Digital Marketing – The New Age Marketing

Digital Marketing – The New Age Marketing

Ten years ago if I were asked to accept a complete stranger’s feedback on a product I wanted to purchase, I would have refused. Today, we actively seek feedback/ product information on social media from friends, friends of friends and people we’ve never met before!

Marketing has gone through many generations of change. From Mass Marketing in the 70s to Target Marketing in the 90s to Segmentation and Customization in the millennium. Now, we are on the cusp of the Next-Gen Marketing   which involves customer engagement, at the right time, place and in the right context.

While all the former phases of Marketing fall into the category of Traditional Marketing, which meant more dollars spent in an attempt to understand consumer needs better, what is emerging now is the new-age, digital face of it, where one can expect to spend fewer dollars and yet get closer to the customer and offer him exactly what he is looking for, when he is looking for it.

Digital Marketing is about a customer actively seeking information about a product on the web, thus displaying an Intent to Buy. For a Marketer, it is also about getting your product out there in the quickest possible time, without being too in-your-face. Digital Marketing also has the ability to integrate with traditional mediums of marketing like TV, Radio, Billboard Advertising and print media, in order to provide the consumer an enhanced experience of convenience and comfort.

Segmentation and customization meant that we could design a specific offer to suit a particular customer’s needs based on his behavior, demographics etc. Digital Marketing helps us go one step further and makes that offer to the customer at the actual time that he is looking for it/ seeking it. Hence the probability of conversion increases manifold.

Digital Marketing scores in areas of Speed to market, convenience and accessibility. Online security features are being constantly augmented to provide safer monetary transactions on the web. Fears of intrusions into one’s life are being dispelled with enhanced privacy options online.

Internet Banking, E-tailing and Healthcare are among the industries that are starting to reap the benefits of the Digital Age. Brick and mortar and online companies alike are increasingly employing digital tactics to engage customers. There is no doubt that marketers need to start allocating higher marketing budgets towards the digital space, if they want to stay in the race and be competitive.

Mastering Pega’s Learning Curve

Mastering Pega’s Learning Curve

Pegasystems is one of the few vendors that truly can boast of a holistic suite of offerings across BPM, BRM, CRM, Dynamic Case Management, Marketing Automation and Predictive Analytics. As proof of this point, Gartner has rated Pega as a leader in the magic quadrant for BPM, CRM and Dynamic Case Management. This strong positioning in the market place has catapulted Pega’s license sales several fold in the past few years. While this has increased adoption of the technology, it has also created execution gaps due to its steep learning curve. To really optimize the investment in the technology, the project implementation team needs to possess a deep knowledge of Pega’s design techniques, implementation guardrails as well as it’s out-of-box functionality. The irony is that one can build the same functionality using either 10% of Pega’s OOB functionality and 90% of custom Java code or 90% of Pega’s OOB functionality and 10% of custom Java code. The impact of the different approaches will be felt only after a few releases when it takes much longer to build enhancements or extensions with the former approach.

Pega has done a remarkable job of addressing this execution gap through two programs – a) Pega Academy and b) Partner Enablement. However, given the complexity and robustness of the technology, while these programs are great to get started, they are not sufficient. What project teams need is a continuous mentoring and coaching program that builds on the Pega Academy courseware and exposes them to real-time, hands-on exercises over an extended period of time.

Serendebyte is addressing this challenge successfully by creating and conducting extremely high-touch and personalized enablement programs for its consultants. These programs are availed of by both new joinees and existing employees. We have created extensive training material consisting of power point presentations, use cases and case studies along with training instances on an Amazon cloud environment. Every employee (new and existing) is assigned a technical mentor who spends a minimum of 15% of his time on mentoring and coaching them on Pega.

Some of our key learnings from implementation of this program internally are highlighted below:

1. Pega Academy is a great starting point for someone’s Pega journey. However, it needs to be augmented by a more  focused and personalized enablement program under the watchful eyes of a mentor.

2. Class-room sessions have limited value; there is no substitute for on-the-job learning.

3. Create a repository of internal projects that the trainees can work on before being exposed to customer projects.

4. If you are big on building solution accelerators on top of Pega platform like we are, engage the trainees in support  and minor enhancements of the assets.

Pega’s Customer Service Application – A truly CXM (Customer Experience Management) Solution

Pega’s Customer Service Application – A truly CXM (Customer Experience Management) Solution

CRM or Customer Relationship Management has been around for decades. It has traditionally focused on sales activities and pipeline management. CRM has been used by organizations to record and track details about prospective customers as well as interactions with prospects and existing customers. Hence its primary goal was customer data management and most traditional CRM software products have excelled at that. These tools are not only good at managing customer data but also provide reports on historical data to identify most profitable customers, track performance of sales executives, on customer billing and to feed annual performance management systems. Hence, its appeal and use was universal across sales executives, sales managers, customer service representatives, and finance and HR departments. However, with changing business context, traditional CRM products are falling short. This is primarily because of the following trends:

  • With the onset of social media, the power has shifted from seller to buyer.
  • With commoditization of services and products, (unless your offering really stands out in the crowd) providing

    superior customer service and exceeding customer expectations becomes key to survival.

  • For the same reason as above, organizations need to engage customers over a longer duration, as well as

    upsell and cross-sell.

This has paved the way for CXM, which is next-generation CRM. CXM is the discipline of managing ALL customer experiences across ALL touch points between the customer and service provider over the entire duration of their relationship. In other words, it is the intersection of customer knowledge and customer fulfillment. It moves the focus from pure data management to using the data at the right time and place to deliver superior customer value and thereby accomplish one or more of the key goals – repeat business, increased wallet share, increased customer loyalty or improved customer satisfaction. Pega’s strategic application on Customer Service does exactly this. Its solution has the following components:

  • KYC or Know Your Customer – what traditional CRM tools provide
  • Dynamic Case Management – a robust BPM solution that drives a case (customer complaint, account opening

    or claims First Notice of Loss) from creation to resolution with the optimal use of resources and time.

  • Decision Management and Predictive Analytics – Through Pega’s acquisition of Chordiant, it has built a world

  • Social Media Management – Pega’s acquisition of Mesh Labs has strengthened its offering in social media

    monitoring and sentiment analysis.

  • Co-Browsing – Pega’s Customer Service solution has built-in co-browsing technology (through acquisition of Fire Fly) that allows customer service representatives to quickly understand their customer’s issues by viewing their screens in real-time.
  • Mobility – Pega has enhanced its capabilities of extending its solutions to mobile platforms through the

    acquisition of Antenna Software, a highly rated mobile application platform vendor.

How I Approached my CLSA Certification

How I Approached my CLSA Certification

It all started in Jan 2014 when a friend completed his CLSA (both part 1 and 2). I met him to discuss how he completed the certification. After the meeting I understood that success in CLSA is not something impossible or you would need “X” years of prerequisite experience.  But for sure, you should have very strong hands-on experience in Pega and be extremely fluent in the fundamental concepts. What I liked most about the overall CLSA testing experience is that it evaluates not just theoretical knowledge but also its application in real life situations. Upon clearing this certification, my confidence as a Pega architect grew tremendously.

Below is a description of how I went through the process.

1.Before starting the preparation for CLSA, you should know all the concepts covered in Pega Academy CSA and CSSA courses.

2.You would then have to complete the Pega Academy course for “PRPC: Lead System Architect”.

I started my preparation in the first week of Feb 2014 and took the CLSA part 1 exam in July 2014. Ten of us were part of our group that studies together, picking topics and teaching each other as well as brainstorming. .

1. Each day, I made sure to spend at least 2 hours on the “PRPC: Lead System Architect” course.

2. Always had a deadline to finish a topic. I maintained a target for every week and achieved it.

3. In order to understand the concepts clearly, I went through the course video more than once.

4. I made sure to review the previous courses covered after I progressed..

5. As the course content is huge, we tend to forget the initial topics we covered. And also do not ignore the hands on part for every topic.

6. It took me 5 to 6 months to complete the “PRPC: Lead System Architect” course.

Garnering some confidence, I attempted CLSA Part 1. And I was able to clear the Part 1 exam. And now starts the big challenge – the preparation for part 2. For part 2, you will need to build an application in one week and submit it to Pega. I took the Part 2 exam in September 2014 and cleared it successfully. Part 2 for the 1st attempt costs 1000 USD.

Below are some logistical details of the Part 2 Application Build test:

1. CLSA part 1 Certification is mandatory for taking the Part 2.

2. Duration of the app build is one week. Exam can be scheduled between Monday and Friday 9.00 AM EST.

3. The requirements for the application to be built will be sent 15 minutes prior to the start of the exam.

4. You can mail Pega Academy for any clarifications, if needed. But in most of the cases, that won’t be necessary.

5. Pass score is 70%. Below is the distribution of the weightages: Implementation : 70% Best Practices     : 10% Design                  : 20% Total                     : 100%

6. A design question document will be shared along with the requirement document. This needs to be answered  and sent back when the application is submitted. The design document questions you on reasons for your design  choice and approach for future enhancements.

7. Pega Academy shall provide a cloud instance to upload your application.

8. Results are typically announced within five to eight weeks. Negative results tend to get announced earlier.

Some useful tips to remember:

1. I started with the sample application which was given at the end of the “PRPC: Lead System Architect” course. I  built that application and compared my design with the solution video, which was totally different. But it is ok as  long as you learn a better design and understand there will be multiple solutions to a problem.

2. Make sure your development environment is working properly. Check if SMA and remote tracing works properly.

3. Whatever rule you create, make sure to give usage and description.

4. Need to have good knowledge on the Case Manager portal, especially the reports dashboard.

5. Before implementing, make sure Pega does not have an out of the box feature to handle the requirement.

6. Review Process API to understand what features are available within PRPC before taking the exam.

7. Plan to complete the implementation one day before the date of completion.

8. Spend a considerable amount of time to answer the design questions.

9. Main aim of the exam is to implement the functionality end to end.

10. Do not perform any coding in the cloud environment. Treat the cloud as your production environment.

11. Perform a code move one day prior to submission and check if the cloud is working properly.

12. Document all the user IDs and Credentials in a separate document and attach it with the submission email.

All the best !!!

Pega’s Approach to Care Management

Pega’s Approach to Care Management

The American Care Management Association (ACMA), defines care management as: “a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s and family’s comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources to promote quality cost effective outcomes.”

One of the most important aspects of this definition to Healthcare Payers is “quality cost effective outcomes”. There is no denying the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, but with new regulation and competition in the healthcare insurance market, it is imperative that healthcare payers find ways to provide high quality care while still managing internal costs in order to stay competitive in this ever changing industry.

The Pegasystems Care Management Application (CMA) is uniquely suited to giving healthcare companies a strong head start into the development of a modern, dynamic application capable of changing to meet new regulations and initiatives. By utilizing the CMA, in conjunction with Pega’s powerful routing and workflow abilities it is possible to give a member streamlined and efficient care while allowing healthcare companies to only engage more expensive clinical resources when necessary, and to effectively use non-clinical care coordinators to complete many day to day tasks for the member. By properly balancing resource utilization, it is possible to provide a high level of interaction and care to a growing member population without needing to grow the number of clinical resources at the same rate.

In addition to managing work and tasks, with CMA and Pega it is possible to identify members with the highest probability of impact either through business rules created in Pega or through integration with third party healthcare stratification and predictive modeling tools. This allows Pega to weight and adjust urgency of cases to ensure that cases with the best chance for significant improvements to patient health and plan cost savings are presented to users quickly.

Having spent several months working on a care management application, I can see the dedication of the non-clinical care coordinators as well as the clinical staff, and I am excited at the prospects that a new system build on Pega presents to this customer, having participated in job shadowing of the current process I see that there is a tremendous opportunity using BPM to enhance current processes that already exist in Care Management and Disease Management and to leverage task routing to ensure that the right resources are doing the right work.

My Top 3 challenges working in Distributed Teams

My Top 3 challenges working in Distributed Teams

1. Denial

Whether we are trying to acquire new skills, vowing to kick bad habits or making a new year’s resolution, the oldest most effective defense mechanism preventing us from achieving our goals is denial. Scrum is one of the most used project management methodologies but often enough companies tend to change parts to fit their needs. Some teams still do waterfall but use “Agile” jargon. Others have few Scrum principles apply to some team members while the rest of the organization still operates with a waterfall mindset.

Remedy for Success – Take the SCRUMBut Test

Take the ScrumBut Test, also called the “Nokia test”. Thankfully this scoring system exists to help teams validate if they are truly SCRUM.

2. Communication and Schedule Differences

As we all know, not working face to face, even with team members working in the same continent or region can complicate communication. The complexity proliferates with distance, time zone, cultural and language differences.

Remedy for Success
Collocated teams (in the same location):

Face-to-face meetings (daily scrum) nurture stronger communication between team members, put pressure on team members to deliver on their commitments and encourage the Scrum Team to self-organize.

Distributed teams with overlapping hours:

Finding a time during the overlapping hours to meet every day at the same time and on the same teleconference number for the Daily Scrum is ideal for distributed teams with overlapping work hours.

An alternative to a teleconference is to do a videoconference instead. The benefit of this approach is that is it fosters better collaboration between the team members and minimizes nonverbal communication loss. This option obviously requires supporting hardware, software and some reasonable bandwidth. Disruptions or poor video quality can be very disruptive.

Distributed teams with no overlapping hours:

Schedule alternate meetings times. Unlike having a fixed time always outside working hours for some team members, every team member has an opportunity to attend at least part of the time.

Another approach that I often see in projects is to conduct two different Daily Scrums and to have a designated team member/lead/scrum master attend both. The appointed person shares the information between the two teams. This approach gives a degree of visibility however it might be beneficial to get the entire team in a meeting occasionally and consider rotating the appointed person’s responsibilities to minimize the burden.

Finally, over communicate and use standardized communication tools and templates.

Though note taking is not common during the Daily Scrum, when working with a distributed team, it can be helpful to have the notes available in a common repository.

Screen sharing and instant messaging apps should not be overlooked as they can greatly bridge the gap between teammates.

3. Non Equal Talent distribution across teams
Remedy for Success

Allocate work across cross-functional, isolated “Feature” teams. This improves the teams’ velocity by minimizing most dependencies between teams and by ensuring that teams in different time zones are fully self-sufficient.

Allowing teams to self-organize and manage their own time increase their Focus Factor. Senior resources tend to spend more time on other unrelated organizational tasks and meetings instead of focusing on their actual work, leading, mentoring and supporting the team.

Defining design guidelines and best practices can go a long way in improving consistency and quality while improving the team’s velocity in the long run.

Loyalty Management – A Powerful tool for Digital Marketers

Loyalty Management – A Powerful tool for Digital Marketers

Loyalty Management is a popular customer engagement practice used by Marketing Managers to serve multiple objectives of better customer experience, improving retention, increasing customer lifetime value and profitability. Loyalty Management is particularly useful in an industry where customer attrition is high, brand loyalty is low, barriers to exit the brand are low and the sector is competition intensive. Successful loyalty programs are typically found in the airline, credit cards and retail industries. Telecommunications is another sector where Loyalty Management is gaining prominence as an effective customer engagement tool because this industry is also characterized by challenges of customer attrition, heavy competition, price sensitivity and low profit margins.

A typical Loyalty program addresses two aspects:

  • It rewards customers for past usage- the “Earn” aspect
  • It incentivizes customers for future usage- the “Burn” aspect

Points, which are the underlying currency in any Loyalty program, stand for some monetary or non-monetary value and can be converted at any time by the customer. “Earn” allows the customer to accumulate points whenever he conducts a transaction thus encouraging him to transact more and be more engaged. “Burn” allows the customer to redeem the accumulated points on future transactions thus encouraging him to stay with the brand longer.

The key benefits of a Loyalty Program are to:

  • Increase profitability by identifying, rewarding and hence retaining high value customers.
  • Create a sustainable and differentiated competitive advantage
  • Effectively influence desired customer behavior.

Some examples of successful Loyalty Programs are Frequent Flyer miles offered by various Airline companies as well as points for usage of credit cards.

Business behind BPM

Business behind BPM

Business Process Management (BPM), as a management discipline has been around for more than twenty years. In the 90’s, the concept of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) was introduced by Michael Hammer in Harvard Business Review. A few years later, Hammer and James Champy published their best-selling book “Reengineering  the Corporation”. The primary message of their publication was that organizations need to re-design their core business processes and eliminate inefficiencies in order to meet business goals like increased competitiveness, improved service quality and higher productivity. This laid the foundation for BPM as we know today.

The discipline of BPM urges organizations to treat and manage their business processes as assets just like employees, customers and inventory. It is only with this change in thinking that organizations will start to incorporate BPM into their overall corporate strategy..

While BPM, in its earlier avatar as WFM (Work Flow Management) was popular even a decade ago, it has really earned its fair mindshare in the corporate world only in the last five to eight years. This is largely driven by the globalization of the world, need for product innovation, access to larger customer markets and need for differentiation due to product commoditization. For example, take the case of mortgage financing. This product has become so mature and regulated that mortgage providers struggle to differentiate themselves with respect to their offerings. The only way they can attract customers is through improved service quality – closing a loan quickly and in a hassle-free manner, uniform customer experience across multiple channels and being a knowledgeable source during their customer’s decision making process. This involves understanding the steps involved in closing a loan, where the current inefficiencies are and eliminating them, and automating them. Similarly, take the case of the food services industry. Whether it is a fast food restaurant, casual or fine dining, one of their objectives is to introduce new items to their menu on a regular basis. This again requires a solid understanding of all the steps from menu conceptualization to recipe design, vendor selection, procurement of ingredients, marketing to final roll out. In both the above scenarios, process management plays a key role in determining success or failure.

In the next of the series of BPM primer, we will explore the approach organizations need to take to implement BPM.