Tag Archives: Technology

For Example…

When multi-channel data enters the system through the Context Adapter, it can either go through the Data Processing Layer, the Context Service, or the Event Stream Processor.

Depending on which entry path is taken, the data might pass through the Dispatcher and Message Bus, or possibly the Context Gateways and Enrichment Services, ultimately residing in the Core Customer Profile,* which you might then leverage through the Analytics Layer or, really the point of the whole exercise, through the Consumption Layer.

For example…

Mr. Customer, when Sue your consumer sends out a tweet referencing your brand with a few not-so-polite hash-tags, we can capture that tweet, its context, and determine its negative sentiment.  Isn’t that an important insight?

When we start to match up Sue’s Twitter handle with other hints and clues and customer data we’ve gathered through other channels like your web store and her order, we can put two and two together and realize the product was likely damaged in shipping.  Now wouldn’t Sue love to hear from you to rectify the situation?  Wouldn’t her next tweet be in praise of your brand?  Isn’t that the kinds of customer service that will differentiate you from your competition?

Both of these sections tell the same story.

If you’ve got an amazing innovation that took a few ingenious and technological leaps and bounds to create, you’d better give your audience a few examples of how it all works.  They simply haven’t caught up with you yet.  Telling Sue’s story helps your audience realize that there’s a missing piece.  They’ll suddenly know what a Context Gateway is and why they want one.

 

*Only after passing through the Secure Access Layer, naturally.

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Record It

You invest a lot of effort learning solutions, understanding the marketplace needs, and preparing for presentations.

Why not save this effort by recording it?

Tools like Camtasia can capture your screen and even a cheap USB microphone records broadcast-quality sound.  If you spend an afternoon learning the basics of the Camtasia editor, you’ll learn to cut, zoom, pan, and merge media clips together into a tight, professional video.*  Now you have a backup, a leave-behind, a promotional video, and a growing library of recordings you can depend on down the road.

You might also want to record yourself as you learn.

Turn on the recorder as you work through product marketing presentations of the latest releases.  As you read through them, you can practice explaining the concepts to pretend customers or work out use-cases and examples.  Record yourself as you set up demo data or walk through standard scripts and you’ll always have a reference for those intricate bits.  You may never edit (or even look at!) these recordings, but they’ll be there for future reference.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you recall your thought processes and understanding as you review them.  You’ll be ready to share them with others who are starting down paths you’ve already covered.

And that’s the return on your investment.

*You can even add ukulele background music, if you must.
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Your Signature

You’re in a customer-engaging role.  Make it easy for a customer to contact you.

Your signature:

  • Should
    • always be included in email correspondence
    • be configured on your desktop, tablet, and phone*
    • provide your name, title, preferred phone number in a clickable format, and email address
  • Could
    • list professional titles and certifications
    • include your street address
    • have a link to a targeted website landing page**
    • include a quote or marketing slogan
  • Might
    • include timely promotion of an event or industry award
    • be better if it didn’t include pleas for causes that aren’t related to your business
*Why advertise for iPhone and Verizon on every email?
**Don’t give them the corporate home page.  They can guess that.  Point them toward a page about your area of expertise, or a customer story
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Gazing into the hazy future

Editor’s note: This post went running off into a direction I did not expect when I sat down to write about the role of Pre-Sales in the near future.  My pre-determined conclusion was “of course Pre-Sales will always be needed.  We help explain complex stuff to people in the sales process.”  We’re the last role you can afford to get rid of in Enterprise Software sales, or sales of any significant capital investment in technology.

But what if the premises change?  What if enterprise technology is no longer a capital investment?  What if it’s not complex?

Well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it?

Below, I begin to track the direction the marketplace in which we live and operate is headed by considering technology, licensing, and usability trends.  It’s incomplete; there’s a lot of thinking to be done here.  I’ll be chasing these scrambling ideas and trying to catch up with them.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime…

Applications, modules, technology stacks, open platforms, open source, third party solutions, cloud, integration, APIs, web-services, micro-services, everything as a service, internet of things, predictive, data, digital, speed, experience, social.

Stop the ride, I want to sit down until the spinning goes away.

Where are information technology systems headed?  How will these business-process transactional systems and data repositories function five, ten years hence?*

  • Software is on a vector of becoming more encapsulated into services, securely and scalably available on-demand, in the cloud, without the need for massive technology stacks, efficient database design, code-level customizing.  There’s one codebase, one multi-tenant instance of that code.  The debugging and support of that is centralized to the owners and creators of that code instead of the users.
  • User interfaces are being simplified in process and access toward the common usability of tablet and phone: swipe, tap, hold, voice-operated commands, share, transient notification, bookmark, options-menu and escape.
  • Decisions are moving from IT-guided to line-of-business owned.  The ultimate destination would therefore be individual user choice.  If you can pick your own phone and arrange your own apps for personal use, why not pick your own processes and personal suite of applications for the office?
  • System to system, process to process, and transaction to analysis orchestration has moved from coding to configuration to wizard-based configuration.  Why couldn’t an individual user authenticated into an enterprise domain self-configure through context-aware wizards rather than it being a back office task?
    • Why wouldn’t a user be able to string enterprise services together ad-hoc, following their whim, such as engaging a customer into a marketing message, checking on their accounts payable status, then running them through a prediction of loyalty, all to serve the user’s needs in preparation for a phone call (which would itself be automatically logged back into the enterprise-domain’s expansive knowledge base?
    • These concepts are possible today, but on a macro scale, rigidly built to a process; it’s efficient mass-marketing through better intelligence.  The difference here is the individual enterprise user could leverage all of this information on their own, coordinate it on the fly, to their need, and to the prospect’s need.
  • Consumption is moving from permanent user licenses to annual subscriptions to rate-charging.  How many minutes/transactions/reports did you use this month?
  • The structure of enterprise systems is dictated by data, by transactions, by form-based processing of data and transactions.  But that very structure limits users to safe processes which serve the systems, not the other way around.  Systems serve regulatory, transactional, and executive information needs.  They are still in their infancy in serving end user needs or even the needs of the business partners tracked and transacted about in the systems.
    • If the back office needs structure and transactions and data, those needs can be defined as expected outputs of individual user-centric software components.  Every piece of Lego has a stud to connect it to the others. Every  financial transaction has an account and a debit or credit.
    • We’re serving the transaction and the data.   What does the rest of the body that meets at the connecting point look like?
  • In an on-demand, easy-to-use, rate-charged world where end users can pick what they need, the user’s purchase decision (the sale) will be referential and experimental.  Users will keep the ones that work, the ones they like.

This isn’t Enterprise Software; it’s, um, what’s the word? User-ware?  Role-soft? Enterprise Self Service? The Autonomous Enterprise Backbone? The Individual Enterprise? The Enterprise of Individual Contributors?**

Will the world even need Pre-Sales in the not too distant future?  Is that the right question?

Consider this: as decision, configuration, and use passes from Coder to Consultant to IT to Line of Business to Individual Actor, it will have to pass through a phase where a subject matter and technical expert can define business solutions on the fly and on behalf of an end user.  You know, another common title for Pre-Sales is Solution Consultant.  Maybe the technology is simply catching up to us?  Will this be the phase to hang out our shingles and bring together everything we know for our clients by using off the shelf services?

*Nearly twenty years ago I predicted that Amazon would have storefronts everywhere within two years and blow Barnes and Noble and Borders off the face of the earth.  I was spectacularly wrong.
** I’d better trademark some of these and write a book.
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Complete, Fully Integrated, End to End

I once had a humorous poster listing Murphy’s Laws on Technology, which included this shrewd observation:

Any given program, while running, is obsolete

…because everything can be improved.  You’re never done.  There’s always something that could be added or taken away; another angle, a new technology, a change in the market that will render your solution, well, obsolete, even if it’s fresh into customer beta.

Claiming a solution to be complete, fully integrated, and end to end is an unnecessary and lazy sales tactic.  Any skeptic in your audience will perk up and start challenging you.

  • It’s clearly not complete.  There’s always something more that customization or competitive solutions can do. But maybe it fits their needs now with room to grow?
  • Fully integrated implies that two systems are as one.  And they aren’t.  They’re two systems brought together through integration technologies and choices.   That the integration is packaged, configurable, and supported is the value.
  • End to end applies to use cases and transactional data in a business process.  What your customer cares about is their use-cases and their business process.  Talk specifically about how your solution handles those from end to end.
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Technology simplifies

For a recent demonstration…

I sat down to a web-meeting and conference call (VOIP telephony) and shared my desktop, while connected to my corporate VPN, running a virtual computing system (the demonstration system) accessed remotely (through a desktop emulator), which was itself running a virtual phone system / communications technology (the product being demonstrated), dialed into via cell phone by a peer on-site at the customer, which came back into my USB headset, which was itself full-duplexing the concall, the inbound call, and a conferenced demo role all at once through the same headphones and mic, recording the calls themselves to boot.  All from my laptop, wirelessly connected to a router connected to a cable-modem inside my home office.

I took a smooth sip of coffee and showed them how easy the products were to use.

I’m sure you would have done the same.

Rats! I forgot to show the email and chat features!
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Walking away

Perhaps the most intimate relationship we develop is with our smart phones.

They are there at all times, in our pockets, in our hands, hooked into our cars, available at a tap and swipe, providing us with communications, information, and entertainment. We check in constantly throughout the day, whenever we find the opportunity; what used to be a smoking break is now a smart phone break.  We honor them by personalizing them, adding protective covers, improving the headsets we work with; we’re slaves to the batteries and perform our recharging rituals with fanatical fervor.

And yet, after long years of devotion to the devices and their branded, fashion-statement, loyalty-laden, get-their-hooks-in-you ecosystems, we can walk away at a moment’s notice and embrace the new.  Technology has made it so that we can end our years of intimacy, divorce and re-marry, by simply holding the power button for three seconds, turning off the old forever and turning on the new, and never looking back.

Enterprise software has also reached the point where our customers can turn off the old, walk away, and embrace the new.

So, what you’ve done for them in the past does not matter; how you extend what you’ve done can differentiate; looking forward had better be as good, and as easy to embrace, as the competition.

Get ready to win them over, again.

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Spock has a sense of humor. He just doesn’t believe he does.

I’ve noticed through my career that when you bring a creative person (a designer, a photographer, an artist, a Photoshop specialist) into a technology-related project, they get the technical aspects of the project right away.

I’ve also noticed that that the analytic people involved in the project are in awe and amazement at the creative person’s artistic skills.  “I could never draw/layout/photograph/stylize like that.”

My conclusion has always been that creatives can be analytical but analytics can’t be creative.

I have always been wrong.

Analytics have been told (by themselves or others) that they are not creative.  And they (myself included) have been dumb enough to believe this.  I don’t know if creatives were lucky enough to be tagged creative early on, or if they were wise enough to scoff at the notion they couldn’t be creative.  But to accept that you can’t be creative and therefore never try…

That’s just sad.

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Reach Out and Touch Someone

As new technologies are introduced, they go through stages of maturity in the marketplace.  Initially innovative, and therefore expensive, they grow to be commonplace and ultimately become a commodity (or forgotten).

Somewhere along that curve, from breakthrough invention to optimized revenue scalability, communication of the technology’s benefits migrates from the inventor* to engineers to pre-sales to order takers to the discount end-cap at Target.

Remember Palm Pilots?

During the time a technology is in pre-sales stewardship, it is our responsibility and joy to discover, understand, and bring to others.

Enjoy the technology in its ride.  But don’t hang on too long.  The next great thing is preparing to change what you do. For example, this is the year of the tablet.  And next year?

*even Alexander Graham Bell did some pre-sales work.

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