Imagine the Future – Trend Advantage Part 2

Introducing DataKey’s Trend Advantage article series – learn how to recognize and capitalize on marketplace trends to accelerate your business!  [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3]

Understanding mega trends and their potential for strategic change in your company is critical to long term survival and profits. Companies that act now to analyze future mega trends are able build competitive advantage. Trend Advantage is a process to assess mega trends that are just starting to build today, and to design actions so that your company can profit over the long term. The entire process is based on three steps as shown below. This is the second in a series of articles that explains the steps in greater detail.

Turning Marketplace Trends Into Competitive Innovation

Once you have identified the mega trend impacts, validated your assessment of those impacts, and positioned yourself to take advantage of the oncoming wave of change, it is time to inspire others around you to see the future the same way. While it’s tempting to look at market share, CAGR, ROI and other business case metrics, the unfortunate fact is that the numbers are all SWAGs about the future that cannot be gathered or confirmed. In some cases, the market is so new that a business case would not provide sufficient investment justification.

So what can you do to get your company on board? You are not promising immediate payback; instead, you are asking the company leaders to position the company for a longer term survival and profits.  To be successful, you’ll need to create a vision of the future that’s compelling – it must be believable, rational and, most importantly, inspiring. Keep in mind that the vision needs to satisfy the needs of the audience at almost every decision level, from the Board of Directors and top management to the leaders that manage the resources working on the new projects – perhaps in R&D, the CTO office, Product Innovation Labs or New Product Development.

To successfully reach all these groups, the idea needs to be visual and conceptual while still appealing to the power of data-driven decision making. You may need to create a vision in multiple areas depending on the scope of your business. Mock-up diagrams, use cases, and supporting data about the trend are all essential tools for making an effective and cohesive case for your vision.

Below is one example of the future of automobile connectivity and infotainment. It is easy to imagine that all of these elements that exist in a different form today could be put together and integrated into the environment of the car for safety, driver information, multi-purpose analytics and entertainment. With the vision clarified, it’s easy for top management to sign-off on the project. Your creative R&D engineers, marketing and new product development teams can begin the process of ideation, find the gaps from where your company is today, and put the plans in place to create the vision you describe.

Example of How Mega Trends Spark Innovation

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning throughout the organization to ensure successful implementation. Generate inspiration towards a profitable and sustainable future for your company.  DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create effective strategies to interpret and evaluate mega trends, specifically tailored to your company’s industry, products and services. With DataKey as part of your team, take your long-term strategy off the back-burner and start building towards your potential today.

Ready to learn more?  Read the rest of the series [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3] or contact DataKey today!

Mega Trend Strategy – Trend Advantage Part 1

Introducing DataKey’s Trend Advantage article series – learn how to recognize and capitalize on marketplace trends to accelerate your business!  [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3]

Companies that act now to analyze future mega trends are able build competitive advantage. Trend Advantage is a repeatable, reliable process to assess mega trends that are just starting to build today, and to design actions so that your company can profit over the long term. The entire process is based on three steps as shown below. This is the first in a series of articles that explains the steps in greater detail.

Turning Marketplace Trends Into Competitive Innovation

A mega trend is defined as a gathering of changes, changes which are slow to form but nearly impossible to reverse. Mega trends significantly influence the direction of the future with far and wide reaching impact on society and business alike. In 2010, Frost and Sullivan described dozens of high-impact mega trends[1]  that covered all areas of life and all geographies of the world.

While the timing of the business impact for your company may not be imminent, these mega trends cannot be ignored. Business strategists, general managers and R&D leaders that attend to the mega trends will create near-term actions to take advantage of the vast change that is inevitable, and that can carry a thriving and profitable company into the future.

Social media is a good example of a mega trend that has come upon us recently. It started small with Web 2.0 and built up over time to see mass adoption through companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Pinterest. In the early days of social media when MySpace was dominant, the idea of social networking didn’t move far beyond the college campus. Today, companies are scrambling to take advantage of social media as a new avenue for customer engagement and to buffer competitors who seek to erode customer loyalty.

Now is the time to identify the next trends, those that are just starting to gain steam and that will change your business in the near future.  The question to ask is, “Which trends are out there that are most likely to impact my business? And, how do I identify them?”

1. Assess Impact Potential

Consider the business you are in right now. Compare your business to the Frost and Sullivan mega trends to see if there is a positive, neutral or negative impact. For example, “Smart” is the next evolution after “Green.” According to the Smart mega trend, devices will have embedded sensors and processors which can handle the basic processing of environmental information. Imagine that your home heating and cooling system automatically deciding if the A/C or heat should be on based on the temperature inside and outside of the house.  How could your business be changed with this kind of sensor technology?

2. Validate the Trend

Second, gather additional validation of the mega trends that you believe will have an impact. Research the technology, investment and demographic changes that are fueling the trend. Are all of these factors logically supporting the trends? If so, that’s a clear indicator that this trend may be worth investing in.  For example, in 2020, today’s Gen Y will be between 24 and 36 years old. They are the future corporate managers, business owners and purchasers. They are social, have a preference for video, and expect 24/7 internet connectivity. How well will your business serve their needs?

3. Focus & Gather Resources

Third, narrow your focus to the mega trends where your business could benefit most by a change in products or business model. Identify companies already working in this area and how your company can leverage their knowledge, products or services. Similarly, identify individuals in these companies and find ways to enter into their network so that you can become knowledgeable as well.

Understanding mega trends and their potential for strategic change in your company is critical to long term survival and profits. Take action today to start to identify mega trend impacts, validate your assessment of those impacts, and position your company to take advantage of the oncoming wave of change.

MegaTrends Word Cloud

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning throughout the organization to ensure successful implementation. Generate inspiration towards a profitable and sustainable future for your company.  Don’t let mega trends catch you unprepared.  DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create effective strategies to interpret and evaluate mega trends, specifically tailored to your company’s industry, products and services. With DataKey as part of your team, take your long-term strategy off the back-burner and start building towards your potential today.

Ready to learn more?  Read the rest of the series [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3] or contact DataKey today!

DataKey’s Samantha Durante Honored as Westchester Rising Star

Download the PDF Press Release

Westchester County, NY – June 8, 2012.  The Business Council of Westchester has honored DataKey team member Samantha Durante as one of Westchester County’s outstanding up-and-coming professionals with a “40 Under 40” Rising Stars award.

Samantha was nominated for Rising Star recognition by DataKey partner Ted Miller for the consistent quality of her work.  In Ted’s own words, “Samantha has been able to jump into a broad range of extremely demanding client projects for DataKey and not only hit the ground running, but hit it out of the park and add critical value for demanding Fortune 100 client projects. She produces terrific results on a consistent and reliable basis well beyond her years.”

Ted also praised Samantha’s work ethic and her positive team attitude.  “Samantha has a confidence and leadership style that makes her an absolute pleasure to work with.  She is poised, straightforward, tactful, and assertive, and always a team player.  She can lead effectively and won’t let her team down.”

Samantha and 39 other recipients of this year’s Rising Star award were honored at a reception on June 7th hosted by the Business Council of Westchester.  The members of the 2012 Rising Stars class were selected for their exemplification of leadership, foresight and vision for the future of Westchester County.

About DataKey. DataKey Consulting, LLC is one of the fastest growing management consulting firms in Westchester County, NY, with satellite offices in California.  Founded by Ted Miller in 2004, DataKey vowed to form a different kind of consulting firm, where experienced consultants formulate recommendations and follow through on implementations that “stick.”  DataKey has successfully completed hundreds of projects across more than 30 different industries for companies from mid-market to Fortune 500. As a measure of client satisfaction, over 90% of DataKey clients engage in more than one project with the DataKey team.  To learn more, please visit www.datakeyconsulting.com.

Contact: Ted Miller 100 South Bedford Road Suite 340, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549 914-945-8808 contact_us@datakeyconsulting.com

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DataKey Welcomes Marketing Guru Deirdre Verne

Download the PDF Press Release

Westchester County, NY – May 3, 2012.  DataKey Consulting, LLC is excited to announce the addition of a talented new team member, marketing guru Deirdre Verne.

Deirdre boasts 20 years of professional marketing experience, including senior positions at Time Inc. working on Fortune, Money and Parenting magazines. Deirdre has cultivated extensive knowledge of direct marketing and back-end analysis, new product launches and advertising development. She is a graduate of Georgetown (BA) and Hofstra (MBA) universities.

DataKey is continuing to grow and is currently engaged on over 30 consulting projects across an ever-widening group of industries.  “This is the busiest DataKey has been in the 9 years since the company was founded,” remarks DataKey President Ted Miller.  “The addition of Deirdre to our DataKey team could not have come at a better time.  Her real-world marketing experience combined with her outstanding conceptual teachings brings powerful practical tools right to our clients’ fingertips.  We are very excited about Deirdre and all she has to offer to the wonderful companies that DataKey helps support.”

In addition to her work with DataKey, Deirdre is currently the Curriculum Chair of the Marketing Program at Westchester Community College, where she has been teaching in the Business Department for 12 years.  Deirdre complements her marketing expertise with experience as an avid mystery writer.  Her short stories appear in the first two Murder New York Style anthologies.

About DataKey.  DataKey Consulting, LLC is one of the fastest growing management consulting firms in Westchester County, NY, with satellite offices in California.  Founded by Ted Miller in 2004, DataKey vowed to form a different kind of consulting firm, where experienced consultants formulate recommendations and follow through on implementations that “stick.”  DataKey has successfully completed hundreds of projects across more than 30 different industries for companies from mid-market to Fortune 500. As a measure of client satisfaction, over 90% of DataKey clients engage in more than one project with the DataKey team.  To learn more, please visit www.datakeyconsulting.com.

Contact:
Ted Miller
100 South Bedford Road
Suite 340, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549
914-945-8808
contact_us@datakeyconsulting.com

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Maximizing the Value of Customers

On April 17th, 2012 DataKey conducted a workshop for 20 business owners about maximizing client partnerships to realize the full potential within your existing network of customers and prospects.  The workshop detailed stragies on how companies can manage the customer experience to improve value and keep them coming back, and better yet, convert customers from “raving fans” to true ambassadors who will win you new business.

Below are some photos from the workshop:

Delivering Despite Complexity

The company has big plans. You have an obligation to delivery results because you are part of the leadership team. In order to get an enterprise-wide project completed by the end of the year, you need a project team. The project is complex, so you assemble a cross-functional team to achieve the results. A team leader or project manager is appointed, and you think to yourself, “Good, this is all set and ready to go.” Then a few weeks or months down the road, you look up and find that the project is not running smoothly, the team is spinning their wheels and the results that you promised are now at risk.

You start searching for answers that are just not there. So you jump in to the detail, trying to understand how to get the project back on track. As a leader of an organization, you really don’t have the time to spend on the tactical project management. You want to avoid disrupting the team but now you know you need a great project manager to get the job done. You need to know the attributes of exactly the right person.

An enterprise-level Project Manager ensures success by:

  • Envisioning what it takes to achieve the end results.
  • Involving the team members to create a project plan that includes more detailed tactical planning, key activities, and milestones including report out events.
  • Identifying lead times and dependencies to ensure efficient workflow.
  • Identifying the milestones that are on the critical path.
  • Proactively assessing the risk of achieving the milestones, and recruiting the necessary help to mitigate risk.
  • Issuing highly organized communication to support the team and ensure progress.
  • Maintaining living documents that retain action items, highlight upcoming milestones and proactively address risks in the project execution.
  • Leveraging the senior leadership or project sponsor to remove obstacles or roadblocks, including funding or resource challenges.
  • Being knowledgeable about each area of the project but holding the team accountable to their part of the overall plan instead of “taking over” the individual tasks.
  • Holding effective team meetings and providing meaningful updates to the senior leaders of the organization.

A great project manager takes the stress out of a large and complex project. With a lot of moving parts, the project manager is the conductor that makes the noise sound like a musical masterpiece. The music to your ears at the end of the project is achieving the desired results, on time and on budget.

DataKey Difference: Strengthens and energizes client organizations by becoming part of the team to accelerate key initiatives.  DataKey is accountable for recommendations and implementation. Without corporate politics getting in the way, clients trust DataKey for unbiased input, advancement and realistic change. We bring the tools and know-how to you to ensure lasting, self-sustainable advancement for your company. DataKey loves to jump in with your team, run with you, and drive results! If you have a big project on the drawing board – or in progress – that needs project management guidance, contact us today for an initial consultation.

Download a PDF version of this article here.

Constant Progress: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Successful business owners know that the only way to thrive is to grow and change with the market by making use of smart strategic planning and clearly defined annual goals. Where many companies flounder, however, is in their commitment to those annual goals. Juggling day-to-day demands and unexpected emergencies doesn’t leave much time to even breath, let alone to devote to making progress on longer-term goals. Making time for those goals, however, is often the factor that sets a great company apart.

As you completed your last 3-5 year strategic planning exercise and determined what your company needs to accomplish over the coming years, you likely put much time and effort into creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. If not, start by reviewing your list of goals and revising them to be better formulated. Be specific not only in what you want to achieve, but also who is responsible for achieving it, and make sure that you’ve set a specific date by which this goal needs to be realized. “Someday” or “sometime next year” is not going to cut it – you need to hold yourself (or the goal owner) accountable for achieving the goal in a measurable amount of time. Equipped with your goals, you’ve already laid the foundation for achievement, but you absolutely must follow through to ensure success.

A regular goal review meeting is a critical tool for following through on longer-term goals and pushing everyone within the company to continue making progress against those goals. On monthly or bi-weekly basis, company leadership and managers with ownership of goals should gather together for 30-60 minutes to discuss the status of each goal, in particular focusing on any goals which aren’t progressing or are at risk (e.g., need scope clarification scope, require resource reallocation, or are experiencing budget issues). In addition to creating openness and improving communication, a dedicated review meeting fosters a clear sense of accountability across the company and builds a strong incentive for employees to carve out time each week to devote to longer-term goals, lest they show up to the meeting empty handed in front of their supervisors and peers.

To ensure constant progress a goal review meeting should strive to follow certain operating procedures:

  • Measure progress. With measurable goals and a set deadline, it should be easy to map out major milestones that occur every few months. Hold goal owners accountable for reaching those milestones and at each meeting ask them to provide a numerical estimate (50%, 80%, etc.) of how close they are to achieving the next milestone.
  • Leverage tools. A graphical chart or color-coded spreadsheet that can be projected for everyone to see gives a clear at-a-glance picture of which goals are on track and which aren’t. Utilize a Green/Yellow/Red system to denote which goals are at risk and assign one person who will be responsible for updating the tools before, during, and after each meeting.
  • Prioritize meeting time. Spend the first 5 minutes of the meeting reviewing recent accomplishments and celebrating hitting big milestones on time. The rest of the meeting should be devoted to discussing goals in progress, particularly those that are at risk.
  • Brainstorm together. With all of the company leaders and managers in the same room, there’s a lot of talent and experience in one concentrated area. Use this resource to run quick brainstorming sessions to generate ideas for overcoming challenges and unblocking goal progress. Focus on three key areas, scope, resources and timeline.
  • Set expectations. End the meeting with a quick rundown of who is responsible for doing what by the next meeting so that no one leaves without a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Even better, assign an individual who is responsible for keeping notes and sending a list of action items out via email after the meeting.

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning throughout the organization to ensure successful implementation.  The best laid plans can easily go awry if they aren’t constantly monitored. DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create and align effective goals and to help you gauge progress against those goals by designing an efficient review meetings process specifically tailored to your company’s needs and culture. With DataKey as part of your team, goal owners are held accountable for achieving company strategy and equipped with the know-how they need to get there. Take your long-term strategy off the back-burner and start achieving your potential today.

Download a PDF version of this article here.