Monthly Archives: July 2015
In the latest excellent Sue Halpern NYRB piece, this one about Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk bio, the critic characterizes the technologist as equal parts Iron Man and Tin Man, a person of otherworldly accomplishment who lacks a heart, his globe-saving goals having seemingly liberated him from a sense of empathy.
As Halpern notes, even Steve Jobs, given to auto-hagiography of stunning proportion, had ambitions dwarfed by Musk’s, who aims to not just save the planet but to also take us to a new one, engaging in a Space Race to Mars with NASA (while simultaneously doing business with the agency). The founder of Space X, Tesla, etc., may be parasitic on existing technologies, but he’s intent on revitalizing, not damaging, his hosts, doing so by bending giant corporations, entire industries and even governments to meet his will. An excerpt:
Two years after the creation of SpaceX, President George W. Bush announced an ambitious plan for manned space exploration called the Vision for Space Exploration. Three years later, NASA chief Michael Griffin suggested that the space agency could have a Mars mission off the ground in thirty years. (Just a few weeks ago, six NASA scientists emerged from an eight-month stint in a thirty-six-foot isolation dome on the side of Mauna Loa meant to mimic conditions on Mars.) Musk, ever the competitor, says he will get people to Mars by 2026. The race is on.
How are those Mars colonizers going to communicate with friends and family back on earth? Musk is working on that. He has applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to test a satellite-beamed Internet service that, he says, “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space.” The system would consist of four thousand small, low-orbiting satellites that would ring the earth, handing off services as they traveled through space. Though satellite Internet has been tried before, Musk thinks that his system, relying as it does on SpaceX’s own rockets and relatively inexpensive and small satellites, might actually work. Google and Fidelity apparently think so too. They recently invested $ 1 billion in SpaceX, in part, according to The Washington Post, to support Musk’s satellite Internet project.
While SpaceX’s four thousand circling satellites have the potential to create a whole new meaning for the World Wide Web, since they will beam down the Internet to every corner of the earth, the system holds additional interest for Musk. “Mars is going to need a global communications system, too,” he apparently told a group of engineers he was hoping to recruit at an event last January in Redmond, Washington. “A lot of what we do developing Earth-based communications can be leveraged for Mars as well, as crazy as that may sound.”•
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NOTE: CRM Watchlist 2016 registration is still open. Scroll to end of this article for more information.
Once again, my apologies for making this year’s Watchlist reviews a longer and more drawn out effort than in the past. Normally I’m done end of March. This time its going to be not end of July as I thought but probably closer to middle of September. While it takes out some of the drama and momentum, I hope the reviews give both you as readers and the companies being reviewed, who are winners of the Watchlist after all, some value. If they don’t, my bad.
All that said, I’ve reached the stage in the reviews where the rest of them are not really companies I can group. Each kind of stands on its own. So please then, understand, that Blackbaud and Gigya have little in common other than they are software/services technology and they both won the Watchlist. But each is pretty damned singular in their respective fields – and exceptionally good at what they do.
Dive, Greenberg, dive!
This is not just an 800-pound gorilla but is King Kong, though so far has had a much better life with no ending on the Empire State Building in sight. They are a dominant company in the world of non-profit technology. While I don’t know what their market share is relative to others in their space other than “BIG; VERY BIG”, I can give you some anecdotal idea of what I’m talking about. Several years ago, while doing a review of one of the CRM Idol companies who happen to be in the non-profit tech sector, I asked them who their target market was. Their answer “anyone that Blackbaud doesn’t want.” True story. I do know that their revenue for the 1st quarter of 2015 was a 15.2% increase from last year at that time to $ 147 million, meaning a run rate of $ 588 million and the year is just starting. That is, according to Blackbaud, one eighth of their addressable market and maybe 5% of the total market.
Here are a few more numbers:
- 33 years in business
- 30,000 customers in 60 countries
- 2800+ employees
- $ 100 billion in non-profit funding raised and managed using Blackbaud technology
The only reason I’m throwing numbers at you is to give you a sense of how significant this fascinating company is the in non-profit market. Keep in mind what we mean here when we are talking non-profit organizations. Pretty much the only thing they have in common when it comes to their actual missions is that they have a 501(c)(3) tax status with the IRS if they are a U.S. non-profit or the equivalent in the other 59 countries. To underscore the point, here is a look at a representative sampling of Blackbaud customers – American Red Cross, My Friends’ Place (Hollywood), University of Virginia, World Wildlife Fund. You get the picture? How do you serve all these highly differentiated constituency-based interests? Yet, Blackbaud does this and is a top of mind company in this particular sector.
There are multiple reasons that they’ve achieved the impact they have — which I’ll outline shortly — but you are talking a true beast of a company. That said, of course, there are things they aren’t doing that they should to expand that total market and their presence in it. But all in due time.
So what do we have with this company?
Aside from a highly diverse and experienced management team, this is a company that has a clear cut – and I mean crystal clear – vision, mission, strategy and then proceeds to exceed accordingly – a highly aligned company.
What do I mean by a highly aligned company? Let me put it this way. The lowest possible level of understanding this is in the word “defensible.” That means that what a company says is defensible – proven by what it does.
But there is an additional nuance.
As I think, in this age of authenticity and transparency – I use the words both without irony but also with sarcasm for their overuse – we all pretty well know that for businesses to succeed, it is necessary to establish trust with its customers and the knowledge that trust is possible with its prospects. That means that, like anything else, you have to be willing to be a “standup” institution and do what you say you are going to do.
To show some real consistency in the alignment of a vision and a mission with a strategy and its execution basically says to the customer and prospects – “hey, this company has it together. They not only have a view of the future that I can buy into but an idea of how they as a company are going to help that along AND a plan for that – AND they are doing it!” If the company is in a domain that is of interest, its moths to a light. You have this implicit trust in who they are because they are not only showing you a vision and mission that appeals to little ol’ you but are doing it too! Plus, they are doing it in a way that engenders your trust because following step 1 is a step 2. It doesn’t end at a chasm or some empty void.
Blackbaud adheres to this in a big way. To give you an example, their vision is “to power the vision of philanthropy from fundraising to outcomes.” While not as elegant as EY’s “building a better business world”, it is a clear exposition of what they see and it has that other quality that goes along with a vision’s magical foresightedness – the customer’s/prospect’s willingness to buy into the vision. It is a vision that a non-profit can see happening down the road.
What makes Blackbaud beyond just interesting, but, likely trustworthy (I say this without being their customer or they being a client so my knowledge isn’t intimate), is that they have a clear cut strategy for the company that they think will lead to achievement of this vision. In their case it has five elements:
- Accelerating organic revenue growth
- Accelerating their move to the cloud
- Expanding their total addressable market (TAM) through “tuck-in” (their term) and strategic acquisitions
- Optimizing their back office infrastructure
- Implementing 3 year margin improvement.
This is an operational strategy to be sure and honestly, if that’s all there was, so what? They want to make operational improvements to their company, like any company. But Blackbaud also engages in the sector that they service in a huge way. They work with the Clinton Global Initiative; they provide Business Doing Good – web resources for small to mid-sized companies to establish give-back programs; they provide company wide, employee-chosen grants to communities in areas they have offices in; etc. I could go on because there is a lot more, but it gives you an idea.
Their product and services retain this consistency too. If they are powering philanthropy from fundraising to outcomes, then they have a wide range of products and services that they have to provide to make this a seamless effort for the non-profits to be able to achieve those outcomes. They have an EXTENSIVE product suite and platform that covers the gamut of non-profits both in size, in deployment need and in outcomes required. In the CRM part of their business alone they have four products – each of which has a different function from midsized to large non-profits with variable delivery needs (Raisers Edge) to cloud based “multichannel” CRM (Luminate CRM) to an enterprise level platform (Blackbaud CRM) to small and simple cloud delivery (Etapestry).
I hesitate to call this an ecosystem for reasons I’ll explain below but let’s at least say it’s a relatively complete product offering that serves the market they address, though not the total market they speak of. That would call for an ecosystem that they don’t have or even think about at this point. All in all, too, its consistent with their vision, mission and strategy, and that is far and away, a mission critical win.
In the interests of space and my own personal laziness, I won’t detail the thought leadership or partner programs here except to highlight two things.
They have a deep commitment to thought leadership for non-profits and assets like Business Doing Good and their trends in giving analysis site, The Blackbaud Index in combination with positioning their own employees as thought leaders via their Blackbaud Leaders program AND market research is sufficient to give you a tip-of-the-iceberg idea of how committed they are to this. This is almost a paradigmatic program for other companies to emulate in their own realms.
Their partner program has one thing I want to highlight that I think is a paradigm, not almost one, for other companies. In October 2014, they announced a Consulting Partner Program that is designed for providing independent consultants with the tools, materials and certifications they need. Other than Microsoft who is perhaps the most brilliant company when it comes to both overall partner programs and their independent consultant approach, Blackbaud is the only company I’ve seen who works at making this important in their partner configuration.
So what am I saying here? I’m saying that this company has the impact it has because it knows what it has to do to have it – and then proceeds to do it. Which makes it trustworthy for its future and current customers too.
Of course there are things that they don’t do that they have to in order to continue that 15-20% year over year revenue growth. Or escalate it. What would that be, you ask in amazement? I thought they were nearly perfect. Ahhhh, I say in response, I’m so glad that you inquired.
What they can do
Consider other strategic platform partners – Luminate CRM, which Blackbaud touts as its cloud based multi-channel CRM solution is built entirely on Salesforce1 and sits in the Salesforce App Exchange as one of its many applications. While I think it was a good idea to build a product on Salesforce1, I’m not 100% sure I’d be marketing that product as a core product, especially given the presence of the Salesforce Foundation. One thing that Blackbaud needs to understand is that the Salesforce Foundation does provide software and services to the non-profits that are in its orbit, which at some point is likely to conflict with the Salesforce Foundation mission. I would think it would be in Blackbaud’s interest to start exploring other platforms that they might utilize. I don’t know if that involves a port, connectors or a whole new product, but companies like Microsoft etc. could lead to a new, somewhat diversified and slightly less risky market.
Put optimized money where analyst relations mouth is – This is still their weakest point. They have made their intentions to invest more time and effort with the independent and boutique analysts on top of their well-invested dollars in Gartner, Forrester and IDC. I have seen NO evidence of their effort so far this year – with, I suppose, the exception of the CRM Watchlist, and one briefing for me once. But they are well behind even the industry baseline for analyst relations though they understand their need to do something. This year, 2015, they need to act on it with a program that briefs the independents/boutique analysts as well as the three they do work with. They have no leeway in this matter – if they care to participate in the CRM universe at least. Its been standard practice there for years. They need to at least get up to speed.
Think stronger re: ecosystem – This is one that needs to be tweaked only. Blackbaud is peculiar when it comes to their addressable v. their overall market. They get the addressable market. They built an platform, product suite and have an organized ecosystem to take care of it. But there is no apparent ecosystem for them to attack the total market that they think they could have. This is reflected in something that they are doing that is ironically positive – the creation of a marketplace for their partners to highlight and sell their complementary wares – the same approach that Salesforce takes with the App Exchange. But this isn’t thinking in terms of the ecosystem. They need sit down, identify the total market they want to attack – not just what they think the market is – and then based on that (and there is a lot more detail than what I’m suggesting here. Its just way beyond the scope of this post) decide what they need to provide end to end and then see what they do provide and what partners – strategic go to market partners – they need to provide the rest. Its not just an app exchange like market place. That’s tactical. I’m suggesting a strategic, systematic effort. Then they can attack whatever parts of that total market they want to and probably succeed at it.
Blackbaud is a great company and a dominant one with impact now and probably for years to come. This is the time for them to grow, grow, grow and I have no doubt they will. Why else would they have won the Watchlist?
Two years ago, Gigya won the Watchlist, last year they didn’t. This year they did. Breaking my protocol, I want to tell you why Gigya didn’t win the Watchlist last year. Because they actually took my advice. They lost because they took my advice. Which makes me into something of a scurvy heel, now doesn’t it.
No, it doesn’t. I swear. Let me explain.
When Gigya won in 2013, I realized and told them in subsequent conversations I thought they needed to think bigger and expand their markets. They apparently were thinking along the same lines and in 2014, took a bold step and on the one hand, went beyond social identity to customer identity management and took an even bolder step by carving out this as submarket of an very mature identity and access management (IAM) market.
What made this a big move – and it was why they didn’t win in 2014 – is that to be the market creator and maker (two different things) takes a lot more than a product. It takes the creation of the content that’s necessary to both identify the market and its differences from existing similar (if any) markets and the content to explain how it all works. It takes the identification of the processes that make it run and the rules and procedures that make it work best. It takes a lot of risk because there is no guarantee that its going to take hold. Witness Partner Relationship Management – a great idea over the years but one that has as of yet to create a sustained market. But it remains a great idea and even has companies that produce quality applications and services for it. So the risk of failure or lackluster success is high. It takes some successes – meaning practitioners who took the risk with you and got worthwhile measurable results. It takes training for sales people who are relearning or learning how to sell into the market. It takes marketing of a different stripe and hue than a company reinventing itself has done before. There is a lot that goes into both creating the market and then making it by being a successful pathfinder of a company.
Gigya didn’t win in 2014 because the jury was still out on their success since they were in the early stages of doing it. But in 2015, they won, because, guess what, they succeeded. Not only did they expand their market to customer identity management, but over 70% of the deals they sold in 2014 were customer identity management platform deals. There is no bigger sign of success than that. They have created the framework and impacted the market by their successful sales in it.
How have they done with the rest of the criteria for market making?
First, they’ve understood that they are ripping a new segment out of a mature market – which means they had to explain that market to analysts and influencers and even customers who’s first inclination will be to think of them in the IAM space – a highly competitive, been-there, done-that space with a number of longstanding analysts who have covered it and specific thought leadership to explain it and a substantial group of competitors who sell in it.
So they had to both develop a vision, mission and message that cohered with the new approach. That they did. Their vision is simple and not all that poetic – “to help business build better identity-driven relationships with their customers.” Their associated messaging is actual around the education necessary for prospects and customers to understand the value that can be derived from leveraging customer customer identity. Their execution is to extend their Connect, Collect, Convert product portfolio. But its the newer pieces and the thinking they reflect that is the important factor here.
Connect, Collect, Convert overall take a holistic approach. Connect are products including Registration as a Service (RaaS), Social Login and Single Sign-On and create registration flows including encouraging registration (e.g. gamification add-ons) so customers self-identify and the company that is capturing the registration is compliant (Social Privacy Certification). Collect is the “system of record” for the overall customer identity authentication – their cloud-based Identity Storage Database where the data captured from “Connect” registration is stored. Convert, the products that provide insight into what is now authenticated customer data is where you see how Gigya has transitioned its thinking to bigger markets. They now provide a Consumer Insights Dashboard that reflects the results of what could be complex queries. (If you’re interested in an example of the insights check out the Canadian Olympic Committee example on the Gigya blog). Even more interesting is their new NEXUS Partner Ecosystem. This is an ecosystem of marketing and services applications – over 50 – that Gigya integrates. Gigya is one of those companies (like Thunderhead) that operates as a glue for operational systems that fall under CRM traditionally – sales, marketing and service. What reflects the important transformation of thinking – the one that allowed them to go from a social identity focused IAM provider in a mature market, to a potential market maker around customer identity management is the “ecosystem” thinking that pervades what they do.
What is ecosystem thinking? While I’ll be writing a lot more about it in my book on customer engagement and in future blog posts, in a nice orderly simple nutshell it is this:
- Customers are demanding more from businesses than a product or a service only. They are demanding products, services, tools and consumable experiences that are personalized to meet their needs.
- The customers’ needs are not based on the technology that companies provide. They are based on the goals they have to achieve – and the outcomes that they need to achieve the goals.
- Technology companies (though the application is broader – that is the subject here) have to be able to show how they provide them with the end to end capabilities to enable the achievement of those outcomes.
- Since they can’t actually provide everything – the companies need to know what they have to provide.
- Once they know what they have to provide, they have to figure out what they have already, what they are missing.
- Once they figure out that, they have see what they can build, see what they can buy, see who they can partner with to provide the overall part of the end to end requirements the customers have. Which means the company has to know what it is and what it wants to be.
- Once it does that it has to think through the offering as an ecosystem of products, services, tools and consumable experiences.
- This is not a channel. This is not a marketplace. This is a strategic go to market alliance that all in all, with the particular company putting it together at its core, provides those parts of products, services, tools and consumable experiences that make sense to the business and meet the needs of the customer. THAT is an ecosystem.
Sadly, that’s the short version. Gigya in part, gets this. Their NEXUS Partner Ecosystem at one level is an excellent reflection and on another level still needs to work to bring the whole thing into alignment. So what is the strength and what is the weakness?
As a whole, it’s a combination of tactical alliances and technology integrations.
The strength is in the technology integrations. There are 50 pre-built integrations of marketing and services applications such as Adobe Digital Marketing, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Marketo, Oracle etc. The beauty of this is that the integrations are there for the piping of authenticated user data to the various systems. The beauty of this is that it functions as a technology ecosystem around Gigya. Gigya is the transmission belt, the glue for the ecosystem.
When it comes to the partner structure, however, it does fall a bit short – more on that later. But the ecosystem thinking is there and that is beyond a good deal of the companies that are out there.
What they can do
Align the partner thinking – What is clear is that Gigya has a nascent ecosystem – and, actually to their credit, and kind of oddly to some extent – has constructed an ecosystem around technology integrations that they center. But their partner program is more channel focused, more traditional. To bring the program into alignment Gigya needs to think more strategically – go to market partnerships within their own ecosystem and in other ecosystems. There are several of their technology partners that they cross-pollinate with – no, not like that. I mean Gigya can be part of their ecosystem and they part of Gigya’s ecosystem.
Expand the analyst work – Gigya still focuses on traditional analyst relationships – and primarily in the IAM space. On the surface, that seems to be a good strategy. But, given their focus on customer identity management – with an emphasis on the word customer – they need to expand their focus and not in the distant future. That means rather than a somewhat ad hoc analyst program – some briefings of independents some time – or engaging Gartner or Forrester – and leaving it at that – its time for a formal analyst relations program. That means a lot, which I’m not going to detail here – but included in it is regular briefings of a wider group of analysts in spaces associated with customers, not just identity management.
Put this all together, make a few changes and you see a company poised to have continued impact for years to come – and potentially a market maker. Something not many companies can claim.
NOTE: CRM Watchlist 2016 registration is still open.If you are interested and want to register for this year’s Watchlist, please email for the registration form at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon submission of the registration form, you will receive the 2016 questionnaire which is due December 11, 2016 at 6pm Pacific Time. For more complete information, please go here.
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“The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing.”
Secret Confession: I’m writing this with two hours to go until my vacation starts. Could I have done it sooner? Sure. But see, I started, and then I decided to Google “procrastination quotes” for my opener, and that led me to tons of hilarious procrastination memes, and several other articles written by others – and before I knew it, I had to head to a meeting and then it was lunchtime and now here I am, with two hours to go, frantically writing.
Procrastination? You could say I’m an expert.
No matter how passionate you are about your small business dreams, I’m willing to bet that you occasionally (always?) fall prey to the evils of procrastination.
After all, the evil vortex of social media exerts a powerful pull, and despite that eight-hour Netflix binge you’ve not yet caught up on Game of Thrones and did you see that latest cute cat video that Mike shared?
Not to mention the stack of dishes that needs to be done and the three hours of vital research on the best brand of new coffee maker (after all, you have to take care of your team).
Really, it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done.
Even the most driven and focused among us are not immune to the seductive power of that urgent pull to do…well…. anything other than the thing we should definitely be doing.
Before you know it – three hours have passed and you still haven’t finished that email campaign you started to build hours ago.
Now it’s late afternoon and the pressure is building and you have to do all the things. At the same time. Right now.
If procrastination causes so much stress – why do we do it?
It’s biology baby.
Not only does the short-term pleasure of binge watching Netflix release a surge of almost irresistible dopamine, but this actually changes the neural structure of your brain, making that behavior more likely to recur. Add to that the fact that scientists have discovered that some people (no, we aren’t pointing fingers) are predisposed to impulsive acts AND procrastination.
All of which gives you the perfect excuse to say ”My brain made me do it!”
So – it’s perfectly justifiable and biologically based – but that doesn’t help when you have abusiness to run, clients to serve and a team of employees or contractors depending on you.
Some things actually have to get done. On time. Every time.
What’s a procrastinator to do?
Start by identifying your procrastination triggers.
Read the following list of common reasons compiled by AmEx Open Forum for putting off important tasks. Do any (or all) of these resonate?
1. Fear – Whether it is of failure or success, fear can immobilize even the most determined entrepreneur, making your Facebook feed way more enticing than looking at your business finances.
2. Exhaustion – Burnout is common among small biz owners. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and sometimes the length of your to-do list makes you want to run and hide.
3. Lack of Confidence – =If the project at hand falls outside your zone of genius you may be putting off those tough but important tasks.
4. Squirrel! – We could call this one shiny object syndrome. Distractions are impossible to avoid, and it can be difficult to keep your blinders on.
5. Competition – When it’s time to get down to business, sometimes all the rest of what needs to be done can flood your brain and steal your focus. Unlike the shiny objects above, these items do demand your attention – just not right now.
6. Multi-step chaos – Complex projects with countless tasks and subtasks can quickly feel too big to ever complete – which is right about when Netflix starts her siren song.
7. Discomfort – When a task involves a difficult or uncomfortable memory or emotion it can be easy to come up with reasons to stall.
One or two of those hit home? Okay, so you’re human. Now lets figure out what to do about it.
Check out this list of eight of our most popular productivity related blog posts below and find the right solution for you.
Perhaps you’re actually a super productive person, deep, deep down – all you need is the correct tool and you’ll be unstoppable. Find one here and get cracking!
You know that old saying “fail to plan and plan to fail”? Perhaps they actually meant plan to procrastinate. In this post, Jenny Shih explains how planning can put an end to avoidance tactics and get you moving.
Instead of cat videos, plan your next procrastination period to include these six TED talks filled with unique ideas for helping you be more productive. Bonus – this is one time your procrastination might actually pay off!
This is one blog that won’t tell you to get your head out of the clouds. In this post, Infusionsoft Dream Manager Dan Ralphs discusses how dreaming can actually make you more productive.
Sam Bennett is one of our favorite people in the history of ever. In this video, Sam shares her procrastination-beating secret – and it’s all about finding a way that works for you.
Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) procrastination can be a response to an overly cluttered and complicated life. Read to find out five tips from Master Life Coach Anna Kunnecke.
Guess what? You don’t have to do it all! Once you get over the sheer relief of that, head over and catch up on five great sites to help you get the help you need. Not only will this help with your procrastination, but you’ll free up time to focus on the things that matter.
In order to stick to your to-do list, you’ve got to make sure you’re creating one. Check out this post for a system that will have you mastering your to-do list for good.
Now – if you still want to procrastinate (without feeling like you’re losing focus on your business) I highly suggest taking our entrepreneur quiz. It’s like Buzzfeed, except with a cool customized playlist, your entrepreneurial spirit animal and a ton of useful small business education, tailored just for you. Now that is way cooler than finding out which Disney Princess you are, if we do say so ourselves.
Attaining Work/Life Balance
Don’t let procrastination get in the way of your work – or your life!
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Is the procurement job more of an art or science? That’s the question I asked procurement professionals for the first episode of our new “Talking Shop with Procurement” video series. As you’ll see in the one-minute vignette (below), the answers are somewhat divided.
Here are some insights inspired by the “science” camp:
Procurement is a science: You do an experiment, see what works and then learn from it. This response reminded me of Isaac Newton chasing down the laws of the universe by running controlled experiments (including once sticking pins into his eyes). What is the optimal number of suppliers to invite to an RFP? Should a start price be included in an auction? The feeling of this delegate was that procurement runs according to observable rules. Discipline, repeatability, and learning from your mistakes are the order of the day.
It’s all about data. Getting good usage data for hard-to-manage categories is crucial. Sometimes procurement professionals need to be sleuths at tracking down actual usage metrics from obscure systems. For example, when putting together an RFP for security services, just how many call-outs a month is typical? What is the square footage of the buildings in scope? The better the data we can give suppliers, the better they can respond to us.
It’s like Einstein, breaking all the rules. Sometimes in procurement we need to go against accepted thinking. What worked in the past isn’t a reliable indicator of the future in a world of changing demographics, technology, geopolitics, and even climate. That’s why evergreen contracts are so dangerous. Maybe, like Einstein, you need to say that although the existing framework has worked for a long, long time, it’s time to change it. Let’s not buy this, let’s outsource it, buy it on consignment, eliminate the distributor. Do we even need it at all anymore?
Then there’s the uncertainty principle. Just as Heisenberg proclaimed that some aspects of a particle are unknowable, one procurement professional characterised her buying efforts as often incorporating “known uncertainty.” There is a temptation to overdo the research and delay, sometimes acknowledging that you can not know everything is a viable approach. Just press “launch” on that RFP!
And here are some thoughts about the art of procurement:
Procurement is all about people. The outcome of a procurement process might well be a change in supplier. How will you communicate that, and deal with leakage? How will people react? Will there be cultural issues to overcome? Science won’t solve these problems.
We have to learn to cook together. As one procurement professional put it, “You have to know your suppliers’ businesses, how they make money. Get into their kitchen and learn to cook together.” The key insight here is that only by understanding how the supplier’s business actually works can you come up with a win-win for you both.
Sometimes it just feels like finger painting. Great art takes many forms. The photographic likenesses of Florentine portraiture are very different from the seemingly random drips and spills of a Jackson Pollock, or the breathless enthusiasm of your four-year-old presenting you with a card with stuck-on pasta shapes. Not all procurement activities are going to go through the same process, and there is a danger of “over-templating” and ending up with a process that doesn’t fit; or over-complicating when the correct approach is to just get the quote off your desk.
It’s all about the power of persuasion. Procurement is about change, and persuading people to adopt change. Whether that is done through incentives, threats, eloquence or passion: What could me more artistic than that? As one person we talked to said, “Negotiating is an art.”
For more of our favorite answers on this topic—including one guy that claims “Hey, shopping is an art!”—be sure to watch “Procurement: Art or Science?” on YouTube. And please be sure to leave a comment with your take on the subject.
James Marland is vice president of Network Growth for Ariba and writes about procurement, networks, and cloud but “always with an English accent.” For more stories like this, follow James on Twitter @JamesMarland.
We’re excited to announce that this week’s update to Power BI now offers database performance tracking with the SQL Sentry content pack. This content pack includes a dashboard and reports that help you monitor the SQL Server deployments you track using the SQL Sentry Cloud. It makes it really easy to share insights throughout your organization.
This post details how the Power BI content pack helps you explore your SQL Sentry data. For additional details on how to get started, please see the SQL Sentry content pack for Power BI help page.
The content pack brings in data about the current state of the servers you monitor in SQL Sentry. You can monitor server health, memory usage, and downtime. The content pack makes it easy to track which sites and servers are working well and which need your attention. The content pack also helps database administrators communicate deployment health information with their managers. To get started, just connect to your SQL Sentry Cloud account.
The content pack includes a report that lets you drill into the details. You can use the tree map to quickly see a view of all the events generated by servers and the distribution across the severity levels of events. You can highlight on category to see which servers are affected the most by each type of event.
The Server Health Events page lets you see the conditions that most affect server health and break them down by Alert Level. You can see the severity of the events for each server.
The Server Availability page shows uptime and downtime for servers in your environment. You can also use the Slicer: Uptime so you can focus on those servers that have the worst availability to rectify issues affecting your users.
The Server Health – Memory & CPU page helps you understand the relationship between the number of CPUs and events. You can again look across the Alert Level. The reports can be customized to ensure each page include metrics and content that is important to you.
You can also use the question box above the dashboard to explore the data. A good question to ask is “what is my uptime % by date”. The result can be pinned or explored further using Power BI’s tools.
After the initial import, the dashboard and the reports continue to update daily. You can control the refresh schedule on the dataset.
You can read more about this release on the SQL Sentry blog:http://blogs.sqlsentry.com/rickpittser/analyze-this/
We’re always interested in hearing your feedback – please contact us at http://support.powerbi.com to let the team know how your experience was and if there’s anything we can do better. We look forward to your feedback!
The year before “Professor” Alphonse King, whose academic credentials were questionable, reportedly crossed the Niagara River on a water bicycle, he tried to traverse its channel with tin shoes of his own invention. Each weighed 30 pounds, and the results were unsurprisingly mixed. From the December 12, 1886 New York Times:
Buffalo–An attempt was made to-day to outrival the feats of Donovan, Graham, Hanslitt, Potts and Allen in braving the terrors of Niagara, which though a failure in one way, was a success in another. Mr. Alphonse King, who is the inventor of a water shoe, gave exhibitions some years ago in this country and Mexico and not long ago in Europe. He gave one in the Crystal Palace in London, and while there attracted the attention of Harry Webb, an old-time manager, who made him an offer of a year’s engagement to come to this country. While here some time ago Mr. King had looked over Niagara River below the Falls and believed that he could walk across the channel on the patent shoes. He came to this country four weeks ago and has since that time been in New-York City practicing for the trip. While there, Thomas Bowe, hearing of King’s determination to attempt the trip, made a wager of $ 1,500 with Webb that King could not walk 100 feet in the current. The money was deposited with a New-York newspaper, and on Friday afternoon Messrs. King and Webb, accompanied by A.C. Poole, of Poole’s Eighth Street Theatre, reached the Falls.
The trip to-day gave King two cold water baths, and demonstrated that while he could walk with or against the current all right it was impossible to walk across the river because of the eddies, which twice upset them. He retired confident that what he set out to do could not be done. King’s ‘shoes’ are of tin, 32 inches long, 8 inches wide, sloping at the top, and 9 inches deep. Each weighs 30 pounds. They are air-tight and have in the middle an opening large enough to admit the feet of the wearer. At the bottom are a series of paddles, which operate automatically as fins.•
Alibaba will invest $ 1bn in Cloud Computing
Alibaba is upping its cloud game with a $ 1bn investment in this space. The move is aimed at emulating the growth of Amazon in the cloud computing sector. The Chinese e-commerce group is the leading cloud computing provider at home with its Aliyun enjoying a 30% market share. Alibaba has been aggressively pushing its cloud service outside China as well. The company has also built its first data centre in Silicon Valley to support its clients in the region.
Read more: http://goo.gl/0k73hZ
First steps towards Big Data Analytics
One of the common misconceptions about Big Data is that you need to start big. People think that you need to establish a very big data warehouse and get hold of tools and talent to work with huge volumes of data. However, the correct way to approach a Big Data problem is to split it into smaller data problems. Identify one simple, well-defined issue, then explore it and demonstrate value. Repeat these steps, over and over again.
Read more: http://goo.gl/klAApv
Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite poised to become a $ 1bn business
An year after Microsoft released its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), it has become the ‘hottest’ product offered by the company. Kevin Turner, Microsoft COO, announced that EMS is poised to become the next big $ 1bn product for the company. EMS is a cloud-based offering which consists of Azure Active Directory, Azure Rights Management and Intune.
Read more: https://goo.gl/hoJkdI
How Social Collaboration can benefit HR?
Social Collaboration offers many benefits such as enabling effective and streamlined communications and well connected team members. For many businesses, social collaboration initiatives begin with the internal communications department. Typically, organizations want to overhaul their traditional intranet or unify the disconnected siloes within an organization. But social collaboration offers significant benefits to the HR function by way of increased employee engagement and sharing of knowledge and skills across the organization.
Read more: http://goo.gl/4NGZHS
AKA Enterprise Solutions’ media team recently finished a project where we moved a publisher of specialized industry news and information – mostly insurance and legal works – off of Salesforce.com and onto Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Online. The publisher’s three main divisions were all using Salesforce.com with mixed reviews. The system was not geared toward the media industry, resulting in low levels of adoption across departments making reporting needed by management inaccurate. Each division was using separate, expensive Salesforce.com instances making it impossible to share data and collaborate.
AKA implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Online with Microsoft Outlook integration for the sales and marketing teams along with our DynamicsADvantage CRM solution for media companies offering added functionality to handle media campaigns, ad sales automation and approval workflows, also fully integrated with Microsoft Outlook.
The company is now live with a single sales environment for all divisions, enabling data sharing and user collaboration. Because Dynamics CRM is part of the Microsoft stack, it fully integrates with Outlook, which is what the company was already using, so the new system was widely and quickly adopted across all divisions. Management is enjoying detailed levels of reporting because of the uptick in user adoption and the industry relevant data capture. Finally, with Dynamics CRM Online’s low cost of ownership compared to their previous system, they are saving 54% each year.
by AKA Enterprise Solutions
Reading, England (29th July 2015) – GetApp owned by Nubera (a Gartner company) run a network of business App sites reaching 2 million users a month.
GetApp – The leading business app discovery platform creates quarterly lists of CRM applications; which are scored using five separate criterias (Reviews, Integrations, Mobile, Media & Security).
This quarter Workbooks has been selected to appear in the list.
Showing above mainstream CRM systems (such as Sage & Microsoft Dynamics). Workbooks proves small CRM systems with unique selling points can still outmaneuver well known (CRM) brands.
“We continue to be confident that we provide our customers with the highest level of service and support. We feel this has been reflected in our recent inclusion on GetApps top CRM list” writes Sam Jefferies (Digital Marketing Executive at Workbooks.com). Continuing with “We hope to continue to work together to serve both our audiences as successfully as possible”.
Recent GetApp reviews include:
How GetApp calculate their scoring
GetApp use an algorthym called GetRank to determine quartley ranking. GetApp write:
‘Each app is scored using five criteria, each worth 20 points, for a total possible score out of 100: User Reviews, Integrations, Mobile Apps, Media Presence, and Security. Each app’s GetRank score is completely independent of commercial interests and existing relationships that GetApp has with app vendors.’ – Source GetApp.
By continuing to grow and support their user base, Workbooks will remain an ever strengthing brand within GetApps ranking sphere.
Workbooks (formed in 2007) offer a user friendly CRM designed to increase businesses profits.
GetApp is a software marketplace that helps businesses discover business apps. It serves as an online lead generation channel for SaaS. (Source – Techcrunch)
You probably don’t think many thoughts that have both the word ‘trend’ and the word ‘mainframe’ in there. But, believe it or not, Big Iron still has some things up the old sleeves. Mainframes aren’t going anywhere.
In fact, a recent study concluded that over 90 percent of IT professionals saw the mainframe as a long term business strategy, even in light of the dawn of cloud computing. Almost half of those IT pros believe that the mainframe will still be attracting new workloads, not handing off workloads to other alternatives. More than 61 percent expect that MIPS will grow over the next couple of years.
So, what’s trending in the world of mainframes?
Mainframes are Still a Viable Long-Term Strategy
Mainframes generate a solid ROI, especially compared to the cloud, which only delivers value for the length of time you contract the services.
The majority of mainframe users aren’t planning to migrate off anytime soon. Many mainframe legacy modernization plans include hosting their own cloud environments via the new System z13, while others are supplementing the mainframe workload with cloud applications, Hadoop clusters, and other alternatives. Still, the mainframe stays, handling somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of all the world’s transactions each day.
Mainframes Skills are Heavily Sought by Businesses
There are two concerns among today’s business mainframers: finding new mainframe professionals to replace those retiring, and acquiring additional training for their current mainframers who plan to stick around for a while longer. Until colleges and universities catch up with the times by offering more courses and programs to train new mainframe professionals, a critical shortage of these skilled workers can be expected. Pay your mainframe folks well and keep them. It’s too hard to find replacements.
A Primary Concern is Reducing Costs
A good ROI doesn’t mean the mainframe is cheap. Operational costs tend to climb upwards over time as the business’ needs for memory and power increase.
Now for some less glowing news: mainframe operational costs still have a tendency to creep upwards over time as businesses have to add memory, processing power, etc. This is nothing new. IBM began shipping the first z13 systems earlier this year, and was able to maintain steady sales of additional memory throughout the spring and summer, with no signs of slowing as fall rolls around. This means that you can’t expect to get a break on costs from the manufacturer, so you’ll need to work out ways in house to keep those mainframe operational costs at bay.
Mainframe tools such as Syncsort’s ZPSaver™ Suite can help lower your mainframe operational costs by offloading up to 90% of all your copy & SMS compression CPU cycles to zIIP. Find out quickly how much money ZPSaver Suite can save you with a free ROI assessment.