Tech Forecast Digest
Enterprise Management and Technology
Technology is just one (important) aspect of an enterprise.
Whether you have your own business or other enterprise or work for someone else, following are the key elements of any enterprise that must be planned and managed. All these elements are influenced by technology.
9. Processes & Platforms
11. Public Policy
14. Portfolio, Programs & Projects
Use this section to provide a concise summary of your entire plan. This summary includes a very brief high-level description of each of the major elements of your planning as outlined in the table of contents.
This section tells your high level “story” and provides an easy and quick understanding of your plans by your staff, investors and others who may need to know it.
Describe the two to three key principles by which you run your business. These descriptions provide clarity for everyone in your business about these principles with which you operate.
a) Trust in every way is the essential principle. The greater the mutual trust, more worthwhile the relationship.
Can you trust me and can I trust you to:
· Understand that individual self-interest is best served by serving the self-interest of others (as they define their self-interest) and act on that understanding
· Continuously improve individual professional and interpersonal competency
b) Success is dependent 80% on good relationships and 20% on the best tools and techniques
Identify the types of business segments and Prospects within those segments who have the applications for which your products can be used.
Determine who, in general, are the influencers and decision makers (e.g., engineers, purchasing managers, CFO’s, CEOs) for your Products with Prospects in your business segments. Then identify those specific individuals and their contact information for your target Prospects. Maintain that information in your marketing database.
Determine the mix of smaller and larger Prospects that you want to target. Smaller Prospects often have shorter sales cycles and the influencers and decisions makers are easier to identify than with larger Prospects. Larger Prospects, however, can mean larger sales opportunities.
Channel partners can be valuable for marketing, distributing and supporting your products. Large channel partners (sometimes called master agents) serve smaller distributors. Working with master agents can give you access to a large number of distributors without having to deal individually with each of the small distributors.
Channel partners must be marketed to and supported similar to end user Prospects but in a somewhat different manner. Working with channel partners should not be an afterthought but a thoughtful well-supported effort.
Information is provided in the Promotion section (section 8) about how to identify and market to your target Prospects.
Given the requirements to market, deliver and support your products, determine the locations where you want to offer your products. You may find it best to phase in additional locations over time as you expand.
Considerations that may affect your geographical focus include:
· Concentration of Prospects
· Practical locations for your business
· Locations of key channel partners
· Locations of suppliers
· Regulatory requirements
· Personal preferences
Understand the value you can obtain by selecting lesser known regions that have vitality and resources you need, and additional operational benefits that are not apparent.
Within those regions select the types of retail and wholesale distribution affiliates you will use in addition to your internal distribution capabilities.
Providers include your competitors.
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your key competitors. Describe the capabilities of their products, support and other relevant aspects of their business.
The description of each key competitor’s capabilities should include:
· Marketing message
· Product features and customer benefits
· Pricing structure and levels
· Customer support
· Customer experience (end to end)
· Organization and staffing
· Financial position
Then compare each key competitor to your strengths and weaknesses. Describe how your strengths can be of more relative value for a customer. These advantages will be part of the basis for your marketing and selling.
Describe your Products in terms of the customer problems that they solve and other benefits the products offer. Identify how the Product features and other capabilities directly contribute to those solutions and benefits.
Include a description of how your products are used by an end user. Indicate why your product is easy to use and how their ease of use is superior to the use of other Providers’ Products.
As your business grows to a significant size, you may be able to establish a recognizable brand. Build your business with an eye toward creating a brand and brand platform that conveys a solid value proposition. In the meantime, prospects and customers will associate your business and your products with that value proposition.
Establish your Pricing strategy. Are you priced versus your competitors at a premium, the same or as a discount to the typical industry price level?
Determine your Pricing strategy, structure and levels including any discounts. Include non-recurring and recurring charges. Does your Pricing strategy and include aspects such as “anchor” pricing (seed desired price with a larger number), “charm” pricing (ending in “9”), “Freemiums” (free alternatives or free trials), straightforward simple Pricing (may match a message to customers of your offerings being simple)? Specify the role your Pricing plan in your overall business strategy and marketing plan.
Describe how your pricing structure and levels compare to those of other providers with which you compete. Indicate the advantages of your Pricing structure.
Will you provide financing for customers?
Define any Pricing experimentation you plan to conduct. Following is one example of a Pricing experiment:
· 3 different plans/packages; intention is to sell the middle one.
· The first plan is a decoy. It’s similar to the middle plan but offers less value while costing almost as much.
· Second plan, the one you want to sell, offers good value for money. The price ends with 9. Shows it has been reduced from a previously higher price .
· Third plan is to serve as a contrast to the middle one, it is a high figure as an anchor. It is much more expensive than the middle plan. You don’t actually intend to sell it, but make sure you can actually deliver on it if someone purchases it.
Effectively marketing your business is your biggest challenge.
The average person is bombarded with more than 5,000 marketing messages per day. For your business message to break through that clutter, you must consistently apply principles of effective marketing and sales to the following:
A. Marketing Message
C. Web & Social Media Marketing
E. Direct Sales
F. Channel Partners
A. Marketing Message
• Master Message documentation (with variations for targeted segments/channels)
• Using document content, source the messaging content for customer touch points (sales scripts, product sheets, web site, blogs, etc.)
• Document is not static, takes feedback from market/customers and evolves
The message is essential
• It defines the business inside and outside
• It takes effort and time to create it well using key principles
The goal of your message is to help you:
Separate yourself from your competition … and then eliminate them as a choice in your prospective customers’ minds
Example – Search Engines
Alta Vista #1 Defunct
Google Unborn #1
Google now has a dominant 85% market share
Effective marketing is based on proven principles
Following these principles and methods does not guarantee success but significantly increases the probability of success … and provides a framework to adjust the message going forward in a controlled manner.
Most marketing is based on puffery, platitudes and price cutting and leaves the prospects frustrated and unable to make an informed purchase decision. They instead decide solely based on price or recommendations from others.
Good marketing educates the prospects and leads them to an informed decision.
The provider that helps inform the customer typically is viewed by the prospect as more valuable than other providers. Other providers could inform, but don’t.
The prospect is led to the conclusion that he/she should buy from you.
Develop the message until you would rate it at least an 8 out of 10 in effectiveness.
Remember that for any claim, the prospect probably is thinking: “prove it”.
These principles help you break through the marketing message clutter and have your message heard.
1) Have something good to say
Your Products, Processes and Platforms have the functionality and capacity to separate your business from your competition and eliminate them as a choice in the minds of your prospects.
Don’t waste your money on marketing until these things are in place.
2) Say it well
Using the following framework
a) Interrupt (with something familiar and/or problematic. Clever if possible, but clever is not easy to do well and is not essential)
b) Engage (with the promise of info to follow that’s valuable to the prospect)
c) Educate (deliver the info that truly is valuable to the prospect … including real evidence to support your claims)
d) Offer (low risk next step in the buying process)
Ensure the message responds to the key interest (aka “hot buttons”) of the decision makers.
You have about one second to Interrupt and then another second to Engage a prospect. If you deliver in a useful way valuable information promised in the Engage claim, a real prospect likely will spend as much time as needed to absorb the Educate and Offer portions of your message.
3) Say it often
The average prospects must see a message 8 to 15 times before they become fully aware of it.
Only 1% to 2% are ready to buy when they do become aware … so, continue communicating your message until they are ready to buy and then at that time think of you as their most logical choice.
In this context, design and orchestrate all media formats and channels matters to best communicate your target audiences. And a proper marketing model and monitoring is key.
Frequently communicate valuable information to each prospect until they are ready to buy.
Then they will remember you and consider you as their best choice.
Use message plus comprehensive disciplined marketing and sales tactics to separate you from competitors
10. Processes, Platforms & Partners
Outline your plans for the following Processes and the Platforms you use and Partners you work with to help operate your Processes.
· Strategic and Operational Planning
· Organization, Human Resources, Compensation, Incentives
· Accounting, Financial, Insurance, Tax, Banking
· Legal, Regulatory, Intellectual Property
· Reporting: Operational, Financial, Management Dashboard
· Portfolio, Programs and Projects Management
Consolidated list (Portfolio) of Programs and Projects tracked against development stages
Clear leads, team members and responsibilities for each Program and Project
Marketing & Product Management
· Maintain a prospect and customer database
· Evaluate results of customer and prospect surveys to identify opportunities for improvement of customer experience.
· Maintain marketing and sales tools as needed:
Marketing message at 3 levels of detail … including hard “evidence” to support claims
10 to 30 second verbal message
Curated valuable information
Product information sheets
Social media: LinkedIn; Facebook; YouTube
Email marketing (with information valuable to prospects)
Maintain personal contact with key prospects (offer new valuable information)
· Maintain information on competitive pricing
· Prospect data
· Leads to sales
· Direct Mail
· Email marketing
· Digital marketing: Web. SEO. SEM.
· Online orders
· Direct Sales people
· Inside sales (inbound; outbound)
· Channel Partners
· Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Design & Development
· For product and packaging design and development
· Any standards and other requirements that should be observed.
For example, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international standards so that American products can be used worldwide.
Procurement & Production
· Importing logistics
· Owned or contracted production
· Sources of materials and parts
· Regulatory considerations
Ordering & Fulfillment
· Order processing
· On-site user training
· User acceptance
· Channel: retailers, wholesalers, distributors, brokers
· Financing logistics: internal, letters of credit, factoring, consignment, open accounts, etc.
· Proactive monitoring and repair
· Customer support
Billing & Collection
· Consistent with pricing and other terms and conditions
· In-house or 3rd party provided
· User documentation
· Continuous improvement
IT platforms can have significant impact on customer and employee experience and performance which translates into business growth. The optimum balance of manual, mechanized (Platform) and outsourced (Partners) Processes is one key to a successful enterprise.
Mid-market companies tend to be IT resource limited compared to large businesses and so have different IT-related requirements to consider (e.g., mids cannot afford custom coding for unique applications). Unfortunately, even the best existing commercial off the shelf options for mid-market IT platforms have deficiencies.
Allocate sufficient time and resources to optimizing your plans for and selection of IT platforms.
Many Providers utilize Agile and Lean methods in their organizations to improve their performance and competitiveness. In general, your Processes are more effective when they are both Agile and Lean.
Agile management is an approach under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer(s)/end users(s). It includes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continual improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
Emphasize the following:
· Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
· Working products over comprehensive documentation
· Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
· Responding to change over following a plan
Tools and processes are important, but it is more important to have competent people working together effectively.
Good documentation is useful in helping people to understand how the product is built and how to use it, but the main point of development is to create the product, not documentation.
A contract is important but is no substitute for working closely with customers to discover what they need.
A project plan is important, but it must not be too rigid to accommodate changes in technology or the environment, stakeholders' priorities, and people's understanding of the problem and its solution.
Agile methods focus on:
· Customer satisfaction by early and continuous demonstration of progress
· Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
· Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
· Projects are built around motivated individuals, who are trusted
· Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication
· Working product is the primary measure of progress
· Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
· Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
· Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
· Best requirements and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
· Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly
Break product development work into small increments that minimize the amount of up-front planning and design. Iterations, or sprints, are short time frames that typically last from one to four weeks. Each iteration involves a cross-functional team working in all functions: planning, analysis, design, production, unit testing, and acceptance testing. At the end of the iteration a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders. This minimizes overall risk and allows the product to adapt to changes quickly.
Project information is readily available to the development team. In a brief session, team members report to each other what they did the previous day toward their team's iteration goal, what they intend to do today toward the goal, and any roadblocks or impediments they can see.
Lean operation is a systematic method for waste minimization within a Process without sacrificing productivity. Lean also considers waste created through overburden and waste created through unevenness in workloads. Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.
Lean implementation emphasizes the importance of optimizing work flow through strategic operational procedures while minimizing waste and being adaptable. Lean aims to enhance productivity by simplifying the operational structure enough to understand, perform and manage the work environment.
Lean operation makes obvious what adds value, by reducing everything else (which is not adding value). Its focus is on reduction of waste to improve overall customer value.
Improving the "flow" or smoothness of work is key, thereby steadily eliminating unevenness through the system and not upon 'waste reduction' per se. Two pillar concepts: are Just-in-time (JIT) or "flow", and "autonomation" (smart automation).
All work is highly specified as to content, sequence, timing, and outcome.
The pathway for every product and service is simple and direct. Every customer-supplier connection is direct, and there is an unambiguous yes or no way to send requests and receive responses.
11. Public Policy
All legal matters should have the advice and counsel of an attorney.
To do business in the U.S. you will register in one of the 50 states. Your state of registration should consider registration requirements, established commercial law, taxation, physical locations of your business, and personal preferences.
If you have intellectual property, it should be protected.
You will need to understand (with qualified assistance) and comply with laws and regulations (such as the Uniform Commercial Code – UCC; Contracts for the International Sale of Goods - CISG; antitrust; property) administered by agencies including:
· Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
· Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
· Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)
Consider each of the following that apply as you plan for doing business
· Entity Selection, Formation and Operation
· Taxation of United States Operations
· Regulation of Foreign Companies
· Sales Representatives and Agents
· Labor & Employment Law (Federal and State)
· Immigration Law
· Business Acquisitions
· Joint Ventures
· Customs, Duty and Tariffs
· Protection of Intellectual Property
· Owning and Leasing Facilities
· Parties to the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods
· Advertising Laws and Regulations
Decide if you want to initiate operation with permanent employees, contractors, representatives, consultants, professional services firms, etc.). Understand your legal obligations for each type of team member.
Determine your compensation plan including any incentives (commissions, bonuses, equity, stock options, etc.)
Engage recruiters and/or on-line employment resources as early as possible to begin assembling a group of good candidates for your team.
Workers typically are responsible and hard-working; in return they want feel they are a full member of your team. Outline your actions to keep them informed and recognize them for their contributions to your enterprise.
Your sales team is vital for your success. Following are general criteria for hiring and nurturing your high-performance sales team.
• Hire slow, fire fast: Most sales candidates look like aces on their resumes; after all, selling is what they do. Look for people who are experienced but coachable, listen well, work hard, can demonstrate their selling ability, have a track record you can verify, and have some product knowledge.
People buy from people they like and trust (trust in the broadest sense). Would you buy something from your candidate?
Not all sales hires work out. if you know, you know … do it now. It won’t get better. And it helps the morale of other team members.
• Provide tools to succeed: CRM, lead lists, administrative support (so they can sell, not do paperwork), continuous training, a very few crystal clear KPIs with daily, weekly and monthly reporting that the entire team sees.
• Compensate effectively 4-month sales ramp up, a base salary with commission, incentives and bonuses to give the top “20%” the motivation to sell even more.
• Over communicate: fix issues fast, create urgency and competition. Sales people are your frontline radar … talk with them early and often.
Plan and establish reporting of performance for your operations including:
· Marketing and Sales effectiveness
· Operations metrics (supply, production, fulfillment, support, quality)
· Customer, employee, supplier, partner satisfaction (e.g.Net Promoter Scores)
14. Portfolio, Programs, Projects
Establish the activities that deliver your strategy and plans
· Portfolio – the optimizes collections Programs and Projects in priority
· Programs – major on-going efforts that support your enterprise (e.g., Channel Partners)
· Projects – activities with specific deliverables, budgets and schedules
Assign an individual to lead your Portfolio planning as well as each Program and Project within the Portfolio. Have frequent reviews of each and deliberately adjust them as needed.