Do You Need a CDO for Successful Analytics? By Roger Nolan

kuya_clay / Pixabay

The C-suite is growing quickly as larger enterprises define more senior roles. Many of the newest roles are technology-based, such as chief digital officers, chief analytics officers, chief information security officers, chief automation officers, and more. As data becomes increasingly crucial to success in all industries, one of the fastest-growing new C’s has been the Chief Data Officer.

Three or four years ago, almost all the CDOs I knew of were in highly regulated industries and very focused on regulatory compliance. More recently, I’ve noticed a big uptick in Chief Data Officers in a wider range of industries, and while compliance is still part of that, the role is growing. More recently, the role of CDO is focusing on managing data for competitive advantage – particularly for modernization, digital transformation and new business initiatives.

InformationWeek wrote about the changing CDO role, and laid out some of the arguments for growth and expansion. From Informatica’s vantage point, we certainly see the increasing trend toward digitization that has more and more companies focusing on data. To name just a few:

  • Once considered a traditional telephony company, AT&T now describes itself as a “data services” company.
  • GE is changing from an industrial company to a company that leases equipment and uses data and analytics to ensure that the equipment is running efficiently.
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center is combining genomic data and operational data to provide highly-personalized approaches to cancer treatment.
  • Jones Lang Lasalle is building data analytics into almost all of its services for finding, acquiring, and managing commercial real estate.

These kinds of business initiatives require great data to be successful. And increasingly, that data needs to come from a wide variety of sources within and outside of the organization.

The role of the CDO

The Chief Data Officer has to cut through all the data silos and fiefdoms that tend to lock up data within an organization, make data a shared resource, and align the data strategy with the business strategy. Beyond that, the definition of this very new role can vary widely. Effective CDOs will need to work with all the business units across the company to come up with a data strategy. They will also need to work closely with senior IT management and Architects to ensure that the technical systems being implemented support the data strategy.

The Chief Data Officer and Chief Analytics Officer have closely aligned, but distinct, roles. I went to a conference of CAOs a few months back and they were debating whether the CAO and the CDO should be the same person. The answer is an emphatic “no.” The CDO is responsible for far more than just analytics, and should be seen as a peer with related but distinct interests. Neither can be successful without the other.

Both the CAO and CDO support the business strategy, and the delivery of business value. The CDO creates the environment in which the CAO can derive the insights that grow the business. Therefore, the CDO and CAO must be able to translate business objectives into data needs—not only considering what data is needed to solve a problem, but helping the company to imagine what business value they could deliver if they did not have limitations around their access to data. Together, the CDO and CAO can innovate beyond the perceived constraints of the business’s environment.

Another crucial CDO relationship is with the Enterprise Architect. The CDO sets the data strategy for the organization. The EA is essential to help translate that strategy into an architecture that can implement the strategy, by both meeting the data delivery requirements of the business today and evolving at the speed the business requires.

Data strategy is crucial

It’s critical that the CDO defines a data strategy that supports the business strategy. That data strategy will include analytics, regulatory compliance, and more. While needs vary by company or industry, generally, the CDO must be focused on a data strategy that enables:

  • Modernization
  • New business initiatives and business models
  • Digital transformation
  • The inclusion of analytics in products, services, and operations

I once heard someone say that managing data is relatively easy—the hard part is managing the people. I agree, and it’s also the most important part of being a CDO. A Chief Data Officer must work across all parts of the organization to identify needs and opportunities around data, and to forge agreements for how data will be acquired, managed, and used.

So, do you need a CDO for effective analytics? The larger and more complex your data management environment is, and the more the organization is looking to use data to fuel their strategy, the more important a CDO will be to success and business value delivery. If you find that your organization is bogged down because various parts of the organization are “hoarding” their data, that is a strong sign that you need a CDO to help manage data as a corporate resource.

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All You Need to Know About Google’s Mobile First Index By Paul Morris

Google’s mobile first index means that the search engine giant will soon be organising its search results based on the mobile version of websites, only calling on desktop versions when there isn’t a mobile version to index. Whether you’re searching Google on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile, you will soon be presented with the same mobile first index.

The implications of this for search engine optimisation are potentially significant, especially for those without a mobile friendly version of their website, so let’s explore the whens, whys and hows.

When is Google launching its mobile first index?

Launch date is still uncertain with Gary Illyes from Google stating that it is ‘unlikely to launch before 2018’, partly due to issues around maintaining ‘quality neutral’ search results, something Google is very keen to keep. It’s also likely that the Mobile First Index will be released in ‘batches as opposed to one big switch over, with Illyes claiming the SMX Advanced conference in June 2017 that the launch could be ‘many quarters’ away.

Google Mobile First IndexingGoogle Mobile First Indexing

Why is Google implementing a mobile first index?

Google has always crawled websites to present results for the benefit of its desktop users, but as mobile search has long outweighed desktop search (and continues to grow), the Californian tech giant has decided to switch things up. The aim is to deliver the most comprehensive and efficient experience for the majority of its users; that is mobile users.

Another issue is the potential discrepancies between mobile and desktop versions of the same website. As mobile versions of a website sometimes contain less content than their desktop version, Google has recognised this can cause issues for mobile users. Mobile search results displaying results garnered from desktop-oriented sites may indicate that a particular website contains the information a user needs to access, but when they click through and are redirected to the mobile site, those key pieces of information may be missing. By introducing a mobile first index, pages that appear on desktop but not on mobile, will no longer appear in the SERPs, ensuring mobile users get more accurate search results.

What if I don’t have a mobile website?

The good news is that there’s no need to panic. If you don’t have a mobile version of your website up and running, Google’s crawlers will still automatically crawl and index your site. In a 2016 blog post Google released guidance relating to website owners on the introduction of its mobile first index. It states that it is in fact more valuable to have a fully functional desktop only website, than an incomplete mobile version.

As if to confuse things though (and Google does like to do this from time to time) it looks like Google may use some desktop signals in its mobile first search results, at least to start with. Gary Illyes has confirmed that the company may ‘smear’ search results, as a result of less links on mobile sites, something that could throw Google’s Pagerank signals all over the place and undermine ‘quality neutrality’.

All this being said, it makes sense to have a mobile responsive website design, as non-mobile friendly sites will continue to rank more poorly compared to their mobile friendly competitors.

What happens if my mobile site doesn’t have as much content as my desktop site?

This may be an issue that you will need to address sooner rather than later, as crawlers will just index the content on your mobile site, without ever seeing your more comprehensive desktop version. Google strongly recommends opting for a responsive design which will ensure that each page of your mobile site will contain the same information as your desktop site. There are, of course, other ways to implement a mobile site, but with a responsive design, there is less room for error (which is always a good thing).

If you have decided against a responsive design and are using separate mobile and desktop versions, it will be a good idea to consider the mobile version of your website as your primary focus, moving forward. When updates are required, focus on ensuring there will be minimal disruption, and that it is as optimised as possible, to help you secure those all-important high rankings.

How is the mobile first index going to change website rankings?

While it may sound like a huge change, Google has said that it doesn’t expect search results to change very much, if at all. As it takes the process indexing of websites seriously, it is keen to ensure these changes are beneficial across the board.

So, although it is likely you won’t see much change (or even any) to begin with, it is still extremely important to keep up to date by ensuring you keep on top of any changes relating to mobile website ranking. As Google has a track record of moving the goalposts constantly, you don’t want to be caught out, should the direction Google is taking with mobile search catch you off-guard sometime in the future.

OK, so what does all this mean for my business?

There are always a number of different areas you can improve upon, in order to maximise the benefits your website brings your business and focusing on the mobile version of your site, seems to be the way things are going (without compromising on the desktop version of course). I’ve listed some areas you need to be looking at now when it comes to ensuring your site maintains its mobile search presence.

1. Improve your loading speeds

Google has been pretty ambiguous on to what extent mobile page speed load times will affect rankings in the mobile first index. Traditionally Google’s search algorithm has relied on desktop page load speeds but signs are this is going to change. Good page load times across all devices is always important, but especially so for mobile users. If your website doesn’t load in less than two seconds, it’s time to make some changes. Large images are a no-no and ensuring your code is as streamlined and efficient as possible is imperative.

2. If you don’t have a mobile responsive site, plan for one

Whilst you could build a separate mobile site to sit alongside your existing site, the consensus is now to have a single website that can work across all devices. Search results aside, a mobile responsive site is one of the best things you can build for your small business, as it is a more accessible and user friendly way for your potential customers to access your business on a mobile device. With increasing numbers of searches conducted on mobile, by not having a mobile or mobile responsive site, you’re missing out on a large amount of possible conversions, as frustrated users click off your site and go to your competitors. User experience is crucial so get it right first time.

3. Equalize your content

Although the smearing of desktop and mobile indexes will water down the immediate need of equalizing content, creating a unified and consistent website experience for users across devices is still important. As I’ve already discussed in point 2, the best way to do this is to create a single mobile responsive website.

4. Check your mobile content is being indexed successfully

This may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. It’s incredibly simple to check, by searching ‘site:mywebsite.com’ on Google, via your smartphone. If nothing is visible, then you will need to work on creating a mobile sitemap, if your mobile and desktop sites are separate, or if your URLs are the same, check your robots.txt to double check you aren’t inadvertently blocking Googlebot.

5. Evaluate your smartphone errors

Using Google Search Console to check errors will help you to iron out any mistakes and, in turn, will ensure Googlebot will be in a better position to correctly index your content.

Future of Mobile SearchFuture of Mobile Search

What does the future hold for mobile search?

Although not a feature that will benefit from Google’s mobile first index, it is fairly safe to predict that apps are likely to become more important for businesses as Google continues to push for a fully mobile-friendly internet. My advice is to keep on top of new developments and make small improvements to your mobile site where possible. Do this and you should be on track to ensure your website is future proofed for an internet that is increasingly being accessed on our mobile devices.

Over to you…

How are you preparing for the mobile first index? Are you still yet to make the change to a mobile responsive site? Let us know how you’re getting on in the comments section below and if you need help preparing your website then get in touch to find out how we can help you.

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17 Mobile PM Challenges and How to Overcome Them By Ashley Sefferman

Between interfacing with multiple teams, coordinating release schedules, prioritizing customer happiness, driving the mobile product roadmap, messaging product announcements internally and externally, and myriad other activities, the list of “to-do’s” for mobile PMs may seem endless, and the job is ever-changing.

To understand just how complex the role of a mobile PM can be, we asked respondents in our 2017 mobile product management survey to share the main words they use to describe their jobs. Here’s what they had to say:

Mobile PM Word Cloud

As you can see from the word cloud above, mobile product management is nothing short of a challenge, no matter what industry you work in. But with great challenge comes great opportunity, and most PMs thrive on regularly taking on new tasks and solving difficult problems.

To understand specific challenges, we asked survey respondents to weigh in on their biggest challenges. Not having enough time in the day (44%), not testing enough with users (36%), having too many responsibilities (34%), and having a small team (33%) topped the list of challenges.

Mobile PM Challenges

Every challenge listed above is valid, and we can definitely empathize. However, none of the challenges in the list are unsolvable!

Rather than responding just to our respondents’ top challenges, we want to share tips on how to approach each. There is no challenge too big or too small to address, so here are our tips to face them head-on—with color commentary from everyone’s favorite co-worker, Michael Scott, to help lighten the mood. 🙂

17 tips to conquer mobile PM challenges

Challenge #1: I don’t have enough time in my day.

We hear ya. You can’t get more hours in the day, so it’s important to use the ones you have as efficiently as possible. The key to rearranging your day to give yourself more time is to figure out which productivity method works for you, and to stick to it as much as possible. Whether you need chunks of meeting-free time blocked off, are better working in sprints, or find that Tuesdays are better spent working off-site, there are plenty of ways to hack your day to give you more time to get things done. LifeHacker has endless tips and practices to experiment with. Pick one you think that works for you and give it a shot!

Challenge #2: We don’t test with users enough.

What better time to start than now? If you’re a PM, you’re in a great place to suggest new types of user tests throughout your mobile experience, especially if you plan the strategy and goals ahead of time. Your mobile customers are the best focus group you can learn from, and there are plenty of cheap, quick ways to give them a place to share their experiences. Consider using in-app surveys to gather feedback on a new feature, open-ended text fields to learn more about an in-app engagement experience, or proactively reach out with in-app messages to encourage customers to engage. To start, check out how one of Apptentive’s international retail customers leveraged in-app feedback to help with testing that ultimately drove their product roadmap.

Challenge #3: I have too many responsibilities.

Michael Scott responsibilities

Similar to not having enough time in your day to get tasks done, feeling overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities can become paralyzing. If you feel like you have too much to do, it might be time to restructure your to-do lists in order to adjust the priorities of your responsibilities. Perhaps you rephrase your tasks as questions, or maybe you start following the 1-3-5 to-do list rule, but whatever you decide, be sure to constantly question the priority level of the work you must complete. Also, be transparent with your manager if you truly feel like you have too many responsibilities to manage. Speaking up might spur a conversation around how to adjust your role to better fit your needs, or better yet, to bring in another team member to share your workload.

Challenge #4: My team is too small.

Here’s the thing: No matter the size of your team, you will likely always feel as though you need another teammate (or five!) to reach your goals. When you feel this way, it’s a good sign you’re setting BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals), which is what every team should strive for. If you truly have resourcing issues, it’s always worth talking with your manager to understand your team’s hiring plan as your insight will be helpful in putting together a job description for your next teammate. If you’re in management, be sure to work directly with your teammates to figure out where your biggest resource constraints lie before asking for additional headcount. Which leads us to our next challenge…

Challenge #5: I don’t have a budget.

Michael Scott bankruptcy

When it comes to budget, gaining access to more is all about proving your product’s ROI. Because mobile teams typically struggle to acquire budget, even at large companies, every dollar spent and returned on the mobile product is under incredible scrutiny from executives. By supporting your product through proving ROI ahead of time, you have a stronger business case for scaling your scope, team, budget, and product positioning within the company. But modeling ROI takes time, patience, and a whole lot of number crunching. For detailed calculations around how to model mobile ROI, check out our in-depth post on the topic to help you make the case for a bigger budget.

Challenge #6: Our competitors are moving faster/earlier than us.

This challenge primarily affects folks in leadership roles, but keeping momentum flowing and accelerating is an all-company effort. When your competition seems to jump ahead of you, it can be easy to get discouraged. Instead, try to use your frustration as fuel to take a step back and realign your goals and mission. Be flexible to change, and be willing to reorder priorities and projects based on what it will take to get ahead in the market. Above all, remember that it’s not just about the competition; shifting priorities can help you better deliver a product your customers will love.

Challenge #7: We only get a small volume of customer feedback.

As we’ve previously mentioned, gathering and implementing customer feedback is vital to the success of a mobile product. First, take a look at your current efforts to see where you can turn up the volume. Can you reach out to a larger segment of your customer base? Is there a better place to prompt customers for feedback within your mobile experience? What do you offer customers for their time once they share their feedback? All of these places are typically full of low-hanging fruit that can allow you to gather more customer feedback, which gives you a better sense of what customers want to see improved and changed.

Challenge #8: We have too many ideas and choosing one is hard.

Michael Scott ideas

Prioritizing features and product ideas is definitely challenging. We recommend gathering stakeholders and spending a morning (or even a full day) going through all of your current and upcoming project ideas. Once the room sees how many projects or ideas exist, it can be easier to prioritize based on a realistic amount of time. Also, be sure to invite your co-worker who is great with dates and scheduling to the meeting—it always helps to have a regimented planner in the room to keep the conversation on track!

Challenge #9: I don’t have the data I need to make educated decisions.

It sounds like you could benefit from setting up a mobile product management dashboard. An important element of any mobile product is being able to track, measure, and report on its progress, and a product management dashboard is a great way to do so as it keeps all of your relevant data in one location that’s shareable, easy to access, and (typically) updated regularly. We wrote a post covering five steps to set up a product management dashboard you’ll want to read before you begin. It might take a bit of time in the beginning, but tracking down the data you need to make decisions is entirely possible when approached strategically.

Challenge #10: I don’t have enough technical skill.

Michael Scott skills

Have no fear! Boosting your technical skills can be the most intimidating place to start, but is one of the areas we get most excited about helping people tackle. Head back to the How to Improve Your Technical Skills section of this guide to take another look!

Challenge #11: I want a better work/life balance.

It’s as important (if not more!) to take care of yourself as it is to take care of your mobile product. If you’re feeling stretched too thin by your work, take time to seriously consider how to better balance your home life and professional life. If you don’t take the time to focus on you when you start feeling work/life balance stress, burnout is sure to follow. To start, we recommend checking out this list of 37 tips for a better work/life balance.

Challenge #12: Fragmentation in the market.

Fragmented markets occur when no one company is influential enough to move the market in a new direction, and typically affects small to mid-size companies. It may seem helpless, but you can actually leverage a fragmented market to your advantage within your product if you have the right mindset. If you’re battling market fragmentation, use it as an opportunity to differentiate your company and product, or to take advantage of the low barrier to entry customers will have with your brand. Your marketing expenses will typically be less than they might be in a more competitive market, so work with your marketing team to come up with some great campaigns highlighting the uniqueness of your mobile product.

Challenge #13: We hire out our development.

We all hear the horror stories of hiring out development, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Overseas developers can be your pocket aces, but only if you build and manage the team the right way. There are plenty of actions to take to ensure your hired out developers are truly invested in your product, like scheduling regular in-person meetings, offering company stock, and pay them a fair wage for your market. Check out this TechCrunch article for more great tips.

Challenge #14: I don’t have the authority to make decisions.

Michael Scott authority

You might not have the final say, but most mobile PMs have more authority and influence than they might think. When it comes to signing off on or prioritizing new features, products, bug fixes, etc., let the data do the talking instead of allowing the decisions to be made with emotion. As a mobile PM, you have amazing insight into your mobile customer experience, and you have plenty of metrics to help support and rationalize your decision-making. Challenge yourself and challenge your team by finding data points to support your thoughts, and your influence might surprise you!

Challenge #15: We release with too many bugs.

Code reviews, beta tests, automated tests; there are many ways to test software and squash pesky bugs before they wind up in production. Take a look at the current process your engineering team follows in order to see where quick improvements can be made. The more technical you are, the better you’ll be able to understand how to fill the gaps in this process, so if this is a challenge you’re facing, we recommend brushing up on your developer-speak before you start.

Challenge #16: My product hasn’t hit product/market fit.

Once you hit market fit, everything generally becomes easier: expanding product usage, shortening your sales cycle, boosting your prices, etc. But while you’re waiting to hit market fit, learn as much as you can about what would make your product better from your customers. This is the time to dig into churn and understand why people are leaving, and what might have kept them around and paying for your product. Ask questions, gather feedback, and re-prioritize your product roadmap based on what you learn.

Challenge #17: People aren’t finding our app in the stores.

Michael Scott left out

Discovering new apps in the sea of the app stores can be tricky, but with the right app store optimization strategy, you’ll be surprised at how much more discoverable your app can be. App store optimization, or ASO, requires thinking strategically about all components of your app’s descriptive content, including your title, description, keywords, screenshots, videos, and more. For some serious ASO knowledge, check out our guide The Guide to App Store Optimization.

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And there you have it! Hopefully the 17 tips above will help you conquer whatever mobile product management challenges are thrown your way.

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5 Common Causes of Revenue Leakage (And How To Avoid Them) By Cameron Ackbury

This year looks to be a strong one for small businesses. Among nearly 16,000 firms with less than 500 employees, 61 percent expect higher revenues in 2017, according to a national survey published in April 2017 by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Of course a strong economy is a good thing. But for small and midsize businesses not prepared for growth, a strong economy can expose gaps in a company’s accounting or operational processes that could lead to problems like revenue leakage. Lost revenue is not something that small businesses, or any business, can afford to ignore. For example, an organization making $50M in revenue can experience leakage of up to five percent, or almost $2.5M in preventable losses.

Small and midsize businesses need to keep a close eye on revenue leakage as they prepare for a strong year. The use of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can plug many of the holes within small businesses that currently rely on spreadsheets or manual forms to manage invoicing, pricing and expenses. There are five common contributors to revenue leakage that ERP systems can help flag or eliminate.

Incorrect data entries. It’s not uncommon for manual errors to creep into invoices created using spreadsheet software, for example, a $100 product is entered as costing $10. If the order is for 50 products, and the error is missed, that represents a $4,500 loss in revenue. ERP systems eliminate this type of error as the correct cost information flows from the sales order to the invoice generated.

Unsent invoices. Sometimes busy companies forget to create and send an invoice. And let’s face it, if a client doesn’t receive an invoice, most likely he is not going to raise a hand to say, “I want to pay you.” The ERP system not only generates invoices, which are date and time-stamped, it also reports on the status of invoices sent.

Unclear payment timeframes. An invoice manually created using spreadsheet may have the right due date for payment. However, separate spreadsheets track the due date and payment status of invoices. Missing or incorrect information may result in the business failing to follow up on collecting past-due payments. By contrast, businesses can use an ERP system to run reports on invoices, due dates, and payments received to trigger appropriate courses of action.

Unmonitored profitability. Topline revenues may be increasing, but the bottom line can be hit by any number of factors. Perhaps the cost of a component within a product has risen. Or despite overall business growth, particular products aren’t selling well. Or the cost of providing a service is higher than anticipated. ERP systems can generate reports about costs versus revenues to help business executives decide whether to reprice or retire offerings that are losing money.

Unchecked generous discounts. Discounts and rebates can be powerful tools for getting customers to buy upgraded product packages, make high-volume purchases, or auto-subscribe to services on a monthly basis. However, eager managers or sales reps risk making these incentives so generous that they cut too deeply into the business’ profit margin to be profitable. An ERP system provides an analysis of sales, including any discounts or rebates, versus costs to help business owners and executives come up with policies for offering incentives. Equally important, the system can then be used to enforce those policies, for example, only allowing a discount of up to 15%.

In the past, many small businesses found the cost, time and effort to implement ERP software too daunting. However, a newer generation of cloud-based, or software as a service (SaaS), ERP solutions has significantly lowered the time and effort to get up and running while providing affordable, monthly subscriptions. As a result, companies that move from spreadsheets and manual entry to a SaaS ERP solution to stem their revenue leakage realize benefits within months rather than years.

Now, more than ever, the solutions are within reach for small businesses to ensure that growing revenues translate into higher profits.

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3 Mobile Marketing Campaigns You Could Learn Something from By Ian Naylor

JESHOOTS / Pixabay

The app store is now flooded with branded apps that few people use. This overcrowding of overt promotions has lead industry leaders to claim that branded apps are dead. There is even a Tumblr out there, Crap Brapps, dedicated to showcasing bad and often hilarious examples of how brand have screwed up. Trust me, this is a list that you don’t want to get on.

I still believe that a company can use mobile marketing successfully through apps if they can create more value for their customers. After all, isn’t that the tried and true principle of all marketing? Here, we examine three types of values propositions that branded apps can bring and how three brands exemplified these values.

Apps that enhance the product

Your consumers are more likely to spend time on their mobile devices than on their desktops. Developing a holistic cross-device mobile strategy is key to your product’s success. I want to highlight how a large brand has incorporated new technologies, Augmented Reality (AR), into their mobile marketing campaign to great success. Apps that have some sort of AR functionality often work in conjunction with the physical product to make sure that the consumers can get the most of out what they purchased. As AR, Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging technologies mature, we can expect a lot more growth in this space.

L’OREAL Makeup Genius

The innovative L’OREAL Makeup Genius app takes away the overwhelming choices in purchasing cosmetics. Using AR technology, L’OREAL Makeup Genius is the first app of this kind to let consumers try on makeup without the hassle of actually going to the store and physically trying products on. The in-app purchase option streamlines the sales process and takes the guesswork out of purchasing cosmetics. Because this app was first to market, the launch of the app picked up a lot of PR attention ranging from the New York Times, to Fast Company, to Vanity Fair, further driving the success of this mobile campaign. To date, over 10 million people have downloaded the app and tried on over 65 million different L’OREAL products. The scale at which L’OREAL increased people trying their products would have been impossible without a mobile strategy.

Apps that entertain the users

Most people look to mobile for entertainment and many established social media platforms are trying to be the all-in-one entertainment centres. We can see this trend through Instagram developing Snapchat capabilities through Instagram Stories. There is a growing market for apps that can up the entertainment value for consumers and can capture existing users of behemoth social media channels.

KevMoji

Kevin Hart is one of the most successful comedians in the past few years and is striving to create his own entertainment empire through HartBeat Production which created the KevMoji App. As a comedian, Kevin Hart’s is known for his expressive face. This app lets users send stickers of his face in lieu of standard emojis and stickers on iMessage and Facebook Messenger and fans are thrilled. On the first day of its launch, the KevMoji app topped the Apple paid app chart. Whilst this app is not the first celebrity face app, it’s hugely successful because it’s entertaining, larger than life, and ties in with Hart’s own brand.

kevmoji

Source: iTunes

Apps that are useful on a daily basis

Getting people to download your branded app is only half of the battle. The true measure of mobile marketing success is how frequently your users engage with the app and ultimately, how the app converts. Naturally, when thinking about what type of value your app can bring, you can tap into people’s basic needs. If you look back at your Psych 101 class, you may remember that at the very bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is Physiological Needs, needs that consumers have on a daily basis. Of course, this level of needs is not appropriate for every type of products and services, but tapping into this level will help embed your brand into your user’s daily routine – that’s an invaluable place to position yourself.

Nike+ Run Club

Nike has traditionally been a leader in sports marketing and many believe that the brand really popularized jogging as a fitness activity with its campaigns in the 1970s and 80s. Nike does not sell its products, rather it promotes the benefits of its products. The Nike+ Run Club app is a useful tool for runners to track their progress, map their route, and push themselves through Powersongs. The personalized training programs and social sharing options also motivate people to engage with the app regularly. Nike’s move into mobile apps ties in with its offline marketing activities where people can find and join a physical Nike Running Club in their area. Nike’s 33.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2016 was the highest on record for the company and a testament to its success.

Nike Run Club App

Source: Nike

Just get started

Full disclosure, I am borrowing my call to action from Nike’s playbook. Mobile is a crucial space to market your products or services. Regardless of the size of your company or marketing budget, you need to think about how to leverage mobile marketing to grow your business. With more and more tools out there to simplify the app creation process, the hard part now is to make sure that you have an idea that creates value for your customers. The three value propositions listed here can help to guide you to developing an app that your customers actually care about and will use. Take this mobile marketing opportunity to convert your existing customers to become champions of your brand.

When you don’t have a large budget, the key to finding the right app-to-market fit is to do your research and rapidly prototype. Use existing app making tools to quickly test out your ideas without spending a lot of money. If you need any more inspiration, check out the Crap Brapps Tumblr list for what not to do.

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How IT Solutions and Service Providers Help Their Customers By Patrick Hogan

blickpixel / Pixabay

For years, IT solution providers have been touting how a company can benefit financially from software-as-a-service and other IT software solutions. Industry Week lists twelve advantages that include reducing expenditures, mitigating risk and simplifing upgrades. It’s easy to see how companies can benefit from these IT solutions. However, are these IT solution services just reducing costs to the company or are they truly providing better value to customers?

Yes, making a company run more efficiently can have a positive impact on customer relationships. In an example case study, a Ukrainian bank leveraged a customer relationship management IT solution to better serve customers. Not only did this solution reduce costs, but it also enabled the bank to serve more customers and even maintain better relationships with its existing customers. The bank provides an excellent example of how IT solutions and services can improve customer satisfaction.

Increased Customer Service Capacity

No one enjoys waiting in lines at the bank to withdraw funds. With 6000 branch offices and over a hundred thousand customers, Oschadbank had to be able to serve as many people as quickly as possible. To address these needs, the bank deployed an IT solution that enabled customers to deposit funds through multiple channels. One addition was a call center that could handle up to 200 simultaneous lines. Another was an online portal that allowed customers to deposit their funds. The case study sums up how effective this solution was. “In…the system’s first 24 days, Oschadbank operators served 117 thousand depositors, not including 30 thousand clients who used the self-service feature on the web portal. “

Why should this IT solution make bank customers happy?

  • They faced a reduced waiting time at the call center because a large portion of them used the online portal.
  • Customers were given the power to conduct their transactions online without the help of a call center representative.

Easier Customer Appointment Scheduling

Inc. reports that many companies are still relying on pen and paper to schedule appointments. This can be time-consuming and prone to error. It’s easy to lose a paper notebook or use the wrong system to take notes. With an IT software solution, scheduling is dramatically improved because it can be integrated with other systems.

IT solutions can alleviate the burdensome task of scheduling by giving call center agents insight into the appointment process. The customer relationship management tool deployed at Oschadbank allowed call center employees to prepare non-conflicting work schedules across 450 branch offices. 1750 tellers were organized and assigned appointments through this system. While non-conflicting schedules may seem like a major benefit to the company, it also benefits customers.

Scheduling appointments can be troublesome for customers as well. They may have to leave work for a noon appointment or get to work late after an early appointment. Waiting at the bank for a scheduled appointment does not make customers happy. They want to be in and out quickly. Non-conflicting scheduling through an IT provider helps enable seamless scheduling. This IT solution also helped customers remember their appointments through personalized SMS and email messaging.

In short, the IT software helped customers by:

  • Making sure that a teller would be ready to serve them at the appointed time.
  • Sending reminders about the appointment so that the customer wouldn’t forget it during a busy day.

Improved Customer Relationships

When a customer calls about a recurring issue, IT solutions and services can help call center reps to resolve it faster. In the Oschadbank deployment, the customer’s information was automatically called up for the call center rep by matching the phone number with the customer’s information. Any customer issues would be immediately displayed so the rep could take action to resolve them. Manual searches for customer information, which take time, are no longer required.

Customers benefit from IT solutions through faster response times to issues. Call center reps have immediate access to their information, so customers don’t have to wait while they “look it up.” Some IT solution deployments also offer integration of different methods of resolving issues. For example, a customer can ask about an issue through a web portal or the company’s Facebook page. The IT software routes these inquiries to the right rep and provides the information they need to resolve the issue. Customers are more likely to get their needs addressed quickly with appropriate IT software in place.

Upgrades for Better Service

While the benefits of IT solutions are already numerous, the software is still getting better. One of the main advantages of software solutions is that they are always improving. Regular updates are typically rolled out for free or at a reduced cost to the company. These updates often improve the customer experience. For example, pizza IT software that allows customers to order pizza online may upgrade from checkboxes for ingredients to allowing customers to create pizzas that have different ingredients on each half. Paper solutions rarely have this level of flexibility and adaptability. In contrast, IT solutions are constantly adapting to customers’ needs.

Choosing an IT Solution Provider

IT solutions range from custom-coded specialized software to packages that can be purchased online with a credit card. The right one depends on the company’s needs. The major types of IT solution services can be broken down into three categories: off-the-shelf, integrated, and custom.

Off-the-Shelf IT Software

Some companies can utilize a generic software solution. These IT solutions are typically provided for common business activities, like selling products or completing accounting. An example would be Kennel Connection, which is a program designed to run dog boarding businesses. This one solution, purchased as a package, checks in animals, tracks billing and documents the dog’s recent inoculations. These needs are common to every dog boarding business, so an off-the-shelf IT solution can work. These solutions are often cheaper than the other alternatives, but it is harder to run a unique type of business with this software. A dog walker could not use the Kennel Connection software at all. For companies that still want a cheaper solution but more ability to adapt it to their needs, integrated solutions may present good middle ground.

Despite the low price of these software packages, customers often like them because they are familiar with them through using them with multiple other companies.

Integrated Solutions

As more software solutions migrate to the Cloud, it becomes easier for off-the-shelf solutions to work together. With integrated solutions, companies can choose from multiple options that perform the same task. For example, a company using Salesforce, a customer relationship management system, can choose to integrate it with MailChimp or Campaign Monitor. The ability to choose what programs are included in a company’s IT solution makes the system more flexible and able to adapt to unusual business types. However, since the programs are not bundled as a package, companies are likely to pay a bit more per month for these services.

Like off-the-shelf solutions, customers often like integrated solution interfaces because they are familiar. The amount of time it takes to learn how to use a company’s system is minimal when the customer has seen it before. This saves the customer’s time.

Custom Solutions

Some companies have business models too unusual or with special security needs, and they cannot use a cobbled-together solution. To meet such customer’s needs, a custom solution is often necessary. Programmed by professional consulting companies or an in-house team, custom solutions can meet any need. However, the cost for custom solutions is substantially higher. As such, they are primarily used by larger companies with bigger budgets.

Customers may initially struggle with custom solutions because the interface is unfamiliar, but they are likely to be more satisfied when fully trained on the system. The custom solution will have only what the customer needs without any fluff or extraneous features. A well-designed custom solution should be seamless for customers to adopt and use.

The Right Solution for Companies and Customers

To determine the right one for a company’s needs, decision-makers should keep in mind these questions:

  • Does the IT solution integrate with the other software the company already uses and prefers?
  • Can the IT service be scaled as the business grows?
  • How easy is it to train staff on the new IT software?
  • Does the IT solution increase the company’s efficiency in a way that will benefit customers?
  • Will customers embrace IT solution?

In the end, customer satisfaction is always an important goal. Oschadbank could have moved to an all-online model with the self-service portal. They could have shut down the call center to save money. It would arguably have been more efficient and cost-effective to direct everyone through the portal. However, most customers still chose to use the call center. Oschadbank was careful to include customer needs in the deployment of its IT solution. Customer needs should define many of the features in an IT solution.

Although IT solutions provide company benefits like reduced costs, they also add value for customers. Increased efficiency means that customers have shorter wait times for their needs to be addressed. Non-conflicting scheduling lets them know that a person will be ready for them at the appointed time. Automated information retrieval means that call center reps have all the information that they need to address customer needs immediately. With the explosion of software-as-a-service (SaaS), it’s easy to find a scalable and appropriate IT solution for every company’s needs.

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Mobile Ad Blocking: Past, Present, and Future By Robert Woo

A recent report out of eMarketer revealed that while mobile ad blocking usage is still relatively low compared to its use on desktops and laptops, it’s steadily growing.

8% isn’t a lot right now in 2017, but the mobile industry has been closely monitoring ad blockers on smartphones because of what it might mean for the mobile economy as a whole. Keep in mind two things: 1) starting last year, global internet traffic is now mostly via mobile, and 2) mobile ads have been propping up the advertising industry as of late. You can see why the industry is so concerned about mobile ad blockers. So how did we get here and where are we going?

The advent of ad blockers, or, the crippling of publishing.

Remember those awful Flash-based display ads that were everywhere in the early internet days?

*Shudder*. Eventually, a bunch of smart people sick of these awful ads created ad blocking software which hit the masses in 2013. For a time, this was a blessed relief for internet users. Ugly ads that slowed down websites were removed, and it had the side effect of shuttering many businesses that preyed on stray eyeballs/clicks to artificially inflate traffic numbers.

But as the popularity of ad blocking software increased, legitimate businesses began to suffer. The most notable example is journalism. Going from print to digital was bad enough, as display ads were less profitable than print ads, but the advent of the ad blockers effectively bankrupted many smaller publishers and left the industry scrambling for revenue to this day.

Bowing to the ad blocking gatekeepers.

Last month, Digiday reported that UK publishers are losing $2.6 million each year due to ad blocking software, and that if left unchecked, it could cost all publishers $35 billion in the next few years. The issue is so dire that we’ve all seen big content publishers like Forbes or the New York Times begging visitors to whitelist their sites on the various ad blocking extensions people use. Tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft basically have to pay a ransom to owners of ad blocking software to get ads through. It’s a weird world we’re living in.

And the scariest part only happened recently, as Google and Apple announced they would be integrating their own ad blocking software into Chrome and Safari. Come again? Doesn’t Google exist off of ads? Well ostensibly, as the linked article mentions, Google is working with other tech companies to improve ads via industry-wide standards as outlined by the Coalition for Better Ads. Founding members include Google, Facebook, and over a dozen other companies.

The theory is that if ads are better, then consumers will allow them back into their lives/screens. This philosophy also applies to Google’s AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages); the better the mobile experience is, the less likely users will use ad blockers. It’s a nice theory, but the numbers haven’t shown any sort of slow down in mobile ad blocking. The implications are clear, however: the major publishers have lost the desktop war, so they’re trying to get ahead on the mobile front.

Ad blocking the future of the internet.

So where do we go from here? Well, there’s a lot of speculation but no solid answers. Some think that this is the death of free online content, and the state of digital journalism definitely seems to back that up. Others think display ads on mobile will also fall out of use, and this will shift marketing to more P2P options like affiliate and influencer marketing. Still others think Google, Facebook, and Apple can wrestle back control of the internet from the ad blockers due to their control of the content platforms.

Personally, I’m not sure who’s right, but there are a few things to consider in the near future for mobile-first businesses. First, there is a stark difference between apps and the mobile web. Specific to this topic, some ad blockers do block ads on both browsers and in apps, but apps have many other ways of pushing advertisements such as through referral partnerships. Not relying on just your mobile website and instead working on your own app is a defense against mobile ad blockers. Second, mobile ad blocking adoption is still low. Getting your customers to trust your mobile business now, so they won’t feel the need to block ads on your app/mobile site, will pay dividends in the future.

Third, all this is pretty familiar if you lived through Napster. Through the 90s, the music industry was riding high on CDs that cost $20 a pop. When Napster hit, and suddenly music became “free,” the genie was thought to be out of the bottle. The music industry freaked out, lawsuits were thrown about, and they kicked and screamed and railed against this sudden onset of technology. But after licking their wounds, they gave the consumers what they wanted all along: an easier, cheaper way to buy music; and now suddenly everyone is paying for music again.

I think that’s what will happen with advertising. We’re in for a ride until it’s figured out, but there will be something better for consumers at the end of the tunnel.

What do you think about the mobile ad blocking movement?

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