Seventhman Blog

  1. Going Beyond Customer Satisfaction Surveys

    "customer satisfaction survey"‘Ask and you shall receive’ is a popular adage that many businesses might have failed to channel.  Sometimes, when you’re not sure where your market is heading, all you have to do is ask your customers about it.  A few spontaneous questions can lead to valuable insights on how you can understand your customers so you can quantify what’s useful and what’s not.  This is where the art of customer satisfaction survey comes in.  But, can it really predict your business success?

    Measuring Customers’ Perceptions is the Key

    For your customer satisfaction survey program to be effective, you must focus on measuring your customers’ perceptions.  It’s a no-brainer that customer satisfaction is directly proportional to brand loyalty and understanding your customers’ sentiment may be a bit tricky in the beginning.  When done correctly, you can monitor your relationship with them, so you can improve overall customer experience with your brand.  This is why it is absolutely important that your survey reflects what your respondents really care about.

    Dispelling the Customer Survey Satisfaction Myths

    Take note that a traditional survey can work for.. or against you, and it doesn’t have to do with innovation at all. Unlike popular beliefs, getting the feedback of your customers is not a luxury metric for large businesses.  You don’t have to shell out big bucks and spend lots of time in conducting a large-scale research, thanks to online tools these days.  Another fallacy of these types of surveys is that the more questions you ask, the more info you’ll get.  It will depend on the quality of your questions, no matter how short your survey is.  When you ask it right, you can actually produce not just a report; but using the data to come up with results, like making fixes to your products or service offering.  Still, just because you’ve asked doesn’t mean answers will come pouring.  This is why it is important not just to ask, but to give your customers a true means of sharing their feedback.

    Going Beyond the Usual

    If you’re looking for new ways of doing business so you can stay ahead of the game, you have to go beyond the traditional survey setup and simply deliver on your brand promise.  Besides, no two customers are alike and their behavior can be misinterpreted if you focus on feedback alone.  Customers may not always tell you when they’re happy about your brand but when they’re not, you need to keep your eyes and ears open.  And with the amount of information available to everyone these days, one bad word about your brand is like a nuke exploding on the Web.  Satisfaction may not mean loyalty at all and building a lasting connection with your customers is what makes a whole lot of difference.

    The only question now is: Will fixing the problem lead to a satisfied customer?

  2. Drawbacks of IT Outsourcing Revealed

    "IT outsourcing"With the sluggish economy and ceaseless debates around the subject, one can only wonder what outsourcing in this age of uncertainty really means.  Every company these days are trying to make ends meet on nearly every level, where they strive to bring value to their business.  While outsourcing may have been blamed countless times to the cause of unemployment, let us not forget that outsourcing is merely a business strategy helping an organization, large or small, survive and thrive .  To maximize productivity and minimize cost is not an easy fete, but it doesn’t mean a perfect solution either.

    Realities of IT Outsourcing You Need to Consider

    Despite the fact that IT Outsourcing is growing each year, even in places like China where English skills need to scale higher, many are still outsourcing some or most operations run by their IT Departments.  Whether be it a permanent or temporary fix to bridge the gap among cost, quality and manpower – outsourcing may seem like a salvation to many, that is if you are not too overeager to miss the real cost of outsourcing IT.  For example, if you are to move your IT functions offshore, you need to consider travel cost to the country of your choice, not to mention, other costs that may involve directly ( or indirectly ) with running your operations there.

    Calculating Beyond the Real Cost

    While you may think it will cost you less in the long run to get a third party service provider, you may have to consider the time factor when it comes to their familiarity with how your system and network really works.  If not, that can mean additional costs in training.  Then, there will be cases when you need something done a.s.a.p. and your outsourced IT provider must be inept to deal with issues right away, or you can suffer delay time which is not really good for any business.  Whether you’re outsourcing locally or offshore, you have to consider the worst case scenario to prepare yourself for the unexpected, just in case.  The problem is that plenty of contracts are sugar-coated and misleading, and no matter how urgent your needs may be, it helps to see a bigger picture that includes the real cost + long term benefits of having an outsourcing partnership.

    Outsourcing the Human Liability

    What drives companies to outsource these days is having access to first-rate IT expertise and resources that will yield more results and cost less.  Still, one must consider that anything, or anyone, can become a liability.  It does make sense to have your fine print well-defined, as well as backups, in case data is lost or stolen.  Yet, the question here is how much will it cost you when downtime happens because of these?  Will it cost you more if your team hasn’t worked for an entire day ( or week ) because the system crashed?  Is your team motivated enough to continue with your cause, efficiently?  Have you even considered the impact of cultural barriers that may lead to communication gaps?

    You may argue that any business is a gamble and it comes with risks.  Keeping a close eye is just a start and no matter how providers may offer free consultations, it’s only a sales pitch.  It will always come down to long term benefits and what outsourcing will really cost your IT dollars.  Choose wisely!

  3. Thinking Fast, Building Faster with a Lean Business Model

    "lean business strategy"You may have been doing everything in order to market your products and/or services, and yet, you still wonder why your efforts seem to be in vain.  There’s an adage that goes, ‘if what you sell is good enough, it will sell itself..’ and just how true this is can only be measured by one word: Quality.  But, in a world where digital word of mouth is amplified more than ever, just how can you create a winning strategy to build that sense of trust among your leads, prospects and customers?

    When Less is Truly More

    Whatever you are offering out there, know that your product or service exists to provide a real solution to a real problem.  Take note that I’m highlighting the word ‘real’ – which is something that everyone is looking for these days, from testimonials from real people to authentic information in your website.  Gone were the good ol’ days when your home page looks like a digital brochure that people can navigate through; you have to connect with your audience and learn new perceptions in this social media age.  But, what’s more important is learning how to segregate the clutter from what’s necessary and when you do, you will be just a few steps away from creating an irresistible product that speaks for itself.

    Building Value and Cost Containment: When Going Lean Matters

    These days, your customers’ voice matters more than ever and involving them in creation of new products/services may seem appropriate… and when you do build it, they might want something else.  So, how can you accelerate the brainstorming process for your business to grow faster in this age of uncertainty?  The answer may just lie in going lean – as in, the Lean Business Model Canvas.  Finding a niche is crucial as it gives you a chance to focus on a specific target market.  You don’t want to be everywhere serving everybody.  This will mean you have to get the best bang for your buck with a productive process wherein you can maximize creation of value for your customers with fewer resources, therefore, eliminating waste.

    Developing Strategic Partnerships with a One-Page Plan

    The lean business model is not only ideal for startups or small businesses, but it can also be applied to outsourcing as well.  The key here is to optimize technologies, manpower, assets to provide value-added products and services to customers.  Think of it this way, customers are smarter these days and to meet their ever-changing demands, you have to respond in a lightning speed where high quality + lower cost = productivity.  Many may have this misconception that this lean concept is only suitable for manufacturing and that’s not really the case.  It may take time getting used to shifting from traditional business models, no doubt.  But, the beauty of this model lies in its simplicity and flexibility that help you identify what matters most to your business right now, in just a page.  You can easily identify your key partners, key activities, key resources, cost structure, customer relationships, customer segments, channels, revenue streams, and value proposition – and arrange them accordingly as you can see in this lean business model canvas template.  Now, that’s giving you a bird’s eye-view, minus the complications of drafting a 30-page business plan.  You can then create a flow of process and methods to achieve a viable product, minus waste, and perfect that value you’re creating.

    At the end of the day, the only way you can innovate ‘innovation’ is through continuous improvement and this time, you may simply have to go lean… and mean.

  4. The Future of Outsourcing: Rising Trends and Predictions

    "outsourcing trends"Last year’s outsourcing scene has been marked with plenty of talks on cloud computing and many have been debating on how sustainable it is for businesses to take a plunge into outsourcing these days, especially when negative sentiments about it is on the rise.  There are speculations on how emerging technologies will help bring outsourcing to the next level, making it possible for people to collaborate easier – anytime, anywhere.  The new year brings a mixed feeling of hope and gloom when it comes to the trends that will shape the outsourcing world from what we know today.

    The Dirty Li’l Secret.. Remains Untold

    When offshore outsourcing has been blamed to contribute to unemployment in the U.S., it only makes sense for large businesses to declare that they are creating more work at home… or do they, really?  Perhaps, lack of transparency has compelled the move for rallying this anti-outsourcing bill that will seek to punish those who are moving business offshore.  It only makes sense, as a protectionist act that any country will be compelled to do when the economy is down.  By offering local government incentives, this may drive companies to look for talents on shore – from crowdsourcing, rural sourcing, insourcing to near sourcing.

    When Opportunity Lost Means Opportunity Gained

    As outsourcing deals get smaller, we can see new price models that are tailor-made to fit every client’s budget and needs, no matter how small their enterprise really is.  Last year, IAOP (International Association of Outsourcing Professionals) predicted that we will see a surge of BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China, as major outsourcing hubs.  There will be more room for innovation and outsourcing to work hand-in-hand when it comes to technologies, collaboration and strategy – for coming up with value-added services in a higher demand, more than ever.  A stronger emphasis will be set on various social media platforms in the hunt for global talent and we will expect to see a rise in job matching/freelance portals on the Web.

    Outsourcing: Embracing the Risk

    It may be too late to bring back jobs on shore and there are still many who are taking the risk to outsource some or most functions of their businesses, offshore.  And to outsourcing vendors, they may just have to take on the risk of signing for several smaller contracts than going for a large deal.  You may not like to hear it, but lower labor cost is always the top driver for companies to consider offshore outsourcing.  You may put a lid on top of this running water, but it won’t hold businesses off from outsourcing, though you can slow down the process.  In the end, one has to ask:  Is outsourcing the cause.. or the effect of a much bigger problem out there?

    Will 2012 be the end of offshore outsourcing?  How about 10, 20, 30… 50 years from now?  You may have to see the world in a bigger picture – climate changes, world population, global economy, inflation, technology shift and so on.. It’s really too soon to tell..

  5. Can Your Business Scale Globally on the Clouds?

    "Business Scale on Clouds"We have all learned that to be successful in business these days, you have to conquer the cultural divide so your business can scale globally.  But, what does it really mean for your cloud strategy?  When traditional approach is still being used in IT architecture these days, just how do you take advantage of the clouds so you can integrate multiple technologies and service providers seamlessly?  Is there really a secret to cloud computing success in your organization?  A new era of change has just begun.

    The Adoption of a Cloud Strategy

    It will all start with an agile process involving CIO’s… down to your sales, marketing, HR and other departments involved in the so-called ‘change’.  Here is where the CIO view the blueprint of this cloud strategy so the platform can integrate very well with various business functions in the organization, where cost is not only reduced, but making the transition less complex for everyone.  Sounds too easy?  Yes, it may be a drag or even a major pain – and business executives must lead the way in what you call a leadership in the clouds.  It all boils down to shared vision and collaboration so that everyone can participate in this change that will affect the business in the long run.

    It’s not really surprising that cloud computing is here to rule, no matter how people may have varying opinions about the subject.  Gartner predicts that by 2015, most organizations will have migrated to the cloud.  It’s an adapt-and-adopt game out there when it comes to a cloud strategy, where you adapt the technology and you adopt its use in your business functions.  It’s important then to have a careful planning process before making that giant leap.  Security is still a major concern for many who are having second thoughts though, and to illustrate, here’s an intriguing infographic about it.

    The Age of IT Industrialization

    There is a growing demand for private cloud services and though the pay-per-use model may not be cheaper, if you want your business to scale globally on the clouds, you must be realistic with what you’re actually getting for in return.  You need to assess which applications you can move to the cloud and which ones should be managed in-house.  With plenty of vendors to choose from, you have to scrutinize each one closely to make sure that they meet your requirements.  Yes, there will always be some risk and having a contingency plan can help along the way.

    This is just scratching the surface of migrating to the clouds.. and getting ready to make a change is not a one-off deal, but something that takes years to master and managed every day.  In the end, the goal is to have free flow of information across regional to international borders.  The question now is:  “ Are you ready to rethink your cloud strategy.. or start one, if you don’t have any yet? “

  6. Outsourcing in the Age of Uncertainty

    "outsourcing"As businesses are becoming more dynamic these days, not only a global mindset is called for – but a move towards leadership and resiliency in this age of uncertainty.  Yes, we are living in times when change happen in a blink of an eye and where there is danger, there is also a hidden opportunity waiting to be discovered.  Outsourcing has never been the enemy here and what is lacking are innovative strategies and planning that will help businesses become more competitive, no matter where they are located in the world.

    An Open Invitation to a Better Outsourcing Relationship

    What makes a winning outsourcing relationship these days?  The key may lie in our flexibility and willingness to invest in expertise that will make things work for our business.  If both parties are open and honest, it will pave the way for problem-solving scenarios that will create positive results for both clients and outsourcing service providers alike.  If there is an issue of trust when the economy is barely recovering, perhaps, both parties can meet halfway in addressing needs and resolving issues to set expectations right in the first place.

    This will then lead to this personal sense of accountability where there is just this initiative to create solutions for the success of the outsourced project.  It’s a chain reaction, with the benefits, if you would like to call it as such.

    Learning to Survive in the Outsourcing World

    There have been recent fears about Obama’s outsourcing bill that can have significant effects in major outsourcing hubs like India and the Philippines.  If this is viewed as an opportunity instead, where helplessness is transformed into power, one can survive this by seeking out new and unexplored terrains where outsourcing can still thrive.  There is a shifting trend to insourcing once more, where clients are wanting to bring back roles in-house.  There will be short-term gaps in contracts and yet, if one will commit to improving the quality of service, processes and managing business cost – one can still compete in times when businesses are looking to add more value, without adding extra costs.

    If there’s going to be a slowdown in outsourcing in the coming months, what we can do for now is see this niche in a bigger picture.. so we can have better visions of the present situation that will help us address it in the future.  Will sending more work to outsourced providers result in a mutually beneficial business relationship?  In the end, change is constant and just how you respond to it makes a huge difference in the world.

  7. What Every CEO Must Know About the Cloud

    "Cloud"Cloud computing is not rocket science, as many would have believed.  This term has been popular, yet many are still confused.  The concept is not really new; just think of it as your favorite soda in new packaging.  When your PC and mobile devices are in sync, when you access your information anywhere, when you organize these data from an online source, when you share files with your peers – you’re already doing cloud computing without even realizing it.  Your personal cloud is the hubspot of data that’s ready for you to use, whenever you like.

    Cloud Going Mainstream: The Ultimate Dream

    Last year, we’ve seen cloud computing kick off and we’ll surely see huge opportunities for web-based businesses and startups to address critical concerns like security, and come up with a custom fix.  When mobility is the future of technology, and devices are becoming more sophisticated each year, there is a need to make the cloud simpler to adapt to the new marketplace.  In fact, there are predictions on the Web on 10 cloud computing startups that will have a chance to be a blockbuster this year.

    The Cloud as an Agent of Change

    There’s no denying that cloud computing will change how organizations work, especially when workers are not sitting anymore at their desks all day.  So long as you’re connected online, you can practically work anywhere.  A shift to the clouds won’t be the major solution to your business pains, and yet, it brings with it a room for agility – where key people in your business can make critical decisions faster ( and most of the time, more efficient as well ).  It’s a slow and steady adaptation to the cloud these days, without putting a huge dent on the normal workflow process, unless there are bugs to deal with or when you’re running a large enterprise.

    When Team Collaboration Goes 2.0

    Thanks to cloud computing, virtual teams can communicate easily and become virtually productive almost anywhere in the world.  The options seem to be limitless here.  The future for private cloud space also looks bright as we will see new service offerings that are secured from cyberhacks, among many other things.  As these solutions become seamless, so will virtual collaboration be.  Geographical barriers have been crossed and this may take time getting used to, like switching from horses to high-speed cars.

    There’s no denying the fact that cloud computing saves you on cost of having a complex software infrastructure and maintenance by your in-house IT staff.  Mobile technology is real and this time… we’ll be seeing clear skies where it concerns the cloud.