Engaging Your Audience With Enterprise Video

Posted by on July 18, 2018

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When using video in a corporate setting, one of the most important elements to successfully engage the audience is having a strong connection. What does that mean? Setting the stage to help the audience feel comfortable with your content. Establishing an emotional connection from the beginning is key, and knowing your audience makes that happen.

Technology has advanced to the point where using video within the business setting is a must. It serves as a viable means of communication, but has a number of advantages that help seamlessly connect a business across the globe. Why use video? Here are a few reasons:

  • Convenience – With video, businesses no longer have to worry about flying in employees for meetings. Video conferencing can engage a meeting of one, twenty or fifty no matter where they are in the world. This also works well for remote workers or contractors.
  • Builds trust – Being able to see someone speaking to you makes a difference. There’s something about face-to-face interaction that helps both parties feel more confident in the information being presented and keeps transparency at the forefront of the organization.
  • Reinforces engagement – Live video encourages engagement. People usually interact and comment more in real time stream activity.
  • Creates order – Having the ability to stream video allows you to set things up how you want. It helps create accessibility for employees (ex: watching a huge announcement on the company intranet).

According to livestream.com, 81% of audiences watched more live video in 2016 than 2015. Additionally, live video is more appealing to brand audiences. 80% would rather watch live video than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts. For businesses, this is key, as 56% of the most-watched live content is breaking news, and behind-the-scenes access is a draw for 87% of audiences.

Companies are also expanding their in-house learning options with video, offering ways to build and retain the talent they already have. For example, implementing a video e-learning system comes with many benefits at a small cost. A strong internet connection, good camera and platform for streaming is all that is needed. For companies who adopt this type of video engagement, it is very cost-effective, and can be tailored to meet your budgetary needs.

What are some common ways of leveraging video in your business?

For a business, video can assist across the company. Here are a few areas where video could make a significant difference:

  • Customer Service – Being able to live stream customer service assistance with the click of a button helps consumers and employees feel at home. In an e-learning capacity, having the ability to ask questions and get answers to issues you don’t understand is invaluable. It also enhances your brand.
  • Announcements – Have big news affecting the organization? Live stream it. This opens up real time engagement and allows everyone across the organization to find out first-hand news at the same time.
  • Demonstrations – What better way to debut a new product to your team? No matter the location, or what role they play, they will be able to get this information and remain on the same page as everyone else.
  • Live events – This is perfect for important corporate events that not all employees can participate in person, such as an awards ceremony. Employees can participate through a live stream of the event or watch it on-demand later, maximizing employee participation and engagement.
  • Behind the scenes – Have your employees ever wondered what goes on in other departments? Video is a great way to introduce the entire organization to other areas of the organization they may never have a chance to visit. For large companies, this is very effective.

Implementing enterprise video capabilities throughout the organization is not only smart, but allows the company to grow in areas while keeping audiences engaged and costs low. Rivet Logic has partnered with Crafter Software and AWS Elemental Media Services to power a Video Center solution for organizations who understand the advantages of using video as part of their communications strategy.

Why 50 Percent of Companies Haven’t Started Using Big Data

Posted by on June 04, 2018

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Nearly every organization today understands the importance of big data. But while large volumes of data may be collected, many businesses are finding themselves unable or unwilling to create a complete data strategy. Businesses are proving to be hesitant to fully transition over to a data-driven approach. It may require a shift in company culture and more motivation from the top for businesses to truly commit to new data analysis processes.

What Is Big Data Being Used For?

Studies by Dell revealed that organizations utilizing data were able to grow 50% faster than their peers. But how is this growth being achieved? Big data is being used for marketing efforts, decision making, and process optimization. Through big data, companies are able to make more intelligent decisions faster — and are able to leverage their resources more effectively.

  • Marketing efforts. 41% of organizations using big data are using it to improve their marketing efforts. 37% of companies are optimizing their marketing strategies in general while 37% are focusing on social media campaigning. Big data is an easy way to identify purchasing and engagement patterns in their customers. Through big data, companies can better score leads and identify the customers that are most valuable.
  • Risk-based decision making. 30% of big data strategies are situated around risk-based decision making. Organizations are able to model potential scenarios to identify the highest risk situations — and, thus, make educated decisions. This may not be enough; more data and less intuition could ultimately lead to better decision making.
  • Business process management. Through data-driven business processes, companies are able to reduce their expenses. 49.2% of Fortune 1000 executives reported that they have started big data analysis for business processes and seen value developed through their strategies.

But there’s another statistic that’s important from this Dell study –39% of the organizations that established a big data plan were not certain what the benefits of their big data strategy actually were. And this is why many companies are not using big data.

Why Are Organizations Failing to Turn to Big Data?

Nearly every organization is now collecting data, but most are failing to actually use the data that they collect. Many of these companies are currently satisfied with the data that they are collecting and the fact that this data will be useful, but they haven’t developed a strategy or invested in a platform that they can use to make use of it.

Despite the tremendous advantages of big data, only 49% of large businesses are currently looking towards big data implementation. This is compared to 21% of small businesses and 19% to 26% of mid-sized businesses. Interestingly, businesses with 50 to 249 employees were far more likely to implement a big data plan than businesses with 250 to 999 employees.

Businesses are struggling to transition their decision-making from a more instinctive and gut-driven process to a more objective and data-driven process. It can be difficult for executives to yield power to a purely statistical and analytical process and this can cause some hesitation. Further, businesses may be afraid to invest in big data technology without a clear idea of its benefits.

Every business is different and consequently requires a different data model. There are very few businesses for which a “one size fits all” data strategy would be effective. Because of this, businesses are forced to develop their own big data strategy from scratch. This can also feel overwhelming to businesses, especially those that are not otherwise highly technical.

Businesses may also be frightened to further engage in data-related pursuits as security becomes more of a question. Ransomware, data breaches, and other similar attacks have made many businesses more conscientious about data and data storage. This may slow efforts to invest in new data-related platforms. Businesses that already have a data platform may feel that they aren’t getting the most out of their software and may be discouraged.

Though businesses may not be transitioning towards big data as quickly as they should, most businesses are aware that they need to be considering it. It’s simply a matter of implementation. Businesses that are interested in implementing data-driven solutions but not sure how should consider consulting with a professional services firm to determine a strategy and approach that will leverage data in a way that delivers most business value, through technology that aligns with their business goals.

How a Digital Workplace Empowers Employees and Trends to Watch For

Posted by on April 25, 2018

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You could say that the digital working place began with telephones, intercoms, and voice recording gadgets. The benefits were in speed of communications, efficiency and lightening the labor load for the people in the organization. As office computer technology revolutionized process, the digital workplace is, in turn, revolutionizing office technology.

Many revolutions began and strengthened when people “voted with their feet” and abandoned repressive, archaic systems. The digital workplace has a component of that, because we are in an age where employees have walked away from the confines of the workplace.

So, many people want the convenience of working outside the brick-and-mortar traditional workplace, while at the same time maintaining the social and professional interaction, which makes us human.

This article describes the components and benefits of the digital working place, its challenges, and how a modern social intranet addresses those challenges.

Components of the digital workplace

The digital workplace puts the employee first and meets the following needs:

  • A seamless experience across employees’ personal devices as well as company owned
  • The avoidance of  IT configuration hassles
  • A secure divide between their personal and work-related data and to know that “Big Brother” is not watching
  • Availability of favorite new and legacy computer applications when needed without concern on how the applications get to the end-user

Challenges in adopting a digital workplace

The challenges in adopting the digital workplace, though by no means insurmountable, are inherent in its 3 key drivers:

1. The cloud:  The digital workplace cannot—excuse the pun—get off the ground without cloud-based technology. The cloud brings a new set of challenges and a decision process centered around myriad issues of security and effects on customers, to name just two. Complete adoption of a digital workplace plan must include cloud strategies that range from total cloud to a hybrid approach.

2. Mobile access: The digital workplace is connected through the tools employees use, and those tools must adhere to what managers need most: an easier way for employees to do what managers want them to do without shadow-IT workarounds. This challenge also brings up issues of device management as well as how everything works across the computer keyboard or smartphone spectrum.

3. A consensus on apps: Business apps today comprise a veritable embarrassment of riches, without the previous shrink-wrapped exorbitant costs. Employees head for the dark side of shadow-IT because doing so makes their job easier. Assessing and adapting to those workarounds are a great way to build a stronger foundation for the digital workplace.

How does the digital workplace empower employees?

The simple answer is that the digital workplace gives employees secure, unfettered, and remote access to what they need to do their job. The complicated answer focuses on the modern integrated IT solution: The digital workplace relies on strict policies, identity management, the cloud, and mobile technologies. Remote access must be secure but enable users to move across devices and from different locations. Digital workplaces can fuel business transformation.

Here are 3 examples of how enterprises can benefit from their digital workplace:

1. Financial services can improve customer service and bank operations. Financial counselors can gain secure access on tablet applications to the data they need. IT teams can remotely manage branch ATMs.

2. Retail organizations can better manage customer engagement. Employees and associates have timely product and inventory information at their fingertips. They can serve a customer from anywhere in the store via secure smartphone or company device.

3. Healthcare organizations can improve patient outcomes. Caregivers can gain access to secure patient information. They can view X-rays and patient health charts from any location, regardless of devices.

What’s ahead in 2018

Writing for CMSWire, David Roe points out that “the digital workplace conversation has made it clear we are talking about more than just a collection of technologies or apps designed to collectively improve productivity in organizations.” What digitization means in the workplace is that it is an ongoing process “with a great deal yet to be done.”

Roe describes some common digital workplace themes, which took shape in 2017 and will likely grow in prominence over the next 12 months. Highlights:

Hackers will be more active than ever

Cybersecurity threats will be compounded by the growth of remote workers and connected devices. Roe predicts 2018 “will see a spike in sophisticated cyber attacks” with a variety of unusual breaching vectors.

Workers will want the best digital tools

Technology restraints and limitations in workplace apps “could be deal-breakers when it comes to hiring and retaining staff.” Organizations will need to overcome problems of inaccessible or poor enterprise software usability. They will need to overcome the lack of integration or collaboration offered in their legacy or existing digital workplace tools.

Artificial intelligence will continue to rule

AI will continue to be invisible but pervasive. Beyond 2018, the author cites one technology guru as predicting that AI will become so fully integrated in our workplace lives “that the boundary between artificial intelligence and human intelligence will become indistinguishable.”

The Cloud will be more prominent

Workers will become ever more dependent on cloud storage. The advantages are quick information access as well as better security control. Workers need real-time data and reports for insight. They do not want to wait for a manager or the IT to produce that data.

Likewise, the cloud now minimizes security risks inherent in laptop or desktop computers. Cloud app providers “will build more native logging and audit features to help security professionals monitor and control user activity at the source.” That approach frees administrators to enforce local protocols, rather than using third-party tools.

A different paradigm of information collaboration

A workforce dominated by millennials is “on the horizon.” The internet and the resulting mobility are enabling a new paradigm. As video calling is becoming the norm for millennial customers, “video conferencing will become ubiquitous in business.”

Roe predicts that video conferencing will bridge the gap between remote teams, vendors and customers “creating stronger bonds between stakeholders.”

How the modern social intranet addresses those challenges

As discussed above, a digital workplace is about empowering the workforce to be more efficient and productive where they are. Today’s workforce is increasingly more mobile and global and no longer confined to a typical in-office workday. Employees crave the ability to work from anywhere.

A modern social intranet solution is the key part of the digital workplace strategy. It provides a means to maximize the value of employees and engage them through a virtual workspace. By connecting everyone in the organization through a single destination, a social intranet provides all the tools employees need to do their job. It also provides a platform for communication, knowledge flow and engagement.

Join us at the Digital Workplace Experience Conference in Chicago, June 18-20

Rivet Logic will partner with Liferay to showcase a collaborative digital workplace solution from June 18-20, 2018, at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. The event will highlight the following Digital Workplace Experience Tracks:

  • Leadership, Strategy and Digital Workplace Culture
  • Employee Experience Practices
  • Digital Workplace Platforms
  • The Intelligent Workplace
  • Digital Experience Measurement and Optimization

Why You Should Use a CMS for Building and Managing Your Responsive Mobile Website

Posted by on March 08, 2018

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Imagine this scenario: one of your long-term customers pulls out his smartphone and types in your company’s website address. He wants to double-check the hours of operation as well as confirm service offerings. While this process should be simple — and he is expecting that it will be — it isn’t. The website is there, but the website’s graphics and written content (which work just fine on a PC), are jumbled together while viewed on a smartphone. The website also struggles to load completely. The customer is put-off (or maybe even annoyed), and your company’s image is on the line. The customer has to call in to confirm your business hours and services, which eats up valuable time for both customer service and the customer.

If the website had been responsive, though, it would have taken the customer a handful of seconds to look up the information, and the customer service agent would be free to move onto the next caller. If every other customer is calling because he or she wasn’t able to locate valuable company information on a smartphone or tablet, it could end up costing your company a lot of time and money in the long run.

But one thing could change all of that: a responsive (mobile-friendly) website designed with a CMS. Responsive websites are an easier and more cost effective alternative for businesses, small and large alike. It saves time and money because there will be fewer customer service calls and less time spent creating new web pages and tweaking native mobile apps. If you have an online inventory, it will also help streamline upload times and inventory management.

CMS Platforms Simplify the Responsive Design Process

A responsive website is designed to adapt to differing screen sizes and mobile platforms. This means it can recognize the screen size and mobile device your customer is using and respond to it, showing them different content based on what their device can handle. There are two ways you can build a responsive mobile website: by having a website developer custom-design it for you, or by using a CMS (Content Management System), which would do most of the legwork for you.

Modern CMS platforms allow you (or a website administrator) to not only design and build a responsive website, but to quickly and efficiently manage it. While it might take a website designer two or three hours to make a new webpage for your website — depending on how involved the webpage is, of course — it could take that same designer under one-quarter of the time to make it while using a CMS.

CMS’s have a GUI (Graphic User Interface), which facilitates quick and easy upload and creation of written content, graphics and photos, forms, blog posts, design elements, and more. While most of the time spent hand-coding goes into formatting (i.e. figuring out how and where to put certain elements and how to make them look presentable), a CMS allows the designer to format an element in mere minutes. CMS platforms pre-load most formatting and design elements, allowing the designer to simply click a few formatting buttons or options and upload as many images as needed. Those elements are automatically formatted to “fit into” the smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other device your customer is viewing it on. Designing and managing a mobile website has never been easier.

Using a CMS for Native Mobile Apps

A CMS can also be used for native mobile apps. Native mobile apps that are created and managed with a CMS offer the most reliable, mobile-friendly experience out there. Having the ability to change the functionality, design or content of a native mobile app can be done with ease through the CMS. Native apps designed with a CMS also make editing or tying in gestures, the camera, microphone, and other mobile-based functionalities more streamlined.

CMS Platforms Can Raise SEO Rankings, Too

If you can imagine that CMS’s simplify the management of a responsive website, you might also imagine that it makes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) easier and more impactful. It’s true: a CMS can not only simplify your SEO strategy, but it can actually raise your rankings. There are a lot of variables when it comes to SEO — page load time, user experience, keyword usage, how many “quality” webpages you have on your website — but you can boost your website ranking just by using a responsive CMS platform.

According to Google, a responsive website performs better in search rankings because it provides a better overall experience than a website that isn’t mobile friendly. And because a CMS has a better chance of providing a tried-and-true user experience that is (typically) free of coding errors, the user experience will stay the same across all new webpages, and your rankings will go up as a result. Using a CMS for a responsive mobile website makes SEO not only more foolproof, but it can allow your web designer to quickly optimize each and every element of every webpage on your site. Optimizing your company’s website for search rankings should be at the top of your mobile marketing strategy, and using an open-source CMS can help you get there quickly and more effectively.

Choosing the “Right” Open Source CMS

Now that you’ve decided that a CMS is the way to go, how do you choose the right one? Taking the time to research which CMS is best for your company’s needs is critical, but doing some research on which CMS is best for efficiency and a good mobile strategy is also important.

Rivet Logic offers industry-leading design and consulting experience in several CMS platforms, two of which are Liferay and Crafter CMS. Reach out to us for responsive website design insight, troubleshooting, consulting, and more. We can help you turn your company’s website into a mobile superstar.

Top 5 Health IT Challenges for 2018

Posted by on January 31, 2018

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Our mission is to deliver riveting digital experiences for our healthcare clients. A new year always inspires a fresh look, and 2018 will bring a new (as well as continuing) set of challenges for healthcare executives. If you want to know what healthcare leaders are most concerned about, just ask them. Surveyors for Managed Healthcare Executive and the PwC Health Institute did precisely that.

The 2 Surveys Disclosed 5 Challenges

This post summarizes 5 Health IT challenges healthcare executives say are still top of their hit parade.

Challenge #1. Using big data to improve quality and reduce costs continues to lag.

Only 12% of the survey responders reported that their organization is excelling in scooping up and harvesting all the data they generate and can harvest from other sources. While the percentage remains static from the 2016 survey, 46% of the respondents report they have come “a long way” in this area—up from 39% from last year.

Handicapping that progress is that, even though more healthcare data is generated, the information is scattered across multiple sources—patients, providers, and payers. There is no single source for healthcare data. Patients migrate between different health plans or providers, but the data does not follow them.

Most organizations do not have the technology to capitalize on big data. It is everywhere, but it is locked in silos with different formats and, again, from a variety of sources. To get at it, organizations need the big data technology infrastructure to get it, store it, and analyze it at a scale that is useable.

Our take on implications for healthcare clients: New ways to manage big data are growing at an explosive rate. It is all about aligning business goals with the technology. Rivet Logic’s big data solutions leverage the power of MongoDB to get a focused view of opportunities for cost reduction along with increases in productivity.

Challenge #2. Value-based Reimbursement Initiatives are lagging.

Value-based programs reward healthcare providers with incentive payments for the quality of care they provide to Medicare patients.  Organizations continue to struggle in this area because the traditional fee-for-service system does not mesh well to a metrics- and outcome-driven value-based care approach. Also, delivering value-based care requires new infrastructure, workflow, and information sources, which are vastly different from those already in place.

How Rivet Logic can help you to migrate from fee-for-service to value-driven value-based care: Improving the patient experience is at the core of value-based care. Organizations need better collaborative processes and tools and the right mix of tools, which promote transparency and better internal communication.

That communication relies on patient profile management and turning the customer experience into a single data gathering session, which does not have to involve information overlap in data silos.  For a detailed view of that process, download our data sheet to learn more about how address customer identity management.

Challenge #3. Patient experience must be a priority and not just a portal.

Just under half (49 percent) of provider executives reported that one of their top three priorities during the upcoming years will be revamping the patient experience. That effort will require healthcare organizations to “connect data points across and beyond the organization to understand how the patient’s experience fits” into the business.

Again, executives agree that it all centers around bringing in multiple data sets. It requires “governing them, establishing ownership, and utilizing them to provide a real time, actionable information about the patient.”

Connectivity is the key. The patient experience is being transformed by technology. A connected health system requires better engagement of everyone—providers, their employees, and, most importantly, the patient. Digital solutions, like patient portals and mobile applications are supplanting visits to the office. Patients can self-monitor their conditions and transmit diagnostics over their smartphones. For more insight on this challenge and how Rivet Logic can help with that connectivity, download our data sheet to learn more about enabling better care with a connected health system.

Challenge #4.  Securing the Internet of Things.

PwC predicts that there will be more cybersecurity breaches. So, hospitals and health systems need to be educated and prepared. PwC reported that 95 percent of the surveyed executives believed their organization is protected. However, only 36 percent had management access policies in place. Worse yet, only 34 percent could point to a cybersecurity audit process.

Managed Services is one solution. Rivet Logic provides a flexible and scalable array of automated processes, services, and on-demand infrastructure designed to reduce IT costs without sacrificing quality or security.

Challenge #5. Artificial intelligence will be a healthcare coworker.

Healthcare employees function best when automation takes over tiring, labor-intensive tasks. An average of 70 to 80 percent and  Business executives reported that they plan to automate routine paperwork, scheduling, timesheet entry, and accounting with AI tools. In fact, a whopping 75 percent of healthcare executives “plan to invest in AI in the next three years.”

Again, managed services provide the pathway to keeping up with developments in IT in an environment of an expected continuing shortage of healthcare professionals.

Join us March 5-9, 2018 at HIMSS18

Rivet Logic will be exhibiting at HIMSS18 in Las Vegas in the Connected Health Experience pavilion.  Discussions of approaches and solutions to the above-mentioned challenges–and much, much more–will be on the agenda, including:

  • Clinical Informatics & Clinician Engagement
  • Compliance, Risk Management & Program Integrity
  • Data Analytics/Clinical & Business Intelligence
  • EHRS
  • Health Informatics Education, Career Development & Diversity
  • HIT (Health IT) infrastructure & Standards
  • Improving Quality Outcomes Through Health IT
  • Patient Safety & Health IT
  • Privacy, Security & Cybersecurity

Interactive Bots Leverage Machine Learning to Provide Progressively Better Digital Experiences

Posted by on January 22, 2018

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Artificial intelligence has been floating around as a topic since the 1950s, so why it is suddenly coming to prominence in the language of marketers? Massive companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Facebook and Google’s parent Alphabet are making significant investments in the field in the hopes of garnering the additional market share promised by more intelligent user interactions. While messenger bots are still in their infancy, marketers everywhere are starry-eyed with the potential of offering instant self-service to customers in a way that feels very customized — and might even result in larger purchases and more consistent interactions. Are these automated systems a hit or a miss in the eyes of consumers? That all may depend on how well systems are integrated and the bots are programmed.

Types of Artificial Intelligence

Many of us are familiar with AI from hearing about chess matches between human masters and computers, as computers attempted to anticipate our next action. After years stuck in labs at MIT and Stanford, the field of artificial intelligence began to branch to natural language, with computers attempting to recreate the way humans select language to be used in a more conversational tone.

Machine learning is a particular type of AI that involves providing a computer with a vast quantity of data, and asking for predictions based on new data. As computers continue to aggregate information, this process becomes much more instinctive for machines. Another type of artificial intelligence involves programming artificial neural networks, an advanced concept that requires multiple layers of features in order to make better predictions. Machine learning that goes to this level is considered deep learning and it can require a high level of resources to execute it effectively.

Data-based Learning

The timeline for useful AI has accelerated in recent years, with Google and others making leaps in the field by feeding millions of images into a complex neural network, initially programming it to recognize cats within an image. From this breakthrough, Google has been a continued leader in AI by leveraging the functionality to bring enhancements to everything from Gmail to Street View and Google Translate. Google’s research scientists help fan the flame of AI interest by regularly publishing papers on their learnings, which in turn encourages others to continue their work in the field.

Amazon is another top organization utilizing AI in both their distribution center and on their website for enhanced recommendations. Consumers may not realize it, but Amazon’s Alexa uses the data from the millions of daily interactions to continue learning and improving both speech and intuitive customer recommendations.

The Rise of the Chatbots

The focus on AI as a marketing tactic is relatively new, and the explosion of chatbots in the last several years bears out the value that organizations are seeing as customers begin to record positive interactions. Most companies are still in the trial and error stage, but others are leveraging technology that is more mature. For example, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel now “employs” an AI named Rose who interacts with hundreds of customers on a daily basis via text message — even tossing in kiss emojis when the situation demands. This sassy robotic lady helps extend the brand with customers while quickly solving everyday challenges such as concierge and housekeeping duties.

These chatbots appeal to individuals who are already using Facebook messenger or other programs such as WhatsApp to chat with friends, as they more seamlessly integrate to the tasks that customers need. Facebook now boasts over 100,000 bots that are actively chatting with customers and the continued innovation helps drive market interest and adoption. While interesting for basic needs where the conversation is unlikely to branch, AI is still in its infancy and many organizations are simply in beta testing or playing with chatbots instead of relying on them to perform critical business functions.

Integrating Chatbots with Your DXP or CMS Platform

Chatbots are not only exceptionally cool, but they can also integrate with your Digital Experience Platform (DXP) or website Content Management System (CMS) to deliver the ultimate in personalized experiences. This is especially true of organizations with an eCommerce component, as businesses are seeing double-digit sales and conversion rate improvements from chatbots versus social ads, for instance.

It’s important that chatbots are not treated as a siloed part of your marketing strategy, but instead are fully integrated into the overall experience. Chatbots are another channel for the dissemination of information, and should be fully integrated just as your email marketing and SMS messaging channels are. This is where a thorough knowledge of structured content comes into play. Instead of creating a separate grouping of content for your chatbot, a skilled partner will help you understand how to leverage the content you’re already creating for this fascinating new distribution channel.

Better Experiences?

There may still be some question about whether or not the chatbots offer a truly improved customer experience as opposed to working with a human customer service representative, for example. While chatbots are still relatively limited, they are able to quickly offer status updates, provide balances, let you know of special offers, detail which newsletters you wish to sign up for and complete purchases. As app downloads continue to decline and mobile-first websites grow in prominence, bots are an opportunity to reach customers where they already are: Facebook Messenger with 1 billion users per month, SMS texts and programs such as What’sApp, Slack and Kik. Chatbots do provide the one thing that it can be difficult to deliver in human-to-human interactions: personalization at scale.

 

The Data Analytics Trends that Will Shape 2018

Posted by on January 10, 2018

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As a field, data analytics is only growing. Not only has the industry of data science broadened substantially, but many companies are finding themselves devoting large amounts of resources towards understanding data analytics and trying to identify new trends. This reliance upon data is only going to grow through 2018, as companies are finding that the data that they collected may contain even more useful information than they previously believed.

2018 is going to find many companies making better use of the data that they already have, and fine-tuning their existing data collection and analysis methods.

Better Personalization Metrics

Industry leaders are hard at work creating incredibly detailed profiles of their customers. Companies don’t need to develop this information themselves. Google, for instance, has fine-tuned its customer profiles and made these customer profiles accessible to those using its analytics and advertising services. Social media platforms have been able to capture customer information similarly, from Facebook to LinkedIn.

The result of this is that advertising is likely to become hyper-personalized to each customer. Not only will companies know the demographics of each customer (age, gender, location), but also their buying habits, how much money they make, and which locations they frequent. Businesses will be able to increasingly target customers and anticipate their needs, ideally creating a situation in which advertising becomes more valuable to the customer.

Augmented Reality Systems

Augmented reality has been kicked around for the last decade, held back by issues regarding processing speed and (perhaps more importantly) battery life. Augmented reality feeds digital information about an individual’s location directly to them, often through a visible “heads up” display.

Not only is this going to change the way individuals interact with the world, but it’s also going to change the data collected. How often do users spend looking at a specific product? Which products or locations do they display further interest in? These will all create incredibly valuable data points that will again be used to create a realistic model of what customers want and need.

Streamlined Data Solutions

Companies have built up their data caches. Now they’re looking for streamlined, agile solutions that can help them make use of the data. In the past, companies were satisfied with collecting as much data as possible and then mining them for as many insights as they could find. Now, companies are more focused on fine-tuning their systems, generating and using the minimal amount of data they need for effective results.

This will create a rise in agile data science, whereby companies will be able to quickly create data sets, respond to and modify these data sets, and produce tangible results from their data sets. In this, the emphasis will be less on the data itself and more what the data can do for the company.

The Science of the Customer Journey

Buyer personas have led to further exploration of the customer journey, a science that attempts to identify the stages that customers go through when investigating and making a purchase. Customer journeys are an incredibly effective way to understand customers and their unique needs.

Data science is likely to be integrated into further understanding of the customer journey. What drives a customer to seek a product? How often does a customer generally research a product? What types of research are most effective and most compelling? What makes a customer more or less likely to find a company and engage in a purchase?

Customer journeys are designed to model customer behavior, so that companies are able to more accurately give customers the information and the prompts they need to continue their journey. In the coming year, this will evolve into a science of its own, and marketers will likely be collecting more customer behavior-related data than ever.

Machine Intelligence Continues to Advance

Alongside all of this, machine intelligence and machine learning will continue to advance. Many businesses have large volumes of data, but it is actually identifying patterns within that data that has become difficult. More advanced machine algorithms will be developed to clean usable, actionable insights from the data that is stored. Machine intelligence will increasingly be used for tasks such as scoring leads, identifying keywords, and targeting specific demographics.

More advanced, learning algorithms are being developed that can, within their parameters, work to improve their own functions. With the right data sets and the right code, marketing algorithms will be able to fine-tune themselves and optimize their own performance. This will be especially useful in A/B testing or split testing, as algorithms will be able to test out different marketing functions and determine the optimal configuration on their own.

Small amounts of this are already cropping up in apps and social media platforms, such as the ability of an algorithm to determine what is most likely to get a profile clicked on, or which photos and posts are most engaging. This can be used in a marketing sense to determine not only which products are most attractive to customers, but which photos they prefer to see, and what descriptions they’re most interested in.

For the most part, 2018 is going to see a maturation of data analytics and data science, as companies invest more money into both collecting and understanding their data. But technology itself is going to play a significant role as well, as the technology behind machine learning and AI is becoming more sophisticated and complex. Either way, companies are going to have to invest more in their data if they want to understand their customers and continue to market directly to them.

Digital Experience Platform Trends in 2018

Posted by on January 02, 2018

2018-dxp-trends

The digital experience has changed a lot throughout 2017 and it’s going to continue growing and expanding in 2018. Here are just a few of the trends that companies can expect — and that they should consider following.

The Digital Experience Will Become More Important

Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) are no longer optional, especially for large companies and companies with broad demographic reach. Once only seen in the largest of corporations, digital experience platforms are now filtering down to small-to-midsized businesses that need to remain competitive within their market spaces.

Throughout the last few years, user experience and customer journeys have become key. But many companies have not yet moved over to a unified digital experience. Digital experience platforms are going to become more popular and more important, as businesses work towards developing their strategies and making use of the large volumes of data they have collected.

An Increased Focus on Micro-Interactions

Micro-interactions make it easier to track buyers across their journey. By incentivizing customer progress and breaking up the journey into a multitude of small steps, an organization can better control the path that a customer travels. Smaller, incentivized steps make customers more likely to continue on the journey, in addition to making it easier to determine when customers lose interest and fail to convert.

Just a few years ago, scrolling “one page” displays became a popular method of delivering content media, as companies found that customers were compelled to continue their journey as long as new content was readily accessible. Similarly, micro-interactions feed a customer constant feedback regarding their interactions, thereby promoting continued interaction and avoiding situations in which the customer might have to wait.

Omni-Channel Consolidation

In order to optimize their processes, businesses need to consolidate their data. Companies can no longer track the multitude of different platforms and services their customers may use to interact with them. Consequently, omni-channel consolidation is going to become more popular, with as-a-service consolidation tools paving the path.

Subscription-based, cloud-based channel consolidation tools make it easier for organizations to manage all of their interactions with their customers, rather than seeing their interactions on a granular, per-platform basis. This gives a fuller picture of customer behavior, which leads to sharper, more accurate analytic data.

Agile Product and Service Development

Companies are going to need to pivot faster in 2018. In order to adjust their customer experience, they’ll also need to adjust their products and services in a rapid-fire way. Rather than a traditional, iterative production work-cycle, companies are going to find themselves balancing a lot of moving parts, constantly testing, improving, and optimizing their solutions.

This will create further need for advanced project management and data management suites, as companies are going to have to track not only the changes that they make to their environment and services, but also the results of these changes. Companies are going to have to become ready and willing to immediately respond to customer needs, creating not only responsive platforms but responsive cultures.

“Fog” Computing Will Give Rise to “Fog” Data

On the periphery of every network today are now Internet of Things devices. Not only are smartphones and tablets connected to networks, but so are televisions, coffee pots, and thermostats. These Internet of Things devices are going to broaden and expand in 2018, including wearable devices and augmented reality devices.

“Fog” computing is the term given to computing on these IoT devices, but these IoT devices will lead to something more interesting: fog data. Customers will be able to interface with a number of companies on their smart devices, and these companies will be able to transition the customer experience not only to the fog, but also the cloud.

Smart watches and augmented reality glasses will both represent opportunities for companies to continue to engage their customers, ushering in a new era of responsive devices. And just as companies today can take advantage of special phone features (such as native alerts), these IoT devices will come with additional functionality.

Overall, it’s all going to be about the data. Getting more data, processing it, and consolidating it — all to create a better user experience from start to finish.

DXP Series, Part III: DXP and Data-Driven Decision-Making

Posted by on December 06, 2017

Business team meeting analysis financial chart together at cafe.

Think about how you make important business decisions. Decision-making begins at the point where intuition takes over from analyzing the data.  If your data analysis carries far less weight than intuition, your decision process may not be taking full advantage of available data.

If so, you are not alone. Bi-Survey.com surveyed over 720 businesses. The survey found that 58 percent of respondents based about half of their regular business decisions “on gut feel or experience.” On the other hand, over 67 percent of those businesses “highly valued” information for decision-making, and 61 percent considered information “as an asset.”

The survey showed that when businesses were not using information as the basis for decision-making, it was because the information was not available or reliable. They were either not collecting it or were not using what they had.

KPIs are there, but not the data to read them

Another significant finding involved the role of key performance indicators. There is an important connection between KPIs and the data that measure and drive them. Here is where another disconnect stood out like a beacon: Nearly 80 percent of the companies had defined and standard sets of KPIs, but only 36 percent were using them “pervasively across the organization.”

So there was an obvious disconnect between valuing the information and a willingness to use it. In this post we shall address that contradiction and explore ways to close the gap between valuing the data and using it for data-driven decisions.

How DXP leverages data analytics

The road to data-driven decisions must go through data analytics.  In a previous blog, we discussed how data analytics and other tools plug into the realm of DXP. Data analytics are what help you find meaning in the data you generate and collect.

Those meanings are what drive the decisions and strategies that focus on efficiency and excellent customer service. In terms of business decisions, the ones based on verifiable and quality data are the most beneficial to the business. They are data-driven.

So, data-driven decision management is a way to gain advantage over competitors. One MIT study found that companies who stressed data-based decisions achieved productivity and profit increases of 4% and 6%, respectively.

Two “how-tos” to get on the road to data-driven decision management

#1. How to head towards a data-driven business culture (and benefit from it)

The survey showed that respondents were operating at half capacity when it came to using data-driven decision methods. To unlock the process as well as the data, businesses need to do the following:

  • Focus on and improve data quality.
  • Ease and lower the cost of information access. Break down those proprietary silos and use the best data-extraction tools available.
  • Improve the way the organization presents its information. There are many outstanding presentation products on the market.
  • Make the information easier to find, and speed up the process where users can access the information.
  • Get senior management on board and aware of the value of business intelligence and data-based decision making. Promote a culture of collaborative decision-making.

#2. How to improve internal data management

Data governance (where the data comes from, who collects and controls it) is a major obstacle to taking advantage of data-driven decision benefits. Survey recommendations were that companies should take the following steps:

1. Build an IT architecture that is agile and which can integrate the growing number of data sources required for decision-making. Plug into external big-data sources and start harvesting them.

2. Look for ways to break down barriers to promote cross-departmental cooperation and data alignment. A business intelligence competency center (BICC) can play a major role in achieving that goal.

3. Re-define and use KPIs across the organization and align those measures of success with a focus on data governance.

A strategy for applying data-based decision-making

Bernard Marr in his Forbes online piece, provides the following suggestions for any business to for applying data to decision making:

1. Start simply.

To overcome the overload of big data and its endless possibilities, design a simplified strategy. Cut to what your business is looking to achieve.  Rather than starting with the data you need, start with what your business goals are.

2. Focus on the important.

Concentrate on the business areas that are most important to achieving the foregoing strategy. “For most businesses,” says Marr, “the customer, finance, and operations areas are key ones to look at.”

3. Identify the unanswered questions.

Determine which questions you need to answer to achieve the above focus. Marr points out that when you move from “collect everything just in case” to “collect and measure x and y to answer question z,” you can massively reduce your cost and stress levels.

4. Zero in on the data that is best for you.

Find the ideal data for you: the data that will answer the most important questions and fulfill your strategic objectives. Marr stresses that no type of data is more valuable or inherently better than any other type.

5. Take a look at the data you already have.

Your internal data is everything your business currently has or can access. You are probably sitting on much of the information you know you need. If the data has not been collected, put a data collection system in place or go for external resources.

6. Make sure the costs and effort are justified.

Marr suggests treating data like any other business investment. To justify the cost and effort, you need to demonstrate that the data has value to your long-term business strategy. It is crucial to focus only on the data you need. If the costs outweigh the benefits, look for alternative data sources.

7. Set up the processes and put the people in place to gather and collect the data.

You may be subscribing to or buying access to a data set that is ready to analyze, in which case your data collection efforts are easier. However, most data projects require some data collection to get them moving.

8. Analyze the data to get meaningful and useful business insights.

To extract those insights, you need to plug into the analytics platforms that show you something new. Look for platforms that squeeze out the reports, analysis, and switchboard displays that tell you what you need to know.

9. Show your insights to the right people at the right time.

Do your data presentation in a way that overcomes the size and sophistication of the data set. The insights you present must inform decision-making and improve business performance. Go for style, and substance will take care of itself.

10. Incorporate what you learned from the data into the business.

Here is where you turn data into action. When you apply the insights to decision making, you transform your business for the better. That is the crux if data-driven decision-making. It is also the most rewarding part of the venture.

Summary and Conclusions

1. Business decision-making based on data results in greater reliability, efficiency, and profitability. DXP leverages data analytics towards the goal of more data-based decision making and achieving a competitive advantage.

2. Migrating towards a data-driven business culture requires unlocking the 50 percent of the decision-making and data currently not being used. It requires improved internal data management and governance and breaking down barriers to internal communication.

3. Finally, when those barriers are down, you can begin a strategy for applying data-based decision making. Start simple and focus on what business areas you need to improve and determine what data you need. No data is better or more valuable than any other; the key is to find the data that meets your objective, analyze it, and translate it into actionable decisions and improvement.

DXP Series, Part II: DXP and the Customer Experience

Posted by on November 28, 2017

Multi-ethnic young people using smartphone and tablet computers

Introduction

In Part I of our DXP Series, Is a Digital Experience Platform Right for My business, we highlighted how a digital experience platform (DXP) is a set of tools to manage the customer’s online experience.  According to Liferay, the obsession with customer experience is at the confluence of the following factors:

  • Customers interact with companies on a wide variety of digital channels (web, mobile, social media)
  • Customers demand and expect the same experiences they get from digital leaders like Google, Apple, and Facebook.
  • Social media has become the cheer- (and jeer-) leader as an unstructured way to talk as customers provide feedback and influence public sentiment.
  • Mobile devices are on the scene and immediate. They give companies additional ways to stay in touch with customers.
  • The ability to get deep customer insights provides targeting information for a single person and give that person an highly personalized experience. Those insights come through everything from analytics to scooping up big data on social media.
  • Digital technology evens the playing field. Startups can disrupt traditional industries. Think: Uber and Airbnd. Those upstarts can deliver a better customer experience. Those startups have easy access to a tool kit that becomes a platform, not just dispersed ad hoc applications.

9 pieces in the DXP toolkit

The DXP toolkit can be a platform based on a software bundle, suite, or a single piece of software.  We listed the most common platforms as follows:

  1. Content management—allowing non-technical users to fill and maintain your DXP
  2. Social media—going into the wilds and deeper into the user realm
  3. Mobile website integration—fitting your DXP to the small screens viewed by millions
  4. Portal or gateway—passage and security without the latter inhibiting the former
  5. Search functionality—finding what users are looking for so they will stick around
  6. Rich Internet Application tools (RIA)—enriching the user experience through motion and interactivity
  7. Collaboration and meetings—working together face-to-face where many heads are better than one
  8. Analytics—getting feedback and breaching the gateway to AI
  9. Backend management—maintaining the DXP behind the scenes

In this post we describe those platforms and explore ways in which DXP integrates its technologies, components, processes, data, and people. That integration explains why DXP is keeping up with the push for customer and employee engagement.

1. Content is king, but users must rule

A content management system (CMS) is an application or set of related applications used to create and manage digital content. Think of CMS as a kind of digital word processor or publisher that dumps content into your website. It is more than that, of course.

CMS makes it simpler for content creators—the people who really know the business–to manage a website without developer assistance. In larger enterprises with multiple users adding content on a regular basis, a CMS is the easiest way to keep the site content up-to-date and responsive to search engines. Your platform is only as good as its content and you need a user-friendly way to keep content current.

2. Social Media is a vast channel for exploitation

Plug in social media to a DXP and open your web portal to the data- (and customer-) rich world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Social media plays a vital part in any migration to DXP. Users want the option to configure their own social media sharing. In addition to the out-of-the-box social media capabilities that often come with modern DXP platforms, there are also a variety of plug-ins available that can further extend and customize these capabilities.

3. Mobile channels reach millions

Your DXP product may look good on the desktop computer screen, but without a mobile platform you are missing out on millions of mobile users. Mobile phones have migrated from voice communication devices to ubiquitous pocket computers. According to Statista, by 2020 there will be nearly 258 million smartphones in the U.S.

Add a mobile version of your DXP platform to fit the small screen and expand your marketing base exponentially. Again, customers expect their mobile applications to be as excellent and friendly as the hardware they use.

4. Portal or gateway access gives users a passport and the warm feeling of security

Web portal software can create the following interface points for DXP:

  • Customer portals to create transactions and access documents and information online
  • Partner/agent portals to help field agents, partners, and franchises become more effective by accessing proprietary and personalized information
  • Business process portals to access and track complex business processes

A cloud-based DXP needs a web portal that both locks out hackers and performs the handshaking crypto-rituals to open the locks.

5. Search functionality adds power to DXP web pages and applications

Pathways to built-in search functions handling customer queries are tools to win the race between customer engagement and the impatience of today’s users. Adding a search application to a DXP portal allows drill down. The drill down must go through content types, tags, as well as categories the user specifies to refine the search. The search application can be placed on a page or be a link to allow users to do a web page content search.

6. Rich Internet Application Tools supercharge DXP

RIAs are web applications having similar characteristics of desktop application software. They add functionality to DXP with tools like Adobe Flash, Java and Microsoft Silverlight. As the name implies, these tools provide a “richer” experience for DXP. RIAs provide movement, user interactivity, and more natural experiences for everyone accessing the DXP. Add a sense of time, motion, and interaction to a DXP, and the users will stick around and enjoy the experience.

7. Collaboration and meetings make the enterprise go ‘round

Collaboration suites can resonate with other DXP apps to promote excellence in communication. They are message boards for team discussions, blog platforms and meeting software to add to your inventory of rich content.

Use document management to collaborate, brainstorm, and produce quality content.  Plug in meeting software for worldwide, real-time worldwide, face-to-meetings and conferences with real colleagues and customers at a fraction of travel costs.

8. Analytics software provides an eagle-eyed view

The best way to improve user experience is to know who, how many, and the characteristics of those who visit your DXP.  You want to know how your site or service is performing, who is back-linking to you, and to be able to dig into gathered statistics for visitor regions.

Analytics also provides a dashboard view to do the business intelligence magic of process measurement and customer behavior. A DXP partnered with analytics is the foundation for moving to artificial intelligence.

9. Backend management is your behind-the-scenes DXP management tool

Backend technologies help you manage your DXP or web application, site server, and an associated database. Backend developers need to understand programming languages and databases. They also need to understand server architecture.

On the other hand, as they say, “There’s an app for that.” DXP users can access backend manager technology in the cloud through MBaaS offerings. 

Conclusion: DXP is not just an eclectic collection of software

The platforms described above can work together to solve the biggest challenge enterprises face in the digital age: customer obsession. Companies are undergoing digital transformation in every area from business process to customer analytics. DXPs can bring all that together and re-engineer business practices to be totally customer oriented.

Digital transformation is the challenge. DXP is the solution.