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Posts tagged ‘Freelance Blog Post’

Vetting a Cloud-Based SaaS Vendor (ghostwritten blog post)

Project

Vetting a Cloud-Based SaaS Vendor [Cheat Sheet]

10/06/15

A quick Google search for “top cloud-based SaaS vendors” nets over 14 million results—there’s certainly no shortage of them. Finding a good vendor in that haystack can be daunting and scary, especially with so much on the line, but a CIO who knows the right questions to ask beyond “How’s your security?” will be able to weed out the bad ones quickly.

Below find the categories that CIOs should focus on when vetting a cloud-based vendor. To get all the questions to these categories, download Mediafly’s cheat sheet to help guide you.

Business Viability Questions

Get to the competency of a company and ensure you’re not dealing with people working out of their garage. It’s important to confirm that any potential partner of yours will not only continue to exist, but also protect you against any loss of data.

The Million Terabyte Question

Once you feel confident the SaaS vendor is a viable candidate, it’s time to talk security. The first security-related question any CIO should ask a potential Cloud SaaS partner is:

Have You Been Hacked?

If the answer is yes, you’ll want to understand how they handled the incident management. If an audit has been conducted, you’re within your right to ask for a copy of it. If the audit results don’t reveal any other customers’ secrets, and the results are owned by the vendor, they should not have a problem delivering a copy to you. Look at the results of the audit, the scope of what was investigated, what the hackers were able to access versus not access, what was ruled as the cause of the breach, and verify that a follow-up audit was conducted to validate that the issues found were fixed.

If the answer is no, find out if the vendor has thought through worst case scenarios. They indicate if automatic detection triggers are in place and they call out the importance the vendor places on security driven capabilities.

Network Security Policy Questions

Yes, security is important, but how important is it to your line of business? The answer will vary by vertical. If you’re in a high-risk industry such as finance or media and entertainment, you’ll need a deeper understanding of a vendor’s security policies.

These questions will help shed insight on the vendor’s technical and human processes and everything network related. They also cover the bases on external threats, the scope of a vendor’s content access and allow you to understand if the vendor uses a data center or an application within the data center. If your company deals with valuable content you’ll want to conduct your own audit of the vendor’s network and operations to confirm it’s as impenetrable as you need it to be.

Product Roadmap Questions

I encourage you to cover specifically how the product will be implemented during RFP process. Uncovering the answers to these questions before you hire a vendor lets you see what the vendor is building and where they’re headed. The responses will point out future use cases and problems they may solve. Finally, you’ll be able to identify any patterns between what the vendor is doing internally or what challenges they are looking to address and how all of that fits with your company’s future.

There are plenty of other questions to ask a potential SaaS vendor, but starting with these categories will allow you to weed out the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

For a little more guidance, download our SaaS Vendor cheat sheet below with questions you can check off as you go along.

Battling for Market Share Armed with Information Enablement (ghostwritten blog post)

Project

Battling for Market Share Armed with Information Enablement

07/14/15

Sales and marketing executives are focused on the same strategic battle: taking market share away from the competition. At the front lines of this effort is the sales force; information is their artillery.

Successful managers realize enablement isn’t just about sales enablement–it’s a level beyond that. It’s about enabling information, which is how the company’s vision and its innovative products and services are communicated. Leaders that understand this distinction between sales enablement and information enablement are able to beat their competitors day-in and day-out and win market share.

Information is Power

Information enablement allows sales and marketing managers to curate and organize information, impart that information with intelligence, and allow a sales force to deliver a message that is on-point, up-to-date, engaging, and effective. Sales reps can shift and shape their presentations on the spot, pivoting whenever customers take a conversation in a new direction. Effective information enablement means NOT having to answer with undesirable–and often sales killing–responses like, “I’ll get back to you on that.” or “Let me see if I have access to a deck on that topic.”

That’s why the enablement of information is powerful. But what is it?

Essentially, informational enablement is the pure dissemination of a company’s core vision, it’s intellectual property; the brains of the c-suite. It’s the secret weapon that empowers your sales force with relevant data, contextual talking points, and differentiators to ensure they can deliver an optimal message in any situation. It’s the key details your CEO would use to close a deal, but since the CEO isn’t in every meeting, it puts his or her knowledge at the fingertips of the sales reps on the ground. It gives them the advantage they need in their daily battle for increasing market share.

Think of it like this: sales enablement focuses on enabling sales management and sales process execution. It’s rigid and generic. Whereas information enablement is an immediate and fluid transfer of knowledge to every sales rep in a company. It can be endlessly “tailored” without diluting the original message, which translates to reps winning more battles.

Companies Are Leveraging Information Enablement to Win Market Share

Let me tell you the story of a global consumer goods company with a corporate mandate to increase market share in an already competitive space. They had an IT function in place to support sales and sales enablement, but the executive in charge of the “sales transformation” realized was that the IT department was building apps and tools without regard for how quickly things can change. Consequently, these tools and apps were not only expensive but within months they were useless to sales reps in the field

Management recognized the sales collateral being used was rigid, outdated, and often ineffective, and they wanted to get rid of their inflexible and expensive means of managing it all. They had a vision of bringing the company’s rapidly changing voice, products, and marketing messages to the field sales force in a manner that was impactful and engaging. They imagined being able to target information to specific regions, use-cases, and customers. They also knew they needed the ability to control the message across a variety of users without robbing those users of their individuality or ability to adapt in the field. They insisted on a dynamic and interactive sales platform with accurate reporting and streamlined methodologies. And above all, they wanted an affordable and scalable solution that could shift and change as the market does.

Enter Mediafly.

Mediafly started working with a small group within this consumer goods giant to enable their vision, sales and marketing collateral, videos and documents translated by the field sales team into real-time, consistently pure and most importantly impactful messaging.

This allowed each salesperson to assemble their own sales story while using the most up-to-date corporate-sanctioned messaging. Content-based reporting provided the management and marketing teams with insight into what information was most impactful and empowered the company to respond to market fluctuations with greater impact and speed.

What were the results?

  • Territory managers that created orders using Mediafly’s technology experienced a nearly 1% increase in market share in just six weeks.
  • Preparation time for weekly meetings was cut from five hours down to two, resulting in a 60% reduction of prep time.
  • Sales reps quality of life and job satisfaction dramatically improved because they were not longer spending nights and weekends finding and building PowerPoint presentations
  • The savings resulting from no longer printing unnecessary presentation material offset 80% of Mediafly’s licensing fees.


I urge you to think about enablement. And when you do, the focus should be on empowering the sale team through information. Arm your frontline reps with tools to help them win the day-to-day battle, win against the competition, and increase market share. Because how you embrace information enablement will make or break the future of your company.

Top Three Internal Allies Every CIO Should Have (ghostwritten blog post)

Project

Top Three Internal Allies Every CIO Should Have

02/18/15

The role of today’s CIO is quickly evolving, and one of the best moves any CIO can make to aid in the transformation of his or her role is to forge a team of close-knit allies with colleagues whose roles are now inextricably linked to their own. Specifically, the Chief Marketing Officer, the Chief Information Security Officer, and the Chief Operating Officer. As every business becomes a tech-enabled business, the payoff to building these relationships is huge. CIOs that are true partners not only possess Board visibility, but they are also on their way to occupying the CEO office.

Some industry news and reports have tried to pit CIOs against these valuable positions, but I don’t believe that is in anyone’s best interest. Relationships should be fostered, not suppressed. So CIOs, my mission to you, should you choose to accept it (and you should), is to extend a symbolic olive-branch and start nurturing these new internal allies.

Ally #1 – The CMO

In 2012, Gartner predicted that by 2017 CMOs would spend more on IT than CIOs. I know of several companies where the numbers are trending in that direction, but a solid relationship between marketing and IT is vital.

For starters, playing nice with the CMO can help keep IT running smoothly. Today’s a great day to stop by the CMOs office with a cup of coffee and find out what’s on their IT wish-list, and then figure out a way to make at least some of the wish-list a reality. If not, a scrappy CMO, hard-pressed for delivering immediate and measurable results, may turn to the marketing technologist down the hall to patch together a solution that will be in the hands of the sales force tomorrow, rendering IT inert.

The CMO-CIO relationship should be reciprocal. Tom Kaneshige of CIO.com points out the value CIOs bring to CMOs looking to hop into the CEO seat. With the pendulum swinging toward digital and social media spends, CMOs need to measure the vast majority of their initiatives now more than ever. As a direct result, valuable data, and the CIOs ability to unlock vast siloed arrays of it, is the key to the CMOs heart (and possibly their ascension to Chief Executive).

Ally #2 – The CISO

The unprecedented security breaches of TargetSonyJPMorgan, Citigroup, E*Trade, HSBC, ADPHome Depot, and others may usher in the direct reporting structure of CISO to CEO, but the CIO-CISO relationship must be maintained in order to show your corporate board that cybersecurity issues and revenue-generating initiatives can work in tandem.

Clint Boulton of The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal recently touched on the need for a strong relationship between the CIO and CISO and highlighted companies with a variety of org structures that encourage this symbiosis.

On a daily basis, CIOs deal with exposing more and more critical information as executives, salespeople, corporate trainers and marketers demand mobile access to everything from sales and marketing materials to confidential strategic planning and product launch information. A trusted CIO-CISO partnership should result in both stronger security AND on-demand information access for your organization.  The result?  Everyone feels a little more secure.

Ally #3 – The COO

As reported by the WSJ, Starbucks recently announced that its new president and COO Kevin Johnson will oversee supply chain, IT, and mobile and digital platforms, in addition to his global operating roles. Johnson, the former CEO of Juniper Networks and former president of platforms at Microsoft, is another example of a technology mastermind in the C-Suite. Last year Edmunds.com promoted Phil Potloff from CIO to COO after he oversaw the development of a critical internal tool. This trend shines the light on the fact that strategic initiatives require the mind of a technologist as all companies become tech-enabled businesses. A CIO that is able to partner with the COO to provide technical support to critical strategic initiatives will become a key driver of strategy for the organization… and enable even more informed decision making.

The Take-Away

The culmination of technology becoming a business driver and the overlapping of these three roles with the CIO presents a unique opportunity. Strategic CIOs are seen as thought leaders. Increasing your strategic influence on the core business and increasing your board visibility may also potentially put you on a path to becoming CEO. Now the key is building, nurturing, and maintaining these three critical relationships.