tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/web-project-management Latest Process & Project Management content from Econsultancy 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67812 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 People & Process: Four key takeaways from Digital Cream 2016 Luke Richards <p>That said, we had some fascinating conversations which mostly centred on agile marketing and a diverse group of attendees contributed.</p> <p>Here are my top four takeaways from the day, which are covered in greater detail in my <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/people-and-process-agile-working-collaborative-tools-and-cloud-based-marketing-tech/">Digital Cream 2016 Report</a>.</p> <h3><strong>1. ‘Agile’ is a relative term</strong></h3> <p>Working in an agile way is very much rooted in the software development sector.</p> <p>Developers often prefer to work in this non-linear/non-waterfall fashion so user and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64417-horror-stories-how-to-avoid-an-a-b-testing-nightmare/">A/B testing</a> is more frequent (every week rather than just before deadline, for example) and bugs are dealt with more quickly.</p> <p>In marketing, things seem a little less nailed down.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4640/Digital_Cream_2016.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/agile-marketing/">Agile marketing</a> can relate to becoming more of a ‘social business’, using more digital technologies and giving marketers or developers more authority to launch campaigns and services in a more responsive, efficient manner.</p> <p>Our discussion of agile incorporated all of the above and ultimately represents a newer way of working which is collaborative and more driven by employees and the end users of the products and services.</p> <p>This is in contrast to, for example, simply waiting on orders from managers who often are somewhat disconnected from digital culture and the needs of the consumer.</p> <h3><strong>2. Disrupt and be disrupted</strong></h3> <p>Much of the need to go agile is driven by young businesses that are disrupting the market.</p> <p>For example, in finance we see <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/06/atom-bank-creates-1-4-million-logos-in-bid-to-prove-customer-obsession/">Atom Bank</a> – a boundary-less, customer-led, digital bank – behaving in ways legacy banks have never dreamed of.</p> <p>But disruption can also be something which is stimulated within agile businesses.</p> <p>With investment, staff who are empowered enough to innovate and allowed to fail, learn and re-try, can develop new products, new services or new campaign ideas.</p> <h3><strong>3. Fear stifles progress</strong></h3> <p>Most barriers to adopting agile ways of working in modern businesses seem to relate to the people working within them, rather than – for instance – lack of funding and time.</p> <p>Some staff members are concerned about digital taking over and putting jobs at risk, so it is understandable that we were hearing some people are worried about being made redundant should agile work methods be adopted.</p> <p>Attendees also spoke of fear in regards to increased transparency and scrutiny which come with greater drives to ensure team members know what others are working on.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4641/Digital_Cream_2016_v2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p>In-office stand-ups and weekly catch-ups may appeal to some staff members but not to those who are shy, anxious or admittedly not as efficient as they should be.</p> <p>Some marketers were keen to stress that middle managers were often the most reluctant to adopt more transparent ways of working.</p> <h3><strong>4. Education, education, education</strong></h3> <p>It soon emerged that the best way to overcome fear and other barriers to adopting agile work methods is to educate staff about the benefits of these progressive ways of working.</p> <p>Simple, shocking data (and that which comes from third-parties) can assist in getting buy-in from managers – especially if it relates to the bottom line.</p> <p>Staff on ‘the floor’ are often keen to learn about other parts of the business and new techniques as it can enhance their work skills, employability and life outside of work.</p> <p>Fundamentally, people need to be educated patiently, trustingly and without jargon about the benefits of agile working.</p> <p>For more information about our People and Process discussions at Digital Cream 2016, check out <a title="People and Process: Agile working, collaborative tools and cloud-based marketing tech" href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/people-and-process-agile-working-collaborative-tools-and-cloud-based-marketing-tech/" target="_blank">my report</a>.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4124 2016-05-03T11:44:00+01:00 2016-05-03T11:44:00+01:00 People and Process: Agile working, collaborative tools and cloud-based marketing tech <h2>Overview</h2> <p>Econsultancy's <strong>People and Processes Trends Briefing </strong>explores the increasing ways companies are organising their marketing and highlights the challenges faced by delegates attending Econsultancy's roundtable-based <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events/digital-cream-london">Digital Cream London 2016</a> event.</p> <p>The People and Processes roundtable was sponsored by <a href="https://www.censhare.com/en">censhare </a>and moderated by digital consultant Danielle Sheerin.</p> <h2>What you'll learn from this report</h2> <ul> <li>Understand how business see themselves along the process of digital transformation, and how working in agile ways is helping them transform.</li> <li>The differing definitions of 'agile' among businesses.</li> <li>The drivers towards, and benefits of, transformational agility.</li> <li>Barriers to transformation.</li> <li>Helpful tools and resources and case studies for teams working towards transformational agility.</li> </ul> <h2>Digital Cream</h2> <p>An exclusive invitation-only event, Digital Cream is an opportunity for senior client-side marketers to learn from each other about the latest best practice, what's working and what's not.</p> <p>Digital Cream takes place around the globe throughout the year - <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events">see our upcoming events</a>.</p> <h2>Digital Transformation</h2> <p>Want more information on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation">digital transformation</a>?</p> <p>Digital is changing faster and more profoundly than anyone could have predicted. Doing what you've always done is no longer an option.</p> <p>The specialist Digital Transformation practice within Econsultancy helps companies accelerate their journeys to digital excellence. We address the four vectors of change:</p> <ul> <li>Your <strong>strategy</strong> - where should you be going with digital?</li> <li>Your <strong>people</strong> - what teams, talent and skills do you need to get there?</li> <li>Your <strong>processes</strong>- how should you change the way you work?</li> <li>Your <strong>technologies</strong>- what platforms, software and data strategy will serve you best?</li> </ul> <p><strong>Talk to us about an initial, no-cost consultation. </strong>We'll discuss your toughest challenges, outline our methodology and come back with a proposal.</p> <p>Contact our Digital Transformation Team on transformation@econsultancy.com or call:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>EMEA:</strong>+44 (0)20 7269 1450</li> <li> <strong>Americas: </strong>+1 212 971 0630</li> <li> <strong>APAC: </strong>+65 6653 1911</li> </ul> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2q_lWLm5qtg?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67797 2016-04-29T11:43:00+01:00 2016-04-29T11:43:00+01:00 Digital transformation: Five key tenets of a digital leader Craig Hanna <p>N.B. The roundtable operates under the Chatham House Rule, so I can’t mention the individuals or companies that attended the session.</p> <p>However, included in the audience were senior leadership from well known financial services, brewing, travel, branded consumer goods and B2B services companies. An interesting mix indeed.</p> <p>While the perspectives varied, the main themes were almost universally agreed upon.</p> <h3>1. Digital business is just business</h3> <p>This one is fairly straightforward. Doing business to the best of our ability means digital has to sit at the heart of your company's thinking.</p> <p>That said, most people think of digital as a visible layer over the top of the “real” business - one that is focused on the customer interaction. These people have little or no understanding that the operating system of doing business is changing. </p> <p>Being digital isn’t just about digitizing what you already have.</p> <p>It can involve the integration of digital technology into virtually everything, which may require whole scale changes to the foundational components of a business, from its operating model to its infrastructure.</p> <p>This means that business leaders from the CEO down need to be literate in the opportunities that technology offers and visibly back initiatives. </p> <h3>2. The digital leader is also an educator</h3> <p>Digital experts often have a passion for their chosen field. A fine attribute, but one that, left unfettered, can lead to problems.</p> <p>It can be fatal to assume that everyone is onboard from the beginning or that everyone understands what’s even possible (and is prepared to jump on board).</p> <p>Digital leaders need to think of themselves as educators and facilitators as much as they consider themselves builders and implementers.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2q_lWLm5qtg?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>This means having a vision based on business values that can be communicated in a way that people across the business can understand.</p> <p>Leaders also need to preempt the inevitable territorial battles down the road by preparing the ground work well in advance. </p> <p>Crucially it's about getting the business to understand what being digital-first really means and to move away from a “transformation” perspective which typically defines a disruptive process with a defined end.</p> <p>Real change to business practice, real adoption of a digital-first philosophy, means that the process never ends.</p> <p>As one attendee said, “When I started I felt I was plowing the field with my face,” adding: </p> <blockquote> <p>You need to be systematic. By understanding how your business works, what they value and who really pulls the levers you can eventually make good business arguments and be heard.</p> </blockquote> <p>It was also universally acknowledged that a company will struggle to realise the benefits of digital if it doesn't have a proper strategy and support from the top that infiltrates through the whole organisation.</p> <h3>3. Culture is the ace card</h3> <p>Everyone felt culture was the ace card.</p> <p>Digital thinking is about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67118-17-bullshit-free-quotes-about-company-culture-from-digital-organisations/">changing the culture of the business</a> and the way it operates rather than creating a technology sticky plaster. Because we all know sticky plasters always fall off in the end. </p> <p>Technology should be considered an enabler of a much larger process – becoming truly customer-centric. </p> <p>To be truly customer-centric takes deep cultural change. Everyone in the organization needs to think in terms of the customer and have the empowerment to act.</p> <p>This means that companies have to hire not just for skills but also for behavioral traits such as agility, problem solving and collaborative working. </p> <h3>4. Getting business buy-in can entail a range of strategies</h3> <p>Business buy-in, as we have already mentioned, is key and isn’t always easy.</p> <p>Having a CEO or other board supporter was seen as crucial for rapid success, but many attendees had tried a range of other strategies to get the buy-in needed.</p> <h4><strong>Establish a digital steering committee</strong></h4> <p>You’ll need support and you’ll need the perspective and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders. Don’t think you can do it all by yourself.</p> <p>Take time to find people who have the influence to make things happen. This isn’t the same as having a big job title.</p> <h4><strong>Start with smaller projects, with low visibility and lower perceived risk</strong></h4> <p>Start with smaller projects that deliver real measurable business value and use those to build consensus. Success breeds success. </p> <p>As one attendee put it:</p> <blockquote> <p>I developed a strategy of digital by stealth. I looked for manageable projects that were other people's problems and I helped deliver a digital answer.</p> <p>It's amazing the goodwill you can build quickly when you make other people look good.</p> </blockquote> <h4><strong>Look at others for inspiration</strong></h4> <p>It’s hard to be first but it's worse to be last. That’s a reality in business so use this to your advantage.</p> <p>Make people aware of what others are doing and the value they are creating. Ideally take examples in your sector but look further afield too.</p> <p>You may have to offer more translation but it might get you ahead of the curve in your sector. </p> <h4><strong>If you have board level buy-in then ask for a “digital tax”</strong></h4> <p>Even if you have a business case established and have support from the board, making it happen can still be difficult.</p> <p>To encourage people to support your digital projects and focus on a successful outcome, split the costs among all those departments that stand to benefit.</p> <p>If this is also aligned with targets and remuneration you’ll have a firm footing for success. </p> <h3>5. Maintenance is just as important as change</h3> <p>Organisations have unique issues depending where they sit on the digital maturity curve. </p> <p>Most are still struggling to fill the gaps in their capability to manage digital implementation effectively.</p> <p><em>Econsultancy’s digital maturity model has three stages: emergent, managed and optimised</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4467/econsultancy_s_maturity_model.png" alt="" width="517" height="562"></p> <p>In the first instance, an organisation has to establish the foundations of its digital capability and invest to build out the essential elements such as an ecommerce platform.</p> <p>The organisation is then in a position to sell its products online and create new digital user experiences and revenue transactions. </p> <p>However, once essential core capabilities are built and the value proved, BAU (business as usual) becomes an increasingly important part of change management.</p> <p>Optimizing assets to improve performance is essential if marketing and business KPIs are to be achieved.</p> <p>This requires organisation focus and investment in the right level of resources and a collaborative change process that works so as to meet increased demands of digital from all areas of the business. </p> <p>One mistake that companies keep making is to not properly plan for developing and scaling digital change so as to maintain platforms, tools and applications once they have been built and to ensure the digital operational lights are kept on.</p> <p>What was also clear at the roundtable was how far most businesses still have to travel, not just in terms of delivering customer-centric digital experiences but in terms of knowing that they even need to.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TotoIZdle3c?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p><em>This post was co-authored by <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisketley">Chris Ketley</a> from Beechgate Consulting.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3757 2016-03-23T11:50:00+00:00 2016-03-23T11:50:00+00:00 Small Business Online Resource Manager – Digital Marketing Template Files <h3>Overview</h3> <p><strong>Digital Marketing Template Files: </strong><strong>Small Business Online Resource Manager</strong><strong><br></strong></p> <p><strong>Author:</strong> James Gurd, Owner and Lead Consultant, Digital Juggler</p> <p><strong>Files included:</strong> 1 file</p> <h3>About these templates</h3> <p><strong>Who created these template files?</strong></p> <p>In some cases Econsultancy has created the templates. In others we have gone to leading experts in the relevant area and they have provided the files. Details of those people are given where appropriate in the descriptions that follow.</p> <p><strong>How should these files be used?</strong></p> <p>Being able to structure your overall digital marketing strategy is essential to make sure that the individual elements of your overall marketing work as best as they can.</p> <p>In this section, you will find information that can help you effectively manage your online assets.</p> <h3>Contents</h3> <p>In this release we have an Excel file which contains the Small Business Online Resource Manager to help you effectively manage and own your online assets.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67497 2016-02-11T15:27:15+00:00 2016-02-11T15:27:15+00:00 Five factors that help create strong company values Jen Todd Gray <p>Seventeen years later, we still have that pioneering spirit, but with a team of 400 across the country and a dynamic rhythm to our work.</p> <p>With a recent rebrand under our belt and new senior leadership in place, it made sense for us to breathe new life into our principles and empower our team to continue doing great work.</p> <p>In a world where workplace stress leads to an almost <a href="https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive">50% increase in voluntary turnover</a>, companies need to work to produce a positive culture so employees feel a sense of purpose.</p> <p>Here are five key points that seasoned companies, as well as sprightly startups, should consider.</p> <h3>1. Understand the importance of values</h3> <p>Company values are a roadmap of how a team strives to conduct business. Every company has a personality and something it stands for, giving prospective consumers and employees insight as to their ideals.</p> <p>Our values are ingrained into our interview process, part of our annual reviews, and woven into everything we do.</p> <p>Zappos, a company that prides itself on being "powered by service," rotates its <a href="http://www.zappos.com/d/about-zappos-culture" target="_blank">ten core values</a> on its <a href="http://www.zappos.com/" target="_blank">homepage</a>; doing so lets consumers know where they stand as a business and adds a level of accountability.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1738/Screen_Shot_2016-02-11_at_15.22.35.png" alt="" width="800"></p><p>Values also help leaders market their company, guiding messaging and tactics with strategies that pertain directly to their mission.</p> <p>Last fall, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67109-rei-opts-out-of-black-friday-sort-of/" target="_blank">REI made headlines</a> for its decision to forgo Black Friday altogether, urging consumers to #OptOutside instead.</p> <p>While many brands benefit from hyped up sales, REI decided that participating in Black Friday was brand erosive, as the company motto is “<a href="http://www.rei.com/stewardship.html" target="_blank">life outdoors is a life well lived</a>.” </p> <p>By taking a bold stance against the hectic and crowded indoor shopping day, it enhanced REI’s positioning as an outdoor fitness brand.</p> <p>When people are looking to do business, it’s not just about the product or service value, but how business is conducted.</p> <p>Ultimately, business is about building great relationships and choosing the right partner based on shared values - the common adage rings true, "People do business with people they like and trust."</p> <h3>2. Know when to modernize</h3> <p>When it comes to a refresh, companies should consider the impact they hope to make and the proper time for pursuing it - don’t just change for the sake of changing and don't change values often - that will lead to confusion.</p> <p>Often, a values revamp makes sense when a company enters a new phase.</p> <p>We began discussing modernization during our rebranding process back in 2013 and, in the months since, watched as our principles evolved alongside the company.</p> <p>While your core values shouldn’t make large swings, you may need to reinvigorate them as your business evolves.</p> <h3>3. Know what you stand for</h3> <p>When issuing corporate values, think about not only who you are as a company, but what you aspire to be.</p> <p>While it’s fine to include these ambitions in company standards, values should be attainable, embracing behaviors that can be embodied every day.</p> <p>Southwest Airlines, for instance, is known for its <a href="https://www.southwest.com/html/about-southwest/careers/culture.html" target="_blank">fun-loving attitude</a> despite the chore that travel can often be.</p> <p>When a FOX reporter <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2015/12/29/fox-news-reporter-live-tweets-budding-romance-at-the-airport-5589316/" target="_blank">live-tweeted a budding airport romance</a> while waiting for her flight, Southwest was <a href="https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/681347758196838400?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" target="_blank">quick to jump in on the fun</a>, offering the couple pizza and branded swag.</p> <p>Above all, employees need to feel empowered to mobilize around these principles and implement them in daily operations.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/bfreeland">@bfreeland</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MartinaFOX23">@MartinaFOX23</a> we'll get the pizza and some Southwest goodies! ^BE</p> — Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) <a href="https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/681347758196838400">December 28, 2015</a> </blockquote> <h3>4. Create a sense of ownership</h3> <p>To ensure values are carried out at all levels of a company, leaders must actively demonstrate these beliefs - you can’t recite them once and be done.</p> <p>Leadership teams should frequently evaluate how well employees are invested in these values and find ways to reinforce positive examples.</p> <p>Publicly celebrate individuals who are 'culture carriers' at company meetings, in internal newsletters, on your company blog – whatever channel fits your business.</p> <p>Quarterly peer-nominated awards are a great way to actively empower employees to recognize these values among their peers.</p> <p>Send thank you emails to team members and copy their leaders; order buttons, magnets or small trophies to gift workers when they do a good job. As a whole, visible recognition is an effective way to reinforce key behaviors.</p> <h3>5. Live values everywhere</h3> <p>Whether you have one office location or 1,000 retail outlets, genuine culture adoption comes from full leadership buy-in and an intimate knowledge of the principles and how to live them.</p> <p>However, even when you give leaders the tools to succeed, understand that adoption won’t be instantaneous.</p> <p>For the best results, keep things simple and find opportunities to lead by example. Keep values in mind when hiring.</p> <p>Recruiters should seek individuals that personally embrace the same values to ensure a cultural fit.</p> <h3>Starting from square one?</h3> <p>If you don't have a core set of values written down already, take a hard look at who you are – ask both employees and clients what makes your company special, and begin there.</p> <p>What gets your team members excited? Why do they like working there?</p><p>Finally, keep in mind that cultural values aren’t the same as perks. Shy away from calling out your colorful walls, hip break room and foosball table, and instead focus on the qualities that help you stand out in your field.</p> <p>Values aren't tangible things, but a culture can certainly be felt the moment you walk in to a place. The more authentic your values are, the easier they’ll be to instill and the stronger your company will be. </p> <p><em>For more on this topic, read:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67107-five-digital-organisations-with-a-transparent-company-culture/"><em>Five digital organisations with a transparent company culture</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67059-changing-company-culture-six-things-to-try/"><em>Changing company culture: six things to try</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67489 2016-02-08T14:08:00+00:00 2016-02-08T14:08:00+00:00 Slack, Yammer & Facebook: Who’ll win the collaboration battle? Ben Davis <p>N.B. Here I'm concentrating on chat apps, not project management software, though I am aware there is much crossover in functionality.</p> <p>Chat apps ultimately aim to become an operating system for productivity, sucking in a variety of functionality.</p> <h3>Facebook at Work</h3> <p>Facebook isn't just testing a beta of Facebook at Work. It's been up and running since early 2015 and Facebook is now pushing the platform, with a host of successful case studies to call on.</p> <p>Check out its snazzy Wordpress promotion site at <a href="https://work.fb.com/">work.fb.com </a>(complete with cute, collaborating hipsters) and you can see how serious Facebook is about this product.</p> <p>Of course, it's no surprise that the social giant is ramping things up quickly, as most of the functionality is familiar from the consumer version of Facebook.</p> <p><strong>Biggest pro: </strong><strong>'Intuitive' interface</strong></p> <p>Talk to any <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65701-seven-reasons-for-the-unstoppable-rise-of-crm">CRM</a> consultant and they'll tell you that encouraging adoption is the most difficult part of implementing new software.</p> <p>People are lazy and do not want to think about how to use new CRM technology, kidding themselves that bringing in business is more important than recording it.</p> <p>The same thing happens with collaboration tools. Only certain staff adopt them unless the organisation wields a big stick.</p> <p>Facebook, however, has such a big user base (already proficient on desktop and in-app), there should be less of a problem developing employee usage habits. Staff may even actively want to use it.</p> <p><strong>Biggest con: </strong><strong>Pricing?</strong></p> <p>At the moment, Facebook at Work is free. This isn't made explicit on the explainer homepage, though it is stated in the FAQs.</p> <p>However, the sign up process is currently not self-service. You have to enter your email and Facebook will get back to you.</p> <p>This could present a problem for those on a budget who want transparent pricing upfront.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1491/Screen_Shot_2016-02-08_at_09.24.59.png" alt="facebook at work" width="615"></p> <h3>Slack</h3> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66079-are-we-on-the-cusp-of-a-new-golden-age-for-marketing/">Slack was arguably the app of 2015</a>. Launched in early 2014, Slack had 2m daily active users by the end of 2015, with 570,000 paid accounts.</p> <p><strong>Biggest Pro: </strong><strong>Service integration</strong></p> <p>In December 2015, Slack announced its <a href="https://slack.com/apps">app directory</a> for third-party tools, building on some slick, existing integrations.</p> <p>Around 150 apps and bots are available, from NewRelic to MailChimp, Skype to an NYT bot providing 2016 election coverage.</p> <p>This development of a Slack platform will build functionality into what is arguably the most loved workplace chat platform out there (due to features such as powerful search, and a browser-based experience allowing easy access to web content).</p> <p>Slack has become synonymous with bleeding-edge <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67118-17-bullshit-free-quotes-about-company-culture-from-digital-organisations">company culture</a>, including email-free environments where internal work is completely separated from external distraction.</p> <p><strong>Biggest con: </strong><strong>Noise</strong></p> <p>Some newbies find the notifications in Slack to be overwhelming, until they get to grips with customising the platform.</p> <p>This excess noise can prevent some from engaging efficiently with the tool.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1493/Screen_Shot_2016-02-08_at_10.24.10.png" alt="slack" width="615"></p> <h3>Yammer</h3> <p>Disclaimer: I used to manage Econsultancy's Google Apps account before migrating to Microsoft when we joined a larger media group.</p> <p>Such a path has led me to be slightly biased against Microsoft (purely because I'm not an intuitive Microsoft user), though <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65708-q-a-microsoft-on-crm-retail-and-b2b-marketing">much of its software has admittedly improved</a> immeasurably over the past couple of years.</p> <p><strong>Biggest pro: </strong><strong>Documents</strong></p> <p>Now that Office documents can be edited online, Yammer presents a good option for Microsoft businesses that want to collaborate.</p> <p>Users will be able to version and edit documents from Yammer, with co-authoring and translation scheduled features for 2016.</p> <p><strong>Biggest con: </strong><strong>Microsoft</strong></p> <p>For the uninitiated, it's a tad confusing trying to understand the differences and integrations between 365 Groups, Yammer and SharePoint.</p> <p>Yammer has had difficulties with user adoption over the past couple of years and this has partly been down to a chicken and egg scenario.</p> <p>Businesses invested heavily in the Microsoft ecosystem have traditionally been email-focussed, with chat therefore being low priority.</p> <p>Though Microsoft has made a successful transition to the cloud, it will take some time for these businesses to pull away from an email-centric world.</p> <p>Perhaps this is less of a disadvantage and more of a reality.</p> <h3><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1496/yammer.png" alt="yammer" width="210" height="432"></h3> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67346 2015-12-21T11:44:35+00:00 2015-12-21T11:44:35+00:00 Agile development: what do marketers need to know? Danny Bluestone <p>These days, most production teams will recommend an Agile development approach.</p> <p>This article explores what this means for marketers, comparing Agile with traditional production methodologies. </p> <h3>What's wrong with traditional methods?</h3> <p>Agile evolved as a solution to the perceived disadvantages of traditional Waterfall production methods.</p> <p>Under Waterfall, production follows a strict, sequential structure: 'flowing' through requirement gathering, design, implementation, verification (testing), deployment and maintenance. </p> <p>At each stage, work is finalised and signed-off before progressing onwards. Up-front research and documentation - including marketers' project briefs - define requirements and deliverables from the outset.</p> <p>Designers and developers carefully follow this extensive plan, with working functionality built only in the final project stages. </p> <p>Many marketers enjoy knowing what to expect with Waterfall. They have an idea of the cost, timeline and functionality of their final product right from the start.</p> <p>But, understanding customer requirements up-front is often unrealistic. Users may be unaware of their preferences; <a title="imagining using a product is different from actually using it." href="http://uxmyths.com/post/746610684/myth-21-people-can-tell-you-what-they-want" target="_blank">imagining using a product is different from actually using it</a>.</p> <p>Additionally, in the fast-paced digital world in which we now live, requirements and market conditions can easily change throughout production.</p> <p>The Waterfall approach is too rigid to cater to either of these scenarios. Requirements are fixed and the entire product is usually only tested just before deployment, when only small changes can be incorporated in response to user feedback.</p> <p>Turning back to resolve more significant feedback can cause delays, or increase costs. </p> <h3>What is Agile?</h3> <p>Agile is an iterative approach to developing websites, apps and software, that drives rapid development through close collaboration, testing and incremental production.</p> <p>Most critically, it is highly flexible, being able to respond to changing requirements.</p> <p>First coined back in 2001, the core <a title="Agile Manifesto" href="http://agilemanifesto.org/" target="_blank">Agile Manifesto</a> simply states a preference for:</p> <ul> <li>Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.</li> <li>Working software over comprehensive documentation.</li> <li>Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.</li> <li>Responding to change over following a plan.</li> </ul> <p>Agile avoids extensive documentation. Instead, only high-level requirements are defined before kick-off and the entire multi-disciplinary production team (from designers, developers, quality assurance, etc.) collaborate intensively.</p> <p>The whole team works in tandem on the same elements, in contrast to the Waterfall approach which isolates the work of each department with a mere handover on completion. </p> <p>Together, production teams deliver incremental releases of the entire project in time-bound iterations (or ‘sprints’) every few weeks, with each sprint typically focusing on satisfying a specific business or user need (e.g. creating a login area).</p> <p>Working versions of the project are available for review (or even use) at the close of each sprint.</p> <p>Marketers, stakeholders, and (most importantly) customers are consulted at each step with further changes being made in response to testing, feedback and business prioritisation, before beginning a new sprint.</p> <p>This ensures that teams can evaluate and respond to any change in customer requirements. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0091/Agile-working.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="349"></p> <p><em>With Agile, the cross-functional production team collaborates to develop incremental releases of the entire project, every few weeks.</em></p> <h3>What are the benefits?</h3> <p>The application of Agile is diverse, often customised for the unique context of each project.</p> <p>Below I’ve selected a few key benefits that may sway marketers, while exploring a few drawbacks along the way. </p> <p><strong>1. Speed</strong></p> <p>Agile production teams can deliver a version of your digital product with core features far more quickly than Waterfall.</p> <p>With Agile, streamlining production begins right from the initial planning stages. Marketers only need a high-level wish list of features before approaching agencies (or in-house production teams) for feedback, proposals and costs.</p> <p>As the exact feature list isn’t defined until the project gets under way, agencies must deviate from providing the traditional fixed quote for specific deliverables. </p> <p>For instance, when we created a proposal for Cancer Research Technology, to develop <a title="Ximbio" href="https://ximbio.com/" target="_blank">Ximbio</a> (a crowdsourced scientific marketplace) we presented a high-level, flexible vision for the entire project.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0216/Screen_Shot_2015-12-21_at_11.18.52.png" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>In essence we defined the vision for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - the earliest version of a website, app or software that has the basic features needed to fulfil user goals.</p> <p>Then, we divided the work necessary to deliver that MVP into sprints, and provided a quote for each one, based on the type and number of resources required.</p> <p>The specific details and deliverables of each sprint were then defined and refined during production, enabling Ximbio to evolve based on user-centric research, usability testing and the client’s priorities. </p> <p>Despite the complexity of the project, we launched in just three months, and then continued to iterate based on testing and feedback. Had we employed a Waterfall approach it would have taken significantly longer to get to market.</p> <p><strong>2. Gauging market interest</strong></p> <p>By postponing development of non-essential features and using Agile to bring a MVP to market quickly, marketers can rapidly gauge interest and uncover if there’s real demand for their product, without using too many resources. </p> <p>The tweet scheduling tool, Buffer, provides a brilliant example. Its first MVP was nothing more than a simple landing page explaining the product.</p> <p>Later, the founder added details of a paid pricing plan. This was published (and shared) without any of the tool actually built.</p> <p>Through analytics, Buffer’s founder could understand whether users would be interested in the service or want to pay for it, and this proof of concept <a title="informed Buffer's development" href="https://blog.bufferapp.com/idea-to-paying-customers-in-7-weeks-how-we-did-it" target="_blank">informed Buffer’s development</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0089/Buffer-mvp.jpg" alt="Buffer MVP" width="615" height="297"></p> <p><em>Buffer's MVP was just a landing page that explained the product. The functionality wasn't actually built until the founder had tested paid demand.</em></p> <p><strong>3. Flexibility</strong></p> <p>Projects with static, clearly-defined goals and requirements thrive under Waterfall. But clearly these conditions are becoming increasingly rare in today’s fast-paced, ever changing digital environment.</p> <p>Users’ needs, expectations and desires constantly evolve and in the time lapse between gathering requirements and build, Waterfall production can miss first-to-market benefits and no longer be fit for purpose. </p> <p>In contrast, Agile’s flexible production process suits projects with fluid needs, requirements and goals, which operate within a changeable environment.</p> <p>Post launch, Agile production teams can continue to develop incrementally, responding to changes and feedback from real users. </p> <p>Against market giants Amazon, Apple and Google, Spotify famously maintains its competitive edge through a <a title="tailored Agile approach" href="https://labs.spotify.com/2014/03/27/spotify-engineering-culture-part-1/" target="_blank">tailored Agile approach</a>.</p> <p>The team is divided into small, cross-functional ‘squads’ that operate like autonomous, flexible startups. By taking ownership over one specific ‘mission’ (e.g. improving users’ ability to search) squads drive ideas from conception and design right through to development, deployment and outcome analysis.</p> <p>This end-to-end involvement means squads can closely track and flexibly work towards meeting user needs. </p> <p><strong>4. Tested</strong></p> <p>Regular, rigorous quality testing is at the heart of Agile. With incremental examination, features are tested as they are developed, making it easier for developers to isolate the cause and squash any bugs.</p> <p>Fully tested, working software is delivered at the end of each sprint. Stakeholders review and sign off the work, before evaluating priorities and beginning further feature development, ensuring a high level of quality for the final product. </p> <p>In contrast, Waterfall’s sequential process leaves all testing until the build is complete. This is obviously risky.</p> <p>Teams won’t know how many defects are present, so can’t provide a concrete estimate for fixes. Consequently, delays may result or quality could be compromised in an effort to launch on time. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0085/Testing.jpg" alt="Testing" width="615" height="372"></p> <p><em>Agile assures the usability of your digital project, closing each development sprint with user acceptance testing.</em></p> <h3>How can you begin applying an Agile process?</h3> <p>Transitioning to Agile can be a dramatic shift for marketers, stakeholders, and production teams.</p> <p>There are multiple frameworks that detail how production teams can incorporate the over-arching Agile principles into their workflows. For instance, Scrum has a proven governance structure and best practices that specify daily rituals, roles and responsibilities. </p> <p>The depth of the procedures and techniques within Scrum’s framework means businesses with trained and certified staff (on the production and project management side) will secure more immediate benefits.</p> <p>It would be a steep learning curve for an un-trained production team to attempt the Agile transition alone, or for a single project. </p> <p>Furthermore, marketers who commission Agile projects must ensure all their stakeholders embrace the flexible core of Agile.</p> <p>For example, they need to understand that their initial wish-list of features would likely be re-prioritised during production, in response to user feedback.</p> <p>They also need to be happy with on-going, open communication with the production team, often in the form of regular, visual show-and-tell presentations, instead of lengthy reports.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0084/Stakeholder-meeting.jpg" alt="" width="615" height="372"></p> <p><em>Organise regular show-and-tell presentations between the production team and stakeholders to summarise, give input and sign-off work throughout sprints. </em></p> <p>Most critically, marketers need to ensure that their approval processes are streamlined before commencing an Agile project.</p> <p>Ideally, sign-off should be managed by a single person who is empowered to take decisions, heavily involved in the project and relatively available.</p> <p>Without this, Agile’s ‘incremental flexibility’ could ironically hold up development with deliverables repeatedly stuck in the approval process, before work can continue. </p> <h3>Summary</h3> <p>Users’ desires are evolving, with increasingly sophisticated products and platforms released every day. Agile’s principles are tailor-made for this constantly changing digital environment. </p> <p>Agile offers marketers a quick, flexible production process: defining and developing the key features of your ‘killer app’ in stages.</p> <p>Quality is assured through close encounters with real users and stakeholders, ensuring production keeps pace with fluid motivations, desires and needs. </p> <p>But, marketers can only seize these benefits by cultivating an Agile-ready environment within their business. After all, Agile is not a silver bullet – it can only propel your project towards success if the right conditions are met.  </p> <p>And when the right conditions are met, the results can be phenomenal, leading some marketers to even adapt the Agile Manifesto to improve the speed, transparency and adaptability of their own marketing activities (i.e. <a title="Agile Marketing" href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65184-what-is-agile-marketing-and-why-do-you-need-it/" target="_blank">Agile Marketing</a>). </p> <p><em>To learn more about Agile Marketing, book yourself onto our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/agile-marketing/">one-day training course in London</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67099 2015-10-28T11:57:00+00:00 2015-10-28T11:57:00+00:00 Hive: A startup culture in a corporate behemoth Ben Davis <h3>A startup with a strategic investor</h3> <p>Hive was set up in 2012 to act as a startup classically would. British Gas is effectively the strategic investor, bringing not only cash but a source of distribution.</p> <p>The decision to create an insulated startup-like team was not taken because British Gas was doing anything wrong, rather because of how nascent the connected home idea was.</p> <h3>People, location and 'air cover'</h3> <p>Take a look at the Hive <a href="https://www.hivehome.com/about">About page</a> and you'll get a good impression of the type of project and working practices Hive wanted to embody.</p> <p>70% of the team was recruited externally and previously had startup experience.</p> <p>Tom stressed location was key to attracting the right people, with the most talented product people wanting to work in London.</p> <p>Lean principles and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64975-the-guardian-s-agile-processes-showcase-digital-best-practice/">agile methodology</a> were both adopted without losing some form of 'docking' or integration back into the mothership of British Gas.</p> <p>'Air cover' was sought from the core business, with appropriate British Gas sponsors giving the project the freedom to proceed.</p> <p>The project's culture, Tom argues, comes from each of these constituent parts and was designed not to compete with other energy companies but with tech giants in silicon valley.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8313/Screen_Shot_2015-10-23_at_10.01.41.png" alt="hive offices" width="1050"></p> <h3>Using the strengths of British Gas</h3> <p>Though Hive was a new brand with a new tone of voice, the team was well aware of the benefits of being associated with British Gas.</p> <p>One of the most obvious of these is security - the British public trusts British Gas engineers (Tom even claimed that, not so long ago, mothers were happy to leave their children with an engineer).</p> <h3>Creating a frictionless customer journey</h3> <p>The aim of a frictionless journey is summed up in four steps.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Choice:</strong> Allowing customers to purchase the system from electrical retailers such as Dixons Carphone.</li> <li> <strong>Installation:</strong> By British Gas trusted engineers.</li> <li> <strong>Use:</strong> Via a beautiful device alongside an award-winning app.</li> <li> <strong>Support:</strong> Via the Hive hub in Glasgow where customer service is delivered in plain English (so good that the NPS is higher for those who have encountered a problem). </li> </ul> <p>The stats from a consumer survey of Hive 1 customers show the product was incredibly successful.</p> <p>70% believed they had saved energy. 98% felt they were in control of their heating. 92% would recommend the product, and 58% used the app every day.</p> <p>That's astounding given that Tom said there was previously a stat in the sector suggesting customers thought about their thermostat for little more than five minutes every year.</p> <h3>Iterating with a religious belief </h3> <p>Hive 2 was the next step, needed to improve on the actual thermostat product to match the experience of the app.</p> <p>The team brought in Yves Behar, an influential designer of products including Jawbone and SodaStream.</p> <p>Yves' opinion was that there are too many screens in our home, so it was vital to avoid a smart thermostat simply appearing to be a tablet stuck to a wall. The thermostat should be familiar as a functional unit.</p> <p>The team created three prototypes. What interested me about the design process was a reliance on customer feedback but within a process where the Hive team remained convinced that one of their three prototypes would be right.</p> <p>This belief had to border on the religious for the product development team to be able to forge ahead with purpose.</p> <h3>Conviction alongside feedback</h3> <p>Creating Hive 2 involved designing journeys by flipping from industrial design to UX whilst understanding that even if you build the best paths possible, the user will always pick another.</p> <p>The design team included specialists in UX, industrial design, energy, procurement and sourcing.</p> <p>The project team was accountable to many consumers whilst believing in the strong leadership of its design head.</p> <p>So, one world class designer worked with a team of product experts, hundreds of engineers and thousands of customers.</p> <p>This ability to take customer feedback very seriously but also rely on design instincts is vital to deal with a new technology where the customer may not always know what they want.</p> <h3>Common user niggles and creating an aesthetic</h3> <p>Solutions to user niggles became a focus, including filing new patents around the battery change process and making the product easier to set up.</p> <p>This was achieved, with 95% of customers setting up the technology correctly first time and achieving a usability score of 78 (with above 70 understood as very good).</p> <p>A partnership with Dulux has led to a range of colour surrounds, to suit each individual. </p> <p>Rather soberingly, the most popular colours in the UK are black, grey and wood effect. Hey, connected thermostats are one thing, but pink connected thermostats...</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8335/hive_product.png" alt="hive" width="615"></p> <h3>Expanding into the connected home (brings whole new UX challenge)</h3> <p>With 200,000 Hive customers acvross Hive 1 and Hive 2, the team are now releasing<a href="https://www.hivehome.com/new-products"> a new range of products </a>including window and door sensors, a motion sensor, an active plug (with one of its oft-cited possible uses during customer research being the ability to switch off straighteners remotely) and a Hive hub, to run the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64460-the-home-of-the-future-today-how-smart-is-that/">connected home</a> from and unite these products.</p> <p>The challenge with new products is not about hardware but about changing the UX of a single use app so it can function as a multiuse app, with rules, notifications and more.</p> <p>Hive is currently trialling a honeycomb layout to the app dashboard (see below).</p> <p>If this incubated startup continues to work so well, perhaps British Gas will be the first to crack the connected home market.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8336/Screen_Shot_2015-10-23_at_17.24.58.png" alt="hive multiuse" width="615"> </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66779 2015-08-21T14:50:00+01:00 2015-08-21T14:50:00+01:00 Five tool sets for scaling your freelance business into a full consultancy Jacob McMillen <p>More companies are outsourcing their tasks to qualified freelance professionals then ever before, but if you want to scale your freelance business into a full consultancy (in digital marketing or otherwise), you the need the tools and infrastructure to handle a larger client load.</p><p>Here are five objectives with required tools that will help you do just that.</p> <h3>1. Tools for growing the business</h3> <p>While there is certainly demand for outsourced work, it can be a challenge for freelance professionals to know where to find the right jobs.</p> <p>There are many marketplaces to choose from, aimed at freelancers working in all industries from writing and web design, to programming, audio/video work, and more. Options include the following...</p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://www.unomy.com/" target="_blank">Unomy</a>: designed as a B2B prospecting tool, this cloud-based browser-extension can help you build a list of targeted prospect companies. The platform lets you filter businesses according to geographic location, industry, size, funding, and more. </li> <li> <a href="https://www.upwork.com/" target="_blank">UpWork</a>: this is an international collection of freelancers working in a number of industries. As a freelancer, you can create a profile that acts as a portfolio of sorts, and then find project listings to bid on. Hourly work requires freelancers to install a program that tracks screenshots and keystrokes.</li> <li> <a href="http://sumome.com/" target="_blank">SumoMe</a>: SumoMe's suite of list-building tools let you turn any webpage into a conversion funnel. If you own a website (which means everyone), SumoMe is a no-brainer for turning site visitors into business leads.</li> <li> <a href="https://www.fiverr.com/" target="_blank">Fiverr</a>: a bit different from the traditional freelance marketplace, this website allows freelancers to create a one-off task they’re willing to do for $5, with extras for additional money. Tips are also an option, so even if the base tasks start at $5, earning rates can be much higher.</li> </ul> <h3>2. Keep good track of projects and finances</h3> <p>Freelancers now wear multiple hats over the course of a day, often managing all aspects of the business. To save time, and perhaps a bit of sanity too, it’s a good idea to invest in workflow management applications.</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.workflowmax.com/" target="_blank">WorkflowMax</a>: This cloud-based platform handles several aspects of running the  business all in one platform. It includes quotes, job costing, timesheets, invoices, and project management. Using an integrated project management platform saves time because you don’t need to switch from platform to platform to handle tasks, time tracking, and invoicing/billing. It works well for solo workers and teams. Being cloud-based, it can be accessed anywhere there’s an Internet connection, making it easy for those who work on-the-go.</li> <li> <a href="http://due.com/" target="_blank">Due</a>: Another time-tracking and invoicing application, Due supports over 100 countries and tax systems, heaven-sent for freelancers who must learn to manage their own finances and tax liabilities. The application also supports integration with third-party solutions like Quickbooks, Basecamp and PayPal, reducing the effort needed to manage invoices, tasks and timelines.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6439/photo-1416339158484-9637228cc908.jpeg" alt="" width="600" height="450"></p> <h3>3. Collaborate wisely</h3> <p>Working from home doesn’t have to be isolating. There will no doubt be times over the course of projects when you will need to collaborate with others. Thanks to the available tools, distance is not an issue.</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.skype.com/en/business/" target="_blank">Skype for Business</a> works wonders when you need basic teleconferencing. It enables voice and/or video chat, with the option to share screens. Add-ons make it easy to record the calls for review later. Even the free Skype version should be capable for simple chats, voice and video calls.</li> <li> <a href="http://clickwebinar.com/" target="_blank">ClickMeeting</a> is an ideal solution for remote online training, particularly for one-to-many discussions. This is a great option for businesses that need to train the freelancers they hire. However, it also works for freelancers who want to outsource some of their day-to-day business tasks to other freelancers.</li> </ul> <h3>4. Automate tasks</h3> <p>Automation helps keep the business running smoothly while focusing one’s efforts on more important tasks. Business often consult with freelance developers and IT professionals in managing platforms like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.</p> <p>Automating the patching, updating and upgrading process for these enterprise applications with a tool like <a href="http://panaya.com/" target="_blank">Panaya</a> will ensure that consultants and the IT department will have more time to attend to core activities rather than tedious tasks.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Social media:</strong> a B2B social media management platform, <a href="http://www.oktopost.com/">Oktopost</a> lets freelancers and marketers automate and measure the success of their social campaigns. While it’s not always a good idea to completely run social media channels on autopilot, Oktopost provides a means to schedule and queue content far in advance. Be sure to check in a few minutes a day to participate in live discussions.</li> <li> <strong>Storage:</strong> tools like <a href="https://www.dropbox.com/" target="_blank">Dropbox</a>, <a href="http://onedrive.com/" target="_blank">OneDrive</a> and <a href="http://box.com/" target="_blank">Box</a> provide a means to store files online. Even better, these platforms allow freelancers to sync certain files and folders, enabling easy collaboration with clients. Pro editions have versioning support, which means you can keep track of files as they change.</li> <li> <strong>Customer service:</strong> freelancers who regularly interact with customers and need a simple tool for managing interactions with end-users. A customer service solution platform like <a href="https://www.zendesk.com/" target="_blank">ZenDesk</a> can automate support tickets, generate a knowledge-base, and manage FAQs.</li> </ul> <h3>5. Watch for trends</h3> <p>More businesses are continuing to look for ways to outsource tasks to freelancers and consultants. Hot industries for consultants include: eco-friendly, small business expertise, and IT security. It’s not only small businesses that are looking to outsource work to freelancers.</p> <p>Even bigger enterprises are starting to rely on freelance professionals and consultants to get work done. We can expect the marketplace to become even more data-driven, as with other aspects of business.</p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://www.google.com/trends/" target="_blank">Google Trends</a> is a great place to keep tabs on trending topics. While the search parameters are fairly limited, you can keep tabs on business-specific trends or view performance over time for keywords.</li> <li>Freelancing publications like <a href="http://contently.net/" target="_blank">The Freelancer</a> and digital marketing blogs like this one right here are also a great source for monitoring trends and understanding what is happening outside of your particular sphere.</li> </ul> <h3>Conclusion</h3> <p>As cloud-based tools continue to flood the market, freelancers will have their choice of options to ensure their consultancy runs like a well-oiled machine. These tools allow freelancers to operate their businesses much the same way a big enterprise would, but without requiring significant, upfront investment.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66794 2015-08-05T14:55:00+01:00 2015-08-05T14:55:00+01:00 Why agile marketing must be about more than social media Youtse Sung <p>Certainly real-time engagement with your customers can get you noticed. Oreo Cookies, for example, is famous for its ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63140-eight-great-examples-of-agile-marketing-from-oreo/">dunk in the dark</a>’ tweet during the Super Bowl power outage. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/5876/dunk_in_the_dark.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="470"></p> <p>The success of Oreo Cookies has spurred many brands to attempt their own quick turnaround content for social media, which has often got them noticed in the wrong kind of way.</p> <p>From barely thought-out newsjacking attempts, to the sloppy creation of ham-fisted memes, poor execution has helped make agile marketing a constant source of embarrassment for brands around the world.</p> <p>It only takes a quick review of Econsultancy’s list of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65901-the-top-20-fail-iest-social-media-fails-of-2014">top social media fails</a> to see this process in action. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Today is the day for dreaming. Happy MLK Day.</p> — ZzzQuil (@ZzzQuil) <a href="https://twitter.com/ZzzQuil/statuses/425273661260849153">January 20, 2014</a> </blockquote> <h3>But it doesn’t have to be this way</h3> <p>Agile marketing is not about jumping on news headlines or riding off the back of a surge of tweets. It’s about creating an environment in which customer understanding, personalised content, data analytics and departmental alignment can work together to increase efficiency and speed to market across all levels of an organisation.</p> <p>It’s about responding to data, trends or customer behaviour in a way that is both fast and smart.</p> <p>If you want to move beyond the hit-or-miss social-media version of agile marketing however, it requires a bit of strategic planning. Quite a bit actually. Responding quickly and smartly is not an easy balance to strike, particularly if you don’t even know what your marketing problems are yet.</p> <p>So how do you succeed with agile marketing? We interviewed experts from Sirius Decisions, Chiefmartec, Silverpop and Smart Insights to get their views on what agility really mean for marketers.</p> <h3>Avoiding sloppy work that hurts your brand</h3> <p>Before digital marketers jump on the latest trends, they need to understand how their brands relate to them, why they need to comment, or even if their customers care.</p> <p>“Unfortunately, working fast doesn’t always mean working well,” says Scott Brinker of Chiefmartec.</p> <blockquote> <p>In software development, the area that agile was first adopted in, there is a concept of 'technical debt', where sloppy code ends up costing you more time down the line than it would have done to write it well in the first place.</p> <p>When embracing agile and breaking away from processes purely focused on best practice, I think marketers really need to watch out for a similar effect: brand debt.</p> </blockquote> <p>To recover from brand debt, Brinker says, you have to work even harder down the road to recover from that deficit in the eyes of customers and clients who were exposed to it. Clear, open communication within the company is vital to avoid this.</p> <h3>Using data to make smart decisions</h3> <p>Agile marketing was never truly possible before, as the technology needed simply didn’t exist. From an internal point of view, the development of collaborative working tools has proved a fundamental catalyst for driving this change.</p> <p>Externally, the growth of agile marketing has largely been the result of a rise in big data analytics and personalisation platforms.</p> <blockquote> <p>By monitoring how customers and prospects interact with your content, you can start making more intelligent marketing decisions on the fly.</p> </blockquote> <p>States Ellen Valentine, veteran marketing leader at Silverpop. As a result, if a consumer’s attitude towards a certain product or service shifts, marketers can use this information to adjust their messaging accordingly.</p> <p>It is this level of real-time personalisation that is coming to define the new era of agile marketing.</p> <p>In addition, by running small experiments on an on-going basis, you can achieve continuous, incremental improvements.</p> <h3>The danger of data without a clear focus</h3> <p>At the same time, brands should be careful not to depend too heavily on the outputs of big-data without a clear focus.</p> <p>If marketers don’t know where their marketing problems are and what they should be testing, they put themselves at risk of being bogged down in data that doesn’t actually add anything to their campaigns. In many ways this can be an agile marketer's worst nightmare.</p> <p>By working in a purely real-time environment, marketing professionals may find themselves constantly iterating a campaign based on the very latest data and statistics.</p> <p>By getting too bogged down in these iterations, marketers may run the risk of weakening their brands by failing to provide a consistent messaging strategy.</p> <p>“The trick with getting better results from marketing is asking the right question from the outset,” says Dave Chaffey, CEO of Smart Insights.</p> <blockquote> <p>It’s about finding a line between the traditional ‘tick-box mentality’, in which marketers blindly follow the rest of the industry and becoming so flexible that the brand loses all identity and control.</p> </blockquote> <h3>Collaboration is key </h3> <p>Julian Archer, research director at Sirius Decisions, says brands must work to “build a more agile marketing ecosystem” throughout their entire organisation.</p> <p>This means not only working to develop real-time engagement with customers, but also collaborating with one another in a more flexible and ultimately intelligent fashion.</p> <p>Agile marketing is just as much about improving internal inefficiencies as it is about developing an external approach.</p> <blockquote> <p>Agile, when implemented correctly, can give marketing great flexibility, while retaining the core structure required to keep marketing on track.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is the ideal middle ground that marketers need to achieve: flexibility and openness to new ideas, without a complete abandonment of marketing best practice.</p>