Seventhman Blog

  1. Bringing Mobile Apps to Your Enterprise

    "enterprise mobile apps"Mobile apps are on the rise and the user base is growing.  This is not just a prediction, but a reality that many businesses should consider when marketing in the Mobile Age.  Did you know that mobile devices make 55% of internet access in the U.S. this January?  Surprisingly though, 47% of this traffic came from apps and only 7% from mobile browsers.  If you’d like to know more about these figures, you can check out this post, plus this fact sheet from the Pew Research Center.  The numbers may vary slightly from one study to another, but one thing’s crystal clear: You Need a  Long Term Mobile Strategy.. Seriously.

    When Mobile Apps Meet the Enterprise

    Surely by now, you have overcome your picture of a mobile app as some techie way to kill time.  Mobile productivity apps are on the rise and these help employees become more efficient while collaborating on-the-go.  The top goal of these apps is to deliver maximum impact to your business and there’s a good reason that the market for these enterprise apps are growing.  From those apps that allow you to do basic tasks like having access to your contacts and emails, we’re seeing more complex tasks like dashboards and analytics.  We even have social business apps helping teams communicate real-time updates with their peers, wherever they are located in the world.

    What Can Exactly Go Wrong?

    While adoption of enterprise mobile apps is on the rise, your employees may be using those that are not approved by IT and you may just be exposed to security risks (malware, phishing, etc).  How can you protect yourself?  Most seasoned enterprise software developer will tell you that you should:

    1.    Spell out how the mobile app will be handled – from conception to deployment.  Guidelines must be established, a.k.a. Governance.
    2.    Iterate.  You have to develop and test your mobile apps more as this will be updated frequently by your users.  If you’re running apps on your corporate WiFi, make sure that this is capable of supporting your application’s protocols and its users.
    3.    Put security on your priority list, which is a no-brainer.  What standards and practices would you set?  Do you even have a secured VPN connection?
    4.    Educate your users.  While proactively posting updates can help your employees remember to download them, you have to document and train your team on how to use the app – from tutorials, user manuals to FAQ sheets.
    5.    Measure what you can improve.  This is why it’s important to set metrics to determine if the app is really useful and functional – and how you can make it better for everyone.

    The worst mistake you can do when adopting a mobile enterprise app is to separate it from your business process.  Rather, you would want to see it blend seamlessly with the entire organization.  For example, your mobile app allows exchange of notes on this idea map but then, you can’t update the data on your central system that it requires your users to enter details manually – adding more work than ever.  The last thing you need is a fancy mobile app that makes your team work double time.  More so, if you’re running cloud-based platforms, you may just have to build a central hub to integrate existing systems with new ones.

    It sounds simpler than it looks but overall, the point is to start building your mobile app plan that will move your business forward and make your employees happier – minus the risks.

    Just another reason… Why You Should Get Seriously Mobile This 2014

     

     

  2. Want to Innovate? Create Problems First

    "innovative culture"If you’re not creating enough problems, you’re not pushing your business towards ultimate success.  Would you agree?  Good leaders are great at solving problems, but strategic leaders don’t simply solve – they create problems that push people to the edge of their limits.. to the point that it empowers the entire organization to move forward.  Besides, if you come to think of all the greatest innovation in our history, whether accidentally or meticulously discovered, you’ll see that they have all been born out of a serious need to solve a problem.  Taking this into account, if you feel that your business is plunging towards stagnation, maybe all you need is a serious challenge.

    What Motivates You?

    Remember that very first time a brilliant idea hit you like some meteor crashing on your head?  Do you even recall what it feels like the very first time you opened your business?  How excited were you? Most important, do you still feel that excitement?  When I started my first venture, it felt like I’m on a very important mission to Mars, seriously.  I want to solve problems through the power of coding and technology.  As years passed by and the business grew, I have to admit how I love the status quo that rocking the boat feels like something totally out of the question.  I just can’t risk it,  given these tough economic times.  I believe most business owners can relate to my experience.  As the adage goes, ‘if you’re not part of the problem, you’re part of a solution’. If I were to rephrase it then, if you’re not creating a problem – you’re not creating a sustainable solution; you’re just waiting for things to magically form out of thin air.

    Disruptive Innovation Starts With Disrupting Your Mindset

    You’ve probably heard of the ‘Fail Fast’ concept and the idea behind it is to embrace failure as a journey to success.  Makes sense for some and for others, a hot topic for debate.  But why would you even risk failure when things are working just fine?  Suddenly, you start to scratch your head as you see this new competitor shining so bright it threatens the very existence of your business.  Your brand suddenly feels like a commodity, your bottom line is shrinking and your top people are disconnected with your company’s goals.  In fact, you’ve got more brainpower right now as you’re surrounded by A-level management and you begin to wonder why nobody’s speaking up each time you have a brainstorming session.  What’s the problem?  You.. or them?

    Building a Culture of Problem-Solvers

    You might agree with me or not: Entrepreneurs who are good at problem solving are best equipped in solving their customers’ pain points effectively.  In the era of rapid changes, creating an innovative culture is not a choice; it is a MUST if you want your business to thrive longer.  How can you adjust your expectations so you can motivate your people to take more risks.. with minimal damage?  How can you reposition your company in your industry?  The answer is simple: Stop Micromanaging.  Treat each team player as a decision maker and give them the tools to solve real problems. Get everyone involved in the planning process and you’d be amazed, after all these years, at all those awesome ideas shared and people are super-excited to add value to the table. It worked for me which I’m totally grateful for…and I’d say that passion trumps experience all the time.

    What are you waiting for then?  You won’t know unless you try…

     

     

  3. Strategic Thinkers: Born or Made?

    "strategic thinking"Not all leaders are created equal. We all agree on that.  Would it be right to say that strategic thinkers have the makings of a great leader?  The topic has been hotly debated for years and there are many studies that beg to differ between those who are born with the gift vs. those who are shaped by daily experiences.  When strategic thinking becomes an essential recipe in an organization’s sustainable success, having someone who can add the highest impact to the business is becoming a rat race.  Just because someone is successful in running functional roles doesn’t ensure that s/he has the makings of a strategic leader.  Who can create that ultimate plan to turn ideas into reality and drive real change that will grow your business?  This remains to be answered..

    Thinking Outside Multiple Boxes

    Or, thousands of them.  In today’s ever-shifting business environment, those who can think and act strategically are worth their weight in gold.  I’m pretty sure that at some point, every company has a need for strategic leaders – and it’s always an urgent job vacancy that remains unfilled for many.  Innovation is quite overrated these days that you have to really understand just what makes leaders strategic and what are they supposed to do in your organization.  Is strategic thinking simply a mindset, or a set of specialized skills?  How can you even encouraged strategic thinking when immediate actions are often rewarded over long-term idea generation and planning?  These are just a few questions to consider.

    The Leadership Mystery We Fail to Solve

    Despite numerous attempts to define leadership at its finest, there’s still a grey line somewhere on what makes a true, great leader.  Opinions vary and theories are many when it comes to the nature of leadership.  Is it more than just the art of dealing with people and having a vision?  There are lots of right opportunities to develop people into highly effective leaders; they don’t simply sprout like some micro-organism in a Petri Dish.  Perhaps, they may be born with the gift, but those with the right type of training, tools and experiences have an increased ability in strategic thinking.  Developing an exceptional leader is not some secret craft made only for the elite few – if management will reward people for thinking and keeping them updated with what’s really happening.  Communication and transparency are not really a mystery after all.

    What Makes a Good Strategic Thinker?

    It’s a tough job; make no mistake about it. To sum it up, strategic leaders are those who:

    •    Think Clearly and Act Quickly when issues and opportunities arise
    •    Deliver Value to the Business
    •    See the Organization’s Vision in a bird’s eye view and anticipate beyond what’s directly ahead
    •    Questions everything without fear
    •    Love to explore new products, services and markets
    •    Proactively find ways in achieving complex goals
    •    Test assumptions and integrate multiple sources to come up with a well-informed, sound and smart decision
    •    Build Passion, Drive and Inspiration among the team
    •    Embrace Change with open arms
    •    See Failure as a journey; not a destination

    Obviously, no one person is born with all these skills and learning it can be daunting.  In large organizations, there may be one or more strategic leaders who complement each other as they work towards a common goal.  Now, I’d like to leave you with one question:

    Do You Have What It Takes?

     

  4. To Automate or To Outsource?

    "it outsourcing threat"To outsource or cloud-source?  That is not the question we’ve asked a decade back.  But with the rise of cloud computing comes automated tools that offer the same solutions – minus the complexity and higher cost that IT outsourcing offers.  The perfect mix of simplified applications and processes, coupled with working on a tight budget, may put a dent on IT outsourcing’s universe as we know it.  When businesses are signing more deals with vendors for less than what the contract is valued for, you start to wonder if outsourcing can survive amidst all these dynamic changes and disruption brought about by the cloud.

    Fear the Rise of the Machines

    I’ve been asked one time by this small business owner why he should outsource data mining tasks when he can use an intelligent web scraping tool that does the same job – for less. Besides, the pay-as-you go model costs way cheaper than the hourly rate of an outsourced data miner. Truth is, even those third party vendors are consumers of cloud services and it’s a no-brainer that you can also learn how to use these tools yourself.  When the cost of labor rises each year, enterprises are forced to look for integrated solutions that offer convenience, flexibility and security. Some may argue that outsourcing may cost more in terms of investment and the headaches that come with it may not be well worth it.  When more businesses are going global, it’s only smart to find the balance between the best talents and cost-effective technology around.

    Winning in the World of Agile Outsourcing

    If you’ve been in the outsourcing industry for quite some time, you know that challenges abound – from management, compliance to something as mediocre as time zone differences.  Now, those running a BPO need not to panic as cloud adoption is not yet that ripe to affect the business model in a huge scale.  Yes, the threat is there especially when cloud adoption is disrupting the sourcing marketplace.  Sure, there will be negative and positive consequences to watch for.  Those who are looking at the cloud for some leverage may be doing so because this is closer to the business – which means not having to oversee teams in multiple locations, not to mention having to deal with cultural and language barriers.  Would you say that everyone wants instant gratification these days?  There’s just this grey line between automation and outsourcing I can’t define, for argument’s sake.

    Are You Ready for a Hybrid IT Outsourcing Model?

    No doubt that we will see more companies looking for smaller, affordable deals that pack a punch.  Last time, I told you that 2014 will be the year of the Hybrids.  If IT service providers want to profit and compete, they have to look for ways to use automation to their end and bank on their customer satisfaction guarantee to ensure that clients will be loyal to their business.  Besides, these customers are smarter; they’ve realized that outsourcing is full of empty promises and they might be better off doing the jobs themselves (or, with the help of these new tools).  Outsourcing vendors need to step it up a notch and find new ways of differentiating themselves in a saturated marketplace.

    It will all come down to value-added services that offer real solutions to business problems; not just  a band aid fix.  On a lighter note, people are good at adapting to radical change so they may just find new jobs managing these machines.  Now, that’s ironic.

     

     

  5. Chief Innovation Officer: The New CIO

    "chief innovation officer"Chief Innovation Officer… you probably haven’t heard of this new job title.  You might be wondering if this is just another hype as companies desperately search for the ultimate alchemist that will bring about change, for the better.  The business realm is under a major transformation and stakeholders are taking a qualitative approach this 2014.  For this reason, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) no longer holds a limited function as technology-enabled innovation proliferate in the enterprise.  There is a need for new leadership in the corporate world as the C-suite struggles to find balance and sustain growth for their products and services in a dynamic, competitive market.

    Should You Hire a Chief Innovation officer?

    Call them the new ‘CIO’ or ‘CINO’ – this new breed of consultants are catalysts of change who have developed a well-rounded set of technical expertise, business cunning, excellent leadership and people skills all-rolled-into-one.  They are not merely growth hackers predicting the path to business success, but they are also stewards mentoring every business unit to make sure that the plan is implemented accordingly.  If you’re asking whether you should hire a CIO for your organization or not, you must be asking yourself how to find one instead.  The ability to continuously improve and innovate faster has never been easy.  Finding someone who can deliver impact to your business is like searching for the rarest of gems. You’ll need all the luck!

    Innovation’s Best-Kept Secrets

    Think of your Chief Innovation Officer as the final block to complete the 3D puzzle.  Just type the word ‘innovation’ on search engines and you’ll see lots of resources on ways to innovate.  Sometimes, you have to look beyond the usual way of things if you really want real change.  Thanks to technology, hiring someone outside your own comfort zone adds diversity to the organization.  Bringing in people from different culture and experiences may just open your mind to what you’ve been missing in the way you do business with your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, ‘Put a Dent in the Universe’.. and that may literally translate to having someone who may be the exact polar opposite of people working in your office.  Radical? Yes. Sometimes, you have to rock the boat a little, shift the balance of power to get from points A to B – faster.

    What Questions You Should Be Asking Instead

    As I mentioned from my last post that this year will be exciting as hybrid talents are on the rise, as the key decision maker, you should ask:

    •    How can I gain a sustained competitive advantage in a saturated market?
    •    Who can I trust to implement a successful innovation strategy from ground-level..up?
    •    Who are insatiably passionate about what they do and are willing to push the limits to explore new ideas?
    •    Who can collaborate with different departments and act as an ambassador of idea generation?
    •    Who can successfully pilot your innovation road map to align with your business goals?
    •    Who is realistic enough to allow room for growth while minimizing risks that come with failure?

    Probably by now, you have the answer to this question which can only be summed up by a talented CINO.  The business world is facing major changes and the only way to become a game changer is to be as creative, as fearless and as realistic.  You’ve got to be unconventional this time or you may simply bring in someone who will relentlessly focus on how to grow your business for the long run.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

     

     

  6. Hybrids are Coming!

    "hybrid IT"‘No man is an island..’ and what better place can this apply but in an organization’s IT department.  This time, they’re no longer isolated in some secret room as they run servers and develop software.  Thanks to technology that has been rapidly shaping the IT landscape for the last few years, 2014 gives rise to a new breed of indispensable talents we call: The Hybrids.  They are the new breed that come across various disciplines – from Business, People Management, Accounting, Finance to IT all blended into one. The walls of the structured roles are being demolished with new job titles that bring value to the business, plain and simple… and only those who master the craft become true winners in a world demanding for specialized excellence.

    Working in a Multi-Dimensional Zone

    If finding the right IT skills for the job was that easy, we wouldn’t have headaches right now.  It is not new to us that many tech professionals are still stuck with traditional roles, and they may not have the business and people skills needed to become A-players in the enterprise.  How many developers out there are social-media savvy, cloud-smart and an e-commerce maverick?  A very gifted few, I’d say.  How many more in the IT care about understanding their business goals and its customers?  One may argue that this is like becoming a Jack-of-all-trades which may devalue their worth in the jobs market. On the contrary, it’s all about making yourself more valuable in the eyes of the employer with a few expertise that will help their business stay competitive – even if there are cheaper alternatives.  It’s about custom-fit skills made for specific needs.

    Hybrid IT Roles Will Become Mainstream

    IT has morphed beyond recognition and with new technology comes new shoes to fill in.  We may see a growth in demand for enterprise architects who know how to integrate cloud computing with existing systems too.  Sustainability and scalability are crucial when companies are adopting cloud models in their business. There is also a demand for business analysts who have a few data scientist skills so s/he can look deeper into all those numbers and come up with an intelligence that will drive more sales.  Then, large organizations may be looking for those IT folks with social skills to help make security and compliance policies easily understood from bottom-up.  Of course, software developers shouldn’t just code, but they should understand customer experience when someone navigates a website… and many more, I guess.  Everything’s integrated.

    Connecting in a Hybrid World of Hybrid Skills

    It sounds funny if we say that IT skills are mutating and we may just label ourselves as mutants in the job marketplace.  Turns out that technology is also undergoing some supercharged metamorphosis – from open hybrid cloud models to enterprise computing.  There’s just this need to have a centralized approach where IT governance is concerned. Everyone wants to control big data with cost-effective cloud components and there’s a gold mine of opportunity here.  While many are debating who owns the cloud in the Amazon developer’s jungle, take note that in order to succeed these days – you may just have to create a demand.  Manipulative?  Maybe.  For the same reason that I’ve asked you from my last post if you can create value through innovation, this time, let’s make a swap and ask ourselves on how we can create innovation through solutions that provide real value to the business.

    Did you know that 90 percent of data online is unstructured? Now, that’s a cue for you to come up with ways of filtering the signal from all these noise.  Good Luck!

     

     

  7. How Can You Create Value Through Innovation?

    "creating value"Welcome to the Age of the Customer.  This year, businesses will be called to explain that unique value they create.  It’s not enough to say you have a good product or service. You need to get rid of that box and think of all those missed opportunities that you had when your customers choose your competitor over you.  This time, you have to get into the nook and cranny of your business strategy so you can create that unique value, no-frills.  When demanding customers want more, you have to think of new ways of creating value on the digital plane.  Are you ready to engage your customers with authentic experiences and innovation across online and physical touch points?

    Revamping Your Business Model

    I would lie if I tell you that innovating your products and processes is easy.  In fact, it is expensive and time-consuming in most parts. Coupled with a certain level of uncertainty on growing your profit and adopting change, I can’t blame companies why they would put a lid to innovation before it even begins.  If you take the time to look at your Point of Difference, or what makes your product/service quality different from the rest – you would have found your master key that will unlock the elusive door of success in your marketing and sales strategies.  It’s not enough to simply make a list of the benefits your business has to offer, but you should find new areas where your competition does not act.

    Are You Ready to Compete on User Experience?

    I’d like to throw this question your way.  It’s not new to you that more companies out there are using digital marketing to reach their customers and build relationships with them.  Problem is that it’s getting tougher to get your message out there in the tidal wave of information. Digitally-savvy customers are harder to engage this time, even with all the deals and freebies that you can find to lure them to your site. You’ve got to be credible, authentic and transparent to gain their trust. You have to find more ways of making them feel part of your brand; not just mere observers.  You have to put yourself in their shoes and think of what they value the most.

    Change is Good

    When the bar is set higher, how you do business is more important than what you do.  Your customers carry an invisible score card each time they interact with your brand. For this reason, I have created Simple Pay Finance to address the pain points of many in the dental profession who is suffering the ‘Empty Dental Chair Syndrome’.  To sum it up, I’m bridging the gap between dentists and their patients through hassle-free financing.  We get more patients in the door and give patients the friendly support they need.  Everybody’s happy then which makes for a win-win case.  Moral of the story is: Take some time to think of how you can solve your customers (and even their customers’) problems and make solving it a breeze.

    You’ve got technology at your disposal and the possibilities are endless!

    **We’ll be at the 2014 RMDC (Rocky Mountain Dental Convention) this January 23rd…  Do drop by to say hello and double your chance of winning a MacBook Air HERE