Posts Tagged ‘IBM’
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
IBM (NYSE: IBM) says companies with high-performing procurement organizations are driving better bottom line results. According to the study, these organizations report profit margins of 7.12 percent as compared to just 5.83 percent for companies with low-performing procurement organizations.
Also, companies with top performing procurement organizations report profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company – and 22 percent higher margins than companies with low performing procurement organizations.
The 2013 Chief Procurement Officer Study was conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) and highlights the business impact that Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can have on a company’s competitive advantage and profitability.
How top performers can increase their influence
It explores how top-performing CPOs can increase their influence over strategic business imperatives by driving efficiency and performance, introducing innovative new processes and uncovering new insight into supplier networks that have a measurable effect on the bottom line.
The largest of its kind, the study surveyed 1,128 procurement executives in 22 countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Of the respondents, 15 percent were found to be top performers, defined by their ability to exert influence and drive innovation across their companies, while also excelling at procurement fundamentals.
The study identified several common actions that enable top performing procurement organizations to achieve such impressive results. They:
- Gain Insight Through Big Data Analytics – By using analytics to tackle Big Data challenges, CPOs can gain new insights into internal business operations and their supplier networks to identify vulnerabilities. 83 percent of high performing CPOs excel at leveraging analytics compared to just 63 percent of the low performers.
- Collaborate Well Within and Beyond the Enterprise – Social Business technology helps global procurement organizations to connect with internal and external partners. According to the study, 80 percent of high-performing companies report that collaboration across departments, such as IT, marketing and sales, is both a key strength and an investment priority, compared to only approximately 45 percent of low performers. High performing procurement organizations see the benefit of close partner collaboration, and therefore are more likely to create strategic alliances. For example, top performers direct 38 percent more of their annual spend through strategic alliances than low-performing organizations.
- Adapt to Changing Market Conditions – By using big data insights and collaboration, high performing CPOs are in a better position to quickly respond to changing internal and external conditions, from demand changes to supply disruptions and product redesigns. The study showed that 73 percent of top performing procurement organizations are effective at gathering insights from the supplier community, compared to only 16 percent of lower performing counterparts.
Tens of millions at stake
“There are tens of millions of dollars at stake, and the IBM IBV CPO study reveals how and why high performing procurement leaders have significant impact on their organization,” said Craig Hayman , general manager, IBM Industry Solutions.
“As CPOs take a broader view of their role and embrace technology, they have an unprecedented opportunity to become even more instrumental in transforming their organizations by modeling themselves against the world’s most innovative and effective procurement organizations.”
As companies re-align their organizations to take a more customer-centric approach, the role of procurement professionals is changing from a traditional back-office, transaction oriented role to one with more visibility and influence among C-suite executives, who are keen to manage risk that can undermine profitability.
CPOS well positioned to pinpoint supply vulnerabilities
CPOs are well positioned to help identify and mitigate supply-related vulnerabilities because they serve as the bridge between suppliers and internal consumers. Similarly, procurement teams can utilize data analytics to help improve demand forecasts and identify additional savings opportunities within spend categories.
To be influential and secure a seat among c-suite executives, procurement professionals must exploit their unique position as a conduit between the enterprise and the outside world to improve their company’s responsiveness to dynamic market conditions, while minimizing risk, volatility and price fluctuations that can compromise profit margins. In reviewing the survey findings, key capabilities to achieve these objectives include employing best practices with procurement technologies and talent development.
There is a strong correlation between being a top performing procurement organization and effectively using procurement technologies.
For example, in regards to Supplier Relationship Management, the study found that 94 percent of top performing companies are highly effective in their use of procurement technologies, compared to 44 percent of all surveyed companies are average or below average in their technology effectiveness.
Most important area of investment
The study also found that CPOs think that supplier intelligence solutions, including 360-degree global view of supplier relationships and procurement performance dashboards, will be the most important area of investment over the next three years.
Top performing organizations also are turning to social business for innovative ways to manage their global teams and collaborate with their suppliers. The study found that high performers are more likely to use social tactics such as crowd sourcing (81 percent) and collaborating on product development with suppliers (88 percent), versus their low-performing counterparts (38 and 47 percent respectively).
CPOs of top performing procurement organizations know that success depends on getting skills and expertise needed to execute the mission they have been given. By percent, twice as many top performers as low performers view recruiting and talent development retention as a key strength. Top performers also extend these human capital advantages because they are equally aggressive in their investment plans for retention, recruiting and talent development.
For more information or to download the full report visit www.ibm.com/business/value/chief-procurement-officer
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Heidi Roizen, Venture Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a WITI Hall of Fame winner for 2013.
WITI (Women In Technology International) has named the recipients of the 18th WITI Hall of Fame Awards.
The Women in Science and Technology Hall of Fame Awards, sponsored by the Women In Technology Foundation, are considered among the most illustrious honors for women in science and technology.
The five distinguished recipients of this year’s WITI Hall of Fame Awards are:
“The WITI Hall of Fame was established to recognize the notable contributions of women who are leading innovation in science and technology, and have demonstrated a commitment to supporting/ mentoring women and girls,” says Carolyn Leighton , WITI Founder and Chairwoman. “These women represent the role models who will inspire current and future generations to reach higher and push new boundary lines to make a positive difference for all of us.”
Friday, March 22nd, 2013
IBM says it has made materials science breakthrough at the atomic level that could pave the way for a new class of non-volatile memory and logic chips that would use less power than today’s silicon based devices.
Rather than using conventional electrical means that operate today’s semiconducting devices, IBM’s scientists discovered a new way to operate chips using tiny ionic currents, which are streams of charged atoms that could mimic the event-driven way in which the human brain operates.
Today’s computers typically use semiconductors made with CMOS process technologies and it was long thought that these chips would double in performance and decrease in size and cost every two years.
Current chips rapidly reaching limitations
But the materials and techniques to develop and build CMOS chips are rapidly approaching physical and performance limitations and new solutions may soon be needed to develop high performance and low-power devices.
IBM research scientists showed that it is possible to reversibly transform metal oxides between insulating and conductive states by the insertion and removal of oxygen ions driven by electric fields at oxide-liquid interfaces.
Once the oxide materials, which are innately insulating, are transformed into a conducting state, the IBM experiments showed that the materials maintain a stable metallic state even when power to the device is removed.
Different principles than silicon
This non-volatile property means that chips using devices that operate using this novel phenomenon could be used to store and transport data in a more efficient, event-driven manner instead of requiring the state of the devices to be maintained by constant electrical currents.
“Our ability to understand and control matter at atomic scale dimensions allows us to engineer new materials and devices that operate on entirely different principles than the silicon based information technologies of today,” said Dr. Stuart Parkin , an IBM Fellow at IBM Research.
“Going beyond today’s charge-based devices to those that use miniscule ionic currents to reversibly control the state of matter has the potential for new types of mobile devices.
Using these devices and concepts in novel three-dimensional architectures could prevent the information technology industry from hitting a technology brick wall.”
This research was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
A new study—Effective Project Management Offices, uncovers trends among a select group of best-practice project management offices (PMO).
The best-practice organizations highlighted in the -APQC study focus on providing structure, guidance, and oversight to achieve the maximum value from diverse portfolios of projects.
They balance strategic needs, aligning development and improvement activities to the business goals and objectives of their organizations, with an emphasis on providing the hands-on skills, tools, and assistance which empower those leading individual projects.
“The APQC research team found several patterns, insights, and findings from the best-practice organizations including strategies, practices, technologies, and metrics,” said Jeff Varney, senior adviser and business excellence practice lead for APQC.
What best practice organizations do
“From measuring and reporting on project status monthly to using straightforward and dynamic dashboards to display project performance, the findings differentiate best-practice organizations from others in the study, and may provide solutions to challenges many organizations face.”
The best-practice organizations examined in detail in the study include: Dell Services, DTE Energy Co., IBM, United Illuminating Company, and a multi-billion-dollar beverage manufacturer.
Effective Project Management Offices details 14 best practices demonstrated by the study participants, but four in particular stood out:
- Best-practice PMOs actively contribute to enterprise strategic planning – In order to establish the importance PMOs are given within the enterprise, most best-practice organizations have either a formal or informal business case to establish its prominence. In addition, a key enabler to PMO’s contributions to strategy creation is executive support; most best-practice PMO’s in the report were established by and report to either C-level management or just one level below. For example, senior leadership at DTE Energy chartered its PMO, called major enterprise projects, as part of an effort to transform itself into one of the best-operated energy companies in the U.S.
- Best-practice organizations take a strategic and integrated approach to resource forecasting and loading – Resource loading, which is planning for and allocating a portion of an employee’s time to a project to ensure appropriate staffing, is utilized by The United Illuminating Company to help create a formalized planning process around project resources to ensure the right employees are staffed on the right projects. A project manager may work on five to seven projects at a time, all at different stages.
- Best-practice organizations make large investments in training project managers – All of the best-practice organizations in the report provide training that includes soft-skills training; coaching and one-on-one mentoring from senior project managers; and providing all employees with project management-specific content. For example, Dell Services, which views project management as both an art and a science, trains its employees in both components. Dell’s PMO has a project management competency model that lists required technical, functional, and leadership skills/knowledge for each job role.
- Best-practice organizations use automation and centralization for PMO technologies – The majority of the featured best-practice organizations in APQC’s study purchased project planning/scheduling and tracking/reporting software programs to facilitate project management. Others also developed internally automated tools for risk management and knowledge repository. For example, IBM developed a work center as its platform of choice for project program management. The work center provides project managers a wealth of functionality including requirements management; proposal management; resource management; exception management; and defect tracking.
Detailed descriptions of the practices, supported by case studies from the best-practice organizations, may be found in the full research report published by APQC.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
By Allan Maurer
The mobile app economy is a big deal right now, with app developers commanding higher than average salaries and companies stumbling over each other to get on the mobile bandwagon. But, in five years, says Ron Shah, vice president at the Stripes Group venture firm, “many people will bypass apps altogether.”
By then, Shah says, “Just accessing the web on your phone will be so much better you won’t need 79 apps. Consumers will want to download apps less and less and just things on the open web.”
Also, he notes, “Two app stores now have a chokehold on user capabilities. That’s an unnatural place to be. Companies don’t want Apple or Google sitting between them and their customers.”
Shah is focused on sourcing and executing technology, software and internet investments as well as strategy and business development with portfolio companies at Stripes, which closed its current $350 million fund early in 2012.
Participating in the Southeast Venture Conference in March
Shah is actively involved with the firm’s investments in Kareo, Netbiscuits, eMarketer, Elance, MyWebGrocer, Art.com, Folica and Perimeter.
Prior to joining Stripes Group, Ron co-founded Endgame Capital, which focuses on land investment and development in the mid-Atlantic region.
People networking at a previous Southeast Venture Conference.
He’s one of more than two-dozen venture capitalists and investors participating in the upcoming Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.
Shah will talk about the merger and acquisitions environment in areas where he has expertise at the event. “We’ve invested in several companies providing deep technologically integrated services in various industries,” he says.
He expects to see media companies, which made a round of acquisitions three or four years ago, to be looking to buy again. “They’re coming up on another cycle where they need to buy again to service their customers.”
Avoiding the Deathstar approach to software
He adds, “There’s a lot of pressure for those guys to figure out how to service existing relationships in a world that looks very different from ten years ago. They need to know what customers are consuming, how they consume and so on.”
Another big trend he sees in M&A is in SaaS. “We’ve seen significant acquisitions of SaaS companies by the big guys – Oracle, IBM, SAP, Salesforce all bought several. They realize their clients are not in spending millions on the Deathstar approach to building software. People are coming from the bottom end and taking revenue from them, so they need to acquire to have cost effective offerings.”
He also notes that “In Enterprise technology, buyers have been aggressive with the evaluations they’ve been paying in core areas such as customer relationship and talent management and business intelligence.”
They can all be consolidated to some extent, he says. “We saw some of that in the marketing automation space. Then the larger players ended up getting bought: Buddy Media by Salesforce, Vitrue by Oracle.”
A process of consolidation
It’s a process, he explains. “Companies spring up in the venture space and rise to the forefront in a typical category. They buy smaller companies with innovative features. Then, if they’re playing in an interesting category, the big tech guys will buy them.”
Even after that big step in consolidation, three or four years later some of the big players realize they don’t have the right play in a category and “The cycle starts all over again,” says Shah.
Next he says mobile device analytics is likely to see some consolidation. “A lot of the core tech companies feel the need to bolster their offerings,” Shah notes.
That interest is fanned by a couple of macro trends. “People are spending less time on print and more on the web, no one can deny that, and within that, they’re spending more time on mobile devices.”
The natural conclusion? “Ad dollars will slowly migrate there because that’s where the eyeballs are, on smartphones and tablets.”
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Technology companies claimed half the slots on Ponemon Institute’s annual top 10 list of the most trusted companies for privacy. Hewlett Packard ranked second, Amazon, third, IBM, fourth, eBay ninth and Intuit tenth.
American Express (AMEX) continued to reign as the most trusted company among the 217 orgazations rated.
New tech entries on Ponmon’s top 20 most trusted list included Microsoft at 17, and Mozilla at 20.
In addition to ranking the most trusted companies, the Ponemon study reported that only 41 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal information, down from 45 last year and an overall drop from 56 percent in 2006.
Identity theft a top concern
The survey also noted that identity theft is a top area of concern among consumers with fifty-nine percent of the respondents indicating that fear of identity theft was a major factor in brand trust diminishment, while 50 percent said notice of a data breach was a factor.
That could give impetus to the changes in U.S. immigration law proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators this week, although it’s identity card idea is already meeting with opposition from some.
The Ponemon rankings were derived from a survey of more than 100,000 adult-aged consumers who were asked to name up to five companies they believe to be the most trusted for protecting the privacy of their personal information.
Consumer responses were gathered over a 15-week period concluding in December 2012 and resulted in a final sample of 6,704 respondents who, on average, provided 5.4 discernible company ratings that represent 25 different industries.
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
Consumers are diversifying the way they shop for and acquire goods, becoming increasingly open to buying both online and in-store depending on their needs at time of purchase, according to IBM research.
While more than 80 percent of shoppers chose the store to make their last non-grocery purchase, only half are committed to returning there next time they buy.
IBM’s research finds that consumers are in a transitional state. According to the study, 35 percent are unsure whether they would next shop at a store or online.
Sophisticated, opportunistic consumers
Nine percent are ready to commit to making future purchases online. Of all eight product categories tracked in the survey, the two most popular categories chosen by consumers for an online shift are consumer electronics and luxury items, including jewelry and designer apparel.
“Today’s consumer is sophisticated and opportunistic, navigating between store and online environments interchangeably to meet their shopping needs of the moment,” said Jill Puleri , Global Retail Leader, IBM Global Business Services.
“To satisfy clients, retailers must deliver a consistent, convenient shopping experience across each consumer touch point, extending from the store to online and back again. The key is using data and analytics to better understand the behavior and preferences of shoppers to close the sale.”
Understanding the Challenge — and Opportunity — of Showrooming
The IBM study also found that nearly half of online purchases in studied categories resulted from “showrooming,” a burgeoning trend in which consumers browse goods at a store, but ultimately buy them online.
Significantly, nearly a quarter of these online shoppers intended to buy their item in the store, but ultimately purchased online – primarily due to price and convenience.
Retailers must better connect their store and online presence to capture the sale to showroomers. Today, online-only retailers account for one-third of showroomer purchases.
Younger, male and affluent shoppers are most likely to showroom. Although a global phenomenon, there is a higher incidence of showrooming in China (26 percent) and India (13 percent) than the U.S. (7 percent), for example.
Strategies for Success
The IBM study reveals that consumers are seeking a truly integrated shopping experience. Retailers must better connect their online and physical stores, blending benefits into both at various points in the shopping cycle — from research to purchase — to build brand loyalty and repeat sales.
In the store, retailers must infuse digital experiences, enable store associates with the technology to save the sale and embrace consumer-owned technology. Online, retailers most optimize their websites for various devices.
The IBM Digital Analytics benchmark found that 70 percent more consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site on Cyber Monday in 2012 than 2011. However, today’s study found that only 3 percent of shoppers are using retailers’ mobile apps.
IBM researchers have been working on inventions that will improve the shopping experience — both in store and out.
IBM’s 2012 patents include inventions for retail, including a patent that would allow consumers to identify a product using just a photo and a patent to enable retailers to capture in 3D the movement of a consumer as they navigate the store in order to provide them a more personalized shopping experience.
Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Big data is in for a big year in 2013, says Gazzang, a Linux data security firm in its predictions covering emerging trends in big data, the cloud and open source technology adoption. But a serious big data security breach may also be in the cards.
Buoyed by increasing adoption of and trust in cloud technologies, big data will move out of the shadows and start to creep into the boardroom,” said Larry Warnock, CEO of Gazzang.
“While big data is already a conversation topic at most enterprises, it’s traditionally been relegated to IT and development projects. Next year, these organizations will start to see big data as a solution for driving better business intelligence, product innovation and customer service.”
Additional Gazzang predictions include:
- The first significant big data company acquisitions will happen, signaling a shift in focus from proof-of-concept projects to high-business-value implementations/rollouts.
- Vertical line of business applications on top of big data will start to explode, with some early examples already starting to emerge in retail, financial services and oil and gas.
- What IBM does, others eventually follow. To that end, the industry will see more corporate policy established around cloud storage such as Dropbox – and more technical solutions developed to enforce these policies.
- Product differentiation will focus less on infrastructure and more on application and service layers. As a result, more big brands will start open sourcing their architecture to encourage adoption and attract development talent, similar to what Netflix and Disney are already doing.
- OpenStack is not overhyped as suggested by Gartner, but will succeed as an alternative to Amazon by providing security features such as default encryption and cloud entropy/randomization, and deliver solutions for companies that want on-premises cloud infrastructure.
- A damaging big data breach will cause the market to question holes and vulnerabilities in NoSQL infrastructure.
- As encryption and multi-factor authentication become more broadly adopted for cloud security, key management will become the new challenge. Solutions will need to provide strong policy enforcement and compliance capabilities, while maintaining high levels of flexibility and availability.
- Audit and compliance mandates will be imposed on the “wild west” of big data projects. On a related note, we will see the first big rash of class-action lawsuits related to big data breaches, adding millions of dollars to the costs of these incidents.
- Higher integration of structured and unstructured data will lead to greater insights for organizations and drive even greater adoption of big data.
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
IBM (NYSE: IBM) has been recognized for the second consecutive year as the greenest company in the U.S., according to the Newsweek 2012 Green Rankings survey, released today.
A panel of independent judges ranked major companies based on numerous criteria, including their environmental impact, environmental management and sustainability disclosure.
The survey is regarded as one of the most comprehensive analyses of environmental leadership, and IBM was one of 500 large U.S. organizations evaluated.
Other tech firms on the list include Microsoft, which charges each of its individual divisions a “carbon fee,” to make them minimize electricity use and air travel; EMC, Dell, Sprint, Intel, CA Technologies, and Invidia.
The report notes that IBM’S Smarter Planet products and services help clients measure and reduce their resource consumption while saving money. It points to a system developed at the company’s Zurich Research Lab, where water that cools a supercomputer is used to warm nearby buildings.
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
In the not too distant future, smartphone and other mobile device users may be able to tap into the IBM technology that let its Watson computer beat “Jeopardy” quiz show champs.
Bloomberg news reports that IBM’s VP of innovation, Bernie Meyerson “envisions a voice-activated Watson that answers questions, like a supercharged version of Apple’s Siri personal assistant.”
Watson is already being used by CitiGroup to analyze financial data and by WellPoint to crunch cancer data.
But, Watson, which currently relies on 10 racks of IBM Power 750 servers that have the processing power of 6,000 desktop computers, will need to overcome technical problems to make it work on handheld devices.
The version aimed at mobile devices would need to be energy-efficient, but Meyerson said the power it needs is “dropping like a stone.”
It will need voice and image recognition and it currently requires time to do the machine-learning needed to become expert in a knowledge area.
But once Watson 2.0 is perfected, it should be able to answer more complex questions than Apple’s Siri.
While Watson defeated past “Jeopardy” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, some people commenting on the story in the NC Raleigh News & Observer note that it did so by beating the champs on ring-in with faster reaction time, giving more opportunities to answer questions.
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
One place where cloud computing applications are getting a foothold is in education.
The benefits - access to applications anywhere and on any device and lower IT costs – appeal to many colleges and school districts.
But while IBM, Microsoft, Adobe are offering cloud based products to the education market, there is plenty of room for growth. Only about a third of higher education institutions and just over a quarter of K-12 districts were in the cloud as of May last year.
Here’s an infographic on cloud use by schools:
Friday, August 17th, 2012
You probably go for regular checkups on your personal health, but do you do the same for your business?
Andrew Sobel says that annual checkups can play a vital role in your professional health —especially with regard to client and customer relationships, which are the lifeblood of every business.
“In fact, you should absolutely review the ‘health’ of your client relationships on a regular basis,” says Sobel, coauthor along with Jerold Panas of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others (Wiley, February 2012, ISBN: 978-11181196-3-1, $22.95).
“Here’s why: Most clients vote with their feet. They don’t tell you they are unhappy—they simply start to give their business to your competitors. Client relationship checkups can help you gauge the health of these relationships, prescribe changes when necessary, and identify ways to further grow them.”
Power questions help assess company health
Sobel recommends infusing your client health checkups with Power Questions. In his book Sobel explores dozens of questions that light fires under people, challenge their assumptions, help them see problems in productive new ways, and inspire them to bare their souls (which, of course, strengthens the bonds in the relationship).
“All business interactions are human interactions,” he says. “And part of being human is acknowledging that you don’t know everything about everything—and that youcertainly don’t know everything about the other person’s needs. Questions help you understand these things more deeply, and they’re an essential tool when assessing the health of client relationships.”
When client relationship checkups aren’t performed regularly, the relationships can take unexpected turns. Sobel tells the story of his client, a Fortune 100 company with a longstanding relationship with IBM.
“IBM’s then-CEO Sam Palmisano decided to visit my client’s CEO,” tells Sobel. “A week ahead of the visit my client’s relationship manager for IBM called his counterpart to discuss the upcoming CEO summit between their companies. Apparently he did not get a return phone call during that week.
A wakeup call for IBM
The story goes that when Palmisano met with their CEO, he opened by saying, ‘My people tell me we have an “A” relationship with your organization.’ My client’s CEO responded, ‘Well, my team tells me your relationship with us is a “C.”
Fortunately, this was a wakeup call for the IBM team to dramatically improve the relationship with Sobel’s client. Within a year, his client told him, the relationship was indeed an “A,” and today the company views IBM as a key trusted partner in operating their business.
“IBM is a great company that has been quite innovative in the way it builds long-term client relationships,” says Sobel. “But as this story illustrates, even well-managed firms can dramatically misread the health of a key client relationship!
“The successful firms I work with all have some type of process in place to determine the health and strength of their most important client relationships. They seek feedback at multiple levels. They access the client’s views using a variety of channels—through the relationship manager, during senior executive visits, using independent surveys, and in client forums (virtual and in-person).”
As the IBM anecdote illustrates, client health “screenings” are necessary when managing client relationships.
Ten questions to ask in considering client relationships
Here are ten questions you should ask yourself when you are considering the health of your client relationships:
1. Do you have access? If there were such a figure as a “client relationship doctor,” Lloyds Banking Group Chairman Sir Winfried Bischoff would be the archetype. The former Schroders CEO and Citigroup chairman is a renowned trusted advisor who has calmly and wisely guided hundreds of CEOs through bet-the-company transactions and deals. Last year Sobel asked Sir Win, “How do you know when a relationship is not going well?” His first response was, “If it’s taking a very long time to set up a meeting, that’s usually a bad sign!”
“Can you actually get in to see important executives in your client’s organization?” asks Sobel. “Some leaders are notoriously busy, and it does take time to get on their schedule. But if you don’t have access, you may not be considered relevant! PS: If you think you have a good relationship, but the client says, ‘There’s nothing going on. It doesn’t make sense to meet,’ that’s still a bad sign. It means they don’t really value your ongoing insight and perspective.”
2. Do you and your client trust each other to do things without extensive documentation, checks, and controls? Trust is the essential foundation of every long-term relationship. It’s the feeling that the other person will come through for you. It’s the belief that they will meet your expectations. It’s the confidence that they will demonstrate integrity, deliver competently, and focus on your agenda, not theirs.
“When trust is present, you don’t need to constantly check up on the other person,” notes Sobel. “You don’t need to put in place endless controls and systems to monitor results. If your client is constantly micromanaging you, then they may not trust you, and you need to find out why.”
3. Does your client openly share information with you? In a healthy, trusting relationship, there is transparency. Does your client give you access to their plans and proposals? Do they freely share information with you, within the constraints of confidentiality?
“When you’re a vendor, you get very limited access to information—it’s on a ‘need to know,’ restricted basis,” says Sobel. “When you’re a trusted advisor, your client treats you as part of the inner circle.”
4. Does your client confide in you and bounce ideas and decisions off you? Does your client ever call you up to run a new idea or potential proposal by you and get your opinion? Or do they make important decisions and then call you afterwards? “It’s not reasonable to expect them to discuss everything with you,” notes Sobel. “However, if they have an issue in your domain, and the relationship is a strong one, they will most likely draw you in before reaching their final conclusions.”
5. Are you the first person the client calls when they need something in your area of expertise? “This is an essential litmus test of a healthy relationship: loyalty,” explains Sobel. “If the client views you as interchangeable with other suppliers, then you’re a vendor, and you’ll be subjected to constant price pressure as the client continually shops around.”
6. Are you treated with respect—like an important advisor? This is hard to quantify, but you usually will know in your gut if this is the case. “I had a client who I felt didn’t value me,” says Sobel. “He asked me to help teach his senior partners how to be better trusted advisors to their clients. But ironically, he didn’t want a trusted advisor himself—he wanted an arms-length ‘expert’ who would be at his beck and call. I finished the project and moved on.”
7. Is working with this client a satisfying, rewarding experience for you and your team? Some clients just drain you. They are overly demanding, they check up on your every move, and they basically drive you crazy.
“Sometimes, you’re also stuck with a client who is too low in the organization to really appreciate the impact you have,” notes Sobel. “This is not a healthy relationship! Life is too short—if you can’t fix a situation like this quickly, you should get out and double-down on more promising clients.”
8. Is the relationship economically rewarding for you? You could have a great personal relationship with a client, but for a variety of reasons be losing money on the work! “Sometimes, weak profitability is your fault—you have underestimated the scope of the work or underpriced it,” says Sobel. “But sometimes it’s a sign of a client who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”
9. Are you having an impact and helping to improve your client’s business? In the best relationships, you have a clear and positive impact on the client’s organization. You help the client improve their business. “If, for whatever reason, this is not happening—it’s a warning sign,” notes Sobel.
“Are you working on peripheral issues that are not really important to the client? Are you stuck too far down in the organization? Is the client ignoring your recommendations? Is your good advice simply falling on deaf ears?”
10. Is your client referring you to friends, colleagues, and other organizations that could use your expertise? Active word-of-mouth referrals, arguably, are the ultimate sign of a good relationship. “
Are you getting referrals?” asks Sobel. “Would your client give them to you if asked? How enthusiastically would your client recommend you? A testimonial is one thing—it’s passive—but an active referral is a sign of a very different level of satisfaction and delight with your services!”
“Just as you shouldn’t make assumptions about or neglect your own health, you shouldn’t do so when it comes to the health of your client relationships,” says Sobel. “Each year, go through this checklist and rate each of your relationships. Are you weak, average, or strong on each of these ten points?
“Better yet, rate yourself and then ask these same questions to your client. Then, compare the answers. Through quality communication and thoughtful Power Questions, you can strengthen your client relationships and add value to them at the same time.”
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
The TechAmerica Foundation says that some of the foremost thinkers in “Big Data” will lead a commission of 22 experts and academics to examine the issue and provide guidance on how to leverage “Big Data” to address the most pressing issues facing government as well as drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness.
Chairing the commission will be Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive at IBM and Steve Lucas, Global Executive Vice President and General Manager, Database & Technology at SAP. Serving as vice chairs of the commission are Teresa Carlson, Vice President Global Public Sector, Amazon Web Services and Bill Perlowitz, Chief Technology Officer, Science, Technology and Engineering Group, Wyle.
“The problem today is not gathering data, but rather making intelligent actionable decisions based on the volume, velocity and variety of data we are receiving. I am excited about launching this Commission and hope that we can leverage the best and brightest industry, academic and government minds to determine how to use big data to drive innovation, efficiencies and effectiveness in the public sector,” said Jennifer Kerber, President of the TechAmerica Foundation.
Big Data is a hot topic for the technology community and is becoming a focal point for government with the Administration recently announcing a $200 Million Big Data Research and Development Initiative.
A new era of computing
“We are entering a new era of computing where information is growing at a record pace. The winners and losers will be those who can innovate faster based on strategic insights drawn from the variety and velocity of new forms of big data being generated every day,” said Steve Mills.
“By gaining deeper insights into this vast new natural resource, the opportunities to accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering and develop information-intensive curriculum is unlimited.
“The world’s data is doubling every 18 months, presenting government and industry with new opportunities to transform information into insight,” said Steve Lucas.
“New database technologies and applications, coupled with real time analysis of big data, will help business and government run better and ultimately improve the well-being of customers and citizens. By bringing private sector innovation to the public sector, the Big Data Commission will help leaders address some of the biggest questions facing government today.”
Issues it will address
The Commission expects to also take up such issues as: what capabilities are required to succeed? How do you use Big Data to make intelligent decisions?
How will agencies effectively govern and secure huge volumes of information, while protecting privacy and civil liberties? And perhaps most importantly, how do we use big data to transform how the government delivers services?
“The federal government is under increasing pressure to innovate and do more with less,” said Teresa Carlson. “The U.S federal government has been among the most forward leaning in taking advantage of the benefits of the cloud and Big Data.”
“Big Data has the potential to increase efficiency, improve the speed and accuracy of decisions, forecast the future, identify savings, increase transparency, create jobs, and provide insight into our agencies and citizenry; this is a hugely disruptive force occurring during challenging economic times. To transform hindsight to insight and remain competitive, we must immediately address the technical, cultural, organizational, and policy challenges data poses and embrace the relentless increase in available data,” said Bill Perlowitz.
The commission membership is made up of leading experts on big data and represent both industry and academia — the full list of members can be found here.
To learn more about the TechAmerica Foundation’s Big Data Commission: http://www.techamericafoundation.org/big-data-commission
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
The BreakOut Award in search for the world’s best undiscovered new software application, is offering a $10,000 cash prize to the winner. The contest is being launched by CAST, a software analysis and measurement firm, and Dr. Dobb’s, a development content site.
This competition aims to support innovation and uncover the next rising star of the application development world. The BreakOut Award is open to a wide spectrum of developers, from individuals to corporate development teams.
Dr. Dobb’s and CAST have assembled a panel of judges from the global technology community who will combine code analysis and expert commercial assessments to identify the next break out application based on the following criteria: purpose, appeal, quality, and exposure.
Entrants will also have their applications objectively analyzed using CAST’s Highlight application, which provides feedback on the structural quality of their code.
The judging panel includes Dr. Dobb’s editor in chief Andrew Binstock and senior leaders and CEOs from Gartner, GoodData, Hubspot, IBM Global Business Services, Kimberly-Clark, andTechHub.
(Read more about the panel of judges below or on the BreakOut site:http://breakout.drdobbs.com)
The BreakOut competition aims to support developers financially, while providing exposure needed to become the next Angry Birds or WhatsApp.
In addition to receiving a cash prize of $10,000, the winner will be interviewed by J.D. Hildebrand, editor-at-large of Dr. Dobb’s.
The award, open to developers worldwide over 18 years old, opens today and closes on August 28, 2012. CAST and Dr. Dobb’s will announce the winner on September 13, 2012.
To enter, register at BreakOut.DrDobbs.com, download the Highlight Application from the website and use it to perform the analysis on the application and upload the results.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
The world’s biggest brands have continued to grow in value during the current economic uncertainty, often by leveraging technology, according to WPP company Millward Brown’s annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study.
One surprising finding: Samsung is nipping at Apple’s heels in certain markets.
The No. 1 brand for the second year, Apple, rose 19% in value and is now worth $182.9 billion.
IBM grew 15% in value to $115.9 billion and overtook Google, which dropped to third place in the ranking and is now worth $107.8 billion.
In advance of its IPO, eight year old Facebook rose 74% in value, making it the fastest brand value riser in the ranking. Worth $33.2 billion the social network moved up to No.19 from No.35.
The study, commissioned by WPP and conducted by Millward Brown Optimor and now in its seventh year, identifies and ranks the world’s most valuable brands by their dollar value, an analysis based on financial data, market intelligence and consumer measures of brand equity.
The 2012 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking demonstrates the power of strong brands as both a driver of new business growth and a critical support in hard times.
Between 2006 and 2012, the total value of the BrandZ Top 100 rose 66% and is now worth $2.4 trillion.
“Brands are an insurance policy for businesses,” said Eileen Campbell, Global CEO of brand research company Millward Brown.
“Despite a prolonged period of economic stress, political uncertainty and natural disasters that buffeted brands across many categories, the value of the world’s leading brands keeps rising across many categories, sustaining and nurturing businesses.”
The Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2012
Rank Rank Rank Value
2011 change 2012 Category Brand 2012 ($M)
1 0 1 Tech Apple 182,951
3 1 2 Tech IBM 115,985
2 -1 3 Tech Google 107,857
4 0 4 Fast Food McDonald's 95,188
5 0 5 Tech Microsoft 76,651
6 0 6 Soft drinks Coca-Cola 74,286
8 1 7 Tobacco Marlboro 73,612
7 -1 8 Communication Provider AT&T 68,870
13 4 9 Communication Provider Verizon 49,151
9 -1 10 Communication Provider China Mobile 47,041
David Roth for WPP said “This year, those businesses that leveraged technology, focused on the customer experience or boosted control of their brands thrived”.
Apple continues to innovate and maintain its ‘luxury’ brand status, but faces future competition from Samsung.
Now worth more than $14.1 billion, thanks in part to the success of its Galaxy handsets, Samsung is successfully outpacing Apple in a significant number of markets by positioning as a cool, well-priced alternative to the ubiquitous iPhone.”
Key findings highlighted in this year’s research report include:
- Technology Prevails: Technology has become ubiquitous in all areas of our lives. Seven of the top 10 brands are technology or telecoms brands. However, the power of smart, simple-to-use technology can also be seen beyond these two sectors. In other categories – cars, financial services, luxury and retail for example – we can also see that brands are gaining significant advantages by using smart technology to enhance their customer experience. For example, Burberry – up 21% to $4 billion - created a virtual world where younger brand followers can view fashion shows and more.
- The Rise of Africa: This year’s ranking highlights the progress of Africa’s economic development with the arrival of the first African brand in the Top 100 – South African mobile company MTN – No 88 at $9.2 billion. But it’s not just African brands that are thriving south of the Sahara. Around 40% of Guinness’s sales come from Africa, Airtel’s third quarter results showed a 16% increase in revenue in Africa. Similarly, Orange enjoyed rapid growth in Africa in 2011, while Walmart invested there with the acquisition of Massmart.
- The Future is Mobile: The future of the internet will be predominantly mobile rather than computer based. Mobile, to some extent, has been shielded from the recession as one of the few items consumers don’t want to give up or cut back on. The most valuable telecoms brand is AT&T worth $68.8 billion. Whilst the USA’s largest mobile service provider, Verizon, increased its brand value by 15% in the last year and is now worth $49.1 billion.
- Retail: Constructing an Omni-Channel Business: The customer experience is a new focus for many retailers as they recognise its importance in keeping customers loyal and the need to be present anywhere and everywhere on the path to purchase. Walmart knocked Amazon from the top position and its brand is now worth $34.4 billion whilst Amazon is now worth$34 billion.
- Brands with Women on the Board Outperform: As the number of women on corporate boards continues to rise,the BrandZ Top100 study this year reveals the success that women bring to brands. 77% of the brands appearing in the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands have women in the boardroom. The average value of brands with women on the boards is $27 billion, double that of those companies without female directors. Not only that, these brands also show an average five-year growth of 66% compared to an average growth of only 6% for those BrandZ Top100 brands that don’t have a woman on the board.
- Strong Brands Provide Better Shareholder Value: An analysis of BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands as a ‘stock portfolio’ over the last seven years shows a highly favourable performance compared to a current stock market index, the S&P500. While the total return on investment (ROI) for all companies in the S&P500 index was just 2.3%, the BrandZ Portfolio provided a 36.3% ROI, proving that companies with strong brands are able to deliver better value to their shareholders.
- A graphic is available here.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
All those high profile security breaches that cost a number of companies both serious financial losses and damaged reputations had one good effect.
Information security executives are shifting from a technology focus to strategic business leaderships roles in which they help companies see security as a business imperative, according to a new survey by IBM.
In IBM’s first study of senior security executives, its Center for Applied Insights interviewed more than 130 security leaders globally and discovered three types of leaders based on breach preparedness and overall security maturity.
Representing about a quarter of those interviewed, the “Influencer” senior security executives typically influenced business strategies of their firms and were more confident and prepared than their peers—the “Protectors” and “Responders.”
Under intense pressure
Overall, all security leaders today are under intense pressure, charged with protecting some of their firm’s most valuable assets – money, customer data, intellectual property and brand.
Almost two-thirds of the chief information security officers (CISOS) interviewed said they are paying more attention to security now than they were two years ago.
A series of high-profile hacking and data breaches convinced them of the key role that security has to play in the modern enterprise.
IBM STRATEGIC VOICE Source: Data from the IBM Center for Applied Insights study, "Finding a strategic voice: Insights from the 2012 IBM Chief Information Security Officer Assessment." (PRNewsFoto/IBM) ARMONK, NY UNITED STATES
More than half of respondents cited mobile security as a primary technology concern over the next two years. Nearly two-thirds of respondents expect information security spend to increase over the next two years and of those, 87 percent expect double-digit increases.
Rather than just reactively responding to security incidents, the CISO’s role is shifting more towards intelligent and holistic risk management– from fire-fighting to anticipating and mitigating fires before they start.
Several characteristics emerged as notable features among the mature security practices of “Influencers” in a variety of organizations:
Security seen as a business (versus technology) imperative: One of the chief attributes of a leading organization is having the attention of business leaders and their boards. Security is not an ad hoc topic, but rather a regular part of business discussions and, increasingly, the culture. In fact, 60 percent of the advanced organizations named security as a regular boardroom topic, compared to only 22 percent of the least advanced organizations. These leaders understand the need for more pervasive risk awareness – and are far more focused on enterprise-wide education, collaboration and communications. Forward-thinking security organizations are more likely to establish a security steering committee to encourage systemic approaches to security issues that span legal, business operations, finance, and human resources. Sixty-eight percent of advanced organizations had a risk committee, versus only 26 percent in the least advanced group.
- Use of data-driven decision making and measurement: Leading organizations are twice as likely to use metrics to monitor progress, the assessment showed (59 percent v. 26 percent). Tracking user awareness, employee education, the ability to deal with future threats, and the integration of new technologies can help create a risk-aware culture. And automated monitoring of standardized metrics allows CISOs to dedicate more time to focusing on broader, more systemic risks.
- Shared budgetary responsibility with the C-suite: The assessment showed that within most organizations, CIOs typically have control over the information security budget. However, among highly ranked organizations, investment authority lies with business leaders more often. In the most advanced organizations, CEOs were just as likely as CIOs to be steering information security budgets.
- Lower ranking organizations often lacked a dedicated budget line item altogether, indicating a more tactical, fragmented approach to security. Seventy-one percent of advanced organizations had a dedicated security budget line item compared to 27 percent of the least mature group.
“This data painted a profile of a new class of CISO leaders who are developing a strategic voice, and paving the way to a more proactive and integrated stance on information security,” said David Jarvis, author of the report and senior consultant at the IBM Center for Applied Insights.
“We see the path of the CISO is now maturing in a similar pattern to the CFO from the 1970s, the CIO from the 1980s – from a technical one to a strategic business enabler. This demonstrates how integral IT security has become to organizations.”