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Posts tagged ‘Mediafly’

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

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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.

Information Enablement: The Critical Factor in Growing Market Share (ghostwritten byline)

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CEOWorld Magazine, CEO Lifestyle Section, May 4, 2015

Information Enablement: The Critical Factor in Growing Market Share

As a leader in a competitive industry, you are tasked with increasing your market share and growing revenue. The clock is counting down and you feel the constant pressure to achieve this year’s goal. Winning means outselling and outsmarting your competition day-in and day-out.

To bring home that win, you must ensure your customers and prospects understand the “total value” of your products and services. That means everything about your products and services, including not only how they address each customer’s specific needs but also how they enable all customers to remain informed as your offerings change or evolve.

If you or your CEO were in every sales meeting, it stands to reason that your customer’s understanding–or “perceived value”–of your products and services would be pretty close to the total value you hope to convey. If only you could find a way to be in all of those meetings, you would win against the competition almost every time.

But you are not in every meeting. Instead you rely on a large sales organization, which is likely several levels removed from your day-to-day visibility and involvement. As the company’s vision and product visions get batted about through various teams and tools, the value of those messages becomes more and more diluted. And it is not uncommon for your message to become lost entirely on its journey down the “information pipeline” from vision to product marketing to sales tools to sales rep to customer.

Leaders who are unable to meet their strategic objectives are typically the ones experiencing a debilitating loss of perceived value of their products and services. This loss can be traced to one culprit: a weak information pipeline.

How much of this scenario sounds familiar?

Your marketing team puts together product messaging and creates intellectual property that feeds all sales and marketing collateral. Typically the end result is a rigid package of content; a PowerPoint presentation, a few videos, additions to the website, PDF. documents, mini apps, etc. These assets are dull and moderately effective. They are setting your sales force up for failure, which puts your company’s strategic objectives on the line.

So how do you create a strong information pipeline?

In my position as CEO of Mediafly, I have worked with hundreds of people in leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies. They have no trouble explaining to me why their innovative products, services, and strategic initiatives set them apart from and above their competition. But when I ask them how accurate and effective their sales force is at delivering this constantly evolving vision, these leaders become uncomfortable. Why? Because most senior leaders do not have a clear method to gauge their information enablement effectiveness.

Once these leaders understand that information enablement is a critical component of their company’s strength and success–as important as a P&L statement, balance sheet, and cash flow–they start to think differently. They start to understand the direct and inalienable link between information and revenue; information and market share; information and sales.

What is the difference between content and information?

Content is more often than not, created with a specific receiver or audience in mind and can therefore only be used when speaking with that intended recipient. On the other hand, some content is generic enough to apply to multiple audiences, but it doesn’t go deep enough to resonate with any of them. If you send your sales force out with convoluted content, they become ineffective the moment the buyer takes the conversation in an unexpected direction. The battle is lost right then and there.

Information, on the other hand, can be shaped on the spot. It flows from conception to audience without losing any of its meaning. Whether your company is launching a new product, or you need to position yourself against a competitor, your company’s information needs to be delivered quickly and accurately–by hundreds or thousands of sales people day-in and day-out.

Today’s Buyers Demand and Expect More

The companies leading the pack in their respective industries have leaders who embrace the fact that in order to meet their ambitious revenue and market share objectives, they must fully convey–to somebody responsible for purchasing their product or your service–what the product or service does for that prospect’s particular situation. Customers don’t buy products. They buy solutions to their problems. They buy proven success.

Enlightened leaders do not cannibalize on their success by attempting to convey their message through rigid packages of content. In fact, they do not focus on content at all. Instead, they focus on the pure translation and dissemination of the company’s information.

Think of it like this. If content is a pixel, information is the full spectrum of colors. It can be combined and melded together to make any color variation you want. Information is literally and figuratively fluid, and the ability to move it around without rigid boundaries is what makes it so dynamic. You and your leadership teams are constantly refining this full spectrum of colors, but again, you are not always the one with boots on the ground doing the selling. You are not always the conduit through which the company’s vision is conveyed. In fact, you are probably time zones and organizational levels removed from your frontline sales force. Your sales force is fighting to achieve your market share and revenue goals through hand-to-hand combat.

An empowered sales force has the information they need to best position your products and services, regardless of the audience. All without any loss of value. That, my friends, is information enablement.

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Written by  Carson Conant*, CEO and Founder of Mediafly, Inc., a globally recognized enterprise software company, that delivers mobile enablement solutions on the Content Mobility Cloud™, for Fortune 100 companies and beyond.

*ghostwritten by Heidi Kiec

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

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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.