THE ENHATCH BLOG

marksbirch

The quote “This is the new business agility which embodies the new reality of “Deploy or Die”” sums up well our ideas at Enhatch. We are giving sales and marketing users the ability to not just sketch out apps that someone else builds, they have the power to do it themselves and to iterate on the process as they see fit on their timetable.  The point is that a business group could literally roll out an app in a matter of hours and deploy it across the sales team.  That is a tectonic shift in how enterprise apps are managed today which is slow and arduous.  Enhatch is built for business agility.

marksbirch:

Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist” by Joi Ito

What is needed is a new IT architecture and organizational structure that splits the functional from the infrastructure.  This enables IT to focus on securing technology platforms and the data therein while the business has the ability to control and modify the functional layer to enable their business needs.  Technology is no longer only the domain of IT as the spread of mobile devices and cloud services have demonstrated.  In the new era of IT, technology is delivered faster, business can deploy almost instantly, and IT can dedicate their efforts and resources to the fast and reliable delivery of corporate information in the most secure fashion possible.  Instead of the wholesales centralization of systems therefore, functionality and business software exists in a federated model within businesses while data is the currency that is protected and securely delivered by IT.  This is the new business agility which embodies the new reality of “Deploy or Die”.

forrester.com
According to a 2014 study by Forrester Research, the Business Marketing Association and the Online Marketing Institute, 51% believe their content marketing practices are mature, but a larger 85% of B2B marketing leaders fail to connect this activity to business value, which causes marketers to fail in customer retainment and shows a weakness in the later stages of the buying cycle.

B2B Marketers Struggle To Connect Content Marketing with Business Value via Forrester

A lack of analytics with sales activity is a huge gap in the toolkit of the modern day marketer.  That just happens to be the core of the Enhatch platform, not only do we provide easy distribution of content through visually engaging mobile apps, we also track the views of content to provide a clear view to marketers as to the relative value of that content.  This gives marketers a powerful data set by which to determine marketing ROI and ultimately to cost of sale and value to the sales process.

SoundCloud / a16z

a16z Podcast: The Topic That's Lasted the Entire History of Computing -- Bundling and Unbundling

The Topic That’s Lasted the Entire History of Computing - Bundling and Unbundling

Fascinating discussion between Steven Sinofsky and Benedict Evans, particularly for the implications for enterprise apps.  Most software to date has suffered from severe bloat.  Steven says as much during the beginning of the discussion around how features grow into massive products:

Then what you find is that your idea is sort of related to other ideas, and so you start to add features, and then one day you have someone else’s whole vertical integrated into your product, but it’s never as good as the separate one, but it might be good enough to keep your customers from jumping and using another product.

In mobile, this is an important concept as it relates to worker productivity, data & process integration, and user engagement.  Historically, the balance has always been between unbundling and bundling of functionality, with unbundling being the flavor of the moment.  This makes sense given that mobile lends itself to quick tasks and lookups.

What we see however is an emerging third path that gives enterprises the ability to customize the software for their needs.  The idea of allowing customers to modify the software is nothing new.  The difference now is that customization is not an IT project, but something that the business can control, so the concept of enterprise software mass customization is now a reality.

Businesses can weave between the two extremes of bundled and unbundled within Enhatch and see which path works best for their organization.  There is not inherent limit within Enhatch, and many of our customers have rolled out several apps based on each groups requirements.  For example, one group has more of a relationship, account based sales process whereas another group at our customer has more of the hunter-style sales approach, so each has a different app reflecting that difference.

The question of bundling and unbundling may very well continue.  At Enhatch though, we see the idea of mass customization, agile mobile development, and lean build, deploy, and test cycles will make the distinction a moot point.  It is pretty exciting creating the future and an entirely new paradigm of enterprise business software deployment.

enterpriseirregulars.com
Deciphering data can be confusing, but utilizing data software, for example, can help you understand what applications your employees are using and how they are engaging with one another on their devices. It can even be a money saver, if you’re able to cut back on mobile initiatives that aren’t useful or engaging for employees.

Mobile Management Goes Beyond the Device by Jason Corsello

Very true and many companies are spending dollars needlessly on the drive to be more “mobile centric” without considering:

  1. How users are using the software they have deployed
  2. What value they are getting from use of the software.

That is something critically important to us.  Our analytics have helped our customers understand what parts of their mobile apps (and the content wherein) are being used versus those parts that are not.  This helps them to quickly iterate on the apps they created on the Enhatch platform, deploy those changes, and measure the feedback.  The results are more valuable and useful mobile apps deployed faster to users, creating a virtuous value loop that makes the entire organization more agile to business change.

blog.learningbyshipping.com

Feature Bloat in Mobile Enterprise Apps

Some great insights by Steven Sinofsky of a16z and our CRO Mark Birch on the challenges of balancing adding features versus keeping the app experience simple in enterprise mobile apps.  We have seen many Web 2,0 SaaS app suites that attempted to recreate the functionality of the web in a mobile interface.  The result is confusing and hard to use applications that users ultimately reject.

We have made a conscious effort to design mobile first and to help our customers to create apps that are native to the device and map to how users engage with their devices.  Instead of adding more features and more stuff, we have made the most of the device capabilities and with data to minimize the features needed.  That has made a huge difference in adoption and application engagement, particularly with sales people who are the most active users of mobile work oriented apps.  The lesson is clear; getting the user experience right is critical even for enterprise apps.

marksbirch:

“Just as with the GUI era it is enthusiasts who can often drive features of apps. Enthusiasts love shortcuts and connections along with pulling functionality into their favorite apps. You can see this in reviews and comments on apps. Enthusiasts also tend to have the skills and global view of the platforms to navigate the redundancy without getting lost. So this could also be a case of making sure not to listen too closely to the most engaged…and that’s always tricky.”

Avoiding mobile app bloat by Steven Sinofsky

I was reading back to this post from a year ago as I have been thinking about mobile user experiences and interfaces, something that is very much top of mind for me lately.  I do not agree with all the points in the post, something I will expound upon later, but I did find the above quote interesting.

Who drives features in product?  User input is important but it can also lead to unnecessary development, functional redundancy, and feature bloat.  That is the struggle in product creation; how to implement functionality that is additive without compromising the vision, usefulness, and simplicity of the product?  In the PC world, adding features was second nature, but in a mobile universe, developers can no longer afford those luxuries even when faced with the most engaged users asking for and demanding more and more product.

khuyi
I don’t worry about specific domain expertise, but I worry about hiring people who don’t interact with customers.

Work-Bench Hosts NYC’s First SaaStr Social (via khuyi)

Though the context of the discussion and quote is around product development, it also happens to be an important lesson about sales and marketing.  Very true about most customer facing roles in companies, especially marketers and salespeople.  That may sound like an odd thing to say because their roles are all about interacting with customers, but often the conversation is very one way.  Salespeople are pushing to get the sale and tossing around product information.  Marketers are pushing marketing messages and shilling collateral.  But there is little listening that is involved in these interactions.

(via marksbirch)

Engage users simply. Face it, most people hate using CRM, as data entry and retrieval is hard to do. CRM success demands role-based, simplified user interfaces. User experiences should be task-based and map to common processes, which proactively display relevant information such as the products that the customer owns, the services they subscribe to, and what customer tier they’re in.

The Modern CRM via CustomerThink

Some great points here that mirror how we view CRM.  The standard approach is to start with data entities arranged in fields and tables that are pushed out to users through a few layers of abstraction through complex development tool sets.  That is the world that makes sense to technology vendors and IT departments.

This however does not represent how users think or work in the real world when interacting with technology.  In the real world where business happens, especially in complex sales environments, processes are not straight-forward, customers do not interact in standard ways, knowledge is hidden, and standard operating procedures are never all that standard.  In that context, traditional CRM fails.  Maybe it is CRM as a construct that does not work anymore and it is time to rethink the approach and the platforms used to support field sales and marketing teams?

blog.softlayer.com
Because the Internet has been around a lot longer than these agile principles, I argue that the real catalyst for the startups and technology disruptors we see nowadays was the widespread, affordable availability of cloud resources. The chance of deploying infrastructure on demand without long-term commitments, anywhere in the world, and with an option to scale it up and down on the fly decreased the cost of innovation dramatically.

Deploy or Die via SoftLayer Blog

And we would take it one more step and say that mobile and the app paradigm was the accelerator.  Everything prior, from the Internet, to API’s, to the cloud all helped lead us to this point, and now mobile is the Trojan horse that has infiltrated the corporate structure and upended the normal order of things.  Now the disruption is happening everywhere and it is all available and controlled from your smartphone and tablet.

Today’s buyers do a tremendous amount of their purchasing research long before they ever speak to a salesperson. As a result, it is critical for marketers to consider every potential interaction with a customer and how those impressions may be shared via social media. Ultimately, this age of the hyper-educated, constantly connected consumer requires that marketing and sales work more closely together than ever before.

Mick Hollison, CMO at InsideSales.com

While the perspective here is on consumer, this new reality is coming into being in the B2B enterprise world as well.  It is therefore critical that sales reps are equipped with the right information for the right audience to the right time which requires a technology platform that support a more mobile and more complex sales environment.

linkedin.com
Shifts in the dissemination of technology dollars are prompting perpetual turf battles. Technology budgets today are no longer solely the domain of the CIO. In many cases, the CMO controls the purse strings, as only about half (53%) of IT spending is accounted for in the CIO’s budget. And one-fifth (20%) of companies said that 20% or more of the company’s overall technology spending occurred in the marketing department.

How to Unite the CIO and CMO via LinkedIn

The challenge that is being faced in the CIO-CMO relationship is that CMO’s need more control of and ownership of technology.  The reason is that the speed of change in markets, customers, and competitors requires faster responsiveness in order to remain competitive.  Yet the struggle is that all technology was under the domain of IT and the CIO historically.

In the new architecture of IT, technology itself is morphing into two domains; core infrastructure and functional applications.  Under infrastructure, IT is managing data integrity, integration, security, availability, scalability, and reliability.  In the functional architecture, business lines and functions control the business side of technology platforms and tools in a way that does not impact the infrastructure, but gives the business greater flexibility to create and configure and modify their applications to fit their needs in a way that is faster and easier to maintain.