Saturday, October 15, 2011

What REALLY is Social Media and How Does it Help a Person and/or Organization?

As a practicing consultant day in and day out, I have and continue to encounter people that are looking for more information and/or answers on a number of issues but especially social media and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) problems, hence my continued analysis of the subject matter. In fact, as I have learned over the last 3+ years throughout my Doctoral studies and entire business career not only does my own personal knowledge continue to increase in this subject matter but I am also finding that everyone’s knowledge is also increasing exponentially. This could be for many reasons but mostly thanks to network marketing, the new wave of social media, and CRM software (apps included) that are continuing to allow us all to communicate more effectively from just about anywhere.

However, for those out there that still think “social media” is a new part of our continually changing and mainstream culture, others disagree, as this median is by no means new. (Borders, 2009) stated that people and businesses all over the world have been using different types of digital media over the last 30+ years to communicate, socialize, network, etc. except back then, more often than not people referred to this median as the telephone, newspaper, television, etc (i.e. phones have been used for the last 60+ years). So then, what is “social media?” According to an industry expert social media is a way or form of expressing you and/or your company’s information in a social online forum. It can be looked at as the passing of information amongst friends, colleges, co-workers, and worldwide connections. This is actually no different from those days, when we used digital media such as newspapers or the landline telephone to connect with our friends, colleges, co-workers, or those often referred to as our “target market.” Whether we are connecting with people online or in-person, the truth is we can now connect deeper with others who are truly our “target markets.” Each and every time we connect in these ways (in person or online) it increases our relationships and our brand awareness. Most of the time people may not need your specific product and/or service at that exact moment but when a person does or when they run into someone that needs it they are more likely to think of you or recommend you and/or your company. Therefore, social media is often referred to as another friendly way to advertise to those within your inner/outer circles or can be broken down further to apply to a percentage of the contacts that you make over time. For example, if you meet 1000 people in a year and it applies to 10% of them, then you have gained 100 potential or “hopefully” actual clients. On a larger scale is you meet 10,000 people and have a 7% return, then 700 would be the number of potential of “hopefully” actual clients. Perhaps this is the most important part of social media, as it provides one of the only means of meeting that many people in open or closed forums through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Empire Ave, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. After all, if meeting people is a big part of creditability, then you should build relationships with others first regardless of the median, and sales and/or other potential opportunities will come later. In the end, social media helps not only build relationships but also helps people plant seeds, that if watered and given sun, will eventually grow. This new thing called “social media” is no different then what people have been doing for years in sales or other organizations like local Chamber of Commerce’s or Business Network International (BNI) groups. The only difference is that social media allows a person and/or organization the ability to plant additional seeds, that 30 years ago would have been impossible or required much more time, energy, and effort, which then will in turn, turn into ripe orchards in years to come (G Social Media, 2009).

As I continue my research and reporting, not only will I continue to report on Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) but also how Supply Chain Management (SCM), CRM, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), social media, and other technological system advancements will impact people and other (i.e. Small-to-Medium Enterprises) organizations in the years ahead. From this research and collected data, I will then introduce readers to a completely new concept and program that will help take us forward into the 21st Century. Until then, sit back relax, and enjoy the history, current progression, and future direction of social media and other technological systems analysis that I have/am continuing to provide and more importantly are continuing to change the way we communicate and the way the world operates. Of course, if you have any questions, comments, and or advice I am always looking to expand my knowledge base as explained in the opening; otherwise, keep smiling, as I continue to look forward to our journey together!


Borders, B. (2009). A Brief Histroy of Social Media, 2011, from media

G Social Media (2009). What is Social Media, why, and how can it help me, from

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who is the NCCI & What is the Importance of Proper Workers Compensation Classification for Businesses

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) based out of Boca Raton, FL is one of the countries largest database managers of workers compensation insurance information. In fact, NCCI helps to analyze industry trends and risks associated with them in order to help others prepare workers compensation insurance rates, while providing a combination of services, which help to maintain a healthier overall workers compensation system (NCCI Holdings, 2011).

Contrary to many people’s beliefs, the NCCI is not a rating bureau; instead, the organization is often referred to as an advisory committee because its board of directors is comprised of insurance executives and/or companies, which at times may seem a little biased, as these individuals or companies are in business to make a profit. Nevertheless, having a board made up of top-notch executives and companies who compete in the industry make it a little easier to help determine a fair classification system for the approximately 700 different workers compensation classification codes, which cover almost any employee or workplace exposure or does it?

One of the most elementary parts of pricing workers compensation insurance for a client is by properly classifying a company’s workplace exposures into one of these several hundred codes previously mentioned. Indeed, each code developed by the NCCI carries with it an individual rate that is based on that codes exposure within a particular workplace. For example, the classification codes for a clerical or sales worker usually carry with them significantly lower rates versus classification codes that may be associated with a roofer or logging, as the workplace exposure of these different types of jobs are extremely different (mostly inside positions versus outside positions). However, when the exposure is not so obvious, classifying a specific exposure can be very complicated and something a business owner wants to be absolutely sure of since a misclassification can cost a business a lot of money they didn’t necessarily expect to pay if something does go wrong or they end up getting audited.

Today employers can use multiple classification codes on a policy or a company can classify their workforce under one as a group but it is important to document or provide records that show what exact tasks workers complete or how they are split their time between different comp codes if using multiple codes. What the costs (annual premiums) are for a policy most of the time are based on an employer’s annual payroll, which can be in the form of a standalone policy or a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) arrangement. Therefore, for a decision maker of a company or the business owner, it becomes even more important to understand these different codes and make sure your employees who perform work for you are correctly classified for the actual work they perform. As a result, you could save a lot in the annual premiums and rates you receive in return.

Perhaps the most important part about all this is that the details the NCCI provides insurance carriers (i.e. SCOPES Manual) in regards to the many workers compensation codes is that this manual is NOT available anywhere unless you purchase the proprietary material or subscribe to the NCCI online database. However, as a Business Consultant and Doctorate of Business Administration Candidate who researching this as well as other industries, I welcome anyone to contact me directly for an analysis. Having this expert opinion on whether your employees are classified correctly or not could even save you and/or your company money, while minimizing costs or any additional fees for a misclassification. Providing you with this knowledge and service will help both of us sleep better at night.

As always and as I continue my research, you can expect more analysis and opinions about this along with other common issues found in advancing technologies and the workplace, which at times can make it hard for you to focus on your core business. Of course, the information that I continue to provide here are my views and not views and/or opinions of any others but views based upon real world research, which the title of my Blog depicts. Until next time, keep smiling, as it really does look good on you!

NCCI Holdings, Inc (2011). National Council on Compensation Insurance. NCCI, retrieved on July 24, 2011 from:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do you and/or your company understand how to properly manage your Payroll, Workers Compensation, Human Resources, Risk Management, and/or Employee Benefits? Is a Professional Employment Organization (PEO) the Answer?

Professional Employment Organizations (PEOs) or employee leasing companies are organizations that help other businesses by offering a number of valuable services to their customers. In general, PEOs provide organizations with payroll services, access to workers compensation policies, help in managing their human resources, risk management (i.e. employee manuals and other services), which at times may be difficult for these same organizations to manage on their own. As a result of this more efficient way of managing workplace processes and workplace safety, companies can further reduce administration costs while remaining focused on their core business strategy. PEOs also help companies gain more control over their costs of worker compensation coverage since most of the time workers’ comp rates are based on actual hours worked, so a company is exactly even every week and the worry of tax penalty goes away because the PEO pays all the state and federal taxes.

Additionally, most PEOs help organizations with their hiring practices by attracting and retaining good employees, while reducing their employee turnover and unemployment compensation claims, which is critical in today’s working environment. Because most employee leasing companies also represent a number of different employers these companies usually have access to a larger pool of workers. In turn, having access to a larger pool of workers can sometimes help lower the costs associated with certain employee benefits such as health and dental insurance, supplemental insurance, and even 401(k) retirement plans, which many companies cannot afford individually but now can because of the buying power of an employee leasing company (U.S. Department of Labor).

The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) Financial Ratio and Operating Statistics Survey (2010) found, “that 2-3 million Americans are currently co-employed in a PEO arrangement. About 700 PEOs that offer a wide array of employment services and benefits are operating today in 50 states. PEOs have an 88 percent client retention rate due to strong client satisfaction.” If you would like more information on Employee Leasing or Payroll Companies you can email or call me personally at 813-474-2705 to discuss how you continue to remain focused on growing your bottom line, so you have a competitive advantage over your competition.

Otherwise, please feel free to post any additional questions or comments, as I continue to collect real world research on how new technological advancements are helping to shape the future of Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Until next time, keep smiling, and thanks for stopping by :)

National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (2010). What is a PEO? Industry Statistics. PEO Industry Statistics, retrieved on June 26, 2011 from: /

Monday, June 6, 2011

What Does it Take for an Organization to become known as a Vanguard or a Sustainable Company?

When people think of a sustainable or vanguard company, often times they fail to mention the different ways that management can affect long-term sustainability planning within an organization. According to (Kanter, 2009) “a vanguard company is only as good as leaders’ ability to attract, motivate, and retain skilled people and enable them to self-organize and collaborate” (p. 28). Partnering with Boston Consulting (Hopkins, et al., 2009) adds a manger(s) sustainability practices within an organization are often based on the assumption of the more you know, the more you do within an organization. Thus, the more experience a manager has dealing with long-term sustainability issues, the more equipped they will be for future endeavors through social, economic, or environmental planning that directly affects a company’s long-term bottom-line results.

Hopkins et al., (2009) clearly point out that it is obvious that the more managers know about things that affect long-term sustainability planning the more they could/will help in shaping future business plans of an organization. However, the fact is many business managers or owners do not give much thought to long-term sustainability and this is why sustainability planning within many companies exists in a limited capacity or not at all. (Senge, Kruschwitz, Laur, & Schley, 2008) also mentioned that millions of people “including managers” are/will continue to search for ways to educate more people about sustainability issues. Like Hopkins et al., (2009) discussing the importance of managers uniting suppliers across that value chain Senge et al., (2008) recommended that more people need to learn how to “see the larger systems” in which they belong such as the supply chain, industry, or a region. This philosophy will not only provide additional insights for managers but also help educate more people with different perspectives, which will continue to help shape long-term sustainability plans of an organization.

According to (Wüstenhagen, Hamschmidt, Sharma, & Starik, 2008) another concept that can/is helping managers see the big picture is sustainable entrepreneurship, which has characteristics that carry with it high social benefits for the private, along with the public sector(s) of business. Sustainable entrepreneurship is dependent on innovation and stakeholders in order to succeed long-term. (Schlange, 2009) defines this concept as a process of identifying opportunities by being creative, while defining stakeholders as people or companies that are associated with certain organizations, which can help minimize risks, while maximizing benefits. In addition, Schlange (2009) identified three types of sustainable entrepreneurship (1) socially, (2) economically, and (3) ecologically driven. From a stakeholders perspective the key to effective sustainable entrepreneurship is to develop all three types of sustainability in order to create value and venture relationships that are likely to mature overtime.

However, business models that carry high social, economic, or ecological benefits may not always be suitable for the mass market, as in some instances they are actually detrimental to society. Expanding on the concept of sustainable entrepreneurship (Carter & Rogers, 2008) use conceptual theory building of sustainability to introduce readers to the concept of sustainability across the supply chain, which they explained helped shape the social, economic and environmental environments of this business segment. Using past research theories based on Transaction Cost Economics (TCE), ecology, and views within several organizations Carter and Rogers (2008) developed a framework driven by entrepreneurs that represented the middle ground of “Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM),” which would ultimately connect social supply chain responsibility with environmental and political programs (p. 360).

Carter and Rogers (2008) were also able to determine that sustainable entrepreneurship within an organization can also affect the societal, economic, and environmental performance of a manager and/or company much like (Hopkins, et al., 2009; Kanter, 2009). In fact, the societal, economic, and environmental processes analysis showed improved results in the overall economic performance of an individual or the entire supply chain. Four main factors supported the claims (1) the overall business strategy, (2) culture, (3) transparency, and (4) risk management. Carter and Rogers’s combination of processes with the identified four factors are a good starting point for those managers that are actually looking to learn more about and develop long-term sustainability practices within their organization(s) or the old adage of the more you know, the more you learn.

There are many ways people, managers, and executives looking at sustainable development in their personal and professional lives. In fact, as previously mentioned, sustainable management and entrepreneurship are two ways of creating long-term sustainability within an organization. However, can we meet the needs of the present with these sustainability processes without compromising future generation’s abilities to meet their own needs? Kanter (2009) says yes, as a sustainable or Vanguard Company is “able to change internally with fewer stumbles and less resistance because they empower people to change themselves,” by collaborating, forging new relationships, and developing new networks for future generations (p. 258). Wüstenhagen et al. (2008) also identified several strategies, which can help create a more sustainable future such as collaborating to improve the triple bottom line. (Markley & Davis, 2007) also looked at and examined collaboration as a way of improving the triple bottom line (socially, ethically, environmentally, and financially) through the creation and development of a sustainable supply chain. The purpose of this discussion was to outline appropriate future directions for management in order to improve a company’s overall organizational performance, while working with manufacturers, distributors, and customers to decrease the environmental effects of a supply chain manager’s decisions over the long run.

The concept of triple bottom line is not only important to the continued development of social, environmental, and financial sustainability but it is also important because it can enhance purchasing decisions, inventory management practices, employee training, material handling and material disposal. In other words, the triple bottom line can help managers address sustainability affects socially, environmentally, and financially throughout an organization. Although most of the time financial sustainability is at the top of most managers’ priority lists, it is also important that managers also recognize the importance of sustainability from a social and environmental viewpoint if they want to continue providing ideas that help an organization maintain a competitive advantage.

The fact is that many factors can contribute to an organizations long-term sustainability development planning. As a result, looking ahead it becomes even more of a challenge for managers that are searching for answers and additional ways to remain competitive, which in turn may become more of a challenge for even the most experienced managers or executives. Therefore, it is important that employees, managers, executives, and other individuals continue to work together to help solve problems or “creating futures they truly desire,” which sequentially will help improve an organization’s 21st century social, economic, and environmental performance and sustainability (Senge, et al., 2008).

In many organizations across the globe, stakeholders are becoming an important part of a company’s innovative strategies, other business development processes, and additional corporate initiatives. Senge, et al., (2008) stated, “trying to get people committed to a sustainability initiative is a bit like trying to be happy: The harder you try, the less successful you’re likely to be” (p. 267). Consequently (Wüstenhagen, et al., 2008) suggested a way of integrating social, economic, and environmental factor planning with an organizations management’s efforts and stakeholders concerns in order to further improve sustainability initiatives such as “customer value” (p. 241). This blog post has explained several important factors that are helping shape the social, economic, environmental, and financial sustainability efforts of executives, managers, and employees throughout many companies. A common theme throughout this work was that the more people know and understand sustainable business practices, the more they are doing to improve sustainability practices in management, thus helping their organizations become a vanguard company. As a result, this improvement within organizations will continue to help leaders find additional ways to reduce costs, while becoming more efficient and yielding solid social, economic, environmental, and financial results. As technological advancements lead to new systems, regulations will continue to force companies to rethink their long-term sustainability practices if they want to increase their global reputation. There is no doubt moving forward that companies will continue to grow more dependent on sustainability practices over the next 20+ years. For that reason, decision makers need to consider these factors along with others if they want to continue sustainable development thus moving to a vanguard company.

Carter, C., R. , & Rogers, D., S. (2008). A framework of sustainable supply chain management: moving toward new theory. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 38(5), 360.
Hopkins, M., Townend, A., Khayat, Z., Balagopal, B., Reeves, M., & Berns, M. (2009). The business of sustainability: What it means to managers now. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51(1), 20.
Kanter, R. M. (2009). SuperCorp: How vanguard companies create innovation, profits, growth, and social good. New York Crown Publishing Group.
Markley, M. J., & Davis, L. (2007). Exploring future competitive advantage through sustainable supply chains. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 37(9), 763.
Schlange, L. E. (2009). Stakeholder identification in sustainability entrepreneurship. Greener Management International(55), 13-32.
Senge, P., Kruschwitz, N., Laur, J., & Schley, S. (2008). The necessary revolution: How individuals and organizations are working together to create a sustainable world. New York: Doubleday.
Wüstenhagen, R., Hamschmidt, J., Sharma, S., & Starik, M. (2008). Sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship. Cheltenhem, UK: Edward Elgar.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Three Futuring Trends that are the Most Likely to Help Organizations Achieve Short and/or Long-Term Success

In the ever-changing world of business, it is extremely important to be able to identify past trends in order to recognize future opportunities that may or may not affect the short-term or long-term health of a business’s functionality now or in the years to come. According to (E. Cornish, 2004) there are an endless amount of ways to assess future events and when doing so you must make sure to use techniques that you are comfortable with. Three important futuring techniques that are sure to help an organization achieve short and long-term success are (1) scenarios, (2) modeling, and (3) wild cards.

According to Cornish (2004), a scenario is a developing future trend or strategy that describes a story or is explained in a detailed outline form. Usually those companies that utilize scenarios as part of the planning process do so if they are uncertain about future events and their potential impact(s) on the organizational planning. (Fink, Marr, Siebe, & Kuhle, 2005) also state that “scenarios can play a significant and new role in combining the well-structured planning process with the often less-organized and in some planners’ minds more “chaotic” early-warning processes” (p. 376). Nevertheless, a company maybe filled with varying perspectives of problems, and different interests that can turn a good strategy into a bad strategy overnight. Therefore, Fink, et al., (2005) explained four ways executives and managers could deal with these differences in order to create a stronger future for the company. First, recognize the key elements of the strategy as step one, where you identify twenty or less factors in order to discover relationships to where a company sees itself now and where it sees itself in the future. Second, improve and explain future options as step two, while describing what factors of those identified in step one can lead to potential future opportunities within the organization. Third, combine future options with step one scenarios since they are the link between future options of each factor identified in step one to strategy scenarios, while stressing the importance and strategy of each scenario developed by the members of the team. Finally, develop a strategic roadmap, which was referred to as the final step (four) or the identification of all the resources needed for any changes, also known as “windows of opportunities” (p. 367).

(Bracken, 2008) agreed with the insights of Cornish and Fink and describes four additional scenarios that are commonly used by leaders in order to help executives continue identifying business trends. The first was technology, followed by political risks, attrition, and strategic personalities. By no means are these four trends the only trends affecting business; but from the research, (Bracken, 2008) stated that these trends would likely continue to be at the forefront well into the next decade. Bracken (2008) also discussed the necessary leadership skills that would be required to produce future scenarios that could help everyone involved in business transactions as (1) foresight, (2) leverage, (3) agility, and (4) broader perspectives. (Bodell, 2006) research also showed that those organizations that are the most successful using scenarios and/or scanning methods are the ones that use foresight and perspective to identify opportunities, while preparing for what is next. (Bodell, 2006; Bracken, 2008) discussed similar methods that others can be taught in order to learn possible future tracks of their organizations. Those leaders that possess these traits will be better equipped to deal with turbulent times, be ahead of the game within their industry, and able to solve problems by viewing the situation from all possible angles.

The second futuring technique that could help an organization achieve short and long-term success is referred to as modeling and Cornish (2004) defines modeling as “something that we use to represent something else” (p. 70). Although there are a number of different modeling techniques that were/are used, (Wind, 2008) describes a modeling technique in relation to the discipline of Marketing. In fact, marketing, like technology has/is continuing to advance into a rigorous field of work and study. Wind (2008) explained that marketing today is a combination of “analysis, economic, and econometric modeling, behavioral economics, data mining, and techniques,” which are “derived from mathematical psychology” (p. 21). As the world continues to move forward, marketing will also need to continue forward; therefore, Wind (2008) proposed seven strategies modeled after several different disciplines (i.e. finance, customer relationship, supply chain management, operations, etc). Wind’s proposed strategies are an excellent example of how modeling can have major impacts on one specific element or several. (Giunipero, Hooker, Joseph-Matthews, Yoon, & Brudvig, 2008) agree with Wind (2008) and add that those organizational leaders that choose to evaluate past literature, while producing new models will be the ones who are able to determine what future development(s) may occur within a network or organizational framework. Like Wind (2008) modeling technique (Giunipero, et al., 2008) were able to correlate different frameworks, challenges, and trends of the past with new information technology and e-commerce, which is perhaps a new way to solve other strategic issues or help solve global supply chain issues heading into the future based on the past.

The last futuring technique that could help an organization achieve short and long-term success is wild cards. In a recent article published in the Futurist (Petersen, 2009) describes some of the same things in Cornish’s (2004) Futuring about wild cards that Petersen (2009) previously mentioned in his book Out of the Blue, which have continued to shape and reshape the future. In fact, Cornish not only uses Petersen’s work to describe past events but offers his analysis of Petersen’s three basic rules for dealing with wild cards, as also featured in the (Edward Cornish, 2003) article The Wild Card of the Future. Cornish quotes Petersen’s three rules as
(1) We need to think about wild cards before they happen because if we do then we are more likely to find a solution(s).
(2) We must also be able to understand the affects of potential wild cards in order to prepare better for a potential response.
(3) Extreme past and future events require unique approaches in order to help solve them.

Understanding the likelihood of future events can better equip you if/or when those events happen. In fact, both Cornish and Petersen describe some of the past wilds cards that have taken place and remind readers those events that happen unexpectedly may or may not be as uncommon as one may think. The truth is, over the years, wild cards have and continue to transform our own daily lives along with that of the global business environment. However, creating a long-term organizational strategy that transforms multiple partners is just the beginning. (Wagner, 2008) points out that an organization can forecast for the future; however, they cannot predict changes or “wild cards” that may occur outside the normal realm of conducting business. Her work examines several wild cards discussed in a work by Schwartz and Randall (2007) along with the main categories used in long-term business planning. Wagner (2008) identified six trends and forecasts companies utilize to predict future demands (1) demography, (2) economics, (3) environment, (4) government, (5) society, and (6) technology, while offering readers a brief classification of each. Obviously many variables can influence our daily decisions, which can affect long-term business forecasting; therefore, Wagner (2009) noted that many futurists often discuss a single trend across several sectors. This organization of trends has proved to be valuable in understanding many global issues or wild cards that can dramatically affect later business decisions and affect long-term business planning, so there are no surprises that you unprepared for.

This blog post examined three futuring methods that Cornish points out in his book Futuring Methods. Although there are many techniques that can predict the future; scenarios, modeling, and wild cards are the most important to my dissertation, hence the correlation of this work to previous blog posts. Additionally, the tools identified here were developed years ago; however, these tools will continue to be used to identify problems, as we continue to look for new tools and additional ways of predicting the future. We must also remember that we need to continue to think strategically, while remaining dedicated to innovation and technological advancements as a group if we want to continue advancing at the current rates. Regardless of the efforts, a company that uses these three methods to try to predict the future will be better equipped to deal with or plan for those unforeseen events, as they are essential to survival in the world we live in today.

Of course, I am always up for other opinions, especially those that involve some of the other futuring techniques used by individuals and business small or large. Shoot me an email, post here, or Tweet me a reply. Until next time, Keep Smiling!!!

Bodell, L. (2006). Best practices in scanning. The Futurist, 40(5), 22.
Bracken, P. (2008). Futurizing business education. Futurist, 42(4), 38-42.
Cornish, E. (2003). The wild cards in our future. Futurist, 37(4), 18.
Cornish, E. (2004). Futuring: The exploration of the future. Bethesda, MD: World Future Society.
Fink, A., Marr, B., Siebe, A., & Kuhle, J.-P. (2005). The future scorecard: combining external and internal scenarios to create strategic foresight. Management Decision, 43(3), 360.
Giunipero, L. C., Hooker, R. E., Joseph-Matthews, S., Yoon, T. E., & Brudvig, S. (2008). A decade of SCM literature: Past, present, and future implications. Journal of Supply Chain Management: A Global Review of Purchasing & Supply, 44(4), 66-86.
Petersen, J. L. (2009). How "wild cards" may reshape our future. Futurist, 43(3), 19-20.
Wagner, C. G. (2008). Anticipating wild cards in world affairs. Futurist, 42(1), 6-7.
Wind, Y. (2008). A plan to invent the marketing we need today. MIT Sloan Management Review, 49(4), 21.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Does/Can Social Media Impact Your Supply Chain and/or Business Strategy?

Of late there has been a lot of talk about the influences that social media plays in almost all the things we do in our daily lives. In fact, many people have argued that this new median for reaching larger audiences is now starting to affect the ways organizations conduct business, build relationships, and increase sales throughout the world while enhancing supply chain operations. Or is it?

As customer wants and the business landscape continues to change, we must also continue to look for ways to integrate social media into our daily business activities if we want to continue achieving the type of long-term growth most of us are looking for, or the old adage “innovate or die.” In a recent blog post (Cunha, 2011) discussed some of the ways that we can connect customers with things they want to buy in it what he terms “the Connected Experience” by discussing four important concepts (1) ERP, (2) Real-Time, (3) China, and (4) Software, while offering several detailed explanations of each.

(1)Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)- the corner stone of the supply chain, which offers a company the ability to plan, analyze, and/or implement new strategies in a timely manner in order to produce enough product in real-time. That is if the organization realizes the strengths and weaknesses in what their system(s) can do such as integrating your ERP system with a reputable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in order to track customer issues with product quality, other opinions, and reviews or through other medians such as Social Media.
(2)Real-Time- what many purchasing decisions are based on, especially now with social media, as these medians offer leaders the ability to track potential purchase decisions simply by tracking the number of likes, dislikes, comments, and/or discussions through almost any social media site, which is extremely important in small and large purchases alike.
(3)China- the research continues to show China a leader in retail marketing by their continued success in online trading platforms such as Alibaba, Made in China, Global Sources, etc. It is no secret that these as well as other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have and will continue to allow China and others the ability to reach mass audiences while streaming the way the products are purchased, distributed, and consumed all over the world. Either organizations will have to get on board or be left behind.
(4)Software- with a number of different enterprise systems available to organizations (ERP, VMI, APS, etc) obviously the key here is to understand what system can offer you the best ways to analyze data in order to make additional long-term strategic decisions. If you use one if not more of these systems with a mix of social media sites, you should be able to segment, create benchmarks, and correlations between your software solutions and your bottom-line results.

(Cunha, 2011) identified four important and relevant items that can help you and/or your organization collect, analyze, and assemble new ways to reach more people, hence streamlining your supply chain functionality. Regardless of the reasons, you use social media, it is becoming more important now a days to use it, and if you don’t then later you will more than likely end up asking yourself why you didn’t. As more and more companies continue to build their online presence, more and more people and businesses will continue to make purchases, while influencing others within their network to make the same purchases, which should indicate that your social networks can not only grow your business but also encourage new strategies for those involved in making strategic supply chain decisions. Ultimately, social media will never replace personal relationships but it should allow companies to build leaner supply chains, while connecting more brands with more consumers for any organization that competes in the market today.

Lastly, (Cunha, 2011) analysis like many of the others that I have continued to review over the course of my Doctoral work provides yet a few more reasons why this subject matter is extremely important not only to the continued evolution of supply chains systems but any system that social media has/will impact in the years ahead. Of course, other opinions, ideas, and suggestions are what will ultimately decide who, what, when or where consumers make a purchase but this subject should continue to drive business and purchasing decisions in some fashion in the foreseeable future, hence why this is such as important piece of the work that I continue to report and conduct. Of course, I am always up for your opinions and you can also contact Mr Cunha through my references at the bottom of this page.

Until, next time continuing smiling, achieving, and dedicated, as we all look for answers to the social media maze-- Cheers

Cunha, L. (2011). What does social media mean to your supply chain? Warehouse Management Systems Guide, retrieved on May 6, 2011 from:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in Sales-Intensive Organizations

Over the last several decades technology has continued to change the way organizations manage, strategize, communicate, build relationships, procure vendors, create marketing campaigns, and track customer inquiries. According to (Tanner Jr, Ahearne, Leigh, Mason, & Moncrief, 2005) CRM currently ranks in the top five of most corporate strategies in over 60% of companies, as these systems allow leaders to manage processes, communicate more with their customers, while growing organizational marketing effectiveness and increasing customer and vendor retention rates. Additionally, Tanner Jr, et al., (2005) identified three important aspects of most CRM systems. The first is Strategic CRM, which is the organizational decision making process that helps define and/or build a customer-oriented business strategy with their business processes, and technology implementation. In other words, “the ability to define and implement a right customer → right strategy → right organization → right channel → right people → right rewards success model” (p. 169). The second is Analytical CRM, which are the processes used to analyze customer and industry information in order to provide information that is more accurate and will guide the company’s future marketing efforts. Finally, Operational CRM, which is the business process such as sales, marketing, service, support, etc. All of these important aspects of CRM and resource allocations across all channels accompany a firm’s relationship strategy and point to four issues at the strategic level (1) account management issues, (2) organizational or sales structure, (3) cultural issues, and (4) enterprise-level knowledge management.

(1) Account management issues- a strategic issue that involves how sales organizations use CRM to review the different way that accounts are managed (i.e. territory, key account management, and collaboration).
(2) Organizational and/or sales structure- CRM has allowed more organizations to place more emphasis on selling based on customer needs across many different organizational departments (i.e. field and divisional sales, electronic and team selling, call centers, supply-chain personal and vendors, partners, etc).
(3) Cultural issues- the degree to which an organizations culture may or may not be more inclined towards a CRM implementation (i.e. sales organizations commission based tend to be non-supportive of CRM versus those organizations that offer base plus commissions).
(4) Enterprise-level knowledge management- CRM systems allow leaders the ability to access vast amounts of information in order to predict, develop, and market new products and/or services. This enabling can create a general view of an organizations customer, which in turn can create even more sales and marketing campaigns that are effective.

As more and more organizations gain a better understanding of CRM, these systems will require more researchers to look at the specific benefits that CRM technology can provide a company throughout the entire organization. Therefore, Tanner Jr, et al., (2005) framework, and research for use in analyzing systems such as CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) could enable more organizations to achieve even higher levels of performance, procure more vendors, ROI, sales, satisfaction, and enhanced business relationships. Since these five variables are also some of the same drivers in my research analysis this study just like the others analyzed over the last several weeks should allow me the opportunity to determine if the proposed framework in this study will be the best way to determine if a CRM technology is the most important change initiative in SCM. Over the next two weeks, I will make my determination and of course report my findings for additional feedback or comment. Otherwise, if I do deem CRM to be the most important you can expect a more thorough analysis and discussion of this system in the weeks and months ahead as I apply other scholarly pieces into a real world dissertation that will be published in late 2012. Until next time, keep smiling, as it really does look good on you! Cheers