Tag Archives: web 2.0

Ensuring that employees have the web tools they need to manage an interactive website

The modern website is a critical tool for engaging with and serving customers and other stakeholders. We need to ensure that we equip our employees with the right tools to continue their day to day actions to manage the organisation’s relationships and support the brand.

A website essentially serves three functions:

  • Provide information
  • Automate processes; and
  • Deliver services.

In order to ensure that the right tools are available, we start by looking to the organisational and divisional strategies asking questions like

  • What is the vision and mission?
  • What does the organisation do?
  • How does it do it?/What are the key process?
  • Which competencies and skills do we have?
  • What products and services do we offer?
  • Where are our markets?

Having examined these key areas, we then start to translate the answers into a Digital Strategy, by asking questions like:

  • Where can we enhance these products and services using the web?
  • What processes can be automated?
  • What digital products could we provide?
  • What are customers looking for?
  • Are there any additional markets and geographies that we could serve through the web?
  • How does our brand translate digitally?
  • Which other technologies (Geographical Information Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning Systems etc.) do we have which can enhance our digital offerings?

The we look at what web tools could be created to assist the employees to enhance their work through the web and what do they need to be able to do? For example:

  • If they need to be able to post events to a calendar, should there be various views, by event type, by date, month, day etc.
  • If events must be created, they need to give the date, an expiry date (after which the event won’t be visible in the current view) a title, a description, a date, a venue, key words/tags so that the event can be searched, RSVP, share on social media sites, the ability to synch into the viewers’ Outlook calendar etc.
  • Press releases need headings, introductions, the body of the text, release date, meta-data for searches, downloadable pictures etc.
  • Blogs need a heading, the body, meta data, tag clouds, share on social media sites, defined audiences using key words such as type of audience, geography, interests, profile etc, who can comment. Wiki’s could be similarly designed.

There are many universal tools that can be made available to employees who should be allowed to use them using permission based access.

When enabling employees to interact directly with customers, the same care must be taken as in the real world to make sure that they act in the best interests of the organisation. With the web we suggest that policies and procedures, content architectures and on line brand iconography guidelines be developed.

The core processes need to be mapped or redefined for the web. Examine who requires the automated process (could we use Geographical Information Systems or Profiling to customise his view?), where they will find it (what meta data will help in the search?), where other technologies will be integrated (Where do we get data about an account e.g. SAP?), how do we route queries? Should we use SMS’s or eMails to let the user know how far we are in the process? etc.

The next phase is to review our services. Could we create additional value for our audience by providing digitised products such as templates, calculation tools etc.

The modern website provides endless opportunities to surprise and delight our stakeholders, by giving it some careful thought we can also enable self service and reduce our costs of delivery.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Using the Balanced Scorecard to design your Digital Strategy

The Balanced Scorecard1 was developed by Kaplan and Norton as a strategic approach and performance management system, which enables organisations to translate a company’s vision and strategy into implementation. It works  from 4 perspectives:

  • Financial perspective;
  • Customer perspective;
  • Business process perspective; and
  • Learning and growth perspective.

These perspectives are a useful departure point for translating Organisational Strategies into implementable Digital Strategies.

The Financial Perspective

Timely and accurate financial data is always be a priority, but the emphasis on financial issues can lead to an unbalanced situation with regard to other perspectives, therefore we use the financial perspective as a quantification of the success of the other elements of the Digital strategy and programmes.

The Financial perspective is satisfied when we are able to capture financial information to report on the period. Generally, when implementing a Balanced Scorecard Digital Strategy, we determine which numbers we will be interested in seeing at the end of the financial period and how we will quantify the success of the implementation and applications.

These numbers could include ROI on the digital investment, percentage increase in sales, reduced cost of attrition and recruitment, increased margin on innovation, R&D etc. The numbers are determined by the organisational strategy and the metrics which the organisation choose to report on. They could be as simple as Balance Sheet and Income Statement line items.

The Customer Perspective

Using the Customer perspective to develop digital strategies should be the most lucrative aspect of the digital strategy.

The customer perspective elements of the Digital Strategy include providing information through the website, sales enablers including eCommerce applications, customer self service where customers can manage their own portfolios through extranets, building communities of value where customers can network and engage with each other, crowd-sourcing initiatives so that the customer can help the organisation design products, using social media such as blogs to educate the customer, social tools to create and retain relationships and a host more applications.

When developing customer facing applications it is important to note that these are not just transactional applications and that the their value is also derived from the data that we can collect around the clients which may be lead indicators of future value. For example on-line community satisfaction is a lead indicator; if members are not satisfied, they will find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance is a lead indicator of future decline.

The Business Process perspective

This perspective refers to internal business processes. Key applications for digital strategies include the development of collaboration tools, document management, content management, online project management, leave management and in-situ knowledge management tools to name a few. These applications are more successful when accessed through the Intranet, and perceived by the employee to be part of the Intranet, rather than a stand alone application.

Learning and Growth perspective

This perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and business improvement.

The Intranet is the key application for managing employees, programmes that can be run through the Intranet include employee relationship programmes, on-line learning and education, strategic behavioural alignment, succession programmes and performance management dashboards.

Management by Fact

The use of the Balanced Scorecard enables us to measure our Digital Strategies, applications and implementations effectively.

The goal of measuring is to see more clearly and to make wise long-term decisions. Measurements are derived from strategy to provide critical data and information about key processes, outputs and results. Data and information needed for performance measurement and improvement could include: customers, sales, market, competitive comparisons, supplier, employees, cost and financial data. Analysis uses data to determine trends, projections, and cause and effect. Data and analysis is used to support a variety of company purposes, such as planning, reviewing company performance, improving operations, and comparing company performance with competitors’ or with ‘best practices’ benchmarks.

A major consideration in performance improvement involves the creation and use of performance measures or indicators. A comprehensive set of indicators tied to performance requirements will align all business activities with organisational goals.

1 Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (2006) Alignment Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Creating Productive Work Environments using Enterprise 2.0

Intranets are not known for their dynamism, employees do not gleefully consult them when they get into work, but all that is set to change with the advent of the Interactive Intranet

An Intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet technologies to share any part of an organisation’s information or operational systems with its employees. In the past Intranets were created as a form of hierarchical communication between the organisation and its employees, but with the advances in the web, modern Intranets are becoming dynamic communication systems for organisations and their employees to engage and collaborate with each other. This has important implications for the business.

The Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a term used to denote the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. Personal job satisfaction is increasingly becoming a major factor where financial factors were key motivators in the past. EVP is critical to attracting, retaining and engaging the right people. This is where the power of the modern web comes in, in creating Interactive Intranets that foster job satisfaction and productivity.

Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation distinguishes between: Motivators; (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) which give positive satisfaction, and Hygiene factors; (e.g. status, job security, salary and fringe benefits) that do not motivate if present, but, if absent, result in demotivation.

The factors that motivate people can change over their lifetime, but “respect for me as a person” is one of the top motivating factors at any stage of life. Interactive Intranets enable employees to profile themselves and build their personal brands within the organisation. Knowledge Workers, are motivated if they feel they are seen and heard and recognised for making a contribution. They require ongoing accurate informative feedback for performance management.

When organisations recognise that the Intranet is the strategic backbone to their business, then they can use individual employee profiling, linked to their performance metrics to manage, recognise and communicate with knowledge workers more effectively.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Buffering the Global Economic Meltdown in South Africa using Web 2.0 Applications

Even the most removed business from the global market is starting to feel the bite of the Global Economic meltdown. This year is going to be a challenging year for many South African businesses.

Most companies are looking at what they can do to make the best of the current economic situation, and battening down the hatches against the economic tsunami which looms ominously across both the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Some business leaders are cutting back to the bare essentials, but others are investigating entirely new pursuits to survive and flourish. The decisions executives make now, will determine what will happen to their businesses in the future.

Despite the global downturn, the fact that the web has become a bilateral communication system (so-called web 2.0), provides many opportunities. Most businesses have a surprising number of options if they are willing to think creatively.

Web 2.0 brings with it new economic realities and abilities. We see the network effect at work, whereby, for every new member who joins a network, the value of the entire network goes up exponentially. Web 2.0 is about making the most of the intrinsic power of the network, the communication tools (wikis, blogs) and features (cloud computing, mashups, open API’s etc). These collectively represent better, more efficient and less expensive ways to attain competitive advantage. Think of the brave man who bought the first fax machine.

We also see the law of abundance entering the mainstream of business. With the Internet, the investment into production is up front and the marginal cost of every additional product is equal to the bandwidth for delivery. Amazon’s Kindle is reducing the price of books by 60% and still selling them profitably.

Web 2.0’s ability to facilitate a dialogue enhances our ability to collaborate and manage geographically unfettered projects more effectively. While some executives might believe that the social aspects of web 2.0 are inconsequential in their business environment, when it comes to the deeper implications of web 2.0 across the enterprise, many business functions are enhanced by the stakeholders’ ability to communicate, drive change and transform in these radically different business conditions.

What does this mean for creating value in an unpredictable time, how can this help cut costs while driving growth?

Here are six practical ways that 2.0 can help organisations grapple with today’s economic challenges.

6 Strategic uses of Web 2.0 for growth and resilience

1. Use Enterprise 2.0 to capture the employees’ collective knowledge.

Enabling open, persistent, freeform collaboration amongst employees causes vast amounts of institutional knowledge to pour out into visible places on the network where that information can be studied, reused and learned by others.

When mass layoffs take place in organisations, years of built up expertise and capability leave the company. This knowledge resides in inaccessible places such as e-mail accounts, file servers, meeting notes and in the minds of the departing employees.

An interactive Intranet with blogs, wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools enable organisations to be elastic in terms of headcount while mitigating the erosion of corporate culture, knowledge, historical context and critical methodologies.

Many benefits of Enterprise 2.0 have been reported by early adopters including greater efficiency, more transparency and better communication. Making your Intranet a strategic, vibrant, ever growing, knowledge worker-powered, interactive application is one of the best investments you can make.

2. Embrace new low-cost models for innovation and production such as crowdsourcing.

There are numerous competitive and economic reasons to move to crowdsourcing models for many aspects of modern business. These include using the vast audience of people on the global network as a primary source of innovation, research, and product development as well as customer support, sales and marketing. Almost anything that you can outsource you can crowdsource for less and with more robust results, although, it has to be said, with less predictability.

Crowd-sourcing is very different from traditional corporate hierarchical command-and-control, which works well in outsourcing relationships, but much less in a social computing environment. Crowdsourcing is providing increasingly impressive stories, although some organisations will still fail with it. Digitally sophisticated companies have the most success. The dramatic cost savings and leaps in innovation that can be tapped with crowd-sourcing, make it one of the most potent Web 2.0 business models.

3. Lower customer service costs by pro-active use of on-line customer communities.

Many of your customers are online, are you truly engaging them, supporting them, and creating a rich community of shared interest around what you’re doing?

Few large companies have created successful on-line communities around their products and customers have largely had to create them on their own until very recently. Many organisations have been slow to move to using on-line customer communities.

There is a skill to creating and nurturing successful on-line customer communities, but there are many companies who specialise in managing these communities for you. Digital Bridges is one of them. Now is time to provide customers an entirely new and largely superior channel for communication, collaboration and working together and amongst themselves.

Organisations that want to minimise customer disruption during staff turnover, lower customer service costs and retain the customers they have must look to robust online customer communities.

4. Manage employee relations though web 2.0 HR portals.

Knowledge workers require a different set of management skills to motivate them to bring their passion to work. Highly engaged employees are more likely to harness their abilities in favour of the organisation they work for, particularly in difficult times.

Using Enterprise 2.0, employees can be given the ability to profile themselves, their skills and experience in the organisation. Closed communities between individuals, managers and HR can be used to share performance management dashboards.

5. Deploy a content management strategy.

Content management strategies separate the content from the context and enable organisations to create content once and update it everywhere. This ensures brand consistency and reduces the communication and workflow gaps which are the inevitable consequence of employee churn.

6. Focus on eMarketing.

As so many clients are on-line, eMarketing provides the perfect opportunity to engage with potential and existing clients while they are in a receptive mindset.

This entails creating a digital presence beyond your own web domain, by advertising, or writing industry blogs, commenting in forums etc. It is well to appoint a dedicated resource to do this as this is a full time dialogue with your target audience.

There are specialist companies that you can outsource this function too, Digital Bridges is one of them.

With web 2.0, there is a major shift in control, a much higher level of transparency, and an openness that many businesses can be uncomfortable with. However, organisations that are willing to overcome these largely political, cultural and mindset challenges can realise significant opportunities, often for relatively modest investment.

Web 2.0 models offer one of the most potent ways we presently have to regroup, reorganise, and systematically improve what we’re doing. Right now is a very exciting time to be in business.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Macroeconomics 2.0