The Cloud is Exploding


By Steven Horwitz – Chairman & CEO – Astadia Consulting

We move into 2011 on a strong wave of validation from partners and clients.  At the same time, the Cloud is moving rapidly from a potential option to full adoption. We’ll be naturally propelled forward to greater opportunities — like building on our first-mover momentum in Service Cloud, as well as advancing our reach deeper into verticals like Telco, Media and Construction.

We’re not only creating more ways for the Astadia story to support the Salesforce message, we’re more in synch with Salesforce than ever on delivery because our track record and honed methodologies reinforce our leadership role on the platform. We’re constantly listening and launching, including a new data assessment practice, and as always, linking up the very best in cloud partners for the benefit of our clients.

I am encouraged by these developments and ready to deliver on the promise of Cloud that we have been building together.

Stay connected with me by following me on Twitter or joining the Astadia group on Facebook.

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The Roar of the Cloud


By Mike Lingo – CTO – Astadia Consulting

Louder, louder and louder again.

I’m standing at the top of the ramp and looking straight down the slope where all of this takes off into the blue sky, and I have to tell you it’s exhilarating. This is what it means to be Cloud-centered at the close of 2010:

We are now flying past the inflection point. We have a distinct voice and everyone recognizes the sound. More are listening every day.

I’m hearing the loud chatter at a decibel level normally associated with a flyover of F16’s, the roar of 25,000 Cloud architects, evangelists, pioneers and zealots who gathered at the Dreamforce event recently in San Francisco.

I’m hearing the silky jazz sound of sales and service sharing the same stage, aligned and primed for performance, more easily than ever.

I’m hearing the walls crashing down between IT and the business, the implosion of all that has been erected in the name of specialization and segmentation.

And I’m hearing a big sigh of relief. Finally, we can fail gracefully on projects and get to the right answer sooner with less cost.

But I have to tell you if your organization does not know how to communicate, the Cloud is not going to work for you. Those gears are going to grind and grate and ultimately disintegrate with a loud crash. I won’t be able to help you there.

What I can do is point you in the right direction. And I can help you stand shoulder to shoulder with the business and get the thing rolling again, because there is a lot less resistance working against you when you put software back in its place.

Best wishes for making a racket and ratcheting up rapidly in 2011,
Mike Lingo

What is Your DeaLiQ?


By Pablo Zurzolo – Vice President, Product Marketing

Most marketing organisations concentrate on the “L” and ignore the rest. What do I mean by that?

Ultimately, all marketing problems begin and end with bad data. Purchased lists with incomplete fields, trade show attendee data dumps and legacy CRM system information. Add to the pot a marketing automation system that produces single-touch, content-weak campaigns, and what are you left with? A pile of “marketing qualified” leads that are promptly rejected by sales.

Hence, most marketing organisations rush to nurture their leads, but forget to cleanse and qualify their data.

Want to be different? Come and meet me at this year’s Dreamforce – Astadia Booth 513 – to learn how we can help you! At Astadia we understand it’s not enough to have your Salesforce.com CRM integrated with a whizz-popping Marketing Automation tool. Work needs to be done to your data before you plough into Lead Nurture campaigns.

Shoot by the booth and we’ll be happy to explain how our three step DeaLiQ program can help you!

Database enrichment and cleansing

  • Data assessment, gap analysis and hygiene
  • Data enrichment activities for contacts and accounts
  • Best practice data maintenance strategies
  • Integration with CRM and marketing systems

Lead nurturing and campaign management

  • Marketing Automation implementation and full CRM integration
  • Business Process Reviews and Training to get you up and running
  • Best practices from over 200 clients
  • Multi-touch lead generation and nurturing campaign guidance
  • Outsourced campaign management

Qualification and scoring

  • Post-campaign analytic support, including executive reporting/dashboards.
  • Continuous Improvement methodology to fine tune marketing/sales alignment
  • Outbound appointment setting to further qualify campaign leads
  • Solutions to better manage prospecting and outbound teams

 

Telecommunications – The New Age


By Lawrence Buckler – Client Director Telecommunications

In my role as Client Director of Telecommunications at Astadia Consulting I work alongside some of the UK’s largest telecoms providers, the likes of Vodafone Global Enterprise, BT Agile Media and Orange ‑ Everything Everywhere. So in my 10 plus years working in IT with the last 2 focusing specifically on the Telecoms space, the burning question that appears to standout most prevalently is – How do you compete in today’s Telecoms Industry?

As competition intensifies it is fast becoming clear that success can no longer be solely attributed to price. Customer loyalty is more important and more elusive than ever! Cost cutting, efficiency and scalability rule the day, but how exactly can this be achieved?

Enter Cloud-based applications; Sales Automation and Customer Centric Business processes that together help some of today’s telecoms organisations achieve a higher calibre of competitive resistance and edge. The New Age of Telecommunications is here and to succeed changes need to happen under the hood at both the front and back office, as well as with customer service to provide sustainable growth and development for the future.

So what are some of the questions you should be asking yourself? Well, firstly:

Do you differentiate yourself from the competition with a positive customer journey? It is without doubt, proven that consolidated systems, the automation of activities and the provision of clear communication channels go a long way to improving the customer experience. Using a Cloud-based CRM system, such as Salesforce.com and adopting elements of Astadia’s Service Cloud methodology can go a long way to improving the customer experience, which in turn will boost your competitive edge.

Are your Sales teams wasting time completing admin tasks, when they could be out there selling? If the answer is yes, then you need to focus on getting your most valuable assets, your Sales team, out there creating and delivering more revenue. To do this, you need to look at improving your back office processes to deliver better governance and greater efficiencies. Something Astadia has a wealth of experience implementing across the industry.

Do you manage key aspects of your organisation on a variety of different systems and platforms? Efficient governance and compliance with regulatory bodies takes time and painstaking organisation; something that isn’t easily done when you need to search 4 or 5 different applications to obtain the data you need. Standardising your operating platforms and applications enables greater control, flexibility and scalability – Something that prior to the Cloud, was not so readily available. Now, with the rise of Cloud applications, organisations are able to save data in a central repository that can be accessed whether you’re at the office, at home or at 35,000 feet travelling to this year’s Dreamforce.

Conveniently speaking of Dreamforce, I’ll be at the conference in San Francisco so if you want to talk more about Cloud Computing, Salesforce.com and business process change for the Telecommunications industry come and find me at Booth 513 or in the Industry Solutions Section of the Expo at Booth 234.

I look forward to seeing you at Dreamforce!

Astadia showcasing the ITX ROI Calculator at Dreamforce 2010


By Cory Vander Jagt – Director of Cloud Transformation

Over the last 2 years, I’ve witnessed an explosion in Cloud applications; the pace of growth is amazing as more and more people realise its benefits. The biggest annual event in the IT industry’s calendar is testament to that – Dreamforce. Now everyone’s talking Cloud! We all want to benefit from:

  • Elastic IT Infrastructures
  • Access to shared resources
  • Rapid innovation and enhancement
  • Predictable cost, and
  • Decreased administrative burden

However, the question I’m finding more prevalent than ever is:

How much can I really save/benefit by moving to the Cloud?

Hard facts, concrete cost savings and black and white numbers will always be the foundation of any decision to change. Hence why, we at Astadia created an ROI calculator specifically designed to give you that level of granular analysis.

Whilst the overall benefits of Cloud computing are clear, we understand that your business is very different, with its own nuances and individuality. Therefore, to determine with any real relevance, the true benefit to your business, you’ll need a tool that allows you to analyse each segment of your IT environment to understand what cost savings you can make when moving it to the Cloud.

At this year’s Dreamforce 2010, Astadia will be showcasing the ITX ROI Calculator. Why not have a play with it and pop by the booth (#513) to talk more about how we can help you move to Cloud.

“Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud.” Lingo, unleashed


By Christie Turner – Director of Marketing – Astadia Consulting

Mike Lingo, the CTO at Astadia, travels the globe helping companies use the Cloud to transform their businesses. A Silicon Valley veteran and long time tech exec, he’s seen it all: Freewheeling disasters, crazed, defensive stakeholders, clean project roadmaps sullied by labyrinthine development models, and even ahead-of-schedule, under-budget implementations. Now, in his new book, “Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud”, he tells all, and charts how the Cloud will profoundly affect the people, processes, security, infrastructure – and bottom line – of your business.

“People ask me, Mike, why the Cloud? Why now? And I tell them it’s about having the horsepower they’ve always wanted, with fewer trips to the gas pump and very little wallop to your wallet. I tell them the Cloud has a higher safety rating than standard computing, and you get that safety without compromising on what you can wring out of this baby on the curves in your contact center, or on slick surfaces like you find on the executive floors. I tell them that you don’t even have to own anything, you just rent, and if you don’t like the model you’ve chosen, you bring it back and they give you another one to try out. Like a test drive, but all the time. There’s never been a better time to get behind the wheel.” —From the Foreword

“What Mike has done in this manifesto is to strip things back to the essentials and provide a plain-spoken view of where the strategic opportunities to leverage the Cloud exist for IT folks, the CxO crowd, and business line managers. The book charts a path not fraught with traditional IT peril, but one that unlocks the innovative juices of your team. Likely your CEO is demanding a strategy, so see what all the fuss is. And make it actionable.”—Doug Menefee, CIO, Schumacher Group

Click here to download a sample chapter of Mike’s forthcoming book about cloud computing.

 

Is Marketing generating the leads your Sales team wants? 3 Steps to Sales-Marketing Alignment


By Christie Turner – Astadia Marketing Director

No tool or benchmark can tell you what a qualified lead looks like for your company. Only sales people can define that. They’re the ones who have to close the leads, so they are your experts in lead qualification.

Well, it’s no secret that the relationship between sales and marketing teams is often…strained. How to move forward?

Here’s a 3 prong approach to move the conversation forward–by strengthening the correlation between marketing activities and revenue generation.

Item 1: Start a regular, ongoing conversation.

Here are 4 icebreaker questions for that first meeting between your company’s sales and marketing leadership.

  • What are the best–and worst–leads we’ve sent you?
  • What are the characteristics of a lead you’re excited to work?
  • What are the must-have characteristics for a lead to be worked at all?
  • What must your pipeline contain for you to make quota?

If your team most recently asked these questions more than 3 months ago, some answers have changed.

This conversation should engage the highest-ranking sales leader and the highest-ranking marketing leader in the organisation. Marketing-sales alignment is too important to delegate.

An outside moderator may be helpful, if the relationship has been rocky.

After the initial meeting, the marketing team should re-evaluate its lead scoring programs, list and lead sourcing strategies, and the marketing plan itself. Where could they be adjusted to better deliver the pipeline needed?

Item 2: Build the lead management process together.

For its activities to be relevant, marketing must align its tactical go-to-market plans to the territory battle plans of the sales team.

Sales should also align its workflow to fully leverage the groundwork laid by the marketing team’s activities.

Here are 4 icebreaker questions for the lead management process discussions between sales and marketing.

  • Who should be working on the leads marketing sends to sales?
  • What information do the sales people need to follow up effectively after we run a campaign? Who will compile and deliver that information?
  • How quickly can sales follow up on new inquiries?
  • What can be automated or simplified to enable faster sales follow-up on new leads/opportunities?

Clearly defining how a lead gets into and out of each stage is essential.

Item 3: Work from the same set of measurement reports.

Review the entire pipeline together, regularly, using your jointly-defined lead management process and terms.

Bottom line: if your leads are going to be turned into revenue, it’s the Sales team who will do it. Find out how you can make them more successful, and they will make you more successful.

For more marketing insights, download our white paper:

10 causes of Marketing Automation failure (and what you can do about it).


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