Technology Tag

To compete in the world of dynamic and disrupted digital markets your organization needs to develop the right technology and IT strategy for success. Here are 5 steps to building a better IT strategy for your organization:

1. Traditional or agile?

You’ve heard time and time again the difference between agile and traditional approaches, but do you know which method your organization needs?

Traditional IT Strategy

The traditional approach to developing a new technology strategy involves a structured and sequential process that produces a long-term view of the organization’s technology requirements together with a plan for meeting these needs. Technology strategies developed using the classic approach have a 3- to 5-year time horizon in line with your organization’s vision and business strategy. But focusing purely on long-term goals and plans could actually limit the organization’s ability to respond to the inevitable changes in its markets that will happen over much shorter timescales. Long-term technology plans run the risk of diverging from the actual business needs, which inevitably change and evolve over time.

It’s important to acknowledge, though, the traditional approach to technology strategy has many strengths, and it can serve your organization very well if used in the right circumstances.

Agile IT strategy

The agile approach to technology strategy is based on many of the same activities as the traditional approach but with some key differences that take into account the need for speed and flexibility. The agile technology strategy requires a collaborative and interactive approach with IT personnel working side-by-side with staff from other areas of the business during every step of the process. Additionally, architecture plays a key role in this approach – it’s assumed that the organization’s current architecture is already documented and maintained as changes are made and that architectural principles and standards are established and are used to guide decisions made about technology initiatives.

2. Create your IT mission

IT missions are a great way to highlight cultural points that are of particular importance to the IT department. When formulating an IT mission, remember:

  • It should align with your defined corporate mission.
  • Create a set of simple guiding principles that will drive daily decision making. A great IT mission ought to be used in the recruiting process to gauge cultural fit; it should be used as part of the evaluation of staff; it should even be used to gauge fit of strategic vendor partners.
  • It should be created with at least a five-year time horizon in mind.

 

3. Work with your enterprise

No industry or organization exists that isn’t impacted by technology. Moreover, there is no division of the company that doesn’t need technology to implement its strategies. So, it’s essential that IT engages the rest of the leaders of the company early enough that the plans can still be shaped.

The best way to engage leaders outside of IT is to talk to them about the future. Remember, the conversations don’t have to be explicitly about technology – technology is the “how” or the means of getting to the ends. It’s more important to address the “what” first. If possible, IT should push department leaders to leverage a common framework so that strategic plans line up at the same level of clarity and granularity. By using a common framework, each department plan can be compared, and your organization’s IT team will be able to identify where common themes exist and suggest single solutions.

4. Develop IT’s own strategy

With IT’s mission firmly in mind, and with the insights garnered from having helped shape the strategies of the other divisions of the company and at the enterprise level, IT must develop its own plan. In addition to the inputs from the rest of the company, IT should conduct research into rising general IT trends such as:

  • More sophisticated and persistent cyber threats
  • The innovation of technology at a staggering pace
  • Clients expecting even more from IT
  • The war for technical talent
  • Industry volatility

 

Once the strategy is created, it is essential that the dots be connected with the initiatives and processes that IT will develop and deploy respectively.

5. Don’t discount the power of change management

“Change is good” is a common statement, especially in the digital transformation era, but you would be surprised by the number of well-formulated IT strategies that don’t end up generating the value anticipated because the plans are not communicated well, leading to only a few people driving the strategy forward effectively.

Change management is critical to the success of business technology programs geared towards realizing the mission and vision of an organization. To encourage positive and sustainable change across your organization’s departments, learn the 6 change management strategies that’ll help you avoid burnout and improve digital transformation adoption.

1. Add a billing record to safeguard project

Although Workfront has recently added a recycling bin feature, deleting a project can cause panic, confusion, and loss of productivity, especially if the project you just deleted was a request queue. Prevent any worry around losing key projects by adding a zero dollar billing record to them.

Even if your company or group isn’t using the billing record feature for its native purpose, it can be used here as an extra layer of protection against project deletion. Simply go to the project, create a new billing record, and set the status to Billed”. Then, if someone attempts to delete the project this error message will display and the project will stay out of the recycling bin:

 

2. Make a placeholder job role to prevent assigning users to parent tasks

By default parent tasks can’t be updated or completed independently from their child tasks. The one task detail that can be independently edited on a parent task is the assignment; however, when users are assigned to parent tasks we find that it often leads to frustration when they receive the inevitable error message for trying update the status or completion percentage. To help prevent project managers and other users from accidentally assigning workers to parent tasks, create a job role titled “Do not assign – Parent Task”. Assign this to all of the parent tasks on your project templates and it will serve as a reminder/safeguard that these tasks are a summary of their child tasks and shouldn’t have a user assigned to them.

 

3. As a plan license user, view the resource planner by user

(Note: this assumes your Workfront instance has completed the prerequisites needed for Resource Planning) The Resource Planner is a helpful widget in Workfront to manage the allocation of resources to projects and forecast their availability for future work. Formerly, this was limited to only users who were listed as Resource Managers on projects. With recent updates, however, any user with a plan license can get valuable information from the Resource Planner by setting the view to “View by User”. If the view is set to View by Project or View by Role, results will only be returned for projects where the user is listed as a Resource Manager, putting you right back at square one. View by User doesn’t have that prerequisite and allows other plan license users to see the allocation of all users, regardless if they’re listed as a resource manager.

 

4. Change ID to name in text mode

(Note: this only works for details tab) When creating views and reports in Workfront, there will be instances where the information you want to display is too many levels away from the object you’re working on. This will limit the display options from the field explorer. For example, when adding a column to a task report or task view for the name of the project sponsor, you will find the only option is “SponsorID”. While this makes sense to the Workfront database, this doesn’t provide much value to users viewing the report. Luckily this can be changed with a quick text mode edit.

While in the report or view editor, click on the column for the ID field and switch to Text Mode.

  • On every line where you see “fieldnameID” change the “ID” to “:name”
  • For example change project:sponsorID to project:sponsor:name
  • Click “Save” in the text mode window, then save the view or report.
displayname=Documents
valuefield=project:sponsor:name
querysort=project:sponsor:name
valueformat=HTML
displayname=
linkedname=project
namekey=view.relatedcolumn
namekeyargkey.0=project
namekeyargkey.1=sponsor
namekeyargkey.2=name

 

5. Flag task commit dates greater than planned completion dates

Commit dates are set by task assignees and can’t be changed by the project owner. While the project manager is notified when commit dates affect the project timeline, it can be hard to quickly review a project and see which task commit dates are later than their planned completion dates. With some text mode code, the commit date field can be added to a task view with conditional formatting to display in red when later than the planned completion date.

This can be done by adding a blank column to a task view and switching to text mode, and pasting in the code below:

displayname= Commit Date
linkedname=direct
namekey=commitDate
querysort=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.icon=false
styledef.case.0.comparison.leftmethod=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.lefttext=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.operator=gt
styledef.case.0.comparison.operatortype=date
styledef.case.0.comparison.rightmethod=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.righttext=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.name=fontstyle
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.value=bold
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.name=textcolor
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.value=d30519
styledef.case.0.comparison.truetext=

Click “Save” in the text mode window then save the view you’re editing. Now when viewing a task list, any user commit dates that are later than the planned completion dates will be displayed in red.

 

6. Link directly to queue topics

Have you ever instructed someone to submit a Workfront request and found yourself listing off the steps of selecting the proper request queue, topic group, then queue topic? Theses directions can be eliminated and the end user experience enhanced by sending them a link directly to the queue topic. Instead of sending the URL “domain.workfront.com/requests” with instructions on which drop downs to select, if you select the request queue & specific queue topic, the URL in your browser grows with each selection. This enables the URL to take the user to the specific queue topic without having to manually make any selections. This is incredibly handy when posting Workfront URLs on intranet sites for users to submit work requests.

 

7. Link directly to a sub-tab on an object

In similar vein to tip #6, URLs can also be built to take users to specific tabs on a project, task, issue, etc. To land a user on a specific sub-tab of an object, Workfront allows for a parameter to be added to the URL with the structure below:

https://<domain>.my.workfront.com/project/view?ID=5b6c7eb5003d2022cea3a135cca33ac1&activeTab=tab-project-updates

Normally when viewing a project (or task, or issue), the URL stops after the object ID regardless of which tab is being viewed. By adding the parameter “&activeTab” the URLs will navigate directly to the project tab of your choosing. Some more examples:

 

URL modifier Landing tab
&activeTab=tab-project-details-forms Project Details
&activeTab=tab-project-approvals Project Approvals
&activeTab=list-project-documents Project Documents
&activeTab=tab-project-updates Project Updates
&activeTab=tab-project-optasks Project Issues

 

The same concept and URL structure works on other Workfront objects such as tasks, issues, programs, portfolios, etc. For other objects, simply change the object reference in the URL examples above from ‘project’ to the object you’re referencing.

 

8. Make sure your browser zoom setting is at 100%

Occasionally, when selecting a request queue or an option from a drop down field in older browsers, the drop down option menu appears on a random part of the screen or, in some cases, doesn’t appear at all. Although this seems like a major issue, 99% it’s not a bug and can be fixed very quickly. Double check the zoom on your browser and make sure it is set to 100%. In certain browsers, if the zoom is set to a value other than 100%, it can cause issues with drop downs appearing.

 

9. Link to documents in a project or task view

Use this text mode trick to create hyperlinks to documents from a project view. When creating a project/task view or report, add a blank column and switch into text mode. Copy and paste in the text mode code below, and be sure to update the <domain> section of the URL with the domain of your Workfront instance.

displayname=Documents
listdelimiter=
listmethod=nested(documents).lists
textmode=true
type=iterate
valueexpression=CONCAT({name}, - "https://&lt;domain&gt;.my.workfront.com/document/view?ID=",{ID},"; ")
valueformat=HTML

Click “Save” the text mode window, then save the view or report. Now, when viewing the results, the names of any attached documents will be listed along with a URL to navigate directly to the document.

 

10. Find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents

After Workfront has been implemented, there will inevitably be projects in your system that were either created by mistake or abandoned shortly after creation. While many of these can be cleaned up by searching your instance for “Untitled Project” and deleting any results, this doesn’t work for projects that have had a name change. To assist in system maintenance, use this text mode to find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents. Creating a project report, go to the filter page, switch into text mode, and paste in the code below:

EXISTS:a:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:a:$$OBJCODE=OPTASK
EXISTS:a:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:b:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:b:$$OBJCODE=TASK
EXISTS:b:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:c:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:c:$$OBJCODE=DOCU
EXISTS:c:projectID=FIELD:ID[/CSS]

 

Enterprise DevOps. On the surface, it seems like the right answer to keeping business objectives running at optimum levels. But when your IT team dives a little deeper, the complexities rise to the surface and progress stalls before it even has a chance to begin.

Before you dive into a DevOps initiative, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Can your current tools address security and application monitoring for maximum visualization for informed decision making?
  • Can your current infrastructure leverage the cloud?
  • What type of containers will be utilized for deployment anytime, anywhere?
  • How will you utilize automation to ensure stable and scalable deployments?
  • IT teams will support internal systems that employees use. How will you cultivate a collaborative culture between development and support teams?
Whether you’re launching a DevOps initiative internally or seeking help from a third party, starting with the right infrastructure is critical to your success. Before you take the first step, begin with a thorough system evaluation to ensure an end-result with a seamless workflow, end-to-end transparency, and holistic reporting.

DevOps: System Evaluation Overview

Automation Tools

End-to-end workflow automation is a critical part of any DevOps toolkit. These tools should enable your team to submit requests effortlessly, sync & export documents, and integrate financials when necessary.

Configuration

Syncing information between systems; the ability to create custom workflow events and triggers; and aggregate all your data for secure analysis, reporting and sharing is a critical part of DevOps. Evaluate current configuration tools and systems for their ability to work with the other components of your system.

Intelligence

DevOps tools include a healthy mix of intelligent solutions that can provide both analytics and security monitoring, capacity planning, and availability and performance. Features like cross-platform syncing, data aggregation from different systems, available in a web-based platform are critical to intelligent processes.

Cloud & Virtualization

The best DevOps toolkits include a hosting environment that eases application installations and configures security easily. In advanced cases, application support and managed administration services are required. Platforms like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, & Amazon Web Services are the best place to begin, but access and knowledge of cloud add-ons are critical to collaborative DevOps environments.

DevOps Solutions

If your infrastructure lacks the systems and tools listed above, it doesn’t mean you can’t begin moving toward DevOps solutions right away. Custom software solutions are available to bring your infrastructure up to a healthy mix of orchestration and automation tools.
While there are plenty of great SaaS options out there, they are inherently designed to meet the needs of the masses, and the heart of DevOps is using software to do exactly what it is you need. If you’re going to evaluate a SaaS option, look for all of the following features before you start a trial:
  • Platform Synchronization
  • Eliminates Manual Processes
  • Data Storage, Accessibility & Security
  • Workflow Automation w/ Event Triggers
  • Robust data Analysis w/Data Aggregation
Powerful all-in-one solutions can help you get started on the right track, and an expert consulting team can work behind the scenes to bring development projects and add-ons up to standard.
Once you’ve evaluated your company’s preparedness to implement a DevOps initiative, don’t forget about culture preparedness. DevOps implementation and changes should establish a culture that learns and changes, together. The most critical asset in your business—your people—should receive the same level of attention as other areas. Planning a people strategy while preparing your infrastructure for DevOps will ensure long-term success.

Organizations need agility to craft and distribute useful marketing messages that can convert in a highly segmented, fickle marketplace. With seemingly countless marketing solutions now available, the advent of the ad stack – both independent and platform-based – is in full swing. Of the many different options available, an innovative solution from one of the digital environment’s older and well-established names is leading the charge for comprehensive, flexible, vertically integrated marketing suites that is redefining the industry – Adobe.

Adobe’s Marketing Cloud at a Glance

Available on a subscription basis with several optional components that range in specialty from Adobe’s creative foundation to analytics platforms, campaign management tools, and social media integration, Marketing Cloud aims to be a one-stop shop for organizations needing a comprehensive solution without relying on different vendors.

Using the universal Adobe interface as the basis for most of the component UIs, Adobe takes full advantage of its popularity to create an immediate sense of familiarity between the user and the many different parts available within the platform. Perhaps more importantly, however, organizations can choose which of those components are necessary for their specific needs, not forced to subscribe to unneeded functions that would increase costs and complexity.

As a direct competitor to similar platforms from both digital titans like Google and Yahoo as well as ad stacks from specialized vendors, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud shines with its ability to seamlessly combine immersive, engaging, customized creative with the distribution channels most impactful in reaching a highly segmented audience with wide-ranging affinities. Its analytical tools allow organizations to track results in real time, measuring effectiveness through the ever-important metrics needed to inform and guide the campaign amongst a crowded and complicated marketplace.

Although a streamlined and efficient ad stack solution for any organization requiring a considerable degree of vertical integration, those that are unfamiliar with the classic Adobe UI face a steep learning curve that, while in no way too great of a barrier to prevent proper implementation and usage, can be somewhat overwhelming at first. With an abundance of training materials available as well as outstanding customer service, however, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud should always be on the short list of options for organizations in search of a potent ad stack that blends utility with convenience, power with flexibility.

Is Adobe’s Marketing Cloud Right for You?

As compelling a solution as Adobe’s Marketing Cloud can be for most organizations; it’s not the only solution available. In fact, when an organization is in need of a new ad stack platform, the decision should always begin with a choice between a comprehensive, unified platform and an independent ad stack built of several best-in-breed vendors that are market leaders in specific functions but don’t necessarily work well in conjunction with one another.

Simply put, organizations must choose between a high degree of convenience and efficiency versus maximum ability. For instance, if an organization needs a comprehensive analytical platform that specializes in isolating and analyzing nuanced metrics, they might be best served to build an independent ad stack built around a specialized analytics platform. In this case, while a vertically integrated solution like the Adobe Marketing Cloud is abundantly useful and more than adequate for the vast majority of organizations, it’s analytical abilities might fall short of this highly specialized need.

For organizations looking for a combination of power and convenience, the Adobe Marketing Cloud is writing a new ad stack narrative, one that effectively addresses nearly all of the marketing needs for the majority of companies within the marketplace. Organizations no longer have to choose between ability and efficiency.

Salesforce released its Einstein platform to the public in Spring 2017, giving the average user access to powerful CRM with promised AI predictive analytic powers. The release came with a tidal wave of hype, promising revolutionary changes to marketing departments. Companies have had time to implement Einstein for a period of months, so accurate reviews are in. Experts believe that Salesforce Einstein is an excellent tool with a number of useful analytic uses. While it isn’t entirely stand-alone, the basic platform does more than simply complete data-based applications. Einstein probably deserves about 80 percent of the original hype. As stats go, that’s not bad.

The Hype

Salesforce hailed its own product by announcing that “The world’s No. 1 CRM is now the world’s smartest CRM . . .” The company also emphasized Einstein didn’t need the major customization that other similar platforms required because it contained “state-of-the-art algorithms built directly into the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Platform . . .” You get the picture. What was already a premier product would now usher marketing into the promised land of predictive data, and ultimately, finalized sales, enchanted customers, and home-grown marketing gurus.

The Reality

Salesforce Einstein Analytics Platform costs $75 per month per user, approximately the same price as Adobe Creative Cloud, which features Adobe Sensei. For that reasonable price, you get many features, including advanced sales and service apps. You can use them to analyze data from any source up to 100 million data rows, according to Salesforce. You can also create your own custom apps and dashboards and have access to all the online training you need. The platform isn’t as advanced as others, but it provides an advantage to companies without their own data geniuses on staff. It takes time to set up and manage effectively, despite the rosy predictions on the Salesforce site.

AI Capacity

Some experts say that Einstein doesn’t include actual “cognitive computing” (AI) but instead uses machine learning (ML). However, the company’s partnerships with Watson and other industry leaders provide Einstein users with impressive analytic power. For marketing departments, the pertinent question isn’t “Is this ‘real’ AI?”, but “How does it help us do our jobs?”

The machine learning allows the program to study data and determine, for itself, how to predict the future. Einstein constantly analyzes new data and makes model adjustments, determining what tasks you need to address next in your marketing efforts. Einstein can tell you which sales prospect is “most likely to close” and also sort a mailing list according to who’s most likely to open your email.

Einstein goes way beyond simply organizing data. It can, on a daily basis, make your sales department more efficient and effective. Whether it’s defined as actual AI probably won’t affect you or your employees.

Other Features

Salesforce offers other advanced features. For instance, your company can also use the Product Identification feature to manage inventory and improve sales potential. In addition, the Brand Detection feature helps your marketing department learn more about customer preferences and offers tools to refine sales campaigns. The technology also offers features that increase customer satisfaction. Visual search employs visual filters that let consumers find products that meet their needs. They can also take product photos and find out where they’re available.

Nuts and Bolts

Salesforce touts Einstein as a way to democratize AI. You don’t have to have your own data scientist to join the marketing analytic revolution. It’s not as simple as subscribing to the service, however. While many features are packaged in easy-to-use Cloud applications, customizing it for your particular company takes a little work and some online training. Yes, it’s pretty easy to use, but like any platform, it requires study and practice, particularly on the part of admins to fully use it. You have to build a model for your business and also refine your data so you get the best results. In short: Excellence in, excellence out.

Company Success

Salesforce boasts a number of high-profile success stories, and these online testimonials pack a punch. Companies such as Adidas, AWS, US Bank and Farmer’s Insurance are on record praising Salesforce offerings.

Kone, a leader in escalators, elevators and moving walkways, used Salesforce Einstein in conjunction with IBM Watson to build a customer-centered company in lieu of a hardware-centered one, allowing them to thrive around the world. They attribute much of their recent success to the Salesforce platform.

The Bottom Line

Salesforce has been a wildly successful Cloud Computing, CRM-based company for some time, but their addition of Einstein to their customer offerings has enhanced their business and made AI (really machine learning) more available to the those who aren’t data experts.

Einstein is not the most advanced platform you can choose, and you may need to pair it with Watson or add other Salesforce products to reach the productivity level that you desire. Still, experts in the industry rank it pretty high as a tool that helps most marketing departments. Will it unleash marketing magic on its own? No. But it will give more power to your marketing efforts. For companies looking for predictive analytics, Einstein is worth a try.

Blockchain is a pretty popular buzzword these days. The sudden boom of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin brought a lot of attention to the technology. Blockchain is much more than just a buzz, however, and it’s becoming very apparent it has the power to change the way business is done in nearly every industry — from banking to SEO.

What Is Blockchain?

It’s a complicated technology, but essentially a blockchain is an immutable, decentralized ledger. That means that instead of a sole third-party record keeper, every party to a blockchain would have a record much like a spreadsheet. As transactions occur, the spreadsheets are simultaneously updated. If someone falsifies data on their spreadsheet, the blockchain would notice the discrepancy from the majority of the records and nullify the bad data. Because it’s nearly impossible to alter the data on all the ledgers, a blockchain is a very secure way to verify and move or exchange assets. It also creates a permanent trail from start to finish. That trail can guarantee the legitimacy of key aspects of SEO — determining if web traffic is human or bot, detecting black hat methods much more easily and reducing the staggering amount of money lost to digital ad fraud.

Link Building

Link building has long been an important part of SEO. That doesn’t mean the same tactics that applied in the 90’s can work today. For example, it’s possible to see some ranking boost from blog comment linking, but those look more like spam every day and their weighting is significantly less than it used to be. Natural link building has long been the most effective strategy. Blockchain will make it way easier for the major search engines to detect and penalize any website they catch buying paid links. Though it’s discouraged today, enforcement is difficult and under-utilized.

Verified Data

User interaction data matters a lot. It’s helpful to your marketing team and necessary for web crawlers to rank your site. That data can be diluted by bot traffic and hurt your rankings. Implementing a blockchain solution can verify human traffic and separate it from the bots, giving you better insights and higher rankings. Paid digital advertising is full of fraud because it’s currently impossible to tell if an ad was clicked by a human or bot. Blockchain technology is a very viable solution to this multi-billion dollar a year problem by connecting advertisers directly with verified potential customers.

Keyword Research

It’s difficult to determine just how a keyword plays out in different settings. The results vary across devices, location, users etc. With a token incentive, keyword research could utilize background space on thousands of devices to create an in-depth aggregate of data-heavy results.

 

While the full impacts are still uncertain at this junction, it’s not likely to be long before technology leaders start to leverage blockchain as a means for securing and processing interactions as much as they do transactions. And that means that you, as a marketer, have a whole new ballgame to learn. Thankfully, it’s likely to be one that rewards good SEO habits and practices, stamps out bad, and works to create a more democratic playing field.

If you haven’t heard of our new productLeapPoint Onewe encourage to check it out immediately. And if you haven’t seen our flashy new video promoting LeapPoint One, we definitely encourage you to watch that too. In fact, do that first. We’re pretty proud of it.

LeapPoint One is a revolutionary product for any shared service organization. It sits on top of your project intake system, taking the place of the standard request form interface. It allows you to provide both visual and verbal details about the products or services your organization offers with a level of depth and interactivity that simply aren’t possible with current systems on the market today. The application provides a familiar, e-commerce style experience that makes it easy for requesters to not only find what they’re looking for, but make multiple requests at once, saving them time and effort. One the back end, the application syncs with a myriad of enterprise systems allowing you the flexibility to bundle similar offerings together as one “product”. Is a particular offering split between marketing and IT? Not a problem. One can take a single request and initiate a project in Workfront and a separate one in JIRA. Need an account created or updated in Salesforce at the same time? Easy as pie. No additional requests required.

As a shared service, One allows you to offer the same level of professionalism and experience as a customer-facing organization.

If you’d like to learn more about One or see a demo, reach out to uswe love showing off our new toy. But seriously, watch that video first.