Generate Leads with Online Quizzes

2017 AO RethinkMktgPodcast Ep53 Josh Haynam Quizzes Featured Generate Leads with Online Quizzes

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Michelle Huff: Can you tell me and the audience more about yourself and your company Interact?

Josh Haynam: We have created software for building quizzes, which are the hot thing online right now. You see all those quizzes on Facebook and everywhere. But we’ve created a tool where businesses can build their own quizzes. Everybody’s seen quizzes on news sites and Buzzfeed and stuff like that. But how many have used them in their own companies as a way of doing marketing? Almost none.

Why are online quizzes good for lead generation?

Michelle: Why do you think quizzes are a good tactic for lead generation?

Josh: I think it’s because people take them. And it’s so funny how many people I talk to tell me they take quizzes and they act like it’s some big secret that they take them. I won’t tell anybody if you don’t want me to, but you are the same as everyone else. And it’s everybody. I helped at my sister’s elementary school career day. She’s a second-grade teacher. And I was taking quizzes with the kids. And they loved it. They were so involved. They would answer the questions by raising their hands. And they were just yelling and screaming about their favorite choices. And then we’ve also had quizzes run with companies like Jiffy Lube, where the average quiz taker is a 70-year old male. And that’s like your grandpa.

They’re taking these quizzes. They’re commenting on Facebook. They’re fighting with each other in the comments about which outcome they got on the quiz. And it’s everybody. It’s kindergarteners through your grandpa. And it’s across the board, everybody enjoys taking quizzes. And when something like that happens where there’s a massive universal appeal, brands have to pay attention. Because there’s an opportunity there for you as a marketer to lasso that tool, lasso that enthusiasm that people have about this concept, and use it to grow your brand.

So, you take a quiz that works in your industry, like let’s say you sell coffee, you make a what-kind-of-coffee-drink-are-you quiz, and you share that out onto social channels, and your website, and things like that. And you use it to draw people in. And then within the quizzes built on our platform, you can ask people for their email address to see the results. Then you have that contact. And you can follow up. And you can segment those emails based on what kind of coffee drink they are for that example. And then you can send somebody a latte email versus a cappuccino email.

And it’s magical, because you’re sending them stuff they’re interested in, which is one of the huge challenges with marketing in general, is making sure that people care about the stuff that you’re sending.

How do B2B marketers use online quizzes for lead generation?

Michelle: How should marketers approach quizzes when marketing to a business?

Josh: The key with quizzes is to remember that even within an organization, you’re selling to a person. And that person has interests, that person has things they like, they don’t like.

One good example is an enterprise security software that’s sold to large organizations. The way they made their quiz was they asked what’s your IT personality? They’re selling to IT people who buy the security software, which is sold to the company. But the person who buys it is an IT person.

Selling to a person makes sense when you understand what their interests are and what they would be drawn to. And then you try to cater to that. That’s an effective way of making the quiz for a B2B.

Michelle: Is there a delivery format or way people like to take quizzes better than others? Is it better to have it on your website? Is it better to be in social channels where they’re kind of already in a social kind of mood? What tends to work?

Josh: There’s a stack rank of what works well. Number one is Facebook. That’s where most of these things live. It’s where a majority of the traffic to quizzes comes from. The ones that do go viral, it’s on Facebook. And number two is on your website. With our platform you can launch the quiz as an announcement bar across the top of your site, or as a popup that comes up on your site after a certain time delay. Then people see it when they come to your webpage, and they take the quiz there, and you’re able to capture contact information from more of your website visitors. Those are the two main ways. We do see it used in email from time to time. It’s not nearly as effective. It’s really about Facebook and then about your website traffic.

Post quiz follow up and building out a nurturing cadence

Michelle: How do you apply your test results to a lead gen nurturing campaign?

Josh: In terms of bridging that gap over to following up with folks, you have somebody that found your quiz on Facebook or on your site, and they’ve opted in, and now you’re trying to connect that over to a follow-up email. The best way to do it is to segment your list depending on the quiz outcome. The first email you’ll send is a longer version of their quiz results. So, your quiz result was latte, let me tell you more about it. And you give them the full description via email. And what that does is even though they’ve just seen that same description for the most part within the actual quiz. Now it’s in their inbox and it feels familiar. And it’s a connection, it’s a bridge.

And now they’re seeing the same thing, they’re used to it, they know what it is. And it kind of establishes that connection between this quiz they took on Facebook, and suddenly you are being in their email inbox. That’s the important bridge email. Then the next email you send still has to do with the quiz. And what you can do is you can send out, ‘hey, here’s the other quiz results that you could have gotten but you didn’t get.’ Because people are always curious. They’re like, ‘not a latte, but like maybe if I was a cappuccino, what does that mean about me? I really want to know.’

Michelle: What if I was just an espresso shot, what does that tell me about myself?

Josh: What does that say about my personality? Very, very important. And you can send that out. So now that email is a little bit different. It’s not exactly about the quiz result. But it’s still very connected back to the original quiz. You’ve got that bridge. And then the bridge kind of expands a little bit. So that’s your second email. And then your third email is a list of suggestions for the latte person. This is obviously all about coffee, but it can go a lot of different routes.

Michelle: I’m in Seattle. I love coffee. This very much resonates with me. I’m a latte.

Josh: Perfect. So, you send a list of suggestions for a latte person. And maybe on that email you have another offer. It could be to schedule a consultation, or check out a video and try to get people to engage a bit more. But now that email is still related back to the quiz, but it’s getting a little bit further away because you’re offering new suggestions, now you’re offering new content. It’s not just from the quiz. So that’s your third email. And then the fourth email is where you do some sort of offer. You say, ‘hey, we can help out latte people to increase their productivity by 100 percent by drinking two lattes. And you should buy those from us, so click here to get your coupon.’

In other cases, it’s ‘join our webinar’ or schedule a consultation, or a free demo, watch our video, whatever it is, whatever your next offer, that’s what happens in the fourth email. You’ve got this series of four emails that are the onboarding stuff. And then you typically will filter them back into a regular drip campaign that nurtures them along a life cycle your company has set up. But those first four emails go out within the first week or two. They warm people up. They get them used to your brand sending out content. And then you’ve kind of opened the door to other content as well.

Michelle: You mentioned Facebook. Do people, from a B2B standpoint, do people take quizzes on LinkedIn? Is that something they do? Or have you started to see that more and more?

Josh: We have. LinkedIn’s big on their content stuff internally now. So, people are creating quizzes, and they’re putting them into those posts, and linking to the quizzes from those posts, and seeing some pretty good results. We’ve seen some that have done quite well on LinkedIn. It’s kind of a burgeoning channel. But it’s picking up steam. And in terms of B2B stuff, it’s the best place to go.

Michelle: Awesome. I’m sold. So, beyond the quiz technology, what do you recommend having in place, especially if I wanted to really use it from a lead gen standpoint? How does that whole flow work?

Josh: I think the main thing to think about before doing any sort of lead gen is how you’re going to follow up with people. With a quiz, it’s ideal to have those follow up emails already prepared. I think the most important thing to have is a solid onboarding sequence that you are sending to new leads already. Because if you have that, then the quiz can do well to get you new leads and plug them into that sequence. But if you don’t have the sequence, it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to have the leads if you don’t have anything to do with them after the fact. So, the most important thing is to have an onboarding flow. If you have that, you can plug a quiz right into it quickly and see how well it does for you.

Michelle: Well I learned a lot about quizzes today. How could people learn more about you and Interact? Where should they go? How could they learn more?

Josh: Our website is I write on our blog quite a bit, so, which is more of the background and kind of what’s going on behind the scenes, the psychology of it, the statistics behind why things work certain ways. That’s where you can learn more about the actual science behind what’s going on.

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Act-On Blog

SUMMARIZE() & ADDCOLUMNS() aren’t scary… if you can SEE them!

badger 44210 640 thumb SUMMARIZE() & ADDCOLUMNS() aren’t scary… if you can SEE them!

I remember feeling that way, Mr. Badger, but they’re simple… if you can SEE them!

I tried solving this problem and the internet led me to SUMMARIZE(). It was stuffed inside another function and it confused me. I felt a lot like my friend in the above picture… discouraged. DAX had been so fluid until this point! There were learning curves and lots of new ideas, but I had never bumped into a function and heard my brain just say, “Nope.”

The problem was that with all of the others I had been exposed to, the functions were “follow-able.” Either the function intuitively followed its name or I was able to go into my data model and filter some things and SEE what was really happening (by the way, Power BI, get on that). With SUMMARIZE(), there were things happening and I couldn’t see under the hood.

Before Power BI calculated tables, the only way I knew of to see the results of a DAX table function was DAX Studio (made by our friends over at SQLBI). With this calculated table functionality in Power BI, seeing SUMMARIZE() is as easy as writing it. I’ve built a simple AdventureWorks data model with a Calendar, list of Products, and Sales.

DataModel thumb SUMMARIZE() & ADDCOLUMNS() aren’t scary… if you can SEE them!

Let’s start with a simple example: Summarizing one table…

We can go to Modeling>New Table in Power BI and try out SUMMARIZE() and see how it transforms a table:

Summarize_Test = SUMMARIZE(‘Calendar’,’Calendar'[CalendarYear],’Calendar'[CalendarQuarter])

summarize thumb SUMMARIZE() & ADDCOLUMNS() aren’t scary… if you can SEE them!

SUMMARIZE() works by taking the table we gave it in the first argument (Calendar) and grouping the rows by the distinct combinations found in the columns we gave it in the second and third arguments (Calendar[CalendarYear] & Calendar[CalendarQuarter]). I like to think of it as VALUES()-Plus.”

To bring this full circle, let’s stuff our SUMMARIZE() into a formula and show how much SEEING the result helps us to understand what’s going on… Let’s say we want to know our average quarterly sales…

SalesTotal = SUM(Sales[SalesAmount])

AvgQtrlySales = AVERAGEX(SUMMARIZE(‘Calendar’,’Calendar'[CalendarYear],’Calendar'[CalendarQuarter]),[SalesTotal])

In the first measure, I simply write a measure to total up our sales dollars. In the second, we iterate over the combinations of ‘Calendar'[CalendarYear] and ‘Calendar'[CalendarQuarter] and treat each of them as if they were coordinates on a pivot table (filter context). This produces a SalesTotal for each Year/Quarter combo that we then take the average of.

Let’s say my explanation in the previous paragraph left you feeling a bit lackluster and you want to SEE the [SalesTotal] for each combination of Year and Quarter in a table. That’s where ADDCOLUMNS() comes in! Let’s take our Summarize_Test table from above, throw in an ADDCOLUMNS() and take a peek:

AddCol_Test = addcolumns 1 thumb SUMMARIZE() & ADDCOLUMNS() aren’t scary… if you can SEE them!









ADDCOLUMNS() works very much the same as my explanation of [AvgQtrlySales] above, without any averaging; it took each combination of Year and Quarter as if they were coordinates on a pivot table (filter context) and it calculated [SalesTotal]. The first argument is the name of a table or the result of a table function (like SUMMARIZE()), the second is the name of the column we are about to add, and the third is the rule for creating it.

A nagging question you may have had… “I can get these answers using a simple pivot table, why learn this?” The answer here is simple: Sure, we can get the values that ended up in our tables, but what if I want to use them dynamically in other calculations? Even if I use DAX to generate these tables, they will only refresh if I change the formula or refresh the data model. This provides a path for dynamic table calculation!

If we’re trying to hone in on what SUMMARIZE() and ADDCOLUMS() really do, SUMMARIZE() is the grouping guru and ADDCOLUMNS() is best at adding columns to DAX tables! The power that both of these functions provide far surpasses what we’ve talked about in our intro examples. Just like the first time I used CALCULATE(), we can use these patterns, without fully understanding them, to make it rain money for our companies. Play around with them and you’ll find all sorts of nuanced behavior, additional capabilities, and performance hacks.


We get it:  you probably arrived here via Google, and now that you’ve got what you needed, you’re leaving. And we’re TOTALLY cool with that – we love what we do more than enough to keep writing free content.  And besides, what’s good for the community (and the soul) is good for the brand.

But before you leave, we DO want you to know that instead of struggling your way through a project on your own, you can hire us to accelerate you into the future. Like, 88 mph in a flux-capacitor-equipped DeLorean – THAT kind of acceleration. C’mon McFly. Where you’re going, you won’t need roads.

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For SMS Messaging, Getting Routing Right Is Important

When members of Lowe’s Innovation Labs first began talking with the home improvement retailer’s senior executives about how disruptive technologies would affect the future, the presentations were well received but nothing stuck.

“We’d give a really great presentation and everyone would say, ‘Great job,’ but nothing would really happen,” says Amanda Manna, head of narratives and partnerships for the lab.

The team realized that it needed to ditch the PowerPoints and try something radical. The team’s leader, Kyle Nel, is a behavioral scientist by training. He knows people are wired to receive new information best through stories. Sharing far-future concepts through narrative, he surmised, could unlock hidden potential to drive meaningful change.

So Nel hired science fiction writers to pen the future in comic book format, with characters and a narrative arc revealed pane by pane.

The first storyline, written several years before Oculus Rift became a household name, told the tale of a couple envisioning their kitchen renovation using virtual reality headsets. The comic might have been fun and fanciful, but its intent was deadly serious. It was a vision of a future in which Lowe’s might solve one of its long-standing struggles: the approximately US$ 70 billion left on the table when people are unable to start a home improvement project because they can’t envision what it will look like.

When the lab presented leaders with the first comic, “it was like a light bulb went on,” says Manna. “Not only did they immediately understand the value of the concept, they were convinced that if we didn’t build it, someone else would.”

Today, Lowe’s customers in select stores can use the HoloRoom How To virtual reality tool to learn basic DIY skills in an interactive and immersive environment.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image2 For SMS Messaging, Getting Routing Right Is ImportantOther comics followed and were greeted with similar enthusiasm—and investment, where possible. One tells the story of robots that help customers navigate stores. That comic spawned the LoweBot, which roamed the aisles of several Lowe’s stores during a pilot program in California and is being evaluated to determine next steps.

And the comic about tools that can be 3D-printed in space? Last year, Lowe’s partnered with Made in Space, which specializes in making 3D printers that can operate in zero gravity, to install the first commercial 3D printer in the International Space Station, where it was used to make tools and parts for astronauts.

The comics are the result of sending writers out on an open-ended assignment, armed with trends, market research, and other input, to envision what home improvement planning might look like in the future or what the experience of shopping will be in 10 years. The writers come back with several potential story ideas in a given area and work collaboratively with lab team members to refine it over time.

The process of working with writers and business partners to develop the comics helps the future strategy team at Lowe’s, working under chief development officer Richard D. Maltsbarger, to inhabit that future. They can imagine how it might play out, what obstacles might surface, and what steps the company would need to take to bring that future to life.

Once the final vision hits the page, the lab team can clearly envision how to work backward to enable the innovation. Importantly, the narrative is shared not only within the company but also out in the world. It serves as a kind of “bat signal” to potential technology partners with capabilities that might be required to make it happen, says Manna. “It’s all part of our strategy for staking a claim in the future.”

Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.

Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.

This is why planning must become completely oriented toward—and sourced from—the future, rather than from the past or the present. “Every winning strategy is based on a compelling insight, but most strategic planning originates in today’s marketplace, which means the resulting plans are constrained to incremental innovation,” says Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future. “Most corporate strategists and CEOs are just inching their way to the future.” (Read more from Bob Johansen in the Thinkers story, “Fear Factor.”)

Inching forward won’t cut it anymore. Half of the S&P 500 organizations will be replaced over the next decade, according to research company Innosight. The reason? They can’t see the portfolio of possible futures, they can’t act on them, or both. Indeed, when SAP conducts future planning workshops with clients, we find that they usually struggle to look beyond current models and assumptions and lack clear ideas about how to work toward radically different futures.

Companies that want to increase their chances of long-term survival are incorporating three steps: envisioning, planning for, and executing on possible futures. And doing so all while the actual future is unfolding in expected and unexpected ways.

Those that pull it off are rewarded. A 2017 benchmarking report from the Strategic Foresight Research Network (SFRN) revealed that vigilant companies (those with the most mature processes for identifying, interpreting, and responding to factors that induce change) achieved 200% greater market capitalization growth and 33% higher profitability than the average, while the least mature companies experienced negative market-cap growth and had 44% lower profitability.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image3 1024x572 For SMS Messaging, Getting Routing Right Is Important

Looking Outside the Margins

“Most organizations lack sufficient capacity to detect, interpret, and act on the critically important but weak and ambiguous signals of fresh threats or new opportunities that emerge on the periphery of their usual business environment,” write George S. Day and Paul J. H. Schoemaker in their book Peripheral Vision.

But that’s exactly where effective future planning begins: examining what is happening outside the margins of day-to-day business as usual in order to peer into the future.

Business leaders who take this approach understand that despite the uncertainties of the future there are drivers of change that can be identified and studied and actions that can be taken to better prepare for—and influence—how events unfold.

That starts with developing foresight, typically a decade out. Ten years, most future planners agree, is the sweet spot. “It is far enough out that it gives you a bit more latitude to come up with a broader way to the future, allowing for disruption and innovation,” says Brian David Johnson, former chief futurist for Intel and current futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “But you can still see the light from it.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image4 For SMS Messaging, Getting Routing Right Is ImportantThe process involves gathering information about the factors and forces—technological, business, sociological, and industry or ecosystem trends—that are effecting change to envision a range of potential impacts.

Seeing New Worlds

Intel, for example, looks beyond its own industry boundaries to envision possible future developments in adjacent businesses in the larger ecosystem it operates in. In 2008, the Intel Labs team, led by anthropologist Genevieve Bell, determined that the introduction of flexible glass displays would open up a whole new category of foldable consumer electronic devices.

To take advantage of that advance, Intel would need to be able to make silicon small enough to fit into some imagined device of the future. By the time glass manufacturer Corning unveiled its ultra-slim, flexible glass surface for mobile devices, laptops, televisions, and other displays of the future in 2012, Intel had already created design prototypes and kicked its development into higher gear. “Because we had done the future casting, we were already imagining how people might use flexible glass to create consumer devices,” says Johnson.

Because future planning relies so heavily on the quality of the input it receives, bringing in experts can elevate the practice. They can come from inside an organization, but the most influential insight may come from the outside and span a wide range of disciplines, says Steve Brown, a futurist, consultant, and CEO of who worked for Intel Labs from 2007 to 2016.

Companies may look to sociologists or behaviorists who have insight into the needs and wants of people and how that influences their actions. Some organizations bring in an applied futurist, skilled at scanning many different forces and factors likely to coalesce in important ways (see Do You Need a Futurist?).

Do You Need a Futurist?

Most organizations need an outsider to help envision their future. Futurists are good at looking beyond the big picture to the biggest picture.

Business leaders who want to be better prepared for an uncertain and disruptive future will build future planning as a strategic capability into their organizations and create an organizational culture that embraces the approach. But working with credible futurists, at least in the beginning, can jump-start the process.

“The present can be so noisy and business leaders are so close to it that it’s helpful to provide a fresh outside-in point of view,” says veteran futurist Bob Johansen.

To put it simply, futurists like Johansen are good at connecting dots—lots of them. They look beyond the boundaries of a single company or even an industry, incorporating into their work social science, technical research, cultural movements, economic data, trends, and the input of other experts.

They can also factor in the cultural history of the specific company with whom they’re working, says Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “These large corporations have processes and procedures in place—typically for good reasons,” Johnson explains. “But all of those reasons have everything to do with the past and nothing to do with the future. Looking at that is important so you can understand the inertia that you need to overcome.”

One thing the best futurists will say they can’t do: predict the future. That’s not the point. “The future punishes certainty,” Johansen says, “but it rewards clarity.” The methods futurists employ are designed to trigger discussions and considerations of possibilities corporate leaders might not otherwise consider.

You don’t even necessarily have to buy into all the foresight that results, says Johansen. Many leaders don’t. “Every forecast is debatable,” Johansen says. “Foresight is a way to provoke insight, even if you don’t believe it. The value is in letting yourself be provoked.”

External expert input serves several purposes. It brings everyone up to a common level of knowledge. It can stimulate and shift the thinking of participants by introducing them to new information or ideas. And it can challenge the status quo by illustrating how people and organizations in different sectors are harnessing emerging trends.

The goal is not to come up with one definitive future but multiple possibilities—positive and negative—along with a list of the likely obstacles or accelerants that could surface on the road ahead. The result: increased clarity—rather than certainty—in the face of the unknown that enables business decision makers to execute and refine business plans and strategy over time.

Plotting the Steps Along the Way

Coming up with potential trends is an important first step in futuring, but even more critical is figuring out what steps need to be taken along the way: eight years from now, four years from now, two years from now, and now. Considerations include technologies to develop, infrastructure to deploy, talent to hire, partnerships to forge, and acquisitions to make. Without this vital step, says Brown, everybody goes back to their day jobs and the new thinking generated by future planning is wasted. To work, the future steps must be tangible, concrete, and actionable.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image5 For SMS Messaging, Getting Routing Right Is ImportantOrganizations must build a roadmap for the desired future state that anticipates both developments and detours, complete with signals that will let them know if they’re headed in the right direction. Brown works with corporate leaders to set indicator flags to look out for on the way to the anticipated future. “If we see these flagged events occurring in the ecosystem, they help to confirm the strength of our hypothesis that a particular imagined future is likely to occur,” he explains.

For example, one of Brown’s clients envisioned two potential futures: one in which gestural interfaces took hold and another in which voice control dominated. The team set a flag to look out for early examples of the interfaces that emerged in areas such as home appliances and automobiles. “Once you saw not just Amazon Echo but also Google Home and other copycat speakers, it would increase your confidence that you were moving more towards a voice-first era rather than a gesture-first era,” Brown says. “It doesn’t mean that gesture won’t happen, but it’s less likely to be the predominant modality for communication.”

How to Keep Experiments from Being Stifled

Once organizations have a vision for the future, making it a reality requires testing ideas in the marketplace and then scaling them across the enterprise. “There’s a huge change piece involved,”
says Frank Diana, futurist and global consultant with Tata Consultancy Services, “and that’s the place where most
businesses will fall down.”

Many large firms have forgotten what it’s like to experiment in several new markets on a small scale to determine what will stick and what won’t, says René Rohrbeck, professor of strategy at the Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences. Companies must be able to fail quickly, bring the lessons learned back in, adapt, and try again.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image6 For SMS Messaging, Getting Routing Right Is ImportantLowe’s increases its chances of success by creating master narratives across a number of different areas at once, such as robotics, mixed-reality tools, on-demand manufacturing, sustainability, and startup acceleration. The lab maps components of each by expected timelines: short, medium, and long term. “From there, we’ll try to build as many of them as quickly as we can,” says Manna. “And we’re always looking for that next suite of things that we should be working on.” Along the way certain innovations, like the HoloRoom How-To, become developed enough to integrate into the larger business as part of the core strategy.

One way Lowe’s accelerates the process of deciding what is ready to scale is by being open about its nascent plans with the world. “In the past, Lowe’s would never talk about projects that weren’t at scale,” says Manna. Now the company is sharing its future plans with the media and, as a result, attracting partners that can jump-start their realization.

Seeing a Lowe’s comic about employee exoskeletons, for example, led Virginia Tech engineering professor Alan Asbeck to the retailer. He helped develop a prototype for a three-month pilot with stock employees at a Christiansburg, Virginia, store.

The high-tech suit makes it easier to move heavy objects. Employees trying out the suits are also fitted with an EEG headset that the lab incorporates into all its pilots to gauge unstated, subconscious reactions. That direct feedback on the user experience helps the company refine its innovations over time.

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Make the Future Part of the Culture

Regardless of whether all the elements of its master narratives come to pass, Lowe’s has already accomplished something important: It has embedded future thinking into the culture of the company.

Companies like Lowe’s constantly scan the environment for meaningful economic, technology, and cultural changes that could impact its future assessments and plans. “They can regularly draw on future planning to answer challenges,” says Rohrbeck. “This intensive, ongoing, agile strategizing is only possible because they’ve done their homework up front and they keep it updated.”

It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen in the future, but companies can help to shape it, says Manna of Lowe’s. “It’s really about painting a picture of a preferred future state that we can try to achieve while being flexible and capable of change as we learn things along the way.” D!

About the Authors

Dan Wellers is Global Lead, Digital Futures, at SAP.

Kai Goerlich is Chief Futurist at SAP’s Innovation Center Network.

Stephanie Overby is a Boston-based business and technology journalist.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


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Digitalist Magazine

Judicial Confirmations

blank Judicial Confirmations

With Judge Moore losing his Senate run, it appears to be bad news. There’s more good news coming our way. Trump had two more judges confirmed.

Texan Don Willett was confirmed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court as was Texan James Ho. Both appear to be constitutionalists. A number of snowflakes expressed their disdain for these two even being nominated.

While things are looking bleak at times, remember… WINNING! Feels good to see Trump continue to Make America Great Again.


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PowerObjects’ Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

nlkhkj 300x225 PowerObjects’ Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

We’ve had a great year at PowerObjects and that goes for our Microsoft Dynamics 365 blog too! We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 most popular blogs posts for 2017, you check them out below.

10) CRM for Dynamics 365—Relationship Insights

Coming in at #10 is one of the exciting new CRM features of Dynamics 365, Relationship Insights. The Relationship Insights feature is for analyzing our relationships and providing us timely and actionable insights into our sales, communication, and support. If Relationship Insights sounds interesting to you and you’d like to learn more about configuration requirements, then watch this webinar: CRM for Dynamics 365—Relationship Insights.

9) Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update: Multi-Select Option Sets

We predicted one of the Dynamics 365 July 2017 Updates blogs would make it on the Top 10 Blogs of the Year and we were right! The Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update has loads of exciting new features and enhancements. As we see more previews, we’ve prepared blogs and webinars with all that we know so that you are prepared for the upcoming release. Be sure to click here to watch the Microsoft Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update webinar series!

8) A Must Know Shortcut: Adding Hyperlinks to an Email Template in Dynamics 365

Take a look at how this must know shortcut became our 8th most popular blog post of 2017. One feature that is not always utilized by our clients is Email Templates. Email templates work well when you want to send out standardized information to customers, but don’t need to create an entire email campaign. One question we receive from many of our clients is how to turn plain text within the body of an email into a hyperlink. Have no fear, this blog will show you how!

7) Two Rockin’ Ways to Enable Editable Grids with Dynamics 365

There are two ways to enable the new “Editable Grids” functionality delivered with Microsoft Dynamics 365. At the entity level, which will turn every view into an editable grid, or specifically on a sub-grid on any form. This blog shows you the steps for enabling either one! For more Dynamics 365 information, check out our Dynamics 365 page.

6) When You Reassign Accounts and Contacts, All Activities Are Also Reassigned

Dynamics 365 is a wonderful tool and many of the configurations are just as great. There is one configuration in particular that occurs out-of-the-box that can be changed improved in all implementations: the parental relationship between Accounts/Contacts and their child records. This popular blog walks through how to change this behavior for the Account and Phone Call relationship, and these steps can be followed for most Parent-Child relationships in Dynamics 365.

5) Troubleshooting Solution Import Errors

Remember when CRM life was so much simpler that solutions did not yet exist? If you had separate development and production environments and you wanted to move your customizations, you simply clicked Export Customizations and voila! It was done. Those were the days. With CRM 2011, the concept of solutions was introduced, giving us a new set of powers – by picking individual entities, workflows, etc., we now had the ability to group together and move only those customizations we wanted to include in our solution. If you want to learn more about solutions, please have a look at our CRM Book.

4) D365 In Focus: Get Started with PowerChat in 5 Easy Steps [VIDEO]

In the two short months since this Dynamics 365 In Focus video was released, it’s racked up enough views to nab the title of the 4th most viewed blog post of the year! One of our PowerPack experts, Jack Sapp, addresses how you can get started with PowerChat in five easy steps. If PowerChat didn’t excite you, explore the other thirty-plus PowerPacks we have to offer by clicking here!

121417 2058 PowerObject1 PowerObjects’ Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

3) 5 Things We Love About Dynamics 365 App for Outlook

Not only do people love the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook but they also love this blog, which is why it comes in at #3 on our list. The Dynamics 365 App for Outlook has gotten faster, smarter, and more convenient. Connecting Dynamics 365 with Outlook, the app makes it easy to track emails, tasks, and appointments without installing any additional software. Click here and find out what else it can do!

2) Top 10 New CRM Features in the Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update

This Top 10 has become so popular it’s made it as the #2 spot! The Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update has loads of exciting new features and enhancements, which makes it difficult to pick a top ten. We’ve done our best to highlight the best new features and enhancements. Be sure to click here to view our complete Microsoft Dynamics 365 July 2017 Update webinar series.

1) CRM for Dynamics 365: Top 10 New Feature

Drum roll please! Coming in at #1 is CRM for Dynamics 365: Top 10 New Features. Along with new branding, this fall release has brought many updates. Many are available for both Online and On-Premises, some – for now – are Online only. See the full list of CRM for Dynamics 365: Top 10 New Features.

There you have it! These are our Top 10 Most Popular Blogs for 2017. To stay up to date with the latest Dynamics 365 news and tips and tricks – be sure to subscribe to our blog!

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

The Strange Bedfellows That Make Sales AI Work

At some point, the discussion about artificial intelligence and sales is going to mature. Too many people still think AI for sales will resemble C-3PO, a bumbling assistant that gets in the way more often than not, or the Hal 9000, subverting the sales process in ways that endanger the very existence of the sales person.

As the discussions mature, and as people learn more about the somewhat arcane inner workings of AI, the reality is becoming clearer: how AI will impact sales and sales people is… complicated.

That’s mostly because the teaching of these systems — or “training,” in the AI vernacular — is done by subjecting the systems to large amounts of data. We’ve been trained by science fiction to think that all the data in the world is contained in that system — but that isn’t really the case. The data used for training must be focused on the objectives of the AI system — and that depends on humans selecting the right data.

Defining the Terms

To understand how that works, you need to understand the terminology. “Artificial intelligence,” “machine learning” and “deep learning” often are thrown about carelessly, which contributes to the general confusion about the technology.

To put it concisely, “artificial intelligence” simply refers to a machine that uses the same characteristics as human intelligence. “General AI” is the sci-fi image of the starship Enterprise’s seemingly all-knowing computer, and that is still a long way off. But “narrow AI” — artificial intelligence targeted at a discrete set of data aimed at helping people in specific roles — already plays a role in our lives.

Early AI was entirely hand-coded, with a long series of “yes-no” decision trees. “Machine learning” offers something different: the ability to use algorithms to parse data, learn from the data, and make deterministic predictions from the data. In other words, ML combines data with algorithms — in large volumes — to “train” the system to teach itself on an ongoing basis.

The next level, and the place real breakthrough work is taking place, is “deep learning.” Complex sets of algorithms make a series of many decisions about data, assigning a weight to each input. At the end of the process, they draw a conclusion based on the weightings of those decisions. The term “deep” comes from the depth of the neural networks, which must be substantial in order to simulate what human brains can do automatically and on the fly.

A DL system can learn, build on its past decisions, and become more accurate as it acquires and processes more data. To train it, data is introduced into the first layer of the network, and individual neurons assign a weighting to the input — how correct or incorrect it is — based on the task being performed. If the algorithm informs the neural network that it was wrong, the error is bounced back through the network’s layers. It then must consider other attributes and weigh the attributes examined at each higher or lower layer. Then it guesses over and over again until it has the correct weightings and gets the correct answer practically every time.

Once the neural network is properly weighted, it will have become a massive database filled with an enormous amount of weights and thresholds — the vast majority of which are not needed for any one request.

Digging through it all would slow performance to a crawl, so the network instead uses inference: taking smaller batches of real-world data and quickly coming back with the correct answer (and doing so repeatably), in a way that is simplified, compressed and optimized for runtime performance.

Over time, these models and applications should become smarter, faster and more accurate, and training will grow less cumbersome.

With this in mind, your organization already can identify the people who will play key roles in making AI a success for your sales department.

Your CIO and CFO

AI systems, with their massive data requirements, will depend on a flexible, scalable storage infrastructure. The training data is an enormous set of information, and the AI system itself will generate a tremendous amount of data that needs to be stored, managed, and fed back into the system to keep it current.

Your CIO will have to be prepared to build and manage what is known as “a scale-out storage infrastructure” — that is, an infinitely scalable system that can grow easily in response to needs. Object storage is a good option for this, since it’s scalable and can be managed as a single namespace even when its nodes are spread all over the world.

If you’re going to build this infrastructure — and bring on new AI technologies — it also will be necessary for your CFO to understand your investments and be OK with investments in tools — both hardware and software — to deal with an explosion in data.

Your Head of Sales Operations

Sales Ops increasingly is becoming the keeper of insights pulled from data via analytics. It’s becoming sales ops’ job to know which data about sales is the most important, and how to use it. That puts them in an ideal position to know the best sets of data to use to train the AI system.

Data from all aspects of sales — from CRM data to compensation management to sales training and enablement to configure price quote (CPQ) — can and should be part of what’s used for training AI. The key question is, what do you want AI to do for your sales team?

It may be a better bet to use a narrow set of data at first to deliver specific results than to try and build some all-knowing sales AI. If that’s the decision, then it’s up to sales ops to figure out the best data sets to provide for the training process.

Your Salespeople

AI does not sell by itself. People still buy from people. Your sales team ultimately will be the ones who determine the success of any AI efforts. Will they know the right questions to ask the system to generate useful insights? Do they have the skills to weave information pushed forward by AI into the conversations they have with customers? At a more basic level, will they have the desire to adopt the system, or will they simply ignore it?

Salespeople have proven adept at ignoring powerful sales technology in the past; if members of your team have internalized that skepticism of technology, you’ll need to work hard to make sure they aren’t left behind.

Furthermore, once they are using the system, salespeople have to maintain communications with sales ops or whoever is put in charge of the AI application to help eliminate wrong answers when they sneak through — and they invariably will.

A sales team that has to work around the occasional mistaken recommendation and doesn’t feel sufficiently engaged to help remedy the situation is likely to stop using AI entirely.

The most important attribute of the sales team ultimately centers on sales talent. Will your salespeople know how to ask for the right data from AI, and then will they know how to present that data to the customer in a way that advances the sale? Sales is still, ultimately, a human interaction. AI merely provides key advice along the way.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that the individuals on the AI vendor or integrator’s team are the make-or-break people for your sales AI. The reality is that AI will challenge your sales team’s communication skills, and force people to partner in ways that they may not yet be comfortable. To deliver success, artificial intelligence may well depend on your team’s natural intelligence.
end enn The Strange Bedfellows That Make Sales AI Work

Chris%20Bucholtz The Strange Bedfellows That Make Sales AI WorkChris Bucholtz has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2009. His focus is on CRM, sales and marketing software, and the interface between people and technology. A noted speaker and author, Chris has covered the CRM space for 10 years.
Email Chris.

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Oracle + NetSuite Social Impact Launches Buildathon 4Good in Manila

Posted by Debra Askanase, Project Manager, Oracle NetSuite Social Impact

For Hazel May Pajotagana, CFO of HiGi Energy, a social enterprise focused on clean energy and environmentally friendly products, balancing the demands of managing finances for a busy nonprofit organization leaves little time to experiment and optimize HiGi Energy’s ERP system. That’s where the Oracle + NetSuite Social Impact Buildathon 4Good comes in.

The one-day event in Manila, Philippines provided real-time NetSuite customizations for seven local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and one social enterprise, all Social Impact donation recipients. They included the Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology, UP System Information Technology Foundation, HiGi Consultancy Corporation (HiGi Energy), Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, Generation Hope, ChildHope Asia Philippines, and Save the Children Philippines.

The Buildathon is a new effort for the Social Impact group. Unlike the Hackathon 4Good held at SuiteWorld, the Buildathon 4Good focuses on helping multiple nonprofits solve the same challenge, and are deployed the same day. Organizations were invited to participate in either of two challenges: track the donor life cycle, or develop customized dashboards.

Suite Pro Bono 

Through the Suite Pro Bono program, 32 local NetSuite employees worked collaboratively with seven nonprofit organizations and one social enterprise to craft customized solutions to the challenges. Employees represented the Product, Support, and Professional Services departments. Four highly skilled employees served as team advisors who checked solution feasibility. Prizes were awarded to the teams that were the first to deploy, and to the overall challenge winners.

Judges included Hazel del Rosario-Lee (Managing Director of Oracle NetSuite Philippines), Anton Ancheta (Oracle NetSuite Consulting Senior Practice Director), Chester Que (CEO, Achieve Without Borders) and VJ Africa (CEO, Tech4Good).

Buildathon Oracle + NetSuite Social Impact Launches Buildathon 4Good in Manila

Hazel del Rosario Lee, Managing Director of Oracle NetSuite Philippines addressing the Buildathon 4 Good

For the Social Impact organizations, this was a rare chance to receive pro bono consulting. Every nonprofit works with leads, whether they are potential members, donors, or participants. Developing a customization to track the lead-to-donor lifecycle is a big step to increasing efficiencies.


The organizations left with at least one unique customization enabling them to better utilize NetSuite, and work more effectively. Many teams deployed solutions above and beyond the challenge requirements, adding additional customizations.

Hazel May Pajotagana, of HiGi Energy, learned a lot from the dashboard challenge.

“With the help of the team, I learned a lot about NetSuite…and NetSuite is helping us master the software.”

Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development was awarded the overall dashboard winner, and ChildHope Asia Philippines won the lead-to-donor life cycle challenge. Philippines Director, Hazel del Rosario-Lee, in her concluding remarks, praised the team efforts and the Buildathon 4Good: “Thank you for maximizing NetSuite functionality.” The Social Impact group looks forward to many more successful Buildathon 4 Good events in the future.

Buildathon2 Oracle + NetSuite Social Impact Launches Buildathon 4Good in Manila

Learn more about what the Hackathon 4Good did for Found Animals Foundation and the winners of one recent Hackathon 4Good.

For more information on Oracle + NetSuite Social Impact, read our data sheet here and check out our website. For questions about the social donation program, contact

Posted on Thu, December 14, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Just Published: 2018 State of the Mainframe Survey Report

The results of fourth annual mainframe survey are in! It’s clear that mainframes continue to play a vital role in today’s business landscape, but optimization is critical.

Syncsort’s newly published survey report, State of Mainframe for 2018, reviews mainframe trends and strategies for the coming year. Many organizations look to leverage zIIP engines to offload general processor cycles to maximize resources and delay/prevent hardware upgrades.

Some enterprises are also planning to use savings from mainframe optimization to fund more strategic projects, such as enhanced mainframe data analytics to support better business decisions for SLA attainment as well as security and compliance initiatives.

blog banner SotMF 2018 Just Published: 2018 State of the Mainframe Survey Report

Download the reportto see the 5 key trends to watch for in 2018 as well as IT professionals’ top objectives for improving performance and saving money over the next 12 months.

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Deciding Whether to Use Azure SQL Data Warehouse

From time to time I publish on the BlueGranite team blog. My newest post is a decision tree about whether or not Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a good fit.

In Azure you have several technology choices for where to implement a data warehouse. Since Azure SQL DW is an MPP (massively parallel processing) platform, it’s only appropriate in certain circumstances. Hopefully the decision tree can help educate people on the best use cases and situations for Azure SQL DW, and prevent making the wrong technology choice which leads to performance issues down the road.

Please head on over to the BlueGranite site to check out the post

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TIBCO and Change Healthcare Partner to Accelerate Healthcare Transformation

change healthcare TIBCO and Change Healthcare Partner to Accelerate Healthcare Transformation

TIBCO and Change Healthcare, one of the largest independent healthcare technology companies in the United States, have announced a partnership aimed at helping providers, payers, and pharmacies better use their health IT data to improve efficiency and effectively manage complex workflows. By integrating the TIBCO Connected Intelligence portfolio with Change Healthcare’s broad portfolio of software and analytics, network solutions, and technology-enabled services, the companies will innovate new solutions for translating data into actionable insights based on business needs.

“We’re excited to be working with Change Healthcare to help improve processes around healthcare and positively impact peoples’ lives by innovating new technology solutions,” said Thomas Been, chief marketing officer, TIBCO. “We see this as an opportunity to work together to create solutions based on the TIBCO Connected Intelligence portfolio, while improving the customer experience for users of these technologies. This is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Change Healthcare already incorporates TIBCO’s business intelligence tool within its Analytics Explorer solution, which uses health data visualization to enable users to drill up, down, and across data—free of the dimensional constraints and IT dependence that traditional approaches require. Healthcare organizations can more quickly turn data into insights, and insights into actions that lead to better outcomes.

“Through our partnership with TIBCO, we can innovate new capabilities that turn data into meaningful information for decision-making,” said Alex Choy, chief information officer and executive vice president, Research & Development, Change Healthcare. “We’re excited about the opportunities to leverage our respective strengths in data, analytics, and network connectivity to help organizations navigate the complex transition to a value-based healthcare system.”

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