Insights

  • How to Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy without Turning Tour Business Upside down: Data Access

    by Lori Palmer | Jan 05, 2018

    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? For large, enterprise organizations, it makes sense to start with your biggest pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? Let's evaluate an enterprise B2B through four distinct lenses:  (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    How much of your data are you leveraging

    Harvard Business Review's recent cross-industry study shows that on average, less than half of an organization's structured data is actively used in making decisions and less than 1% of its unstructured data is analyzed or used at all. (What's Your Data Strategy, HBR.com, June 2017) Increasingly, unstructured data is the majority of new data a business can harness and use to inform its business decisions. Examples of unstructured data include Emails, Word Processing Files, PDF files, Spreadsheets, Digital Images, Video, Audio, and Social Media Posts.

    Establishing a single source of data about customers, suppliers, sales, and products will create the solid foundation needed to provide deeper insights into your business. This foundation enables an organization to achieve compliance, regulatory, quality, and governance standards. Starting with this data foundation, a company can then assess its data integrity, ease of access, and standardization for gaps and inconsistencies. When the gaps are closed, it becomes much easier to provide enhanced data analytics, predictive modeling, and visualization of business insights – all of which are needed to improve competitive position and profitability.

    When Trellist works with its clients on Data Access, the following check list is a helpful tool for a company to self-rank its performance:

    • We have a data strategy in place that is actively managed by a leader or team
    • Marketing and IT work closely together to deploy the best platforms that ensure data is accessible and relevant
    • Our organization has prioritized its data needs to ensure alignment with and delivery of corporate goals
    • Our data and insights are manageable, accurate, and timely
    • We continually look for ways to reduce barriers to data and time delays
    • Leadership is confident in its decision making as it is underpinned by robust data
    • Our governance policy ensures that we keep our customers' and suppliers' data confidential and that we act responsibly
    • The data we track enables a positive customer experience, better product design, robust sales forecasts, and market insights
    • Our platforms are flexible and adaptable for future data needs
    • Our teams find the data they need and spend less than 1 hour/ week looking for "lost" files

    Collecting and storing files is insufficient as a data strategy. Each document will need to be categorized and stored in an appropriate location. Careful attention is then required in order to make finding and accessing unstructured and structured data easy; typical text search may not be sufficient. Version control and archiving of documents will need to be managed, ensuring access to documents remains in place throughout its lifetime. Finally, establishing authorization protocols to access data is needed to protect security and integrity. A way to visualize this is a tidy filing cabinet with all folders neatly organized and labeled so that information is easily discovered. Out of date information is quickly discarded so only the latest version is accessible and files that need controlled access will be kept in the locked drawers.

    In order to leverage unstructured data, it will need to be categorized, parsed for insights, and reformatted so that it can be organized in a way that is searchable. There are multiple software tools to help with this process. These tools provide insights by collating disparate data sources, visualizing trends and dependencies, and creating an easy-to-use dashboard. If you see an opportunity to enhance your data access, Trellist can help your organization transform its data into actionable insights without turning your business upside down.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • How To Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy Without Turning Your Business Upside Down: Business Processes

    by Lori Palmer | Dec 13, 2017

    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? For large, enterprise organizations it makes sense to start with your most significant pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? Let’s evaluate an enterprise B2B through four distinct lenses: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    How to deploy a corporate digital strategy

    For this article, we will explore Business Processes, specifically focusing upon a business’ primary objective of getting product to customers. This includes quoting for new business, order processing, production scheduling, inventory management, and shipping. For brevity, this article will not explore secondary processes such as onboarding new employees, regulatory reporting, and the like.

    Order fulfillment is comprised of four key processes: demand planning, inventory management, supply chain execution, and logistics. Integration of these workflows is critical. The sales order management software must connect with the ERP (financial) platform, which is integrated with inventory management. Packing and shipping details that flow into the logistics platform will be integrated into the system.

    Enterprise systems must be employee-centric where required data is reliable and easily accessed. The solution should also align with corporate goals and accelerate progress toward those goals. Establishing a single, integrated structure will enable your business to:

    • Increase tracking and visibility of orders
    • Automate the workflows between quote to order to ship
    • Tailor business approvals for complex orders
    • Improve margins by optimizing and streamlining the process
    • Calculate sales commissions
    • Deliver on time

    Trellist works with its clients to uncover disconnects between platforms, manual or paper-based processes, sub-optimal software utilization, and errors when completing orders. As part of our discovery process, we delve into the following topics to understand better where we can make significant improvements:

    • Is your information stored on multiple, disparate platforms?
    • Are you meeting your customers’ needs on time and in full?
    • Is your data timely and accurate?
    • Which processes are manual or distributed throughout the team?
    • What is the utilization rate of your CRM platform?
    • Are your reporting tools easy to use?
    • Can any manager self-serve to gather insights?
    • Is your business operating on one version of the truth?
    • Do you have on-the-go access to data via mobile devices?

    Trellist's technology leaders, skilled application developers, and experienced business analysts collaborate with clients from strategy through implementation of transformative technology solutions. Our capabilities span integration of large platforms, application-platform interface development, CRM optimization, data management, and business analytics. We work across a variety of software platforms and can make recommendations based upon an evaluation of your current systems, current and future needs, economics, in-house capabilities, and support strategies.

    The Trellist methodology incorporates a discovery phase to understand your unique business goals and challenges. Discovery is critical to success as it raises the awareness of areas for improvement. The joint project team would then agree priorities that, once solved, will deliver the most value to the business. Trellist can then work up an implementation plan with key milestones and the associated resources needed to achieve results. This approach to a solution provides continual improvement over time, which is less disruptive to daily operations.

    Using a consultative approach, we guide our clients on how best to scope your digital project’s requirements for maximum value. Once the project is underway, this consultation will keep the project on track and quickly address issues through robust internal communications and change management principles. If you see opportunities to improve your core processes, Trellist can deliver digital solutions that will bring value to your business—without turning it upside down.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • How to Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy Without Turning Your Business Upside Down: Customer Interface

    by Lori Palmer | Sep 27, 2017

    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? For large, enterprise organizations it makes sense to start with your biggest pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? 

    Digital Strategy for a B2B Enterprise

    Let’s evaluate an enterprise B2B through four distinct lenses: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    In this second article of a four-part series, we will explore the Customer Interface. Within your business, this includes Sales, Marketing, Product Managers, Applications and Technical Support, Customer Service Representatives, and similar titles. When we interview our clients to discover their pain points, we find they are able to describe the companies they sell to and have sufficient data to analyze their own sales performance. They are also able to describe the market, competitors, and macro trends that impact their position. However, access to—and analysis of—unstructured data that provides insights into the customer buying process is often limited.

    Being able to analyze your customers’ purchasing behaviors and interactions can guide your touch points at every step in the sales process. Providing insights and value at each stage can not only set your offering apart from competitors but also lead to up-selling, cross-selling, increased loyalty, and stickiness for your brand. Medallia’s analysis quantifies the value of exemplary customer experience and shows how it can double your revenue when compared to a poor customer experience. See The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified August 1, 2014, HBR.org.

    Our goal is to help you realize an unsurpassed customer experience that delights and achieves loyalty through knowing, fulfilling, measuring, and continuously improving real-time service that creates customer value better than your competitors. Here are some topics we ask our clients to rank when we are considering how best to digitize their Customer Interface:

    • Focus on the customer first and prioritize customer experience in aligned marketing and sales strategies.
    • Real-time customer data is available to us.
    • Utilize personas and journey mapping to understand purchasing behavior, define the content, and determine in which channels to engage our targeted audiences with a value proposition that resonates.
    • Digital strategy includes the important value chain players & partners.
    • Content marketing is the cornerstone of our campaigns and varies based on customer/prospect activity, i.e. their position in the buying process.
    • Technical questions on product application, pre- and post-sale, are quickly addressed and captured for future analysis.

    Understanding the depth and utilization of the above capabilities provides a foundation upon which to build. A digitally enabled Customer Interface delivers accurate information in a timely manner, is easy to use, and provides your customers the opportunity to self-serve–all of which enhance their experience with your organization. If you see opportunities to improve your customer experience, Trellist can help you optimize the use of your tools and platforms, as well as ensure culture adoption through change management, business process development, and data analysis. Our recommendation is to start with a self-funding pilot project that tackles a critical internal need to ensure that quick wins can maintain momentum and adoption. Our next article will explore how to digitize Business Processes in order to deliver value.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • How to Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy Without Turning Your Business Upside Down: Operations

    by Lori Palmer | Aug 24, 2017
    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? Where is the best place to start? How long will this take and what’s the price tag? How much revenue lift can I expect? At Trellist, we are asked these questions on a frequent basis from our clients. The answer, as you probably expect, is “it depends.”

    Corporate digital strategy for a b2b enterprise

    Let’s first define a corporate digital strategy as a means to establishing a unified, connected information system that enables an organization to access one version of the truth. This system encompasses content on your products and services, customer buying insights, product availability, manufacturing capability, and new product development information. Unfortunately, there is no blueprint that works for every organization as the complexity of operations, internal skills, and market conditions vary greatly. However, there are best practices and methodologies that can be followed to ensure you get value from your investment. This series of articles will explore how to organize—and stay on task—for future success with your digital strategy.

    For large, enterprise organizations it makes sense to start with your biggest pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? Let’s evaluate a manufacturing B2B enterprise through four distinct lenses: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    In this article, we will explore Operations. Most of our clients agree that a digital strategy for their manufacturing operations will be critical to maintain competitiveness. Their senior leadership is also aligned to this viewpoint. What is missing? A cohesive vision and an executable strategy. Let’s get started on where your opportunities might be so you can build up a set of actions that will underpin your vision and ultimately deliver value to your company.

    At Trellist, we work across a wide variety of software platforms and are able to make recommendations based upon an evaluation of your current systems, future needs, economics, in-house capabilities, and support strategies. Here are some preliminary topics to explore:

    • What platforms are you currently using across the organization?
    • What is the existing level of connectivity and compatibility?
    • Can your platforms provide you the insights your managers need to make decisions?
    • What are your monthly, weekly, daily, and real-time data needs?
    • Is the system easy to use? Does it require your employees to become “power users”?
    • Does your manufacturing platform connect with marketing, sales, and new product launch platforms for seamless customer data integration?
    • Are your platforms expandable and adaptable for future needs?
    • Is there consistency among the data within your systems or are there multiple systems providing competing insights?

    Having smooth connectivity across processes can reduce costs during production as well as enhance your position as a supplier. Your customer experience can be significantly impacted by on-time delivery of a high quality product. Moving to cost leadership quickly via automation can also deliver value in a competitive market. However, even more compelling would be to analyze a product’s entire life cycle for hard evidence of profitability at every stage. This is where the magic happens. Analyzing this data will provide insights into design cost, scale-up cost, time to market for a new product, comparisons between “as designed” to “as made,” and value in use vs. earlier product versions. These moves will drive you toward better asset utilization and market responsiveness, i.e. performance factors that far outweigh variable cost improvements.

    If you believe Operations is the area where you can gain the most go-to-market efficiency, the first set of actions you take will depend upon your answers to the above questions. Our recommendation is to start with a self-funding pilot project and then tackle a critical need to ensure the quick wins can maintain momentum. Our next article will explore how to digitalize the Customer Interface to deliver value.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • 5 Questions Your Business Strategy Should Answer

    by Lori Palmer | Jan 20, 2016

    Simply put, business strategy is complex. As a result, some businesses believe they have one, but in fact they’ve confused their mission and vision statements with having a business strategy.

    While the mission and vision focus on an organization’s purpose, values and goals, business strategy is the plan to accomplish those goals in an effective way.

    Specifically, business strategy is an externally oriented view of how an organization is going to achieve its objectives. It helps all the employees at every level in an organization understand what they need to do in order to achieve the business objectives.

     A robust business strategy takes into consideration the organizational structure, strengths, weaknesses, key differentiators, competitive landscape, the geographic location, as well as what customers they want to sell to.

    For a business strategy to be considered actionable, there must be specific targets as well as the means to hit those targets.

    When it’s actionable, employees will be able to see the connectivity of their own work with the strategy, have the right tools and resources to meet objectives, and be trained adequately on any new systems or platforms to be implemented.

    Here are the five key questions to answer when developing a strategy:

    • What are your core capabilities?
    • How are you going to market?
    • How are you differentiated, i.e. how will you win
    • What are the steps you’re going to take to get there?
    • What investments will you need to make?

    When business leaders can effectively answer the above questions, a strategic plan can be formulated.

    This plan can then be cascaded throughout the key functions in the company so they can translate it into actionable work flow, tailored to their roles.

    To be successful, a good strategy requires good execution. Here are five red flags that either the strategy or its execution may not be effective:

    • Revenue or profit margin erosion
    • Departure of key people
    • An inability to bring products to the market at the pace customers expect
    • Losing market share
    • New entrants to the market

    To address these red flags, business leaders should look at their strategic plan as well as how they are executing the plan. Evaluating the current state of key differentiators, market conditions, the competitive landscape and customer needs will shed light on areas where the plan could be strengthened or where additional investment needs to be made. Creating and executing a successful business strategy isn’t easy. It requires focusing on what truly matters.  However, done well, it is what separates the good companies from the great ones.

Insights posts by: Lori Palmer

Lori Palmer
A chemical engineer turned marketing executive in the multi-billion dollar specialty chemicals industry, Lori now serves as Trellist Ventures Executive, creating business strategies to deliver acquisitions and strategic partnerships that underpin corporate goals. She is also a key leader in our Consulting Division and serves as a mentor to women in STEM-related fields.