Future Proofing the Enterprise — Transforming Business Operations — Futurum Tech Webcast

In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, analysts Fred McClimans and Shelly Kramer explore the topic of future-proofing the enterprise and transforming business operations. No politics, no economics — just a hard look at the importance of putting a plan process that doesn’t just digitize things today and answer the easy questions (e.g. do we use Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex for our meetings?), but which truly transforms operations in order to make the business as a whole more resilient and more agile moving forward.

Our conversation in the show today includes the importance of assembling an internal SWOT team, an exploration of what that team looks like, and the things teams should consider as they try to plan for the future.

Some of the key factors organizations must consider and which we cover in more detail in this episode include:

  • The importance of moving operations to the cloud
  • The most effective use of collaboration platforms
  • Managing and planning for data center resources
  • Rethinking security operations, evaluating enterprise SOCs
  • Evaluating contracts around your data center, office space, and supply chain, and managed services security contracts
  • How these things are monitored and how information is shared within the enterprise so as to provide real-time insights
  • Evaluating what happens to productivity with a WFH workforce and how to facilitate that
  • Managing the social needs of employees and the rule both collaboration platforms play there
  • The importance of trust in selecting and using collaboration platforms.

Bottom line, smart organizations will leverage being forced into this situation today in such a way that they can collectively come out better in 12- or 18- or 24 months’ time. This was a great conversation and we hope that as you work on assembling your SWOT team and work on future-proofing your organization, for the rest of 2020 and beyond, that this information will be of value.

We’ve got some reports coming out in the next few weeks that you should be on the lookout for. One is our Digital Transformation Index 2020 with post-pandemic insights from business leaders. Another is a series of research studies on collaboration platforms, from both a best in class collaboration offering standpoint as well as from a security standpoint.

You can watch our conversation here:

or grab the audio version here:

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.

Other insights from the Futurum Research team:

Oracle Announces Updates To Its Fusion Supply Chain Cloud

AT&T Uses Cisco Secure SD-WAN Technology To Fulfill Growing Digital Workforce Demands But Now Must Get SASE

Mobile Industry Snapshot: The True Value Of Technology Licensing

Image Credit: Siriuscom


Shelly Kramer: On this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, we explore pandemic driven planning for a work from home reality that is likely to be our normal for the foreseeable future. That includes the importance of assembling an internal SWAT team, what that team looks like, and the things teams should consider. Including moving operations to the cloud, the most effective use of collaboration platforms, managing and planning for data center resources and security operations. All of this and more on this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast.

Fred McClimans: I’m Fred McClimans and welcome to this week’s edition of the Futurum Tech Webcast. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at how enterprises can develop a SWAT plan for dealing with remote workers and even disruption to their normal business during the current pandemic. I’m joined today by my colleague, Shelly Kramer from Futurum. Shelly, welcome to the webcast today.

Shelly Kramer: Hi, Fred. Great to be here.

Fred McClimans: Well, great to see you here today, and this is good. I like the video feel that we have for the podcast now, moving from that audio only to audio video, the AV side of the world. Before we dig in today, though, I do want to remind our listeners and our viewers that the Futurum Tech Webcast is for entertainment and informational purposes only. We will talk about publicly traded companies, we will potentially talk about equities, but nothing that we say should be taken or misinterpreted in any way as investment advice. For that, please seek a qualified investment professional. That’s not us today.

So Shelly, before we dig in here to this particular topic, I just want to set the tone a bit and I’m hesitant to use the word pandemic, but that’s really what we’re facing right now. We have a global pandemic by definition, global pandemic themselves and organizations we know are struggling to deal with the effect of that.

And I’m going to push all of the politics side out. I’m going to push the economics side out. There’s a time and place to discuss those issues, but today I really just want to focus in on the challenges that organizations are facing from an operational perspective. When we look at the scenario today, we know that through our own research and some of our survey work recently that the majority of organizations are struggling to keep pace with the rate of change that they’re experiencing today, trying to adapt to this. And that’s not an issue of are they open? Are they closed? But really more around their operational needs changing. Office workers are no longer office workers, they’re home office workers. And they’re not even office workers of last year, or remote workers of last year that could have been in a Starbucks,  or the local library, or hanging out in somebody’s back corner of the hotel lobby somewhere.

These are people that are quarantined, they’re pretty much locked in their houses. It’s a different mix, it’s a different model. We also know that in organizations today, as these offices close, we’re experiencing this two interesting effects on this that. The first is that organizations, as I mentioned, they’re struggling to adapt and of course, users are struggling to adapt as well. So there’s this whole acceleration of their digital transformation plans. How do we take 90% of our workers or a hundred percent and move them into that category of always on mobile video collaboration tools, all those things that organizations thought they would get to in about two or three years down the road. And of course the second side of that is the impact that organizations internally are facing. Recognizing that from an operational perspective, they’re probably not going to go back into that office space today.

So what we’re seeing here is not a temporary fix. It really is a longterm fix. Remote workers that are going to stay remote. We’ve seen that in different industries recently, Nationwide Insurance said, “We may be Nationwide and our employees are also going to be nationwide. They’re not going to be locked in offices when we start things back up again.” We’re seeing that in Silicon Alley, Google, Apple, others. They built their whole mystique on having this massive enterprise collaboration environment. And that’s all gone by the wayside now. It’s now a completely different model.

To kick into this, Shelly, I would love to get your take on where you see the biggest disruption factors. What are the challenges that these organizations are facing? And is it different for organizations that may have been a little bit ahead on their digital transformation plans versus those that are just catching up at this point?

Shelly Kramer: I think absolutely the answer to that last question is yes, but since you just mentioned Nationwide, I want to give them a nod because when there was an article last week published about Nationwide has left the building. And what was to me the most salient part of that article, was that their CEO was quoted as saying, “We’ve been planning. We’ve been investing in digital transformation for a number of years now. This didn’t just happen overnight. So we’ve been able to pivot incredibly quickly because we were invested in and immersed in a transformation process. We’re going to close X number of offices. That’s going to affect thousands of employees. It is a nonissue. We’re still going to have some offices in some areas, but this for us is not a big deal.” And I think that we only have a handful of companies who are able to say that today, that, “This for us is not that much of a big deal.”

I think that’s really part of what this conversation today is about, is how can companies put plans in place so that this isn’t as much of a big deal moving forward and how we can future proof the enterprise? I think that’s a critically important conversation because I think that regardless of what happens in terms of vaccines, in terms of testing, in terms of reaching peak in going down and all that sort of thing, the reality is that for the foreseeable future we are going to be dealing with some phase or another of this virus.

Even if we get to a point and as we’re seeing now, when we can relax restrictions a little bit in some areas and some people, but there is definitely what we’re seeing across the world is you have up and you have down and you have up and you have down. This is something we’re going to be weathering for a while. And I think that is what intrigued us as we began to plan for this conversation, is how do we develop those plans? How do we put them in place so that moving forward, this isn’t such a disruptive thing?

Fred McClimans: Yes, well I want to add something in here. I think you’re spot on with that. It’s important though, to just remind our listeners when we talk about digital transformation, and this is where I think companies like Nationwide, they get it. Whereas some others may not quite get it. Digital transformation is not just upgrading all your processes to be digital. It’s not the digitization of technology or processes. It’s actually using technology to transform the way you do those processes in a… Hopefully getting a result here that allows your organization to be much more agile, more adaptive, to be able to react faster to changes in markets and consumer behavior.

Certainly the pandemic is a massive change causing event, but then also to be able to look down the road and go, “We’re not just changing to adapt to what we see today, but we’re putting in place an infrastructure and a process and a business mindset that allows us from everything, from mobile workers to security, to trust in our organization, to literally adapt on an ongoing basis.” So I think digital transformation, the way I view it, it’s more an ongoing evolutionary process. It’s an ongoing transformation with organizations. I think too many people get caught in, ” Well, we’ve gone to the cloud, so now we’re transformed.”

Shelly Kramer: “We’re done.” Yes. Well, two things there, digital transformation is never done. That’s a given, it is never done. The second point is that digital transformation isn’t just about technology. We talk about this all the time. Digital transformation is about how people and technology work together to transform business operations, and that’s really what we’re experiencing now. We have people that are working in different ways, leaders who are putting plans in place to be able to execute work in a remote fashion, different than we’ve ever done before. Then what are the technology solutions that we need to power that? And that’s moving operations to the cloud, and managing and planning for data center resources. And rethinking everything about security, and looking at what are our current security operations?

What does our security operations center look like, do we have one? What do our managed security services contracts look like? All of those things are things that need to be taken into consideration as we embrace this really new way of working and plan for this new way of working moving forward.

Fred McClimans: Yes. It’s funny, because you mentioned there one of my favorite words, contracts, in here. When you look at, and you and I have… We’ve talked about this offline a few times, but the impact right now, by and large, when you read about it in the press, when you see people talking about it, they’re still fixated on that, “Well, we have a lot of remote workers now, so we need to get everybody onto a Microsoft Teams, or a Zoom, or even Google Hangouts are making a comeback here.” So there’s that big push to just think of it in that regard. From a larger perspective, if you’re an enterprise with 1,000, or 100, or maybe 50,000 plus employees and you’re no longer constrained to an office, the things that change, in many ways, it’s not just the mobile access it’s all the contracts around your security system because your security is different.

It’s the contracts around your data center. It’s the contracts around your office space. It’s the contracts around everything in your supply chain, and how that moves, and how it’s monitored, and how information is shared. There’s a huge aspect there that I think is being lost by the wayside. And that’s one of the areas that I think organizations really need to start thinking about, that longterm perspective. It’s not just, “How do we fix the mobile solution right now, or the mobile situation?” But, “How do we actually start putting in plan a process that truly doesn’t just digitize things today, but transforms things into being more agile down the road.”

And that means a lot of contracts, it means a lot of technology. It means a lot of tech support in all these different areas. Let’s break that down a little bit here. Specifically when you think about the different industries that are out there, we’ll start with retail as an example, what do you think the biggest challenge that retail organizations will face from a digital transformation perspective over the next 12 to 24 months? What’s the gotcha there? And then we’ll move on to a couple other industries, but just starting with retail, what comes to mind?

Shelly Kramer: Well, I think now more than ever before retail organizations need to embrace data and data analytics that help identify consumer behavior, really look at what consumer preferences are. We’re seeing major retail chains close. We’re seeing retail chains that have a presence in places like malls totally rethink business operations. I haven’t been in a retail store in I don’t know, going on probably well into my third month, but that said, I’ve made plenty of purchases online. And I think that looking at… One thing that I think is really important for retail organizations is to be mindful of Amazon. Not that they weren’t before, but how do we make the purchasing process easier? Here’s an example. This is just a really small example.

I wanted to buy a Monopoly game. We don’t own one, and Mark and I wanted to teach the kids to play Monopoly. So rather than going to Amazon to buy that Monopoly game, I called our local toy store, which is literally 12 blocks away, “Hey, do you happen to have this in stock?” They did not. I actually looked at another store that was nearby. They didn’t have it in stock. Apparently everybody on the planet wants to teach their kids how to play Monopoly. But my point is from a consumer standpoint, being mindful about how you buy things I think is important. But from a retailer standpoint, regardless of what your size is, making the processes almost as easy as it is to buy something from Amazon is going to be important. And that’s hard to do.

Fred McClimans: Yes, no, I think you’re right. There’s a certain bar that’s been set that Amazon has had years to learn how to not [inaudible] get to that level, but how to exceed above that level. And for a lot of organizations now they’re caught trying to catch up with that. That’s interesting. I think one of the other things in the retail space, and we’ve done some research and some work into this in the past, revolves around how you actually display a product. How you take that in-store feel that people… Some would have had picking up the Monopoly game, looking at the board, looking at the back of it, reading the instructions, and now present that digitally to somebody. And then give them that same level of, “Hey, we’re here if you have any questions.”, without being intrusive is a big challenge.

In a store it’s easy for a worker to come up and just say, “Hey, do you need a hand?” Or, “Do you have any questions?” But when you’re looking at something online and somebody pops up on the screen and says, “Hey, we’re watching what you’re doing digitally. Do you need some help?” It’s creepy there. Let’s move on from retail for a second. What about the financial organizations out there? The banks, the insurance companies. I know we talked about Nationwide, what do you see there as their big challenge over the next 12, 24 months?

Shelly Kramer: Well challenges and from a timing standpoint, it’s good that you asked that. Our fellow analyst, Sarah Wallace, and I are working on a financial market insight research report that should be out in a few weeks. And we’re looking at the financial industry as a whole, and then we’re looking at financial services cloud. So two separate reports. There are a lot of things we’ve already been seeing, especially in the RPA space. We’ve been seeing for the last couple of years financial institutions, and insurance companies, and healthcare organizations adopting robotic process automation, and now using RPA and intelligent automation to speed up processing times. One of the things that I’ve been talking with the team at PEGA about, they helped the government of Bavaria develop a low code app that allowed them… Bavaria was paying its citizens X number of dollars as part of a support program driven of course by COVID-19.

So they helped the Bavarian government develop this app. It was done in just really, almost overnight, and they had so much success with it what the team at PEGA did is actually then make that app available as part of its COVID-19 small business relief program so that anybody can go and use an app like that. So what we’ve seen is, and again, some of this isn’t new, automation being able to speed up loan processing times, automation being able to speed up all different kinds of processes that happen. Claims processes in the insurance industry, claims processes in the healthcare industry. So I think we’ve seen that now on steroids in the financial services industry, as even banks and insurance personnel are also working from home. And some of the same challenges exist there in terms of security, security around the kind of information that they handle, how protections are put in place to keep that data safe. So I think there’s really a lot of moving parts to that equation.

Fred McClimans: Yes, that’s an interesting one that you bring up with RPA in particular, because that whole technology, robotic process automation, it’s really around the ability to leverage smart bots to automate those everyday tasks that people are involved in. And traditionally that’s been limited to the back office tasks, processing incoming checks, invoices, scanning documents, and so forth. But there’s a lot of troubleshooting and just regular daily operations, things that people do online now every day that can be automated. It’s like setting a shortcut in iOS on steroids for your iPhone. One of the interesting aspects of now deploying RPA technologies, these automated technologies is that if you look at the environment that we’re in today, people are being taken out of the office and they’re working remote.

In the office they had a support group around them, they could ask questions. It’s easier for somebody to help shepherd a group of people through their daily operations and be available to answer questions and make sure that things are done properly when you’re in person than it is remote. So you have this situation where maybe there’s a higher chance of mistakes being made or errors, just because people are now in a different environment. Whereas something that’s automated through RPA tools, it’s a fixed process. It’s replicated every time the same, it provides an audit trail. So I think certainly for these type of technologies, humanizing these tools and making them easier for organizations to implement and then add some intelligence to that, so that it’s easy for an individual worker to engage with these and use them appropriately. I think that’s going to be a big step for RPA, which some people say is dead, it’s past. No, I don’t buy that at all.

Shelly Kramer: Well, and think about it this way too. This isn’t as big of an issue for you and me because our kids are teenagers and a little bit more self sufficient. But as we move into a landscape of continuing to work from home, perhaps for the rest of the year, perhaps beyond that, and you and I have talked about this before, but we’re looking at people with young children at home who may or may not have daycare, and who are trying to do their jobs, and have three-year-olds running around, and the challenges associated with that. So being able to integrate automation into those and take those everyday repeatable tasks off of our employees’ plates and let them focus on things that are a little bit different.

It doesn’t make their challenge in terms of having little ones around any less, but I think that it can, like I said, maybe a checks and balances system, or to take some of those tasks off of people’s plates and help them focus a little differently. And I think that’ll be just really powering remote work and productivity and all of that is the challenge of organizations, no matter what their size. With that, I think maybe let’s move over to talk a little bit… We’ve spent a lot of time immersed in the collaboration space in the last month or two, as we’ve been working on a couple of different research projects. Maybe we can talk about that a little bit, and how collaboration platforms and how critically important they are to organizations and what the landscape for that, that we might see moving forward.

Fred McClimans: Yes, certainly I think there’s a lot that we’re forced to deal with operationally. A lot of contracts, a lot of data centers to move, a lot of just things to renegotiate, but it’s important to not forget about the employees and the ability to bring them together. I know, I think one of the things that’s helped us as an organization is previously we already spent so much time remote mobile around the world. It’s second nature for us to collaborate, to use the tools that we have that are available for us, but for a lot of organizations, that’s not the case.

Collaboration is so much more than just getting a group of people together onto a video call. That’s a part of it, but it doesn’t address the larger picture there. From that perspective, when you look at organizations, and there are some businesses where if you were in a deli operation, you may not think that collaboration is important, but if you’ve got a group of workers now that aren’t necessarily in that restaurant or in that deli doing the same thing, serving customers locally, instead, maybe they’re serving customers remotely. Maybe they’re a delivery service now, maybe there are other things that are being added into that mix. Collaboration, even there, becomes more important.

So let’s talk about collaboration. What do you see taking place in the collaboration market? How is that landscape emerging here? And what’s the importance of trust in that collaboration marketplace?

Shelly Kramer: The funny thing is that it’s just all over the board, and I think that we’re seeing a bunch of different things. I think that we’re seeing, sweeping generalization, trust in big name organizations. We see consumer trust generally in companies like Cisco and their WebEx product, and we see trust in Microsoft and its Teams product. And then we have Zoom, even though Zoom has been in the news a ton over the course of the last couple of months in terms of Zoombombing instances. And by the way, I just saw somebody filed a lawsuit against Zoom in the last week or so. And actually, I’m sure I just saw this news item in the last few days a church that had been using Zoom was Zoombombed, and horrified, and filed a lawsuit against Zoom. So you have tools and there are other… Google Meet is making a resurgence and Facebook has launched its collaboration platform.

I look at some of those and I think, we use Zoom. We have, and we’ve had a Pro Zoom account that we pay for for a very long time, we use Cisco WebEx. We use that a lot to collaborate it’s a great platform. We’ve used Microsoft Teams, it’s also a great platform. And I think that as much as Zoom has been in the news, for instance, I don’t really see people not using it all that much. Sure there’s headlines about governments have precluded their people from using it and organizations, my daughter works for a large insurance company with, yes, I don’t know, 10,000 employees, they’re precluded from using Zoom. But there are plenty people out there who are opting to use that platform. And I don’t think they’re thinking a lot about trust and they’re probably thinking more about, “Right now it’s free, so it’s a good solution.”

Fred McClimans: Along that lines of being free. In some of the recent research that we’re have been working on and we’ll be publishing shortly here, one of the things we’ve seen in organizations is, especially in large organizations that may not have been up to speed on their digital transformation plans and how to make that transmogrification process of going from in-office to remote a reality. Many of them, they’re abdicating responsibility to an extent. Not all of them, a small percentage, but literally telling their user organizations, “Choose whatever tool you have available, choose whatever you’re comfortable with that you can use just to keep things going.”

Shelly Kramer: “Just make it happen, we don’t care.”

Fred McClimans: “Just make it happen.” Yes, and that’s an interesting thing. I think you can probably look at an organization, look at their state of digital transformation and their operational readiness and agility and predict, are they an organization that’s going to roll out effectively and securely these collaboration tools? Or are they an organization that’s just going to say, “Do whatever you have to do and we’ll figure it out next week?” And that’s a scary thing.

Shelly Kramer: It is a scary thing, especially as much time as we spend focusing on the security space as well. In all of the research we’ve done over the course of the last six months to a year, when you talk to senior leaders and especially CIOs and IT professionals, security is at the very top of everyone’s list. So that whole, “Just do whatever for now to make things work.” Probably gives a whole lot of people the heebie-jeebies. But I think that really takes us back full circle to the whole topic of this conversation. And it’s about when you can create a SWAT team that’s focused on transforming your organization, not with the assumption that everyone is going to come back. I think instead you need to do it with the assumption that they’re not going to come back.

A lot of that tends to be, I think… I’m a pragmatist by nature. And so from the very earliest days of what it is we’re living through I’ve been telling my family, I’ve been telling my kids, “You’re not going back to school, and you’re not doing this, and sports aren’t going to happen.” And I’d rather be pleasantly surprised. So I think that planning for the rest of the year, planning for 2021 and, and we still have some scrambling for what we’re going to do right now. But this is really where business leaders need to take a strong look at strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities, and really make a plan for how we’re going to make this happen.

Fred McClimans: Right. I think as part of that, we need to start to think that this isn’t a how do we make do situation, but this is how do we actually take the opportunity that we have now, because we’ve all been forced to accelerate our move [inaudible] the digital, how do we take that and build on it? And I know we did some research for a client about a year ago, where we looked at how remote workers were being judged and viewed by an enterprise, and how those workers themselves viewed their enterprise and their role in that. And it turns out that, not a big surprise here, but worth pointing out that two years ago, it was generally perceived that the remote workers were not as effective as in-office workers. When we did this study last year, we were at that tipping point there where a lot of organizations were saying, “Yes, those remote workers, they are just as effective. And by the way, we think in a year they will be much more effective than the in-office workers there.”

And those same workers have a higher level of job satisfaction and general wellbeing about their position in that organization. I think that’s an important thing to note, because remote work doesn’t necessarily mean that you degrade anything or that you’re taking a step back. It can certainly be a step forward in that. We certainly know from some of the research that we’re getting set to drop here into the marketplace in the next couple of weeks, that in the current situation, as I mentioned earlier, organizations, many of them are scrambling.

But the number of organizations that expect the rest of 2020 to be increasingly remote and online collaboration, that number is very high. And when you look at 2021 and ask these organizations, “Well, are you going to bring everything back?” Not many of them say that. Most organizations are starting to realize that if this is the way it’s going to be, then we’re going to have to make the best of it. So let’s really dive in here and wrap this up. The SWAT team. What does that SWAT team look like in your eyes? What type of organizations, what type of participation and what type of goals should they be setting for that?

Shelly Kramer: Well, I think that your SWAT team has to include senior leadership. I think it has to include someone from HR… And by the way, this isn’t necessarily just one individual, but it has to include obviously IT, and your security team, and those might be different people. Depending on the size of your organization, and HR, and finance. Is there a member of your senior leadership team that isn’t involved in this discussion? I would think not really. And I think that this is opportunity time. This is your chance as a team to look at everything that has been business as usual. And we’ve talked about this before, about rethinking your entire business model and throwing out, just because this is the way we’ve done it before.

How do we get to the very core of what we need in terms of our office space, and supporting our remote teams, and how we keep them well and healthy, and their mental health is an issue as well. And what we’re doing in terms of moving to the cloud, and what cloud choices are we making, and what our data center resources look like. And what our security operations look like, and how do we manage the people working remotely with devices, and laptops, and VPNs, or without VPNs, or all that sort of thing. So I think that those are the core things that we need to consider, and I do think this is a full-on senior leadership conversation that happens.

Fred McClimans: I’m going to suggest too, that that also include your product developers, your sales, your marketing, your customer support. And I’m going to go way back old school here. Going back to the last century, there was a really interesting article that I read years ago in Inc. Magazine that profiled a group of startups over successive years. They identified, I think it was about a dozen, maybe a little bit more startup organizations and they tracked them yearly. It turned out that those organizations that were successful over a three to five year span, most of them were not doing at five years what they started doing at one. In fact, even at three years, that had changed. So it’s important to recognize that today. That I think is especially true today because the way we’re consuming changes what we can consume. The way we do business changes what business we’re actually in.

I think a lot of organizations that are going to be successful here are the organizations that literally put everything on the table, not just, “How do we operationally get things done, but what is it that we’re actually going to be doing? What’s our value to our business and to our customers. And does that mean that our customers are going to change? Are we going to offer different products, different services? Do we expand what we’re doing, do we contract? Or do we even move into a different area and figure out the best way to keep our business going?”

I think the best example that I’ve seen there is just in the food and hospitality area. Sit down restaurants, yes, I’m sure they’ll be around for a long time, but in such a limited way that the organizations that may be the best at surviving here are the ones that we see taking their meals and putting an experience around that meal. Recognizing what is it that consumers are really looking for in this food product? Meal kits, instructional videos. I saw an interesting one last week where you get the food and you literally get online with a group of people, and they walk you through the prep front to back. Everybody collaborating, discussing, chatting, and then you all go off and enjoy your meal. And that’s a completely different experience that I think has a lot of value that we just wouldn’t have seen six months ago.

Shelly Kramer: It really is rethinking everything.

Fred McClimans: Would you do that? Would you actually buy a meal kit product and have the chef on the screen, along with other people talking about, “I’m in my kitchen, we’re doing this, we’re doing that. Does this work, does this look right?” Is that something that you would do? I would.

Shelly Kramer: I wouldn’t do it, but probably because I’m a foodie and pretty accomplished in the kitchen, but I would do it to experience the experience and see what it was like.

Fred McClimans: All right, that’s good. On a SWAT team perspective, so we’ve kind of put out there everybody’s involved and everything is on the table. It’s not just operations. It’s what do we actually do as a business? What’s the timeframe horizon that this team should be looking at? Is it three months to get things done and back on track? Is it 12 months? Is it 60 months? What’s the window there?

Shelly Kramer: You know what? All of the above. I think that it really is about what do we do now? What do we do in six months? How do we plan for 2021? I don’t know how much further beyond that we can go. One of the things that I’ve spent a lot of my career doing is brand strategy, and developing a brand strategy for people. One of the things I’ve said for the last number of years is that it used to be that we developed a strategic marketing plan at one point of the year and it covered the whole year. I got away from doing that at least five years ago, because I think that what’s really important now is to develop a plan, figure out what you think is going to work, get it out there, try it, test, tweak, test, tweak.

It’s a constant state of evaluating the results that you’re seeing, and the variables that you didn’t plan for, and what’s happening in the world, and everything else. So I think that more than ever before, businesses really need to be agile and need to have ongoing conversations. And it really is all around rethinking, constantly evaluating and measuring, and also trying lots of new things. What we’re living through, I think will spur innovation like never before.

Fred McClimans: Yes, I think there’s a good opportunity for MVP or minimum viable product to really come to the forefront here. The idea of quick testing, “Hey, we can offer this, push it out.” The minimum viable product to be sellable, test it. If it works, you keep going, you iterate, you develop. If it doesn’t work, you fast fail, you discard and you keep moving on. But there’s that brand aspect that you mentioned real quick, if you’re an organization and you know your product is going to change, and what you’re offering is going to change, your brand has to change. Your image has to change. It should be consistent. You’ve got to have that, but the same model that sold cars isn’t the same model that delivers rideshare services, and the same brand isn’t. It’s an evolutionary process there. So we’re going to put our SWAT team together, all the organizations, we’re going to throw everything on the table. We’re going to rethink everything with an eye towards how do we build the organization that we want to be in two to three years in six months, sound right?

Shelly Kramer: I think that’s it.

Fred McClimans: And it’s easy.

Shelly Kramer: It’s not easy, but nothing that we’re doing right now is easy. And nothing that we’re doing right now is what we expected to be doing, but that said, that’s what we’re doing.

Fred McClimans: You turn lemons into lemonade, or in this case, turn lemons into lemonade and then you sell the recipe, and you have the instructional guide, and everything moves forward from there. Shelly, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to sit down and talk through this today on the Futurum Tech Webcast. I’d like to thank our viewers and our listeners for your support. Please let us know if there are things that you want us to dive into deeper. We would love to have that conversation, and we always love to hear your feedback. So with that from Kansas City, Shelley, and from the Washington DC area, Fred, we wish all of you a safe and healthy and productive coming week. We’ll see you a week from now on the next edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast.

Author Information

Fred is an experienced analyst and advisor, bringing over 30 years of knowledge and expertise in the digital and technology markets.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Fred worked with Samadhi Partners, launching the Digital Trust practice at HfS Research, Current Analysis, Decisys, and the Aurelian Group. He has also worked at both Gartner, E&Y, Newbridge Networks’ Advanced Technology Group (now Alcatel) and DTECH LABS (now part of Cubic Corporation).

Fred studied engineering and music at Syracuse University. A frequent author and speaker, Fred has served as a guest lecturer at the George Mason University School of Business (Porter: Information Systems and Operations Management), keynoted the Colombian Associación Nacional De Empressarios Sourcing Summit, served as an executive committee member of the Intellifest International Conference on Reasoning (AI) Technologies, and has spoken at #SxSW on trust in the digital economy.

His analysis and commentary have appeared through venues such as Cheddar TV, Adotas, CNN, Social Media Today, Seeking Alpha, Talk Markets, and Network World (IDG).


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