Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Disrupting with AI Assisted Processes

Usually, the economy of scale, size, and reputation win the day, but this spunky and highly adaptive ad agency competes with AI plus better processes to put more pressure on the large ad agencies. I think this will be a trend in many industries with the upstarts starting to scare the incumbent "big dogs." See how industries can be influenced by nimble competitors by clicking here

The Challenge:

The hourly agency model favors longer times and complex hierarchies to create more billable hours, and as a result, more clients are bringing this work in-house. This proves to be an excellent opportunity for our smaller agency to apply technology to outmaneuver the big dog players in the ad business.

This Solution:

By automating the ad creation process by applying AI and automated processes together, big gains are being experienced. This allows for speedier creation of more targeted ads at a lower cost. Since they work with many smaller clients, requiring a stronger fee-to-media ratio, they are able to take many smaller accounts. In other words, AI and process technologies allow a smaller and more nimble firm to compete with the big ad agencies. By offering flat rate packages and turnkey services, enabled by technology, clients know what they will pay. This creates a shared interest to move quickly and efficiently. Once clients experience that power, more targeted ads become a reality.

The Result:

While most agencies produce 3-5 social ads max for their clients, this firm runs an average of 30-50 social ads per month for each client (an order of magnitude). This is all accomplished in days, not weeks or months without a high cost. There is a significant time reduction with the minimum being 37% for a small scope and up to 94% for a broader scope. The average decrease in time spent from a client briefing email to an ad launch with 80 ads is 67%.
For the auto industry, this firm can link up to the inventory quickly and deliver inventory-specific ads that take prospects to a product page on a client's website. The system will automatically generate creative in seconds featuring inputs from the brief, all within a brand-compliant and creative-approved layout. This reduces the creatives needed from 3 to 1, implying significant cost savings.

Net; Net:

This is an example of how digital approaches can help the SMBs compete with the big dogs. This particular lethal combination of process and AI will be a popular approach, going forward. There will be other combinations that will prove to deliver too.

This Case Study was implemented by Constellation Agency

Monday, August 19, 2019

Giants Will Fall

There is a strong belief that the gap between the large and small companies is growing and the small organizations are doomed to taking a second seat forever. The numbers and history are on the side of the giants. They are large and strong financially, so they can spend more financially on research and development (R&D). The reality is that they won't because they are too busy boosting their stock price or lining the executive's pockets. Even if they were committed to spending a goodly amount on R&D, will they invest in the right research? Like the David of the bible facing Goliath, SMBs can count on 5 smooth digital stones that they can launch at the giants.

Customer Journeys: 

Most organizations are self-delusional thinking their products and services are just plain excellent. They create surveys that increase scores for bonuses for such delusion. Customers are not wanting standard and time-consuming customer journeys aimed at corporate outcomes and results. Customers have choices and are taking them these days. Newer generations are not brand loyal forever. They measure and switch. Better customer journeys are the most lethal stone that SMBs have to close the size gap.

AI & Analytics:

Most of the interactions that people have with organizations make organizations look dumb. By making the interactions smart by optimizing each touchpoint a business moment of for winning them again over an over. This means that AI should be assisting customers to get their outcomes easily. This may mean focusing on the relationship over short term profitability. AI and the leverage of data in a real-time fashion in a historical context aiming towards a "win-win" set of outcomes in the future.

Process & Emergence:

Processes need to be intelligent and able to adapt as it progresses toward goals. This means processes emerge instead of being a fixed set of sequences. While some task sequences make sense, they don't always apply to every situation and customer. Processes, workflows and task sequences(snippets) are important, but they need to be smart in their behavior in context. The best way is to sequence them synchronizing the emerging to the journey, be it customer, product, service or partner.

Robotic Automation:

Let's get rid of the dumb work for both clients and associates. Nobody wants to do mindless work or be irritated by systems limitations and fractures. Why make people take care of integration and translation? This is why RPA is taking off in a rapid fashion. Intelligently automate to beat the competition. Give those bots intelligence, so they can adapt along with journeys and processes.

Low Code:

The software just takes too long to create. While you can make it cheaper by outsourcing it to cheaper resources, that only solves the cost part of the equation. Often the quality isn't there because the emphasis costs not great outcomes. Recent headlines about software failures make this point with emphasis. Just ask Boeing. What about easy to code techniques such as reuse, drop-down code creation or code generation?

Net; Net: 

David only needed one stone to get his giant down, but SMBs might not be that fortunate. If I was a betting man, I'd pick the combination of customer journeys, AI and processes. I look forward to watching the battle and hoping someone will be popping me some popcorn soon. I'm rooting for the underdogs as the giants have beat me up in the past with experiences that don't match my desired journey and outcomes.  Some Giants will fall. Some SMBs will become as powerful as giants.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Seriously Salty Service Story

Everyone has their sad stories of poor service and I love to hear them in order to learn what doesn't work. Also, I love to hear stories of great service, but that channel is full of the sound of crickets. Well, I have one myself. I have lived in my home for over 20 years now and it came equipped with a water softener that filters out minerals through a filter that needs to be washed out with saltwater through an automated backwash process.  The original softener broke, thanks to pre-designed obsolescence principles. This put me in the market for a new one. Then the fun began.

My neighbor recommended a saltless softener that used a special fluid to clean the filter in the backwash process. It was triple the normal price of the salt versions, but I wanted something that would last. Well, so much for that thought. It turns out that the one dealer that supplied the fluid went out of business, so I was backed into a corner. Just before I ran out of my reserve of fluid, we had a power surge related to our monster monsoon storms here in the desert. The surge knocked out the electronics and fried the unit. Back to the drawing board after a short three years.

Next, I went to a national chain to buy a sturdier salt version. The chain said that the electronics were bulletproof and that they would stand behind the unit. Guess what, 6 months down the road and another power surge knocked this unit out too. The national chain said that they didn't sell that unit anymore, so they couldn't or wouldn't help. Back to the drawing board after a three-year bout with hard water.

Then I went to a competitive national chain and they had an inexpensive unit ($500) that they admitted would not survive a surge even with a GFI enabled electrical socket. They promised a seamless install and I would have to pay the installer for their service and the product. Well, guess what?  The installer called and said I had to lug the softner home myself (pretty clumsy size and pretty heavy). The other option was to buy the softner by standing in line and storing it in "will call" The installer would charge $75 dollars to pick it up and $300 for the install. Well, I had enough with national chain stores as I backed out of that deal.

I went to a regional appliance store who sold a product that would only require a $12 replacement transformer if I had another surge issue. They would have the installer pick up the unit and install it for less than $200 dollars. Smooth sailing until another surge hits. While the softner was more expensive, the end to end customer journey was seamless and easy. I will now do more business with my new source that considers the customer journey first.

Net; Net:

Besides buyer beware, I will always look for the easiest customer journey. Something that I have learned the hard way. I need to watch the millennials more as they figured this out earlier in life. Thanks for listening to me if you made it this far :)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Top 5 Techs to Budget for This Season

Let's make this part of the budgeting process a breeze. I always hated the budgeting process as a manager, so If I can help one person with this post, I'm pleased :)  Many folks will be asked to identify areas to spend the remaining 2019 budget and plan for 2020 in August. I have identified "TheTop 5 Techs" to invest in for the next 12 months. My rationale for picking these five amongst many digital technologies to invest in for the near future is the time to payback without sacrificing strategy. These five deliver quickly and can participate in strategic efforts for the medium and long term. The top techs for budgeting purposes in 2019 & 2020 are as follows:

Artificial Intelligence:

AI allows you to start small and grow successes into strategic wins. Most organizations have tried small machine learning projects that focus on data-oriented problem domains. It is time for those organizations to up their investment to create more momentum for AI to augment human activity while replacing error-prone of drudgery work. Most of the short term benefits are around automation, but better customer experiences are emerging too. The leaders will be looking to leverage AI for competitive advantage and reasoning applications of AI to assist human resources. Fast followers will deepen investments in more data-focused applications. Followers will now jump into the fray and try some form of AI soon as the window for early advantage is closing. Please click here for the typical types of AI or click here for AI problem domains explained.

Customer Journey Mapping:

Knowing the customer's real journey is essential and customer journey technologies are getting significant investment today. Most are related to monitoring and mining the real experience with today's web pages, processes or systems, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. While this gives some ideas where the friction points can be improved for a better experience, this is not enough to declare victory. Real journey mapping considers the journey from a customers perspective that may go beyond the four walls of your organization. Mapping capabilities that go beyond mined data for owned processes and applications to touchpoints necessary for understanding, documenting and training all the resources that touch customers during their real journey. Leaders are going for total customer excellence that considers the customer experiences in context. Fast followers are going beyond mining to include modeling. Followers will jump into mining. Please click here to understand CJM approaches or click here to understand CJM technology.

Low Code:

Low code approaches generally allow for faster development and testing of code. Low code can be applied to testing out business or technological solutions in a "time to market" fashion that is consistent with digital results. It can also be applied to quickly converting code from existing burning platforms, applications and processes to speed up digital transformations. Leaders are trying new business models plus approaches with low code tech. Fast followers are leveraging low code for productivity mostly. Followers are fast being enticed to deliver with low code tech. Please click here for leveraging low code for creative solutions or click here for successful low code approaches.

Robotic Process Automation(RPA):

RPA is being actively used to automate eliminate drudgery work like keying, logging onto multiple systems, integrating data from diverse systems, and creating straight-through processes. Today bots are created to eliminate tasks or drive sequences of activity while reducing human intervention. This allows workers to focus on delivering results like better customer interactions. Leaders are combining process with RPA, RPA with AI or low code with RPA to extend the benefits of RPA. Fast followers are inspecting their current processes and applications with mining tools to look for more automation opportunities. Followers are jumping on the bandwagon for task automation. Please click here for the power of RPA and process or click here to find the future of RPA.

Workflow / BPM:

Processes often orchestrate the work sequences of work tasks, resources and the tapping of content/data. Managing work in processes sequences, small or large has been a large contributor for decades for large scoped industrial processes. Today organizations are discovering that these kind of processes are less than 20% of the hidden processes through their departments and organizational groups. Thus workflow has taken off fast to create form-driven, case collaboration or small departmental flows. Leading organizations will reach for larger scoped processes that follow the real customer journeys even if they are following multiple supply or value chains. Fast followers are leveraging processes everywhere. Followers are just discovering the power of workflow. Please click here to learn the role of processes in the digital age or click here to understand the interaction of process and IoT.

Net; Net:

These are my top five amongst many others including blockchain, content/collaboration, IoT, analytics, unified communications, process mining, chat-bots, architecture tools, digital twins, cloud computing, augmented reality, big/fast data, 3D printing, and nanotech. You can run with these five and deliver short term benefits to build upon. You can even combine these into powerful combinations. Please click here for some potential combinations.