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The Relationships Between Collaboration And Mobility

Daniel Newman

There’s no question that businesses are getting more done in this new connected age. With increasing access to information and people, teams can consist of talent sourced from all over the world. But bringing together capable individuals doesn’t guarantee success. For collaboration to work, the right tools need to be adopted and used. Flexibility through mobility and seamless workflow are mandatory for maximizing productivity. Work and communication must transfer smoothly from desktop to tablet to mobile device.

Many companies struggle as much to incorporate new gadgets as they do with the technology itself. Integrating the right tech tools is crucial for success, however. Mobile platforms and cloud file and workspace management software effectively free businesses and their employees from location and/or time constraints.

So how exactly are employees staying in touch? What’s the business’ primary currency? Ideas? Strategy? Sales? Consider the following critical factors before taking your company mobile.

Use your smartphones

Smart devices have raised the expectations of consumers and business leaders. Everything from file sharing to virtual meetings and research can be done from anywhere, on the go. The most-used mobile features for collaboration include email, instant messaging (IM), and web conferencing tools. Team members can receive feedback and updates, and stay in touch through email. IM makes multitasking easier and quicker, and video conferencing allows for full face-to-face communication.

Don’t overlook the pitfalls of wi-fi, though. Investing in cellular-based wireless hotspot devices will broaden employees’ Internet access—and enhance your security—while keeping costs low.

Using the cloud

If a business plans to increase mobility, the cloud is the best option available. It no longer makes sense to go the route of a private infrastructure. The cloud offers in-house services, and many management and security options compatible with tablets, smartphones, and computers. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies offer different products, but all deal with similar functions.
Employees should not be signing onto any old network; rather, they should use cloud-based workspace and file-sharing options. This way, team members can see what other co-workers are working on and exchange ideas fluidly.

Software once designed for consumer purposes is also gaining headway in the business world. For instance, technology such as Google Hangouts (a multi-screen video conferencing program) offers industrial applications. Similar software, such as VMWare Octopus and Microsoft SkyDrive Pro, are following suit.

Using cloud-based telephone systems

Smartphones are still phones, and (believe it or not!) people still make calls. Cloud-based phone systems solve the problem of the limitations posed by multiple numbers. Employees often have office landlines and mobile numbers. Cloud systems allow them to answer office calls and access videoconferencing from cellphones while keeping personal mobile numbers private.

Don’t forget the social aspect

The more mobility incorporated, the more urgent online social features become. When workers don’t share a physical space, elements of human connection get lost. It’s known that the stronger a team’s camaraderie, the more productive the team. Starting online book clubs, fitness groups, and employee chat rooms promotes team bonding. Programs like Sqwiggle allow co-workers to “drop by” and chat with one another.

The rules of employees socializing in the virtual world are the same as the real world. Common interests, as well as shared ideas and principles, unite people. Team building is essential for a strong business core.

Going green

Cloud and web collaboration tools come with an additional benefit: If 40 percent of Americans worked from home only half the time, it would reduce greenhouse emissions by 5 million tons. That’s a pretty astounding number. The environmental advantages of reducing travel and material costs are undeniable—not to mention the money saved by companies. Simply using Google Docs to share all drafts and memos cuts down paper use significantly.

Businesses considering overhead costs should take advantage of mobility and telecommunicating options. Software is available for every aspect of connecting and collaboration. The added benefit to the environment can also be good for morale.

Mobile collaboration tools can enable a workforce to conduct business and share information more efficiently, providing an innovative advantage. Poorly implemented mobility can be a disaster. Preparing a strategy ahead of time is also advised. When tools are implemented correctly, social collaboration can be the difference between growth and stagnation.

 

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The post The Relationships Between Collaboration and Mobility appeared first on Millennial CEO.

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

Innovation Without Boundaries: Why The Cloud Matters

Michael Haws

Is it possible to innovate without boundaries?

Of course – if you are using the cloud. An actual cloud doesn’t have any boundaries. It’s fluid. But more important, it can provide the much-needed precipitation that brings nature to life. So it is with cloud technology – but it’s your ideas that can grow and transform your business.USA --- Clouds, Heaven --- Image by © Ocean/Corbis

Running your business in the cloud is no longer just a consideration during a typical use-case exercise. Business executives are now faced with making decisions on solutions that go beyond previous limitations with cloud computing. Selecting the latest tools to address a business process gap is now less about features and more about functionality.

It doesn’t matter whether your organization is experienced with cloud solutions or new to the concept. Cloud technology is quickly becoming a core part of addressing the needs of a growing business.

5 considerations when planning your journey to the cloud

How can your organization define its successful path to the cloud? Here are five things you should consider when investigating whether a move to the cloud is right for you.

1. Understanding the cloud is great, but putting it into action is another thing.

For most CIOs, putting a cloud strategy on paper is new territory. Cloud computing is taking on new realms: Pure managed services to software-as-a-service (SaaS). Just as legacy computing had different flavors, so does cloud technology.

2. There is more than one way to innovate in the cloud.

Alignment with an open cloud reference architecture can help your CIO deliver on the promises of the cloud while using a stair-step approach to cloud adoption – from on-premise to hybrid to full cloud computing. Some companies find their own path by constantly reevaluating their needs and shifting their focus when necessary – making the move from running a data center to delivering real value to stakeholders, for example.

3. The cloud can help accelerate processes and lower cost.

By recognizing unprecedented growth, your organization can embark on a path to significant transformation that powers greater agility and competitiveness. Choose a solution set that best meets your needs, and implement and support it moving forward. By leveraging the cloud to support the chosen solution, ongoing maintenance, training, and system issues becomes the cloud provider’s responsibility. And for you, this offers the freedom to focus on the core business.

4. You can lock down your infrastructure and ensure more efficient processes.

Do you use a traditional reporting engine against a large relational database to generate a sequential batched report to close your books at quarter’s end? If so, you’re not alone. Sure, a new solution with new technology may be an obvious improvement. But how valuable to your board will you become when you reduce the financial closing process by 1–3 days? That’s the beauty of the cloud: You can accelerate the deployment of your chosen solution and realize ROI quickly – even before the next full reporting period.

5. The cloud opens the door to new opportunity in a secure environment.

For many companies, moving to the cloud may seem impossible due to the time and effort needed to train workers and hire resources with the right skill sets. Plus, if you are a startup in a rural location, it may not be as easy to attract the right talent as it is for your Silicon Valley counterparts. The cloud allows your business to secure your infrastructure as well as recruit and onboard those hard-to-find resources by applying a managed services contract to run your cloud model

The cloud means many things to different people. What’s your path?

With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service, you can navigate the best path to building, running, and operating your own cloud when running critical business processes. Find out how SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud can deliver the speed and resources necessary to quickly validate and realize solid ROI.

Check out the video below or visit us at www.sap.com/services-support/svc/in-memory-computing/hana-consulting/enterprise-cloud-services/index.html.

Connect with us on Twitter: @SAPServices

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Michael Haws

About Michael Haws

Michael Haws is the Vice President of HANA Enterprise Cloud at SAP. His specialties include Enterprise Resource Planning Software & Services, Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore--Application, Infrastructure and Business Process Outsourcing.

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Consumers And Providers: Two Halves Of The Hybrid Cloud Equation

Marty McCormick

Long gone are the days of CIOs and IT managers freely spending money to move their 02 Jun 2012 --- Young creatives having lunch and conversation. --- Image by © Hero/Corbisexisting systems to the cloud without any real business justification just to be part of the latest hype. As cloud deployments are becoming more prevalent, IT leaders are now tasked with proving the tangible benefits of adopting a cloud strategy from an operational, efficiency, and cost perspective. At the same time, they must balance their end users’ increasing demand for access to more data from an ever-expanding list of public cloud sources.

Lately, public cloud systems have become part of IT landscapes both in the form of multi-tenant systems, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings and data consumption applications such as Twitter. Along with the integration of applications and data outside of the corporate domain, new architectures have been spawned, requiring real-time and seamless integration points.  As shown in the figure below, these hybrid clouds – loosely defined as the integration of data from systems in both public and private clouds in a unified fashion – are the foundation of this new IT architecture.

hybridCloudImage

Not only has the hybrid cloud changed a company’s approach to deploying new software, but it has also changed the way software is developed and sold from a provider’s perspective.

The provider perspective: Unifying development and operations

Thanks to the hybrid cloud approach, system administrators and developers are sitting side by side in an agile development model known as Development and Operations (DevOps). By increasing collaboration, communication, innovation, and problem resolution, development teams can closely collaborate with system administrators and provide a continuous feedback loop of both sides of the agile methodology.

For example, operations teams can provide feedback on reported software bugs, software support issues, and new feature requests to development teams in real time. Likewise, development teams develop and test new applications with support and maintainability as a key pillar in design.
After seeing the advantages realized by cloud providers that have embraced this approach long ago, other companies that have traditionally separated these two areas are now adopting the DevOps model.

The consumer perspective: Moving to the cloud on its own terms

From the standpoint of the corporate consumer, hybrid cloud deployments bring a number of advantages to an IT organization. Specifically, the hybrid approach allows companies to move some application functionality to the cloud at their own pace.
Many applications naturally lend themselves to public cloud domains given their application and data requirements. For most companies, HR, indirect procurement, travel, and CRM systems are the first to be deployed in a public cloud. This approach eliminates the requirement for building and operating these applications in house while allowing IT areas to take advantage of new features and technologies much faster.

However, there is one challenge consumers need to overcome: The lack of capabilities needed to extend these applications and meet business requirements when the standard offering is often insufficient. Unfortunately, this tempts organizations to create extensive custom applications that replicate information across a variety of systems to meet end user requirements. This development work can offset the cost benefits of the initial cloud application, especially when you consider the upgrades and support required to maintain the application.

What this all means to everyone involved in the hybrid cloud

Given these two perspectives, on-premise software providers are transforming themselves so they can meet the ever-evolving demands of today’s information consumer. In particular, they are preparing for these unique challenges facing customers and creating a smooth journey to a hybrid cloud.

Take SAP, for example. By adopting a DevOps model to break down a huge internal barrier and allowing tighter collaboration, the company has delivered a simpler approach to hybrid cloud deployments through the SAP HANA Cloud Platform for extending applications and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud for hosting solutions.

Find out how these two innovations can help you implement a robust and secure hybrid cloud solution:
SAP HANA Cloud Platform
SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud

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Marty McCormick

About Marty McCormick

Marty McCormick is the Lead Technical Architect, Managed Cloud Delivery, at SAP. He is experienced in a wide range of SAP solutions, including SAP Netweaver SAP Portal, SAP CRM, SAP SRM, SAP MDM, SAP BI, and SAP ERP.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

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qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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Insurance Customers Now Demand Simplicity, Personalization, and Experiences

Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer

The insurance industry is seeing a significant technological revolution as the inner workings of agencies adapt to the digital economy. However, customer-focused changes are also necessary. Digital customer engagement and focused, lifestyle experience communications are more powerful and important than ever. Customers are demanding a simple, seamless way to interact with the insurer they select. Often they determine whether a particular insurer will meet their needs long before that first touchpoint.

How can today’s insurance companies meet customer demands for hyper-connectivity and personalized lifestyle experiences?

Trends reshape the insurance buyer’s experience

Insurance customers are demanding simple and personalized experiences, and they want those experiences to match their lifestyle needs. The concept seems complex, but it does not need to be. Insurers must create the right impression, build a solid brand, and integrate key components of the business to meet customer needs. Consider that as many as 70% of customers are making purchase decisions prior to engaging with the agent. This demonstrates the importance of connecting with and creating the right interactions long before the agent calls the customer. It also showcases the importance of digital connectivity.

A good place to start meeting this demand is to look at the trends that are reshaping the insurance buyer’s experience. For example, today’s insurance buyer has immediate access to the pricing and product information he or she needs to make decisions. They can gather feedback. They may compare policies. And they will get recommendations from multiple sources. This happens everywhere, allowing the customer to make better-informed decisions.

Customers also want a personalized journey through the sales cycle. They want access to multiple ways of connecting with the company to create a seamless journey. Channels in every aspect of the insurance business must communicate the same message and provide the same ease of connection with the customer. One survey found that 29% of customers view companies that deliver on their promised value at the right price to be worthy of their business, and 21% of customers want personalized services and products to meet their needs. Among those looking for ease of business, 22% want both online and offline touchpoints. Companies that fail in these areas often miss key opportunities to form positive relationships with insurance buyers.

Consumers today are more willing to provide detailed data for analysis. Although more data is available, many companies still do not use it effectively enough. However, consumers expect and want insurance companies to use their data to create enriching, better-reaching solutions. In other words, customers are giving data. They want insurers to use that data to create insurance products that best meet their needs.

What technological solutions do customers need to engage?

Understanding the trends in the insurance buyer’s sector is important, but implementing solutions is even more essential. Every aspect of the insurance provider’s business impacts the customer experience. To create a lifestyle insurance experience that meets the trends and demands of today’s customers, companies must accommodate their increasing digital lifestyle. To do this, a number of tools must interconnect to reach consumers.

Companies must bring together all business components, including marketing, sales, services, and commerce. With the customer at the center of every process, insurance businesses must focus on delivering comprehensive service.

Within the marketing component, for example, digital connectivity may seem obvious. But today’s insurers must reach beyond traditional TV advertising. They also need to consider the value of adding video and social media. Consumers engage with companies quickly and efficiently online. Social media, for example, is where they go to gather information about a company’s reputation. They use it to report concerns directly to the company. Consumers also use it to gather information about services and products. Video is an excellent form of engagement that aids in brand-building as well as creating personalized experiences.

Within the sales component, businesses must include traditional sales methods while also focusing on digital connections, including mobile, quote to cash, and execution. Digital customer engagement, even within the agent’s phone call, can secure more leads and improve an insurer’s ability to reach a larger audience.

The digital economy also impacts the commerce component of the insurer’s business. Trade, retail, and e-commerce are all equally important. When reaching and interacting with customers, providing for their needs, and delivering service, all levels of commerce must be digitally connected so companies can interact with and deliver the type of personalized service consumers need.

Of course, the service sector also plays a very important role in developing a personalized solution for consumers. Here, every component of the insurer’s services must connect digitally, from phone SMS and self-service to call centers. All touch points play a role in exactly how the customer interacts. They also play a role in how the company’s departments interact. It all impacts how the expectations of the consumer are met.

Creating digital customer engagement in the digital economy

Creating a digital business is essential to all companies in today’s economy, and customer engagement simply must happen. This includes providing multiple channels consumers can use to connect with your business, as well as providing personalized experiences. Every interaction needs to provide options. And all business processes, from sales, service, marketing, and commerce, must align.

Giving customers a way to interact is important. Giving them numerous options to connect is game-changing.

Download our insurance white paper “How Insurers Can Prepare for the Digital Revolution” today to see what SAP has to offer. We will work with you to develop an insurance business that’s ready to meet the needs of digital customer engagement.

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Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer

About Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer

Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer leads the Research and Innovation Office within the insurance industry business unit at SAP. Her responsibilities include defining the innovation strategy and co-innovation with partners and customers for complementing the solution portfolio, especially in the area of IoT, blockchain, and ecosystem; selection and development of startups; definition and support of go-to-market strategy; as well as supporting marketing and analyst events.