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Mitch Guerra

SIMPLE TO USE APPS ARE CHANGING THE WORKPLACE

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So What Changed?

The proliferation of user-friendly, cloud-based mobile apps and the ecosystem to support them.

There is an app for almost any business need.  And they’re more accessible, customizable and affordable than ever before.   Applications such as BookerZoho, HubSpot, Power BI, Marketo, PowerAppsPardot, and MailChimp enabled workers to do their jobs more efficiently and glean better business insights.  But it wasn’t always that way.

How It Was

In the VERY recent past, leveraging powerful business apps to drive productivity and workflow efficiencies were out of reach for most organizations.  Why?  The cost of purchasing, developingdeploying and managing those apps came with a high price tag.  And in many cases, those apps included features that were “too much for what we need”.  If you’ve ever looked into solutions by Salesforce or SAP, you know what I’m talking about.  Don’t get me wrong, those are great solutions.  But they aren’t for small pockets.

So what did businesses do?  They used tools already at their disposal like paper forms, email, shared folders, spreadsheets, and made do.   Workers used several different apps to complete a single task.  Let’s take a task like managing customers (CRM).  Today, many sales people use a combination of paper, emails, calendars, directories and spreadsheets to manage customers.  We’ve all been there.  But the democratization of IT has meant that solutions previously available to big IT budgets are now accessible and affordable to businesses of any size.

Current Examples of Worker Challenges

Business Development Managers

As a Business Development Manager, you collect “numbers” to analyze trends, customer behavior and develop strategies.  Usually, those “numbers” come in the form of reports from multiple sources like Sales, Marketing, the Vendor and maybe Product Management.  Then you need to make sense of it all.

Sales Managers

Sales Managers need “numbers” to track pipelines, sales revenue and margins generated by their team.  In many cases, tracking sales and team performance (who’s going to hit their goal?) is done by using multiple spreadsheets in different formats, and from different sources.

Field Sales

For field reps, placing and tracking orders or managing customers is a juggling act of emails, hand written forms, spreadsheets, and calendars.

Marketing

Then marketing takes all those threads and tries to sew a comprehensive marketing strategy, launch campaigns and measure results.

So What’s The Bottom-line

Lost productivity, accuracy and consistency.  Why?  Most businesses have data distributed across the organization, in different places, on multiple spreadsheets, and formatted in different ways.  This “data noise” makes it difficult to present and digest pertinent information.

Consequently, most businesses use “the tools we have” to manage internal workflows and business analytics.  The result is a time consuming and inefficient way to glean business insights.

Apps For Every Need

The Democratization of IT means the technology to create custom apps and dashboards is more varied and accessible than ever before.  And the larger app publishers are taking heed.  For example, Microsoft is continuously adding tools and features to Office 365, making it possible to create dynamic, user-friendly dashboards and apps.  So if your company uses Microsoft Office 365, you’re already paying for access to these technologies.  The challenge is having the resources to build them.  That’s where we can help.

We build apps

We develop apps that address business needs.  So whether it’s automating the way field sales place orders or creating dashboards to monitor the health of business, we can help.

To better understand how custom apps can benefit your business, contact us at info@contuitiv.com or click HERE to schedule your FREE, one hour consultation.

CHALLENGES CHOOSING THE RIGHT APP FOR YOUR BUSINESS

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DECISIONS DECISIONS

The marketplace has plenty of options when it comes to the apps available to help run your business.  Matter of fact, there are so many options, choosing the right app can be a daunting task.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a new piece of technology to improve businesses processes:

What is the current challenge?

More often than not, companies have a hard time clearly defining the challenge they are looking to address.  Taking the time to really understand the issues, who key stakeholders are, how they are effected, and the specific business objective(s), is critical in determining the right app for your business needs.

What are my expectations from investing in a new app?

Apps can help businesses work faster and better, but they can’t do it all.  They are meant to solve particular challenges.  It’s important to understand what the app can, and cannot, do.  Knowing this helps create reasonable expectations and avoids frustration and headaches later.

What’s wrong with Free or Consumer Apps for my business?

“Free” or “Consumer” apps are appealing because they are, well, “free” or “cheap” compared to the business version of the apps.  And we like ‘free’.  But “free” has a cost.  The challenge is, most of these solutions are not usually optimized for business use.  Features that businesses normally expect, such as better security, network IT management, advanced user permission policies, and the ability to integrate with other business applications aren’t present.  This could create more headaches than the original problem you were looking to fix. These are the unforeseen, or “the hidden costs of free” or consumer apps.

 How well does the app integrate with my existing systems? 

When considering any IT investment, you want to consider how well the new app will integrate with your existing IT infrastructure.  For example, if the app uses email notifications to complete a task, does the app work with your existing email service.  If not, users potentially have 2 different apps for emails.  This creates more steps for your employees and defeats the purpose of streamlining and increasing productivity.  It’s good business to leverage your existing investments when ever possible.

Will learning a new app cause disruption with my employees? 

There will always be aversion to change.  When looking at implementing a new tool, it’s important to gauge what the adoption to the app will be.  Is the app complicated for end-users to use?  What will the ‘ramp-up’ time be?  Where key stakeholders included in providing input on what the app is expected to achieve?  We have seen companies implement very robust (and expensive) apps, only to go unused by employees due to improper training, frustration with use, or “it just gives me more work to do”.

Why do I need user input?

Include one or two users in meetings and garner their input.  Input from expected users provides valuable feedback and insights into what the app interface should look like and what the app is expected to do. Including stakeholders and getting their buy-in will also increase the adoption rate and proper use of the app.

 Have other questions? Contuitiv Consulting can help.

As app developers, we take the time to review these and other details when considering the right app that fits your business need.  Click HERE to schedule your FREE one hour consultation or email us at info@contuitiv.com.

Knowing Your Customers

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Target Audience

One Size Does NOT “Fit All”

When it comes to Marketing, there are usually two main philosophies.

The first is a “One Size Fits All” approach to messaging and it states, loosely, that you want to have the broadest message with the broadest appeal possible.

Check out Coca Cola for examples of broad marketing messaging.  For them, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But for others, one size definitely does NOT fit all, which brings us to the other marketing philosophy; targeted marketing.

Ford Auto Logo

Ford. They’re a little auto manufacturer based in Dearborn Michigan, maybe you’ve heard of them.

Ford sells cars, trucks & SUV’s.  Right on their home page, you see their slogan: “A Vehicle for Every Lifestyle”.

So why bring them up? Because Ford knows that it sells a lot of different cars and trucks to very different people.

They know their customers. Theirs is a great example of marketing with broad appeal while still getting granular enough to appeal to certain demographics.

They don’t advertise Ford Expedition’s to kids fresh out of high school because they know those folks aren’t typically the ones buying those beasts. Likewise, they don’t market the Ford Fiesta to middle aged soccer moms because they know… well, you get the idea.

It all comes back to knowing your customers. Mind you, companies like Ford and Coca Cola have plenty of money to put towards analytics and marketing budgets that show them how their customers break down as far as demographics go.

That’s how they know their customers.

Pulling Teeth

If you’ve been around a bit, you’ve probably heard the expression “…like pulling teeth.”

If you’re a small business owner and you happen to lack the kind of resources a company like Ford, Coca Cola, Apple or Microsoft have on hand, chances are excellent that getting your customer data organized and digestible is a bit like pulling teeth.

Who has the time to spend trying to collate all the data?

Oh wait… this guy does.

Milton

You know Milton, squirrely guy, mumbles a lot.

Anyway, if you’re not Milton or one of the “big guys”, finding time and resources to make sense of your marketing data can be a pain.

Thankfully, we’ve reached the end of this blog post and thankfully there’s only one little sales pitch I’m going to throw at you, so hold your nose because here it comes:

We. Can. Help.

There, that wasn’t so bad was it?  Are you really surprised that I’d mention we can help?  Until next time, thanks for reading!

Data Sprawl Disaster

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DATA SPRAWL

Lesson 1: Disasters in the making

Marketing Docs

The folks in one of our prospective client’s Marketing Department thought it was “okay” to have their marketing documents sprawled all over the place.

They had docs stored on their machines, the servers in the office, their phones – you name it. I think one guy even had documents stored on a USB drive stashed next to the Microwave in the break room.

TRAIN WRECK

Have you ever seen a slow motion trainwreck?  I don’t mean literally. Picture it, you’re at a party and someone brings up a topic that gets on your buddy’s last nerve. Usually it’s his wife that does it.

His lip is quivering, he’s starting to shake a little and you know what’s coming.

You’re looking at a slow-mo trainwreck in the making until…

BOOM

Game on.

You know from that point forward it’s going to be a crappy night for everyone.

Engineers

Speaking of crappy nights, ever had the pleasure of talking to an engineer?  I wonder if the engineers that run the trains use the same condescending tone when talking to their passengers. They’re probably all robots now anyway.

But that’s a topic for another conversation.

Point is, engineers are a “special” breed. They do things their way because that way makes “sense” to “them”. Often, they are the ONLY people that it makes sense to.

That’s fine, but in the data sprawl example we saw recently the issue should be clear; if any one of those places they’ve got data stashed in dies, they’re screwed. ROYALLY.

THE BASKET ANALOGY

So why oh why would you put all your eggs in one basket?

Simple.

Because if they’re all in one basket you can control them. You know where they all are. You can back those eggs up to the Cloud and not have to worry when someone comes along and accidentally breaks one of the eggs or decides to microwave it, or it gets stolen at a press event.

LESSON TIME

The lesson here is this:

It’s okay to have all your company data in one location, but ONLY if there is redundancy. We’re talking about backups here. Preferably in that magical place they call “The Cloud.”

It’s NOT okay to have data sprawled all over the place. Don’t do that. That would be… bad.