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Digital transformation; the Trending Business Transformation

Author: Infomentum

Author: Leigh Hopwood

Gone are the days of focusing on saving money. Business leaders are now looking at either how to simply keep up with their customers, or how they can profit from digital.

The result requires business transformation. Or is it digital transformation? What is the difference?

To be honest, there should be no difference. Or there certainly won't be as time goes by. Becoming a digital business could be compared to the days of computerising your business back in the 1980s. The installation of a computer to enable you to do your job quicker is no different to implementing a digital strategy in order to operate more efficiently, and deliver a more acceptable customer experience.

Although you might call it digital transformation, what you're actually doing, if you're doing it right, is transforming your business into a modern business ready for the next stage in its life.

Why is this transformation important? What will digital transformation bring to your business?

- Growth and opportunity
- Enable you to take products to market faster
- Exploit the talent in your digital savvy workforce
- Provide a platform for innovation
- Quality customer conversations regardless of channel
- An opportunity to build brand loyalty again
- Huge cost savings - from tech savings, to people

Above all, undergoing digital transformation will enable you to create a sustainable business by remaining competitive.

Sounds great, eh? But where do you start? Check out our Digital Transformation Strategic Assessment and we'll help make sure you've got the right approach to transforming your business.

Why not watch our video on Digital Trends to find out the key technologies disrupting businesses.

6 Things to Consider in Your Digital Strategy

Author: Infomentum

Author: Leigh Hopwood

Until now, your business will have invested in technology solutions to streamline processes and save money. Some of this investment may also have been in improving the customer experience.  From ERP to document management, marketing automation to client and internal portals, so many aspects of a business are now automated.

How joined up are these technologies? Are they meeting the modern users expectations? Are they in line with your digital strategy?

Web services, web 2.0 and cloud changed everything.  They opened the door to digital disruption. Combine the advances in technology with changes in people behaviour and their attitudes towards digital, and your business could quickly become out of date if you don’t respond fast enough.

The first step to tackling the challenge of digital disruption is to build a digital strategy to meet your overall business long term goals. Your marketing department may already claim to have one. If this is a digital marketing strategy then we’re talking cross purposes.

A digital strategy is all encompassing. It is a strategy to change the way you do business. It incorporates people, processes, information, technology and your customers across the entire business.

Here are six things to consider when building a digital strategy:

1. Business vision

Understanding your business direction and how you intend to retain or grow your competitive advantage over the next 3-5 years is fundamental to sustainability. How are you responding to changing employee behaviour to keep and attract great talent? Where will your revenue growth come from?

2. Impact on people

The success of migrating to a ‘digital business’ is driven by your people. For businesses with a young workforce, they expect a digital way of working and are more likely to help and support a transformation project. For organisations employing less tech-savvy people that may not see the benefit, and only see that they have to change the way they do their job, may be less supportive.

3. Customer expectations

Understanding your customer buying behaviour and how they want to interact with you is crucial to getting your digital experiences right. Increasing numbers of consumers now expect to be able to correspond with you online. Of course, if you’re a B2B organisation, your customers are still consumers, and expect the same level of digital capability, if not more.

4. Access to information

The rise of digital resulted in information and data being stored all over the place in a variety of formats. Becoming a digital business means you should be making this content easily accessible in order to streamline processes, and make it easier for your employees to access that information so that they can do their job more effectively. It will save a shed load of time too.

5. Integration of processes

The era of silo departments, operating silo databases and running silo processes is over. That went out with the dark ages. Mapping your processes to a customer or employee journey should be second nature. This should mean that your processes are far more integrated into your business, exploiting the information stored in various pockets to deliver a more streamlined experience.

6. Technology roadmap

The technology is here. Yes, it keeps changing, but the digital business is possible now. The trick is to make sure that you plan for the future, expect the unexpected and be prepared to be agile. Having a clear technology roadmap will give you a base point in which to stay focused, whilst enabling disruption to be embraced.

We have consultants ready to work with you to define your digital strategy. Get in touch if you want to talk about it.

Generation C: Are You Meeting Their Needs?

Author: Infomentum

Author: Leigh Hopwood

Doing nothing is like going backwards.

Surprise, we’ve changed.  Yes, you and I. We text our friends and family, we socialise on Facebook, network through LinkedIn and get the latest news about train delays through Twitter. We spend more time than ever with our faces glued to a screen, in a variety of sizes.

In 2012 you’d see headlines like ‘social media is dead’. It was deemed a fad. But finally the realisation has hit that the digital business is here to stay.  And we’re only now seeing the term ‘digital disruption’ being bandied around. The digital phenomenon has been here for years – its businesses that have been slow to adapt.

So who's in the driving seat?

Have you heard of Gen C? Gen C, or Generation C, is the connected generation. Unlike Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennials, Generation C is defined by its behaviour – not their age. They use devices, apps and web sites to interact with friends, family and companies. They use these approaches to go about their daily business.

According to infoMENTUM's research report, 81% of Generation C consumers shop online, 87.5% use online banking, and 86% use social networking to connect with friends. As employees, 75% of Generation C people value the freedom to be creative, 55% value using their own technology and 73% value flexible working. Unfortunately, 60% of businesses have IT systems that are only ever updated occasionally.

It’s this connected generation that are driving the adoption of digital technology both by the consumer and employees.

What has this got to do with the contact centre?

Oh, so much.  Where shall I start? First, your people.

Whether you like it or not, your people are increasingly becoming tech savvy.  That means that they are using functionality in their home life that they expect to get access to at work. It’s not just about having the latest devices, it’s about having systems and processes in place that take full advantage of the streamlined approaches that can be achieved with digital technology.

From being able to connect with an expert or accurate/up-to-date information seamlessly to help a customer, to being able to access their HR data from home to monitor their own performance, your employees now know that not only can processes be completed more efficiently, but they can probably tell you how to achieve it.

Now let’s take a look at your customers. Whether you are in B2B or B2C, your customer has high expectations in how you might sell to them, and in your customer service.  It’s no longer acceptable to only interact via the phone with FAQ’s on your website aimed at reducing call volumes.

Customer profiling is so important to ensure that you are delivering the right service, at the right time, through the right channel to satisfy your customers. Understanding why your customers are getting in touch, and how they prefer to communicate is crucial.

Integrating the right digital technology into your contact centre processes, and working with your people to enable them to use them effectively, will give you a huge wave of benefit. Your people will be happier working with the latest functionality and having the right tools to do their job well, and your customers will be happy because they can do business with you much easier.

And if everyone is happy, then your profits will rise. Happy days!

What happens if you do nothing?

That’s not an option. Gone are the days of sitting and waiting for technology to settle down. You can no longer wait to see what the next big thing is. If you don’t respond and invest now, you might as well throw the towel in. Expect to make mistakes, expect to have to change course and expect the unexpected. That’s life.

Leigh's post originally appeared on callcentre.co.uk

Emerging from the cocoon: digital transformation

Author: Infomentum

Author: Rachel Edwards

Technology has already become a permanent fixture in everyday life, so the need for businesses to have a digital strategy in place is becoming increasingly obligatory. This poses a challenge for businesses, who not only need to update their legacy technologies to keep up, but also their business methodologies.

In order to address this era of digital disruption, businesses need to go through a digital transformation.

But weren’t we just talking about digital disruption?

In our last blog post, we explored what is digital disruption and why businesses need to stand up and start paying attention. Digital transformation is the period of change that businesses need to go through, in order to cope with digital disruption and come out the other side as successful companies, switched-on to both their customers and their employee’s needs.

Digital transformation is a result of businesses seeking to adapt to this onslaught of disruptive technologies affecting the way that customer, employees and even the competition behave.

But why?

People are becoming more and more digitally savvy; they’re always connected to their device, always communicating and always collaborating with their peers. Our Generation C research demonstrated this. We’ve got employees expecting to work wherever they want from the device of their choosing, and collaborate with colleagues in different locations. Customers are demanding multi-channel experiences and hyper-personalisation.

Businesses that are able to respond quickly to customers, offer collaboration and knowledge sharing to employees and provide flexibility are moving ahead of the competition in leaps and bounds.

Now you know what it is, how do you transform digitally?

In short, businesses need a digital strategy. This should feed in to the wider transformation strategy for the business, meeting overall business objectives.

It starts with identifying your digital vision and where you want to be. Then compare to where you are now – this will determine the gaps so you can start to close them. It’s often difficult to gain an unbiased, holistic view of your business from within, and to understand the future technology roadmap which will enable you to get to where you need to be without disrupting business as usual. That’s where companies like infoMENTUM can step in to carry out a strategic assessment for you.

In my next blog post, I’ll be exploring the key trends disrupting businesses and causing digital transformation. Visit our Digital Transformation Strategic Assessment page to read more on how your business can create a digital strategy.

Digital Disruption: the Elephant in the Boardroom

Author: Infomentum

Author: Rachel Edwards

With digital at the forefront of businesses minds, ‘digital disruption’ are the buzzwords on senior business leader’s lips. But what is it, and what does it mean for your business?

What is digital disruption?

Digital technologies are disrupting the established ways that we do business at a rapid pace. Whether it’s consumers expecting a seamless experience through your business, from websites to brick-and-mortar stores, or using social media as a platform to raise customer service queries and complaints.

It’s about more than just social media and mobile phones; it’s about changing consumer demands, technology advances and the fight to be competitive. It’s about the traditional and fundamental ways a business behaves being transformed.

Instead of treating it as a separate discipline, digital needs to be integrated into the very way we work.

It’s not just your customers

As our Generation C research illustrated, it’s not just customers who are driving digital disruption; it’s your employees too.

The work/life balance has been disrupted by digital technologies, and employees are bringing that disruption to the office too.

Used to having the latest gadgets and information at their fingertips, digital-savvy Generation C are frustrated at work when they can’t find documents, can’t access information on the go, and can’t effectively collaborate and share knowledge.

With their rapid uptake of technology, using it in ways it wasn’t originally intended and the trend for using personal devices in the office, digital is disrupting your business whether you like it or not.

Can you execute your digital strategy?

In recent research, Forrester found that although 73% of executives believe that their company has a digital strategy in place, only 19% believe they have the right technology to execute it, only 15% believing they have the skills and capabilities. This makes for worrying reading for the future of existing business. With agile, fast-moving start-ups flooding the market, how can traditional, big business keep up?

The answer…? Digital transformation.

In order to cope with digital disruption, businesses need to go through a rapid period of digital transformation, or risk being left behind.

We only have to look at companies such as Blockbuster to see the devastating effects of ignoring digital disruption. They didn’t respond quickly enough to the changing ways that their customers were consuming film and in steps Netflix, the online streaming service allowing users to view as many films and TV shows as they like for a fixed monthly fee, without ever having to leave their sofa. Blockbuster was left out in the cold and went under as a result.

In my upcoming series of blogs, I’ll be looking at digital transformation in greater depth. In the meantime, visit our Digital Transformation Strategic Assessment page for more information on creating a digital strategy.

The Importance of Information Governance

Author: Infomentum

Author: Leigh Hopwood

For some, information governance is a necessary but boring part of the Information Management and Content Management strategy.  For others, it’s the piece of the puzzle that creates the framework and culture to a strong and effective way to managing your corporate information.

With so much information and content circulating the planet, whatever your view, information governance is crucial to your enterprise. Without it, information will be leaking from your business and you will become vulnerable.

The biggest risks to the enterprise are in loss of IP, litigation costs and damage to reputation.  24% of organisations in the UK have had a compliance issue in the last 2 years.  The cost of storage is increasing because of the rising volumes of storage required.  Without an information governance framework in place, the risks are very real.  And senior management are finally taking them very seriously.

Fundamentally, information governance done well will protect your business and reduce your costs. It can make your organisation more competitive and worth more! It’s a win-win situation. But it is hard to deliver.

The CIO cares about information. However, it’s IT that needs to take back control of its systems and security by providing the right framework to meet the changing needs of employees, and customers. With so many sensitive documents across your business, they need to be protected and policies enforced to prevent inappropriate sharing. Quality Enterprise Content Management systems will help you do this, with the user in mind – you don’t want to stop users accessing the information they need afterall.

IT can’t be the data guardians in isolation. They have to talk to the people across the business to make sure they get it right, and get people onside. They’ll find ways around the system otherwise and efforts to create a strong culture of information governance will be lost.

Stats source: AIIM 2014.

Mind the Communication Gap (or how not to run a penetration test)

Author: Infomentum

When customers and vendors fail to communicate, it’s a recipe for disaster – as one company learned only too well.

A company I have been talking to recently told me about a penetration test they ran on a website. It was not, as it turned out, the most successful of penetration tests.

It started out well. The site was in the process of being developed and they wanted to make sure they were aware of any issues before it went live. They knew they needed to appoint a third party to carry out the test and were very thorough in the appointing process, meeting with multiple vendors to be certain they had chosen the right team. So, after hours of meetings, PowerPoint presentations and lots and lots of talk, a vendor was finally selected to run the penetration test. They were good to go.

The dangers of going it alone

Unfortunately, in their haste to find the best third party, they failed to invite a single member of the internal IT team to any of their meetings, or bother informing the other vendors who were in the process of delivering the website.

A mistake that turned out to have big consequences.

The tests were run and a highly-negative report was submitted by the third party. According to the report, there were over 40 holes on the website – meaning it was total disaster in these days of greater demand for security and compliance.

Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups

Given the site had failed so spectacularly, the vendors who had been commissioned to develop it received an almighty roasting over the poor quality of their work. When they asked why had they not been aware of the penetration test and where had it been run from, they were told that the tests had been run from external sources. Which is when the full magnitude of the mistake was realised.

Given that the site hadn’t yet gone live, it wasn’t available for access from outside. So the other team of vendors simply couldn’t have been able to run the tests.

Right test. Wrong site.

It turns out they’d not run the test on the new site being developed, as required, but on the pre-existing site.

So, not only had the test had been a complete waste of time, money and energy, they’d also damaged their relationship with their vendors by blaming them for something they’d not done. Not to mention the fact they’d been running a site for three years that wasn’t fit for purpose.

In short, it was an embarrassment all round.

So, what can we learn from this story?

1)         Get your vendors working together

There will often be times when you have different teams of suppliers dealing with overlapping               areas of your business. The key is to get them to collaborate – to share their skills and                           knowledge so that everyone can do their best possible job. If they’re not willing or able to work               together, you've probably got the wrong people for the job.

2)         Garbage in. Garbage out.

A test is only as good as the information you put into it. If you don't take the time to get that                  right, the test will be a waste of time – not to mention money.

3)         Talk. Talk. And talk some more.

The key to every successful project is communication. Internal and external. Make sure that                   everyone who needs to be informed is informed.

And don’t forget to write the correct IP addresses on a noticeboard so that you know what’s what!

How Not to Run a Load Test

Author: Infomentum

What can we learn from one an example of failure?

We all know that running a load test on your site is best practice. By putting demands on your systems, you can discover the true capacity of your site, as well as identify any weaknesses and bottlenecks. That’s as long as you do it right of course.

One company, sadly, didn't.

Beware the celebrity tweet

A member of the senior management team for a known brand decided they needed to run a load test on their web channel. They had good reasons – they knew a celebrity was going to be tweeting about them and expected some heavy-duty traffic as a result. So they hired a third party to run the test. So far, so forward-thinking.

But, they made one little mistake. One that added up to a colossal waste of time. They failed to let their internal IT team know what they were doing.

Maybe they wanted to see how their IT team would react under pressure – after all, it wouldn’t have been a true test if their team had bolstered their systems in preparation. Or maybe they simply forgot. Either way, it backfired on them.

Protecting the business, failing the test

When the third party ran the heavy load test and the system started to receive load alerts, the IT team did exactly what they were supposed to do. They immediately picked up the unexpected hits on the web channel and swung into action. Since they weren’t aware of any testing, it simply looked as if they were under attack. So they blacklisted the relevant IP addresses and blocked all requests from that third party.

For the IT team it was a win. They’d successfully thwarted a suspected attack and by catching and blocking the source of the hits, they continued delivering uninterrupted service to their customers.

However, in terms of the test, it was a total failure. The third party submitted a failed test report to their customer. From their perspective the site had fallen over (and done so remarkably quickly). As a result, the business learned nothing about the site’s capabilities and wasted a whole lot of money in the process. And all because they failed to communicate with their own colleagues.

So what can we learn from this story?

1) Testing is a good thing. Ambush testing is not.

Yes, you need it to be a true test. But if everyone involved doesn’t have the same clear objectives, then the test will be a waste of everyone’s time (not to mention your money).

2) Consider different scenarios for increased traffic.

There are many reasons a site might experience heavy-duty traffic, from hackers to celebrity tweets. If you have a clear idea of the possible sources, you can have a plan in place for each that doesn’t always involve blocking access.

3) Communication is everything.

Enough said.

Putting Your Users in the Driving Seat

Author: Infomentum

Research shows that a personalised web experience can increase click through rates by up to 300%. But how do you go about creating end-user driven navigation and search that works?

Life would be dull if everyone thought the same. Dull, but it sure would make web design simple.

If everyone's brains worked in the same way, you could create a fixed navigation for your site (public website, customer portal or intranet), confident in the knowledge that everyone would navigate around it in exactly the same way. But, back in the real world, of course they don't.

While it might seem intuitive to you for certain content and information to appear in a certain location, it might be the last place your customers expect to find it. But then you can't create a different site for everyone. Or can you?

End of the road for fixed navigation

Most sites use fixed navigation – a linear and supposedly logical way to find your way around. But this assumes that everyone's logic is the same. Which of course, it's not – as anyone who's ever watched an episode of The X Factor can attest.

So while fixed or perpetual navigation has often been seen as best practice, this doesn’t mean there are not even better alternatives. Today, it’s altogether possible to make the way content is presented dependant on the user journey – reorganising and re-emphasising relevant content in reaction to what the user does.

Understanding your customers

While this kind of user-driven (also referred to as ‘guided’) navigation and search is ideal, it's not always easy to achieve. For a start, if you want a site that responds to your users’ preferences, you'll first need to understand those preferences. And you can't do that unless they are registered with you and have a preferences-driven profile.

What you can do, however, is capture their behaviour as they move through the site and let the system decide what to render and when. But to do this you need to tag and classify all of your content using a strong classification mechanism. And ontology can help you achieve exactly that.

Ontology – the basics

Ontology is an advanced classification mechanism which defines how various entities in a hierarchy can be related or grouped. But unlike traditional taxonomy – the simple, hierarchical way most sites structure content – ontology is more about the semantic relationships between entities and hence the content.

For example, with tree-structured taxonomy you'd see something like this: Home > Products > Gifts > Chocolate. But with ontology the content would be tagged based on its semantic relationship (eg it would understand that chocolate is a gift, but it's also food).

To make this work for your site, you start by building relationships in your ontology and then continue to enhance the results by capturing your users’ behaviour, letting the system learn as it goes. That way, you'll end up with all of your content tagged by relationships, in ways you may well have never predicted.

Learning from Amazon and co

This approach shouldn't just stop at the first click or search result. If you keep adding to your users’ preferences at each level of the site, you will create a rich, personalised experience from start to finish. And the best part is that you can learn from users’ behaviour and enhance your ontology to gain deep insights into your own information relationships.

Take Amazon as the perfect example. You start by searching for a camera. Immediately, the results are filtered based on what Amazon has previously captured about your preferences. Then as the search filter becomes richer (eg as you filter by megapixel, brand and price) even then the products you see are related to your previous behaviour. Meaning you get to what you're looking for faster and you're clicking 'Add to basket' before you know it. Amazon can then go on to recommend more products that other buyers purchased.

Power to the customer

Why bother giving your users this much control over what they see and how they interact with your site? Simple. The more a site is personalised, the better the user experience and the more likely a user is to engage with it on a deep level. Whether that means buying from you or coming back to your site time and time again. Some sites using this approach have seen a massive 40% increase in their page views.

The more control a user has, and the more they drive the contextual search for content, the more you can learn about them. Which in turn means a better user experience for all your visitors.

And that's one bit of logic everyone can agree on.

Becoming a 2.0 Enterprise with Oracle WebCenter Portal

Author: Infomentum

In this post, we going to take a technical look at how a WebCenter Portal can enable effective collaboration throughout an organisation, starting with the simple integration of a discussion forum.

Forget stocks, shares and even bricks and mortar. In today’s information age, a company’s knowledge is its most important asset.

But if that knowledge isn’t shared – so everyone who needs it has access to it at all times – it can be next to useless.

Take when someone leaves for example. If what’s in their head hasn’t been distributed to the rest of the team, you not only lose the person’s skills, you lose their valuable knowledge too.

But that needn’t be the case with a WebCenter Portal.

Unlocking the power of collaboration

A WebCenter is a single point of access designed to share resources throughout a company. So every interaction a company has with its customers, partners, employees and suppliers can be recorded and evaluated via a single source.

Being an Enterprise Portal 2.0, WebCenter enables powerful collaboration tools throughout any organisation. As such, it includes out-of-the-box components for team collaboration and enterprise social networking that are ready to plug into your enterprise portal.

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on just one of those components: how to integrate a discussion forum.

A step-by-step guide to integrating a discussion forum into your WebCenter portal

Step 1:

Run the Managed Server WC_Collaboration. This is the server that allocates collaboration services as discussions and announcements.

Step 2:

Login in to: http://PortalURL:8890/owc_discussions/admin

Step 3:

Select Content from the menu and create the Categories and Subcategories you need. This will generate an ID for each category, making for simple integration later.

Step 4:

In JDeveloper, go to your Portal Application. In the Application Resources, right-click Connections then click Discussion Forums.

Step 5:

Type the name for your connection and ensure you select: Set As Default Connection.

Step 6:

In the next screen, type the URL of your Discussion Service, for example: http://PortalURL:8890/owc_discussions.

Note for admin user: if the security of your portal is set to default then set weblogic as the admin user.

Step 7:

Create a Page inside your Portal Project. This page is where you will integrate the Discussion Service.

Step 8:

Go to Resources Palette –> My Catalogs –> WebCenter Portal –> Service Catalog –> TaskFlows. Then drag and drop Discussion Forums to your Discussions Page.

Step 9:

You will need to set up at least one of the parameters shown in the taskflow property popup, for example:

  • categoryId: set the Category ID from the category you created at the beginning (recommended).
  • forumId: Setting this parameter will force the taskflow to show only the threads of this forum.

Step 10:

That’s it. You’re now ready to invite your colleagues to join the discussion.

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