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Achieving Success with Information Technology

Why Organizations Need to View IT as Central to Success and Profit

Think Your IT Department is Simply There to Make Repairs and Solve Minor Problems? Find Out Why It Should Be the Center of Your Organization’s Long-Term Strategy  

Strategic IT Assets

Information technology (IT) is more than a critical function. A well-run IT department should be integrated into an organization’s overall strategy. In fact, a comprehensive IT department should be at the center of organizational strategy. Within a firm, IT can include the following:

  • End-user computing devices
  • Networks and network infrastructure
  • Operating systems
  • Software applications
  • Data storage
  • Telecommunications
  • Internet service
  • Telephone systems

Using IT As a Strategic Asset

According to leading industry experts, even when leaders are aware of what constitutes the IT department’s purview and assets, there is a tendency to overlook IT’s potential. Yet, technology assets can be leveraged to ensure the organization runs as smoothly as possible. When an IT department and its assets are finely tuned, leaders can focus on identifying opportunities and innovative technical solutions. This includes innovative technical solutions that can be either used by the organization or leveraged by it. Consequently, the IT department and its assets become more cost-effective. With the right type and degree of investment, IT can help turn a profit for the firm.

Centralizing IT

When elevating IT and its assets to the center of organizational strategy, it is crucial to think about three areas. Those areas are:

  • Income
  • Growth
  • Strategic planning

IT can generate income through innovative solutions, but also by streamlining internal costs. This is usually achieved through the automation of processes and by increasing the efficiency of processes. Growth goes hand in hand with innovative solutions and increasing the efficiency of internal processes. By being able to meet client needs and drive market behaviors, an organization can use IT to establish a competitive advantage. Establishing and maintaining a competitive advantage to stimulate long-term growth is an essential part of any strategic plan.

Reasons to Leverage IT

The number one reason why it is important to leverage technology-related assets is due to the industry’s pace. Changes in technological advancements and capabilities happen at lightning-fast speeds. Without proper strategic planning, analysis and leverage of internal IT capabilities, an organization can simply not expect to succeed. IT can not only be a means of survival, but a point of differentiation. Technical expertise and advantage can reduce costs, create markets, better meet client needs, and make the entire organization more efficient. Neglecting IT or viewing the department and its assets as a necessary evil can backfire as others find ways to make technology generate revenue.

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Will Improving Online Reviews Boost Your Website Engagement?

Are your online reviews killing your website traffic? It’s true — many customers won’t click if they see your reviews are less-than-favorable.  

Increase Website Traffic

When is the last time you felt strongly enough about a product or service to leave an online review? While some people do it as a matter of course for every restaurant, doctor’s office and retail establishment they visit, most people only take the time to review something when they were either extremely pleased with the service or over-the-top mad about their experience. Unfortunately, this can result in some pretty painful online reviews, but does it really impact the traffic to your website — and ultimately your business revenue? You might be surprised to learn that more than 95% of people aged 18-34 read reviews for local businesses before making a decision and 86% of all consumers do the same. Still think reviews don’t matter?!?

Improving Engagement with Positive Feedback

When customers leave your business, it can be challenging to know if they’re satisfied with their goods and services. It may not be until you read an online review that you find the uber-polite professional who left your office with a smile is now posting to all their friends on social media about the horrid experience that they had. In general, people are not fans of direct conflict and may leave their poor feedback in a very visible and damaging way for your business — through online reviews. Yelp, Google and many other sites provide an easy way to aggregate both positive and negative comments about your business, all of which can be visible from within a Google search of your business. Google adores reviews and according to Moz data, their search algorithm could be impacted by up to 9% by consumer reviews. Google wants to present the most trusted and relevant search results and one of the best ways to do that is to listen to the audience: your consumers.

Offsetting the Damage from Negative Reviews

As you can imagine, if Google takes up nearly 10% of its algorithm to focus on your reviews, a few poor reviews can drop you significantly lower in the all-important search engine results page. Reviews are a vital part of your SEO strategy, and it’s challenging to bounce back from negative reviews in the past. One of the things new customers are looking for is the responsiveness of the business to this type of feedback. If you watch your main review sites carefully and audit for positive and negative reviews, you can offer timely feedback that shows you recognize there are issues and you are taking steps to solve them in the future. This can help turn a negative review into a positive, encouraging new customers to take a chance and click through to your website.

Driving Positive Reviews is a Critical Component in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Did you know that a Harvard study shows that a one-star increase on Yelp can lead to a 5-9% increase in sales? That’s what you call a direct correlation, and it makes reviews fully relevant and worth working for. Fortunately, those same customers who are ready to spout off about a negative experience are also surprisingly willing to post a positive review — but only if you ask. Up to 68% of consumers will take the time to review your product or service, and all you have to do is ask! Your marketing strategy should include a simple tactic that some of the best businesses in the world use (think Amazon): send a quick followup note via email requesting that customers leave a review on your preferred platform. When you flood the web with positive reviews, your business is more likely to rank higher and receive more high-quality traffic than a competitor who is not focused on improving their online reputation.

The moral of the story is that reputation still matters, even in a world where digital rules the day. In decades past, word of mouth reputation was what needed to be protected and that truly hasn’t changed as we edge into the future. Protecting the online reputation of your business is relatively straightforward and that quick automated email after a sale may be your very best selling tool — and the least expensive marketing tactic that you deploy!

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The Top Online Journal Services For CEOs

How to Choose the Right App for CEO Online Journaling

Learn why many business leaders turn to journaling to build their brand and improve their leadership skills and see what features the top applications offer.

CEO Journaling

When you want to establish your own personal and professional brand online, using an online journal is an effective way to spread the word about your insights, leadership, business and philosophy. Having the right tool to help you get your message across to readers is an important decision.

Other CEOs use journals to fine-tune their skills, reflect on their days and improve their leadership skills.

“Setting aside as little as 10 minutes a day to record your thoughts stimulates reflection critical to making sense of the fast-moving world around you,” notes a recent Strategy and Business article. “Journaling engages the analytical, rational functions of the brain, which gives the more creative parts of your cranium space and time to work their magic.”

Below are the top online journal services that CEOs can use to build a better online persona or simply track their thoughts and perspectives.

What Features Should I Look For in a Journaling App?

The most effective apps are those that offer features that make it easier to write and publish. Some of the most common features among the top apps are:

  • Easy interface. You want to be able to focus on writing, so you need a minimalist interface that lets you focus your thoughts and write well. The app you choose should also be easy to use, with a limited number of clicks or taps needed to add an entry.
  • Exporting. You want to choose a product that allows for exporting into formats such as PDF, RTF or common word processing extensions that allow you to use the content wherever you want.
  • Syncing. Keep your journal synchronized across your devices with an app that has synchronizing capabilities.
  • Reminders. Gentle automated nudges to enter your thoughts are a good way to maintain the habit.
  • Visual support. You may want to add other elements to your journal, including photos, videos and graphics.

What Are the Top Online Journal Services for CEOs?

You have many choices when it comes to journaling services. Here are a few of the top options:

  • Day One. Automatically add metadata such as date, location, time and weather, synchronize your entries across devices, and use a dark mode if working in low light. It also uses IFTTT (“if this then that”), a free web-based service to automate the creation of entries on multiple apps.
  • Diario. A great choice when you want to add lots of images. You can add folders, tags, dates, locations and other filters.
  • Diary. A simple interface makes Diary popular for shorter entries, which can be shared easily with friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms or via email. Provides cloud storage and reminders, too.
  • Journal. An intuitive interface and clean layout highlight this product. Synchronize with Google Maps to add location metadata and street views. Export entries to file types suitable for printing. Security features include Touch ID, Face ID and PIN protection and automatic backups to Google Drive.
  • LiveJournal. One of the oldest journaling apps dating to 1999, LiveJournal lets you share and read others’ journal entries while writing your own.
  • Momento. Connect Momento to social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and you can automatically add social activity to your journal.
  • Penzu. Security is the name of the game with Penzu, which offers double password protection and 256-bit encryption, along with customizable backgrounds and fonts.

Whether for branding or reflection, the right journaling tool can improve your professional outcomes.

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Staffing In The Digital Age

Staffing Digital Age

Digital Disruption Forces Businesses to Rethink Staffing Strategy

See how rapid technological advances are revolutionizing how companies approach the structure of their workforces and new strategies for employee recruitment.

The remarkable pace of digital transformation has changed how businesses operate at every level. Companies today need to be nimble, taking a close look at emerging technologies, choosing the right investments and continuing to thrive in the face of constant disruption.

That means reexamining business models, processes used and, perhaps most critically, the nature of work and who (or what) does it.

Understanding staffing in the digital age means taking a strategic approach to personnel.

What Staffing Model Works in the Digital Age?

Traditional labor models are not always the right choice in the digital era. Major initiatives are conceived, launched and executed more quickly than ever, requiring companies to act nimbly. Leaders are shifting towards a model that’s both strategic and flexible.

The modern staffing model may include a mix of the following:

  • Permanent employees who focus on the most critical initiatives
  • Skilled contract employees that support the work, complementing permanent employees and providing talent not available internally
  • Specialists that provide additional capabilities and are available on an as-needed basis to complete high-value projects

This approach allows companies to be responsive, provide the right resources for time-sensitive and mission-critical work, and make key hires.

As a recent Deloitte report notes, HR offices are grappling with how to address personnel management in a digital age. “HR’s concerns will soon be revolving around the changing nature of the organization and employees becoming increasingly digital,” the report states.

Organizations must be mindful of the realities of work, including:

  • Digital trends that are pervasive, including cloud computing, social media, mobile connectedness, cybersecurity and data analytics
  • A multigenerational workforce that includes several generations whose entire lives have been digital in the same workplace with older employees whose technical comfort and skills may be lacking
  • Hyperconnected employees looking to blur the lines between work and personal lives
  • An emerging group of digitally skilled employees
  • Business models that are challenged by digital disruption and new competitors
  • Employee perceptions that they are the first consumers of and ambassadors for their employers’ brands

“HR needs to be more pre-emptive with regard to digital transformation as it plays an important role in shaping the organization’s digital identity,” cites Deloitte. “It is a challenge and a real complexity to plan future capabilities of a workforce in the digital economy.”

What Are the Challenges of Staffing in the Digital Age?

The greatest challenge is talent. For many highly skilled positions, competition is fierce, with potential employees having considerable leverage. Advanced data analytics, robotic process automation and cloud computing are just three needed areas where demand is high as companies seek to incorporate emerging technologies into business processes.

Recruitment is fiercer and requires more creativity than ever before. Companies are using a number of tactics to improve their hiring outcomes, including:

  • Pre-Employment Networking. Companies are forging relationships with potential candidates well before there are available openings. A focus on engaging potential talent may include providing insights into the company and its strategic plans, offering informational interviews, social gatherings and regular check-ins with a recruiter. Relationships forged early can lead to faster-hiring processes.
  • Digital Solutions. Digital labor platforms allow for integrated personnel management, connecting the primary HR functions under one roof. With recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, development and evaluation in the same platform, it allows organizations to be more nimble and cohesive in employee matters. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, using a digital labor platform can increase output by 9 percent, reduce employee costs by 7 percent and add 275 basis points to profit margins.
  • Flexibility. Many employees today expect to have a high level of flexibility in when, where and how they work. Remote employees can use digital technologies and powerful collaboration tools that keep them in contact with colleagues. A digital mindset in the HR office and throughout the organization makes companies more attractive to candidates.
  • Focus on Company Culture. Businesses today need to focus on corporate culture. Why? Because there is more information available about most workplaces. Sites such as Glassdoor provide detailed information about companies, including employee reviews that can paint a clear picture of how an organization treats its workers. “Top performers know their value and are growing more footloose as a result; many are going online to find new opportunities and to evaluate potential employers,” notes McKinsey.

Recruiting and retaining employees in the digital age requires employers to think very differently about their workforce. Flexible, creative and strategic approaches allow for better outcomes.

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Why Today’s CEOs are Worried About Cybersecurity

The top concern for CEOs today isn’t competitors or a recession — it’s cybersecurity. See why this is becoming the biggest challenge for an organization’s top executive.

Why Today’s CEOs are Worried About Cybersecurity

A business’s top executive has plenty on their minds: the potential of a major recession, competitors nipping at their heels and a shortage of talent. However, none of these hot topics are the top concern for US CEOs in 2019 — that banner falls to cybersecurity. When there are so many other issues facing organizations, why is cybersecurity the highest business concern for CEOs? Perhaps part of the issue is the continual cycle of mainstream media coverage of the massive breaches such as Equifax in 2017 that affected millions of individuals and can cost billions of dollars to resolve. It could also be the high-profile challenges that FacebookYahooUnder Armour and Marriott have been facing over the past few years. A recent poll of over 1,400 CEOs and senior executives by The Conference Boardpoints to some of the reasons cybersecurity is a top strategic consideration for CEOs in 2019.

CEO Concerned About Cybersecurity

CEOs Struggling to Find the Right Cybersecurity Leaders

One of the key threats facing today’s CEOs is the ability to adequately resource their cybersecurity teams. This relatively new need is one that is causing a significant shortage in the hiring market, with organizations wrestling with budget requirements for an increasingly-expensive skill set. Unfortunately, the dearth of talent is not just at the executive leadership level, it is also causing IT departments around the country and the world to flounder as they attempt to staff up to meet the growing needs of cybersecurity as well as data compliance requirements. These individuals will be in high demand for the foreseeable future as gaining knowledge about cybersecurity requires time and investment in education. Savvy CEOs and other technology leaders have been growing these skills internally for the last several years, but having a split focus between cybersecurity requirements and their “day job” can quickly cause individuals to fall behind in the ever-changing security landscape.

Keeping Cybersecurity Initiatives in the Limelight

It’s relatively easy for CEOs to keep shorter-term strategies top-of-mind for their executive teams, but there are no quick solutions to enhancing your organization’s cybersecurity. This requires a long-term, focused effort — and resisting the siren songs of short-term gains to ensure that your strategic focus on IT security stays in place. Changes in the economy or in the competitive marketplace may tease CEOs to redirect some of the funds or teams to other parts of the organization, but it’s crucial that top executives stay in tune with the benefits that cybersecurity provides to the organization. In many cases, the changes that need to be made to make your organization more secure will also have payoffs in the efficiency of your operations, too.

Marketplace Perception of a Data Breach

The extremely negative perception and sheer quantity of negative publicity that can come with a data breach are reason enough for CEOs to be overly concerned about the cybersecurity within their organization. It doesn’t take long for smaller, leaner competitors to enter many marketplaces, and these organizations can receive positive publicity if larger organizations are caught up in a breach situation. How the business handles their communication around a massive breach, ransomware or other cybersecurity incidents can be as damaging as the incident itself if the CEO isn’t careful. These situations require a great deal of proactive communication and notification to customers along with the major effort required to evaluate the incident and begin remediation. Without a comprehensive incident response plan in place, the situation becomes that much more difficult for leaders throughout the organization.

Creating a proactive field for cybersecurity does start at the top, which makes it encouraging that CEOs are considering cybersecurity their very top initiative for 2019. As long as this focus on IT security and the value for the business continues strong over the next few years, businesses should be able to prepare adequately to weather this type of storm.