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.

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The Director’s Guide to Consuming Cloud Simply and Safely

By Chris Leigh-Currill, CEO of Ospero

There is a better way.

Security worries, lack of transparency and poor control are common perceptions and real obstacles to achieving the business acceleration that only cloud IT can bring. It all stems from the complexities that grow as businesses increase their cloud consumption. We believe that these problems are eminently solvable by the introduction of orchestration.

Once in place you can turn your IT department into a strategic advantage.

Here are Ospero’s seven reasons why your business needs cloud orchestration.

1) Your rewards from cloud aren’t outweighing your risks

Cloud is great in theory and you know it makes sense, but for many the reality proves painful to implement and costly to maintain. So how do you reduce the management and implementation burdens and costs on your already overstretched IT department?

Orchestration is the framework that can provide this dynamic and agile resource by stitching together the fabric of all your environments to create a seamless infrastructure. This is achieved whilst still maintaining, and in many cases vastly improving, the security and governance of your infrastructure that is required in today’s modern operating environment.

When in place, the IT department will be able to meet the need for a flexible and powerful infrastructure. One that can be controlled and managed by the business to align quickly to changing goals and demands but one which is fully secure and integrated into the corporate environment.

2) Security and compliance are expensive and patchy

Moving to cloud means a catalogue of added security concerns for the business manager. Or does it? Cloud orchestration fundamentally reduces risks every step of the way, and removes these security burdens. Stop worrying about legacy technology or having to plug unreliability gaps. Get control and enforce business policy and governance in a simple, consistent and efficient way.

3) You don’t know what cloud services you’re using

The average enterprise is running 400+ applications that it doesn’t know about! Cloud services have made it really easy to buy and implement siloed business software. In fact it’s too easy. Within many organisations the eagerness to solve business problems quickly by side stepping IT and its perceived bottlenecks has allowed business silos to run ‘stealth’ IT assets to meet tactical needs. Only orchestration brings the necessary clarity and control to make cloud a game-changing business enabler and provide an easily accessible infrastructure to the people who really need it.

Getting IT the easy way shouldn’t mean the plan goes out of the window; and the business is left unable to measure, manage, control, secure or coherently integrate it to meet a strategic purpose. That’s where cloud orchestration comes in.

4) Your IT wasn’t designed for your unique business needs

90% of enterprises now have some sort of cloud implementation, but there’s no one-size fits-all when it comes to cloud. Cloud orchestration ensures you get what’s best for what your business needs.

Without orchestration, the constant change and inherent inconsistencies between different services providers and their offerings can reduce cloud evaluation and procurement into little more than guesswork. You shouldn’t continue your cloud journey without fixing that first.

5) The IT function is unable to innovate

Operations complexity and duplicated processes across cloud services suck IT teams dry and leave little time to drive strategic innovations with genuine business value. Orchestration can turn IT into an internal services provider and strategic partner of the business. Innovate significantly more on the same or reduced budget.

6) Competitors are improving service delivery and decreasing time to market

You really get to appreciate the value of business agility when you’re being slowed down by technology. With cloud orchestration you will improve competitive advantage through reduced time to market. Internal development teams can focus all their effort on output rather than their infrastructure, all within a control framework that ensures best practices and governance are followed.

While some businesses are still figuring out how to support core business functions through cloud computing, others are leaping ahead with genuinely innovative ways of improving service delivery and doing a better job of satisfying and monetising customers and partners.

Get to the front of the race and stay there with cloud orchestration.

7) You believe that it needn’t be this complicated (and you’re right!)

You’ve bought into the cloud proposition and recognise the business benefits – but it’s proving hard to generate an ROI and even harder to maximise it. If only you could consume service without complexity, provision with precision and deploy on demand.

Ospero, with its powerful and highly agile tools, provides the ideal way for a business to stay in control of its IT and produce an environment that can be adapted to meet the many demands of today’s tough business environment.

The era where the CIOs are the controllers of everything technological is coming to an end. But that shouldn’t mean a future based on stealth computing, where business units and the

IT department exist in a state of war and transactions are carried out using insecure and unreliable technology.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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We Can Fix a Leaky Digital Branding System in 2014

By Chip Meyer, CEO of Reactx

After years of grumbling, industry-wide complaints about wasted brand spending and missed opportunities for publisher revenue have reached a fever pitch. Earlier in February, Netscape co-founder turned big-time VC investor, Marc Andreessen, let loose on Twitter about how tech vendors are continuing to drop the ball in digital branding, and how publishers are failing to hold ad tech companies to a higher standard. “The issue,” he tweeted, “is that most ad tech is optimizing against the local maxima of price, rather than consumer relevancy.” Immediately a chorus of notable voices from both the vendor and publisher sides chimed in to support Andreessen’s sentiments (there’s certainly something to it).

Andreessen’s argument was simple: We see too many poorly-targeted ads with poor ad content, which does no one any favors. The core problems he hinted at go fairly deep. For brands and publishers to thrive in a digital setting, we need to see a more advanced alignment of brands ads and publisher content. Tech companies need to take advantage of media that delivers highly relevant, targeted ads across quality content, to make programmatic the valuable digital branding tool its proponents have long claimed it could be. And campaign performance must be measured in a way that makes sense for the way 21st century consumers interact with content and ads, rather than concentrating on click-throughs or assuming every impression is worth the same as any other impression delivered to the same targeted consumer.

It’s a tall order, but that’s what brands and publishers want, regardless of whether or not they know how to ask for all of it right now. They will soon enough, and there are vendors in the market right now who are happy to deliver the goods.

Brand marketers also demand rich content — like page take-overs, overlays, skins, peels, IAB Rising Starts, rich video and a variety of other dynamic digital ad creative that is needed for the depth and rich feel branding necessitates. However, for programmatic to serve these high impact, custom premium ads that brand needs to move the needle for branding online, the industry at large needs to get over the old idea of having to pre-qualify them (i.e. pre-determining that custom digital ad format will render properly on a specific publisher’s domain or page, before it is served).

Pre-qualifying custom ads is holding up the delivery of billions of dollars in high-quality, engaging digital ad content served via Real Time Bidding (RTB). The process of pre-qualifying digital ads is fraught with costly RFPs and custom one-off creative development for individual publisher domains and pages. It’s effectively neutering the speed and scale advantages of programmatic and impression level targeting, turning the delivery of custom ads into a time-consuming, clumsy and expensive process that is not adaptive to cross-device designs and auto-customization of creative and brand messaging. Pre-qualifying ad is a poor fit for the highly competitive, real-time digital environment. By eliminating pre-qualification for custom ads, brand marketers and publishers will save nearly $5 billion in what is now simply wasted spending — money they should be spending with publishers instead of on coders.

Let’s look at measurement. Andreessen hinted at something very important here: Not all impressions are created equal, even when they’re delivered to the same consumer. What matters is how the consumer engages with the ad, and the content around the ad, where it’s served. To that end, we need to look at new metrics for ad engagement, like time spent with the ad. If the consumer spends more time with the content around an ad, that’s a more valuable placement than one where the consumer quickly clicks away. Understanding time spent with the ad can be a great boon for publishers to entice brand marketers to shift their spending from television to digital. For marketers, taking advantage of metrics around time spent with the ad is simply good branding.

The seeds have been planted for an industry-wide move toward more premium, high impact (relevant) ad placements and metrics. In the coming year, an increasing number of solutions will be suggested for the problems of garbage ads and wasted spending. But for change to happen, brands and publishers need to understand what smart branding and smart measurement mean today. Whatever happens, buyers and sellers alike will have to adjust their mentality — and the tools they use — to account for the value of branding in a digital environment.

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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.

 

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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.

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Open Source: From Great Technology to Greater Intelligence

By Leon Ward, Product Manager, Advanced Malware Protection: Network, Cisco Security Group

The financial services industry has embraced the adoption and use of open source software and according to software and consulting firm Black Duck, up to 75% of the code supporting a UK investment bank’s trading application is commonly based on free and open-source software. Only 18% of the code is proprietary, it says. And analysts say that adoption in financial services is poised to increase further as cost pressures grow.

In turning to open source, the financial services sector is following a path trodden by other regulated industries – healthcare and government IT, for example – which are attracted to open software development models by promises of cost control and increased innovation.

The origins of Open Source can be traced back to the software developer community that evolved around the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the 1960s and 1970s. In those early days, all software was shared freely amongst the academics and enthusiasts who wanted to build great software to address new challenges.  As technology adoption spread in the 90s, interest in the ‘open’ approach continued to grow as users also recognised the value side of the equation. Not only were they gaining access to software that had the benefit of a community of engaged and interested minds working together to continuously improve it, but open source saved costs by opening the market for support and maintenance of the code. As corporate networks expanded another benefit emerged. Open source enabled agility.  Organisations could more easily integrate complementary applications and services into their environments to respond to new business imperatives and expand capabilities for their users.

More recently, in the context of cybersecurity, open source is a very effective way to solve complex problems because it creates real collaboration and trust between vendors and the experts that are tasked with addressing advanced and aggressive IT security threats.

Modern corporate networks extend beyond the traditional perimeter to include data centres, endpoints, virtual, mobile and the cloud. These networks and their components constantly evolve and spawn new attack vectors including: mobile devices, web-enabled and mobile applications, hypervisors, social media, web browsers and home computers. Attackers are taking advantage of gaps in protection to accomplish their mission. They also go to great lengths to remain undetected, using technologies and methods that result in nearly imperceptible indicators of compromise.

Open source is a valuable tool for defenders as they work to close these gaps and to gather greater intelligence about potential threats to make better decisions and take action. Let’s take a closer look at the role of open source in these two areas.

Closing security gaps. Reducing the attack surface is essential as organisations strive to protect against the latest sophisticated threats. Waiting for updates from vendors to close vulnerabilities isn’t realistic when high-value assets are at stake and attacks are relentless. For organisations creating their own custom applications, the ability to detect and protect these applications is even more challenging. An open approach can help organisations close security gaps faster with the ability to create protections on their own or apply shared best practices and tools.

Gaining greater intelligence. To deal with dynamic environments organisations need access to global intelligence, with the right context, to identify vulnerabilities and take immediate action. An open architecture facilitates the sharing of real-time threat intelligence and protections across a vast community of users for collective immunity. It also streamlines integration with other layers of security defences added as IT environments and business requirements change, thus enabling more effective, coordinated protection.

In the realm of technology, open source has a long history and its applications and benefits will continue to evolve and grow.  The findings of the 2013 Future of Open Source Survey state that increasingly enterprises across the board see open source as leading innovation, delivering higher quality and business driving growth. Based on the tenets of community, collaboration and trust, it is an approach that delivers stronger solutions, addresses complex problems and demonstrates technical excellence, innovation and dependability.

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LUSH uses Data to Improve In-Store Performance

By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking 

Lush has made data analytics available to staff on the shop floor as well as in its warehouses, so they have real-time information on sales performance at their fingertips.

Not only has this helped to tap into the ambitious spirit of staff – competing over which store can do best in terms of sales and performance – but it also gives them information to make decisions and better the customer experience.

For example, if they notice a particular bath bomb is selling well with a certain shampoo, they can change the store layout so the items are closer together.

As all products are created from fresh ingredients, the retailer has actually been able to achieve savings of £1 million through ensuring it is making use of it is produce in the most effective way – only ordering exactly what it needs to create the right amount of goods for the levels being sold and ensuring no products go out of date.

Technology platform, QlikView Business Discovery, is being used by employees at every level throughout the business to provide access to relevant sales, stock, store and staff information to improve performance.

Scott Silverthorn, Head of  Data Services at LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. “As it is used by many different parts of the business, QlikView allows us to continually make insights into our company. Some of the shop managers have told us they have had their most profitable year ever because QlikView has brought together the data they need to manage their sales, their stock and their staffing.”

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