Digital Transformation

Being Different in a Digital World

The most frequent question we have heard this year at Practically Digital Why does digital matter to my business”

The short answer, because the business world has changed, quickly. The number of people with mobile devices now exceeds PCs, the degrees of engagement for customers are tilting strongly into digital territory, and customer expectations (and attention spans) are drastically heightened and short. There are growing piles of statistics that indicate that the business world is now running at a different speed. 

Digital is about time. Saving it. Optimizing it. Being different and catching the eye, thought, and opportunity for a customer to engage with your company.  Time is the most valuable asset in commerce today (both for the business and customer).

That is why differentiation in the digital world matters. The historic business activities, processes, and outcomes are growing tired in the eyes of the customer base.  People are ‘swiping left’ on companies they no longer have time to explore or wait on.  Customers are looking for fresh and engaging. They are looking for different. 

Companies who get the digital opportunity are leveraging this unique era to grow exponentially, much as they did during the 1st and 2nd Internet revolutions.  Optimizing customer journeys through digital engagement points (web presence, social media, email campaigning), selling with a high degree of affinity for the customer’s preferences, and concluding contracts in hours and days (instead of months and quarter) are all ways that leading companies are differentiating themselves.   

For 2017, we foresee a greater opportunity through digital than ever before. Companies (and individuals) who want to differentiate and go to market quickly and with high customer affinity – can do so for modest investment and effort.   

Finding those right digital business capabilities is what we focus on with our clients. Helping our clients understand the opportunities, how to roll up the sleeves and get forward quickly, and better engage customers.   We believe every company is a digital business, and the digital opportunity awaits in the year ahead.  

Start your digital year right at www.practically.digital In a digital world, be different.

 

The Business Case for Machine Learning: An illustrated example

A common question we help clients solve ‘why would we utilize machine learning (and/or cognitive computing)?’  is answered through a partnership announced this week.

A business problem nearly every company faces today: making sense of the massive amounts of data the various business systems generate each minute of each day. As more companies shift to cloud and big data systems, the information about those very systems (and clouds) themselves is growing exponentially.

More importantly, taking action when the data and performance monitors indicates an issue is arising for customers or colleagues is key to continuous business operations. Stable and healthy business platforms make for happy customers. This is something that companies have wrestled with since the invention of computing systems, often throwing staff, numerous monitoring tools, and significant data analytics funds to address. The race to understand and act has been a continuous and often losing one for most companies.

An illustrative better answer to address this need, was made clear this week via a partnership announcement between SumoLogic and New Relic. These two cloud companies, working in concert - bring their best capabilities together and help solve the need via machine learning and real time infrastructure monitoring.   

New Relic (www.newrelic.com), a leader in infrastructure monitoring and management for data centers and corporate IT platforms, provides a cloud-based dashboard and resolution management platform for businesses of all sizes.  The amount of systems monitored data that companies generate across their data centers, databases, and now IoT / sensor arrays, is growing exponentially each day.    New Relic aggregates it and provides visibility into the performance levels of a company’s systems, especially during peak times.   

The ability to make sense of all of the data that such a monitoring platform needs to address, and do it with a machine learning insights is now possible from a company like SumoLogic (www.sumologic.com).  SumoLogic, also a cloud-based platform, provides a machine learning offering that makes sense of extremely large data sets, allowing customers to analyze and act on information that is found within the piles of data that are being generated continuously.

The partnership of the two – New Relic’s integration and monitoring abilities, combined with SumoLogics machine learning analysis, provides companies something not previously available: faster-than-human analysis and actions related to cloud platforms and extremely large data sets.   

Now, the impossible task of making sense of it all, is possible.

For companies that utilize one or both platforms today (and run atop the world’s largest cloud provider, Amazon AWS), this is a welcome and much needed capability.  

As companies increasingly implement data generating platforms, making sense of the performance data (health of systems, up times across large arrays of sensors and data center assets, and applications performance) and being able to automate responses is a benefit that ensure the right things are managed (efficiency), drives efficiency (savings), and provides for a better customer experience with higher availability.    All crucial to any company considering a digital business platform and experience.

Why does a company need machine learning and cognitive computing in an era of big data? Because we are building businesses moving too fast and too complex to manage ourselves without help from real time A.I. resources.   Such partnership and capabilities make it possible for us to focus on what matters- the customer experience, in a digital world.

Top points from Dreamforce 2016 - Einstein knows how to help you sell

This year’s Dreamforce event concluded in San Francisco had innovation for everyone in the announcements and partnerships, with a common thread of tech conferences being the unveiling of SalesForce Einstein, the new artificial intelligence engine soon to be part of the Salesforce eco-system.

Key Salesforce announcements worth note included:

Einstein is here to help 

Cognitive computing at the core of the Salesforce platform.  With the launch of Einstein, companies will now be able to augment the age old ‘sales instincts’ with predictive lead scoring, analytics which leverage real time data of business announcements, and behavioral reports which help companies surface the best potential buyers, most needy support customers, and best ‘next actions’ to take as a services / sale professional.    Similar to IBM Watson, Microsoft Cortana, and the Google DeepMind A.I. capabilities brought to commercial use in the past year, Einstein will provide a new layer of insights, advice, and support to business users of the SF platform.   (read more here)

Making the SF user experience ‘hyper flexible’ and intuitive

A common complaint heard with SF implementations (especially those pre Lightning interface) is the difficulty in navigating the screens and menus to arrive at actionable information.   This has been overcome in part last year with Lightning and the UX changes, and further enabled with the component capabilities launched this week.   The ability to intuitively drag and drop data elements, from dashboards to reports, makes the SF experience a much more intuitive capability.    

Developer friendly with Salesforce Dx

Salesforce, like many platforms, has had limitations in the past on what programmatically was possible, and integrated with only a handful of programming environments and eco-systems.   With Salesforce Dx, developers will now be able to leverage an open dev environment, writing across over a dozen different languages into the SF platform.   Version management (always a challenge in team development) is now intuitive and automations of test environments make the process of writing, testing, and launching iteratively a major improvement.  

300 Apps Lightning ready and counting

With over 300 Lightening ready applications available in the App Exchange for SF, many of the leading integration solutions are now completely compatible with the Lightening platform.   Salesforce’s encouragement to the partner community to conclude the migrations to Lightening for the balance of solutions was a major nudge for many of the partner players.   This is good news for customers and companies, ensuring that the journey from one version of SF to another will conclude in the near future with partner eco-system help.

Time to better collaborate, and chatbot enable Salesforce

Collaboration and chatbot capabilities were frequently cited during keynotes and presentations, including a partnership with Slack and Quip, an acquisition from earlier this year.   Mobility is clearly in the sights for SF in their efforts here.   This is crucial, as the SF Mobile application today has limited capabilities for teams to work together.   Look for more here in the months ahead.   

Acquisitions matter

Acquisitions do matter, with the announcement this week of Krux purchase by SF for over $700m US.  Krux, a digital marketing / data management platform that helps companies better target and campaign pursue customers.   (read the Krux announcement here)

Branding matters

Finally, the SF Trailblazer branding and sales promotion identity was unveiled, bringing home to many how friendly the SF user experience is becoming with these latest innovations and capabilities.  

What does this all mean for business leaders and customers?  

In short, Salesforce is taking the cognitive sales and service cloud to the market head on, and challenging other competitors to bring their A game.  

From the Dreamforce conference this week - with improved usability, greater flexibility and speed with development, deeper capabilities with acquisitions, and an embedding cognitive platform, Salesforce is helping companies focus on what matters most – the customer.  

To learn more about how SalesForce innovations can help your digital business evolve, get in touch with us

 

Digital leadership with PMI of Chicagoland

On Friday May 20th, PMI (Project Management Institute) of Chicago gathered at the Chevy Chase Country Club of Wheeling, IL for their leadership forum.  Rob McGillen, CEO of Practically Digital, joined a great panel of speakers and experts, to share innovation insights for project managers and leaders of Chicago.

"Project management is crucial to delivering any innovation to market" commented Rob McGillen"Having built project management offices (PMOs), led teams around the world, and had the opportunity to work with many great project managers, the discipline and experience that PMP experts bring is crucial to any innovative success." 

Michael Docherty, author of Collective Disruption  spoke to the importance of letting go in the digital age and embracing success through collaboration.   

Rob joined digital leaders including Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, Michael Docherty, Patrick Venetucci, Silvia Prickel, Andy Myslicki, Craig Thielen, and Lisa Senter during the day's presentations.     

To learn more about PMI of Chicagoland

Visit their website at http://pmi-chicagoland.org/