Posted tagged ‘Process Redesign’

Lesson 7: Use Technology to Forward Your Business

April 12, 2009

We’ve laid the foundation for our solution by discussing numerous disciplines which will be incorporated for re-establishing marketing and sales control within our housewares industry, The remaining area for us to explore is technology.

As is always the case, technology is never the solution in and of itself. Rather, technology is a tool – a very effective tool for transforming the way one processes transactions on behalf of its customers or delivers products or services to them or communicates with them.

In recent months – and although it feels longer than that – it really is months -we have been exposed to a new use of technology, a tool called Twitter. Twitter takes texting to another level. This service allows people to send and read “micro-blogs” or “tweets” of up to 140 characters. That’s about the same length as one of the sentence in this paragraph. Here’s a quick overview.

People who use twitter a re called “tweeters.” They set up free accounts on Twitter and post these very short blurbs. Anyone with Internet access can log on and see these “tweets.” The difference though is this. People can elect to have these tweets sent to their cell phones, mobile devices or computers.

How can one sentence of posting make such a difference? Consider this report from the April 8th New York Times and reporter Ellen Barry.

“A crowd of more than 10,000 young Moldovans materialized seemingly out of nowhere on Tuesday to protest against Moldova‘s Communist leadership, ransacking government buildings and clashing with the police.

The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter the social messaging network.

The protesters created their own searchable tag on Twitter (ed. note: thus allowing you to look up links that are tagged with one or more subjects), rallying Moldovans to join and propelling events in this small former Soviet state onto a Twitter list of newly popular topics, so people around the world could keep track.

By Tuesday night, the seat of government had been badly battered and scores of people had been injured. But riot police had regained control of the president’s offices and Parliament Wednesday.

After hundreds of firsthand accounts flooded onto the Internet via Twitter, Internet service in Chisinau, the capital, was abruptly cut off.”

If political revolutions can be initiated, how can a business one be started?

On the site Read Write Web, you can learn how Zappos, the Internet shoe retailer is using social media to forward its business.

There are literally more than a 100 Zappos employees with twitter windows open waiting to respond to customer service questions.

Here’s a short sample from today’s Zappos Twitter site. I’ve slightly modified each name and removed the links so as to be sensitive to the identities of the individuals since I am using this for a different purpose.

  • @samdeck I want to apologize for your hold time. We’re here for you 24/7 1-800-927-7671. Have an awesome day!!! about 2 hours ago from web in reply to samdeck
  • @onfiref I apologize for the confusion, but which shoes do you need a picture of? Let us know or call us 1-800-927-7671 about 2 hours ago from web
  • @Glorial congrats! We look forward to meeting you! about 21 hours ago from web
  • @mkntz we did upgrade you to next-business day shipping for free on your order! You should receive it 4/14/09 at the latest. about 21 hours ago from web
  • @hinia I would be happy to answer your question. There is no tax when shipping to California from Zappos. 2:30 PM Apr 10th from web

This is customer service in 2009!

Zappos though is also intent on building a community. There’s a dedicated site where you’ll find all of the twittering Zappos employees who tweet about what they are working on and interesting resources on and off the Zappos site. There’s an employee leader board that shows who’s on twitter an dhow many followers they have.

There’s also a page that aggregates all of the public mentions of Zappos. And Zappos has also set up pages for those who rave about the company and its products.

Want to know more about how to use Twitter in your business? Do a Google search on “twitter” and “business”…

Ah, technology as a tool…


An Appreciation: On the Passing of Dr. Michael Hammer

September 7, 2008

It was with great sadness that I read today of the passing of Dr. Michael Hammer. Dr. Hammer was one of the seminal thinkers and authors in the management consulting industry and influenced me and so many others.

As co-author with James Champy of “Reengineering the Corporation,” he espoused that many of the problems with how companies operate were due to processes that were bloated, inappropriate or simply just ineffectual. As CEO of an IT consulting company, Flash Creative Management, at the time, this resonated deeply with my partner, Yair Alan Griver and me. This led us and our company on a journey that would result in us redefining our business.

Initially, we shifted Flash from being a software development company to one that looked first at the processes that our automation efforts would impact.  Our consulting practice and our team of very talented and committed professionals began to study reengineering in earnest and, needless to say, the impact that we had on our clients grew significantly.

By applying automation and technology after evaluating and redesigning processes, we were able to produce dramatic results. In some cases, this resulted in product design and delivery shrinking from months to weeks and from weeks to days.

Intellectually, Dr. Hammer’s and Mr. Champy’s works prompted us to create and codify best practices for creating visions, redesigning process, implementation planning and improvement strategies, to name but a few. And for me personally, it helped to begin the education process regarding how to develop business strategies as I learned that understanding strategy is the pre-requisite to creating effective processes. As mentioned in an earlier post, the vision of what a company wishes to become is fundamental to all business design.

Over the years, Dr. Hammer needed to respond to criticism that streamlined and automated processes eliminated jobs. He took the position that if a business was not competitive; all jobs within the business were at risk. If you subscribe to the belief that to be successful your business must add a value that your competition does not, it becomes very easy to align with Dr. Hammer’s way of thinking. Efficiency and cost reduction by streamlining processes and aligning actions with strategy are sure ways to make certain that your business is more competitive.

The world has lost one of the most profound thinkers of organizational design. Fortunately, he leaves behind an impressive body of work and many disciples who will build on his teachings.

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