Tag Archives: cloud computing

Transform Your Business with a Change Success Manager

Transform Your Business with a Change Success Manager

“Stealing the role of customer success manager from the world of SaaS is the key to making your digital transformation efforts a success.”

I was speaking with a headhunter recently about some of the roles she was recruiting for and there was one that captured my attention. It was a posting she had for a customer success manager at one of your favorite three letter software companies. And, as she extolled the merits of the role I found myself thinking that the management practice of organizational change is still so immature. There are still so many missing tools and mindsets in the organizational behavior area of management science.

What I found so captivating about the responsibilities of a customer success manager, is that the kinds of tasks she described are exactly the kinds of activities that need to be performed as part of any organizational change effort. The difference is that software companies have recognized that they need to have people dedicated, ideally from the very beginning of the process, to help connect the cross-functional dots for the customer behind the scenes, actively manage expectations and outcomes, ensure a mutual understanding of what success looks like, and to make sure that it is ultimately achieved.

Technology companies everywhere seem to be racing to embrace the role of customer success manager as a new member of their army of service professionals. And, the customer success manager, above all else, strives to ensure that every customer moves beyond purchase, beyond installation, beyond first use, to productive use, deepening engagement, and the holy grail of retention and referral.

And retention is key in SaaS businesses because the churn rate (13% per year on adverage) is higher than other subscription type businesses (6-8% per year according to Recurly Research), but lower than the churn rate for some wireless carriers (which averages between 1-3% per month). Churn rate is a statistic measuring those customers who choose not to renew their service, or to switch their service to another subscription provider. A churned customer doesn’t write you a check for next year, or future years either.

The main reason SaaS customers churn, especially after their first year, is that the perceived value of the subscription is insufficient relative to the price to justify renewing it. They may have bought the software but didn’t install it, installed it but never really got up and running with it, or just found it too hard to get the value out of the software that they were promised. The old technology sales model didn’t care about these situations. Tech companies just focused on closing the sale, recognizing the revenue and moving on to close the next prospect. With the SaaS model, sales are no longer king, adoption and engagement are king. If the customer doesn’t adopt, engage and expand their footprint with your SaaS offering then it is easy for them to switch to an offering of a competitor.

So, if customer success managers are so instrumental to the success of technology companies in the era of the cloud, why shouldn’t they also be considered instrumental inside of our organizations as the key to successful change?

The problem is that too many organizations are still stuck in an upside-down paradigm where change management is seen as a bolt on to project management, instead of truly architecting our organizations for successful change.

Companies that want to be successful over the long term understand that change is not an event but a constant. They strategically select those capabilities and competencies needed for the next phase of their evolution, plan a portfolio of change initiatives that executes upon their strategy, and understand that change saturation and change readiness must always be considered. Companies that succeed in this era of unending change will constantly manage the expectations of their people around each change initiative and how the process will work and what the technology can and can’t do.

It is not surprising that companies would first embrace a role that adds tremendous value on the revenue generating side of the business first. Technology companies have determined customer success managers are critical to helping customer organizations adopt changes imposed by new technologies while ultimately increasing the lifetime value of each new customer. But for similar reasons internal to the organization, companies must also now embrace the need for a role I’d like to call the change success manager.

A change success manager is a change manager on steroids. However, in today’s business climate most people think of a change manager as the person a project manager brings in near the end of a software implementation project that does the training or communications. That may be how companies are doing the so-called people side of change today, but it is wrong!

This new role of change success manager is intended to lead each change initiative inside the organization from beginning to end. A change success manager is brought in at the beginning of the process to reach across the organization and identify a cross functional team specific to the needs of each change initiative for the purposes of convene as part of a change planning workshop. This change planning team will facilitate each change planning workshop using tools like the Change Planning Toolkit™ to identify the change leadership team that will take decisions and remove roadblocks for the change management team that will facilitate the actions necessary to advance the change initiative to its desired outcomes.

And, unlike the current model of change that many organizations follow, a change success manager will have one or more project managers on their change management team to identify the appropriate pace for the project, and the right size for the work packages, in order to maintain momentum across the entire duration of the change initiative and increase the adoption of internal change – just like a customer success manager increases the adoption of external changes!

This article originally appeared on CIO.com


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Rise of Seamless Computing

Rise of Seamless Computing

Some people have made fun of the fact that I said that the iPad might fail when it was announced, but I just looked back at what I said back in 2010 (before Apple fixed their Value Translation problem) and I stand by what I said in that article. Then I looked further back to what I wrote in 2009 about my vision for the future evolution of computing, a concept I call Seamless Computing.

I also just looked up the iPad sales data (note this chart is missing the first quarter’s sales data and Q1 is the Christmas quarter). You’ll notice that it did in fact take about two years for iPad sales to really take off (my prediction). When I highlight that this was BEFORE they fixed their value translation problem, I mean that this article was written when most people was calling the iPad a giant iPhone and was before they came out with the out of home (OOH) advertising showing somebody leaning back on a couch with the iPad on their lap. This single image fixed their perception problem, and these billboards came out as the product was starting to ship (a full three months after they announced the product). You’ll also notice in the chart if you follow the link above that the iPad has already peaked and is on the decline.

Unfortunately for Apple, the iPod is past its peak, now the iPad is past its peak, and the iPhone 6 will represent the peak for their mobile phone sales at some point as replacement cycles start to lengthen and lower priced smartphones start to be good enough for most people. Apple will likely to continue to win in the luxury smartphone market, but the non-luxury smartphone market will be where the growth is (not Apple’s strength).

Now, moving on from Apple, what it is interesting is that for the past couple of years we’ve been obsessed with smartphones and cloud computing, but it is looking more and more that the timing is now right for Seamless Computing to become the next battleground.

Cloud Computing won’t die or go away as Seamless Computing takes hold, but the cloud will become less sexy and more just part of the plumbing necessary to make Seamless Computing work.

Who will the winners in Seamless Computing be?

In 2009 I laid out my first ideas about what Seamless Computing might look like:

People’s behavior is changing. As people move to smartphones like the Apple iPhone, these devices are occupying the middle space (around the neighborhood), and the mobility of laptops is shifting to the edges – around the house and around the world.

Personally I believe that as smartphones and cloud computing evolve, these devices will become our primary computing hub and new hardware will be introduced that connects physically, wirelessly or virtually to enhance storage, computing power, screen size, input needs, output needs, etc.

– This would be thinking differently.
– This would be more than introducing a ‘me-too, but a little better’ product.
– This would be innovation.

Then I expanded upon this in 2010 by laying out the following computing scenario:

What would be most valuable for people, what they really want, is an extensible, pocketable device that connect wirelessly to whatever input or output devices that they might need to fit the context of what they want to do. To keep it simple and Apple-specific, in one pocket you’ve got your iPhone, and in your other pocket you’ve got a larger screen with limited intelligence that folds in half and connects to your iPhone and can also transmit touch and gesture input for those times when you want a bigger screen. When you get to work you put your iPhone on the desk and it connects to your monitor, keyboard, and possibly even auxiliary storage and processing unit to augment the iPhone’s onboard capabilities. Ooops! Time for a meeting, so I grab my iPhone, get to the conference room and wirelessly connect my iPhone to the in-room projector and do my presentation. On the bus home I can watch a movie or read a book, and when I get home I can connect my iPhone to the television and download a movie or watch something from my TV subscriptions. So why do I need to spend $800 for a fourth screen again?

Now, along comes a company called Neptune that is building a prototype of a computing scenario similar to one that I laid out in 2009 and is raising funds on IndieGogo to make it a reality. The main difference is that I had the smartphone as the hub, where they have a smartwatch as their hub. My biggest concern about making the smartwatch the hub would be battery life. Here is a video showing their vision:

But Neptune isn’t alone in pushing computing forward towards Seamless Computing. Microsoft is starting to lay the foundation for this kind of computing with Windows 10. The wireless carriers are investing in increasing their ability to make successful session handoffs between 4G LTE and WiFi without dropping calls or data sessions, and Neptune, Intel and others have created wireless protocols that allow a smart device to send video output to other devices.

Will Seamless Computing be a reality soon?

And if so, how long do you think it will take before it becomes commonplace?

My bet is on 2-3 years, meaning that Neptune may be too early, unless they do an amazing job at all three pillars of successful innovation:

  1. Value Creation
  2. Value Access
  3. Value Translation

Keep innovating!

Image source: Wired


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Are you competing at cloud speed?

Are you competing at cloud speed?We live in an era of constant, accelerating change, and the only organizations that are equipped to keep pace are those that are capable of competing at cloud speed. Does trading out packaged software installed on your own servers for the cloud-based versions offered by your vendor accelerate your organization to cloud speed?

Sorry, no.

So what the heck is cloud speed anyways?

Competing at cloud speed is a goal that every organization should have, and it requires learning fast not failing fast, it involves creating the flexibility to adapt to trends that spread globally faster than ever before, to respond to competition from unexpected sources, and provides a potential antidote to decreasing corporate lifespans.

Accelerating to cloud speed requires your organization to operate under a series of principles that make it both FAST and agile.

Going FAST (the Right Way)

In the experience of Gordon Tredgold, creator of the FAST Approach to Leadership, we usually end up doing either the wrong job or a poor job in an organization because of a lack of focus or accountability, as a result of work has that’s been made overly complex, or because transparency doesn’t exist across the organization.

The FAST Approach to Leadership attempts to address these concerns by answering the What, Who, How and How Far questions related to the task, service or project that is to be delivered (or goal to be achieved). The following four areas make up the letters of the FAST Approach to Leadership and its FAST acronym:

  1. FOCUS is about the WHAT, what we’re doing, what is our objective, and what does success look like.
  2. ACCOUNTABILITY is about the WHO, who is going to do the work, who will be accountable and how will we hold them accountable.
  3. SIMPLICITY is about the HOW, what is the solution, how are we planning to deliver success. Is our solution simple or have we over complicated it.
  4. TRANSPARENCY is about How Far, How Far we have come and How Far we have to go in order to be successful, it’s also about our honesty about our progress and capability.

Focus and Accountability help to ensure that we are getting the right job done, increasing our effectiveness.

Simplicity and Transparency help to ensure that we do a good job.

The objective of FAST Leadership is to ensure that we do the right job, well, each and every time.

Becoming Agile

According to a recent Forrester report titled Business Agility Starts With Your People, a digital business requires an organization to be able to both sense and execute on change, and Craig Le Clair of Forrester outlined a set of ten dimensions that define the digital business, grouped by market, organization and process:

Market Dimensions

1. Channel Integration – Information sharing and cross-channel experiences

2. Market Responsiveness – Customer knowledge and rapid access to resources

Organization Dimensions

3. Knowledge Dissemination – Broader sharing and flatter organizations

4. Digital Psychology – Trend awareness and digital skill sets

5. Change Management – Embracing change and embedded change management

Process Dimensions

6. Business Intelligence – Information management and distributed analytics

7. Infrastructure Elasticity – Cloud awareness and the embrace of cloud options

8. Process Architecture – Process skills and core system independence

9. Software Innovation – Real-time experience and incremental development

10. Sourcing and Supply Chain – Agile sourcing processes and supply chain flexing skills

People looking for a shortcut might hone in on the Process Dimension named Infrastructure Elasticity because it contains a mention of the word cloud and think that this dimension is the secret to competing at cloud speed, but by itself it is not. Forrester’s research showed that the relative performance of an organization along the Infrastructure Elasticity dimension was not a predictor of organizational success, but instead an enabler of improved performance along other dimensions. Craig Le Clair found that greater business agility comes not just from increased Infrastructure Elasticity, but from consciously utilizing that increase to achieve other improvements, such as an improved Digital Psychology or increased Knowledge Dissemination.

Competing at Cloud Speed

When we think about the cloud, what makes it incredibly powerful for organizations is that it breaks down walls. The cloud makes it possible to quickly get people in different departments, geographies, and even organizations collaborating together using a range of cloud-based tools to achieve business goals. When the cloud is viewed not as a solution, but as an enabler of multiple business agility improvements, and a foundation for the principles of FAST Leadership (focus, accountability, simplicity and transparency), we can finally begin competing at cloud speed.

Competing at cloud speed will help improve the velocity of:

  1. Information flow inside and outside the organization
  2. Decision making and commitment
  3. Resource re-deployment
  4. Channel and customer feedback on course corrections

Competing at cloud speed means putting systems in place that quickly capture the voice of the customer, and broadcast it widely and deeply enough into the organization. It means putting the processes and decision-making tools in place to allow leadership to adapt their strategy, redeploy resources and spin up new cross-border and cross-boundary project teams to full productivity faster than the competition in order to capitalize on changes in customer wants and needs.

Are you competing at cloud speed?

Join Inc. 100 and #1 Leadership Expert, Gordon Tredgold, formerly Head of Service Delivery at Henkel, for a simple approach to improve your operational performance live during our expert webinar on October 8 or register for the OnDemand recording.

Sources:

  1. http://www.theleadershiphub.com/blogs/fast-leadership-0
  2. http://solutions.forrester.com/business-agility/improve-your-business-agility-187UW-2434YQ.html
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140914015150-649711-don-t-fail-fast-learn-fast
  4. http://www.business-strategy-innovation.com/Voice-of-the-Customer-White-Paper.pdf

NOTE: This article was written for Intuit Quickbase’s The Fast Track but disappeared off the web so I brought it back here


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