Do you know what you’re working with?

By Steve Denner, co-founder and director Adestra

Technology is well and truly in the hands of the masses – almost 80% of UK consumers own a smartphone. I recently read that in 1991 the cost of buying all the iPhone components would have been around £2million – but are we really making the most of all the computing power now available at our fingertips?

Remaining up to date with the latest technology can be difficult. As soon as you’ve got to grips with the capabilities of the latest tablet or games console, the next model is already being prepared for release. This game of cat and mouse also applies to marketers, who need to maximise the technologies available to them, meeting (and even predicting) customers’ needs.

But as businesses and consumers rush ahead, are we missing out on anything, from handy user shortcuts to deep-rooted capabilities? The promise of automation carries the same risk for marketers looking to simplify their strategies at speed. Once businesses have invested in marketing automation programmes, they need to ask: are we getting the most out the increased functionality at our disposal?

There’s a danger that business leaders could adopt an attitude along the lines of: “we might not use all the functionality we’ve invested in just now, but it’s good to know we’ve got it”. This increasingly common sentiment proves that marketers aren’t making the most of the functions they’ve invested in, and are wasting money in the process. This could be the result of a lack of knowledge about how to use the technology – or an overestimation of the technology companies actually need. Both represent a waste of resources for marketers.

I don’t mean to suggest that marketers are at fault here, but simply that technology is evolving so rapidly that there isn’t always sufficient time to adequately train marketers to maximise the potential of new technologies. In their bid to keep abreast of consumer expectations and technological developments, businesses might also be investing in automation systems without accurately evaluating their brand’s actual requirements. Without understanding basic brand needs and objectives, technology will never be able to fulfil them.

To make the most of any automation investment, marketers must make sure they have the right people in place to implement and maintain their systems. If not, the next stage is to skill-up, skill-shift or recruit new talent into the workforce. These are implications that technology vendors should be able to advise and help clients with. It’s risky and, quite frankly, inaccurate to assume that one person alone is capable of developing successful and profitable large-scale automated marketing campaigns – even with the help of powerful technology.

One way to ensure marketers fully understand and capitalise on the potential of a specific marketing automation system is to work with a partner who can offer valuable on-going support and guidance. The benefits of working with third-party customer service experts include real-time support, training, project management or access to specialist designers. On-site and third party expertise provides much needed backup for automated campaigns.

If marketers are armed with powerful technology, given expert insight and training and have access to tech support, they have a far better chance of winning the battle to drive customer loyalty, and unleashing the full potential of automated marketing strategies and campaigns.

Platform-as-a-Service: The New Black?

By Ramesh Loganathan, Vice President of Products at Progress 

Are you a dedicated follower of fashion? Don’t worry if the answer is no. Today, fashion is no longer the sole domain of devout catwalk copycats, and we all follow trends whether it is a conscious decision or not. Some designs are timeless, but I think it is fair for us all to say that, despite being ‘cool at the time’, some past clothing purchases can quickly become outdated after finding themselves replaced by newer, more fashionable alternatives. In this way, it’s similar to the way we use and consume technology, both in our personal and professional lives. From this perspective, an old Discman, fax machine and desktop computer are all comparable to a pair of fetching tie-dye flares from the 70s. It is rare we see people using Commodore 64’s to do word processing!

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Why Poorly defined Requirements destabilise IT Projects

By Huw Price, Managing Director, Grid-Tools

It’s a staggering statistic but over 60% of IT projects still fail in that they either run over time (74%) or incur more cost to complete (59%) with an average of only 69% of the functionality of the product actually being delivered. For larger projects it’s even worse. According to the Standish Group’s ‘Chaos Manifesto 2013’, failure rates for projects $1m+ are as high as 93%.

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Breaking the Refresh Cycle

By Kevin Linsell, Head of Service Development, Adapt 

If you manage IT in any capacity, you will be familiar with the unsettling feeling that emerges as your hardware approaches the end of standard support/ warranty, or your software comes up for renewal/ end of support. Sound familiar?

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How to Approach Applications Performance Management in Financial Services

By Tom Levey, EMEA Tech Evangelist at AppDynamics

Delivering a first-class mobile banking service to customers relies on multiple different applications and IT systems working seamlessly. The latest string of mobile banking app glitches should serve as a strong reminder to organisations that having robust analytics and application performance management solutions in place is crucial to ensuring customer satisfaction in today’s digital economy.

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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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Taking Email into the Digital Age

By Vladimir Spirin, managing director at EverDesk

Research by McKinsey Global Institute shows that the average worker spends two-and-a-half hours every day dealing with emails – more than a quarter of a typical working day. With inboxes expanding rapidly on a daily and even hourly basis, many of us are feeling under more pressure than ever to read and respond to high volumes of email communication as quickly as possible, which can delay other important work and projects.

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