Saturday, December 27, 2008

What's Hot in e-Commerce

By Mark Brousseau

Will mobile commerce take over in 2009? Will consumers continue to browse online and shop offline … or will it be the other way around? What new uses for social networking sites will retailers find in the New Year? Guidance offers its thoughts on the hottest new trends for online retail and technology.

... Mobile will NOT be the killer app for eCommerce -- at least not as a shopping channel in and of itself. But it will become hugely useful as a companion to both online and offline shopping.

... Commerce will become even more collaborative. Social commerce enables interaction among shoppers in a variety of forms, while collaborative commerce takes it to the next level by enabling “the group” to purchase together, or have a say in product development.

... Corporations will “become” social. Larger companies will bring social networking in-house.

What do you think? Post your comment below.

Economy Drives Shared Services

By Mark Brousseau

It has been a truly remarkable 2008 - for the world in general and for the shared services and outsourcing space in particular.

Sarah Clayton, head of strategy for Shared Services Online Network (SSON), comments: “With many organizations focused almost exclusively on the bottom line, a wave of discretionary projects are now well and truly on the back burner for 2009 as SSOs are compelled to do more – and better – with less. Meanwhile, areas such as working capital and supply chain management move into the spotlight as parent organizations struggle to cope with the most uncertain economic times for many decades.”

Jamie Liddell, SSON’s Online Editor, believes: “Next year more than ever, agility, efficiency and flexibility will be crucial to the survival of even the very biggest organizations. Great emphasis will be placed on solidifying core activities and cutting back on what might now be seen as unnecessary luxuries – which of course throws up plenty of opportunities for acquisitive-minded firms with healthy war chests. We’ve already seen the beginning of what may prove to be a deluge of hitherto captive centers being sold to major providers – who will also be looking to snap up a few of their less well-capitalized competitors.”

What do you think? Post your comment below.

2009 Promises Major Changes

By Mark Brousseau

2009 will bring significant changes to content technology marketplaces, according to independent technology evaluation company, CMS Watch (

“Obviously the economic slump will continue to influence buyers and vendors,” observes CMS Watch founder Tony Byrne, “but other technology developments – including the rise of mobile analytics and a new version of MS SharePoint – will also significantly affect enterprise calculations.”

CMS Watch offers twelve predictions:

1. Open source Enterprise Content Management (ECM) players get an initial boost
2. Office14 casts long shadow on SharePoint
3. "Taxonomies are dead. Long live meta data!"
4. Regulatory-compliance concerns reignited
5. Renewed interest in pro-active e-discovery
6. SaaS vendors expand offerings
7. Oracle falls behind in battle for knowledge workers
8. New emphasis on application search
9. Social computing diffuses into the Enterprise
10. Mobile and multimedia web analytics become key requirements, disrupters
11. Long-awaited consolidation comes to the WCM space
12. Buyers remain in driver’s seat

CMS Watch principal, Theresa Regli, adds, “The last two predictions are somewhat related – we’re counseling buyers to negotiate aggressively, and some vendors will endure eroding cash flows better than others.”

What do you think? Post your comment below.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2009: A Year of Risk and Reward

By Mark Brousseau

There can be no question that 2008 has been a horrific year for business. Yet as bad as this year has been, 2009 is shaping up to be a year of both risk and reward for many forward thinking companies.

That’s according to Rob Haberman (, senior product manager for Purepay Receivables Automation. Haberman notes that governments worldwide are pouring money into their economies, to kick-start recovery. Savvy companies will be shoring up their balance sheets and preparing for the inevitable upturn, he says.

Haberman shared a few thoughts on some of the process opportunities we will see in 2009.

Manage Your Costs and Your Customers’ Costs

Leveraging technology to reduce costs will be a major issue in 2009, Haberman says. Stripping waste out of your balance sheet and your customer’s balance sheet will be a key element for survival. One example is the use of remote deposit and capture.

With this, customers use small low-cost scanners to balance and transmit invoice coupons and cheques to your in-house remittance system, Haberman notes. Your customers reduce the need to manage and transport paper checks. On the other hand, you have the ability to scale your operations to meet demand variances, without major expense or disruptions. There is also the possibility for per-transaction revenue. Equally important, since transport and processing time is reduced, funds are available far sooner, Haberman explains.

Waving the Red Flag – Stopping Fraud

Fraud through identity theft has become a major issue and resource drain for many companies in 2008. In November of 2008, the US Government enacted a series of regulations, referred to as the “Red Flag Rules”. In May 2009, these rules will be fully enforced by the FTC, as well as federal and state financial regulators. These regulations are designed to make financial institutions and creditors more accountable, in protecting their customers against identity theft.

In the least, these rules are complex, requiring a wide range of companies to have written identity theft prevention programs. The penalties for not complying are considerable and avoidable, Haberman says. While there is no substitute for a fully developed program, creative use of existing remittance automation technologies can be valuable first line of defence.

As an example, hot file systems can be set up to flag suspicious names and addresses, for further investigation. Implementing this is a cost effective way to filter out fraudsters, while avoiding a corresponding growth in personnel, Haberman says.

Reworking Workflows

For remittance processors, workflow is everything. In too many cases, remittance automation systems have been added on to the current workflow, without consideration as to how to best leverage this technology. When the economy was strong, this was not an important issue, Haberman notes. However, in 2009, Haberman expects to see a revolution in work process.

Companies will be taking a long hard, look at how checks and invoices are handled and whether the old workflows are making the best use of current technology. We anticipate that many processors with find considerable savings by making common sense revisions to their environments.

In some cases this may require a simple tweak, in other cases an investment in new technology may be in order, Haberman concludes.

There is an old saw that states “In chaos, there is opportunity”. There is no question that 2009 will be a chaotic year, Haberman admits. However, we believe that sometime next year a corner will be turned and the recovery will begin. Those who have prepared for this recovery will reap rewards for years to come, he says.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stopping Information Overload

By Mark Brousseau

Should I disconnect the cell phone? Boycott voice mail? Throw the PDA out the window? As a chaotic 2008 comes to a close and workers resolve to regain sanity in 2009, Xerox Corporation is offering nine tips to help save time and manage information overload.

Breathe. It may sound simple, but not enough people take the time to do it. So schedule breaks into your daily working routine. It helps productivity - even stepping away from your desk for a moment. Even a quick nap helps you regenerate and be more productive. Research supports this, we swear.

Simplify Your Schedule. Try scheduling all of your meetings on specific days so you have more time on non-meeting days to process information coming in - it's much easier to focus when you don't have a meeting looming in 20 minutes.

Back It Up. No information is worse than too much. Make sure you have a solution in place for regular back-up.

De-clutter Your Desktop (both of them). File, pile or toss papers as soon as you receive them. Scan and save important documents to reduce desktop clutter instead of filing. On your computer, consider getting rid of folders altogether and using desktop search engines to find things when you need them.

Touch it Once. Often we waste time dealing with the same piece of information again and again. Respond as soon as you receive it, put it in its file or delete it/shred it the first time you touch it.

Forget the Free Stuff. It comes at a price (e-mail garbage and unsolicited offers). Choose quality over quantity. Manage your bills and accounts online and sign up for the do not call lists and the no junk mail lists.

Use Your Tools. Make use of your phone for getting the right info at the right time. For instance, you don't have to waste time printing maps if you can access them from your phone. GPS phones have the smarts to give you the right information based on your actual location.

RSS Reprieve. Sign up for an aggregator. It helps you see all your news in one place.

Manage Mobile Madness. Use a mobile device with e-mail support to make hours way from your desk more productive. Keeping track of e-mail throughout the day can help you anticipate future work, and take care of mini-projects as they arise instead of waiting until later to sift through a huge pile of e-mail.

"Tackling information overload is important for most global businesses today, tomorrow and five years from now," said Jenny Perotti, ethnographer in the Xerox Innovation Group.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting the Point!

By Mark Brousseau

More organizations are leveraging Microsoft SharePoint as a common presentation layer for delivering information from disparate enterprise content systems in a highly contextual way.

“Your content and collaboration strategy needs to take into consideration the role of multiple systems serving different needs, but with a strategic vision,” Rob Koplowitz, principal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. (, said today during an Information Week WebCast sponsored by ASG Software Solutions.

“Companies see SharePoint as a layer for shared access across systems,” Koplowitz said. “Not only for pulling information from systems, but for presenting the information in a common way. Lots of people are doing lots of interesting things with SharePoint.”

That’s for sure. SharePoint has now surpassed 100 million licenses worldwide, representing more than 17,000 customers with over $1 billion in revenues. What’s more, Microsoft now counts over 3,300 companies as SharePoint partners. “SharePoint is a game-changing platform for Microsoft,” said Adam Morgan, portal, collaboration and search specialist with Microsoft (

And SharePoint should continue to move very fast. According to the results of a Forrester survey presented by Koplowitz, 24 percent of organizations said they are ‘immediately’ implementing or upgrading to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. An additional 41 percent of respondents said they will be implementing or upgrading to the platform within six months, and 22 percent said they would be doing so within the next 12 months. Only 7 percent of organizations responding said they have no plans to use the SharePoint platform.

Underlying this demand for Microsoft SharePoint is a renewed interest in enterprise collaboration and document management, Koplowitz said. “Collaboration and content management are becoming increasingly intertwined,” Koplowitz explained. “A new layer of infrastructure is being developed to access and manage content across multiple systems and processes. Users want simplified access or they won’t participate.”

This is the role Microsoft SharePoint is filling, Koplowitz said.

As evidence of the move toward collaboration and content management, Koplowitz shared the results of a Forrester survey showing that 50 percent of organizations said that implementing enterprise collaboration strategies would be among their major technology initiatives for the next 12 months. Thirty-four percent of respondents said it was a priority and 15 percent of respondents said it was a ‘critical priority.’

What’s more, Koplowitz provided the results of another survey revealing that nearly 75 percent organizations will invest in document management solutions in 2008 – topping content and e-mail archiving (66 percent), document imaging (64 percent), Web content management (62 percent), and enterprise content management (60 percent).

What is your organization’s view of Microsoft SharePoint? Post your comment below.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still Growing Strong

By Mark Brousseau

How can your company continue to grow steadily, even in a tough market? Run your business like there is always an economic downturn. That’s according to Tom Haley, CEO of Agilaire, a printing and packaging solutions company which has grown 84 percent since 2005 and attracted clients such as Sony, eBay, Informed, SAP and The Gap. Here are some additional pieces of the growth equation offered by Agilaire:

• Own It – If there is a business problem, regardless of who created it, it is yours and you own it, not your client. "There is no better way to build client and employee loyalty than taking ownership of difficult problem," Agilaire says.

• Add Some Antifreeze – Don’t freeze through business downturns. Stay visible and show your clients and employees that you care about them. "Our clients, employees and suppliers are family. So this holiday season we are giving them a gift of safety, a 72 hour emergency Agilaire CARE Preparedness Kit that we put together with top specialists from Lockheed Martin," Agilaire says.

• Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly – It is difficult to hold back the urge to hire during rapid growth cycles. "However, it is during this time that you test the limits of your star employees and weed out the nonperformers," explains Agilaire.

• Find Your Secret Sauce – What makes your company unique? It’s there; you just have to dig deep. "Agilaire was founded to be the client’s advocate and level the playing field. That is our secret sauce," the company CEO says.

• Walk the Walk – Don’t recommend products or programs that you yourself would not use. "We save our clients money through outsourcing to the best of the best. So, we walk the walk and outsource too! Montpac in Hawaii does our accounting and our IT department is Endsight in Emeryville. This has reduced overhead by 30 percent, vastly improving our margins," Agilaire says.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

No Time for Inaction

By Mark Brousseau

While it’s vital to carefully manage investments, it’s an important time not to “hunker down.” That’s a key message that IDC will deliver this morning during a Webinar on the firm’s predictions for 2009. IDC says that while the recession is slowing down the entire market, it is accelerating the transformation of the IT industry.

IDC believes the disruptive vectors of the market will be among the highest-growth sectors in 2009, as their advantages are magnified in a down economy. Suppliers who slow-down their transformation will limit long-term viability and miss near-term growth, IDC predicts.

For instance, growth of cloud computing will slow in 2009, IDC says, but still expand its growth edge over traditional offerings. Additionally, online commerce, while experiencing slower growth, will break the $8 trillion mark, and take more market share from traditional commerce. The number of people online next year will exceed 1.5 billion – about ¼ of the entire population of the planet – IDC predicts.

What do you think? Post your comment below.