Agile Development, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, User Experience

In an age of rapid changes in the business, technology and lifestyles, organisations and individuals alike have to be adaptive. Business Analysts are not an exception to this much alike the other professionals. What does it take to be a modern day business analyst. Is it just the logical thinking, sound communication skills, good domain knowledge? Yes, these are all necessary but not sufficient. The modern day business analysts have to be agile, suave and tech savvy. They need to be adaptive and quick to embrace change, not just to survive but to succeed. In this post, we will look at what it takes to be a successful business analyst in this new-age of digital, mobile, agile and social times.

Transformation of business analysis in the new-age

Business analysis today is less of writing requirements in long documents and more of working with the design and development team. Its about owning the product roadmap, business strategy and/or the organisational processes. Gone are the days of writing up functional specifications documents running into hundreds and thousands of pages, spending months and years. Its the time for them to be agile and lean, and move on from being traditional verbose document writers. So business analysts today have to write user stories, create wireframes and mockups, model problems and solutions, validate and test the functionality.  They must be open to change and pro-actively understand the impact of changes on business, technology, products and people.

NBA_platform_Definition_Framework

Business analysis is changing and how

From a traditional perspective,  BAs needed to be good with communication skills. They were positioned as domain experts and to some extent looked up as product specialists. Some analysts have been positioned as specialists in business process management. However, in the last few years, business analysts have moved on from mere requirements owners to product/process owners. With the extensive use of agile practices, business analysts too emerged as the change management experts. In this digital, mobile, agile and social age, the focus of business analyst has shifted to user stories, customers and users engagement, stakeholder management, modeling domain, problems and solutions. In short, the modern day business analyst is versatile, cross-disciplined, tech-savvy, agile  and a team-working professional.

NBA_platform_BusinessAnalysis_New_Age

The new-age Business Analyst’s toolset

I give below a diagrammatic representation of the toolset for the modern day business analysts. This provides a snapshot of the fundamental set of skills and knowledge that power the BAs today.

NBA_BA_Skills-and-knowledge_Toolset

Alongside the mainstream skills, the business analyst needs to be a master of communication and leadership skills. From interacting with the key stakeholders, engaging with customers and users, and working alongside the team members, business analysts must have excellent “people skills”.  Also, technology has been playing a key role in the design, development and delivery of products and services today. So, needless to say that the business analysts today have to be aware of the technologies, platforms and the application of these technologies to business context. I don’t however see that the business analysts have to be experts in technology but then they must be able to use technical applications, tools and methods to understand problems and help create solutions. Also, the new-age BAs have to be creative and be equally good with the right brain as much as they are comfortable with the data and analytics.

Hope you find this post useful – as always, please feel free to get back with your review comments and helpful feedback. On behalf of Team Texavi, I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year, 2014! May your personal and professional lives be filled with joy, prosperity and success! Until next post, ciao!

         

 

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Mobile, Product Development, User Experience

Look around you and what you find everywhere being used by almost everybody is no surprise. Yes, Mobile has taken us by storm and no doubt that its one of the most happening thing in the modern age. There are positive aspects and as some say, more negative effects to this Mobile revolution. From large global technology organisations to small, local startups  jumping on the bandwagon, Mobile has indeed become a potential mega-trend of the 21st century. As Mobile is fast becoming a pervasive, persuasive and personal technology choice, you might wonder what makes the Mobile tick and wish to know about the key ingredients behind its success. In this post, I will touch upon the things that make Mobile the most sought-after medium of communication and interaction in this day and age. Also of note is, this is one of the topics at Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference to be hosted in Hyderabad and Mumbai, India in Aug,2013.

The Mobile Eco-system – Sum, not just parts

First, let us try and define what Mobile really means before we get any further. Is it the phone(device), the operating system that runs in it, the network that enables it or the apps that user? Well, its not just one or the other, but all of these and much more that make up the Mobile. There is no denying of the success of the Mobile platforms and the ubiquity of the smartphones that pushed the penetration and usage of Mobile. Also, the wide range of networking and communication technologies e.g., GSM, CDMA, Edge, 3G etc. make it a compelling case for the rapid build-up and penetration. And yes, you can’t also discount the sudden impetus provided by the affordable Mobile apps. So, it’s the sum-total of all the components in the eco system that have contributed to the success of Mobile. I present this view in a graphic below to sum up the components that make up this Mobile eco-system.

TheMobileEcoSystem_Texavi

Pervasive – Anywhere, anytime…

The biggest driving factor for the success of Mobile is its ability for being pervasive. It is this anytime, anywhere, the always on and always accessible aspect of Mobile that contributed big time to its wide spread usage all over the world. The portable form factor of the device, the supporting communication networks all make it a really pervasive technology. There is no question that the powerful combination of the Mobile platform, networks, devices and apps make it virtually anytime, anywhere.Also,increasingly the ubiquitous Mobile apps have only added to the pervasive nature of Mobile. I have put together a diagram (shown below) to depict the positives, not so positives and the neutral aspects of the Mobile, as we see them today.

Mobile_Pervasive_persuasive_personal_Texavi_final

Persuasive – Why Mobile makes it compelling

From the school student to the retired grand parents, Mobile has found its place in the hands of almost everybody. It doesn’t require a certain person with specific education, work experience, technology-savviness and employment credibility to start using Mobile. The beauty of the Mobile is its appeal to one and all, irrespective of the background, potential or skills. With the later generations of the Mobile devices, improvement of the networking technology, and the availability of the applications, Mobile has picked up momentum.  Increasingly, with time and over the generations of the Mobile devices and technologies, its not getting just easy to use  for the existing users, but also easy to learn to use for the new users.

Personal and private – From possessive to hazardous

During the late 80’s the PC came in and conquered the whole world, making the computers personal. Then came the block/brick phones as I they were popularly referred to.  Slowly the Mobiles have reached far and wide across the world and now it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that some are not happy with just one Mobile at their disposal. With a wide choice of devices, platforms and networks available to the consumers, Mobile is definitely getting more personal and personalised. From details of the contacts, official and personal eMails, chats and conversations, photos and videos, Mobiles have virtually become your second personae. Aside all these positives, there is also the potential hazards to privacy and security of personal data.

Wearable Technology  – Wear it on your sleeve

Besides the personal and portable aspects of Mobile, in the last couple years, wearable technology has been placed in the same league as 3D Printing. From the much-touted smart watches to the small fitness devices which one can carry on them, there has been a surge in the wearable technologies. Move over the Bluetooth-enabled ear-pieces, Mobile phones are now acquiring a new meaning of wearability. These come in different shapes and sizes ranging from the smart watches and fitness devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuel, wearable technology is now coming of age. Mobile is only powering this wearable technology revolution and we might see more interesting use cases in the near future.

sony-smartwatch-android-watch

As you would have noticed, what I have mentioned above is merely touching the surface and there is more to Mobile than meets the eye. To get a detailed perspective, come join us at the Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 Conference to be hosted in Hyderabad and Mumbai in Aug, 2013. Until next post, ciao!

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Conference, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Mobile, Product Development, Social Technologies, User Experience, User-centered Design

I am both happy and proud to announce the launch of Texavi’s IMAGINEERING conference. As part of the IMAGINEERING series of events, Team Texavi is hosting the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conferences in India. The theme for this year’s event is Technology trends, challenges and opportunities in the times of Digital. Mobile. Agile. Social. The conference will have talks, panel discussions, special sessions, exercises, activities, fun and more. We have got a great lineup of eminent speakers on our elite panel, leaders who have been there, done that in the IT industry. This year, we are hosting the conference in Hyderabad on Friday, 23rd Aug,2013 and in Mumbai on Friday, 30th Aug 2013. In this blogpost, I will touch upon the motivation and bring into fore a few facts about the upcoming Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference. Hope these will help in making a strong case and encourage you to be part of the event.

1. What is this conference all about

Texavi's IMAGINEERING - Main Theme

The IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 is a conference for the  IT community organised by the IT community. It focuses on the topics and issues  that matter for IT professionals. The theme of the conference this year is Technology trends, challenges and opportunities in the times of Digital. Mobile. Agile. Social. We are living in an ever-changing world full of digitised and increasingly portable solutions. As they say change is the only constant thing, now more than ever, we have a need to be prepared, respond and manage change in a more effective and efficient manner. And then there is no denying that going social (and using the popular social and professional networks) is not an option anymore, for businesses and individuals too. So, it can safely be argued that the IMAGINEERING conference dwells on the most important, current and pertinent topics and issues for the IT community.

2. Theme and focus areas

With environment-friendly, cost-effective and accessible solutions, the digital, mobile, agile and social solutions are having a significant impact on the way we live, work and relate to each other. They help shape up and make us better equipped to face the ever-changing world. However,alongside the opportunities and benefits, these also bring forth numerous challenges in the form of intrusion into privacy, potential risks to health, hazards to the future generations of humankind and the long term impact on the sustainability of our Planet Earth. There is no better time and place to pause and ponder about these, than at the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference.

 

Texavi_IMAGINEERING_Themes

 

3. Who is the IMAGINEERING conference for

Texavi’s IMAGINEERING  – INDIA, 2013 is a compelling platform targeted for all the experienced, young and aspiring IT professionals in India. From the core IT workforce i.e., developers, analysts, designers and testers to the managers of projects, products and processes, IMAGINEERING 2013 caters to the needs and goals of the Indian IT professionals. The conference has everything you needed and more…from speeches by leaders to panel discussions, from career camps to contests, from interactive exercises to fun games and from useful insights and snippets to great takeaways. With all these interesting and useful programmes, rest assured the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference packs quite a punch!

Texavi's IMAGINEERING - Who should attend

 

4. What makes IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 so compelling

There are a host of things that makes the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference unmissable for the IT professionals. Great line-up of speakers, fantastic panels formed of eminent and prominent IT professionals, current and topical themes are just a few reasons urging you to be there. Besides these, we have planned some really cool, interactive,  informational and entertaining programmes to keep the participants engaged and glued to their seats. Alongside the physical takeaways of swag bags filled with usable goodies, the participants will have great insights and ideas to take away, relish and cherish even long after the event. The conferences will be hosted at centrally located and accessible venues with state-of-the-art facilities. Also, the registration process is kept really simple and straight-forward so that you join us quickly and without any fuss. And last but not the least, the ticket price is kept very competitive so that we get as many people as possible. These are but a few good reasons for you to sign-up for the event, at the earliest.

5. A glimpse at the programme

I am giving below a peep into the package and coverage of the conference. Of course, this is neither full nor final but it’s enough to give you an idea of what the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 will have. Needless to say, the event is packed with the right mix of programmes, topics and people to offer the participants an enriching and rewarding experience. These are all presented in interesting and engaging formats ranging from talks, panel discussions, exercises, games and fun activities. The whole event is focused on IT professionals and so obviously we have quite a few programmes on the careers such as job hunting support and career camps. I mention here a few topics that we have already identified that form the crux of the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference.

  • What’s the next BIG thing? Advantage IT! A peep into the future of technology and technologies of future!
  • Pervasive, persuasive and personal! How mobile devices and apps are shaping up our world!
  • It’s a connected, changing and shrinking world! Blending technology, people and business for success!
  • Past Perfect. Present Tense. Future­­ ??? Trends, challenges and opportunities in the IT industry
  • Designed in India. Made in the USA! Paradigm shifts impacting the IT industry and community
  • From Promise to Profit! Prioritising is key with the 3 PROs – Products, processes and projects!

Hope this post helps in setting the stage for the upcoming IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference. Keep a watch on this blog for more interesting and insightful posts on the themes, topics and focus areas of the event. Until next post, ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Interaction Design, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User Studies, User-centered Design

“There is no Average Joe Bloggs” – reads the copy on the billboard advertisement of an insurance company. I couldn’t agree more with this, especially in the context of designing and developing new products for end users. No matter how much I like Statistics, we just cannot apply it to all things in our personal and professional lives. While its good to be number-savvy, we need to balance the quantitative with qualitative aspects, to get it right. More so in the case of product design and development, the “law of averages” doesn’t quite contribute to the successful product development. We are all familiar with the concept of user profiles and personas used in the design and development of products. These help a great deal in understanding the real needs and goals of your target audience. In this post, I will dwell on why designing for average users is a misconception and how we can make use of user profiles and personas in developing successful products.

All customers are not users

This is the biggest notion among my clients that customers are well, users of the products. Not always true! The good thing is that both customers and users are both people, the similarities end there.  I think that “Customers” is a favourite term for Marketers whereas Designers and User Experience professionals connect better with the term “Users”. Customers are the people who purchase your products and services, while consumers or users use these. In some cases or well, most cases customers and consumers are the same. As in the case of some daily use products, white goods, FMCG, customers and users are the same i.e., people who buy your products use them as well. But in the case of high-end products, enterprise applications and productivity solutions, buyers could be different from consumers. For instance, office supplies, financial services, technology products like computers etc., the people who pay are different from those who suggest. These in turn are different from the people who decide and yes, the people who actually use the products or services could be completely different from the above groups.

First, know your Users

Knowing your users is the most important step in the approach to developing great products. By knowing your users, I mean to say that you must understand the goals and needs of the users. This understanding will help you in shaping your product or service, make it more suitable and appealing for the users. You can’t just create a product in thin air and then retro-fit it to the benefit of some people. As they say, the most important question in any business is asking “whose needs is the idea/concept/product going to solve?” . Texavi’s Unified Experience Framework has a whole phase dedicated to help you get to this. The “Know the Needs of your Users” phase has all the tools, techniques and technologies to ensure that we understand the real needs of the users. These are often unwritten, untold, unexpressed and even unknown to the very users. So, its a big challenge to get to the real needs of the users.

Know the Needs of the Users - Texavi Unified Experience Framework

 

User profiling holds the key

It doesn’t make sense to design and develop your products for all the people in the whole world. There is a danger of missing out on most people, as they think it doesn’t suit their specific needs and goals. Also, on the extreme end, it doesn’t make sense to design your products for one or two users. This argument lends weight for some people to think the middle path and rely on the law of averages. So, they think that the best path is to design and develop for average user. But hold on, what is an average user? How can you get to that person and define the characteristics of average user? The answer to this question lies in the user profiles and personas. User profiles are essentially the characteristic grouping of users based on various properties, traits and behaviours. This doesn’t mean that you are defining an average user. Instead, you are trying to understand the essential aspects of your users.  Using the profiles and personas helps the team to have a common language of understanding. This not only helps them in having a good picture of the end users, but also gives them a great affinity to the users, because of the name, form and physical characteristics.

UserProfiles_Personas_Design

Personas – archetypes not stereotypes

You might have heard of the term “persona” used in the context of marketing, research and product design. A persona is a representative user from amongst the group, but does not point to one user from within the group. It is a powerful design tool that helps the design and development teams and client relate to the target audience. Persona is not a stereotype of the users, but rather an archetype from the user group. In a persona, you give a form, a name and a picture to the representative users, so that all the team members and concerned people can relate to that person more effectively and easily.

Persona - Texavi example

 

Benefits of user profiles and personas

While there are many benefits of using the user profiles and personas in the product development life cycle, I list below a few of them that really stand out.

  • Understand the real users who you should target from amongst the many people in the population
  • Help prioritise the target segments within the groups of people
  • Know the real needs and goals of the target audience
  • Support in connecting and relating to the real needs of the users
  • Design, develop the products in a more practical and pragmatic manner
  • Evaluate and test the products, keeping the real users in mind
  • Minimise the effort, time and cost of development and rework

Hope you agree with me now that the average user is a myth and acknowledge the power of profiles and personas. Please keep writing in with your suggestions and comments. Till the next post, ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agile Development, Information Technology, Product Development, User Experience, User-centered Design

Today our lives revolve around the mobile, agile and social aspects that have global appeal along with local flavours. Their impact factors  could be attributed to the surge in various platforms, channels and devices that we use for both professional and personal lives. The PCs of the 90s are now complemented with the handy Smart Phones, ubiquitous Tablets and numerous trendy gadgets. Post (Snail mail) is giving way to Email, which in turn is waning in popularity compared to chatting, texting and gaming. There has been a massive shift in the roles of technology, business, products and services. Nowadays, there is one thing on the top of mind for clients, product designers and developers. No prizes for guessing the answer…Responsive Design! How can we deliver similar, if not identical experiences to our customers and users, despite the varied number and nature of the things around us? In this post, I will touch upon Responsive Design, as I see it in the light of delivering consistent and unified experiences.

The case for Responsive Design

Let us try and look at this from a technology perspective, especially computing technology at that. Till the late 90’s we were all familiar with the PC as an alternative to the manual operations. Back then there were only 3 major types – Windows, Mac and the more Open Source flavour – Unix. Applications and programmes had to be written specifically for 2 major mainstream platforms – Windows and Mac. Since the execution of the programmes depended completely on the underlying Operating System (O.S.), these had to be written and deployed specifically for these two platforms separately and explicitly. However with the advent of Java programming language, came the paradigm shift – “Write once, run anywhere”. In the early years of 21st century, Microsoft aggressively pushed its Dot Net platform and associated languages such as C-sharp. Both these were successful in ensuring the universal delivery and adoption of programmes and applications that were platform-agnostic.

The problem of plenty

New Technologies, same old problems

When the PC domination was waning, the cross-platform problem only got aggravated in exponential proportions. Thanks to the explosive usage of laptops in the early part of the 21st century, computing has gone mobile and portable. But this didn’t create many problems to the application and technology product vendors. Largely it was only the foot-print or size of the application that got impacted due to the new addition to the PCs. Following some other innovations in the programming and scripting languages, developers had some respite from grappling with re-writing massive applications to suit for multiple platforms. But it didn’t solve the problem completely. It only took a new shape with the onset of different browsers and their versions, numerous sizes, resolutions and vendors.

Solution to “the problem of plenty”

The good old sayings – “Variety is the spice of life” and “More the merrier” are applicable to most business scenarios and our own lives. However, with the advent of Internet and adoption of Smart Phones and Tablets, customers and consumers today are faced with the “problem of plenty”. This can be witnessed in the exponentially increasing numbers, varieties and ranges of platforms, operating systems, channels and devices. These are all increasing at such an alarming rate that often customers are pushed to the brink of confusion, chaos and frustration. But don’t lose your heart yet, there is a good news – the effective solution for these problems is a comprehensive  methodology  that comprises the approach, tools, techniques and resources. You can now analyse, design,develop, deliver and support solutions, products, applications for multiple platforms, channels, devices and browsers. In the following sections, we will look at how we can approach Responsive Design through the Unified Experience framework.

What is Responsive Design really

Design, by definition needs to meet the needs of the user in the right place, right time and right manner, of course, for the right users. Essentially, it is about creating products, applications and services that work and look the same across all systems, platforms and devices. While there are lot of definitions for Responsive Design, I would define it simply as designing, developing and delivering “Unified Experience“. Whether it is a product or service, the objective for product vendors is to deliver consistent, panoramic and unified experiences to their customers and users. Irrespective of the platforms, devices, underlying operating systems, numerous channels.

Responsive Design is Unified Experience

What makes a Design, Responsive Design

In the context of technology and programming, there had been a perennial debate on graceful degradation versus progressive enhancement.  Despite the growing number of platforms, operating systems and devices, users want consistent experience. This consistent experience can be delivered only when you take care of the underlying navigation, content, presentation, functionality and interactions. Don’t forget that the customers and users are the same, their profiles and personas are not varying across the different platforms or devices. The first step in this approach is to identify, specify and communicate clearly the problems, opportunities and needs. Then the the conception, conceptualisation and implementation of suitable solution will follow through smoothly and in a structured manner.

How to create Responsive Design – Tips & tricks

I give below a few guidelines to get it right with minimal rework, redesign and repurposing. When implemented initially in the development cycle of any product or application, these would help achieve the responsive design and offer optimal experience to your users.

  • Think ahead, far and wide
  • Build eco-systems not just stand-alone products and tools
  • Consider all possible options – short term, medium term and long term
  • Go beyond technologies, assess real business needs and goals
  • Use minimally the platform-specific services and components

Hope you got some insights about Responsive Design that you can take away and implement practically. Love to hear from you on how we can improve the Blog. Until next time, ciao and yes, Happy Easter!

 

Information Technology, Innovation, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

Thanks to the social media, businesses are now relying on the social channels besides the mainstream media. Apart from having a web presence, companies are now having their presence on social and professional networks. Because of this, there are more networks, more people and more content getting shared. As highlighted in my earlier posts, social business is not an option for organisations now. Businesses have now acquired thousands of followers, friends and fans on the social networks. But these numbers fail to indicate the true success of a social business. What then are the true indicators for the progress in a social business journey? Our Social Business Maturity Model helps! With the Key Progress Indicators (KPIs), you can easily assess the progress and measure your success. In this post, let us look at these KPIs and how they offer insights into the social business performance.

Measures and metrics in mainstream media

I would prefer to call traditional, digital and online media together as mainstream media. These incude print channels such as magazines,newspapers, electronic media including television and radio, web channels like web sites and web applications. As the saying goes, “measure it to manage it”, people have been measuring the progress of the effectiveness using these mainstream media. Measures and metrics like sales per region and ROI have become standard across industries. However, going by the current trends, their usage is limited and cannot be relied upon to judge the impact across all channels of the business. The following are some of the popular numbers, which are still helpful to get some understanding about the performance on the specific channels.

  • Sales per region – all
  • Number of impressions – newspapers and magazines
  • Number of footfalls – Physical stores and shops
  • TRPs – Television
  • Conversion rates – Web sites
  • Page views – Web sites

Social media brings new measures for businesses

Besides the above, social businesses now have newer measures added to manage, track and measure the social efforts. Since social networks are mainly focused on people and content aspects, businesses are engaged in connecting and following people and viewing, sharing and creating content. Alongside these activities, advertisements in Facebook, YouTube etc., help businesses generate leads and enable online transactions, smoothly. In line with the activities and social engagements, the newer social measures and metrics emerged that would help track these activities. These ranged from the simple measures like number of followers to more complex metrics like influence score and engagement score. However, these numbers alone are not helpful to see the activities on social networks and the results therefrom, in silos. They are not of much use in getting the big picture for social business. Our Social Business Maturity Model and the associated KPIs surely give a better visibility on the activities and results.

Social measures, metrics and analytics

According to the Social Business Maturity Model, there are 3 key areas that offer insight into how the social efforts are performing. These are the people, content and business. Within each of these 3 areas, there are measures, analytics and social business insights. The measures add up to the metrics and they in turn contribute to generate the usable insights.

  • Social measures
  • Metrics and analytics
  • Social business insights

Social Metrics - FocusAreas -SBMM - Texavi

Social measures are pure numbers that are straightforward and do not depend on other measures. These are expressed typically in numbers, averages and time taken to perform an action. Examples for social measures are number of followers, views, likes, shares, votes etc. Metrics and analytics, on the other hand are derived from the social measures.  For instance, influence score, engagement score and network reach are some of the popular analytics that we track and analyse for understanding the user behaviours, content quality and campaign’s performance. Social business insight is the overarching measure that would help understand the effectiveness of a campaign or series of activities on the social networks. Total value per action, for example is one such social business insight that is derived from the metrics and analytics.

Social Business KPIs

In the Social Business Maturity Model, the Social Business KPIs offer the true insights about the performance, progress and success of the social business efforts. While most of them are quantitative, a few of them are based on the qualitative aspects. These are derived from the social metrics and analytics. And metrics in turn, are computed based the social measures. A case in point is the analytic ‘network reach’ is dependent on the social measures – no. of followers in the networks, no. of new followers added in the last week, no. of FoF (friends of friends) etc. This analytic network reach however is not complete in itself and cannot be a great business value. So, we have a KPI called Total Value per Action (TVA) which is derived from other related analytics like the influence score, engagement score, number of leads generated from the advertisement, number of transactions triggered etc.

The following diagram shows how an insight, total value per action, is derived from the associated metrics and social measures.

TVA - Social business insight -SBMM -Texavi

 

Hope you find this post on the social business insights helpful. Please feel free to drop your comments and feedback. Until next post, ciao!

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

Businesses, like individuals grow over time, adjusting themselves to the changes, situations, market demands and business drivers. Organisations mature in their processes, improving continually their products, services and operations. Often the maturity happens by doing, learning and unlearning from their own experiences. However, some other times, maturity could come in through vicarious learning i.e., looking and observing at others and their ways of working. This applies equally well to the social businesses which undergo different stages of progression. Social businesses join networks, identify their goals, create and innovate content and engage people. As they mature, the focus shifts from selling their products and services to building their brand. In this post, I will first touch upon the criteria for defining a successful social business and then discuss how you can drive your social efforts with the social business engine.

Maturity levels show progress towards goals_SBMM_Texavi

1. First define the goals and success criteria  

In order to become successful, the first step is to identify and define in clear terms, what success means. The definition of “done” and the success criteria have to be specified and agreed upon well in advance. These will help the organisation, team members and also the stakeholders to understand the progress. To be able to understand whether you have reached your goals, you must first define what the goals are. For social businesses, as I mentioned in my previous posts, the goal is to become a people-focused business. This goal translates into the organisation delivering experiences instead of products and services. Success also depends on how well businesses help change the behaviours of their customers and users.

I think social businesses must focus on the following areas, to become successful.

  • Brands, not just products and services
  • People, not just customers and users
  • Experiences, not just engagement and influence
  • Habits, not just one time actions
  • Insights, not just metrics and analytics

Goals for Social Business_SBMM_Texavi

2. Identify the key drivers – People, content and business

There is no doubt that the social business engine powers your social initiative providing the direction and fuel for your social efforts. I view this engine as comprising three main components- people, content and business. The social business hinges on these 3 key components, and they are inter-related among themselves. People contribute and create engaging content, and this content leads conversations to transactions. Yes, its true that social networks are about conversations. But merely engaging people with interactive content does not help businesses become successful at social business. So, a combination of people, content and business working in tandem would help build successful social businesses. No wonder most successful social businesses have got it right with these three components of the social business engine.

Power with Social Business Engine_SBMM_Texavi

3. Invest in people, the true asset to social business

The way organisations manage their relationships with people shift from one level to another, as they get matured in the social business. The maturity on this component of the social business engine varies from being a novice at identifying the right people within their networks to actively engaging them. In the initial levels, you put the efforts in finding and connecting with the right people in the target networks. You slowly start to follow them and their activities, interact with them in different ways to create some value in the process. But as you reach higher levels of maturity, you go beyond conversations and engage them with innovative content, and encouraging them to conduct commercial transactions. This happens as there is increased level of trust and also there is a sense of give-and-take between the people and you. At the highest level is the goal to influence and delight the people, coercing them to make or break habits, to the advantage of all involved.

Here are some top tips for getting it right with people-focus. Some of these are aligned with our Unified Experience Framework.

  • Look beyond customers. Focus on People {customers, users, stakeholders, followers}
  • Follow and be followed by the right people on your networks
  • Enable people to change their behaviours
  • Synchronise people’s online and offline behaviours
  • Deliver unified experiences across multiple platforms and channels
  • Cut out the noise and care for people’s voices and heartbeats

4. Create meaningful and engaging content 

Curating, creating and innovating content is critical for the success of any social business. Curation of the content can happen when there is a value-add done by means of sharing it to relevant people and making changes to it. Social businesses can succeed when they could enhance the content and also innovate. Innovation with content can be done in many ways, based on the industry, size and nature of business. Essentially, businesses innovate when they create different types of content altogether. For instance, Apple created iBooks and gave power to small time authors who want to publish their books, quickly, easily and in a cost-effective manner. Many companies who have been traditionally printing books, started with digital publications. The content is still the same, but these companies innovated with different way of delivering it.

5. Social business goes beyond conversations

Engaging people on the networks with interesting content is key for social businesses, to start with. Also, encouraging people to be involved in meaningful conversations aligned to the business interests of the organisation is critical too. However, as the business matures, the focus needs to be to interactions leading to commercial transactions. Otherwise there is not much of a value-add for the business to be on the social networks. You should start to motivate people to do online transactions, review your products, recommend of their friends so that they become your customers too.

Hope you find the above points helpful in building your social business. As always, please feel free to drop in with your comments and suggestions. Until next post, ciao!

 

Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

“Markets are conversations” – this saying is absolutely relevant to the current times. No wonder social media nowadays is not optional for businesses anymore. Increasingly, more small and medium enterprises have been embracing social networks albeit a bit coerced by competition than willingly. However, not all of them who adopt the social business route are successful. A handful of them have found the right path, stuck to it and achieved success. That brings a valid question in our minds – how would you measure the success of the efforts in building a social business? Like the well-established SEI-CMM model, success in social business too depends on the capability and  the maturity of the organisation. I came up with the Social Business Maturity Model, akin to the SEI’s CMM, but contextually aligned to social business’s focus areas and processes. This post touches upon the key aspects in assessing the efforts of the business, internally and the resulting output, externally.

Why to assess and measure the social efforts

It is evident that organisations are investing their efforts, resources, people and money into making their businesses socially successful. Irrespective of industry, size and domain, these companies have taken the social business journey. They have put in place various processes and are actively undertaking various activities towards the social initiative. There should be a way of assessing and measuring where an organisation is in the context of this social efforts and processes. Texavi’s Social Business Maturity Model(SBMM) would help you to assess how mature an organisation is in the continuum from Level 1 being an initial phase to Level 5, being the Optimising phase. The SBMM enables the small and medium businesses primarily, to understand what it takes at each phase of the Social Business journey and invest their resources and efforts accordingly.

Texavi’s Social Business Maturity Model – Overview

I thought about this SBMM framework, considering the internal and external facets of any organisation. These two perspectives are helpful to assess and analyse the resources,processes and efforts required internally to generate the desired results, externally. This SBMM framework, the levels, key focus areas and the maturity matrix are based purely on my understanding and views and I did not refer to any industry or academic source, for similarity or differences. Within each of the focus areas, the organisation’s  is divided across 5 levels starting from Level1 : Start-up through to Level 5:Tune-up.The 5 Maturity Levels - Texavi's SBMM

 

Social Business internal focus – What you can do

There is no doubt that companies have to focus on selling and marketing their products and services to improve their bottom lines. However, social businesses have to do much more than this. The focus has to shift from their products and services to enhancing their brand equity, which is a larger goal to accomplish. However this cannot be achieved overnight or with a magic wand, but done gradually. So, an organisation matures across the 5 levels in the SBMM to reach the stage where the focus is clearly on building their brand. In the same way, businesses traditionally focus on selling and advertising to their customers and they extend this behaviour to social media as well. On the social and professional networks too, companies use the tone of selling to customers. However, this needs to change to a tone of engaging people in meaningful conversations.

The key focus areas for the internal focus of the social businesses, as per the SBMM are:

  • Business Focus
  • Processes
  • Delivery platforms & channels
  • Activity on social media

The following diagram illustrates these points highlighting the key focus areas for an organisation to take care of, internally:

Key Focus Areas - Internal View - Texavi SBMM

 

Social Business external focus – how you do

Marketing and communications are like the face of the organisation, presenting their view to the external world. Customers and users have always been the focus of organisations traditionally. However, with social media businesses now need to extend their reach beyond the customers to followers, friends and fans on the social networks. Also, for successful social businesses, content becomes a key strategic tool. As the organisation matures in its social business approach, they move from consuming and sharing the content to curating and creating engaging content. Messaging too gradually shifts from being interruptive to highly-contextual and personalised to the users.

The key focus areas for the external focus of the social businesses, as per the SBMM are:

  • People
  • Content
  • Business Focus
  • Messaging

The diagram given below presents the key focus areas that an organisation should take care of, externally:

Key Focus Areas - External View - Texavi's SBMM

I will try and continue my thought process on the Social Business Maturity Model in the next few posts. Also, on Texavi’s web site and White Papers, you can find more details on Texavi’s SBMM such as the Maturity Matrix and focus areas. Feel free to share your views and feedback on this post. Until next post, ciao!

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

A few days ago, I was thinking about what separates the great organisations from the good ones.  I tried to connect a few successful companies with the secrets behind their success. Here is a small question for you to get thinking on this..what is common to Google, Apple and simple? Of course the letters LE, but the prize goes to the correct answer, “their commitment to make people happy”. Google and Apple have positioned themselves as people-focused firms, creating innovative products and services that not only work for people but also delight them. They have established a clear differentiation based on delighting their customers, stakeholders and followers with simple and easy to use products and services. In this post, let us learn how any organisation which aims to become a social business, needs to focus on ‘the people’ to be successful.

Focus on people – Make them happy

Businesses traditionally have been focusing on people  in one form or the other. Every organisation works hard to keep their customers happy as that would guarantee their existence. Some businesses focus on keeping their employees satisfied with good facilities, pay and perks.These companies think that happy employees lead to higher productivity and thereby better results. A few large organisations with deep pockets can afford to keep not only their customers and employees  happy, but also extend their reach to the stakeholders like shareholders and suppliers.  However, a social business needs to do all the above and a bit extra as well. Let us see in the next section what social businesses need to do to get it right.

Social Businesses focus on People

Social business – Internal and external people

Social businesses have to optimise their business strategies, operations and resources towards the ‘people’. The people here means those who are both ‘internal’ as well as ‘external’ to the organisation. Internal people are the employees and other key stakeholders such as the management, sponsors and the shareholders. They are critical to the success of any initiative as everything starts with them, from the business vision to strategy, from planning to execution and delivery. External people refers to the customers and suppliers. However, in the context of social business, the list doesn’t end here. These external people include the followers, friends and fans on social and professional networks. Social businesses succeed by putting the people’s interests first beyond anything. Their business objectives and bottom lines are all dependent on their people-focus. Social businesses have to ensure that both the internal and external people are happy.Here is how they can achieve this. :

  • Involve, encourage and empower the right teams
  • Find, connect and follow the right people
  • Educate, influence and engage your followers

In the following sections, let us see how the organisations can become effective following the above rules.

Involve, encourage and empower the right teams

Teams make or break your organisations initiatives and attempts for successful campaigns. Great teams often are one of the biggest success factors behind great social businesses. You need to involve the team members from the very beginning so that they none of the team members feel left out. Also, this would help build ownership in them and increases their responsibility. Encourage and motivate the team members to start delivering towards the goals of social business. Empower them to take decisions on their own, try new things and implement their ideas. No matter if the ideas are bad or good, let the team work on those ideas and realise the efficacy of these ideas, on their own. Empowering the teams enables the team to own up the social business initiative and deliver activities and succeed, all by themselves.

For successful social business, empower the team and allow them to:

  1. Estimate the efforts and timelines
  2. Come up with the plan
  3. Commit and agree upon the plans
  4. Deliver on the plans
  5. Bring out the problems, if any, during the execution

Find, Connect and follow the right people

Whereas the teams working on your social business are internal to your organisation, you also need to look outside of your business. These are customers, suppliers and others, speaking of traditional businesses. Often in the context of social business, this extends to those people in your social and professional networks. Follow these simple rules to follow the right people on your social and professional networks.
  1. Define the profiles of the people who fit your business requirements
  2. Create a persona with the demographics and psychographics
  3. Search, browse and look out for the people fitting in the persona
  4. Connect to these people and follow their activities on networks
  5. Interact with them by liking and favouriting their content
  6. Engage with the people by sharing their content across networks
FindConnectFollowandInteractWithTheRightPeople

Educate, engage and influence your followers

Following people on the social and professional networks, interacting with with them and sharing their content is one thing. It is quite another level to get people to follow you. Even harder is to engage people consistently with content that they are interested in. Of course, the most difficult step in the social engagement is to be able to influence your followers, friends and fans positively and increase their trust in you and your brand. The starting point for all of these accomplishments is to start sharing content which aligns with the interests of your followers. Make it worthy of their likes, and encourage them to comment upon and share it with others in their network. Influence your followers

Given below are some useful tips to help you with engaging your audience and influencing them.

  1. Identify the target audience from amongst your followers, friends and fans on networks
  2. Understand their interests and focus areas
  3. Align your campaigns and content to be aligned with their interests
  4. Interact with them, encourage people to like your content and share it
  5. Reach out to friends of friends (FoF) and widen your network reach
  6. Influence your followers to trust your brand and make them your ambassadors

Hope you find the above suggestions helpful in your social business efforts. As always, please let me know your views for improving this blog. Until next post, Ciao!

 

 

Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies

Are you still relying only on the static web site that was updated 5 years ago, a few printed marketing materials like flyers, and an external agency that handles your email marketing? These alone may not work anymore for the benefit of your business. No matter how large or small, old or new your organisation is, social business has proved to be the order of the day. The good old ways of marketing using the traditional media planning and advertising in conventional channels and the emerging newer ways of using social media are not the same. In the same way, optimising your content and applications for the customary search engines is not enough, as increasingly they need to be optimised for social media as well. However, being a social business does not refer to tweeting a few times per week and collecting Likes on your Facebook page, though these are good starting points. In this post, we will look at what it takes for a business to become a successful social business.

1. Go beyond a single web presence

Having a web presence with a web site, which rarely gets updated  is not a great step towards becoming a social business. You must increase your channels and distribute the effort, time and cost. Large organisations today have dedicated departments catering to social media and managing the campaigns around these networks. Increasingly these companies have people with the titles such as ‘Community Manager’, and ‘Social Scientist’. However, it might be an overkill for some smaller organisations to spend their resources on the social media marketing, at the cost of their core business. Bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that works the same way for all businesses in the same way. To decide what you should have in your arsenal, you need to think about the following:

  • What is your core business?
  • What is the size of your organisation?
  • Who are your target customers?
  • Where do you operate?
  • What resources do you have?
UXF_Social Business Focus_Texavi

2. Conversations could be positive or negative

The focal point of the social and professional networks is enabling people to connect  and indulge in conversations. Often these conversations could be negative as well, which is quite expected considering that people do have different experiences with brands. Although, the motive behind these interactions could be not just the  brands, but also people’s encounters with products, services, solutions or most importantly other people representing any of these . Don’t expect people to always talk positively about you or your brand. Often they are influenced by their previous experiences with the which were not-so positive. Natural Language Programming and Sentiment analysis are a few of the tools that you can use to unravel the moods from among numerous conversations.

3. Conversion is the holy grail

Make no mistake, all that matters to a business in any industry of any size large or small, local or global, is conversion. Businesses since ages have been focusing on converting a prorspect to a customer and a customer to a loyal customer and then to a lifetime customer. The web came in and  along with helping businesses achieve the above aspiration, also added another dimension. That of converting visitors to registered users and then to the customers. With the advent of Social media, the fundamentals and business models did not change. These social networks enabled visitors who follow your organisation or brand, to become friends and fans. The conversion from visitors to friends and then to customers has become an easier and quicker process, though the numbers are low.

Conversion_Social Business Enablement_Texavi

4. Cut out your noise, care for people’s voice

Companies have been promoting their products and services vociferously as a ‘push mechanism’, using advertisements and branding campaigns. For these, they were using the traditional media such as Newspapers, Television, Radio and other print media. However, increasingly people are getting frustrated with the  noise generated by these brands. The trust on these companies and brands and customers’ belief in what they say is dwindling. One of the key factors why social media have become popular is this decreasing trust in brands and increased confidence in what other people say and do. This is what I call the ‘Pull mechanism’. In order to make your social initiative a success, the pull has to be given an equal, if not more, importance than the push channels. Focus on listening to the voices of the customers and those people who matter to your business. Observe, respond and resolve the complaints, problems and service requests from the people on these social media. large organisations like British Gas, AT & T and Apple already are actively using social media like Twitter and Facebook to listen, respond and resolve customer complaints and issues.

 

5. Deliver congruent “experiences” consistently

The key to success for any business is to deliver delightful experiences to their customers. Whether you have products or services, instead of focusing too much on features and functionality, focus on the experience offered by them to your customers and users. These experiences too have to be consistent and unified across different channels, media, platforms and devices that you use to reach your customers.  Inconsistent experiences lead to customers feeling dissonance and they are left confused with too may messages in too many forms. To offer this unified experience to your customers, you must balance the various channels such as traditional, digital,online, mobile and social media. Read this post on how you could achieve this integrated, congruent experience across multiple channels and platforms.

Hope you find this post helpful. As always, do drop in with your feedback, suggestions and critiques to help improve the quality of our blogposts. Until next post, Ciao!