Tag Archives: Data

How Do You Optimize Your Business Model? Six Points

Situation:  A company is in the process of shifting their business model to better address customer needs. They have three different models under consideration. Management is split between these models, but must arrive at a consensus. How do you optimize your business model?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Right now, you are considering three different potential models:
    • Tools – your old model
    • Data – produced by your old model
    • Service – your new model
    • These are different models with different prospects.
  • The money makers in marketing focus on data, not tools. Data is information, and this is what is valuable to clients. If you want to focus on the data component of your offering.
  • Currently, you are scraping data from social media and matching this to your client’s database on a real-time basis. There’s a model and value here because you are enhancing your client’s current database by making it more useful and actionable to them.
  • You have tools to enable and add value to existing client databases by allowing them to better segment their database. Again, there is value here.
  • Your core IP is the ability to correlate diverse data sources. Have you protected this IP? If not, this needs to be a top priority.
  • How much information that you scrape from social media sources can you share without violating privacy? This is something to think about because people are becoming increasingly sensitive about companies collecting their private information.

Are You Planning Salary Increases This Year? Five Thoughts

Situation: A company’s staff is highly paid. Historically, annual raises have been 4-5%; however some individuals are above industry salary ranges. The CEO doesn’t want to lose key individuals who would be expensive to replace. The company is planning salary increases for the end of this year. If the level is lower than historic averages they are concerned about the impact. Are planning for salary increases this year? How will you communicate your decision to employees?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • What’s the problem? Even in an improving economy your employees are lucky to be making what they do! On top of this, you need to consider profitability compared to last year as well as historic levels. Selectively share financial data with your employees as well as financial realities – your and their top priority are to keep the company healthy.
  • Gather data on salary ranges for roles in your industry. Good sources are Salary.com for national data (it may be dated) or Assets Unlimited’s Silicon Valley Survey for up-to-date salary information by industry and position. This will help you to prepare for conversations with employees who are currently paid above the range for their positions.
  • If you have employees above the range and do not want to give them raises, give them bonuses or spot bonuses for work well done.
  • Formalize your bonus system – base bonuses on performance metrics. Consider tying bonuses to net margin performance for the company or for departments that can impact new margin.
  • Whatever you decide, make announcements about salary levels a positive event.

How Do You Expand Your Business Model? Seven Recommendations

Situation: To date, a company has performed a single set of services focused on collection and delivery of a stream of raw data to its clients. The CEO wants to add a consulting service based on the expertise that the company has developed over the years. The CEO seeks input on both how to position this new service, and how to organize it, either within or separately from the current business. How do you expand your business model?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Consulting services can be offered at a premium to current services because the company will be offering analysis and recommendations for a solution, instead of just raw data. Intelligence is more valuable than raw data.
  • Offer the consulting service on a project rather than an hourly basis. For example, price a project at $10k for the consulting package instead of $200/hour for data collection and reporting.
  • To add weight to the consulting offering, provide final reports and recommendations as a professional, written document supplemented by a presentation.
  • Test the concept and early options for the consulting service with existing clients.
  • Create a new division for the consulting service so the customer sees it as an additional option and value that the company provides. This will change both the branding and image of the business.
  • To increase the opportunity for success, develop a full business plan for the consulting model.
  • Focus on the new consulting business with the same discipline as the current data business.

How Do You Move a Live Online Data Center? Seven Suggestions

Situation: A company has run out of space and is planning a move to a new and larger facility. The biggest challenge is that they maintain a live online data center upon which their clients depend. How do you move a live online data center?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • This is not a rare event. Many companies with live online data centers have to upgrade their systems on a regular basis as equipment and software technologies evolve. Maintaining service during a move is not significantly different. Research what steps these companies have taken to minimize disruption during upgrades.
  • Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Seek outside expertise to help you plan the move, and to develop options that will minimize both downtime and service interruption.
  • Ask a trusted data center resource for a 3rd party audit of your move plan.
  • When one company moved, they overlapped their leases by one month, and their Internet connections by 2-3 months. This gave them breathing room as they completed the move and allowed them to stay live uninterrupted through the move.
  • Another company increased their back up servers and service. They also planned their move to occur during what they knew would be a low demand block of time. As a result, they were able to complete the move, plug in the servers and were only down for 30 minutes.
  • If it is feasible, consider leaving your old center in place as a back-up data center.
  • Conduct a number of practice shutdowns and restarts to test your systems.

How Do You Test for New Product Appeal? Three Suggestions

Situation:  A company was challenged by a client to design a product to demonstrate the capabilities of the client’s processor.  The result was a wonderful success, and has received very positive press. The client does not care about the product, only about their processor. How does the company test the appeal and potential marketability of the new product?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Go to a local arcade, for example one operated by Golfland USA or a multiplex theater. Show them your product and ask whether you can test it for appeal with their customers. This will enable you to measure coin-drop numbers and generate demand and market appeal data. With these data you can assess the value of either selling or licensing the product.  The objective is to see whether the product generates sustainable demand, or whether it is just a short-lived curiosity.
    • The big issue with a product like this is very simple – is it addictive?
  • If your initial tests show that the product generates sustained interest and revenue it is similar to a console game. There are a number of avenues to pursue, including:
    • Early exclusives use agreements with casino or theater chains – it will have value if it helps them to drive traffic to their venues.
    • Novelty markets – corporate events, etc.
  • Other options:
    • Evaluate a lease model for target venues.
    • Consider selling the product to air table companies as a demo unit.

How Do You Update Your Accounting System Without Losing Data? Four Thoughts

Situation: A company has used the same accounting system for over 10 years. The current system produces information quickly and easily, and empowers management and sales to make good decisions. However, it doesn’t respond to customer information requests as well as newer packages. What are best practices for updating your accounting system without losing data?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • One option is to keep your legacy system, but migrate to a user-friendly platform designed to work with a CRM system that can better meet customers’ needs.
    • Keep both systems up live until you no longer need the old system, except as an archive of your historic data.
    • Be sure to cross-train other employees so that your current system doesn’t become worthless if your key administrator gets hit by a truck.
  • Before you decide which direction to pursue, ask what your employees like the current system.
    • What do they find most useful?
    • What accounting features do you need to support your growth plans?
    • What key functions of the current system would you have to emulate?
    • How expensive is it to maintain your current system?
  • Is your business so unique that no off the shelf alternatives exist?
    • Could you adopt an 80-90% solution and customize the rest?
    • It may be difficult to do this on your own. Look for a consultant with a background in accounting applications to analyze your needs.
  • If you feel that you must make a change, but are not ready to do so, develop your solution gradually.

What’s the Best Way to Target Your Audience? Eight Points

Interview with Peter Koeppel, President, Koeppel Direct

Situation: The media industry is increasingly challenged trying to reach its audience. Media choices are fragmented, and the proliferation of new devices makes reaching purchasing audiences difficult. How do you best reach your target audience in this environment?

Advice:

  • Historically placement of advertising and pricing of media ad buys were driven by calculations of audience impressions – how many eyeballs a particular ad would reach. With the media market now highly fragmented this measure is no longer as effective. Sophisticated marketers now seek ROI driven media buy models to justify their advertising purchases.
  • Two companies, Facebook and TiVo, are in the lead in terms of potential to assist marketers in targeting distinct audiences, because they collect rich data on individual consumers, but this information must be balanced with privacy concerns.
  • Non-conventional channels like TiVo or Google TV and other research services can selectively present marketing messages to specific customer demographics.
  • The mobile search market represented approximately $2 billion in revenue in 2010. As more people consume media through mobile devices, this market will grow. The leader in this market is Google.
  • A growing format is longer length spots. These include short-form infomercials which are typically seen for insurance, legal services, and spots that drive consumers to web sites or an 800 number. Long-form infomercials are typically 30 minutes in length, composed of three to four 7 or 8 minute segments separated by commercials, which serve as calls to action. Infomercial marketing is not for every product, but is most applicable to higher priced products where specific demographic information is worth the investment and where the consumer needs more education about the product,in order to make a purchase decision.
  • Cable TV, print and radio, remain an effective way to target niche audiences. Television, among the traditional media, still drives the largest number of consumers to online purchases.
  • For the future, we predict a convergence between TV and online marketing and purchases. Many HDMI TVs and current Blu-Ray sets are already configured for both cable and either WiFi or Ethernet connections. Google and Apple sell devices that combine TV and online access. Netflix and Hulu serve content through either TV or online devices.
  • We see the future of TV as a device which will consume all media. As access to rich databases of consumer preferences and purchasing proliferates we see growth in content which will be increasingly tailored to personal preferences and desires of highly fragmented consumer demographics.

You can contact Peter Koeppel at pkoeppel@koeppelinc.com   URL: www.koeppelinc.com

Key Words: Sales & Marketing, Media, Audience, Choice, Fragmented, Devices, Purchase, ROI, Targeted, Facebook, TiVo, Apple, Google, Data, Privacy, Mobile, Search, Pay-per-Click, Infomercial, Convergence

What Three Qualities Characterize the Company of the Future?

Interview with Philippe Courtot, CEO, Qualys

Situation: Few economists predict a robust recovery. We know from past recessions that in a slow recovery some companies will fail while others rise to the top. What are the three qualities of the companies that will thrive and become the companies of the future?

Advice from Philippe Courtot:

  • Companies of the future will have three qualities. The first is a keen sense of who your customers are – what characterizes them and their buying and use decisions. You need to see yourself through their eyes. This will give you the ability to shift more easily as their needs shift. Making this shift is easier for a service company than for a manufacturing company because the infrastructure of a service company is more flexible.
  • Second is an intense focus on operational excellence. Everything is measured with the objective of obtaining the highest levels of productivity as well as the opportunity for ongoing learning and improvement. The companies of the future will have superior systems for gathering and tracking performance data, as well as cultures which allow them to learn from what they track.
  • Third is a culture of continuous innovation. The company of the future will be the company disrupting itself. Germany provides a wonderful example because of its culture of excellence in small, family owned companies. You may be surprised to learn that it is these small companies who are the true drivers of German innovation, not the big companies like Daimler or BMW. The small companies follow the three rules outlined here. Their success has been aided by the emphasis in German education on math and engineering which means that there is an ongoing supply of domestic talent to feed these jobs.

You can contact Philippe Courtot at pcourtot@qualys.com

Key Words: Company, Future, Quality, Customer, Shift, Adapt, Service, Manufacturing, Operations, Excellence, Learning, Improvement, Data, Culture, Innovation, Continuous, Disrupt, Family, Business, Education

What Is Changing The Game in Network Security?

Interview with Philippe Courtot, CEO, Qualys

Situation: Companies experiencing security breaches and data theft are regularly in the headlines. Those launching these attacks are increasingly well organized and very creative. What is changing the game in network security and how can you respond?

Advice from Philippe Courtot:

  • The movements from enterprise software to Software as a Service (SaaS), and from mainframes to PCs to mobile devices increase the challenges of protecting enterprise environments. Therefore, a cohesive technology platform is imperative.
  • Companies are sensitive to the possibility of attack at any time. There are three principal attack vectors: breach through web applications, breach through email and browsers, and breach by device. Between PCs, iPhones and Android devices, the PC is the most closely linked to the corporate intranet while often the most vulnerable because users are lax about updating their systems and applications.
  • Attackers often target a company executive or high level administrative assistant to access the user’s profile and passwords.  In one type of attack called spear fishing, the attacker creates emails tailored to the person targeted appearing to come from a colleague or friend. When the target clicks on the email, a small piece of code is inserted in the computer, which can give control to the attacker. Another way to gain control of a computer is through physical access. An attacker can learn about a pending vacation via Facebook or twitter, providing an opportunity for home invasion. Once the attacker has access to the computer, they can plant a control program on the system. When the user returns, the attackers can make fast, brief forays inserting additional code or taking data from the enterprise network. They may use the information themselves, or sell it to others.

Given these new realities, how does a company prevent attack?

  • First, the company must thoroughly analyze and understand their vulnerabilities which are all potential entry points for an attacker. Once vulnerabilities are mapped, work on a schedule to remediate them.
  • Second, you must educate all users about the threats. This is especially critical for any personnel who have access to secure company data.
  • Third, invest in and build additional defenses to shield all remaining vulnerabilities. Make sure that employees are drilled on the defenses and that they are used. One growing trend is the use of two factor authentication, requiring employees to carry token generation devices with them to use in addition to their password. These tokens can be delivered by smart phone.

You can contact Philippe Courtot at pcourtot@qualys.com

Key Words:  Network, Security, Breach, Data, Theft, Response, Mainframe, PC, Mobile, Enterprise, Environment, Criminal, Government, Attack, Vector, Social Network, Email, Browser, Web, Application, Device, Spear Fishing, Executive, Assistant, Profile, Password, Vulnerability, Educate, Defense, ID

How Do You Find and Focus on Your Promoters? Five Factors

Interview with Richard Owen, CEO, Satmetrix Systems

Situation: If you are not creating promoters of your product or service, you are inhibiting your own growth. Growth is challenging and if you don’t have positive word of mouth it becomes more expensive. How do you find and focus on your promoters?

Advice from Richard Owen:

  • Calculate and understand your “Net Promoter Score” – the percentage difference between “promoters” and detractors.” Promoters are those customers who would highly recommend your business, detractors have a negative perspective.
  • It is important to attend these two audiences – “detractors”, who create negative word of mouth, and “promoters” who create positive word of mouth. Detractors can be targeted for service recovery. At the same time, you must identify your promoters and find ways to get them to actively let others know about your business. Both negative and positive effects are being amplified today by social networks.
  • Understand what your business does that creates detractors and promoters. Gather and analyze root cause data to provide insights around the actions you and your team should take to change the balance in your favor.
  • Hold employees accountable by “stack ranking” the customer performance of each of your teams or employees. In part, this helps you to understand areas of strength and weakness and allows you to create individualized or group action and coaching plans. There is also a tendency for groups below the average to improve performance because they are being measured.
  • These are simple ideas, but making this work in practice can be a challenge. Setting up an effective system takes more leadership than leaders typically realize and is often counter to the short term realities of most companies. Success requires a long-term perspective and an external versus internal focus. And, of course, the right systems!
  • While the leadership of many mid-market companies are as sophisticated as that in large companies, mid-market companies lack the resources of large companies. A focus on action around promoters and detractors allows a company to get 90% of the value for 10% of the effort in customer experience management.

You can contact Richard Owen at richardo@satmetrix.com

Key Words:  Promoter, Growth, Word of Mouth, Positive, Negative, Cost, Data, Customer, Metric, Coach, SMB, Perspective, Effectiveness, Resources