Archive for the ‘VIP’ Category

M&A Best Practices

December 1, 2017

Mergers

FountainBlue’s December 1 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘M&A Best Practices’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Intel.

Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives in attendance emphasized several times the importance of leadership and transparent communication, especially when companies and teams are undergoing great change. Below is some advice to support a successful M&A experience.

  • It helps to have an experienced team representing the acquiring company, with exceptional communication and listening skills.
  • Escalations and conflicts will happen, but if you work with a proven playbook, if you’re open about processes and procedures and cultural expectations, it increases the likelihood of success.
  • Knowing the reason for the merger and acquisition in the context of the larger market trends will greatly impact its acceptance from within the company and also externally.
  • Marketing and operations and IT all have roles in ensuring a smooth integration. Inspirational and authentic communication of intentions and progress will go a long way in growing the trust factor, which helps everyone involved better perform despite ambiguities.
  • Empowering those in charge to take risks and make things happen during an integration is a key strategy for helping two parties get better connected. 
  • Cut back in areas you need to as you integrate, but also make sure that you invest back in strategic, key initiatives.

Below is advice for start-ups who are seeking to be bought out by big corporations.

  • Be big enough in size and stable enough in technology before you seek an acquisition. Consider also corporate investment opportunities even while you’re small.
  • If you’re not ready for an acquisition, consider partner with an existing partner of the targeted acquiring company.
  • Understand the larger market trends and technology needs and see where your solution might fit into these needs, and which companies might have an interest in your technology.
  • Be ready for a culture shock going from start-up mode to corporate, which is by nature more slow-moving and process-driven.

In the end, start-ups are known for innovating, but not scaling. Larger companies are known for scaling and systematic processes, but not necessarily R&D. A successful marriage between the two would help all parties better deliver to customers, and better meet market needs in general.

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In Search of Unicorns

November 3, 2017

FlyingUnicorn

FountainBlue’s November 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘In Search Unicorns’. Thank you to this month’s participating executives and to our gracious hosts at Western Digital. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives this month had extensive experience with both large companies and with start-ups and even investment/corporate development experience. They had the following advice regarding the search for unicorns.

  • No matter where you are in the start-up-to-enterprise spectrum, remember that:
    • Companies big and small are challenged with integrating new technologies and solutions into their offerings in order to stay relevant to their customers and keep up with market demands.
    • Leaders from start-ups and companies need to balance their desire to manage innovation from within or create innovation at start-ups and get integrated into the enterprises. 
  • Work efficiently and effectively, within the environment, culture and ecosystem you’re in. 
  • The flexibility and excitement of a start-up might be better than the stability and resources of a corporation and vice versa, depending on your current objectives and perspective. Choose the best option for yourself and be open to re-evaluating your selection.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for creating, nurturing and growing technologies and ideas organically from within a company, and also strategically identifying and integrating start-ups worthy of acquisition.
  • Find adjacent technologies and markets for current solutions so that you can expand into new areas.
  • Create and manage an ecosystem of partners to support development and business expansion goals.
  • Keep passion and innovation alive, even when a company gets big and processes slow down how quickly things can get done.
  • Watch how the Terrible 5 (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, FaceBook) are impacting other companies in your space and respond accordingly.
  • Ensure a culture fit with potential acquirees to increase the likelihood of a successful integration.
  • The hiring of quality technical people will challenge the growth trajectory of companies big and small.
  • Focus first on the trend, then on the people who can create a solution to address that trend, and then on the idea.
  • When creating a new solution in the same market, having the same clan of co-founders makes sense. When creating a new sector and market, recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and help the team work together.

Here are some hot new areas to watch for:

  • Machine Learning and AI solutions which automate reporting and processes
  • Technologies and solutions around self driving cars 
  • Fitness and health-tech solutions for the consumer, but perhaps paid for by insurers, companies, even the government
  • Hardware and software solutions which leverage open source modules
  • Aggregating, managing, organizing, searching, storing huge volumes of digital content
  • Practical wearables which are also disposable
  • Device/IoT security and management
  • Edge computing as the evolution of embedded computing
  • Block chain use cases in finance, healthcare, transportation etc
  • Integrated services and solution will be more prevalent than individual devices/units/sales

The bottom line is the unicorns are not born overnight. There are plenty of technologies and leaders who have the potential to become those billion-dollar-unicorns. Actually achieving that unicorn status will take collaborative, systematic execution on plans extended periods of time, riding market waves and serving customers over five to seven years.

Collaborative Innovation

October 6, 2017

Collaboration

FountainBlue’s October 6 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Innovation Collaborations’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Techlab Innovation Center and 888 Steps, who provided on-site support and helped lead the interactive discussion.

Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

‘Innovation’ comes from many surprising backgrounds, roles, faces and places. Below are some best practices to facilitate and encourage that openness to innovation for your team and company:

  • Begin with the end in mind, and persevere to gain measurable returns, despite the obstacles.
  • Create collaborative solutions to complex problems which would benefit all parties. Measure outcomes, communicate wins, and engage larger ecosystems of partners and people.
  • Have a curious, humble mindset and be eager to learn from those not-like-you. With that said, make sure that the technology and strategy is validated by the data before adopting.
  • Be customer focused. Innovation won’t mean anything if it’s not solving something of interest to the customer.
  • Build traction and credibility by enlisting the support of partners and customers. The ‘fre-nemies’ mindset should be focused on win-win results, and repeatable processes, and based on clear and transparent communication. 
  • Choose a range of professional experiences – between roles, between companies, between industries. It will help you be more inter-disciplinary and connect the dots.
  • Be clear on the type of innovation you’re working on. It’s not always just about the technology innovation. Process, business model, operational, communication and other efficiency upgrades can also lead to great results.
  • In this global world, you must work with companies and leaders from other cultures. Knowing tendencies of others will help people, products, teams and companies to succeed.
  • Established companies must embrace new technologies to stay relevant and current. In turn, emerging technology companies must understand the processes, people and operational challenges which stymie the adoption of new technologies for established companies. 
  • Recruit and train people who work hard, produce results, AND are open to change. Four free ways to encourage team members to get training for new technologies and processes include: 1) talk about the new materials, 2) explain why learning new materials need to happen, 3) organize and index the training materials and 4) highlight successes. 

Below are predictions for some innovation opportunities ahead.

  • Open source solutions will be a big part of innovations of the future. Services behind the open source solutions will be where the money is.
  • Security and cryptographic solutions will be integrated into all solutions.
  • Practical IoT use cases will be adopted by companies looking for the next level of automation and efficiency, provided they are convinced of measurable and early ROI.
  • Blockchain solutions and the decentralized-network thinking behind them will start a new paradigm for innovation. The challenge now is to develop practical, easily-implemented applications for blockchain in many industries, from healthcare to finance to banking.
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics will be integral to most solutions. We need the data in order for the automated programs to run.

Innovation is occurring at an increasing pace, making it difficult to adopt. It will continue to take experienced, open-minded leaders connecting in transparent conversations and projects to facilitate collaborative innovation across teams, companies and industries. 

Age of the Customer

September 15, 2017

CustomerFountainBlue’s September 15 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Age of the Customer’! Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Polycom, who provided on-site support and helped lead the interactive discussion.

Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how to lead and thrive in the Age of the Customer. 

Change is impacting leaders and companies across geographies, across industries, across roles. Technology is keeping up with the changes, and even helping facilitate the changes. Customers are becoming even more verbose, more demanding, more specific, and more diverse. In general, they are seeking:

  • An easy, simple, consistent and intuitive interface so they can perform the customized tasks that are most useful to them;
  • Background information and context for new offerings and how they compare to other offerings, and how they would improve how THEIR customers are supported; and
  • Real-time, relevant, ongoing data/information/solutions which provide clear value.

In response to the changing needs of the market and customers, our executives have the following advice.

  • Embrace market-driven innovations. There’s much less tolerance for technologies in search of a customer. If you conclude that a product is missing something AFTER it’s been built, it might be easier to make the product changes rather than to change the minds of the customers!
  • Be ever listening to what customers say AND what they mean. Remember also that the most active/profitable customers are the most important ones and pay close attention to their current and anticipated needs.
  • An acquisition-and-integration strategy can help companies strategically pivot to a more customer-driven offering. When undergoing an M&A, don’t get so distracted by the internal organization that you lose focus on the customer opportunity, the customer experience.
  • Have a clear understanding of current and prospective customers and the segments, niches, and opportunities they represent. Empower these customers to partner with you to serve their current and anticipated needs.
  • Measure and report on results, but don’t focus so much on the data that you’re reporting on the wrong metrics, or making conclusions which don’t make sense. 
  • Filter so that you can tailor messages to audiences, but don’t filter so much that your funnel gets too narrow as you will miss many prospects.
  • Whether you’re a growing start-up or a corporate running a business unit, ask yourself strategic questions about the growth opportunity ahead – what are the trends, why are customers buying, what needs are you serving, how large is the market, etc. Your success will depend on whether you can continually serve the needs of those customers, so you must continually ask yourself these questions.
  • Often there is a complex ecosystem around a solution, so there are many stakeholders playing multiple roles. For example, in healthcare, the ‘customer’ might be a patient, an insurer, a hospital, a pharmaceutical company, a caregiver, a government agency, a nonprofit, a hospital, and/or any combination of the above at any given time. Serving each customer throughout the process is critical to the success of a company and its offering. 
  • While we are all forced to go broad with our communication, with our technology understanding, with our offerings, we are also asked to go deep and be specialists where appropriate. It’s a rare individual who can do both at the same time, but including people who can do both sides each a critical success factor.

Below are thoughts on some hot opportunities ahead, given our focus on customers.

  • If we focus on minimizing the churn which comes from product/technology updating, what are the opportunities ahead for platform and service offerings?
  • Your strategy should focus on where the data is – the platform rather than the hardware, the AI rather than the cloud.
  • Look not just at existing and growing markets, but also at the adjacent markets.
  • Every technologist has a different background, and every company has different processes, technologies, and preferences. There’s a huge opportunity for rapidly integrating tech professionals into tech companies.
  • Beware of hyper-segmenting yourself, doing so much filtering of ideas and information and people that you’re not exposed to other ideas, other ways of doing things. Indeed, these diverse ways of thinking and doing things are the heart of innovation.
  • Offer frictionless engagement and participation which is easily personalized. 
  • Make it easy for users to regularly engage – which would mean recurring revenues and corporate stability.
  • Look for opportunities for the digital leveraging the cloud, ML, AI, databases, etc., while also addressing the physical realm with the IoT, 3D printing, custom-designed products, etc.

In this Age of the Customer, leaders and companies must do things differently. 

  • We must be more strategic, so that we can understand and deliver to the needs of the customer. 
  • We must be more collaborative, working with partners across the ecosystem and with customers to deliver real-time information, personalized products and solutions, and more. 
  • We must be more inclusive, so that every perspective, every voice can be considered in planning and delivering to customers.

Balancing Privacy, Security and Access

August 4, 2017

PrivacySecurity

FountainBlue’s July 28 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Balancing Privacy, Security and Access’. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks. Below are notes from the conversation.

As a responsible customer, government official, executive, vendor, partner, consumer, parent, citizen, we must continually look at balancing the need for convenience and access with the need to remain secure and compliant, the need to get things done efficiently and the need to protect against malicious and unintended negative consequences.

It becomes increasingly more important to do so as technology is enabling more people access to more solutions, devices and technologies. With the increasing occurrence of alarming security breaches and astounding examples of privacy breaches, governments are implementing policy updates to protect its citizens, corporations are implementing mandates and requirements, and partners and customers, and professionals and consumers are left wondering how to proactively manage their data, their devices, their security.

It’s a fact that leaders in companies and governments and households have a larger view of the impact should there be breaches in security and privacy. However, should mandates, policies, devices and other limitations on usage and access become too inconvenient for those under management, they may be less cooperative, less complicit as their focus is more on getting something done, and not necessarily on what the implications are should a risk actually be realized.

It’s clear that companies are required to track, manage and enforce regulations and policies, but it’s also clear that they must proactively secure themselves and their staff and proactively communicate about any compromising hacks. Companies are also required to track staff information, but also be able to report information which is to be retained by the company even after her/his departure. It’s also incumbent upon the staff member to ensure that private information remains private – not on company cloud or e-mail for example.

The trick is to align all the stakeholders to agree on the larger goal – to get things done while minimizing associated risks around security breaches. It takes a combination of mandates and policies and cooperation between all parties to successfully and proactively manage that balance. 

Equally important is the ability to provide the customer what they need, and even anticipating their need, while also complying with the privacy and security requirements of the companies and the governments involved.

There’s a clear up-side to collecting data – products and services would be more customized to personal needs and preferences. It’s great when that happens as it saves people time, but there’s also a nagging ‘big brother’ feeling if the predictions are intrusive, if they are wrong, if they force customers to do something they didn’t sign up for…

Change is happening quickly, and many are weighing in to influence policies and directions are there are business, political and social implications. For example, many eyes are on the EU and the May 2018 decision for the GDPR, even for those who aren’t European residents/EU members. 

I’ll conclude with a comparison mapping this balancing act with driving. 

  • Within the US, drivers know what the speed limits are, how to drive, which side of the road to drive on, how to obey signs and signals. Although accidents and problems happen, it generally works.
    • But cars are able to go much faster than the speed limit, and drivers can generally do so without negative consequence unless there’s a ticket or an accident. Similarly, staff members may know that they shouldn’t keep private information on the company cloud, and many may do so without negative consequence, unless there’s a privacy breach.
    • Traffic rules and protocols vary outside the country and even between cities. Similarly, security and privacy policies vary across companies and countries.
  • The rules and protocols are much more clear, more accepted, more established, more supported through documentation, etc., But the rules around balancing privacy, security and access are not at all clear in many circumstances. Thus we are all feeling our way through the many variables, trying to align all the motivations involved for all the players.

It’s a complex time with many factors and many leaders and companies weighing in as this balance impacts our daily work and home lives. 

Stretching the Technology and Business Envelope

July 28, 2017

Revenue-Generation.png

FountainBlue’s July 28 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Stretching the Technology and Business Envelope’! Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments, who on-site support and joined in the interactive discussion. Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts for stretching the Technology and Business Envelope.  

Be Strategic

  • Have a core strength and value-add and build on that strength.
  • Strategically target markets and leaders with specific needs you can address.
  • Understand how your offering stands out from the competition. 
  • Strategize on which markets to approach and how you can build momentum.

Operationalize for Success.

  • Create an infrastructure and platform and partner with clients to launch products and services.
  • Identify the pain and provide reports with dashboards of information the customer defines as important.
  • Identify the earliest root causes for a known problem and notify stakeholders when these scenarios occur.
  • Understand the policies and mandates and their implications for your target industries and customers.

Support Innovation and Creativity.

  • Balance structure and requirements which sets the direction with flexibility and fluidity to welcome creativity and innovation.
  • Design opportunities to innovate from within, using corporate funding and resources and channels and incorporating entrepreneurial teams and ideas.

It All Comes Down to Leadership.

  • Invest in the seasoned leaders who can deliver the software requirements and the hardware needs.
  • Be creative, persistent, courageous, while also being prepared and strategic.

Facilitating Hyper-Growth

June 5, 2017

Concept of increasing sales from mobile online shopping

FountainBlue’s June 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Facilitating Hypergrowth’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Intel, who on-site support and joined in the interactive discussion, and to this month’s participating executives.

Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how we to facilitate hypergrowth from the people, process and technology perspectives. 

It’s always about the people. 

 

  • Create a company with a purpose and a culture of empowered leaders who are taking specific measures to achieve those goals. 
  • Look for people who are talented technically, yet also passionate about learning and making a difference. They must be challenged in a way that’s meaningful for them, stretching their thinking and their impact and their network and connections.
  • Invite initiative and input, and reward those who go the extra mile, and volunteer to participate in new and meaningful ways.
  • Look for, nurture and recruit those who are customer-centric.
  • Create an ecosystem of people and leaders from within and outside an organization, focused on a common goal and purpose.

 

Embrace a process that supports rapid growth.

  • Decide which processes help your business unit respond efficiently and effectively as defined by specific measurements. Replicate these processes elsewhere.
  • Adopt the SMURF perspective – process solutions which are Scalable, Maintainable, Usable, Reliable, Functional and Secure.
  • Decompose the processes into modules. Decide which modules should be automated and which ones should be individually customized. Design solutions integrating these modules.
  • Review and update your processes regularly to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

Adopt and Create Technologies in Demand

  • Keep an eye on the market, business and technology trends and design solutions based on those trends.
  • Hot areas for hypergrowth include IoT, Blockchain, Workflow solutions on the cloud, Security and privacy solutions for the enterprise, Software-enabled virtualization, Software-enabled networks, AI, AR/VR, Edge Networks, and unstructured data management

Below is a compilation of best practices for facilitating hypergrowth.

  • Dare to have an audacious vision for the future.
  • Enlist others to follow.
  • Embrace the thoughts and perspectives of people who don’t think-like-you, for she/he will represent a valid perspective as well.
  • Visualize the impact you can provide. Choose leaders who can help you visualize that impact. Communicate that impact in a way which would engage and enlist others.
  • Be specific on what you’d like to do, and versatile on how it could get done.
  • Act like the-little-engine-that-could, despite impressive opposition and incredible odds.
  • Lead the transformation to a digital solution, a digital culture… or risk being left behind.
  • Not everyone can get from here to there. Focus on those who will lead pivots, or are at least open to a pivot when necessary.

The bottom line is that it takes visionary leadership, exceptional execution, and continuous communication to ensure sustained hyper-growth. Select a company and a team that is poised for that hyper-growth, and contribute to the people, process and technology choices which would nurture and sustain that growth.

Being Human in an Age That’s Digital

May 8, 2017

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.

IT Trends and Predictions

April 12, 2017
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.

Collaboration Best Practices

March 6, 2017

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.