Analytics in Digital Selling: Your Very Own Magic Scry

Data is everywhere. What if there was a way to harness it and almost instantly predict a richer and more current view of customer needs and wants, and therefore drive true customer experience?

And we know in no uncertain terms, how data analytics enables targeted service, sales and marketing activities in any enterprise.

Selling has never been easier and more precisely targeted thanks to analytics. It starts with taking hundreds or even thousands of seemingly random or incomprehensible data points and turning them into valuable information. Discovering patterns through data mining is a great way for us to leverage information, helping us to tap into user behavior; understand their wants and needs and determine ways we can help achieve their businesses requirements.

Companies today can no longer rely solely on traditional sales tactics and good relationships. They must supplement the process with analytics to retain their competitive edge and deliver an end-to-end solution more efficiently. Ironically, the addition of automation and analytics can change customer relationships for the better by creating greater personalization and making the selling process more efficient. The Mirror Sales Analogy is a good way to understand how science and art come together in sales.

We are not done with single view of the customer, and providing relevant stakeholders with the same view of account data

What makes it relevant is delivering the right marketing messages to the right customer through the right channel and device, at the right time. It all starts with:

  • Driving accountability by empowering sales reps with timely insights needed to create and guide sales conversations for each target account.
  • Providing easy to access single screen view that can support optimizing the customer service experience by delivering timely support to resolve issues with minimal client effort

In today’s networking world, it is difficult to identify new leads on a timely basis without using some sort of data management system. By taking an in-depth look at customers’ Installed Base data and combined that with usage information, you can see which products are currently installed and which features are adopted on their network. Taking this a step further, you can then find out products approaching End of Life or Last Day of Support thus endangering security policies, or lagging behind on mobility based applications . Such combined views of unstructured data profiles that overlay traditional structured data gives you valuable insights to plan and qualify all potential leads and rank opportunities. Once qualified, you can confidently reach out to customers and engage in a more meaningful success conversation with the knowledge of customer’s infrastructure. Such an approach will allow a business outcomes driven conversation rather than the traditional sales process where it’s a box with a service bill of material. Adding analytics insights creates a true consultation, where you effectively become a value-added participant in solving your customer’s problems.

With enough data, your analytic scry ball can point you toward more and more answers:

  • What products to offer a specific customer.
  • If there are similar customers, how do they compare.
  • Benchmark their competetion.
  • The potential revenue impact of a deal.
  • If there are any products that can be added to grow the deal.

The list goes on and on. As you can see just from one instance, correlating the amount of information you now have and the amount of data you just collected continually enhances customer understanding over time. Data is King – and Queen.

Companies like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and just about every online and offline retailer realize how important analytics are to their sales. Not only does it grow their top line, but it also offers a better experience for their customers; making sure they have all of their needs met when buying a product.

For example, someone who is looking to buy a new television will rely heavily on customer reviews to narrow down their prospective choices. Once found and committed, “Customers who bought X also bought Y.” Here is the “up-sell” point where HDMI and other cables, DVD/Blu-ray players, surround sound systems, and other connected devices can be offered. There is nothing worse than getting a new product and not having all of the necessary components to get if fully operational.

In short, the more data you can collect about your audience, the better you can understand their needs. With one last shake of the scry ball, are analytics in digital selling here to stay?

Without a doubt..Yes!

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Forge ahead despite yourself

  We are all intently focussed on our

shortcomings and areas for improvement. While it’s healthy to understand what these are, so much of success at work is having confidence in your own abilities. It’s often the innate strengths and skills that would allow you to make a notable impact in any task you take on. Continuing to understand how to sharpen these abilities, articulate the impact and influence they can drive is a very essential part of self development. 

While in a team environment, which most of us are in corporate, don’t just build consensus , hold your own point of view. We lean so heavily towards rewarding and encouraging collaboration, we seem to often compromise holding a position. It’s important to listen and understand and it’s just as important to add value through your opinion and trained intuition. Over time, leadership is exemplified as you strive to be trusted for your perspective .

It’s not enough to have one or two advisors or mentors. Have many mentors, and constantly learn from all of them. Anyone you respect and admire can be somone you emulate. I have always done this intuitively, I even learn from people on TV and silver screen! Posture, confidence, style can be developed and refined by observation. 

Thrive on an ecosystem of constantly giving back. This in itself touches so many aspects of self and humanity. It is humbling, empathetic, selfless and gratifying. As you learn more, give more. It could be in way of skill development, teaching, material sharing or financial support, everything counts. Find meaning in what you do and then do more.

Finally, what I have always done and will keep doing is surround yourself with positivity. Build a great network of people who believe in your strengths. Your strengths will be amplified by the power of your network and those you support you. Positivity begets positivity, take advantage of this.

In summary, get out of your own way and break some glass!!

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CMO knows best?

Customer’s view versus the CMO’s view is often fraught with conflict and doubt within the company. Many have come to expect that the CMO is the creative genius that sails the company through the unique value proposition, but often too far away from what really drives the business. To be profitable its important for the CMO to be measured by the same ROI discipline as the rest of the functions in the company. So the days of big budget and large staff are long gone.

Which brings us to analytics and data that can aid a CMO and their organization to drive accountability and precision targeted programs. Finance would like to see more detail of the commercial objectives of the business from marketing, and it seems that the marketing department is all about action without understanding or worrying about what financial objectives need to be met. However, when you see brand awareness increasing, and you are selling more, and you have truly differentiated products and service. You are gaining share – i.e you are truly winning in the marketplace. So it is fair to say that marketing can definitely demonstrate its value in terms that finance understandsYou can see all communications and how customers are responding to emails, links, downloads, and other content and offers so you can personalize ongoing engagement.

Marketing tries to keep sales in the loop, but sometimes they’re paying attention and sometimes they’re not. If an important account or contact has definitively said no to a cross-sell or up-sell offer, for example, a sales manager or salesperson can use the Sales Collaboration Panel to opt customers out of certain campaigns or messages.

Marketers and salespeople like a comprehensive view of upcoming campaigns. Application-embedded analytics have been around for a long time. The idea is to expose the business intelligence within the context of the business process, rather than forcing workers to open up separate BI apps. separation of transactional and analytical apps is unnatural. The practice became entrenched decades ago only because the technologies available at the time couldn’t handle both at once. Cloud, mobile, and in-memory capabilities are putting these worlds back together. Some of these applications requires in-memory hardware that will replace the conventional servers in use.

As the conflict and decision making between the CMO office goes on to a new dimension with decision sciences and machine learning, it remains to be seen how these new age automated lead generation will positively influence the top line of our enterprises.

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Monetizing spare capacity

It could be tapping into better resource utilization or putting spare capacity to work. We all have tangible hard assets like cars, houses, equipment, gear or soft resources like time, skills, etc that are not always 100% utilized. Is that a waste? That could lead to a philosophical debate of what is waste to one, may be a hobby or pride to another.

However, if we decide to monetize this spare capacity, thus yielding to business models to connect the capacity to the need, over a plethora of networked platforms, we have an Uber, GrubHub, PostMates, Air BnB, etc.

In this hyper connected world, and IoE, the knowledge and inventory of spare capacity solves yet another problem: risk of ownership. In many cases, due to personal preferences, lifestyle choices, there is no desire to sign up for a long term ownership of a car, house, etc. The technology that matches the capacity to the need, and the social aspect of interactions and crowd sourced opinions find a solution to this issue of ownership. Ability to monetize this creates the incentive to the owner of the capacity.

Demand is how much of a product or service is desired by buyers. The quantity demanded is the amount of a product people are willing to buy at a certain price. Supply represents how much the market can offer.

This is not new economics of matching supply and demand, its growing the same formula where everyone can supply and anyone can demand!

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Security concerns in IOE

IoE is here, whether you see it or not, you are a part of it. As many of our most critical data streams and business processes will be enabled, security will play an even more important role than ever before. Security vulnerabilities in the Retail and Media industry have made several headlines over the last year in 2014. And as we speak, several mission-critical industrial control systems of automation, energy and manufacturing operations are going online. It is prescient to expect malicious hackers to find their way into unauthorized access to configuration settings and sensitive information.

In the healthcare industry, which already wrought with severe litigations and privacy infringements, computer systems can be vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. As medical devices are increasingly interconnected, via the Internet, hospital networks, other medical device, and smartphones, there is an increased risk of cybersecurity breaches, which could affect how a medical device operates endangering life and recovery of their patients.

Working smarter with cloud security can utilize the unique capabilities to help IT professionals overcome the added complexity and resource constraints.

It has been predicted that the number of Internet-connected devices are going to reach 50 billion by 2020. IoE is essentially where peopleprocessesdata, and things converge. While it unlocks new possibilities for sharing and connectivity, those who benefit from IoE could also be open to attacks against it. The Shodan search engine, a massive index of currently Internet-connected smart devices, reveals just how big a threat this default password problem is.

Get smart, get secure and most of all, be aware of your smart devices, and your information and credentials.

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Downtime : Trekking Mt Kilimanjaro

This magnificent mountain that is crowned by an eternal snowcap, is at 5895m a.m.s.l or 19,341 ft, is the 4th prominent peak in the world and the highest in Africa. Every year nearly 15,000 hikers scale this mountain via the choice of one of the six trails up to the peak. Each trail passes through different ecosystems, from rain forest to arctic tundra, and temperatures from 90 deg to 10 deg F. The good news about Kilimanjaro is that its not a technical climb, which means you won’t need any ropes, ice-axe, etc, or even any previous mountain climbing experience. The youngest person to reach the summit was six years old, and the oldest was a couple Martin and Esther Kafer, from Vancouver, who have been married since 1953 and who reached the summit in September 2012 aged 85 and 84 respectively.

The name Kilimanjaro’s origin is much debated, some say it means something like ‘That which is impossible for the bird’. Ernest Hemmingway refers to the mountain in his book “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” as “House of God.”

The good news about this trek up the mountain is that its maintained very clean and accessible via the local airports and road trips. The park officials and workers have done a great job by imposing heavy fines for any littering, thus preserving the beauty of this land. Kilimanjaro is a fascinating geological study, as the tallest freestanding mountain in the world formed by forces of fire and ice. It boasts two main peaks, Kibo and Mawenzi, the summits of two volcanoes that formed the great mountain. The Uhuru Peak, the highest part of Kibo’s crater rim and the goal of most trekkers, stands at around 5895m. The routes: Shira Route, the Lemosho RouteMachame RouteUmbwe RouteMarangu Route and, running from the north-east, the Rongai (aka Loitokitok) Route.

Whichever route you choose, this is a great experience that inspires you. The views are fabulous. The conditions along the way test your endurance and surprise  you with confidence. Kilimanjaro inspires, take the journey.

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Young People and the Digital World

Howard Gardner

An article in the Irish Examiner has brought attention to Howard Gardner and Katie Davis’s 2013 book The App Generation.

Reporter Emer Sexton has witnessed first-hand as a parent the constant lure of digital devices that seem to hinder intimate relationships, identity formation, and imaginativeness/creativity amongst users, especially young users. Focusing on the distinction between app-enabling and app-dependent use of technology, Sexton outlines the argument of The App Generation concisely, at one point offering the following powerful example: 

Apps reduce periods of quiet reflection and creative daydreaming, and eliminate boredom, “which has long been a powerful stimulator of the imagination”.

But the inspiration for the Harry Potter series came to JK Rowling on a four-hour-long train journey, at the end of which the young magician’s life was almost completely mapped out.

How different the landscape of children’s literature would be, today, if she had been engrossed in mobile apps, instead of…

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Cyclical effect of surplus and deficit

Before you evaluate if you have a surplus budget or a deficit budget, it would be fiscally responsible to evaluate expenses and revenue over a determined period of time. Most businesses seem to have the budget makers and business drivers mutually exclusive, creating islands of aspiration within the organizations.

No wonder oil is often in the headlines around the world. It’s the most important international natural resource that shakes up economies and relationships between countries.

The recent price wars between OPEC and ROW is causing the oil prices to plummet so low that it may force some of the smaller productions to shut down. Here comes the impact on balancing budget! How can this game from OPEC sustain the ability to balance budget in the oil countries? Oil is a major source of revenue and profits for these countries and prolonging this price was stand off, will result in deficits thus effecting long term repercussions.

Meanwhile, the economy in America is dancing to the tune of lower gas prices. Most Americans are reacting as they would to a big tax cut. Not all retailers are quick to pass on the savings to the consumers, and will likely first address their bottom lines. So we may not see a full circle on lower household expenses. More roadtrips can be expected this holiday season.

Uh-Oh.. this may also mean a temporary reversal of this rising trend on electric cars. Tesla’s value proposition and pseudo-equation that attracted buyers to save in the ‘long-term’ against ever rising gas-costs is questionable at best. We may stall some time, but use this opportunity to improve the battery life of rechargeables.

But no supply demand battle lasts forever, especially against a depleting natural resource.

So if you are a betting person, before you invest in Oil companies or in battery innovation, read the fine print.

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Different can be good

Alan Turing was not understood because everyone thought him to be eccentric, too different. Turing developed a machine that could logically process information at the National Physical Laboratory in 1945-1948. Everyone dismissed Turing’s innovation and hence lost the opportunity to being the first to design a digital computer!

Many believe that its a straightforward set of engineering decisions to use punch cards, then relays, then tubes, and finally transistors to build computing machines. But it wasn’t. General-purpose machines required Turing’s fundamental insight that data and code can be represented the same way. If Turing had not made his discovery, the computer revolution might have been delayed by several more years.

One of today’s largest threat is cybersecurity. Turing showed how all a-machines are equivalent to one another, and hence we can see how its possible for an attacker to take over a target computer and make it run any program. Because Turing machines are not physical objects but mathematical ones which do not require soldering irons nor silicon chips to build, does not make them any less tangible.

Alan Turing had to administer treatment with estrogen injections as an alternative to prison when he was prosecuted for homosexuality. That was in 1952, it was not OK then and its most certainly not OK now. Lets celebrate our diversity and be inclusive.

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Mobile saturation?

I think not. We may very well see the smartphone trends rising rapidly and then flattening, indicating lowering penetration. However, what we do with the mobile devices is growing exponentially. With Mobile pay and Mobile Health, the use of the apps on mobile devices far exceeds social interaction and mere ad-revenue. There is now a whole new gamut of IoT where the social and media glut of traffic from Pandora, Facebook, Twitter is now spilling into gaming, payments and healthcare.

Twitter and Facebook combined market value far exceeds Comcast and ViaCom combined market value. Seasonal trends already show that the shift from Black Friday sales in-mall to online-computer to now a rapidly rising trend of mobile payments. Growth in Health and Fitness app usage has doubled that of regular apps usage. With wearables now inserting technology capability and promoting the ‘cool factor’, the world of IoT promptly promotes the proliferation of highly personalized interconnected applications. An average US smartphone user spends nearly 1 hr on the phone daily. Mobile ad revenue will follow where the maximum eyeballs are spending their time.

Definition of mobile is now extended from smartphone and tablet into wearables, automotive, and more. E-commerce traffic is now shifting from desktop to the new definition of mobile. Now the concept of 7X24 shopping access has taken  new meaning with mobile and e-commerce. The digital day is twice as long factoring in the global trend and timezone difference. Where a Macy*s only  had store hours of 10am-9pm grew into Macy* always open, and now Macy* is always open to a shopper at 6am in HongKong and extends to the midnight shopper in Hawaii!

You are not the only one who is looking at their mobile device while watching TV with family! Thats the opportunity to push ads to you twice as much! Watch out for the growing adoption of connected car , connected home and your wearable that can control all that.

Welcome to the new IoT world! It all happens here.

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