Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AN APPETITE FOR APPS



The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in many countries. One of the reasons for that success is the availability of many, many useful applications (apps) in the Apple store.

An app is software, which is to be used on your iPhone only, The crucial difference with any other software is the ease of use, the focused functionality and the price. Above all, the customer needs are truly at the center of every app.  Traditional software vendors should learn from the success of these apps. So many users buy now apps, who didn’t buy much software for their pc earlier.

A great example is the “Appie”.
 I know for the moment it is only available in The Netherlands, but I am sure that its success will drive international implementation. The Appie is an app from Albert Heijn, one of the largest supermarkets in the world.

Basically Appie helps me with my shopping, as I can see the special offers of the week, read product info and build my shopping list. One of the most useful features is the recipes (more than 8000) section. I can check out what I want to eat and than with one click I can add all the items to my shopping list. Now that is cool!

Especially with these holidays, I don’t like the work of finding a recipe first, Than I have to write all the items on a list and then I have to find stores who have these items on stock. This activity takes a lot of time and burdens me, as I mostly have to go to different stores to buy the right items. With the Appie this is no longer necessary, as it is all automated, even the shopping list is available on my iPhone and I can use it in the same way as a written shopping list. Only Appie is much faster and much easier to use.

Now this is good service for its customers. The app really gives me great service, as it makes my shopping experience much less stressful and it cost me much less time.

This only increases my appetite for apps, especially those who simplify or  relax my customer experience.



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WHY ARE SMART WORKING AND INNOVATIONS GOOD PARTNERS?



EIM did a large research (650 companies) into the effects of smart working in the Dutch SME market.
Companies who invested in smart working have on average:
-       16% higher growth in results
-       9% higher growth in productivity
-       8% higher growth in revenue
-       5% higher growth in employment

They define smart working as innovation, which is targeted, at organizations and employees.

Using the potential of your employees
-       How do you use their strengths?
-       How do you effectively use their knowledge?
-       How do you involve them in the growth of your organization?
-       Which employment conditions are best suited?

Having efficient processes in place
-       How to streamline your processes?
-       How do you effectively assign the work to de done?
-       What are suited workplaces and working hours?
-       Which management style is best suited?

Smart working encompasses new management styles, new ways of organizing and HRM. Examples are self managed teams, flexible working hours and contracts and dynamic management as well as talent development.

80% of the entrepreneurs expect on the long term that the benefits of smart working will by far outweigh its costs.

Smart working has the best results when combined with technological innovations. The growth in productivity is 12% higher than with companies who only implement technological innovations!

So, it is always a ProPer (Professional as well as Personal) approach, which yields the best results!

Are you smart in applying technological innovations?



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

GREEN SERVICES REQUIRE A CHANGE OF BEHAVIORS


Last week in Copenhagen I attended a side event in the Climate Change Conference (COP15). The topic was the importance of growing the service industries. There were two presentations from the hotel business and two presentations from the ICT business.

One hotel presented their efforts to be carbon neutral, which is a huge success in itself. They also were very good in keeping their employees engaged throughout the whole process. I do think that this is the key to their success. The frontline employees are really their ambassadors for the services that they deliver. Much of what they did was internally focused. There is still a big opportunity in translating this greening of the business into great customer experiences. They had plans to buy electric cars. But what about picking up your customers from the airport with these electric cars? Or giving them these electric cars in the city?

They also explained the Green Key program. Although this is a fine program in itself, but what does it mean for the customer, what needs are addressed and what are my benefits as a customer? Again here is still much room for improvement. They really need to think about adding new services, which are attractive to the customers.

A representative from the ICT industry mentioned the potential savings from greening your business.
Examples:
-       Introducing building management systems
-       Less transportation through e.g. videoconferencing
-       Checking the energy footprint at the workplace
-       Datacenters which use wind/water/ground power
-       Building an internet of energy, a grid
The main issue he addressed is how to change people’s behavior. What is needed to make people travel less? What is needed to lower the temperature in buildings? They think that only money savings are the driver of changing behaviors. It is my understanding however that people are open to change when they underline the need for change, when you involve them in creating smart solutions and when you have a very meaningful goal. If these conditions are met, they will be pulling the change instead of pushing via management.

There was also a company, which builds energy efficient products for home automation. Through their low cost metering solution 30% savings can be accomplished. This is fine, but what is still missing are the services to implement them with customers. It requires a change in behaviors with customers, so what a great opportunity this is to add services to your portfolio to help your customers with this transition.

So, it comes as no surprise that most of these ‘greening your business’ efforts are seen as a marketing tool rather than as a serious commitment towards sustainable development. There is a huge opportunity if companies design services, which meet customers needs as well. The 100.000 people who demonstrated in Copenhagen prove that they are also very serious about the need of getting green!



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CUSTOMER (SERVICE) IS KING


I just finished reading the book Trust Agents from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Obviously it is a must read for everyone in the business world.

When I reflected on the content I had some kind of epiphany. Most corporations and organizations do think that when the crisis is over that they will return to the previous state of ‘business- as-usual’. We just have to focus on some more cost cutting and then we will be good for the next phase. Not much will change.

By doing that they make a big mistake! The world is changing structurally and it will not return to the old habits and patterns again. For a long time the large corporations determined what we  –the customer-  should buy or do. “They knew what was good for us’. They invented push marketing strategies for that.

Although the saying is that the customer is king, it never really was. The customer was king as long as it suited their way of doing business.

That has changed significantly with the possibilities of the Web and social media.. Through the use of these tools any individual voice can (and will) be heard in many place. The ripple effect of tools like Twitter and Facebook is huge. So, the customer gains influence, see for example the guitar case with American Airlines. In this way the customer becomes a force to be reckoned with. A force, which can match the powers and behaviors of large corporations and institutions.

The Web enables communication not only to be on an even level (buyers and sellers are equal), but also on a more personal level. Brogan/Smith call it the importance of being human. “…..  people are sick of brochures and sales letters. They want the real thing”. Customers are demanding that shift, right now and if you are not listening to their calls, you will miss the boat. Old times will not revive. The way you interact and listen to the customer is crucial for your business success. Customer service is king!

The Web and social media give businesses the opportunity to reveal the human side of  their orgnization. That is the main challenge: be human again! Develop professional as well as personal (ProPer) strategies!
I fully support Brogan/Smith when they say that trust and the humanizing of business is where the action is.

So, what are you going to do differently??


GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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