Seventhman Blog

  1. Are You Ready to Disrupt… Disruption?

    "disruptive innovation"If you recall, I’ve blogged about ‘Disruptive Innovation‘ last July.  This catchphrase is getting more popular as time passes by that I have to stop and wonder if this is just another hype in the making.  Everyone seems to be wanting a fresh perspective and feels confident enough to say that they want to disrupt.  Still, I believe that true innovation requires more than having great ideas, which are a dime a dozen.  Innovation requires knowledge.  It doesn’t matter where you get those crucial insights, from within your organization or from outside consultants.  That person may have the freshest idea in the room but if this is not realistic and workable, it’s just another smart suggestion.  To succeed as an innovator, you must mix expertise with experience.

    Disruptive Innovation: Another Meaningless Buzzword?

    Dan Rowinski wrote about How Researchers Map the Future of Innovation, and his insights got me intrigued that I’ve asked him a question. Is it by coincidence that the word ‘Disruptive’ is also tagged as “MoonShots”?  It’s just a shame that Disruptive Innovation is fast-becoming another industry buzzword void of any real meaning.  It suddenly compels entrepreneurs to think of something so different (sometimes bizarre) and unrealistic or else, they may feel like a big failure.. of not being disruptive enough.  Here comes the innovator’s dilemma then, that in search of the next big thing, you fail to address the most basic issue of all which has the highest chance of making a difference in the lives of your customers.  Consequently, it’s not surprising why customer experience is still a hit-or-miss deal with many businesses, big or small.

    Exploring the Myth of Disruptive Innovation

    If I were to thoroughly discuss this in bits and tiny details, I would have written a book about it instead.  I don’t have that luxury of time.  Back to the topic, we haven’t even defined what real innovation means and we’re already wanting to disrupt it.  We even see many who are calling themselves as disruptor and I don’t have the right to question this.  How many times have we read people writing about the end of technology A-Z and predicting that this will happen with the help of something disruptive?  A lot.  Are major brands like Apple, Google and Microsoft simply lucky by coming up with new products that are deemed disruptive? I bet it took them lots of research and testing before coming up with ways of changing things for the better; it simply didn’t happen out of thin air.

    There’s More to Innovation than Disruption

    No offense to Clayton Christensen, this Harvard business expert who coined in this popular term.  I just believe that there’s more to innovation than having a wonderful set of theories to begin with.  Surely, the seduction of becoming a disruptive innovator is great as it comes with fortune and fame.  The challenge now is how you can keep both your feet on the ground while your mind floats in the cloud of countless possibilities.  Sometimes, it’s good to ask your customers for their insights as they may hold that big secret you may be missing.  No matter, it will all come down to solving real problems and making things better for everyone.  That’s when you disrupt what’s broken and help everyone adapt to change.. for the greater good.  Would you agree?

     

     

     

  2. The Rise of the Digital Marketer

    "digital marketing trend"Digital marketers are on the rise and many companies are hiring one to be called innovative these days.  You may probably be wondering if this is another buzz word where social media and mobility comes into play.  Thanks to data analytics and new platforms, it is now easier for marketers to reach more audience as they measure the effectiveness of their campaigns to the last number.  But in doing so, one can only wonder if all those big data crunched into quantifiable results can cost marketing professionals the creativity to think spontaneously outside the box.

    Stepping Out of the Siloes

    Is it about time for the C-Suite to step away from the traditional way their marketing is run and shift to the digital space?  When the boundary between marketing and IT diminishes, decision makers must think of ways on how the two can work seamlessly together to help achieve business goals.  If you’re clueless about digital marketing, think of it as a marriage between technology and marketing. For the same reason that we see the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist in organizations, businesses must be ready to adapt a hybrid role.  One can’t simply focus on IT alone without touching the marketing side of things.  Problem is that not everyone can fill in hybrid roles as it’s tough to find someone who is part-data scientist who can interpret data analytics and part-artist who can come up with creative campaigns.

    Getting Lost in the Digital Wild West

    Do you trust anyone who can offer you the answer to your business needs?  One of the greatest sins every business owner is guilty of is treating marketing as some kind of magic pill that will resolve everything.  You may think that ‘digital marketing’ went up a notch, but it actually isn’t.  The term may sound new, like music to your ears.  Know that there’s no international standards yet in this field.  With too much data for analysis, there are multiple ways to come up with strategies on how to connect with leads.  At the heart of every business is communications and no matter how relatively new digital marketers are to the field, delivering a great customer experience is something that you can’t automate with all the tools and dashboards on the Web.

    Are You Ready to Embrace Digital Marketing?

    You must clearly identify your purpose as to why you want a change in the way you market your brand – online, offline or both.  You don’t simply collect content creators, curators, social media marketers, etc. and hope that everything will fall into place.  That system is bound to fail.  Then, there are terms you need to comply with – from search engines to social networking sites.  If you’re not prepared, you may put your brand value at risk instead.  How do you even know that a digital marketer will help you spread the word about your brand online?  It might surprise you that according to the study: Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?, 66% of marketers feel digital is critical to their company’s success and yet, less than half feel highly proficient in digital marketing.  Shocking?  Only 9% of marketers are confident enough to say that what they’re doing works.

    The Moral of this Story:  We are living in a data-driven age and companies now have the luxury of getting their hands on customer information.  Digital marketing may just help you make informed decisions in which platforms to use so you can reach the right audience with your marketing message… at the right time.  That needs work and there are just no shortcuts.

     

     

     

  3. IT, Project Management and The Impossible Dream

    "project management"Is there such a thing as a perfect project management method?  As businesses are struggling to implement Agile with all the rapid iteration in the hope of coming up with something innovative, the pressure is on.  We’re currently in the last quarter of the year and one can only look back to January to see if you’ve got more items ticked on your wish list.  From status reporting, budgeting, managing teams to numerous technology that allows you to do all these in a breeze, surely, there’s one (or more) things you would like to wish for this coming 2014?

    An IT Project Manager’s Wish List

    You might wonder why I’m writing about this too early when we are a few months’ away from the coming of the new year.  The thing is, there’s never such a thing as ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ if you want to implement real change, right now.  I believe that most of you can relate to one or more of the items here:

    Wish #1 Managing the Right Team

    While every project manager wishes for the best team, it is only the best project managers who can bring out the best in each person (no matter how hopeless).  Would you agree?

    Wish #2 Getting More Involved

    For those of you who are working with big organizations, being included in key management decisions is an ultimate dream.  It would feel so much better when the right expectations are set because IT is not some magic pill that will solve every issue in the business.

    Wish #3 Clarity

    In line with the item above, if there’s strong leadership support, it’s easier to manage stakeholders.  Having a clear objective and clearly communicating it can help avoid delays, slipups and all the ugly situations in between.

    Wish #4 User-Friendly Project Management and Collaboration Tools

    While the internet is rich with tools to get things done, finding something simple for everyone on the team to use is just a minor challenge; getting everyone to accept the idea of using it is another.

    Wish #5  Earning Trust and Respect

    Project management is about respecting, empowering and entrusting your team.  It’s seldom that project managers get to earn their team’s respect especially in running a diverse team of skills, personalities and dreams.  Only a few has conquered the unimaginable..

    And wouldn’t any IT project manager want issues to be resolved by themselves, that resources can be put on auto-mode to keep everyone productive, and that clients won’t make any request for changes?  Now, these are wishful thinking.

    In reality, project management is not for project managers alone and there will always be unique challenges to face.  One thing’s for sure though: Technology speeds up the way we work and communicate, helping us make better and informed decisions.

    Is there a wish you have right now where managing your IT project is concerned?  I am no genie, but my experience allows me to guide you in the right direction.  How Can I Help?

     

     

     

  4. Can IT and Business Bury the Hatchet?

    "IT Friction"Can we all just get along?  Sometimes, you can’t help asking this question where it concerns the IT department and the rest of the business.  Whether it’s an issue of mistrust, communication or mindboggling bugs – business owners are simply lost as to how to deal with the issue.  This gap is a major money drain that adds to loss in productivity in the workplace.  When things get awry, end users of technology used in the company hate calling their help desk.  In fact, that’s the last thing they want to do.  Does it have something to do with the IT stereotype, of introverted technophiles working in secret?  Is it a culture clash that makes charismatic business leaders steer clear of IT?  Whatever the answer is, there’s only one truth here: There is a huge gap.

    Going Back to Where It All Started

    Last May, I shared with you my insights on the three inconvenient truths about IT and business. Let’s dig in deeper this time.  No matter how modern a company’s business is, how well-supported it is with new technologies and trends like the  BYOD (bring-your-own-device) movement, the expectations between IT and business is a major mismatch contributing to the friction that’s getting bigger each day. According to a study made by Forrester (commissioned by BMC) in December 2012 – there are significant gaps in customer experience.  Business users of all types are  solving things on their own or getting it elsewhere, even when they reached out to IT for help.  We all know that user satisfaction is important in business.  The thing is that even when IT asks for ways to improve with their surveys, little to no action is done to make things work.

    Inspiring a Culture of Change

    Do you think that the old system is to blame?  In the beginning, businesses were totally dependent on IT no matter how limited the technology is.  Then came the internet and tools on how to make things faster at a lower cost.  Business leaders are simply taking things on their own because their needs weren’t met when they started working with IT.  Not all users have the same demands and expectations so understanding the culture of each user is a must.  Gone were the days when the service desk is just a point of contact.  They have to be trained to excel in customer service.  If the IT management will be more accountable on each solution they provide, they may even automate certain processes within the business to help regain loss in productivity.  Everybody wins then…

    IT Problems Don’t Have to Cost Your Business Big Bucks

    The real trouble kicks in when you’re dealing with numbers.  Let’s say company X employs thousands.  Majority of their requests go to the help desk – whether they are working at the office, semi-mobile or 100% mobile.  When users can’t work because of IT issues, they lose valuable time.  Frustrations can pile up.  While automation has helped counter this,  together with implementing user-friendly support (tutorials, remote help, live chats, blogs, forums) – only through proactive and timely communication will the gap heal in time.  Having a Plan B when things go wrong can help too, so long as there is a real commitment to continuously improve existing technologies and system with one end in mind: Positive Impact to Business.

    How can you innovate IT? Start with common sense, like keeping things simple.  It can go a long way, would you agree?

     

     

     

  5. SaaS: Innovative Solution or Inevitable Trap?

    "saas"You probably have encountered the term SaaS and wondered what exactly it is.  Short for ‘Software as a Service’ – this is a model in which an application is managed by a certain provider, paid for on subscription basis and accessed by users over the internet.  In fact, you might have been using it right now without ever knowing that you’re one of the many who have driven the growth of Saas.  There’s your popular iTunes, iCloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft to start with.  There are many more notable service providers on the list.  Sometimes, these are referred to as ‘on-demand’ software that you can use for business or leisure (or both).  In the end, it’s all about convenience, customization, flexibility, collaboration and accessibility that turned SaaS applications into an integral part of how we do computing these days.

    The Pros and Cons of the SaaS Model

    For businesses, the major benefit is the cost savings of a subscription model vs. the large expense they will incur just to run and maintain an on-premise IT infrastructure.  With the cloud comes a whole new world of possibilities, especially when you need to scale bigger, implement faster and run your business 24/7.  Trouble is, along with these benefits come the risks.  There have been talks lately on data security breach and government access to your private data which may adversely affect cloud providers in the U.S.  Despite all the best packages around, system outages do happen and the last thing you want is a downtime.  With the rise of many startups in the SaaS scene, the worst case is not having an exit strategy when that provider goes out of business.

    SaaS: The Beginning of an End?

    It is quite mind-boggling to learn that something this forward is getting a nasty bite where revenue is concerned.  Just read this blog recently and the first few lines got me hooked: “Marketo filed for IPO with impressive 80 percent year-over-year growth in 2012, with almost $60m in revenue. Except, they lost $35m…”  There’s something wrong in this picture.  One reason I can think of for this major loss are serial switchers, those who will jump from one vendor to another because there are simply too many right now and most are offering freebies.  Why would you upgrade to a paid account when you can get something this good.. for free?

    When the Software Landscape Looks Greener for Small Businesses  

    Opinions are split though when it comes to the future of SaaS.  There are those who say that this model is ready to take off.  There is a push towards a single-sign up for multiple applications and more businesses are shifting from paper trail to going digital this time.  Who wouldn’t want to work on something that delivers functionality without having to do patches and updates themselves?  This may be great news for small businesses who, years ago, don’t have access to world class software.  Now, they can compete with  big brands on a fair game.

    Wouldn’t it be right to say that SaaS is the greatest equalizer of them all?  No matter who you are, you now have a cloud of opportunity waiting to be explored, thanks to powerful and affordable software solutions out there.

     

     

     

  6. The Future of Mobile Productivity Software

    "mobile software"If you’ve been reading my blog in the last few months, you will notice that I’m focusing on mobility in an age where people and businesses are redefining the way they work.  This is the BYOD age,  where people access important applications from multiple devices to make work and collaboration efficient.  Mobile computing is as real as the air you breathe and a new era of productivity software is here.  Those who understand this perfectly will get ahead of the game where new devices and tools are concerned.

    Business Tools Meet Personalization

    Microsoft Office may have been our top business tool for years as we work on our personal computers.  But with over a billion smartphone users in the world comes new ways of creating value where productivity is concerned.  The success of these popular apps, like Dropbox and Evernote, didn’t happen out of the blue.  There is a huge demand for mobilizing applications as people work-on-the-go.  If everyone is going mobile these days, wouldn’t you want to leap forward and stay competitive in a fast-paced market?  Whether you are an enthusiast or an entrepreneur looking for smart ways to build a new and better product, it will all boil down to one question: How can you make people’s lives.. easier?

    Mobile Productivity: A Call to Innovate

    I’m not sure if I will agree with those who are tagging this as the new golden age of productivity software.  Truth is, these tools are far from perfect and there are plenty of room for improvement.  There are lots of opportunities where data collection, data management, scheduling, technical, and communications are concerned.  The challenge is how to maximize cloud computing, networks and create a seamless integration between mobile devices and businesses.  I guess, here’s where companies and customers are both learning from each other.  Then, there are highly technical apps like AutoCad for the iPad… and who are using this, seriously?  Would you feel comfortable living in a high rise designed on a free iTunes app?

    The Future of Productivity and Mobile Apps

    I haven’t encountered a study that shows how people are using productivity tools on their smartphones.  What is the percentage of people who are making use of it effectively?  No matter how well-designed the software is, there are those who may find it more efficient to work on desktop (or even on paper).  Clicking on a mouse and typing on a keyboard is way faster than zooming on your screen with a touch and slide of your finger.  It would take you longer to reply to your email on an iPhone.  I guess, we all have our own ways of using mobile devices and as new models come out of the market, the invitation to get creative and innovate is so big that many are simply missing out on it.  Just take a look on my previous posts on Responsive Design and how only a few have taken that bold move.

    Are you ready to break free from the outdated way of things then… to come up or embrace a productivity breakthrough?  The future depends on your answer, today.

     

    ** Happy 4th of July to my readers, acquaintances and friends in the U.S.

     

     

     

  7. Three Inconvenient Truths About IT and Business

    "it business challenge"If there’s one thing we have learned throughout these years, it’s this:  Business is no longer confined to a single territory.  Thanks to robust applications and new technology, growing your very own business these days is less costly and a tad simpler.  To be a leader in your niche is something that many of us are still trying to figure out and together with the digital revolution comes the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle… and most of us are no closer to solving the pieces that will determine our very own success.  What went wrong?

    Exploring the Nemesis Within

    To quote from this lively discussion in Linkedin, it’s mentioned that ‘25% of businesses fail within their first year and an astonishing 70% of businesses fail within ten years…’ Perhaps, if we can explore the truth behind this statement, then, we may be able to come up with realistic solutions that will address which factors will lead to our business success or failure.  I would like to start off with these issues as seen from the eyes of a software developer and an entrepreneur:

    Three Inconvenient Truths that IT and Business Leaders Need to Face

    Truth #1  You’re Not Looking in the Right Place

    An idea, no matter how brilliant, is useless unless it is turned into a working model.  Problem is, we have always asked ourselves why we haven’t thought of that.. as we read news about this new product that became a huge, overnight success.  If you have asked the geniuses behind these wonders, they will tell you that they have never thought of making a profit firsthand.. instead, they wanted to solve this problem they have in their own life.  That’s just half of the equation though.  The other half is being open to change.  Your love for your idea may keep you blinded from better opportunities out there.

    Truth #2  Invasion of Privacy

    With the convergence of cloud, social and mobile comes a new era where companies are starting to breathe life into their social business.  While there are many benefits to be had when you connect with customers in new ways, the price gets higher this time as companies follow closely the online activities of their target market so they can up their chances of selling something, with the hopes that there will be less room to say no to that offer.  In a perfect world, IT objectives support business goals.  But with this new threat to data security, the risk is simply higher.  Improving IT compliance can be a long and windy road to take, and minimizing risk is all but a perception.

    Truth #3  Do we really need data scientists?

    With all the buzz that big data is creating, most of us are lost on whether we should base our every business decision from data analytics alone.  For the reason that you can’t improve what you can’t measure, we swim deeper into the murky pool of tools in our hunt for the next business intelligence which will help us gain our competitive edge.  In the process of doing so, creativity-driven decisions are set aside and businesses start to lose sight of the real context of what they see in their enterprise data.  As sheer volume of data is collected, you forgot to ask better questions on how to improve your business.

    I believe that when we start to address these inconvenient truths, then that’s the time that we can really create the most productive approach in handling business and IT issues altogether.

    …and the devil is in the details?