Seventhman Blog

  1. Why Should Businesses Focus on Digital Influence?

    "digital social influence"Any business leader knows that the paradigm shift in technology has a tremendous effect on how consumers behave.  In the digital landscape, word of mouth is a powerful tool and what social media gurus won’t tell you is that social media marketing is not really about marketing – but a mirror for you to see what your customers expect and think of your brand.  Perhaps, embracing new technologies is not really the key, but differentiating your brand’s reach.. versus the influence it yields on your existing and potential customers.  Corporate branding is not a luxury and to reach smart, connected customers takes a bit of a cunning  and dedication to the cause.

    Social Influence: An Untapped Resource

    Everyone is connected these days.  People find and share information more than ever and you can reach them in various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin, You Tube… Being connected online has become our digital lifestyle.  Those who went beyond reaching their target market as a whole and applied customer-centric strategies have earned the loyalty and recognition for their brands.  There are plenty of tools that help you learn about your reach, influence and these scores are based on certain criteria like your popularity, authority and so on.  Examples of these are Klout, Peer Index, Social Mention ( and there are plenty more ).  What’s intriguing is that most businesses focus on score alone when digital influence is more than just that.  If that were not the case, why are they still struggling with getting the word out about their brands?

    Digital Influence:  The Key to Customer Engagement

    Reach is all about measuring the number of people who have liked, shared, retweeted your message.  But to get them to respond to your call-to-action is a tricky business.  This differentiates ‘broadcasters’ from ‘influencers’ and the latter is what you want to become.  Influencing people and businesses of various demographics can simply start with walking in their shoes.  You have to do your market research; not guesswork.  You have to understand how your product or service solves their problems, how they search for solutions on the Web and how they share their experiences with their peers.  Some experts call it the dawn of digital Darwinism.  What’s great is that you don’t have to be big to compete these days; you just have to focus on how to influence your customers’ behavior and interpret your score with your business goals in mind.

    Influence Marketing, Maximum Reach and ROI

    Wikipedia defined Influencer Marketing as a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals, rather than the target market as a whole.  These influencers have been early adopters of social media and they have a huge number of networks, this is why it makes perfect sense to influence them first.  This doesn’t mean just targeting big names, but small to mid-size influencers who may be in the same niche as yours or whose connections qualify as your target market.  But understand this, you can’t base your marketing alone on scores or a few replies to popular posts; you have to build relationship and trust.. because influence is all about the art of persuading someone to accept and buy the idea of your credibility and authority.  Getting like-minded folks through meaningful interactions is just the beginning, of converting an observer into a customer.. and into a believer.

    Is your brand message relevant enough to resonate with your target market? Think about it.

  2. Innovation: Managing Risks and Portfolios Explained

    "managing innovation"Everyone in business knows that exploiting new technologies in search of the holy grail of innovation is crucial in the goal of gaining optimal returns, while choosing the right levels of risks and managers to work on the project.  Without proper systems in place, it’s not possible for R&D to flourish and as such, a certain process is in place to help everyone understand on how to work as one team for the goal.  Yes, the Web provides businesses these days with easy access to gather ideas and yet, when was the last time that you really took a dive into your customers’ feedback? How about those of your employees?

    Ideas Incubator: Addressing the Real Issue

    What you conceptualize today will dictate the marketing profile of your company tomorrow.  You may have a Lean Canvas to make this planning stage much faster and yet,  optimizing your product research and development will mean higher chances for you to win in the battle of creating something new.  Just how do you do this?  There are many ways, but these answers are not that simple.  The challenge to create and maintain cutting-edge products or services is something dynamic and will need to undergo careful evaluation and selection.  Along the way, you may find yourself going over your drawing board and start again from scratch.. when you’re in the middle of accomplishing plan A.  The most crucial of them all is the ‘Go-Kill syndrome’ – Do you go for the concept or kill it when you’re in the mid-stage process?

    The Underlying Principle Behind Managing Innovation Portfolios

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years in business, it comes down to this:  With innovation comes risks.  You can succeed or fail and sometimes, it can be both.  It’s like working on a science project and the degrees of success or failure will help create the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  In a market that changes in a blink of an eye, it only makes sense to assign various portfolios for every type of innovation, business models or new ventures… and a mother portfolio to manage them all.  This can be done by tracking your prototypes through a database system, like an idea factory, and assigning someone to manage it.  Without this management, you may end up with too many projects, which may not even be the right ones to start with.  Or, it can take too long for your concept to get in the market and when they do, it has low value or worse, your competitors beat you to it.  The last thing you want is to have your resources spread too thin.

    The Anatomy of a Well-Balanced Portfolio

    It is only normal to fail in your efforts.  The key here is to fail fast so you can learn faster and apply what you’ve learned to perfecting that innovative product.  Therefore, striking a healthy balance between success and failure rate is necessary.  Managing your innovation portfolio is all about doing the right projects that will produce the biggest impact to your business, in terms of ROI ( return on investment ).  You have to communicate this value to your executive team, those who participate in the R&D process, so that you can balance how they will do the job and how they will contribute to the goal.  You can have everyone vote on an idea or ask people to rank ideas.  Refining these ideas is not an easy task and as everyone is engaged, your team will become better at identifying and working on projects with the most potential.

    Innovation… is a work in progress and optimizing what you’ve learned is just the start.  How do you value your innovation efforts and communicate it to your organization?

  3. What Does Customer Centricity Really Mean to Your Business?

    "customer centricity"It was my first time participating in #LeadershipChat last March 13th, where I had the pleasure of learning from @BobBurg and other brilliant folks there.  The topic of customer centricity made me want to dig deeper in the agenda of creating a positive customer experience at point-of-sale and post-sale transactions.  Is it all  about adding value to your company… by being a go-giver in this go-karma economy?  Last time, I’ve pondered on the subject of going beyond customer satisfaction surveys and now, let’s break into the reality of implementing your customer strategy by taking a risk to do something that have eluded many businesses for years.

    Commodity Hell: The Challenges in Today’s Marketplace

    Why is it hard for many CEO’s to answer a simple question, if their business is customer-centric?  Yes, plenty of organizations do have a customer service department, but it’s more like a ‘set it and forget it’ scenario where business-to-consumer relationship runs on shallow waters ( murky as well ).  Organizations sent out plenty of surveys to get useful data for them to analyze and learn from it, but most often, it doesn’t reveal anything vital about their customers.  It’s a no-brainer that knowledge of your customers means more revenues and still, more evidence is seen each day on how lack of collaboration and siloed information in your internal departments may be the very barrier to achieving a customer-centric brand.  Is it lack of resources to implement a well-rounded program.. or, is it fear of failure?  What’s stopping you?

    Looking Through the Lens: An Outside-In Approach

    Every CEO knows in his/her heart that running a customer-centric business is the key to its success.  The reason that we’re all consumers make up for the validity of this thinking and yet, there seems to be a gap somewhere.  Instead of looking at your business from the inside, try walking in the shoes of your customers and see your brand through their eyes.  In that way, you will understand what real problems they face and how you can come up with the best solutions to help them.  Sometimes, you can’t stop wondering if it’s psychological.. that many executives play it safe by continuing to impose systems that didn’t work, that doesn’t work even now.  Are we making excuses?  In simple words, it’s just doing what you say you will do and as such, bringing value your brand promises and delivering it constantly to your customers.

    When Customer Centricity Means Sustainability

    You know that as new technologies rise, the communication barrier between your business and your customers will cease to exist.  So, what does it really take to make that transition?  In this competitive age, having a consumer-centric business is not a goal; it’s a must – if you want to survive longer.  Creating a culture that puts your customers at the core of every business decision-making can be challenging as you can’t please everybody.  Still, having a holistic approach is the key and by training your employees with the right tools to solve your customers’ issues, and by motivating your team with appreciation of their efforts, you CAN start a domino effect that will build a solid rock for your business to stand on.

    The days of fooling customers to earn profit is over.  They are smarter now.  Are you ready to get real and face this reality?

  4. Embracing the Big Data

    "big data"Big data may not be new, but the buzz about it continues to grow each day.  We have created data so big that we can no longer work with them using traditional database management tools.  Did you know that we make as much as 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day?  By the word itself, data has become this huge that curating and analyzing it is a big challenge… which can become the next ‘big’ thing for companies wanting to capitalize on it.  Big data may be the hottest IT buzzword for 2012, and to find cost effective measures in working with this massive data is something that cloud architectures are targeting.  Now, even startups can rent server time cheaper than ever.

    Big Data: A Needle in a Haystack

    When data becomes too big and too fast for your database architecture, here’s where the problem sets in.  Data comes from almost everywhere like posts in social media sites, online videos, online sales transactions, GPS signals and so on.  The challenge now is how one can control the volume, velocity and variety of data streaming in – so you can gather business intelligence that will be useful to your organization.  These new types of data can definitely help make your business more agile, leading to faster growth and eventually, success.  Data is indeed valuable for analyzing things and to help you create new products.  It can reveal customer insights from various demographics.  Thus, in the end, it helps you gain a competitive advantage.  The only problem is that with size comes clutter.  So, how can you really manage?

    Creating Big Data Initiatives for Business Success

    I have come across a post lately featuring a study on how big data fueled the predictive analytics process on tracking  college students’ retention rate ( and it’s still a work in progress ).  Think of big data as an early warning device which can stop any organization from committing a costly mistake.  Come to think of it, information is the new commodity today and those who have the right info at their hands have the power to control the fate of their business.  The real issue perhaps that we will face is not only the security of maintaining this big data, but in finding the right people who will manage it.  Those who are specially trained for this job will know the value of data when it comes to your business, helping you sift through all the ‘mess’ and gather those data that you really need.  Because only meaningful data can drive business innovation, it is crucial for you to define internally what big data really means.

    Finding New Opportunities in Convergence

    Big data is more than just a thing for the curious; you need to have an entrepreneurial outlook to make it work.  This calls for a strategy, on how you can integrate a plan at every department so everyone can take accountability.  For example, you can work with your key persons to make sure that data is used correctly so it can deliver the best impact for your business.  You need to understand the why of using this data now and in the future, for you to make the right decisions if you’re implementing change in your business.  Of course, there will be issues when it comes to data quality so you need careful planning – from data collection to analysis.

    Big data fuels the heart of continuous improvement in your business, as you learn from the process and feedback from your stakeholders.  Your end goal is to save time and money so you can reach maximum ROI for your business.  Though not every business treats big data the same, the chance of finding practical ways to harness its powers will open a door to possibilities beyond what you can only start to imagine…

    Finding patterns in your data may be the first step.  What’s next?

  5. Can the World Survive without Outsourcing?

    "world without outsourcing"I’ve been asking people lately if they can imagine a world without outsourcing.  It seems that everything can be outsourced these days and thanks to new technologies, we are transcending the barriers of geography to get the best solutions at the right cost.  There are many reasons why companies are into outsourcing and it all comes down to the value it brings to their business. In this era where globalization has brought changes in the way we do business, outsourcing is definitely a plus when it comes to competitive advantage – from manufacturing, service outsourcing, marketing, management, accounting, legal and human resources.  We’ve become accustomed to the practice that I can’t help wondering: Can we survive without outsourcing?

    Surviving the Free-Trade Syndrome

    In this age of uncertainty, endless debates have been spurred and outsourcing has been full of misnomers since.  The issue perhaps is that governments should leave the markets to organizations, instead of making a controversy that can make things worse.  There’s simply no way to reverse the laws of economics and free trade puts everyone on an equal plane to prove their worth in a globally competitive market.  Think of it this way:  The reason businesses are hiring offshore is because of the talent they find there and it goes beyond cost play.  If we look at outsourcing in a different perspective, it’s simply trading services.  In the olden days, they might have referred to this as some form of a barter system that forged ties between nations of various race, age and religion; it helps in overall economic growth.

    Outsourcing: Stealing Jobs from the Middle Class

    And I have to put a big question mark to that!  It’s so easy to point fingers at outsourcing in the name of job creation.  Uncle Sam may have a reasonable cause to stop companies from sending jobs abroad in an effort to protect the interest of its citizens.  Many have even argued that there’s simply no other choice but to outsource overseas to lower costs and remain competitive.  Come to think of it, outsourcing is no different in mass migration to greener pastures.  For the sake of organizational expansion, outsourcing is a strategic business response in a global economy that thirsts for something cheaper, faster and better.  Will hell freeze over if one day, legislations passed a bill that puts a total ban on outsourcing worldwide?  There will be a domino effect.. of catastrophic events. Small to large-scale businesses in the first world may run down and workers in developing nations may have to look for other means of being self-reliant.  If that happens, we’re going back to the dark ages, instead of moving forward.

    Outsourcing and the 21st Century Global Economy

    Like it or not, outsourcing is the new paradigm in the way we do business these days – in the name of efficiency and productivity.  The truth is, there’s simply no ‘out’ or ‘in’ these days because what matters is getting quality work done – wherever that may be.  Perhaps, in the future, we may do away with ‘Made in America’, ‘Made in China’… as everything is made in the world, by the world.  And to answer the very question I’ve asked, I don’t think we can survive without outsourcing.  Besides, it’s simply about where I’m planning to get things done.

    This is the outsourcing evolution.  What’s your stand?

  6. What You Don’t Know About the Global Workforce

    "global workforce"The global workforce is rising and we can’t ignore it this time.  What started as tech startups are now operating online services to countries across the globe.  We hear plenty of businesses join the global market, as they utilize workforce from countries like India, Philippines, Mexico, China and so on.  There have been plenty of predictions written in the outsourcing arena as well and too many success stories to tell.  But little do many know that it all started with a dream… a seed that took plenty of time and money to grow into a global business, thanks to the help of outsourced service providers.

    Let’s take for example the case of  Xoom, a business that provides money transfer service to 30 countries.  If you notice, the industry once dominated by Western Union is now having to compete with businesses online which employ workers offshore to provide customer service on a much more personal and cultural level.  This strategy can also help where customer service is called for.

    Yet, there are those who view this as a monopoly on a global scale – where cost is the main driver to winning the game.  Not everyone has a happy ending to tell and managing a global workforce is a daunting task.  If you want to succeed, you need to have a global mindset that’s open to new ways of thinking and solving problems, no matter where you are located.  It’s all about agility – in talent, management, and culture as each business face this new world where expertise becomes a rarity.  Just how can you set up a business utilizing the best skills at the right cost?

    Having a mix of workers from various backgrounds can become an asset or a challenge.  Just imagine this: By the year 2050, there will be an estimated 1.5 billion people who are 65 years and older.  Demand for labor will increase and the median age as well, as technologies make it easier for people to work anytime, anywhere.  As global networks grow, we will realize that the more diversity we have, the better it will be for us to come up with solutions.  The question now is: Are we ready to learn how to work with people outside our demographics.. so we can bring out the best in everyone?

    Perhaps, we’re one step closer to crushing these road blocks in this age of uncertainty, where we will have to find ways to working around time zones and trust issues – which is the most basic problem of them all.

  7. Top 3 Questions You Have to Ask When Hiring the Best Outsourced Provider

    "hiring outsourced provider"Outsourcing has become a popular trend these days that small, medium and large scale businesses are doing it altogether.  Despite the fact that many have been ranting about the drawbacks of an outsourcing contract, the race is still on to finding the cheaper, faster and better alternative service available on the market.  Just how do you know if your potential outsourced service provider can do the job?  If so, will they do it right?

    The Big Outsourcing Lie:  It’s Simple!

    Just like hiring a new employee, you would not sign the dotted lines without asking a few important questions.  In fact, looking at an outsourced vendor as an extension of your in-house staff will help you approach the situation with much better results.  Outsourcing is never that simple, no matter how others may seem to have that luck in spotting rare talents in exotic locations the world over.  So, what do these businesses know that you don’t?  It starts with just three questions, namely:

    What Makes You a Better Choice?

    Sometimes, the simplest question of them all will help you read between the lines.  Or more precisely, it’s like asking ‘Why you?’ when there are hundreds to thousands of service providers out there.  Watch out for warning signs if they stumble in response, or when you get a long and winding reply which can be summed up in a single sentence.  Those who are confident about the quality of their service will give you no reasons to doubt.

    How Can You Help My Business Achieve ROI?

    The best outsourcing providers will go beyond the usual ‘set it and forget it’ setup, and will want to learn more about your business goals.  They should be able to help you understand how they will work on your project to make sure that quality work is delivered, helping you make more money for your business in return.

    Who Will Respond to My Needs?

    If you’re going to outsource your internal operations to a third party provider, you must at least know what technology is available, in spite of the virtual workplace.  Does the service provider have a physical office?  How will you keep your communication lines open?  It’s important to know what type of support you’ll get and you have to be specific about it.  Do they allow on-site visits if issues arise which can’t be fixed remotely?

    Other than these, you may want to check references – not just the ones your candidates provide.  It’s easier to do a check these days and all you have to do is Google a name.  Having this kind of due diligence will help you in your search for who will really fit in the job requirement, making it easier for you to come up with a better hiring decision.

    And if your outsourcing contract works out well, then stick with it!  As they say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.