GDPR Investments for Compliance AND for Competitiveness

This article was originally published in Database Trends & Applications.

The deadline looms on the horizon. On May 25, 2018, the European Union will enact some of the most stringent data privacy regulations the world has ever seen. These regulations will impact thousands of companies around the world, not only EU-based organizations but any company that collects or processes personal data on EU residents. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recognizes the “fundamental right” of people to control what data is stored about them and how it is used.

GDPR Investments for Compliance AND for Competitiveness

Organizations must be ready for this date since the fines for non-compliance could be as high as 4% of annual revenue or $21 million, whichever is higher. To put this in perspective, small companies could go out of business with a $21 million fine, and for a company with revenue of $10 billion, the fine could be a staggering $400 million.

No organization with large datasets can sift through them manually to find personal data and judge its GDPR compliance. Companies need sophisticated technology to deal with their data effectively, enabling them to search, discover, and review. Most organizations find it challenging to quickly and accurately identify and find personal data.

Under GDPR guidelines, people can request to be informed about the data that organizations store about them and can demand rectification, erasure, or the restriction of how their data is used. They can also ask to receive their personal data in a common format that allows them to transfer it to another organization.

The impending deadline and the fear of painful fines put organizations under a great deal of pressure, such that they may forget about pursuing the potential business benefits of conformity measures. For example, the prospect of thousands or even millions of people demanding to know what data is stored about them may seem daunting. Since an organization is obliged to answer within 30 days, this might result in thousands of cases per day being handled by customer service.

On the other hand, many large enterprises with millions of individual customers—banks, wireless providers, etc.—need to provide a 360-degree view of a customer to their sales and service personnel—in seconds, not in a month. This is a business requirement independent of GDPR compliance. When customers contact the company, they expect the sales or service reps to know them and give them knowledgeable recommendations and advice.

One way of providing such a 360-degree customer view is using cognitive technologies that can ingest structured data from enterprise applications such as CRM and billing and unstructured data such as emails and other correspondence. Companies often have hundreds of such data sources. Cognitive capabilities, such as natural language processing and machine learning, are necessary to extract relevant information from structured and unstructured data: what kinds of contracts the organization has with customers; service and payment history; whether the latest exchanges were friendly or aggressive; suggestions from past experience with other customers to help solve the current customer’s problems; etc.

In a call center, operators need to get a complete picture of the person on the line within less than 2 seconds, according to industry standards. If a company has 20 million customers, more than 200 enterprise applications with customer data, and 10,000 call center agents, that is a daunting challenge—but a challenge that has been successfully overcome by companies.

ROI: BUSINESS BENEFITS—NOT JUST COMPLIANCE
Gartner estimates that European companies will each spend an average of 1.3 million euros to comply with GDPR personal data protection requirements while U.S. businesses are setting aside at least $1 million for GDPR readiness, with some assigning up to $10 million. What do they get for it, apart from avoiding fines?

Let us look at a concrete example of a wireless telecom company that implemented a 360-degree view strategy using cognitive technologies. The first objective of the project was reduction of average call handling time, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and increased up- and cross-selling. All these goals have been achieved, but there is another aspect to the project that offered massive savings: Call center employees now have a unique and intuitive user interface to access customer data.

They no longer need to understand some 30 enterprise applications they had to navigate before to access this data. This reduces the need for training from 30 days to 1 day. With 10,000 employees and a turnover rate that often approaches 50%, that means 5,000 x 29 workdays saved per year, i.e., 145,000 workdays or 29,000 person-weeks. ?The company can certainly offer a lot of customer service during that time! The overall ROI of the project would be approximately 60 million euros over ?3 years.

NEW PARADIGM: CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE FOR INFORMATION RETRIEVAL
One of the 10 biggest banks in the world has implemented a similar project to provide a 360-degree view of customers to its customer-facing employees. Its objective from the outset was also to provide their customers a 360-degree view of their own dealings with the bank: accounts, share deposits, insurance contracts, etc. It is easy to extend this interface to answer the question, “What data does the company have on me?” In this way, the company improves its service to customers and fulfills its GDPR obligations without a single employee being involved.

GDPR is coming, but instead of seeing it only as a costly burden, organizations should view the regulation as an opportunity. By implementing advanced cognitive technologies to derive deep customer insights, organizations can ensure compliance while reaping the business benefits of greatly improved customer service that can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line.

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Streamline Global Manufacturing with the Information Driven Supply Chain

This article was originally published in Manufacturing Business Technology.

A new kind of manufacturing company is emerging that leverages big data and analytics for a unified view of the supply chain. This new approach provides supply chain insights that enable these organizations to respond quickly and decisively to changing conditions despite geographically dispersed suppliers and customers. And yet at the same time, they can also pursue long-term opportunities by identifying products, parts and components across all the data sources where supply and demand spans states, countries and continents.

No matter the supply chain model, customers expect quality service, on-time delivery and the right product every time, which can be challenging if an organization manages erratic supply and demand on a global basis.

For most organizations, products consist of numerous parts that move through the enterprise and its network of suppliers, creating a need for parts logistics. Every part number within the organization takes on a life of its own and every department must have access to all the information surrounding it.

As organizations build new products, and service existing ones, they need cohesive and comprehensive visibility for a unified view of the entire supply chain.  This approach helps organizations optimize their supply chain and increase responsiveness by focusing on achieving greater visibility into products and parts inventory. Organizations that focus on these objectives can tighten the gaps in their supply chain and enhance their overall operations.

Supply Chain Unification

A unified view of the supply chain connects the enterprise and suppliers seamlessly to various applications and databases—such as enterprise resource planning, a data warehouse and customer relationship management systems.

This connected environment helps organizations keep abreast of the manufacturing process and supply chain management, and share relevant information across design, engineering, procurement, quality control and more. From understanding customer needs to building requirements, product prototyping and selling products, everything is streamlined and simplified across disparate systems.

By adopting a unified view of the supply chain, organizations can see what parts are in stock, which suppliers they re-order from and if those suppliers have available inventory. This gives engineers visibility into the specifications of components, the mean times between failures
for components, discontinuation plans and recent negative reports. It also promotes accurate shipping expectations and on-time delivery, while connecting all departments and partners in the supply chain into one efficient manufacturing shop.

Finding the right part information when and where needed

An information-driven supply chain makes it easier for workers to search and locate specific parts for production. Workers can create alerts to be notified when relevant information surfaces. Empowered and informed workers can then concentrate on manufacturing products on schedule.

A unified view of the supply chain helps engineers know who has previously worked with each part and learn from their experiences. If a component is found faulty during production, engineers could spend days trying to find who completed the original design. A unified view of the supply chain helps pinpoint the most knowledgeable workers and provides immediate access to information about the component and its design specifications. By empowering engineers, organizations are better able to meet customer demands.

This approach also empowers sales with information about specific parts to understand when to sell a specific version, and to know who to talk to if they need more information. Customers then get a confident, knowledgeable sales associate to help them make the right decision.

Knowing how and where to get parts in a hurry

Organizations must be able to respond immediately to customers who need replacement parts and immediate service. If a part is not available, they must know expected shipment dates, transit times and who can supply it. This is increasingly challenging with globally distributed suppliers and a dispersed customer base.

A unified view of the supply chain can resolve this issue by giving customer service representatives visibility into all parts across the enterprise, regardless of location, repository or format in which the information is stored. It can also extend access to information from supplier sites and applications.

To assist customers with support requests, customer service representatives need to be aware of past problems and how to identify and resolve them. With a unified view of the supply chain, they immediately know the parts associated with a problem and how it can be fixed.

In the final analysis, managing the supply chain is about information access. Although many applications are necessary to manage information at different stages of the supply chain, a unified view provides cohesive visibility across all applications that manage information about products, suppliers and customers. It is a critical part of streamlining and optimizing the use of an organization’s supply chain.

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Where are the Biggest Opportunities for AI?

This post was originally published as an article on Future of Everything.

There continue to be all kinds of stories about the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the media, many of which discuss the idea that robots are going to take over the world and put everyone out of a job. While AI is is something we must monitor and control as its capabilities continue to expand, there are tangible applications of this powerful technology happening today. So what are some realistic opportunities for AI in the near future, as opposed to all the sci-fi hype we typically hear about? (more…)

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5 Ways Information-Driven Companies Optimize Sales

This article was originally published on RT Insights.

Teamwork and corporate profitStreamlining sales and customer data eliminates the burden learning and mastering multiple applications — increasing agility and reducing operating expenses.

In an increasingly sophisticated economy where customers are inundated with options, sales forecasting is challenging, and achieving revenue goals is even harder.

Sales teams are constantly trying to identify lucrative target markets, close more deals and shorten sales cycles. Companies must become information-driven by equipping their sales team to be nimble, efficient and knowledgeable to focus on sales opportunities with the highest chance of success. Whether it’s lead generation, ecommerce or direct sales, sales teams need the power of relevant and timely information more than ever.

Access to information isn’t enough to optimize sales

With information in the typical global enterprise scattered across a growing digital landscape, including CRM, ERP and myriad internal and external repositories and applications, harnessing it can be a tremendous challenge. Mere access to this information is pointless if it is not timely and relevant. Successful information-driven organizations have learned how to address this issue, fueling sales productivity and increasing revenues as a result.

Every sales leader, regardless industry, faces these challenges:

  • Increase average deal size and drive top line revenue.
  • Shorten sales cycles and increase close rates.
  • Increase the number of net new customers.
  • Capture as much business as possible from existing customers.
  • Train new reps to become effective in their new roles as quickly as possible.

While high-performing corporations expect their sales teams to accomplish the following:

  • Maximize contract value and increase revenues.
  • Make informed strategic decisions.
  • Anticipate and respond faster to customer needs.
  • Create a thriving business based on thorough understanding of key clients.
  • Know what markets to target and who the players are within an organization.
  • Fuel higher operational efficiencies.

5 ways information gives you a competitive advantage

With these challenges and expectations in mind, here are five examples of how information-driven sales teams are leveraging modern data analytics technologies to improve their effectiveness and creating distinctive competitive differentiation for their organizations:

  1. Seamlessly aggregating and integrating all the company’s diverse data repositories toward delivering relevant, real-time information to sales teams around the world.
  2. Providing a comprehensive view of every customer interaction within their organization from a single access point, even if the basic data is stored in separate systems and databases. This helps maximize contract value by providing sales professionals with the visibility to better understand the customer’s overall needs in order to customize offers and services.
  3. Delivering unified information at both the contact and company level to enable information-driven sales teams to prioritize where they spend their time and energy to develop better relationships with their prospects. This includes the business drivers of senior leadership, the latest public financial information, changes in key management, buying behaviors relevant to cross-selling other products and more.
  4. Contextualizing information by product or by territory. Based on a sales group or individual profile, the information is automatically filtered by product and/or territory assignment.
  5. Enabling easy collaboration and knowledge-sharing uniformly across disparate silos of information. This promotes knowledge transfer among sales reps, helps surface important content, simplifies training and reduces the learning curve as new hires get up to speed quickly.

Optimize sales data for real cost and time savings

Eliminating the need to navigate multiple systems and databases to find information simplifies the sales process and creates a highly productive and efficient environment where sales professionals thrive. This translates to real cost and time savings.

Take technology vendors, for example, a group that Forrester Research found spends close to 20 percent of their selling, general and administrative (SG&A) costs — more than $135,000 per quota-carrying salesperson — on support-related activities.

By streamlining sales and customer data, information-driven sales organizations eliminate the burden and time consumption of learning, retention and mastery of multiple applications, thereby increasing agility and reducing operating expenses. This creates a critical competitive differentiator as it frees up sales teams to elevate their performance toward maximizing contract values, making informed strategic decisions and responding faster to client needs.

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Sinequa Helps Box Customers To Be Information-Driven

noiseMany customers that use Box for cloud content management are typically large, geographically distributed organizations. The four scenarios below describe common ways that Sinequa helps these customers leverage their enterprise information to become information-driven.

Increase the Signal, Decrease the Noise
Customers who have migrated even a portion of their enterprise content to Box have made a significant step.  Workers in their organization can no doubt share and collaborate more easily than ever before; they no doubt have reduced email overhead; and they are probably working the way they want to given all of the friendly integrations with Box, including Outlook, Office365, Google Docs and the like.   However, being in the cloud does not automatically mean the valuable “signals” in your data rise above the “noise”.  Messy data migrated to the cloud is still messy data.  Sinequa helps workers quickly narrow in on the information and insights necessary to do their job effectively and with confidence.  By analyzing the content and enriching it using natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, Box users can quickly find the information and insights they need to be effective and responsive.

Connect Data

connect-data

Many Box customers run their business with other enterprise applications and information repositories, all of which contain data and content related to the information
stored in Box.  Sinequa brings advanced analytics and cognitive techniques to “connect” the data and bring context across all of the various enterprise sources, whether they be in the cloud or on premise.  By connecting the data, knowledge workers can better navigate and see how the data and connect fit together along topical lines, regardless of how many repositories make up the enterprise information landscape.

Identify Knowledge & Expertise

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 2.40.37 PMAs previously mentioned, many Box customers are large (or even very large) geographically distributed organizations with expertise in a wide variety of subject matter areas.  In these organizations, specific experts are difficult to identify given the size and distributed nature of the organization.  This is a modern problem that requires a modern solution.  As users store content and collaborate within Box, Sinequa’s advanced cognitive capabilities analyze that content to determine not only the areas of expertise across the organization but who the specific experts are and surfaces that information to end users.  This connects people across geographic and departmental boundaries, accelerating innovation and elevating the performance of the overall organization.

Leverage 360º Views

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 2.42.23 PM

Think of all the “entities” that are critical to Box customers running their business.  These business entities include customers, either specific individuals (B2C) or accounts (B2B), products, parts, drugs, diseases, financial securities, regulations, etc.  Having all of the enterprise data virtually connected by Sinequa makes it possibly to provide a unified “360º View” of these various entities to bring all of the right information to the right person at the right time.
As you can see, leveraging Sinequa to contextualize the information within Box and other enterprise repositories not only boosts productivity and keeps knowledge workers in the flow but has repeatedly proven to enhance customer service, improve regulatory compliance and increase revenue within different areas of the business.  Achieving these benefits positively impacts the bottom line and serves as validation that an organization has become truly information-driven.
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