Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Is the reason for change about technology or more engagement in your mission?

May 26, 2013 1 comment

We all know it. We all hear it. Leadership loves to talk about change. Employees love to ignore it. Talk is very cheap. If we are honest however, we all know it is true. Change is inevitable. The real question is what we will do about it. Will we lead it or will we be a victim?

The biggest challenge is knowing the right time to change. Often, by the time we realize we need to change, the moment has passed us by. The worst possible scenario is that others’ realize it before us and beat us to the punch. Rather than being strategic, we are impulsive and reactionary. Our perceived nonprofit competitor builds a website that does X and we have to do it to. Why? Maybe they have just wasted a ton of money. Mimicking others is not a strategy.

Are you inspired by technology or overwhelmed? Are you keeping up with technology or are you getting left behind? Have you see what a three-year-old can do with an iPhone? Does that intimidate you? This is all very disruptive. You know it and your constituents know it. The difference is that our constituents are embracing it.

As a nonprofit, is someone else about to displace you in the marketplace? Are you staying up with the pace of change with technology or are you about to get left behind? Do you have strategies, systems, processes, and protocols in place that will recognize that this is disruption? We need to assess opportunity, and we will need to facilitate the testing of Ideas? Is this your job? How much time and resources that you control are you devoting to it quarterly?

These are very serious questions. They need to be answered now. From the point of view of your mission, is this a case of only the strongest surviving? What will happen if the pace of change is so fast that your constituents adapt and change before you can? This is the reality we all need to face. We all know the role that technology plays in our personal lives. Do our digital properties at work match up to our personal experiences?

This might be a time for humility. Is the economy really our problem? If your nonprofit did well before the downturn of 2009 during bad economic times, why didn’t they do well during the downturn turn of 2009?

All nonprofits are facing disruption. Have you been displaced in the marketplace and simply don’t know it yet? There are nonprofits who are thriving and growing.

In the for-profit world, this is clear. Over 40% of the companies that were at the top of the Fortune 500, in 2000 were no longer there in 2010. Who are some of the top nonprofits today that weren’t on the list 10 or 20 years ago? I talked with a nonprofit leader recently that illustrates this perfectly I think. They probably aren’t on anybody’s list of top nonprofits. They are a $5 billion dollar international nonprofit. They are a single corporation with no separately incorporate chapters. They have a laser focus on the digital world. Their marketing is absolutely unified. Why doesn’t anyone know about them as a leader in the nonprofit space?

So as a nonprofit, you have established a presence on Facebook and Twitter. And so? Is the constituent experience and relationship any better than it was before? Perhaps so or perhaps not. Do you know?

This may be about survival. It could take more than a presence in new channels to improve the overall experience and relationship with those who can support us the best. It may take more courage than you think. It will certainly take more persistence to break through the resistance. In the end, it could be about how you work with your leaders and we’re back to you about how you personally lead.

Are you leading a movement towards empowered and constituent – centric culture? Are you setting in motion real business transformation?

You have a special path you can follow. You can set in motion the change that opens the door to an improved experience both inside and outside your nonprofit. You can lead the change you need your nonprofit to experience!

Relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is

May 17, 2013 3 comments

The constituent journey is evolving (albeit very, very fast). That shouldn’t surprise you but it is good news. You haven’t been left behind completely. Your constituents are changing though. Their experience of you and your mission may not be what any of us would want. In this case, relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is. Passion for the mission is contingent on amazing experiences.

How you personally decide to react or lead is up to you. It, of course, is not about technology. What is the journey of getting closer to constituents and staying relevant really about? Here are some ideas:

  • Creating a culture built around the constituent and their experience being the focus of all you do.
  • Empowering employees to do what it takes to create amazing experiences.
  • Opening up the floodgates of innovation.

Saying we want to get closer to constituent won’t get senior management on board. While a constituent revolution is at the C-Suite doors, someone (meaning you) needs to convince the top that change is imperative. Without that we will fail.

You know that most executives don’t use social networks personally. While they have smartphones the primarily utilization is for email and looking at the calendar to know where to go to next. The reality is that most won’t read this. Trying to make a case that this is about technology will be a losing battle.

What is the future of nonprofits built on? It isn’t about how Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, tablets or real time-time geolocation check-ins evolve. The future of nonprofits does depend on relevance and the ability to at least understand technology to be able to make decisions about new opportunities. It does require the ability to strategically adapt to the new opportunities to create a competitive advantage.

So much of this is about change. There is a technology revolution occurring. Other nonprofits (and for-profits that you compete with) understand this. But it is also about a whole series of real-world revolutions that are seizing how our constituents live which impacts their experience with us. Expectations are moving fast. We can’t afford to get left behind. The kind of change we are talking about involves three things:

  1. Listening
  2. Learning
  3. Adapting

What is CoIT and why is it important to the nonprofit C-Suite?

IT budgets are down 5%, yet tech spending is up 18 to 20%. Why? Consumerization of IT (CoIT) enables the business side to take charge of technology decisions. With business seeking solutions that are simple, scalable, and sexy, line of business leaders who make technology decisions also must consider safety, security, and sustainability of those technology decisions.

CoIT and the new C-suite looks into the policies, technologies, and collaboration frameworks required to support the speed of business and the scalability of IT. LEAN and agile process methodologies are talking hold. It is essentially a fasten your seat belt time for nonprofit executives.

As technology democratizes across the organization, how will your nonprofit prepare for a world where consumer technologies may be more powerful than those in the enterprise? How will you harness the innovation without suffering from an external disruptive force? Join Business Technology Partner as we take the journey in consumerization and the impact on the new nonprofit C-suite.

Will you transform the culture?

Many IT departments are still reeling from the “slam it in and fix it on the fly” approach that was required by the rush to automate all core business processes (late 1990s & early 2000s). A reactive, crisis-driven and internally focused ‘systems management’ culture evolved as a result, such culture becomes barrier for IT to reach higher level maturity.

From “Heroic effort” to “Collaboration Effect”: IT department-wide culture is maintained by a ‘Heroic effort’ reward system, a value system that is proving to be nearly intractable. Along with the Hero mentality, expertise silo evolved a non-collaborative, finger-pointing culture that renders truly effective SLAs impossible to measure & enforce. A fundamental change in the heroic effort rewards culture is required to put an end to the reactive, crisis-driven and technology systems focused role for the IT department, and shift to business-driven, collaborative IT mentality because the business requirements for technology management have changed. The rapid push for offering ‘cloud-based’ services and the need to retool IT to centrally manage these, is certainly a perfect opportunity to rethink the role of IT and make a cogent case for a service-level driven rewards and recognition culture

The transformation journey must start with the CIO. However, very few CIOs are willing to step away from the existing IT management paradigm and hero-based rewards culture to adopt a new role as a culture change transformation sponsor. This has not been a required leadership skill-set for the CIO role to date. It is a dramatic change in skills, priorities and rewards tactics. Can veteran CIOs who came up the ranks accept this need for a dramatic change in IT culture? Will they have the required skill set to sponsor such a change? Do they have the charisma to achieve buy-in from the current IT staff. Or will it take a crisis? CIOs must drive the elimination of the heroic effort reward culture. This is the principal challenge for current “up through the ranks” CIOs. Recognizing the need for this fundamental change has not been easy for most veteran CIOs.

Be Change Agent to retool Organizational Culture: Culture is perhaps the most invisible, but powerful fabric surrounding organization, the toxic culture like water, which can sink the enterprise ship, IT is also at unique position to well align people, process and the latest technology to empower talent, enforce communication, enhance governance, and enable cross-functional collaboration, to retool organizational culture for achieving high business performance potential.


When it comes to the cloud, there is a huge gap between the business and the CIO

January 26, 2013 Leave a comment

A recent survey on cloud adoption presents an interesting view of the perception gap between IT and business executives. Although the survey focuses on issues such as on-premise upgrades and availability of technical resources, the best stuff is buried in a single graphic.

Enterprise performance management vendor Host Analytics sponsored a survey (PDF download), by Dimensional Research, that describes certain drivers of cloud adoption.

According to the survey, the cloud alternative delivered better value–business: 80 percent; CIOs: 53 percent. Although the phrase “better value” is vague, most likely business people interpret this to mean “less expensive“. This makes sense because many business folks see cloud as a means to bypass IT and purchase computing at lower cost. On the other hand, the data indicates that CIOs recognize that software alone is only part of the overall cost equation for enterprise technology

The survey highlights several important points for CIOs to consider, including:

Business buyers don’t care about your IT agenda: As CIO, your technology focus includes a broad range of considerations that are of little direct interest to business executives. Most business folks don’t care about your infrastructure, staffing, and efficiency concerns. They want feature rich applications that meet their specific needs. And, they want those apps cheap.

Business buyers have a tactical view of technology procurement: Their concerns focus narrowly on solving specific problems, perhaps without a long-term or strategic view of technology. The clear implication: address their specific needs without adding your back office constraints heavily to the mix. Find a way to handle your own constraints without binding users into solutions that do not accomplish their goals.

Users need education on strategic cloud benefits: Based on the survey, we can conclude that users do not understand that cloud benefits go far beyond lower cost. Both IT departments and software vendors must do a better job educating users on the innovation and business process benefits of the cloud. And, dear CIO, I must delicately note that your staff may also need additional education in this area.

Guest Blog: Vinay Bhagat – The Birth of TrustRadius

December 5, 2012 5 comments

TrustRadius is a business social network that helps professionals make make smarter enterprise technology decisions through sharing insights.These are Vinay Bhagat’s thoughts on the state of the industry, their favorite technologies and life at a start-up company.

The Birth of TrustRadius — Guest Blog by Vinay Bhagat, CEO TrustRadiusVinay Bhagat - Convio Founder

In 1999, I founded a SAAS – “software as a service” – company called Convio. Over the next decade, we scaled the company, went public in 2010, and were subsequently acquired in May 2012 for $325m. During that time, I realized:

It’s really hard to get reliable information on enterprise technology

As our company grew from a 2 person start-up to a 450 person company, we bought many enterprise systems. Tapping our personal network for insights on systems was a good start but had limitations. It was often difficult to find people who had used the same system in a similar context. Trusting vendors’ sales representatives also proved problematic. In one instance, we bought an expensive HR system, only to find that key features promised by the sales representative did not work as required, rendering the product useless in our context. The poor implementation and customer service experience also never surfaced in interviews with vendor supplied customer references. Coincidentally, this HR product was rated highly by a leading technology analyst because of the vendor’s strong market presence.

Vendors must embrace transparency

A common practice in the enterprise software industry is to “spin” a presentation to highlight a product’s best features and avoid disclosing its weaknesses. Demonstrations are framed to make products seem easier to use than they truly are. Questions about capabilities and features generally receive an unqualified “yes” versus a more truthful “it depends”. Vendor supplied customer references are only offered up late in the sales cycle and are frequently carefully prepped to say the right things. The world is however changing as more and more software is sold as “a service”, and a company’s reputation can spread rapidly through social media. As a “SAAS” or software as a service business, fees are not paid up front, but rather earned over time. If a sales representative ‘over sells’ your product, it comes back to haunt the vendor in the form of customer churn, poor profitability, and negative references – all of which can significantly curb growth. As the founder of a SAAS company, I strived to be candid about our product’s strengths and weaknesses, sometimes to the chagrin of some of our sales reps. Embracing transparency served us well, allowing us to establish a mostly positive reputation within our sector.

If a pizza joint gets 1000 reviews, why shouldn’t an enterprise product have some?

Many pundits talk about the “consumerization of the enterprise”. While it often refers to the use of social media or mobile devices in the enterprise, I believe it’s really more a shift towards consumer like experiences within the enterprise, coupled with business users driving the adoption of technology. As consumers, most of us rely heavily on peer reviews for many of the decisions we make – which restaurant to eat at, which movie to see, which hotel to stay at, which appliance to buy, which home contractor to hire. In my home town of Austin, one of the more popular pizza joints has over 1000 reviews. Yet, equivalent peer reviews are generally not available to aid critical business decisions like selecting enterprise technology.

I am not alone in these beliefs

Armed with these realizations, I started to talk to IT and business professionals about their software purchase and usage experiences. I learned that my experiences as a buyer of technology were not unique. I heard a strong desire for pragmatic insights from peers. Many software vendors also share my viewpoint that embracing transparency is the best long-run business strategy and frankly inevitable. From these insights, TrustRadius was born.

Crossing the Innovation Chasm. Does CIO stand for Chief Innovation Officer?

December 3, 2012 1 comment

Why does the Innovation Chasm exist? As a CIO, you have been charged with protecting your organization’s valuable assets, and with providing a reliable and stable infrastructure. As a result, you have become the “CI-No”:

  • “No, we can’t buy that application you saw in an airplane magazine.”
  • “No, we can’t have a new Web site built in two weeks.”
  • “No, we can’t do that because it will expose our customer data.”

You could be the CI-No because you were the only game in town: if the business wanted access to technology, they had to come through you. That’s not the case anymore. One of the byproducts of the perfect storm is that the business can now access technology directly from the Cloud without your involvement, and without your knowledge. It happens in companies of all sizes, in every industry, regardless of your IT or security stance. When business has access to that technology, it widens the chasm.

IT has to up its game, and smart CIOs are on a path to help the business use technology to innovate both what they do and how they do it.

Here is a great visual of how to align with the CEO.

CEO Hierarchy of Needs

via Crossing the Innovation Chasm.

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