Simplicity and Staying Competitive in a Hyper-Competitive Era

A running report about simple@work, from simple@work.

By Gregory Pings, manager of Content Marketing for Xerox

Day one of any event of conference is fraught with peril.  The answers to a million questions that have kept scores of organizers up at night reveal themselves today.

For the people who attend the events, the question that really matters looms large: What will I learn that will justify the expense of travel  and the commitment of my time?

simple@work has been underway for a few hours as I write this. Lunch has been served and our keynote speakers have spoken.

So far, so good.

People are here because the world is changing fast. The change is so fast, in fact, that the innovative thing that you launched a few years ago has since become a commodity because your competitors caught up. The pressure to innovate and grow is great, which is why simplification is critical. If it’s hard to get things done, then they’ll already be done (by someone else) by the time you figure out what you have to do.

I will update this article periodically throughout the day with thoughts on what I’ve seen and what people tell me they’ve learned. Please check back when you can spare the time. In the meantime, join the conversation on Twitter’s #SimpleAtWork hashtag.

4 p.m. – Is Your Marketing Plan Working?
It’s costly. The process is complex. It’s not having impact. Sounds like any number of processes that keep you up at night. Attendees at the Marketing and Communications group wrote down their three most important communication pieces on a sticky note, and stuck them in one of three categories – costly, complex, or lack of impact. Will it surprise you to learn the email, Web portals, and direct mail appeared in all three?

But let’s not think in silos – because that’s not how your customers think. One marketer made the very good observation about a company that had its electronic communications down to an art, and were able to entice customers to take the next step to conversion. But it all fell apart when the customers called the contact center. The agents did not have the information; calls were transferred; many calls were dropped.

The lesson: Marketing departments must get out of their silos and see which parts of the company will be touched by the latest campaign. Look at it through your customers’ eyes, and react as if it were you trying to complete the purchase – or trying to make the purchase useful.

6 p.m. – When Managing Change Is Easy and When It’s Not
Consider the impact of handing tablet computers to every student on campus, every professor, and most other university employees. Even as you hand out the technology, you have also rolled out a mobile printing program.  Amir Dabiran, who is in charge of information security at California State University at Fullerton, says the first thing he noticed is that people no longer walked around campus with stacks of paper.  Why would you, when you can print what you need at the place where it is needed?

Better yet, not every piece of paper that people used to carry around needed to be printed in the first place. Now you’re seeing a reduction in the use of paper, because people use it differently. In the sense of getting people to use tablet computers and use mobile printing solutions, this piece of change management was simple. After all, college students and mobile computing share an in-bred attraction.

In terms of security, the solution is more difficult, but not impossible.

“Security cannot slow you down,” Amir told us at Beyond Print: The Next Generation of Xerox Managed Print Service, a simple@work workshop. He described how the university adopted layers of security that apply for certain devices and certain users. Don Dixon pointed out that print devices can be programmed to recognize certain people, or to perform specific functions only for a defined set of users.

“Customers are very serious about security,” Don noted during the forum. “You have to assure that information is available only to people who need it.” Don is a senior vice president in Xerox’s Global Document Outsourcing organization.

The world has changed. More and more of your workforce has grown up with the concept of mobile computing literally in their hands. They have expectations on the type of technology they will find when they sit at their desks in your offices. And they also expect to be able to do their work when they are no longer at the their desks. So the question goes back to the person who owns the process: When you manage change, are you sure it’s your workers who are holding you back?

Amir pointed out that he did not have to change any of the university’s security policies. But he had to make sure that the solutions he rolled out worked in a way that served the students and staff, and served the university’s security requirement . He needed a partner for that, which is another reason why he was able to manage the change effectively.  And this is a good segue to this video.

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