% of consumers prefer a shopping journey that utilizes both the online and store shopping channels at different stages of the journey.

In the omni-channel age, a customer no longer visits a specific shopping channel of a Retailer such as the web or a store, because this is no longer how he or she views the brand. The customer sees the brand as a whole, and consequently his or her shopping experience with the retailer spans the entire brand experience which includes multiple shopping channels for the most part.

If the goal is to increase overall sales as opposed to the sales in just a single channel, Retailers must adopt the Omni-channel view of a customer's shopping journey instead of the traditional and myopic channel-specific view, whether they are looking at Marketing, Merchandising, Sales, Logistics or Customer Service. Trying to sell on just a single channel won't cut it anymore - retailers must market and sell across channels. Retailers offering only a single shopping channel must consider going omni-channel, and those with multiple channels must provide a unified and seamless shopping journey spanning across channels.

For the time being, consumers are headed in an Omni-channel direction. While some consumers may continue to favor specific channels in certain categories like apparel and furniture (for store shopping) or books and music (for online shopping), retailers in general must embrace and attempt to enhance the Omni-channel shopping experience for customers, in order to grow and sustain sales in the long run.

Continue reading "Online or Store? Do I have to choose?" »

January 18, 2016

SFDC Program Success Factors: Minimum Viable Experience

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." While this was in the context of the civil rights movement, as a Salesforce strategy consultant, I can see its relevance in every SFDC program vis-à-vis the concept of minimum viable experience (MVE). 

I'll attempt to provide a simple definition of MVE. Your customers and channel partners transact business with your organization via manual and automated processes. MVE is the minimum acceptable experience during this interaction below which your customers and channel partners will be dissatisfied and may take their business elsewhere.

I have observed that with the proliferation of mobile devices and cloud platform, the customer experience is more complex and intertwined than ever before. For your SFDC program to be successfully adopted by users and to deliver value to your sales, service and marketing efforts, the active management of MVE can be a powerful success factor. This is especially so if done from the outset of the SFDC program even before the first declarative configuration steps are executed. 

Now the question - what does MVE have to do with Dr. King's quote? Well, when your business and IT teams make MVE an integral part of the SFDC program planning process, then customer experience management is no longer left to the "inevitable" - rather it will be a continuous but well managed "struggle" resulting  in significant benefits for all the SFDC related investments in your organization.

I would like to hear your comments on MVE - has your organization used this concept consciously? Has your SFDC program derived any tangible benefits from timely management of MVE?

September 25, 2015

My aha moment at Dreamforce 2015!

I was one of the lucky 170,000 + persons that had a chance to be a part of Dreamforce 2015 during September 15 - 18 at San Francisco. An amazing event with 1600 sessions and tremendous opportunities to interact and network with your peers, clients, analysts, competitors and of course, buddies.

 

Upon return, I reflected on the various events / announcements and decided to jot down the buzz words that really stood out from the mind-numbing amount of information thrown at us:

  • The evolution of last year's Lightning Platform into Exchange (50+ components pre-built in the cloud) and Experience (new user interface)
  • Salesforce IQ for Sales Cloud and small business in which the CRM system is connected with email and calendar. With the help of algorithms, predictive analytics drives customer communications
  • Trailhead (online learning) and the free starter kits: This is a significant leap in the training area. While the Developer Edition was already freely available, Trailhead takes it to another level in terms of personal, hands on and most significantly, free training for everyone. This truly is democratization of technology learning
  • Vertical apps (financial service cloud and health cloud)
  • IOT Cloud powered by Thunder Platform (with Microsoft as a launch partner)

 

Apart from the serious stuff, there was entertainment too. Some of it standard stuff like the Foo Fighters rock concert and some unusual like:

  • Stevie Wonder trying to get the audience to croon about Salesforce being "the sunshine of my life"
  • Parker Harris, Co-Founder of Salesforce, turning up to a key note address dressed as "Lightning Man" (or as Marc Benioff put it 'a NASCAR driver in baby blue suit with Thor's hammer')
  • Japanese rock star Yoshiki making a surprise appearance on a stage behind the audience (quite literally!)

 

But, my one big aha moment was during the session featuring Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. While showcasing Office 365 and other Microsoft products, at one point he seamlessly transitioned from a Microsoft screen to a Salesforce screen and referred to both as the best in class products! That was a powerful indicator of how closely Salesforce and Microsoft are partnering and collaborating given that Microsoft's own Dynamics is still a player in the same CRM market!

 

Were you there at SFO too? Or did you follow the live streams remotely? If so, I would like hear your comments and opinions on what appealed to you as being significant or interesting at Dreamforce 2015.  

September 8, 2015

3 Significant Use Cases for Salesforce Communities

In my CRM/PRM consulting assignments, a question that I am usually asked by the clients is "What are the typical uses cases for deploying Salesforce Communities apps?" While there are several use cases that can be listed, I have seen three "umbrella" use cases that regularly appear:

1. As a community forum for interactions among employees, partners and customers:
The app is set up as a forum for your customers, partners and employees to collaborate / chat / share information, documents, and pictures - help foster greater engagement with your company and its brand. The focus is on seamless exchange of knowledge, ideas, and clarifications (questions/answers). Can be monitored and facilitated by a formal community manager appointed by your organization to drive the right message across the various communication channels available to employees, partners and customers.

2. As a front end web portal to automate select business processes which are supported on the back-end by solutions on the Force.com platform:
The app is a web portal to engage your customers / partners for specific business processes that are enabled partially on the app and partially in the backend (on a platform like Force.com). With self-service a primary driver, the user interface can have a custom look and feel that is unique to your brand. Also, it enables you to expose only a subset of the Salesforce objects that are relevant to the respective business process being automated.

3. As an alternative to applications on the Force.com platform i.e. to automate key business processes directly in Salesforce Communities:
The app is a comprehensive automation solution for entire business processes. For example, it is possible to enable partner relationship management processes like partner onboarding, lead distribution / management, market development funds and so on. Depending on the complexity and uniqueness of the processes being automated, there are AppExchange products (Salesforce Labs, as well as third party apps) that can be integrated to enhance and enrich the overall solution.

Have you considered any of these ways of using Salesforce Communities for your organization? How successful was the app in delivering business value as envisioned by you? I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Continue reading "3 Significant Use Cases for Salesforce Communities" »

August 27, 2015

Industry Insights - New Business Model Trend in Manufacturing

Our clients realize the potential of having "everything" in cloud. This year, the market for cloud services is worth $43 Billion (source: Gartner). Yet clients and consulting firms are confronting a reality. Creating a new business model in cloud while keeping the existing models profitable, making the right calls to decommission a current model and transform into a new model is not in every firm's "success" playbook. To achieve success with new business model in cloud, there are a key prerequisite. As a firm we all need to ask one question to ourselves about what we are offering? We need to ask the same question to the clients we are consulting with and also to our partners. Are we clear on where our clients want to go in the next five years? Is our offering aligned to the client's? Clarity is key, think big, start small, develop a prototype and get going. Once clarity is there, define a four step strategy to create the new business model for our clients. They are:

Step 1: Define a specific business model. For example, in Hi-Tech industry, whenever our clients are selling a "product", they must sell a service along with it so that not only they go to market with an integrated offering but also to ensure that contract renewals happen pretty easily.

Step 2: Define a proper operating model. The operating model must consider four pillars. They are
(i) Delivery capability
(ii) Scale
(iii) Speed
(iv) Governance

Step 3: Define a proper model to co-exist non-cloud organizational blocks along with blocks which can move to cloud.

Step 4: Define a world class customer experience strategy. Our end goal is to offer a "service" bar to our clients. Allow them to pick and choose the services and enablers from the bar.

July 27, 2015

Know your Web Content Management System

Today, we have a mammoth amount of data of content on the internet - in the order of terabytes and gigabytes. The other day, I was searching for a continental restaurant in a popular website, and I was amazed to see that the content is presented in so many ways! They have screenshot images from the menu, price list, and pictures of the food items, ambience, as well as user ratings and user reviews! Most of this content comes from the users itself - yet the content is so well managed! Amazing! This intrigued my thought more and more on this topic, and it was mind blowing when I thought about how the companies today use their websites to share information with their customers. Take the social media sites, for example - they would have photos, comments, likes, articles, albums, replies, profiles, PDF uploads and so many things! It all depends how that gigantic content is managed, the UI and how users are comfortable with the interface! How quick one can navigate, how 'light' are the pages, how quick upload/download takes place and how relevant or updated is the content ...

Continue reading "Know your Web Content Management System" »

June 5, 2015

The Politics of Change

With another presidential campaign season upon us, I'm reminded of a quote I read about 10 years ago, by a film producer:

If you really want to change the world, don't go into politics. Make movies.

As a public relations consultant with some experience shaping public opinion, I had my doubts about this notion. While film can certainly introduce ideas, its influence is limited by the one-way flow of communication. To inspire audiences to action, you must do more than simply present to them. You must listen, and listen well.

Continue reading "The Politics of Change" »

February 20, 2015

What is Enterprise Gamification?

IEGP 7.jpg

Enterprise Gamification - No, it's not the next social game like Angry Bird or Candy Crush or Words with Friends that you would play on your smartphone or tablet.   However, Enterprise Gamification does borrow from these social games their design features and game mechanics (i.e. awarding points, badges, levels of achievement and leader boards) which are used to keep gamers motivated and engaged, as well as reward their behavior, activities and continued play or engagement. Enterprise Gamification is the application of game design principles in the context of the enterprise to improve user engagement.  Now, I know what your are thinking: "these 'game mechanics', as you call them, will only distract my customers, employees and business partners from what I really want them to be doing, like shopping on my online commerce site, or entering data into my customer relationship management application in a timely and accurate manner, or sharing information on my raw material fulfillment orders properly." Actually, you are partially right in that these are exactly the type of business behaviors, activities, metrics and key performance indicators that enterprise gamification is designed to address.   

Continue reading "What is Enterprise Gamification?" »

February 8, 2015

Digital Matchmaking with PRESTIGE

"What's your PRESTIGE?", asked the Chief Digital Officer of a fortune 100 bank, who was charted with building digital products and services. The next 30 minutes went into explaining how I can bring 'magic' to his digital journey.

As Michael Caine defined in the movie 'Prestige', there are three (3) steps of magic - simplicity (The Pledge), authenticity (The Turn) and delight (The Prestige). Today, building an attention economy around a digital service is nothing less than a magic.

Like falling in love with a romantic partner, falling in love with a digital product or a service is something that happens gradually. We need to explore three stages of engagement that users pass through on their way to falling in love with a service.

Digital Matchmaking.jpgThe first is Matchmaking: when services must feel real and relevant to genuine human needs and emotions.

The next stage is Dating. It's all about designing in a way that appeals to the heart and encourages people to engage. The service design courtship has to create exceptional experiences that make complex systems simple, yet captivating.

Finally, True Love is the way to explore how to design a service that adds value and is relevant over long periods of time. This fosters loyal users and a service that becomes a life companion. Just as with a human partner, users need to feel they can rely on the service.

Of course, then there are always exceptional cases where users gets a crush on the service at the get go aka Nordstrom, where entire company and its stores are built around service.

In order to build a perfect digital matchmaking service, three (3) key principals need to be followed:

Elegant Simplicity: This means we need to understand the bigger picture, with an eye for the details, in order to create digital interactions that build a strong emotional bond with the end-user. Example: Amazon's '1-click' commerce went through years of refining and re-defining its payment designs to finally arrive at this concept.

Ruthless Authenticity: All service touch points should have an opportunity to express, in subtle and overt ways, how it is unique and what it stands for. The service needs to clearly demonstrate the promised value both materialistically and emotionally, to build trust. Example: Zappos has a reputation for putting customer service ahead of profits. When a woman called to inquire about the company's return policy explaining that the merchandise never reached her husband as he was killed in an accident, the customer service representative ordered flowers to be sent to her in condolence for her loss.

Unbelievable Delight: According to Dr. Noriaki Kano (Kano Model), delight is a measure of experiencing unexpected. Products and services that consistently generate renewed excitement for users, stand out to build long-term relationship and retention. Example: Walt Disney's magical experience, where the 'magic' is created by optimizing the mundane. From assertively friendly staff to highest degree of commitment fulfillment, leave customers excited with every visit to DisneyLand.

Lastly, digital transformation is a combination of digitizing customer engagement channels and optimizing enterprise processes and operations. Customer focus innovation helps with identifying new business opportunities with regulated and non-regulated 'digital' products generating cross and up-sell revenue and high degree of customer retention.

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October 31, 2014

Connected Car: Creating a New Insurance Industry

The opportunity for the Connected Car market is huge both in terms of revenue and benefits and is close to the tipping point where connectivity in cars will become a mass market. Auto insurance plays a key role in connected car ecosystem by helping Insurers create value added services for its policyholders.


Today's P&C Insurance industry is dealing with matrix of business drivers like addressing customers' need for value and maintaining their loyalty while finding ways to save money. Companies are compelled to adopt innovation for their survival and success driven by two key factors that are creating a paradigm shift within insurance industry:

i. Consumer pull, where the new generation consumers are digitally savvy and are constantly connected

ii. Market push, where consumers are open to buying insurance from internet giants like Google and Amazon

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March 10, 2014

Engage your end-users with a "Persona-based Learning Approach"

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In an earlier blog, I wrote about "engaging your end-users" in the transformational journey from start to finish.  I explained that by doing so you would help to drive ownership and adoption among your end-user groups.  In another earlier blog, I pleaded with you to stop clinging to outdated train-the-trainer and point and click application simulation based learning as these approaches have not kept paced with the speed of change and the ways end-users REALLY learn and want to consume learning content.  In this blog, I am going to share with you a new method of learning I call "Persona-based Learning" that brings end-user engagement and adoption to a whole new level.  Persona-based Learning is about putting the learner (end-user) at the center of the transformational journey through the use of real life business scenarios brought to life through short, engaging, high impact animated videos.

 

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October 22, 2013

Successful channel partner enablement: Asking the right questions

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According to Jeff Bezos, some companies work to try to charge more and others work to charge less. In today's business world, more companies are choosing to be the second kind. Business consultants are constantly challenged to come up with offerings and solutions that help companies achieve that goal.

One such business problem is how clients can achieve speedy route to success in their partner relationship management (PRM) transformation programs and therefore streamline channel operations and experience for partners.

 

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July 26, 2013

No More Train-the-Trainer....PLEASE!!!

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No more train-the-trainer....please!!! What does this mean?  It means that based on industry experience this method of training is outdated, over-used, fails to deliver the necessary user adoption and is a lazy attempt to check the box on change management and training. 

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July 1, 2013

Winning at Enterprise Social Media in 5 Steps!!

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In the movie "Field of Dreams," the main character hears a voice in his cornfield whispering "If you build it...he will come."  While this made for great family entertainment, this phase has no place in the implementation of new business processes and technologies such as ERPs, CRMs, or even Social Media Platforms.  "If you build, (he) they will come" is at best wishful thinking.  No, don't be naïve and think that just because you built it the people in your organization will actually use it.  This is especially true with Enterprise Social Media platforms.  Read on to learn how our Organizational Change Management consultants can help bring the "context" and best practice engagement methods to your Enterprise Social Media deployment that will drive user adoption!

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June 14, 2013

Let's get engaged!!

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Traditionally, the engagement period prior to marriage gives the couple time to learn about each other's likes and dislikes, their histories and their goals in life, and to begin creating shared experiences.  Many believe this period sets the marriage on a course for long term success!  Hmmm, sounds kind of like what our change management consultants do with our clients when we engage with them on their business transformation journeys. 

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May 2, 2013

Social CRM Tech Trends -Twitter and Data Security

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The recent news about the hacking of the Associated Press's (AP) Twitter account has once again highlighted the topic of social media and data security. When a reputed organization like the AP is hacked and misinformation spreads via their Twitter channel, it is natural for IT managers to be concerned, especially when internal customer relationship management (CRM) applications, such as Salesforce, interact with public social media.

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April 9, 2013

Social CRM Tech Trends -- Facebook Integration

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For the past decade and a half, I have been involved with CRM implementations in various capacities. In that time, I have participated in the evolution of CRM from the days of in-house overly customized implementations to today's cloud based hosted CRM applications and ever evolving social media landscape. After mulling over the idea of sharing my experiences and thoughts through blog posts, I have finally decided to throw my hat in the ring.

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December 12, 2012

Banking. It will never be the same again.

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There is nothing new about one person lending money to another. What is new, however, is that companies that enable this simple human activity to take place on a massive scale are now emerging. They offer consumers and small companies a genuine alternative to going to the banks for savings and loans. It's called peer to peer consumer finance (P2P) and in fact it's a better alternative

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October 24, 2012

How to Sell Your Boss on Social Media

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 On the train from Boston to New York, my siesta was interrupted by a passenger's boisterous dialogue set on mobile phone speaker. "It will increase revenue -NO!", "our brand visibility will go up--NO! ", and "our competition is doing it--No!" Doesn't this sound so familiar? In my previous blog, "Why businesses are afraid of social media?" I described several reasons behind such resistance. Here are a few suggestions on how to get them onboard with social media:

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October 18, 2012

How Do I Expect My Newspaper to Ensure My Loyalty?

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"We missed you..." read the SMS I received from my bank. No, they did not miss me at the branch where I maintain my account, but on their online channel. "Wow! Here is someone who values my loyalty. I wonder if the folks in media are equally sensitive about the loyalty of their consumers?"

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October 9, 2012

Say NO to QR Codes

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I've got some very direct advice for anyone who is tempted to get involved in the world of QR codes. Don't do it.

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September 26, 2012

What is your dream?

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I recently attended the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco's Moscone Center along with 65,000 of my closest friends.  Reminiscent of the heady, pre-implosion dot.com days (remember how we were going to change "everything"?), Salesforce.com, the conference sponsor, has embraced "social mobility" (the tablet on the move) as the next big thing and a key ingredient of their future vision... and I agree!

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June 9, 2012

Why are Businesses Afraid of Social Media?

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I recently met with a business executive of a leading technology brand who understood the intangible value of social media but flatly refused to adopt it. His attitude was, 'We don't do social media because people might say bad things about us. Our focus is where the money is!'

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May 15, 2012

What does vanilla taste like?

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From order management and invoicing through to recruitment, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems should open opportunities to create positive customer experiences.  But when businesses install "plain vanilla" versions of these business-critical systems, they risk negative customer experiences and dissatisfaction, leading to manual workarounds. A successful ERP implementation is one that follows a user-centred design process.

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April 24, 2012

Could De-Mail solve the Identity Crisis of Online?

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In the 1998 Spiderman comic, Peter Parker adopted four costumes different from his usual superhero outfit; each with different crime fighting personae. He had to do so because he was framed for murder by the evil Trapster. Four also seems be the average number of online identities an individual has nowadays. Looking at current numbers on online fraud, however, it's obvious that some users have less heroic intentions.

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April 22, 2012

From Paper to Pingit: Retail Transactions in the Digital Age

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The horror and fascination of witnessing the global financial system on the brink of collapse is compelling. We all worry but there is little we can do about it. Many have lost their shirts while others have turned to invest in gold. Why gold? Because it can be trusted, it's scarce, and throughout history people have been able to exchange it for other things of value.

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April 19, 2012

Are some business functions more suited to opening up to customers using social channels?

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In my previous post, I introduced certain business functions that might lend themselves better than others for opening up to external partners and customers using social channels. Let's explore those functions in more detail here.

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April 13, 2012

Social Commerce - Just a Fad or Here to Stay?

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Of late, I see increasing articles and blogs on social commerce, fuelled by recent news items such as the Facebook IPO filing, the increasing user base of Google+, the growing popularity of Twitter, etc. This growing interest has re-kindled debate over the relevance of social commerce to online business.

Continue reading "Social Commerce - Just a Fad or Here to Stay?" »