Seventhman Blog

  1. The Greatest Challenge a CIO Has to Face

    "cio"For quite some time, I have been pondering about the current talent shortage that many businesses are complaining about.  Is it really a lack of people who fit skill-wise.. or personality-wise?  For the same reason, CIOs should spend more time thinking about human resources so they can bridge the gap between innovation and strategic initiative. When there is a need to manage people to perform their best and increase opportunities in corporate profitability, perhaps it’s high time that the CIO and HR executive work head-to-head over a cup of coffee.. and brew a plan that will advance the company’s business goals to create results, for real.

    The Paradox: Integrating IT with Business

    Thanks to the rise in cloud applications, CIOs are taking a more strategic role in the business side of things, rather than simply sit back in the tech department.  Sooner, every CIO will be equipped with ways to merge IT and business so s/he can make plans that will drive revenue, solve customer pain points and fix persistent business issues.  While the HR has  a treasure cove of data about workers lying dormant in the system, the CIO has the analytic skills to unearth value out of these data.  To deal with managing talents, having a scientific approach will turn businesses into game changers.  The CIO may just find the crucial piece that connects value creation and innovation.  But the real challenge is how to make everyone think that IT is not a separate entity from the entire business.  This time, we have to shift the focus on IT tasks to relationships.  Simply put – just because you’re not writing codes don’t mean you are not adding value on the table.

    With High Risks Come High Rewards

    Maybe I’m asking too much.. but CIOs who are adopting mobility these days are also the ones who are facing high rewards – with greater risks.  Those who embraced the idea of telecommuting are seeing better results, with happier employees as a plus.  While it’s totally fine to be cautious about mobility, being resistant to change is not.  If you take longer than the rest to moving things forward, you will be left behind in the race.  With the recent reports on China’s cyber-espionage, the outsourcing industry hit another dent where data security is concerned.  Still, adopting mobility in the workplace is on the rise to meet end-user demand.  How can we do a better job for our talents and make sure we attract new ones?  This is the question everyone in business has been asking lately to make sure they increase speed, agility and productivity – while improving their brand value, customer loyalty and competitive advantage.

    The Quest for Continuous Improvement Begins

    Where do CIOs go from here?  The only way to improve is to actively measure what works and what doesn’t.  The issue is not much about identifying problems, but the quality of new solutions being run.  At some point, you have to check if your KPI (key performance indicator) is up-to-date.  Data on job candidates alone are not enough to identify the key element to their success.  You have to anticipate their needs so you can plan programs that will improve their job satisfaction and keep attrition rate closer to nil.  Money alone is not a great motivator so you may have to revamp what will have a greater impact on your bottom line – then, draft incentive structures based on what exactly makes them perform best.  You can’t take the back seat this time hoping that things will improve soon.

    If you want to have a clue about what’s happening – you have to be in the game.  This is the ONLY way.  It’s high time to match your IT portfolio with your business strategy.  The Good News?  It’s achievable.

  2. Achieving Your Business Goals in 3 Simple Steps

    "goal setting"Sometimes, I wonder.. if money isn’t everything, then, why are we in business in the first place?  If there’s one thing that sets apart a successful person from someone who’s not – it’s achieving goals.  Success can mean a lot of things to different people.  It can mean building a fortune or enjoying life with having just enough.  Whatever your purpose is, having long term goals is like the fuel to keep the fire of motivation burning as it helps you complete those short term goals.  This leaves you with a question then:  How can you achieve bigger goals and make a huge difference in this world?

    Success: Journey or Destination?

    If success is having worthy ideals that motivate you to progress towards these goals, it would be right to say that achievement is a journey to realizing more.  You simply don’t stop.  In fact, it is our innate nature to discover new territories and conquer the unknown.  This challenge is what drives the human spirit, to push oneself to the edge and learn new things.  This week, I have been in a state of introspection as I ponder on those far-fetched ideas that sounded odd, unrealistic.. until someone dared to make that giant leap.  But then, new inventions don’t always drive innovation.  In fact, last week’s #custserv chat had swerved into the topic of the iWatch and it was fun to read people’s comments on the subject.  Is this idea too ambitious.. or downright absurd?  We’ll have to see.  For now, we have to ask ourselves if we can turn our vision into action.

    What Do You Want to Achieve?

    This is the only question you have to answer.  It doesn’t matter what timeframe you’ve set for yourself.  This year, you can’t simply row your boat in every possible direction.  You have to focus.  You need to steer your way to progress and be strong enough to:

    1. Acknowledge

    Talk to your team and to your customers.  You have to face reality and assess the current state of your business.  This is the only way you can find ways to improve what needs fixing and amplify what’s already working.

    2.  Be Very Specific

    You need to sit this one down and think of your goals – short term and long term.  What exactly would you like to achieve next week, month, in a quarter or in a year?  The key here is to reach those shorter-term goals to help you move towards achieving those longer-term goals.

    3.   Divide and Conquer

    Divide those huge goals into smaller ones and you may even assign small teams to work on it.  Here’s where you gather ideas and collaborate with each team on the baby steps needed to achieve these goals.  Identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats about the steps you are about to make and when you do – never be afraid to test it.  You may fail and it’s totally fine; it’s part of the whole learning process.

    It all comes down to balance then.  Set your goals too high and you may simply lose hope if you fail.  Set it too easy and you will become complacent.  It is your confidence, energy and drive that will help build a momentum around your vision so you can gain the results you want in the shortest time possible.

    In the meantime, celebrate those baby successes as you journey along the path to realizing those bigger goals.


  3. Should You Embrace Fear and Ignorance to Succeed?

    "fear ignorance business success"Have you ever wondered where the word innovation came from and just how it all began?  As I’ve been taking a break to read my favorite feeds, Rita McGrath’s HBR post caught my attention.  Curious thing, that before the 80’s, people used the term ‘diversification’ when exploring new opportunities.  In today’s fast-paced world though, I don’t think it will take eight years to become profitable in what you do; we’ve seen so many startups break all popular notions of success as their revenues hit a record high in such a short time.  When I was searching for a term on Google, I can’t help but ask myself if there are still undiscovered territories in the business landscape.. as everything seems to be explored (exploited) already.

    When Old Meets New

    Do you agree that there’s no such thing as a fresh idea, that all these new concepts have been the product of a need to make old ideas.. better?  I bet, before Seth Godin became popular with his famous ‘linchpin’ or ‘purple cow’ – someone must have thought of that under a different name; he just turned it into something avant-garde through the power of storytelling.  While technologies developed in a blink of an eye, it fascinates me so much that I can only be grateful for being alive to experience this age.  Corporations and fledglings are now on equal grounds where the fast beats the big, where project managers have morphed into project leaders.  What sort of luck have we been experiencing these days?

    To Succeed, You Must Fail

    Many have written that fear is the top reason for business failure.  I hate to disagree, but I believe it’s your ego that contributed big time.  You are too proud to even consider the thought of failing, of losing out on opportunities, and so you continuously sabotage what could have been a phenomenal success.  You know what made Facebook’s Hackathon an overnight success?  It’s that they allowed people to push the limits of their imagination, without expectations.  You’ll never know what you can learn from failing the first time.  I’d say it’s a chance for you to learn, take down notes and succeed the second time around.  How else can you know if you won’t try?

    Return to Ignorance

    When there’s mystery, you are more motivated to search for answers.  Agree?  Innovation is like searching a black cat in a dark room, and the cat just isn’t there – to quote from Stuart Firestein, neuroscientist and author of  “Ignorance: How It Drives Science“.  If I were to trace back the very root cause as to why it’s hard for CIO’s, CEO’s to unlearn what they have learned about innovation, I believe the answer will point me back to this 3-letter word: EGO.  Consider this though: We are living in an information economy where knowledge is a top commodity.  While big data is the new buzzword in the tech world, to succeed these days may just mean not being scared of asking questions and being brave enough to muck about in unknown terrains.

    An adventure of a lifetime awaits… whenever you’re ready to embrace ignorance and fear.

  4. Innovation: Managing Risks and Portfolios Explained

    "managing innovation"Everyone in business knows that exploiting new technologies in search of the holy grail of innovation is crucial in the goal of gaining optimal returns, while choosing the right levels of risks and managers to work on the project.  Without proper systems in place, it’s not possible for R&D to flourish and as such, a certain process is in place to help everyone understand on how to work as one team for the goal.  Yes, the Web provides businesses these days with easy access to gather ideas and yet, when was the last time that you really took a dive into your customers’ feedback? How about those of your employees?

    Ideas Incubator: Addressing the Real Issue

    What you conceptualize today will dictate the marketing profile of your company tomorrow.  You may have a Lean Canvas to make this planning stage much faster and yet,  optimizing your product research and development will mean higher chances for you to win in the battle of creating something new.  Just how do you do this?  There are many ways, but these answers are not that simple.  The challenge to create and maintain cutting-edge products or services is something dynamic and will need to undergo careful evaluation and selection.  Along the way, you may find yourself going over your drawing board and start again from scratch.. when you’re in the middle of accomplishing plan A.  The most crucial of them all is the ‘Go-Kill syndrome’ – Do you go for the concept or kill it when you’re in the mid-stage process?

    The Underlying Principle Behind Managing Innovation Portfolios

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years in business, it comes down to this:  With innovation comes risks.  You can succeed or fail and sometimes, it can be both.  It’s like working on a science project and the degrees of success or failure will help create the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  In a market that changes in a blink of an eye, it only makes sense to assign various portfolios for every type of innovation, business models or new ventures… and a mother portfolio to manage them all.  This can be done by tracking your prototypes through a database system, like an idea factory, and assigning someone to manage it.  Without this management, you may end up with too many projects, which may not even be the right ones to start with.  Or, it can take too long for your concept to get in the market and when they do, it has low value or worse, your competitors beat you to it.  The last thing you want is to have your resources spread too thin.

    The Anatomy of a Well-Balanced Portfolio

    It is only normal to fail in your efforts.  The key here is to fail fast so you can learn faster and apply what you’ve learned to perfecting that innovative product.  Therefore, striking a healthy balance between success and failure rate is necessary.  Managing your innovation portfolio is all about doing the right projects that will produce the biggest impact to your business, in terms of ROI ( return on investment ).  You have to communicate this value to your executive team, those who participate in the R&D process, so that you can balance how they will do the job and how they will contribute to the goal.  You can have everyone vote on an idea or ask people to rank ideas.  Refining these ideas is not an easy task and as everyone is engaged, your team will become better at identifying and working on projects with the most potential.

    Innovation… is a work in progress and optimizing what you’ve learned is just the start.  How do you value your innovation efforts and communicate it to your organization?

  5. The Future of Outsourcing: Rising Trends and Predictions

    "outsourcing trends"Last year’s outsourcing scene has been marked with plenty of talks on cloud computing and many have been debating on how sustainable it is for businesses to take a plunge into outsourcing these days, especially when negative sentiments about it is on the rise.  There are speculations on how emerging technologies will help bring outsourcing to the next level, making it possible for people to collaborate easier – anytime, anywhere.  The new year brings a mixed feeling of hope and gloom when it comes to the trends that will shape the outsourcing world from what we know today.

    The Dirty Li’l Secret.. Remains Untold

    When offshore outsourcing has been blamed to contribute to unemployment in the U.S., it only makes sense for large businesses to declare that they are creating more work at home… or do they, really?  Perhaps, lack of transparency has compelled the move for rallying this anti-outsourcing bill that will seek to punish those who are moving business offshore.  It only makes sense, as a protectionist act that any country will be compelled to do when the economy is down.  By offering local government incentives, this may drive companies to look for talents on shore – from crowdsourcing, rural sourcing, insourcing to near sourcing.

    When Opportunity Lost Means Opportunity Gained

    As outsourcing deals get smaller, we can see new price models that are tailor-made to fit every client’s budget and needs, no matter how small their enterprise really is.  Last year, IAOP (International Association of Outsourcing Professionals) predicted that we will see a surge of BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China, as major outsourcing hubs.  There will be more room for innovation and outsourcing to work hand-in-hand when it comes to technologies, collaboration and strategy – for coming up with value-added services in a higher demand, more than ever.  A stronger emphasis will be set on various social media platforms in the hunt for global talent and we will expect to see a rise in job matching/freelance portals on the Web.

    Outsourcing: Embracing the Risk

    It may be too late to bring back jobs on shore and there are still many who are taking the risk to outsource some or most functions of their businesses, offshore.  And to outsourcing vendors, they may just have to take on the risk of signing for several smaller contracts than going for a large deal.  You may not like to hear it, but lower labor cost is always the top driver for companies to consider offshore outsourcing.  You may put a lid on top of this running water, but it won’t hold businesses off from outsourcing, though you can slow down the process.  In the end, one has to ask:  Is outsourcing the cause.. or the effect of a much bigger problem out there?

    Will 2012 be the end of offshore outsourcing?  How about 10, 20, 30… 50 years from now?  You may have to see the world in a bigger picture – climate changes, world population, global economy, inflation, technology shift and so on.. It’s really too soon to tell..

  6. Bridging Outsourcing and Innovation in the 21st Century

    "outsourcing_and_innovation"Innovation is like a nebula for many businesses and yet, everyone is hungry to have a bite of this fuzzy word to become globally competitive these days.  We all know that cost savings is the top driver of an outsourced project and next to it is direct access to quality expertise.  Then, we have strategic benefit that one can get when outsourcing a project – from freeing up one’s resources, flexibility to changing the rules of the competitive market.  Seldom do we hear innovation as the major reason for outsourcing and yet, it has become one of the biggest disappointments executives have today.  It’s not a surprising news, really.

    The Ugly Truth:  There’s No Reward for Innovation

    Outsourced providers are given a set of standards for operating within the cost and there’s just no reward for bold moves in these deals. That’s the reality.  Innovation in outsourcing involves change and the need to do things differently, which can disrupt the work flow.  So, how can businesses succeed in innovation at outsourcing?  Or, is it even possible?

    Making Room for Open Innovation

    If you want to get more than just the regular supply of goods or services from your outsourced provider, you can open up the communication channels to welcome new ideas that can help solve problems, or create new opportunities for the business.  The key here is involving everyone, giving them a voice that will make them feel part of the project.  This feeling can be powerful enough to make them more productive at work because there’s a sense of ownership that’s non-existent before.  Innovation must start from within..

    Change Management with a Vengeance

    It’s human nature to resist change and yet, innovation can only happen when people are willing to accept a change.  This is where multi-tiered governance comes in to help manage communication and operations between the business and vendor’s executives.  Good governance matters a lot here and it’s like conducting a philharmonic orchestra; you’ve got to make sure the rhythm’s right.  How do you get key stakeholders play along with everyone else?

    Fixing the Innovation Cycle

    A report from Gartner shows that innovation is lacking in outsourcing deals in 2010, where focus is centered on cost instead.  This year, more businesses are allocating funds for innovation and they are aware of the risk of failure.  If innovation is hard to come by in certain departments, getting an external consultant may be the answer – to bring down costs.  The only question is:  Will people within the organization build resistance to the outsider, keeping him/her from adding innovative value?

    Innovation, like outsourcing, is a strategy.  Can the two work seamlessly together?  Many are trying to bridge this gap, especially in new territories that run with cultural and geographical barriers.  In a good business sense, the right outsourcing vendor have a big room for innovation – where people are equipped with the expertise to develop innovative applications to whatever niche it is required for.  Sometimes, all it takes to innovate is taking… baby steps.

  7. Perceptions in the Age of Social Media

    "social customer"When was the last time you experienced a phenomenal customer service?  Why was it memorable?  In today’s market where customers are empowered like never before, digital word of mouth can spread like Greek fire about your brand on the Social Web.  The question now isn’t really about how innovative your business model is when it comes to new product or service offering, but how customers perceive your brand as a whole.  First impressions may not last, but perceptions do.  What impression are you giving to your customers in this social media age?

    Marketing and Customer Service: A Huge Divide

    Know that customers are social-savvy these days and they talk about brands on social media platforms, where you have no control about what’s being said about your business.  The age of industrial era marketing is over and companies need to realize that traditional marketing doesn’t simply work like it used to these days.  Customers expect you to listen and take action on their feedback about your products and services.  Simply put, don’t expect your customers to call or write you if they need help; you have to engage them in places like Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

    With a demand for world class customer service that consistently meet or exceed expectations, customer service and marketing departments must learn to work with each other in order to address what’s expected of them.  In the near future, the gap between these two will vanish as the social media landscape is changing ways on how people interact with your brand.

    Your Product is NOT the King; Your Customers ARE!

    The value of your business is taking a major shift from your products and services – to your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, “Sell Dreams, Not Products” and by delivering a value proposition that sells the dream of simplicity, functionality and beauty, the Apple brand has become the top of its kind.

    Learn This: High customer engagement is the key to your sales funnel and it brings us all back to how your customers and potential ones perceive your brand.  Just how satisfied are your customers with the level of service they get from your business?

    If you want to survive and grow in this age of social media where social customers have the power to make or break your brand, you will need more than just a customer service strategy to start with.  You have to involve your customers at every stage of creating your products or services… until its delivery.  Are you ready to revamp your business model to cope with this change?