Thursday, July 14, 2016

What's The Biggest Big Data Advantage, Anyway?

Daniel Kirsch
- Principal Analyst and Vice President of Hurwitz & Associates, a boutique strategy consulting, market research and analyst firm that focuses on how technology solutions solve real world customer problems. Hurwitz research concentrates on disruptive technologies, such as Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, Social and Collaborative Business, Service Oriented Architecture and Web 2.0, Service Management, and Information Management. 

Big data has been a buzz word for a couple of years already. How does this technology trend transform the business today? 

Big data on its own does not have a tremendous value. I have seen many clients struggle and fail with big data projects. The reason for these struggles have been that the project was not tightly aligned with business challenges or opportunities – getting insights into your data is interesting, but when not tied to business objectives the value can be lost. 

When Big Data is combined with data management, governance, and advanced analytics the business impact can be tremendous. I have seen companies unlock value insights from the data that they already have but are not analyzing. Take for instance a retailer – many have huge amounts of data on their products and customers however few are analyzing this to offer customized offers or anticipate the trends for next season. Some industries where we are seeing a huge impact on big data and analytics are in financial services, healthcare and oil and gas. The commonality between these industries is that small improvements based on data can lead to millions of dollars of revenue, massive savings or quite literally the lives of patients. 

Big data brings big risks. What are security concerns to consider when it comes to big data management? 

It is alarming how many organizations ignore data security and privacy when exploring big data projects. Basic data masking procedures can be disregarded when doing an analysis of customer data. The following are some considerations for big data and security: 

- Mask personally identifiable information 
- Know who in the organization is touching sensitive data 
- Baseline the usage patterns of big data so that if there is an anomaly you can detect it – example: if data isn’t typically being accessed at 2am or from a foreign nation you want to know when it is 
- Develop privacy and security best practices within your organization that must be adhered to whenever embarking on a new big data project 

What database management systems would you recommend to our readers who want to leverage big data? 

The database management platform really depends on the use case. Some considerations: 
- How much data are you analyzing 
- What types of data – structure, unstructured, a mix of both? 
- Do you need the results in real time or can you wait for the analysis? 
- Will new data be fed into the environment weekly, daily, hourly or in real time? 
- How does your enterprise currently manage data and can it be integrated into a big data project rather than moving the data? 
- Is the data and workload appropriate for a public cloud? 

Judith Hurwitz dedicate one part of her book Big Data for Dummies to big data analytics. Can you give some advice on how to apply different types of analytics to business problems? 
For years marketers have been performing customer analytics to understand customer churn, up-sale / cross-sale opportunities and customer value. 
Other types of analytics and industries: 
- Financial Services – Credit risk and fraud 
- Manufacturing – supply chain, predictive maintenance for equipment 
- Workforce / talent management – Employee productivity and value, compensation analytics 
- Healthcare – predictive analytics on patient outcomes (for example patient hospital readmissions) 
- Oil & Gas – Analysis of both structures and unstructured data to understand the viability of a proposed drilling site or to find new sites. Also big users of predictive maintenance for equipment 

What books or other resources can you recommend to our readers who'd like to learn more about big data? 

I’d of course recommend Big Data for Dummies by Judith Hurwitz, Alan Nugent, Fern Halper and Marcia Kaufman. 
Because the area is changing so rapidly I find that youtube videos and web-articles are a great source of information. 

Thank you for the interview. 

Bitrix24 offers team collaboration software and tools. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get an extra 10GB. 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Four Must Have CRM Features In 2016


Tough competition and a customer centric economy make a CRM solution not a choice but a necessity for business nowadays. The right customer relations management software will allow you to get to know your clients, analyze sales and eventually turn clients into loyal customers. As Steve Jobs said “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” The right CRM solution will help you achieve this goal. Let’s discuss 4 must-have CRM features in 2016.

Sales automation

Sales automation grants you a full control over the communication between your salesperson and a client. The opportunity to listen and analyze the phone calls will help each of your sales managers understand their mistakes and eventually increase the efficiency of their selling techniques. Moreover, you can see a full range of activities your sales team performs, which will be helpful to monitor their productivity. When it comes to gathering statistics and analyzing results a sales funnel will be very useful. It is a visual representation of all sales process stages fr om initial contact to closing. Sales funnel will help you understand which problems sales reps encounter and when customer churn happens.

Collaboration tools

Ease of collaboration is what sales team needs to effectively fulfill their professional duties. Be sure your employees have access to private and group chats, can share and edit documents together. Project Management and Tasks enhance the efficiency of any team and makes the working process more transparent.

Integrated telephony

Integrated telephony allows you to make calls directly from the CRM and record conversations. As we discussed above it will give you an unprecedented understanding of both your clients and your sales team. Telephony is also a must have lead generation tool. A simple callback form will convert a random site visitor into a prospect. Moreover, modern telephony will definitely improve your customer experience. Intelligent call routing will help you save time and avoid unnecessary transfers. Finally, smart telephony systems recognize caller ID and provide you with the information about the caller. This feature adds the very personal approach all customers are looking for.

Real time communications with your client

Modern world provides dozens communication channels to reach your clients: social media, email, websites, call centers, etc. It gives you a great scope of possibilities, but at the same time you can hardly control and centralize the information about your clients. Modern CRM solutions offer an omni-channel communication tool. Your clients can write to you on Facebook, Twitter or send you an email. All these messages will be assorted according to your settings and sent to your employees in their CRM chat. When your team answers the messages inside CRM, the clients will get the answers in the channels wh ere they asked the question (facebook, skype, etc.). This tool improves your customer service, helps you evaluate the efficiency of sales channels and keep your data base full and centralized.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Bitrix24 Telephony Features

Friday, January 15, 2016

What Your Team Really Wants for the Holidays

Before you place that order for more company-logo emblazoned travel coffee mugs, consider this: while your team will certainly smile and thank you for your thoughtful gift, what they really want is something totally different. 

Your Team Wants Autonomy 
Following someone else's set of rules is hardly ever fun. Unfortunately, companies often build a set of comprehensive rules, often for the sake of equality and organization. Great goals, but the end result could be unhappy employees who just wish they had a little more control over their own work. 

When people have more choices, they enjoy their work more, and are better at it. The choices don't have to be monumental ones: simply being able to arrange their desk and workspace, choose when to take their lunch breaks, and choose their own favorite tools can make a huge difference. 

Your Team Wants Opportunities 
Your people are smart and talented, and they want you to recognize their potential. You probably do that already, with praise and rewards, and that's a great start. But the next step is to start making more and better opportunities available for your team members. 

Open up some of the doors. Let your employees take on leadership, handle projects, deal with clients, and make calls that you've always made. If you've been a good leader, they'll know what to do. If they're not quite ready, and they make a mistake, you'll all learn from the experience and move forward more equipped for the future. 

Your Team Wants Respect 
While no one is going to be angry about a bonus or a salary raise, employees are looking for more than money. They want a workplace that respects individuals and treats people fairly. In fact, a recent survey shows that employees rank "respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” over compensation. 

Respect is one of the most basic ways you can show your team that you value them and what they bring to the business. From the way you address each individual to how you respond to their ideas, you're communicating whether you respect them or not. Communicate respect and treat all your team members as you'd like to be treated, and you'll build a stronger, happier team. 

Your Team Wants Flexibility 
Life continually changes, and it's difficult to deal for people to deal with the changing circumstances of life when they have no flexibility from their employer. You can give your team more control and more choices: from standard work time, telecommuting options, flex time, work methods, travel arrangements, to project management and communication methods. They'll be happier, more engaged employees when they have more flexibility. 

Ask yourself, "Why not?" Trust your people to make good decisions with their freedom and use their flexibility to be more productive, not to slack off. Most people want to contribute and do meaningful work; they're just struggling to do it under predefined rules that don't fit their lifestyle or priorities anymore. So help your people love their jobs and do better work . Flexibility allows them to fit their lives and jobs into one cohesive, enjoyable, and ultimately more productive and fulfilling experience. 

If you can give your employees a holiday gift this season, make it one or more of these. Sure, those windbreakers in company colors are neat; but your employees want, and deserve, more from you. Let them know you're interested in their long-term growth and success, not just in holiday trinkets that get lost a month later. You can still hand out the coffee mugs; just hand out some flexibility, autonomy, and plenty of respect while you're at it. 

Bitrix24 offers Free Collaboration Software. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Smart Hiring 101

Stephen Denny is an author, keynote speaker and consultant delivering marketing workshops, executive training and big ideas to clients looking for “giant killer” performance. 

1. If a person has good leadership skills, does it mean that he or she will be automatically effective working with remote teams, or is 'virtual leadership' is an entirely different set of skills? 

SD: The leadership skills needed for thriving in a virtual workplace are different – and changing. The emerging managerial skill set I see is being able to manage “in space” – meaning the ability to work in an extremely unstructured environment with little to no support. 

In this new future of work, managers must really excel at several key skills. First, they must be outstanding at reading people. They must be able to interview and hire people with the understanding that once they’re on-boarded, they’ll be loose in the system and working without daily face-to-face coaching. Mistakes can be costly because they won’t always be noticed quickly. You need to be able to identify and hire fully formed adults who can operate on their own. There’s a bit of trust here, but it needs to start with hiring great people. Next, they must be extremely efficient and clear communicators. When the majority of your interaction with your individual team members is on the phone, you need to achieve alignment quickly. There’s no room for misunderstandings. Lastly, these managers need to be willing and able to identify when things aren’t going well – either with something as small as a project or as large as a hire. They need to be willing to fire those who can’t perform quickly. This means they need feedback loops, clear metrics for understanding individual performance and the unwavering understanding that their job is on the line, too. 

It’s not easy managing virtual teams! But the upside is enormous. In 2015 (and beyond), it’s not good enough to limit your talent pool to your immediate local geography. Everyone already has a computer and a phone where they are. That puts the burden on you – the manager. 
2. What common mistakes do managers and business owners make when working with virtual teams? 

SD: The biggest mistake is “out of sight – out of mind.” Virtual team members can literally be forgotten – forgotten in terms of compensation, promotion and input. Social bonds are built in the white spaces between the functional work. When people aren’t physically present, these relationships have a harder time growing. Many business leaders uncomfortable with the idea of virtual teams find they can’t trust them because they can’t monitor them during the work day. This is limiting, for obvious reasons. 

3. Which modern technologies do you think will have the most effect in remote collaboration? 

SD: Fortunately, we’re living in the golden age of collaboration technologies. We have Unified Communication platforms like Microsoft’s Skype for Business, Cisco’s Jabber and Webex, plus a host of other communication platforms that allow colleagues to use presence, chat, call and video all fr om their desktops. Even the consumer version of Skype allows for these features, along with others like desktop sharing. Combine these with cloud-based services like Bitrix24, Dropbox and Basecamp and you’re able to not only keep business going but also begin to forge the personal bonds that create a real team. When everyone has a smart phone in their pocket, a connected laptop on their desk, and a headset on their head, they can be as productive on the road as they would be sitting next to you. 

4. One of the challenges with virtual teams is that there is very little personal contact. How does one align individual goals with the team’s objectives and instill the 'corporate spirit'? 

SD: It’s easy to treat each member as a separate entity and not forge the intra-team bonds that create the culture you’re looking to build when everyone’s somewh ere else. There’s several ways to address this, outside of the mindset (answered above). Communication needs to be thorough and systematic – to the point of being almost over-done. You need to find excuses to bring people together to build the relationships that they’d otherwise miss. That’s what “headquarters” is for. Building culture in a virtual team takes effort – it’s hard – and it’s easy to forget this. 

5. What resources or tools can you recommend for our readers to help them lead their virtual teams? 
SD: I’ll point you to two resources that you might find helpful. The first is Jabra’s blog, which focuses on the “new ways of working.” This is penned by my friend Holger Reisinger, who runs product management at this very interesting Danish headset brand. Another is an interview I did with Mark Dixon, CEO and founder of Regus, on the rise of his business and the future of work – you can find that in a e-book I produced in 2013 called, “The Killing Giants Framework: 3 Areas of Excellence That Define How Davids Topple Goliaths.” It’s 99 cents, but I hope you’ll give it a look anyway. As a leader in the world of office space on demand, Mark is in a unique position to guide the rest of us on creating a sense of culture and inclusion when your team is spread out over different countries and continents. 

Thank you for the interview. 

Bitrix24 is a free virtual workspace available both in cloud and on premise. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

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