Customer

May 15, 2017 by

May12Panel

FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks was on the topic of Age of the Customer. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at WD and our panelists! Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such seasoned, well-spoken and diverse set of leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common:

  • They worked hard to prepare for success through their academic choices, their professional positions, and their direct experience.
  • They have a wide range of experiences working with a broad breadth of customers, which qualifies them well to communicate the needs of the customer to staff, executives, providers and partners and all others in the ecosystem, while also providing them the credibility and influence to lead initiatives which transform how companies proactively meet the needs of the customer.
  • They each had a broad view of who the customer is, and are laser-focused on serving the needs of those customers.
  • They don’t aim to please every customer every time, but they do make sure that the team and company get it right when things don’t go as planned.
  • They understand enough about the products, the processes, the people, the solution, and the needs of the customer so that they can orchestrate comprehensive, customer-facing initiatives involving an ecosystem of stakeholders, all focused on providing exceptional service and solutions for each niche customer segment.
  • Each leader came from different industry backgrounds, and each found her way into technology companies. They leveraged their experience and perspective to transition to the technology industry, and to rise among the ranks once they’ve landed there.

Below are our panel’s thoughts on why customers are more empowered today:

  • The advances in IT and technology and the reach to a large volume of people worldwide is creating larger markets.
  • Allowing the larger volumes of customers to connect with each other gives more power to each customer. As a consequence: 1) Customers can better vet solutions with online information or networks of others prior to making purchasing commitments, and are no longer dependent on companies for the information they need to make a commitment. 2) With access to other customers and to online information, customers can more clearly envision alternative offerings. 3) There’s a plethora of offerings for almost every solution, so customers can be more discerning about which offering would best serve their needs.
  • With the large volumes of offerings and customers, there are also changes in regulations and laws worldwide. 
  • Because of the sheer volume of information hitting customers, there is little patience to wait for load times for example, and little tolerance if information isn’t available in the format customers need at the moment (think it’s got to work on their mobile device NOW).

Below is collective advice from our panel on how companies can better anticipate and serve customers.

  • Accept that the customers are empowered and create processes to ensure companies gather quantitative and qualitative data about current and anticipated needs, hire, develop and retain people who are service-oriented, and influence the company’s vision and direction to ensure a culture and mindset that puts customers first.
  • Collect and follow the data about what customers are looking for, and how satisfied they are about the service provided by your company. 
  • Be empathetic about the needs of the customer – in vision and in execution (product, service, UI). Measure your company’s success in this area, and train everyone to have that customer-empathy mind-set.
  • Be the customer spokesperson at every opportunity. Do things great and small to perpetuate that customer-centric mentality.
  • Connect customers to each other in community, and collaborate with those communities to proactively serve niche customers. 
  • Consider creating and supporting a customer advisory board, which would be a great way to get proactive and ongoing input from your most influential customers.
  • Create and serve niche customer communities where it makes sense, and empower them to define their needs.
  • Create efficient and scalable solutions which are based on the needs of the customer. Don’t be so customer-centric that you would design one-offs for each individual customer, regardless of how many other customers would need that solution and how much it would cost to deliver that solution!
  • Make every customer feel important, no matter how much or little they might impact the bottom line. With that said, listen and act more responsively to the customers who represent larger current and potential markets.
  • No matter where you sit at the table, no matter what kind of impact or knowledge you might have about a problem or solution, take ownership of a customer’s issue or problem and make sure that she or he gets served. Propagate and reward that mindset within your company.
  • The customer is always right, unless they’re not. Work with them to get it right if you need to, then serve them well, within or outside the direct connection with your company.
  • Collect the detailed data around customer expectations, preferences and aversions and respond based on that data.

In conclusion, our panel attests that it’s a ‘Buyer’s Market’. The customer will remain empowered for the foreseeable future. The companies who recognize, accept and even embrace this change will gain and maintain market leadership.


FountainBlue’s May 12 When She Speaks was on the topic of Age of the Customer.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO,FountainBlue, CMO 888 Steps
  • Panelist Amy D. Love, VP Corporate Marketing, TriNet
  • Panelist Anshu Narula, Engineering Director, Partners and Marketplaces, PayPal
  • Panelist Suchitra Narayen, VP, Legal and Associate General Counsel, Supply Chain Legal, Oracle
  • Panelist Margret Schmidt, VP Product Development & Chief Design Officer, Tivo

Being Human in an Age That’s Digital

May 8, 2017 by

HumanDigital

FountainBlue’s May 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Being Human in an Age That’s Digital’! Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Samsung and our participating executives. Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how we are stretching the technology envelope. 

There was a mind-boggling discussion about how each participating company and leader is pushing the technology envelope for a Digital Tsunami with the hardware, the software, the data, analytics, AI…  The brilliance, hard work and perseverance is advancing technology solutions at an increasingly rapid pace, and the lives of almost all of us are forever changed by it.

  • Machines and programs and technology innovations are collecting the information and data necessary to make informed decisions. Humans need to make these decisions, hopefully based on the data and information collected.
  • Great minds are collaboratively designing and implementing solutions which solve the world’s problems – even the ones caused by over-population, like food production and housing at scale. But it will take humans to create and implement and integrate these solutions, and prioritize resources and research to ensure that the largest amount of people benefit in the short term and for the long term.
  • Creating innovation labs focused on solving the requests and needs of those customers just makes sense, especially as change happens so quickly, and customers become increasingly more demanding. No matter how sophisticated these digital and IoT and other solutions get, remember that managing and running the interactions, relationships and entities themselves requires experienced humans.
  • Machines and programs may be great at providing historical data in rich and detailed formats, but are not as good as seasoned humans who can do forecasting and predictions based on historical data, and current conditions and trends.
  • It takes a human to make an irrational risk that could lead to a transformational solution or experience.
  • It takes a human to create and deliver an engaging, persuasive and memorable communication and experience which connects with other humans.
  • Although IoT and other innovations will facilitate vast improvements for healthcare and education and all other industries, humans will be in charge, and it will remain difficult to delegate interactions and duties to machines and programs and drones.

Below is advice on how to balance the need for those sophisticated digital innovations with the need to support the humans who implement them.

  • Think about solutions as interactions between people, between things, and between people and things. 
  • Think not just about how to innovate and what would work, but also about what would get adopted and accepted easily. 
  • Look not just at the current anticipated value, but also at the stickiness of the value-add for the solution in the long term.
  • Consider not just the solution you’d like to implement, but also the transition strategy so that the full ecosystem of stakeholders will embrace the new solution.

The bottom line is that technology and innovation will never replace the educated, hard-working human. But humans who chose not to embrace technology, not to keep up with the digital revolution may find that there’s little place in the workforce for their skill set.

Brand

April 20, 2017 by

April14WSSPanel

FountainBlue’s April 14 When She Speaks was on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such impressive, amusing, well-spoken and diverse panel of leaders, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common.

  • They were clear about their strengths and their impact, as well as their direction. 
  • They were similar in their collaborative and communicative style, displaying high emotional intelligence, superior facilitation and program management skills, and a consistent track record for delivering measurable impact on a diverse range of projects.
  • They each went through an introspective phase which helped them hone in on their brand and their focus, with the guidance of select others around them, and the feedback of direct experience.

Their collective advice for creating and reinforcing your brand is summarized below:

  1. Know what you want, then do what you love. Be open to experimenting with new things so that you find new things to love, but if you don’t love it, make a different choice.
  2. Grow where you can – stretch yourself and be of service, solving problems that make a difference.
  3. Listen closely and learn from everyone. Integrate these learnings so that you’re more effective at what you’re doing.
  4. Communicate clearly, transparently and inclusively. Be passionate without being overly emotional, driven without being ruthless, open to new opportunities while also making sure that it’s something you want to do for the long term.
  5. Nobody should feel all alone. The more we share, the more we give the stronger we all are. Reach out when you’re in need. Lend a hand, lend an ear when someone else is in need. The best way to honor those who helped YOU is to pay it forward to others – sharing your network, experience, stories, energy, etc. Be a stalwart champion, no matter where you sit at the table. Empower all those around you to succeed and grow.
  6. Take a leap of faith when opportunity knocks for you, but have confidence that opportunities will come at other times if higher-priority things like your family and your health take precedence.
  7. Personal and professional brands overlap. Be who you are consistently in all situations, but express yourself differently depending on the environment, regardless of whether it’s a physical location or a social media platform.
  8. Everyone has to work with difficult people. Find a positive way to work with people who push your buttons when you have to do so. Identifying commonalities will help you to do that.
  9. Be fearless and persevere. You’re too busy making something happen to listen to the nay-sayers who say ‘who is she/he to do this or that’. It’s not about the degree, the role, the background, the gender, the experience, the age, etc., It’s about the bottom line results. Live and breathe by the results you deliver. Consistently and clearly communicate your value add based on the data.
  10. Reach out to others when you need guidance, validation, support, perspective. Nobody is an island and part of stretching yourself is seeing and understanding a reality beyond your own.

It was a very fun panel, filled with real-life stories involving real-life events, humorously told. We all left inspired by their bottom line: Be strategic communicators who focus on aligning all stakeholders to deliver impactful and measurable results for the greater good of the individuals, the team, the companies and the industry.

—–

Please join me in thanking our April 14 When She Speaks panel on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand and our gracious hosts at Flex! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; CMO of 888 Steps
  • Panelist Amy Barzdukas, VP of Global Solutions Marketing, Polycom
  • Panelist Reenita Das, Partner, Senior Vice President, Transformational Health, Frost & Sullivan
  • Panelist Vonnie French, VP, Supply Chain, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Melanie Nelson, Sr. Director of Marketing Communications, Samsung
  • Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP, Head of Corporate Strategy, Flex 

IT Trends and Predictions

April 12, 2017 by
ITTrendsFountainBlue’s April 7 VIP roundtable was on the topic of IT Trends and Predictions.
Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at Flex, who also joined the interactive discussion. Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on IT trends and predictions.
  • The overarching theme for the conversation was a remarkable level of convergence of ideas, technologies, and business models across industries, companies and leaders. 
  • Another theme was around the need to integrate the vision, planning, development, growth and expansion of any individual solution, working in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders – investors, corporations, entrepreneurs, government, etc.,
  • Disruption is sometimes planned and sometimes fortuitous, but always requires an open mind, an ability to see larger trends, and a tendency to listen to what the customers are doing and saying. Having the people, data, and support to ensure that these disruptions take place will also support the innovation agenda for the organization.
  • Growing a concept from the tactical (like solutions for cars) to the category description (like mobility and transportation) will help companies to broaden their outcome and better see inter-relationships and opportunities.
  • Digital will be at the heart of innovation, but only if it can provide the AI and data to support customized solutions for a demanding customer base.
  • An integrated ecosystem of stakeholders requires collaboration between leaders, companies and industries in order to develop integrated, scalable solutions serving a wide range of customers. Being that type of leader and company worthy of trust will define the level of success for any endeavor, so competence and integrity are key.
  • The volume of information will increase, the expectations from customers, investors and other stakeholders will also be elevated. So it’s all about the execution at scale, at pace. Make the processes repeatable, the solutions robust, and the technology modular and flexible.
  • Everybody wants to leverage data to make a business case, but unfortunately, the data can point to some irrelevant and superstitious or self-serving conclusions, which wastes time, energy and money. To address this challenge, make sure that you are asking the right questions, that you have high-integrity leaders asking those questions, that you approach the questions with an open mind, and that you include the right data to address these questions. Then look not just at what the data is saying, but also at what it’s not saying and the implications for both. In other words, Big Data is not relevant unless you have Big Answers.
  • Core to the success of a solution and initiative is the question ‘who will pay for that innovation’? This is especially valid in highly regulated markets like healthcare. We might have a big-data-driven, sophisticated IT and AI solution, but if the patient, the provider, the insurer, the government, the caregiver can’t pay, the quandary becomes who will pay and what’s the pay-back for them if they do?
  • Policy will limit and define opportunities, so business models must take policy trends into account.
  • Inviting the diverse, out-of-the-box team members will reflect well on the company culture, the corporate exec, the forward-thinking entrepreneur, and the bottom line. Think about hiring people not necessarily for their technical capabilities, but also for their creative abilities.
  • It will always be about the people, so recruit, develop and retain those who can perform well, learn well, adapt and grow. They will shape the future of IT and business in general.
Below is a list of opportunities ahead for IT:
  • In a connected world with so many devices and solutions, integration and communication between devices is key.
  • Having that secure access to integrated devices and solutions is equally key.
  • The sheer volume of data will continue to grow. But big data solutions are not enough. There will continue to be a huge market for solutions which filter out only the ‘relevant’ data, as defined by the customer, to ‘normalize’ that data reducing redundancies and inconsistencies, so data-based decisions can be made.
  • Big data solutions which provide diagnostic solutions leveraging AI and IT will create and expand markets in all sectors.
  • Leverage open source solutions and collaboration models to build ecosystems and solutions.
  • Leverage technology to address the social challenges which matter to the millennials, a large and growing customer constituency.
  • The markets will be niche and regionalized, the range will be global, so plan solutions accordingly. 
In conclusion, I would say that today’s challenges are tomorrow’s opportunities, but nobody can be everything to everyone and the winners will be part of an coordinated, comprehensive ecosystem of providers, customers, integrators and innovators.

Tell Me Your Story

March 28, 2017 by

Story

People build instant credibility when they share their story. That is, if that story is true, is authentic, and resonates well with the intended audience. When you meet someone new, he or she wants to know not just about what you’ve done and where you’re going, but also about who you are, and how that might intersect with who they are, and what their interests are at the time. Telling your story will not only help you connect with people you newly meet, but also with people you’ve known for a lifetime. What’s more, it helps you connect better with yourself and your meaning, direction and purpose. Below are some thoughts on how to best tell your story.

  1. Decide to tell your story, rather than providing that resume in verbal or written form. The story will help you define both your purpose and your direction, and help you thread together the stepping stones along the way, first for yourself, and then for your audience.
  2. Don’t hide the warts. But don’t dwell on them. Nobody’s perfect. And if you *are*, you haven’t lived well enough. Understand why you took the detours along the way, and even consider the experiences ‘features, not bugs’. Emphasize the learnings behind the un-planned events, and how that added to your wisdom, strength, knowledge, direction and experience.
  3. But don’t highlight the warts. Especially if you’re getting the same life lesson again and again…
  4. Focus first on the beginning, then on the middle and then on the end. Your beginnings shape you and direct your successes and challenges to date. Your middle is where you are right now. How has that beginning shaped your middle? What kind of end would you like to shape? Are you headed in that direction? If so, detail it. If not, why not, and where would you like to go? And what’s stopping you from getting from here to there?
  5. Define the key characters in your story, and the choices you make to keep them engaged in your story. Do the have a full cast of characters? Who’s missing? Who’s engaged? Who’s playing the wrong role?
  6. What patterns are you finding in your story and what, if anything, should you do about it?
  7. What or who is missing in your story to date and what can you do to address that missing piece or person?
  8. What could you do today that you couldn’t have done yesterday or last year or five years ago?
  9. Who knows your story, and who should know your story? What would it mean if they found out about your story?
  10. What will you celebrate about your story? How will you celebrate? Who will you celebrate with?

Create your story . . . make it the middle and ending of your heart’s desire. Share it with those who matter to you.

Career Agility

March 13, 2017 by

WSSMar2017

FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such influential, well-spoken and diverse leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. They also had much in common:  

  • They did great work and got noticed by influential others around them. These people then became mentors, sponsors, and supporters – that network which helped each of them advance with their work, and with their role and influence.
  • Having this network of support made it easier for our panelists to shift from one project to another, from one team to another, from one company to another, from one industry to another.

Their collective advice for owning your career path is summarized below.

  1. Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Do what you’re passionate about. Be curious about new ways which would challenge you in good ways, so that you can keep relevant and engaged. Seek the opportunities that would stretch you and make you feel uncomfortable.
  2. Have the confidence to show up and do what you love well! Work with people you like, products and services you can believe in. Always stand by your values and principles, with your integrity intact. Your reputation and brand will speak for itself, and influential people may give you that opportunity to be agile, even if you’re not looking for it at the time!
  3. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Take the ‘go-for-it’ and the ‘what-if’ approach rather than wait for that coveted invitation, that perfect fit, that just-right job description. 
  4. Focus on solving problems in front of you. Doing so may open doors to opportunities which make you feel uncomfortable, but may be exactly what you need to stretch yourself.
  5. Embrace your failures as a badge of courage. Most people learn more about themselves and their world from failures than from successes, so welcome the opportunity to succeed, learn if it doesn’t go quite as expected, and be stronger for every attempt.
  6. Say what you want to do, even if you’re not clear exactly how it will happen to you. If you speak to the right people about what you want to do, that other person may have something in mind which would serendipitously fit your passion. Or they may be able to even create a door if they share your vision and passion! This is a planned happenstance . . . Coincidence? I think not! The luckiest people have adopted this strategy . . . 
  7. The way you communicate is critical to your success. Be clear first with yourself and then strategize on what you’d like to communicate to which audience to help you achieve what you’re looking for career-wise (and in all matters frankly). Market yourself authentically without “bragging”, and help others take credit where and when credit is due.
  8. When asked to compare working in start-ups vs working in corporates, our panelists agreed that working in both are important, and which one you select depends on what your current priorities are.
    • What’s wonderful about working in a start-up is that you get to influence the direction of the company, and shift and evolve quickly with the company. This allows you the opportunity to learn and evolve quickly and bring big-company experience to guide start-ups with their growth and expansion.
    • What’s beautiful about working in a large company is that you can be agile from within – shifting between projects and divisions and geographies, all with great opportunities for stellar growth, for lasting impact.
  9. Empower and encourage your team to step up and be heard if they want to have a seat at the table.
  10. Glom on to leaders and mentors and team members you admire and work well with. You may go through many journeys together.

The bottom line is that our panelists have encouraged us to both being open opportunities which arise while also setting boundaries based on who you are in terms of skills and values, what you want to do next, and what’s happening otherwise in your life. If you’re self-aware enough to know what you want when, you will be much more likely to have your cake and eat it too!


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Aruba, an HPE company, and our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 10 When She Speaks, on the topic of Embracing Agility in a Sea of Change: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, SignKloud
  • Panelist Aimee Catalano, VP, Partner and Integrated Marketing, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Jennifer Miller, VP and Associate General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Maria Olson, Vice President Global & Strategic Alliances, NetApp
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks 
  • Panelist Jessica Swank, VP Human Resources, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company 
  • Panelist Tricia Yankovich, Head of HR, Five9

Collaboration Best Practices

March 6, 2017 by

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 1.08.55 PMFountainBlue’s March 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Collaboration Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking the executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at SignKloud and Techlab Innovation Center.

The executives in attendance at this month’s roundtable represented a wide range of industries, roles, functions and company sizes. Below is a compilation of their ideas collaboration best practices leveraging technology and processes.

The conversation flowed through many technologies, solutions, stories and challenges around collaboration. Central to the conversation is the need for strong leadership, transparent and continual communication, alignment on near term and long term goals/mission/strategy across the organization, and continuous assessments and reviews to ensure that all of the above takes place. Below is advice on how to best facilitate that collaboration across stakeholders:

  • Identify and engage all stakeholders across the ecosystem and work toward common goals and milestones.
  • Proactively collaborate to create processes and adopt technologies that support the achievement of those goals.
  • Be fluid in selecting the goals, technologies and processes you leverage to achieve those goals, for change is a certainty, and the speed of change is accelerating.
  • Include a wider diversity of perspectives and people within your team, and a broader swath of partners and customers outside your team.
  • Balance in-person and video communications.
  • Physically locate teams in one geography, making sure that they have representation across all necessary functional areas so there are no inefficient road blocks due to logistical, operational or time-zone related challenges.
  • Locate corporate leadership team in one physical location for easier coordination and communication.
  • Teams may be in different geographies based on acquisition history. This may work well, provided that the product leadership team is located near corporate leadership team.
  • Have regular Agile-style stand-up, all-hands meeting to facilitate communication, collaboration and coordination, to increase overall accountability and to improve connections between people and projects.
  • Create integrated technologies and processes which take a project end-to-end, while also providing ongoing support.
  • Ask the perennial questions in this order: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How does it fit into our overall strategy? What are the metrics for success? How are we doing towards those goals? Should we change any element of our strategy based on metrics and feedback? REPEAT.
  • Hire the young blood to get things done, but also know when to bring in to the seasoned hands to lead. It takes a village and everyone should have a piece of the puzzle.
  • Know your non-negotiables for yourself, for your project, for your company, and stand behind them.
  • Communicate the following every week: What you did last week. What you plan to do next week. What you need from management to make things happen.

Below is a compilation of ideas on new and hot ideas around tech and process collaboration.

  • The innovations in data analytics, artificial intelligence, etc., are facilitating noteworthy innovations in genomic research which are leading to real-life, near term business solutions which also help patients and providers make data-based decisions around their health.
  • Healthcare is a lagging industry which is just beginning to adopt collaboration technologies and processes which will continue to transform the industry. There will be implications for: precision medicine, genomic research, patient diagnostics, medical devices, etc.,
  • Cybersecurity is a hot area in all industries.
  • There will be increased communication and coordination between people, technologies, and processes which impact all industries. Watch specifically for transformations in automobile, consumer home and health, retail, and everything in between.
  • Adding an element of creativity to existing technologies and processes may create attractive new solutions and business models. 

Below is a list of recommended collaboration tools.

  • Slack – Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
  • HipChat – HipChat is group chat built for teams & business.
  • WebEx – WebEx online meetings and presentations, webinars, town halls, online courses and training, and online presentations.
  • Zoho – Run your entire business with Zoho’s suite of online productivity tools and SaaS applications.
  • Salesforce – Build more meaningful and lasting relationships and connect with your customers across sales, customer service, marketing, communities, apps, analytics, and more
  • Chatter on Salesforce – Allow Employees to Share Knowledge,Drive Productivity & Innovate. 
  • Confluence – Confluence is where you create, organize and discuss work with your team.
  • JIRA – JIRA Software offers flexible issue and project tracking with best-in-class agile tooling for software teams.
  • Skype – Skype is software that enables you to make free calls anywhere in the world. 
  • RealtimeBoard: Whiteboard for Collaboration

The bottom line is that all businesses are run by people, and selecting technologies and processes which suit your people, and hiring people who fit that culture is a rudimentary requirement for success and growth.

Seize the Digital Advantage

February 23, 2017 by

Help join up social business peopleAs a tech professional and leader in the know, your ears perk up when you hear about seizing that digital advantage. And we do nothing, until we again hear talk of how this or that leader or company leveraged that digital advantage. Here are some specific and tangible things you can do every day to realize a digital advantage.
Information Management
1. Being digital means easily uploading, downloading, updating and managing content which is easily sorted, filtered and categorized.
2. Being digital means providing access to the specific, relevant and real-time information of interest to them.
3. When leveraged well, access to volumes of relevant information helps companies be more responsive and better attuned to the current and anticipated needs of the customer.

Connecting and Communicating across people, technologies and platforms.
4. Being digital means providing the technology, networks and infrastructure necessary so that people can better connect to each other.
5. Being digital means ensuring ease of access, ease of use, as well as security and scalability of solution.
6. Being digital means connecting with people on any device from mobile to web to billboards to kiosks to automobile displays.

Engagement and Interaction
7. Being digital means you can better describe and communicate your own needs and better understand the needs of others.
6. Being digital means providing interactive and immersive experiences which are memorable, purposeful and engaging.
9. Being digital, connected and engaged leads to better collaboration between teams, between companies, between partners.

The bottom line is:
10. Being digital separates the haves and the have nots, be they individuals, teams, companies or industries.
Don’t get left behind. Seize the Digital Advantage.

Influence

February 13, 2017 by

febcollageFountainBlue’s February 10 When She Speaks meeting was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Excellence.  Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such influential, well-spoken and diverse leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. But they shared many thoughts about the power of influence.

  • Influence is essential for getting things done at work and at home. Most of the time, we don’t have that direct authority to mandate that someone does something in a certain way by a certain time. And even if we did have that authority, it’s not a great way to lead, to empower, to build trust and loyalty.
  • Everybody can have a valid perspective, idea, approach or opinion. But not everybody will voice it so that it gets heard and considered. A leader ensures that a wide range of perspectives are heard, which increases the likelihood of project success and bottom-line results.
  • We would all benefit if everyone had the confidence and ability to influence decisions and outcome.
  • The first step to having more influence is to choose to do so.
  • Listen to the inspiring and practical stories of influential people around you, for it will also help you become more influential and feel more empowered. 

Their collective advice for expanding your circle of influence is summarized below.

  1. Know and accept your talents and weaknesses. Leverage your strengths and work on your shortcomings so that you can become more influential. 
  2. Everybody has their own style of influencing others. 
  3. Build deep and trusted relationships at all levels, whether or not you need something done right away.
  4. Understand the motivations and perspectives of those with whom you work. It’s much easier to find that common ground when you’ve done this first.
  5. Make everyone around you look good, feel good for the role they played in each project. 
  6. Be open to the perspectives of other people, especially when she/he don’t think like you.
  7. Communicate in a way that the other party can understand.
  8. Create a common ground, a common understanding, a shared goal, a shared future . . . something where you and other parties can collaborate in influencing an outcome.
  9. Point to the data, the measured results which back up a perspective or strategy. This helps keep conversations around the plans and strategy, rather than on politics and games.
  10. Welcome the gift of feedback, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable. The best feedback helps you overcome the obstacles you’re putting in front of yourself. Choosing to overcome these obstacles will help you raise the bar for yourself.
  11. Be a role model for courageously stepping up, out of your comfort zone. Seek a role model who would help you to do the same. 
  12. The fear-of-the-no and the fear-of-failure stop many from even asking and trying.
  13. The lack-of-an-expressed-wish means many don’t “cash-out” on the goodwill and positive intent due to them.
  14. Create and support an ecosystem of support within and outside your companies, and enlist that sponsorship and commitment from the top.
  15. Be patient and resilient. Take a ‘no’ as a ‘not-now’, a failure as a learning opportunity, a building block for success.
  16. Facilitate a culture of empowerment, a place where people are encouraged to speak up and contribute, to embrace diversity approaches and mind-sets, with alignment in thoughts, words and actions.
  17. There’s a difference between diversity (when you’re invited to the party) and inclusion (when you’re invited to dance). Move beyond thoughts and words and into actions and projects, to truly integrate diverse people and perspectives into outcomes.
  18. Connect with people who can help you influence outcomes. Executive sponsors, mentors, champions, advocates, partners, etc., are all part of ecosystems of stakeholders you can create and manage.

The bottom line is that influencing is about partnerships and collaboration, about working together toward a common goal, about creating a win-win which benefits all.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists!
Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO FountainBlue, CMO SignKloud
Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility, NVIDIA
Panelist Vijaya Kaza, SVP Engineering, FireEye
Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP, Head of Corporate Strategy, Flex
Panelist Eileen Sullivan, Vice President Project Management Governance, UXC Eclipse

A Convergence of Technologies

February 3, 2017 by

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FountainBlue’s February 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Convergence of Technologies and Solutions’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at TI and our executives in attendance.

This month’s roundtable executives represented a wide range of industries, roles, functions and company sizes. Below is a compilation of their ideas on the opportunities ahead, as technologies convergence across function and across industry.

Convergence may mean different things for different companies, but at its heart is the idea that we have the infrastructure to support the transference of technologies and solutions across solutions, across industries, across customers. Foundational to the convergence theme is the required infrastructure necessary to support it. This means everything must be in order: from the hardware and software needed to process information and create solutions, to the network needed to connect and communicate, to the policies and processes needed to support commerce, to the systems and solutions to support the delivery of services, and most importantly, the ability of the customer to pay for solutions, and companies to deliver to them what they need.

Each of our represented leaders and companies have solved aspects of these challenges and continue to push the envelope, not just for technology development, but also for the business processes and business model evolutions which would support the growth of the company. (See blog on ‘An Innovation Conversation‘.) There’s general agreement that convergence is happening across industries, across technologies, across companies, so our execs provided the collective advice below.

  • Encourage the transition of technologies across multiple use cases, as driven by the needs of the customer. 
  • Create a collaboration between technologists and sales engineers to partner with customers to design new solutions.
  • Create modules and solutions which make it easy for customers to leverage technologies and knowledge, and an easy way for them to communicate with staff and with each other as they design customized solutions.
  • Not all customers are created equal. Create self-service solutions which make it efficient and easy for most of your customers to help themselves, while providing additional and separate support for larger accounts.
  • Continue to focus on quality as you scale.
  • Invite the use of open source solutions and collaborations with trusted partners, creating an ecosystem that’s mutually beneficial.
  • Don’t let the management tool distract you from what needs to be done to best serve the customer.
  • Leverage modular open source solutions where it is practical. 

Below are some hot areas to watch.

  • Look for ways to bring the digital to the physical, cost-effectively bringing custom-fit solutions to eagerly awaiting customers who are well positioned to pay well for them.
  • Find ways to apply B-to-C businesses models and create B-to-B opportunities.
  • Balancing privacy, security and access will continue to be a challenge, find out how it’s also the opportunity.
  • Imagine how custom molds, CAD design, 3D printers, and small-scale manufacturing could create a growth opportunity.
  • Look at the diagnostic and screening opportunities both for disease management and optimal health. Consider also privacy issues around these solutions.
  • Consider moving from a traditional sales model to a SaaS model for standard businesses, much like what Michelin is doing with tire sales – selling by the mile rather than straight sale.
  • Robotics and drones and voice activation will be hot in most solutions created.
  • IoT will be everywhere. What needs to happen in order to standardize IoT solutions to meet privacy, security and access requirements? Who will lead the charge and what are the business opportunities as this will inevitably happen?
  • Blockchain and its ability to provide that audit trail will provide many business and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The bottom line is that convergence is already happening, and it opens up many opportunities ahead for those willing to embrace them.