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6 Ways The Digital Economy Is Reshaping The Future Of Work!

6 Ways The Digital Economy Is Reshaping The Future Of Work!

Hyperconnectivity has led us to a new era, in which the “knowledge worker” has come to an end and the “digital worker” now needs to step up and create instant value from a vast array of real-time data. As technology continues to increase computing power and data analysis speed to real time, today’s companies and employees are called to adapt to the reality of automated and instantly available data.

The speed of information and data is driving such significant change in how and where we work that the digital worker is becoming a critical resource in decision-making, learning, productivity, and overall business management. How we adapt to these changes when we learn, interact, motivate, engage, connect, and create value for ourselves and our society will make the difference between being successful and being left behind.

How everything we know about work is being redefined

The opportunity ahead is to allow the digital worker and the future of work to serve as a platform for innovation and business transformation – enabling higher levels of engagement, passion, creativity, and productivity. Here are 6 main areas where the future of work and digital workers are key to business success in the digital economy:

1. Leadership involves everyone

In a workplace marked by instability and decreasing security, leadership is increasingly focused on building cohesive and well-functioning teams by tapping into a demographically diverse pool of often short-term employees or contractors. As digital workers are mindfully incorporated into this continuously changing workplace, management must juggle a distributed workforce that requires real-time analysis, prognosis, and decision-making. At the same time, they must develop the next generation of leaders who will actively take responsibility for innovation and engagement.

2. Engagement and the ability to make an impact

While 38% of millennials in developed markets still aspire to become leaders within their organization, the opportunity to take on personally meaningful work drives productivity and success. In fact, 53% of millennials would work harder if their organization actively made a difference to others. Thanks to the rise of the digital worker, new levels of transparency, and the ability to instantly measure the outcome of assets, tactics, and strategies, Generation Z has the potential to realize personal goals and improve engagement across the board.

3. Benefiting from technology means being more human

The importance of real engagement is not limited to employees; it also applies to interactions with vendors, partners, and customers. The rise of the social enterprise is a great example of how companies are starting to use technology to enable collaboration with employees, partners, and vendors. All the while, these same businesses are incorporating customer feedback into a single platform to increase customer satisfaction, business insight, and employee retention.

4. Workplace simplicity drives productivity

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, 55% of executives believe that their organizational structure is extremely or very complex – even to the point where their profits are negatively impacted. Even more astonishing is the loss of 45 minutes of productive time per day for U.S. executives.

To reduce complexity and increase productivity, management must drive a culture of collaboration and clearly measurable outcomes. And if done properly, the reward is significant: 76% of executives cite that if they could cut complexity down by half, their company would be at least 11% more productive overall – a massive improvement that any company could use.

5. A new workforce in a new job market

Both millennials and Generation Z are facing a new environment where job security is a thing of the past. This high-risk reality, combined with the desire for more work/life flexibility and control as well as job satisfaction, has driven the freelance economy to new heights – soaring as high as 45% of the workforce by 2017.

Companies need to reconfigure and adjust their physical locations to adapt to an ever-changing, digital workforce that is engaged in multiple projects for potentially various employers, located anywhere in the world, and comfortable with a virtual work style. To answer the needs of this growing segment of workers, organizations must quickly ramp up employees on any given project, enable collaboration, and foster team spirit for very diverse teams.

6. Leading in the future means a new perspective on learning

With a much more distributed and highly contingent digital workforce, managerial requirements are finding new ways to create cohesive, innovative, and well-functioning teams. However, team building is not the only focus – it’s also about delivering a comprehensive approach to reducing complexity, leading by example, and training the next generation of managers to be true leaders in the digital economy. For employees and freelancers alike, the digital economy creates an opportunity for providing continuous learning that is more active and self-directed.

The future of work is the future of the enterprise

Because the rise of the digital worker dramatically impacts the way we work, learn, hire, retain, manage, and make decisions, the future of work is intrinsically linked to the future of the enterprise. It transforms the way we deal with customers, vendors, employees, partners, and competitors.

By connecting the four areas of digital disruption (workforce, suppliers, assets, and customers), the digital core becomes the platform for future business innovation. Fluid, nimble, real-time digital business – this is the future of work.

 

**Taken From SAP’s Digitalist Magazine, Authored by Michael Rander**


Why Feedback is Critical for Startup Success

Many startup businesses fail because their owners skip a critical step in development: talking to potential customers before opening the doors.

It should be an obvious, early task for entrepreneurs. Will people buy what you’re offering? If so, what will they pay? The answers may surprise you. But not getting customer feedback is a major mistake that can cost you a lot of time and money – and ultimately, your business.

Here’s an example of how valuable raw customer feedback can be. Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar, recently spoke to me about the birth of the car-sharing company. She wrote possible names on index cards and then handed them to people, without explaining anything about the business. All she would ask is, “What do these names suggest to you?” Chase quickly discovered several of her favorite candidates for the name only confused customers. Though the company offers car-sharing services, names with the word “share” in it were a turnoff.

Ash Maurya, the founder of the measurement-apps company Spark59, discusses effective customer research in the book Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works. There’s a right way and wrong way to do it. Here are a few tips on getting feedback effectively:

  • Skip the focus groups. Often, one person in the focus group has a strong opinion and hijacks the discussion, pressuring everyone to agree with him or her. So you’ve got 10 people in a room, but you end up with just one opinion.
  • Ditch the surveys. Conducting a survey can be problematic. Rather than pose questions and suggest answers, it’s better to let your customers tell you what’s important to them, Maurya says.
  • Watch the body language. The other problem with simply sending out surveys, Maurya says, is you don’t get to see how customers react to your idea. “Body language cues are as much an indicator of problem/solution fit as the answers themselves,” he says.

Is SAP Too Big for Small Business?

People working at casual office210,000 SAP SME Customers Can’t All Be Wrong.

Historically, much has been said and written about SAP being too big to care, too difficult to install and only appropriate for the largest companies. That was the mantra of its competitors’ in the past and was built upon the perception of SAP 20 years ago. Times change, however, and SAP changed with the times. It recognized that it could and would create great software for companies of ANY size. The company that was once the mainstay of mega-caps is now the preferred path to Running Better for over 210,000 SME companies. Those who are informed and knowledgeable now recognize that the phrase “SAP is too large” is antiquated.

Today, 80% of SAP’s customers are small and mid-size enterprises. Its platform was specifically designed to enable these businesses to adapt required technology to their specific business model. SAP recognized the need for speed and built full ERP platforms that can be installed and running in as little as a single day with the modular Business One solution, and 2 days to 2 weeks with other ERP solutions. In addition, the development team created a large menu of Rapid Deployment Solutions for specific requirements that can be available in as little as 9 days. Too long to deploy … I don’t think so.

SAP also recognized that it could leverage its unique global expertise to more effectively meet local business requirements. SME solutions now deliver products that deliver these valuable insights in 80 countries in 30 languages, Additionally, hundreds of applications from SAP partners around the world are also available to the most remote outposts such as Alice Springs, Australia to major cities in any region. SAP leveraged its knowledge and experience as the global software leader and specifically designed and built their SME solutions as only the #1 software provider in the world could. Living in the past is not an option at SAP. Leading their customers into the future is.

This future is obviously built around the Cloud and SAP has declared that it is and will continue to be the Cloud company based upon HANA. This statement is not to be taken lightly as it clearly spells out how SAP will continue to evolve. SAP has over 38 million Cloud users today. That is more than any other enterprise vendor. The SAP Business One Cloud on HANA solution includes that same functionality and available add-ons as their on-premises solution. This affordable alternative allows SMEs to free up capital for other uses and also delivers the added assurance that their data is protected in the most secure data centers. This real-time, in-memory platform is currently the operating system of choice for over 1,500 startups. They know that the choice of software at the beginning stages of their growth curve will affect their performance as they grow. That is why SAP was their obvious choice.

Today, when I hear someone trot out the old, stale “SAP is too big and unwieldy” claim, I look at the facts. Almost a quarter million SMEs choose SAP to run simpler and to run better. Installs occur in days or just a few weeks. Access to global expertise at the local level provides advantages only SAP can offer. Cloud-centric designs and implementation mean low cost alternatives and rapid time to use as a standard. It means that SMEs have a menu of choices that can be tailored to ANY size business. Why would they not look at SAP?

 By Bruce Mihok

This post originally appeared on the SAP Community Network website. The original post can be found here


Connections with Ashley: Mobility – The Next Frontier in Business

 

Car Speeding along Busy Bridge

Mobile Access to Business Applications Will Drive the Next Wave of User Adoption Increasing Customer Engagement, Satisfaction, and Loyalty with Mobility

According to a recent report by Forrester Research, only one-third of businesses have a clearly defined mobile strategy. However, the research also showed that 70% of firms will increase their mobile budget, with one in four companies doubling or tripling their mobile budget. Firms said they see mobility as a way to increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty – not as a way to generate direct revenues. Over half (52% of firms) see increasing customer engagement as their number one mobile goal.  So what is going to drive the adoption of mobile solutions in 2014 and beyond?

Research suggests that giving users access to business applications and business processes is the key area that will drive adoption of mobile devices in small and medium-size businesses – this is really where the next wave of adoption will be seen. Mobile e-mail and calendaring are currently the main uses of mobile devices, but once end users have access to their line of business applications, such as those from SAP, businesses will really begin to see a return on investment from equipping their people with Apple iPads and iPhones as well as other mobile devices from vendors such as Microsoft and RIM. Already users of the SAP® Business One application, the SAP application for small and midsize businesses, can have access to these solutions: SAP offers the mobile application for SAP Business One as a free download from the Apple App Store for professional users of SAP Business One. Access to workflow approvals, customer data, and inventory information, as well as rich graphical reporting from the SAP Crystal Reports® family of offerings, are all features of the new mobile application. When small and midsize organizations combine this access with the use of  mobile business intelligence tools from the SAP BusinessObjects™ portfolio, they can really begin to profit from these devices.

For more information about SAP Business One and the mobile application, please contact Ashley Harvey at Zerion360 | ashley.harvey@zerion360.com.


Connections with Ashley: How Technology is Changing Customer Service

Ashley Harvey | Marketing Manager | Zerion360

Technology has been making business processes across the board better connected and more efficient – customer service is no different. Tech trends have enabled businesses to become better connected to their employees, their products, and their customers. Better connectivity means better communication – which is vital in customer service.

Tech Influence #1: Speed and Ease of Accessibility to Information Your Team Needs: Customer service reps are now better equipped than ever to problem solve. With business management systems, cloud hosting, and a variety of other services – customer service reps are now able to have the information they need all stored in a central database. This allows them to easily search for any issues a customer might have, and also find the necessary information not only about the problem but also the correct steps to fix it. Having this information recorded and accessible also means you’ll more easily see customer service patterns that arise and be able to make necessary changes before there’s ever an issue to resolve.

Tech Influence #2: Better Connected to Your Customers: We’ve already discussed how social media has changed the customer service landscape in our previous blog, but that’s just one of the ways tech has us better connected to our customers. Live chats on websites, utilizing SMS and more are all viable customer service channels. The way consumers are using technology has changed and businesses should reflect these trends. Mobility is a big game changer – especially in customer service. Giving clients the ability to access mobile friendly sites or having an SMS service in place that allows them to fire of a text quickly to get in touch with your team are great ways to incorporate this into your customer service model. The point is technology has enabled our customers to feel better connected to us – if there’s a problem they can get in contact with someone quickly and via the most convenient channel to them.

Tech Influence #3: Customer Input: Tech has evolved the traditional roles of customer interaction. Companies are now harnessing co-creating with customers. This allows customers to be a part of the overall business process –  being able to provide feedback on products and services, sometimes even before they hit the market. Some companies are even creating online communities that allow customers and clients to directly participate with the decisions and success of products. Take for example product invention and design company, Quirky. They use web based social communities to create an environment where consumers can be actively a part of choosing products that will go into production and having a say about product aesthetics. Customer input doesn’t have to be this expansive – but creating a way for your customers to provide feedback and feel like they are a part of your brand community is a big part of customer service.

Technology has enabled us to meet our customer where they are, build better customer communities, and have better access to data and analytics. Like all interactions with our customers – technology has made it easier but we need to remember to make it human. At the heart of the tech revolution in customer service and the changing business landscape is still human interaction. Being genuine and a quick problem solver are and will remain key components to excellent customer service.


Connections With Ashley: Marketing Best Practices for the New Year

Ashley Harvey | Marketing Manager | Zerion360

One of the reasons I personally love the field of marketing is that it is ever changing. Especially for small business. Marketing in 2014 will continue to shift in response to big data, technology, and how consumers respond to content and branding. I’ve compiled a list of the key elements that I believe are going to be big players for marketing in the new year.

Content: Content marketing has moved into center stage over the last few years. The focus here is on producing relevant and enticing content to drive traffic and sales. When it comes to shopping for services or products – clients are doing most of the research themselves. Which means that the majority of the buying decision is already completed before most potential customers even speak to someone in sales. Producing engaging content that not only gives potential clients information, but also builds a conversation is key.

Big data:  Another buzzword in marketing – big data is shaping the way marketers target their audience. Utilizing big data allows companies to specifically target customers as well as improve the overall customer experience. Big data analytics are already worked into many programs from Google, Facebook, and more. Even your own sales transactions can be converted into usable data. Being able to gain insights into your target market, and being able to specifically reach out to them is a marketing game changer.

Focus on customer: Customer experience is everything. Really. In this digital age of being able to communicate without actually verbally speaking to anyone – consumers actually value the experience. In B2B marketing – more and more consumers place a high amount of weight on the trustworthiness and service aspect of a company. You want to make sure your marketing department is focused on building your brand in such a way that it tells stories and evokes certain feelings. What story is your brand telling right now? If you want to refocus your brand and make it more customer oriented, here are some tips: Ask people for their first impressions in regards to your brand and what it conveys to them. Stay away from overused jargon and superlatives – they make you appear superfluous and altogether not very stand-up. Focus on developing relationship and not just sales.

Don’t market to a wall: Your team can come up with creative and awesome marketing strategies – but they won’t work if no one is listening. You first need to define your target market. Get specific. Who are they, what do they do, what sector do they work in, what are their needs. Then define where they are – what events and conferences are they attending, what information and help are they seeking, what mediums are they reading (i.e. Business Journal). When you have a specific idea of who you are targeting, reaching out to them will get a whole lot easier. Making sure your marketing voice gets heard also applies to the network you already have in place. Marketing initiatives often will prove cumbersome unless you already have a network in place to stand on. You can be developing interesting and relevant content on your blog – but if you’re not getting readers or feedback, your blog is not adequately doing what it should be doing. Look at those closest in your network – invite them to join in on the conversation or see if they would be willing to share blog posts that they find interesting. Invite others via social media or when at events to join in the conversation as well.

 

There’s are some of my marketing best practices for 2014 – what marketing tactics will your company focus on this year?


Connections with Ashley

New Year Best Practices: Recruiting and Hiring New Employees

Ashley Harvey | Marketing Manager | Zerion360

One of the biggest regrets I’ve heard small and midsize business owners say that had from 2013 was not hiring additional work staff. Many business owners find themselves taking on most of the admin duties instead of focusing their attention on selling and growing the business. Hiring someone you can trust and depend on who also fits into the company culture can be a daunting task. So if this is a 2014 goal for you and your company – here are some tips for attracting the right person for the job.

  • Details, details, details: Take the time to create a detailed job description. In addition to the tasks that the employee will be responsible for be sure to also include details about your expectations, company culture and values, and what soft skills you’re looking for. Including notes about the company environment will give candidates a clue as to whether or not their personality and talents will fit in. Be sure to include other important details such as policies on flex time, dress code, etc. Being direct and giving as much detailed information as possible upfront will allow candidates to zero in on what is most important to you and be able to tell if they’re a good fit before they even come in for an interview. 
  • Reaching Out: Serious job hunters and professionals will most likely be utilizing corporate oriented social media such as LinkedIn as part of their job search. (And if they’re not – they should be). LinkedIn is an excellent place to start with your job posting. It gives potential employees the opportunity to connect with you and the company right away – and likewise allows you to connect and review their qualifications beforehand. Take advantage of your other social network sites and spread the word there as well. While your next hire might not be following your company on these sites – other trusted professionals, business partners, and friends are and could be excellent resources for referrals. Short on time? Listing your job with a local employment agency might be the way to go. They take care of all the initial screening for you and only pass along candidates who meet your specific qualifications.
  • Attracting top talent vs clients: There’s a lot of similarities here. No doubt job candidates will research you and your company. Make sure your website and other virtual representations of your company are up to date and adequately represent what you do, who you are, and company values.
  • After hiring: Be sure to share the overall company vision with all employees so that they feel a part of the team and give them the necessary tools and freedom to excel. These are key workplace attributes that employees look for and appreciate in a long term employer.

 

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you – please feel free to comment in the section below.


Connections With Ashley

From Start-Up to Thriving Business – How Innovation is Bridging the Gap

growth

 Ashley Harvey | Marketing Manager | Zerion360

The driving passion and goal of every new start-up is growth. To grow your business, your clients, your offerings, your influence in your community – whatever it may be, the bottom line is upward mobility is at the heart and soul of every enterprise. But as you find your business expanding, you may also find it harder to manage. Luckily, technology makes a great business partner – it brings with it a variety of means to help bridge that gap between just starting out and rapid growth that propels you and your business into the next phase. From analytics, tailored websites and applications, to business management software – here are just a few areas that technology and innovation can help support and sustain growth.

Accounting and Finances

If you’re experiencing a period of rapid growth, you’re also going to experience the struggle to manage it. Especially when it comes to managing your financials. Ideally, as a company grows, you’ll need a tool in place to track profit and expenses automatically and in real time. This not only ensures that your books are clean and up to date, but it also allows you to get a better idea of the health of the company. The latest innovations in ERP systems allow for streamlined processes that connect departments and track transactions as they’re happening. For instance, a customer order will automatically be sent to the warehouse, which after packing the order, will send it off to be shipped, and trigger the sale to be invoiced and automatically be deducted from inventory – all this without having to re-enter data across multiple channels.

Better Manage Employees and Tasks

As start-ups begin, they usually are comprised of one or a couple people calling the shots and running the show. As you begin to grow and expand and hire more employees, there comes a need to delegate more work and responsibilities. But being in small business means there’s not much time for you to take your foot off the gas pedal – and assigning tasks shouldn’t put a drain on this valuable commodity. The answer – utilize technology that allows you to automatically set up tasks and allow people to have access to the needed information. This process is achievable in many mediums. Take for instance customer relationship management site Highrise (highrisehq.com) – as you update information about customers and prospects you can allow specific or all employees to have access to client and project notes. One of the features we like best is the ability to assign specific tasks to employees. Need someone in sales to setup a demo? Or an invoice to go out? Assigned tasks go directly to the noted person’s email – meaning things get done quickly and more efficiently, without the hassle of micromanaging.

The shortcoming of utilizing websites and applications versus ERP to manage certain aspects of your business is just that – they keep aspects such as sales, customer relationship management, accounting, etc separate from one another instead of integrating all of the company processes in one place.

Marketing

There is no doubt about it that the game of marketing is changing. More and more marketers are focusing their efforts on inbound versus outbound marketing which translates into building up a community from the inside out versus just sending out information and deals and hoping a prospective client picks up on it. Driving traffic to your business is pivotal to this marketing strategy. Many sites now have built in analytics to better track traffic and understand what content is drawing people in. It would be foolish not to take advantage of these free tools – they’re built into pretty much all social media sites, i.e. Facebook and LinkedIn. Your website and campaign micro-sites are also easily tracked. Email marketing sites also manage useful information such as who’s opening and clicking through your emails. These analytics are extremely powerful – they enable marketers to see what efforts are working and allow them to better build up a network and community around their brand.

 

We’d love to hear your opinion and experience – feel free to connect with us by leaving a comment below.


Five Ways You Can Put Your Customers First

Competition is tougher than ever, due in large part to higher customer expectations. After two years of difficult economic conditions—which have left an enduring impression—every dollar you earn will require greater effort and responsiveness. Customers expect as much value as possible for every dollar they part with. Your ability to gain an edge in the market will depend on how well you can connect with your customers and maintain their loyalty. The stakes are high. For small and mid-sized businesses, long without sufficient CRM capabilities to compete against larger companies, there are resources you can use to succeed. With SAP, you can implement the CRM features you need to protect your customer base and attain profitable growth. This starts with putting your customer first, and here are five ways you can accomplish that: 1. Identify opportunities: customer demand isn’t always obvious. Use your SAP CRM solution to identify cross-sell, up-sell, and upgrade opportunities. 2. Manage your pipeline: don’t let leads fall through the cracks. Increase responsiveness through better tracking and information management, and you’ll ensure that you have the most productive conversations with existing and potential customers. 3. Monitor service levels: look for trends and isolated incidents that could lead to bigger problems down the road and remedy them in advance. Take early action to keep your customers happy and protect your company’s brand. 4. Keep it all in one place: use centrally stored information and functionality to ensure that data is always accessible. Monitor employee performance, spot check business units, and identify opportunities for improved service or additional sales. 5. Get answers fast: use your SAP CRM solution to as a knowledge resource. Your customer care team can search for solutions to customer problems, remedying problems directly and quickly. A happy customer keeps coming back.