AhaApps Blog

Why CIOs Belong in the Boardroom

Posted by Satish Reddy

Apr 3, 2015 7:00:00 AM

CIOsinBoardroomIn the days before computers, boards of directors concerned themselves with keeping stockholders happy, increasing profits and planning future growth. When IT became—in the minds of many board members—a necessary evil, most of the C-suite had little understanding of what IT did. To secure funding for projects, IT managers were often subjected to an intense inquiry during which a quantifiable return on investment was demanded. Hapless IT managers had to prove to that every expenditure would pay financial dividends and was absolutely necessary.

Today's boards have not changed dramatically, but technology has brought additional complexity to the C-suite. Board members are beginning to understand that not all of the 
rewards gained from a modern IT department are immediately quantifiable. It is difficult, if not impossible, to assign a dollar value to things like customer satisfaction, employee morale or public perception, yet all of these have an indirect impact on company profitability.

Modern businesses face increased competition, a global marketplace and customers who are both more demanding and less loyal. Customers expect to be able to have access across multiple channels of engagement and to have this access be seamless and consistent across every channel. A well-run IT department that embraces the latest technology is essential to provide this multi-channel engagement.

In addition, several well-publicized data breaches have recently had devastating impacts on some major corporations. No board wants to see stock prices plummet after it is announced that millions of customers have had their personal information or credit card numbers stolen by hackers. Boards have become aware that IT is important to their corporation in ways that they could not have imagined just a few years ago.

Despite the progress made in helping boards realize the importance of IT, however, few C-level managers have a solid grasp of exactly what IT does, much less how they do it or why. This is quite understandable when you consider the special skills that earned them their position on the board. CMOs typically excel in marketing, but few could discuss the pros and cons of Android versus iOS. COOs are normally efficiency experts who are skilled at finding ways to maximize productivity, but many have no clue as to the benefits that 
wearable technology might provide. CFOs are often a bit more tech-savvy, but even they may suffer from tunnel vision, concerned more with ensuring that GAAP and SEC guidelines are met than with enabling sales reps.

Corporations have recently begun to realize that their tech skills are lacking, and since technology has become such a vital part of modern business, many are moving to remedy the situation. They are recruiting CIOs at an amazing rate to help them gain or retain a competitive edge. Although the role of the CIO is not as well-defined that C-level titles with a longer history, the consensus is that CIOs are a welcome addition to boards.

Different companies have different expectations from their CIOs. However, one of the most critical roles that CIOs play is to serve as an "interpreter." CIOs can explain technology to fellow C-suite managers in terms that they can easily understand and relate to their particular area of expertise. Perhaps even more importantly, CIOs can communicate with IT managers on even levels requiring a great deal of technical terminology or skills. Virtually all CIOs have served "in the trenches," so they have a solid grasp of how IT should serve the needs of the enterprise. They also know when IT managers are "blowing smoke" and when they are presenting a valid argument. However, as members of the C-suite, CIOs are far more than just tech experts — they are executives making business decisions that affect the overall success of the enterprise.

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Topics: Salesforce.com

Digital Change Starts with C-Level Collaboration

Posted by Satish Reddy

Mar 30, 2015 7:00:00 AM

digitalchangeLess than 25 years ago, many CEOs dismissed the suggestion of a company website, or at best, offered reluctant approval and virtually no support. This approach was soon proven to be in error. Today, however, there are many in the C-suite who have a similar attitude toward digital change -- they either fail to see the benefits or fear that digital initiatives will somehow undermine their power and control. Once more, these executives are in error.

To one degree or another, virtually all businesses are a digital enterprise. They have websites, communicate via social media, 
give field reps mobile devices and employ email marketing campaigns. Most often, however, these efforts lack structure or any type of comprehensive strategy. The CMO has pushed through initiatives to collect data about customers or create personalized campaigns; the CHRO has finagled an application to accept online resumes from job candidates; and the COO has little interest beyond improving employee efficiencies and productivity.

In short, what many enterprises create when they try to make the transformation to digital is -- well, a disorganized mess, to be blunt. Fortunately, it does not have to be that way -- but success begins in the boardroom. 

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Topics: Salesforce.com

Enterprise Architecture and Digital Initiatives: What You need to Know

Posted by Satish Reddy

Mar 24, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Enterprise ArchitectureSuppose you are the CEO of a thriving enterprise. You have heard a great deal about "going digital" and believe that such a move could benefit your company. After meeting with your CMO, CFO and sales manager, you make a list of everything you want to implement. You then call a meeting with your CIO and present him with the list and the vague instruction, "Handle it." A few months pass, and you have yet to see any tangible benefit from your digital initiative although you have seen a dramatic increase in spending. 

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Topics: Salesforce.com

The Benefits of Salesforce Compared to SAP Cloud

Posted by Satish Reddy

Mar 18, 2015 7:00:00 AM

salesforcecloudBack in the early 1980s, virtually every office that was not still producing reports and correspondence on a typewriter had a word-processing software called WordPerfect. It was a DOS application that was actually quite revolutionary for its time, and it was the "king" of the market for years.

Then came Microsoft Windows and MS Word. The neatly integrated suite of software, which eventually included Excel, Access, Outlook and PowerPoint, took over the market. Despite releasing a Windows-based version, WordPerfect faded from view. Although an iOS app still exists, it is basically just a remote connection to a hosted WordPerfect session.

You might be wondering how this story relates to Salesforce and SAP Cloud. If you look a bit closer, you can see the parallels between SAP Cloud/WordPerfect for Windows and Salesforce/Microsoft. 

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Topics: Salesforce.com

Turn IT into a Competitive Advantage the Lean Way

Posted by Satish Reddy

Mar 12, 2015 11:07:39 PM

Lean ITYou would be hard-pressed to find a successful company that does not embrace digital technology to some degree. Perhaps the company has a website from which customers can place orders, a social media page, a mobile app for field services reps or a combination of these and other digital endeavors. However, some companies are more willing to "go digital" than others, embracing the four technologies most associated with a digital enterprise: cloud computing, social networks, mobility and big data/analytics. 

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Topics: Salesforce.com

Using Salesforce CRM in a Digital Business: The Top 6 Tips of 2015

Posted by Satish Reddy

Mar 6, 2015 5:05:21 PM

DigitalBusinessesin2015The basic concepts behind managing customer relationships are nothing new. Companies have been trying to accomplish that for as long as there have been customers. As technology and consumer demands have evolved over the years, companies have been forced to alter their approaches to CRM, such as moving their CRMs to the cloud.

Soon, however, businesses began to realize that 
cloud-computing was a true game-changer that had the potential to impact every facet of their "business as usual" model. They also soon realized that moving CRM to the cloud was only part of the solution if their organizations were to thrive.

Enter the concept of the digital business. Organizations rushed to put everything in the cloud that could be accessed remotely or from a mobile device. The result, in many cases, was a potpourri of apps that did little to enhance the benefits that the Salesforce CRM provided.

Competition has been fierce across all industries for years, and 2015 is showing nothing to indicate that it will be a kinder, gentler year. Historically, the organizations faring the best during periods of intense competition have been those
 most capable of adapting to change, whether the change involves new technology, altering business rules or improving day-to-day operations.

Certainly, digital initiatives can help a company remain or become competitive. However, despite the lessons learned over the last decade, there ae still some enterprises who are not leveraging Salesforce CRM to its maximum potential. The following tips can help get more out of Salesforce during and after the transition to a digital business.

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Topics: Salesforce.com

How Salesforce Analytics Cloud Helps You Leverage Your Data

Posted by Satish Reddy

Feb 27, 2015 3:48:16 PM

salesforceanalyticscloulddataanalysisWe live in the age of big data. Enterprises are collecting more information than ever before, and theoretically, it should be helping improve customer relations, drive sales and enhance marketing campaigns. The problem has been that access to business intelligence has been limited to only a few users -- and required top-notch technical skills (usually IT staff or an outside vendor) to provide that access. The problems can be exacerbated if you have legacy data that needs to be migrated or integrated that is currently "siloed." Therefore, while the data exists, it is trapped inside complex technology that makes it so difficult to access that it (almost) might not exist at all.

Salesforce Analytics Cloud eliminates the problem of trapped data that requires users to ask for help from IT to access or compile the information. Furthermore, because there is no need to wait for assistance, users can obtain data while it is still fresh. This means that they can access today's data today, not tomorrow or next week. 

Why your users need to view data depends on the specifics of your enterprise -- after all, 
Salesforce is a powerful tool for more than just the sales department -- but try to place yourself in one of these scenarios:

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Topics: Salesforce.com

Planning Your Data Migration to Salesforce

Posted by Satish Reddy

Feb 24, 2015 12:34:07 PM

data_migration_planningOnce an enterprise has decided to implement Salesforce, the next question that most people have involves how to integrate their legacy data. It would be nice if Salesforce possessed psychic abilities and data migration could be "plug and play," but no platform offers that capability -- yet. Instead, you will need to develop a plan to prepare your data for migration to ensure a smooth transition. The attention you devote to planning your data migration can help ensure the integrity of your data, giving you better results after migration. Although the specifics of a data migration plan can vary by business or industry, there are certain steps that are universal. 

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Topics: Salesforce.com

3rd Party Tools to Enrich Your Data for Better Analysis

Posted by Satish Reddy

Feb 18, 2015 2:55:07 PM

data_toolsThe era of big data has brought to light problems that have always existed in data warehouses, such as dirty data, missing fields or duplicate records. Poor-quality data can have a significant impact on the accuracy of your analyses, resulting in wasted time and frustration for users. Luckily, Salesforce has always understood the need for third-party solutions to help enrich your data and fill in the gaps, giving you the ability to better manage your business and derive greater benefit from your analytics.

The best third-party products or services will depend on your goals and the tasks you need to complete. Following are some of the top solutions available in the Salesforce AppExchange, along with a brief overview of each to help you determine which ones are best for your situation.

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Topics: Salesforce.com

Salesforce Analytics Cloud: The Essentials You Need to Know

Posted by Satish Reddy

Feb 12, 2015 12:00:52 PM

Salesforce_Analytics_CloudRecently, there has been a great deal of discussion about harnessing the power of big data and using analytics to further the goals of businesses. The problem is that it has been difficult to access the key information that is typically stored in multiple databases to use analytics in a meaningful manner. Access was often restricted to only the most technical-savvy users, while others had to wait for assistance or hire someone to develop reports or queries. 

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Topics: Salesforce.com