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The Importance of Improving Customer Facing Applications
By Mark Richards

• More and more CIO’s are coming from the business side because of the importance of having an advocate that can create an excellent customer facing experience across the enterprise

• Omni-Channel Retailing - Omni-Channel Retailing is very similar to the evolution of, (Multi-channel retailing), but is c...oncentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on. Retailers are meeting the new customer demands by deploying specialized supply chain strategy software.

• People want to buy for convenience, choice of price, and a wonderful, efficient buying experience

• People have so many choices that companies must jump from fad to fad, discount or create their own loyal brand that hooks their community

• Social Media is the glue for the community – it must be used, it works, it can be the mouthpiece of both the company and the community, which in turn creates the dialogue between company and customer

• We have been doing e-commerce since 1996, we are now a very sophisticated culture and our expectations are high, companies that don’t deliver on these expectations lose customers.
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The Cloud – the general consensus on the cloud is that the majority of CIO’s would love to put everything in the cloud. They would rather upload their entire application portfolio into the cloud so somebody else maintains, patches or updates these applications. This opens up a wide opportunity for strategic vs. tactical thinking for the CIO/CTO and their architects and they can stay on track for supporting their business lines. Security, Integration and data migrations between systems will be key areas that must be addressed.

 

When you review the past 40-50 years of computing, this solution was probably farfetched in the early days, but over time, the pressures of reducing budgets and advances in technology make the cloud an attractive alternative.

 

So technology advancement and budget pressures creates a large impetuous to migrate to the cloud. Some clients have jumped in while others have gradually put their toes in the water. Each company weighs the risk and reward of their actions. Many retail and e-commerce companies like the scaling aspect of the cloud that when peaks occurred in their business they did not have to invest in additional infrastructure. They like the idea of only paying for infrastructure during computing time not during idle time.

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Why Recruiters Use Social Networks to Screen Job Candidates by Guest Blogger Jennifer King

In a 2011 Reppler survey about how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates, 91% of the respondents claimed they have visited a potential candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. But why? With all the tweets, status updates and comments, it’s unavoidable for any social job seeker not to be searchable in some way.

With social media, it’s possible to learn more about a job seeker than what’s on their resume, giving recruiters and hiring managers more insight into the behaviors and personal lives of their candidates.

According to Eric Meyer, partner in the labor and employment group at Dilworth Paxson LLP, “businesses and recruiters want to know as much as they can about a person who they may give a job offer. But the real purpose behind screening is to make sure the person you’re hiring doesn’t have any red flags that would make them a bad fit or a potential liability for the business.”

When it comes to commenting, posting photos or sharing status updates, we don’t typically update our social media profiles with recruiters in mind. Instead, we post things that are relevant to our lives, interests and personalities, giving recruiters a clearer picture of the person behind the resume.

Tips for Job Seekers
For recruiters and hiring managers who choose to look up candidates online, it’s likely that what they find will also shape their first impression of that person.

“Perception is reality in the business world,” says Amy Henderson, account executive with Technisource, part of Randstad Technologies . “The way people perceive you online, through social media--that’s what they use to make first impressions. And those first impressions are lasting impressions.”

And even with privacy restrictions set up on social networking sites like Facebook, it doesn’t mean an employer won’t take extra steps to get a look at what’s behind those privacy restrictions, even if that means bluntly asking a job candidate for his or her login information.

But by requiring login credentials for candidates’ social media profiles, employers run the risk of losing top talent due to a perceived lack of trust.

Jennifer King is an HR Analyst at Software Advice, a company that reviews and compares recruiting and employee performance software. She reports on trends, best practices and technology in human resources. Read her full article on the Internet persona and screening job candidates online on her HR blog.

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Photo by chigmaroff
“Measurement” can be a daunting word for business owners. However, in the business world, these measurements are critical to benchmarking success. Measurements are critical to forecasting and company spending strategies overall.
Whether you are investing in print, TV, a call center, the web, social media, sales force, or brick & mortar, measurement is critical to determine what has the highest ROI for your company. While several different media channels may influence a customer before buying your product, the channel they end up in at the end of the sales funnel should be the channel that is measured most critically.
To put the importance of measurements into perspective, look at the Barnes and Noble dilemma of 1998. The company created a website to sell books and compete with Amazon, but it wasn’t performing as expected. The low numbers caused a mindset alteration. By measuring the website’s impact on the customers, rather than just the number of hits, they changed routes and used the website to generate increased traffic to their brick & mortar stores.
The Lesson? Companies should categorize all of their media channels. Pay close attention to the last channel utilized by the customer. The last channel should be the channel of record.
How does this play into social media measurement? Measurements should be based on discussion among customers; not the number of people who simply visited your company’s post or page. If they pass along your content to their friends and followers – sharing the page, commenting the post, etc. – it should be measured and weighed appropriately. Place a high emphasis on the customers that actively comment on your posts and re share them. Calculate which customers participate in conversation about the company via social media. These are the customers you need to measure carefully, pay attention to, and cater to.
Many companies use the “seven touch points before they buy” strategy. This is fine, but only when accompanied by measurements! The measurements should be used to justify future company spending.
Using a social media measurement tool like Radian6 or HubSpot can help sort out the distribution of impressions per each channel. These sites will determine where the most positive feedback is taking place in the social web. Your customers are not only talking about you, but they are generating positive feelings about your company. We cannot stress it enough: specific, positive, and consistent feedback is what your company should be looking for when conducting these measurements.
Lastly, capture the buy lead in the final channel. Do whatever you can – create surveys and incentives – in order to find out how and why the customer got there. But, don’t forget to focus on what the customers do when they reach their media destination!
Here are some more helpful links on social media measurement:
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Photo Credit SarnieBill1

 

How to please your employer

 

You’ve been hired, you’re on the job, you’re producing – and you are trying to balance your personal life with your professional life. Most employers are reasonable; if you get your work done proficiently, they will be satisfied. If you fail to do this, you’ll find yourself micro-managed, and no one wants to be micro-managed!

 

Companies today are still running lean, so there are a tight number of employees handling the workload, leaving limited excess time. Workers are being challenged to get more done with a smaller head count. This presents an immediate issue when workers are balancing their personal and professional lives.  What do you do if more work is constantly being handed down to you? Communication is key in this situation. You must communicate with your boss that if you take on these additional tasks, they will overwhelm your schedule and your pre-existing work will be affected. Working longer hours is only a temporary solution, employees are most proficient when getting enough food, sleep and relax time. For example, if you are working longer hours for a month, this does not pose a serious problem.  However, if that time runs on to become 6 months, it’s likely that your productivity is dropping each day.  The type of job you have dictates the pressure placed on you to succeed.

 

Most companies will give more work to competent employees because they know it will get done. These workers are torn: on one hand they are being acknowledged for their successful work, on the other hand they are stuck working more hours.  Before you start a new job, be sure to research the company, position and team members so you understand the company’s culture.

 

TIPS:

Here are our top tips to please your employer

· Stay focused and attentive on your job

· Steer clear of politics, yes you need to promote your brand but not at the expense of involving yourself with politics

· If a project scope is too big for you, explain this to your boss that more resources are needed

· Get a mentor from your company who can guide you thru the “organization ropes”

· Get along with people and be a team player- don’t be the dark broding type

· Map out a career roadmap for yourself at that company – maybe with that mentor

 

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From Degree to Job- What students should do to get their first job

 

Visit the Career Placement Office in the fall of your Freshman Year at college

 

Create a plan with your career counselor, which will include your major, strengths, interests, special programs and other activities that you have completed to date

 

You don’t have to work in an office, if you love the outdoors review those possibilities– there are many!

 

Do an internship in high school

 

Create a list of the 25-100 people that know you and could assist you with career advice

 

Interview with those internship companies – does the chemistry feel right, could you work in this environment 12-20 hours per week?

 

Do an internship for at least one year. (Companies look at this very carefully and see your commitment)

 

If you are trying to get into a Media company for an internship, take note of the submission dates. Most applications are due in January.

 

For a Media internship, write for your high school or college newspaper and start your own blog. You want to create a story, which shows potential employers you are dedicated to the industry and have real world work experience.

 

Think several moves ahead so you can attain your career goals

 

80% of candidates turn their internship into a full-time position

 

Network

 

No matter how brilliant you are, if you can’t network, you are going to work twice as hard as the next person. Networking is as critical as drinking water. Learn to smile and ask questions.

 

80% of the time you will get your next job from someone you know.

 

Research

 

Search the web on the company you want to work for. Review the background of the people on your team.

 

 

 

 

 

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Politics are part of Humanity in every organization and every group of people from Public Schools to Wall Street Investment Banks. As certain as this is, the next step is how can you function and complete your agenda within this climate? How do you negotiate thru this and win and influence friends along the way?
As a PM, Consultant or Subject Matter Expert going into a new client engagement has many perils and uncertainties. Even if the project is with your company, once you take on the PM or consultant role you are designated as a change agent. We all know that for the most part people do not like to change.
This experience can almost be compared to the Navy Seals or Army Rangers dropping into enemy territory to begin a new mission.
Logistically, the PM is looking to identify allies, foes, troublemakers, direct their team in the correct direction for meeting their objective (the project plan). Build alliances that will allow their development to proceed and meet the milestones of the project plan.
Influencers can be developers who offer their “opinion” to the decision maker. Now the decision maker has multiple opinions to contend with – what does the PM do?
PM’s should assess the corporate environment and identify if this project has the right funding, will the stakeholder(s) stand behind this project and pm? Is this project critical to the organization? Will it make money for them or keep them out of jail? Meet with the stake holders and listen to their vision. Is that vision unified?
Does this organization have standards? Do they have an enterprise application architecture? Do they have an exception process for this architecture? Many times on a new project, new technologies will be evaluated for your project – this process can be a little chaotic if certain personalities are adding their suggestions. Having standards in place allows for a formal evaluation to protect your proposed architectu
The PM will begin to put together a political blueprint of how this project sits within the enterprise application portfolio and what factions are for or against this project. It is important to create this visual because you can organize it in your mind.
If projects don’t have the appropriate backing they should be downgraded to proof of concept or a straw man project. You have to have your stake holders with backbone who will support you when “Les Jeux Sont Fait” “The Chips are Down”.
Give some examples:
A manufacturer in NJ – heavy politics, jostling with IBM, a new CIO
A hazardous waste company in Utah, development in Utah, India
A multi-billion dollar non-profit, IBM building a data center, building a new 850 million building
A 2 billion dollar Direct Selling company in California, the owner dies, sold to 2 venture capital firms
Once at Nabisco we were working on an eBusiness Technical Architecture project. Certain factions were totally against the project but their apprehensions were kept in check. When the CIO changed the project from a POC to the firm’s architecture, the entire organization went wild….before it was OK, if it was the eBusiness Architecture but now that it was for the enterprise architecture – conflict erupted! One example, Nabisco had 13 different databases, typical of most large enterprise clients – was this going to change.
Along the way they will need food, supplies etc. like assistance like access to different environments and additional information which will be native to those environments.
All of this is critical for keeping the project moving forward and meeting milestones.
As a PM, have you ever reviewed some projects in your career and concluded you could have done things differently to have a more favorable outcome?
A Project Manager is a change agent to an organization, not everyone wants that project to succeed. Some of those individuals will use subliminal tactics to drag down and outright prevent progress.
How should a PM deal with this?
Stakeholders, allies etc.
A project should not be started unless there are stakeholders and they are on-line and backing this project. The stake holder should have enough political currency to solve political issues as they are brought up to him or her.
But remember , the child who cried wolf, the PM will need to deal with most political issues by themselves.
Basic questions around project integrity: Does this organization want to complete this project? Why?
These answers should determine how important this project is to the organization.
If you are doing a SAP upgrade, there is a high criticality factor associated with this project, if the project is for a much smaller function and degree of importance to the organization then take note.
Tagged in: reality of politics
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  • They will negotiate for you and not get emotional involved thus keeping your interests on cue
  • They have access to many jobs vs. the one job you may have in the queue
  • You are building a network with them so they can keep you employed for many years to come
  • In this corporate era, it is critical to have multiple channels feeding you opportunities
  • There is a loyalty between strong consultants and staffing firms that can be stronger then relationships with Fortune 2000 companies
  • It seems to always come back to people skills, how do people remember you? How do people perceive you? Do companies want to work with you again? I once knew a consultant who had worked full-time for a single client for seventeen years. Companies not only want the candidate to have the appropriate technical skills, that want an individual to be able to collaberate and work well in a team - is that person you?
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When you are negotiating your compensation with a company be certain that you have done your homework first. By this we mean, you need to research the position, the field, the geographical location, and the company so that you have a realistic range. If at all possible, we highly advise, you do not make the first offer, let the company tell you what they are looking to offer first and then negotiate from there. Keep a salary range (the lowest you’ll accept, your realistic offer and the dream offer) in your mind as well as what you expect regarding the complete package (401K, Ins, bonus, etc). While you are negotiating your compensation, be mindful to let the managers know your reasoning for your requests. It will help them see how you think, how you communicate and place a value on your skill set. Remember to stay calm, confident and flexible during your negotiations and to keep your ego in check. It’s not personal – It’s business.

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Steve Jobs was a visionary and creative genius. He met every challenge with a “dream bigger” mentality seeing the genius in what most would call madness. His out of the box mindset led to the creation of the first personal computer followed by the tri-fecta iPod, iPhone, and iPad which are now on track to be a technology standard. It is estimated by 2015 Job’s latest creation the iPad 2 will reach 275 million units. Jobs had the ability to create and develop these products because he did what he loved to do. For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something...almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/67769038/Steve-Jobs-2005-Stanford-commencement-address

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc

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Photo credit niallkennedy

A great consultant has to act as a chameleon when working with clients. It is critical that a consultant who is an outsider to a company observe and embrace the corporate culture of his or her client. What is the pace of that client? It is very important to mirror the pace while continuing to move your agenda forward. Smile, use humor connect with key critical players of that organization. A consultant must have an extensive toolbox so they can use different methodologies to solve a problem. There once was a new CIO at a 5 billion dollar company (who was very smart), he lost his job in 2 years because he did not connect to his staff. He was on his own island. It takes a team to solve technical issues. It didn't matter how smart he was he had lost the loyalty of his staff. Many times consultants lose their way because of their ego and their lack of people skills. When you have solid people skills it will make your job and your life much smoother. Remember the CIO or consultant who has made bridges will instill loyalty among the client and their staff. If they have done a lot of positive bridge making, the staff will really put out for you.

A consultant's tenure at a client can be very short unless they start making friends and alliances. Day one, should be a scouting trip to access people, the organization and where they can make a difference. There has been many a white paper from IBM Global Services and Accenture that never made it into production because that consulting firm never built the proper bridges and listened to the client.

 

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Photo Credit Janos Rusiczki

First - get your head together, go for a walk and breathe

Second - put together your list of all of the people who are in your field and could help you (your network), people out of your field we will cover later

Third - You are about to enter a period of your life that will require more energy, patience and focus then you have ever used

Fourth - Be open to all types of consulting possibilities as you continue to focus on your first objective. The consulting opportunities sometimes lead to permanent possibilities, Dell promoted a consultant to CEO once

Fifth - Continue to read, use Linkedin, Network, take some serious time to visualize the job that you want to do and then write it down

Sixth - Set up a quiet place in your apartment or home to work that will allow you to produce excellent work

Seventh - Don't complain or hang out with complainers

Eighth - Understand that you need to look good, feel good, have good posture and emit a positive outlook, people will react well to all of these attributes

Ninth - Appearance, Appearance, if you are older, start exercising and think about coloring your hair. You certainly do not want to look older than you actually are! All kidding aside, when a potential employer first lays eyes on you, your appearance and personality carries a lot of weight in the final decision, so make it easy for them

 

 

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Photo credit by msoderstrom

1.) Make the person that hired you look fantastic. Protect their back. This is your most important relationship for that client.

2.) Politics is everywhere, so accept it and make it work for you.

3.) Fill out detailed weekly status reports and get them signed - they are worth their weight in gold and courts love them.

4.) Understand that no matter how smart you are, the client is in charge and you don't own the company, so if your recommendations are not followed, deal with it, don't act like a child.

5.) A high-level consultant is a change agent and must craft a strategy around pushing and getting their agenda accepted.

6.) When a consultant is successful in getting a client company to adopt their changes - this is a big deal. Remember that it takes a lot to shift any company in a different direction.

7.) The goal of a consultant is to understand that company at a very intimiate level, identify the decision makers, analyize the statement of work and then communicate, communicate and communicate.

8.) Let the client accept all of the glory for your blood, sweat and tears, you will get it all back in future consulting jobs.

9.) Park your ego at the door.

 

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As always, the value of your network is determined to the time and effort you put into it. A great network will allow you to move seamlessly between great jobs and suffer little down time. Networks can be used to find resources, vendors, employees or simply subject matter experts who can help you out of a tough situation (debugging technology). When I was on Wall Street supporting Sybase globally, we established a Sybase group within the Investment Bank and a Sybase group externally among the 19 investment banks. This allowed us to trade information on this key piece of technology that was running most of the bank's business. It also represented an efficient way to scale support among our peers. Even though we were competitors, we shared as technologists.

Networking and your job. For IT professionals, the hours can be long which makes it harder to network among your peers. This has to be evaluated carefully, becasue if you were to lose that job, what will be the reconnect time to your next job? Obviously, one wants that transition to be as smooth and short as possible. Invest in your network, it will pay you back far more than the invested time. The double edge sword is that IT professionals can not be out of work too long becasue they lose their sharpness and current knowledge. If an extended period occurs continue to practice your trade by doing smaller consulting projects, reading and writing code if you are a developer.

A great book to read is: "Love is the Killer App", by Tim Sanders. See: http://timsanders.com/books/love-killer-app.html, This book takes you thru the entire networking process and shows how all of the little pieces can add up to a very formidable network. Tim lays it out in straight simple prose.

 

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Photo credit tamtran Forever 70

When so much is at stake,why does the easy stuff get overlooked, when going for an interview?

Be on time, smile, listen, dress correctly, research the company, ask appropriate questions and position your body landuage appropriately. None of this includes technical or functional knowledge. If clients are going to pay you a good salary shouldn't you give them your best side? When clients don't get the basics they usually stop listening to you, don't let that happen to you. Technology is doing well but the same basic rules apply when going for a job especially at the high salary levels of technology.

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