Technology and Culture: A Chicken and Egg Debate

By Joseph Do, CEO MindLink

Embracing digital technology is not just a business necessity, but also a smart cultural move. The evolution of technology has invariably prompted cultural change within organisations across the globe, but should it act as the primary driver for it?

Whilst technology can act as a trigger, it is an organisation’s culture that has the power to nurture forward-thinking tech adoption and ultimately improve long-term business growth.

The global business proliferation for technology that bridges the gap between social and enterprise means organisations are being forced to evolve to meet the changing technological needs of their workforce.

For example, The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is making a whole host of additional communication and technologies available in the workplace. Research shows that by 2016, 1.62 billion mobile devices will be in use on a daily basis in the workplace. It is because of findings like this that organisations need to be open to change and willing to embrace the forward-thinking nature of employees and the culture of business.

It is down to business leaders to take an open approach to new technology and consider how it will impact the people within their organisation. Just because a company has a progressive, corporate culture doesn’t necessarily mean employees understand how best to utilise digital tools. People will have to want to learn to yield and progress, so training remains essential if culture and technology are going to work together and have a real impact on company performance and revenue.

The spread of collaboration tools has cemented online communication as a completely new mode of operation for employees. Businesses should be looking to invest in smart collaboration tools instead of viewing them as an expense.

So first things first, what are the key components of a tech-friendly corporate culture?

Support

Without sufficient investment in staff development and training, technology will never reach its full potential within a business. Providing the right level of technical support and offering training to employees shows a company’s commitment and sense of support. It is important to go beyond just making tools available to a workforce and hoping people will naturally adopt them.

Open

The future success of a business relies on being open to new ideas and embracing new processes and structures rather than being resistant to them. It is up to business leaders to have an outlook that not only accepts, but also understands, how technology can benefit their business. No good will come from holding onto antiquated communication, leadership, management or sales structures in the hyper-connected, modern business environment.

Trust

As with most relationships, trust is key. Businesses must trust their employees if they want to capitalise on the potential of a fully mobile, collaborative workforce. Many people would agree that you can’t fight the BYOD culture (and in effect any digital culture) and why should businesses want to? This ‘always on’ way of working is an advantage for an organisation if it ensures precise guidelines for usage and compliance are laid out and sufficient security policies are in place. Establishing communication as well as knowledge sharing platforms will enable staff to work more efficiently and in a more connected way, whilst also helping businesses to benchmark the productivity of employees no matter where they are.

Collaborative

People within the organisation need to be open about sharing knowledge and insight in order to benefit the wider company rather than their own personal development. This means the mentality of a workforce is vital to maximising any new technology, especially when it comes to collaboration tools and software. A collaborative culture is needed before any new technologies are introduced while everyone needs to be working towards the same goals. If this collective attitude is commonplace within an organisation then there will be a natural fit when collaborative technologies are introduced.

There is no question that technology impacts working practices, but a receptive and open corporate culture must exist for technology to have a positive effect on business processes – rather than a disruptive or, worse still, damaging impact on performance.

Cultivating the right attitude at every level of your business is the best place to start building the solid foundations that will support technological innovation. There should be a symbiotic relationship between technology and corporate culture, as neither technology nor culture can succeed in improving a business’s performance in isolation.

Dell brings Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Home to Austin for Fifth Anniversary

By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking 

Dell has announced the preliminary speaker line-up for its fifth annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network event, convening June 1-3 in Dell’s hometown, Austin, Texas.

The Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network global event, co-sponsored by Intel, is an exclusive, invitation-only conference that will connect more than 200 of the world’s top female entrepreneurs, business leaders and media to share insights and best practices as part of a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

Previously hosted in emerging entrepreneurial hotbeds Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, and Istanbul, Dell is bringing this year’s event to Austin where Dell began in a University of Texas dorm room 30 years ago.  Programming will be centered around the impact that women-owned businesses are having on the global economy and unite around this year’s theme “Bold Beginnings, Brave Futures,” showcasing the stories and technologies inspiring global entrepreneurs today.

The United States is the world’s largest economy and was named the best place to be a female entrepreneur out of 17 countries surveyed in the Dell-commissioned Gender-GEDI 2013 rankings for its good institutional foundations and strong entrepreneurial environment. Austin recently was named the fastest growing U.S. city by Forbes, making it a prime location to host this year’s event, providing attending women entrepreneurs with access to networks, technology, capital and the knowledge needed to grow their businesses.

“Dell began 30 years ago with a belief that putting technology in the hands of people everywhere could change the world, said Karen Quintos, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Dell. “The fifth annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network in Dell’s hometown will bring together top women entrepreneurs from around the world to celebrate that same entrepreneurial spirit, the potential of female entrepreneurship to affect the global economy and the bright future ahead.”

Speakers at this year’s event will include leading female CEOs, founders and thought leaders:

  • Dr. Brené Brown, Researcher at The University of Houston and Bestselling Author, Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  • Anasuya Gupta, Chairperson & Managing Director, CICO Technologies Limited
  • Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Founders, Gilt Groupe
  • Jane Wurwand, Founder, Dermalogica
  • Eileen Gittins, Founder and CEO, Blurb
  • Linda Rottenberg, CEO and Co-founder, Endeavor Global
  • Nina Vaca, Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Founder, Pinnacle Technology
  • Jane Poytner, CEO, Worldview Experience
  • Pamela Prince Eason, President, WBENC
  • Genevieve Bell, Director of User Experience Research, Intel Labs
  • Michael Dell, Founder and CEO, Dell Inc.
  • Karen Quintos, Chief Marketing Officer, Dell Inc.
  • Andi Karaboutis, CIO, Dell Inc.
  • Ingrid Vanderveldt, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Dell Inc.

The DWEN agenda will focus on how women can grow and scale their businesses with technology, and will include keynotes, panel discussions, workshops designed to address top business issues, facilitate introductions to the right business connections, and share lessons learned.

One-Fifth of Cloud Storage Users Have Experienced Problems With Their Cloud Provider

A global survey of 912 businesses by Barracuda Networks, Inc. (NYSE: CUDA) has revealed that although 83 percent of businesses surveyed back up some part of their data to the cloud, there is a strong reluctance to embrace the medium fully.  In fact, almost half (47 percent) of respondents store less than half of their data in the cloud and almost one-fifth (17 percent) do not use cloud storage at all.

Of the companies surveyed that are using a cloud storage solution, over two-thirds (69 percent) consider the data they store there as sensitive.  However, almost one-fifth (16 percent) of companies surveyed have experienced problems with their cloud provider. Of these, 42 percent had found that the data held by their cloud provider was not secure.  Meanwhile, 40 percent claimed that data held in the cloud had not been available when needed and over one-third (37 percent) said their cloud provider had actually lost their data.

Further, approximately 89 percent of the firms surveyed cited the security credentials of their cloud provider as important or very important.  Respondents said that they are more than twice as likely (53 percent vs. 23 percent) to trust a security vendor than a storage vendor to keep their data safe in the cloud.

Wieland Alge, VP & GM manager EMEA, Barracuda, comments: “Businesses are under no illusion that if they’re going to put sensitive data into the cloud, security must be at the top of their agenda.  The most trusted cloud providers will be those perceived as having the most secure credentials – credentials that can be earned by the integrity and reputation of the technology brands these providers use to protect their customer data.”

Key statistics from within the UK

  • Just 14 percent of UK firms store everything (100 percent of data) in the cloud and, of those that do, half employ over 500 people
  • Almost one-fifth (18 percent) do not use the cloud at all and around two-thirds (61 percent) store less than half of their data in the cloud
  • Of those with data in the cloud, almost one third (30 percent) are not confident about the security of it
  • Over two thirds (67 percent) cite the security credentials of their cloud provider as very important, however, 17 percent have experienced issues with their cloud provider
  • UK businesses are almost twice as likely to trust a security vendor than a storage vendor to keep their data safe in the cloud

Alge concludes: “The rapid and widespread adoption of cloud storage, along with the data security concerns that come with it, suggests that it’s the more security-minded cloud storage providers who are most likely to be the preferred supplier in the future.”

CMOs vs CIOs – Why can’t we be friends?

By Kevin Cochrane, CMO at software company OpenText

It can be subtle, but I’m seeing competition escalate between CMOs and CIOs. These executives have had a complete rewrite of their jobs in recent years, and as marketing becomes more of a technology game and IT becomes more consumerised, the two camps sometimes battle for both authority and budget.

Some CIO-CMO pairs see these authority and budget issues as a zero-sum game.

The truth is, CMOs and CIOs have the potential to grow the pie–really grow it–but only if they stop worrying about who is going to “win.” Of course, they first need to get over a few hurdles before they can hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and take over the world. CIOs and CMOs speak different languages and work on different timetables. But the two also share the fundamental business challenges of delivering growth and innovation, as well as high levels of customer satisfaction. They need to remind themselves that they are on the same team.

I’ve been a CMO for several technology companies over the years. We are expected to create compelling customer experiences, be fast and responsive, stay on top of every new channel and technology, automate our CRM and sales cycle, and have perfect metrics and insight into what’s working and what isn’t. We’re being held to much tougher key performance indicator (KPI) targets. Everything that can be measured is, along with some of what can’t really be measured. CMOs are increasingly uncomfortable leaving technology decisions up to CIOs–whose evaluation criteria may not be the same.

Meanwhile, the CIO’s job has completely shifted in the past few years. CIOs used to be the ultimate technology decider. There was no cloud or bring-your-own device (BYOD); there was custom enterprise software that tended to be inflexible and hard to use. CIOs now have a very different agenda: to create an information infrastructure that is responsive–agile and highly capable so that it reduces the distance between need and execution. It needs to meet modern users’ expectations for usability and functionality, and modern executives’ time frames. CIOs also have to ensure that legal considerations of governance, compliance, security, and privacy are maintained.

CIOs are working hard to ensure employees have the tools they want and need to be effective. It is not easy to meet both consumer expectations and enterprise needs. Strategic CIOs are exploring the leading edge of technology and driving innovation that supports automation, analytics, and interoperability across the enterprise and myriad channels, including mobile and social. They are tearing down IT silos caused by legacy systems and updating infrastructures to meet modern constructs.

Just as CIOs have been forced to become more customer-experience savvy, CMOs must step up their tech prowess. But this is something CIOs and CMOs must do together. Working together, several great things can happen. First, innovation happens at the edges. When two masters of their own disciplines are in intense discussion–the CMO bringing market insight and opportunities and the CIO bringing tech insight and opportunities–that’s where the big “aha” moment comes from. That’s when the big growth opportunities show up.

So how do you put an end to the zero-sum game? Histories and bad blood can make it tough. Aside from rough past IT experiences, CMO colleagues have told me they feel CIOs look down on their role as one that requires less expertise. And I’ve heard CIOs accuse CMOs of taking too many risks, blinded by short-term goals.

The bottom line is, CMOs and CIOs must be able to work together to merge market vision and technology opportunity to deliver innovation and growth. Once they recognise they need each other, they can find that sweet spot exponentially faster.

The first step is to synch goals. Get respective teams together to define a shared set of expectations. KPIs for each discipline must relate to one another and most certainly make sense together. If CIOs are concerned only about projects completed and uptime, and CMOs are concerned only about leads, then they are going to have a hard time working together. Time frames should align. Budgets should be viewed as a shared opportunity that is aligned with those KPIs. And–perhaps most powerful of all–CMOs and CIOs should team on new initiatives, bringing them to their CEOs and boards as joint proposals. In doing so, they will gain maximum support and acceptance from the rest of the C-suite.

Disruption in both marketing and IT has been relentless. But as CMOs race to be transformational by building a responsive experience, and CIOs aim to be more strategic by building a responsive enterprise, the two can and should be each other’s greatest allies.

Could CIOs be more important than CEOs when it comes to business transformation?

Charlie Mayes, Managing Director, DAV Management

According to analysts at Forrester, CIO’s are now viewed as the most important senior leaders in driving business transformation, with many believing them to have more input than a CEO.

In a recent report, Forrester highlighted the CIO’s key role in supporting business transformation, with technology being a primary enabler for change and playing a key part in breaking down barriers within an organisation’s structure. Their view was backed by a survey of respondents from the US and Europe involved in business transformation programmes within the last three years.  29 percent of survey respondents believed that the CIO was the most important figure in terms of supporting and driving business change. This was the highest amongst the C-suite, and more than that of the CEO, which was seen as most important by 24 percent of respondents, alongside the chief technology officer.

The role of the CIO has changed dramatically in the last decade. Technology now forms the backbone of most businesses, where it is a major enabler of change and a driver for sustainable competitive advantage. It’s no surprise, therefore, to discover that IT has become a key component of organisational planning and strategy. As such, today’s CIOs need well developed business and leadership skills, in addition to their more traditional technical abilities, in order to operate successfully at this level.

The magnitude and complexity of responsibility has also increased. Time was when the IT leadership was just about implementing technology and delivering projects to time and budget.  Clearly these things remain important but they are now hygiene factors.  What really matters for the new generation of CIOs is delivering value to the business, whether this comes from the way in which they support the day-to-day operations, ensuring that business and IT strategies are aligned or by helping to deliver IT-enabled business transformation.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the latter, findings contained in the Forrester report suggest that many CIOs still have some way to go.  The report identified four types of individual:

  • Soldiers or Order-Takers – These CIO’s do not have the ear of the project leader in the way that other CIO’s often do. According to Forrester, they account for roughly 10% of CIOs and should, as a minimum, make sure that the business leaders are aware of the potential pitfalls of a project and highlight the most damaging mistakes to any allies with greater influence on a project.
  • Leaders of IT – This group successfully balances IT and enterprise business needs and is capable of ensuring that the appropriate IT functions are involved in a transformation project, as well as providing a wider enterprise focus. Leaders of IT account for the majority of CIOs, approximately 70%.
  • Change Consultants – According to Forrester, around one in 10 CIOs have extensive experience in advising and consulting on the business transformation process having been involved in projects in the past and are able to implement templates, best practices and learning from other companies.
  • Transformation Leaders – This group is given or takes the responsibility (either hands on or as a sponsor) to lead the transformation themselves. They ensure effective resource application, funding and progress tracking, and report directly to the CEO. According to Forrester this CIO role is relatively uncommon and accounts for around 5-10% of CIOs.

Many CIOs are evolving into business leaders and are proactively encouraging business innovation. However, not all are moving in this direction. In our experience it is still very much dependent on the individual and the relationship that he or she has with the organisation.  Other factors such as culture, the agenda for change and the nature of the relationship with other leaders in the business, will also shape the role and responsibility of a CIO.  Inevitably, there are those CIOs that have a keen understanding of the business and approach technology from a business driven perspective, and there are those that are born and bred technologists.

So that leaves us with the original question – could CIOs be more important than CEOs when it comes to business transformation? They could indeed, but the variation of skills and approach in CIOs remains vast.  Few CIOs today can be regarded as change consultants or transformation leaders according to Forrester’s definition. Many simply don’t yet have the experience of leading and driving large-scale technology enabled business change programmes to successful conclusions.  But I believe this is changing with CIOs increasingly maturing into true business leaders.  As they develop their skill sets, garner business experience in the wider organisation rather than just in IT and function more entrepreneurially (whilst retaining a ruthless focus on good business practice), then I think we’ll see a new breed of CIO that is well equipped to lead and deliver business transformation.

10 Reasons Why Your Agency Should Offer Optimisation

By Dan Glazer, Head of Partnerships at website optimisation software company Optimizely 

The marketing game is changing. Today’s marketers are more data-driven. They’re obsessed with results and ROI. And they’re laser-focused on the one thing that helps them deliver both – technology. By 2017, it’s predicted that CMOs will spend more on IT than their CIO counterparts.

For digital agencies, this burgeoning landscape of data-driven marketers presents an exciting challenge. New technologies and best practices are emerging every day. How does a digital agency looking to be best in class in its industry manage a finite budget and deliver impactful results?

Answer: Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).

Whether you specialise in designing creative, building websites, or managing ad spend, investing in a CRO skill set will help you grow your agency… and your clients’ business. Here’s how.

1. Lead the charge.

Ten years ago, most marketers didn’t know what SEM was. These days, SEM is not only part of the everyday marketing vernacular; it’s an integral component to any online marketing strategy. That didn’t happen overnight. Recognised leaders in the space started optimising for search in the mid-nineties, establishing best practices and a framework for others to follow. By the time the rest of the world hopped aboard the SEM train, these companies had already established themselves as thought leaders and trusted advisors. CRO adoption is happening even faster than SEM, but it’s still early in the game. Who will be there to build out an optimisation strategy and coach brands through their new testing playbook?

Enter you (and your agency). Don’t stand on the sidelines as your competitor transforms the way your clients do business. Be the agency that introduces your client to their next home run.

2. Turn one-off client projects into long-term engagements.

Unlike building a website or creating a new ad spot, CRO isn’t a finite deliverable. Continuous testing leads to incremental growth, test after test, and can strengthen each one of your clients’ digital marketing efforts.

Building them a new website? Don’t just “set it and forget it.” Lengthen the engagement by monitoring and improving the site over time. Setting up a new media buy? Don’t let it run wild. Deliver long-term results by testing various landing pages and reallocating traffic to the winning page as results come in. Unless you’re converting 100% of visitors today (and if so, please let me hire you!), there’s always room for improvement and an opportunity to deliver better results.

3. Settle debates with hard numbers.

Testing is one of the first steps toward becoming a more data-driven organisation, which is especially vital to a successful client-agency relationship. Have you ever disagreed with a client as to what that headline should say or what image to use? A/B testing allows you to objectively–and quickly–solve that argument and move on. No time wasted with back-and-forth creative treatments, no tiptoeing around big egos, just empirical evidence. In the end, the best experience wins.

4. Use data as preventative care.

With CRO, you can easily monitor site performance and prevent problems for your clients before they arise. Imagine you hire an agency to redesign your website. You spend months wireframing with the agency, discussing the brand, rethinking the vision, and developing the designs. Then, on the day the site goes live, the unthinkable happens – revenue drops. Traffic is constant, but the conversion rate is lower. That’s not exactly the start of a beautiful friendship.

Testing helps ensure the new redesign goes well–an outcome just as important to your agency as the CMO that hired you.

5. Use data as insurance.

Testing not only increases your chances of success, it also keeps you in the game, even when results from tests don’t turn out as expected. Back to the failed website redesign example… Investing so much time money and other valuable resources on a project that turns out to be a complete flop is a scenario avoidable with testing. Had you been running A/B tests on the new design, you would have been able to look back and gain a much deeper understanding of what went wrong. Where did visitors drop off in the funnel? What types of users were more or less likely to convert? What parts of the site did they engage with or not engage with?

Data and analysis gained from testing provides a 360-degree view of website performance. It helps you explain why you did what you did and make the case for continued, more informed iterations. The more data behind your decisions, the more you and your client win.

6. Improve efficiency.

Testing saves you and your client time. Using data to back up decisions prevents unnecessary back-and-forths and helps you execute more quickly, ensuring you’re always delivering the most value per billable hour. Testing also saves money, ensuring efficient use of capital by preventing significant investment into projects (like that website redesign) destined to fail. Speaking of saving money, testing also helps you make more of it.

7. Turn more ad clicks into conversions.

If your clients are spending on ads, you should be doing everything in your power to maximise the chance of conversion – that’s where CRO comes in. Testing pages you send paid traffic to is a proven way to improve conversions and increase your ROI from SEM. Liftopia, for example, increased revenue from SEM traffic by 23%, simply by optimising its landing pages. Focus solely on the top of the funnel is inefficient if you don’t improve the bottom as well.

8. Open a brand new revenue source for your agency and your clients.

Adding CRO to your services offering creates a brand new revenue source for your agency that will allow you to increase conversions for your clients. Increased conversions lead to more revenue for your clients. More revenue for your clients makes your service more valuable. The more value you can create, the more likely it is that you’ll continue to win deep follow-up engagements with existing and new clients. Win for you and your client.

9. Increase recurring revenue for you and your clients.

We’ve said that increasing website conversion rates is a practice that increases revenue. The noteworthy part about this type of revenue is that it’s recurring. Unlike online advertising, where each pound spent only brings as many visitors as you pay for, increasing conversion rates brings in recurring revenue gains that last even after the test stops.

Let’s say your team increases average revenue per visitor (ARPV) for your client by 17%. The new ARPV becomes the new status quo. Since CRO is an ongoing practice, you can constantly uncover conversion increases that increase the stream of recurring revenue for your clients. Do you job well, and you might guarantee yourself a contract to run CRO for your clients year after year.

10. Deliver massive ROI.

Pound for pound, website optimisation offers the highest ROI of any marketing activity. By optimising visitors’ experience of your clients’ brands, you can dramatically improve ROI for your client and enhance the credibility of your agency.

 

Security is Only as Good as its Manager

By Klaus Gheri, vice president and general manager of network
security, Barracuda Networks

The technology behind network security is evolving all the time, with years of enhancements and continuous intelligence added to security technologies such as firewalls. All this is designed to improve processes and minimise the risk of human error impacting businesses. However, there is one element that limits the effectiveness of the security in any business – the IT manager.

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