HR transformation: Four takeaways from HR Tech World San Francisco

Diletta D'OnofrioBy Diletta D’Onofrio

Some might argue data is an organization’s most valuable asset. Others will unequivocally say it’s your people. But few will debate this: those companies who manage to bring together the latest in technology with the best of the employee will outperform the competition and be the leaders in the marketplace.

This intersection of people and tech was on full display last week at HR Tech World in San Francisco. I had the privilege of attending the two-day event, where I mingled with Human Resource Officers (HROs), learned from keynote speakers and thought leaders, and tested the latest tech solutions at the vendor booths. From SAP SuccessFactors to Workday, IBM to Cornerstone, Deloitte to ADP – they were all there, making this conference a must-attend for those like me who are interested in exploring the latest ideas, best practices, and technologies to transform HR in the digital era.

Here are a few of my takeaways from my two days at HR Tech World:

  • “Breaking HR”:  So much has changed in the last five years, say nothing of the last 30 years. And yet, as Cisco Chief People Officer Francine Katsoudas explained in her presentation, many global, Fortune 100 organizations are still running HR processes and technologies that were developed for a 1970’s workplace. Katsoudas argued that to capitalize on the promise of the digital age companies must think and work differently, which means incremental HR improvements may need to be pushed aside in favor of a complete overhaul. In other words, we must have the courage to “break HR” if we want to truly lead the Future of Work.
  • Put people at the center: An organization’s digital transformation initiative cannot succeed without effective workforce transformation. Internal processes need to follow the employee experience and not the other way around. Tech-native millennials have new expectations around what makes for a great workplace. Saddling them with archaic processes or legacy systems is a recipe for failure, a sure-fire way to doom any transformation effort. As HR thought leader, author, and LeapGen CEO Jason Averbook noted on stage, “HR technology drives culture,” so invest in the best tech.
  • Tech is getting smarter, faster, easier: It seems like just yesterday that vendors at events such as this one were touting their cloud capabilities as a tech differentiator, but now the cloud is table stakes. Today, the new tech battleground is around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – you couldn’t walk five feet without hearing new vendor strategies and technology capabilities to help automate and accelerate routine tasks that were once the domain of only humans. “Rethink processes with machine learning,” demanded Yvette Cameron, SVP and Global Head of Strategy at SAP SuccessFactors, in her presentation. She asked, “are your systems and processes ‘continuous, connected, intelligent, and live?'”
  • Data integration – The keys to unlocking HR transformation: To be honest, I got lost a few times in the Exhibition Hall, what with the dozens of vendor booths touting their solutions for recruiting and onboarding, payroll and compensation, learning and development, performance management, workforce planning and analytics, and more. While many vendors offer “HR suites,” with several applications that are said to seamlessly work together, I spoke with several HROs who admitted they’ve got dozens of HR applications in place across their enterprise, and often from multiple vendors. Maybe ADP for payroll, Cornerstone for performance management, Workday for talent management, and so on. Getting them all to work together remains a struggle for most companies, putting a strain on budgets, resources, productivity, and time-to-value. Time and again, I heard – “Integration, integration, integration!” – the companies I met, across all industries and of all sizes, repeatedly said it was a top priority to find better, faster ways to integrate apps and data sources across complete, end-to-end business processes, such as hire-to-retire, for example.

It was a great two days. Lots learned, and lots to do as we continue to help our customers in HR integrate their applications and data sources to accelerate HR transformation. I look forward to next year’s HR Tech World event.

Diletta D’Onofrio leads the Digital Transformation Group at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @ddonofrio13.

Why citizen integrators are today’s architects of customer experience

By Nada daVeiga

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about customer experience (CX) and the most direct, most effective ways for companies to transform it. As I recently blogged, data is the centerpiece – the metaphorical cake, as it were, compared to the martech frosting – of creating winning customer experiences.

That being said, which internal organization could possibly be better than marketing, to shape customer experience?

Nearly every enterprise function shapes CX

As it turns out, there are many teams within the modern enterprise that serve as CX architects. Think of all the different groups that contribute to customer engagement, acquisition, retention, and satisfaction: marketing, sales, service, and support are the most obvious, but what about product development, finance, manufacturing, logistics, and shipping? All of these functions impact the customer experience, directly or indirectly, and thus should be empowered to improve it through unbridled data access.

This point of view is reflected in SnapLogic’s new white paper, “Integration in the age of the customer: The five keys to connecting and elevating customer experience.” From it, a key thought:

[W]ho should corral the data? The best outcomes from customer initiatives happen when the business takes control and leads the initiative. The closer the integrators are to the customer, the better they can put themselves in their customers’ shoes and understand their needs. Often, they have a clear handle on metrics, the business processes, the data, and real-world customer experiences, whether they’re in marketing, sales, or service, and are the first to see how the changes they’re making are improving customer experience — or not.

Democratizing data integration

Because most departmental leaders in sales, service, and marketing are typically not familiar with programming, they look for integration solutions that provide click-not-code graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that enable a visual, intuitive process to democratize customer data integration. SnapLogic believes that GUI-driven, democratic data integration is an essential first step in empowering today’s CX architects to gain the analytic insight they need to improve customer experience.

In short, we believe that “citizen integrator” is really just another name for “citizen innovator;” fast, easy, seamless data integration shatters stubborn barriers to CX innovation by igniting exploration and problem-solving creativity.

To learn how to design your integration strategy to improve customer experience across the organization, download the white paper, “Integration in the age of the customer: The five keys to connecting and elevating customer experience.” In it, you’ll find actionable insights on how to optimize your organization’s data integration strategy to unlock CX innovation, including:

  • Why you need to ensure your organization’s integration strategy is customer-focused
  • How to plan around the entire customer lifecycle
  • Which five integration strategies help speed customer analytics and experience initiatives
  • How to put the odds of customer success in your favor

Nada daVeiga is VP Worldwide Pre-Sales, Customer Success, and Professional Services at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @nrdaveiga.

Data management takes center stage at Rutberg 2017 conference

Each year, research-centric investment bank Rutberg & Company gathers top business leaders and technology experts for an intimate, two-day forum where they discuss and debate the technology, ideas, and trends driving global business. The annual Rutberg 2017 conference took place last week in Half Moon Bay, California, and data management was front and center.

SnapLogic CEO Gaurav Dhillon joined Mesosphere CEO Florian Leibert and Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt for a spirited panel discussion on the growing data management opportunities and challenges facing enterprises today. The panel was moderated by Fortune reporter Jonathan Vanian.

A number of important data management and integration trends emerged, including:

  • LOB’s influence grows: Gaurav noted that more and more, “innovation is coming from the LOB,” whether in Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR, or elsewhere in the organization. These LOB leaders are tech-savvy, are responsible for their own P&L’s, and they know speed and agility will determine tomorrow’s winners. So they’re constantly on the hunt for the latest tech solutions that will drive innovation, spur growth, and help them beat the competition.
  • Data fragmentation on the rise: With individual LOBs procuring a flurry of new cloud applications and technologies, the result is often business silos and a disconnected enterprise. “The average enterprise has 10x more SaaS apps than a CIO thinks,” said Gaurav of the increasing SaaS sprawl, which is requiring CIOs to think differently about how they integrate and manage disparate apps and data sources across the enterprise.
  • Self-service integration is here to stay: The bigger a company gets – with more apps, more end-points, more data-types, more fragmentation – there’s never going to be enough humans to manage the required integration in a timely manner, explained Gaurav. Enter new, modern, self-service integration platforms. “The holy grail of integration is self-service and ease-of-use … we have to bring integration out of the dungeon and into the light,” Gaurav continued. And this means getting integration into the hands of the LOB, and making it fast and easy. The days of command-and-control by IT are over: “Trying to put the genie back in the bottle is wrong; instead you need to give the LOBs a self-service capability to wire this up on their own,” noted Gaurav.
  • AI will be a game-changer: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are already making apps, platforms, and people smarter. Like with Google auto-complete or shopping on Amazon, we’re already becoming accustomed to assistance from, and recommendations by, machines. “Software without AI will be like Microsoft Word or email without spell-check,” it will be jarring not to have it, said Gaurav. AI is already being applied to complex tasks like app and data integration; it’s not a future state, he said, the start of “self-driving integration is happening today.”
  • The enterprise is a retrofit job: For all the latest advances – new cloud apps, AI and ML technologies, self-service integration platforms – the enterprise remains a “retrofit job,” where the new must work with the old. Large, global enterprises aren’t about to throw out decades of technology investment all at once, particularly if it is working just fine or well-suited to handle certain business processes. So, new cloud technologies will need to work with older on-premise solutions, once again cementing integration platforms as a critical piece of an enterprise technology strategy. “It will be a hybrid world for a long, long time,” concluded Gaurav.

Without question, data has become any organization’s most valuable asset, and those that are able to integrate, manage, and analyze data effectively will be the winners of tomorrow.

SnapLogic recognized by Mogul as top workplace for millennial women

By Laura Selig

At SnapLogic, we know that a diverse workplace powers innovation and drives growth. Only by bringing in people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives can we truly build an innovative company for the ages.

So we were thrilled to learn that SnapLogic has been recognized as a top employer for millennial women by Mogul, a leading technology platform and recruiting site that enables professional women around the world to connect, share information and knowledge, and network. We’re proud to report that SnapLogic was ranked #21 on Mogul’s list of the Top 100 Companies For Millennial Women in 2017.

Based on two years of interviews, surveys, and research, Mogul set out to identify the top 100 companies worldwide that are actively leading initiatives to achieve gender equity in the workplace. Mogul notes, with millennials increasingly joining and impacting the workforce, these 100 companies “collectively have the opportunity to shape workplace innovation and accelerate cultural transformation.”

At SnapLogic, more than 30 percent of our global employees in engineering or technical roles are women – higher than the industry average – and we’re working hard to drive this number even higher by fostering a work environment that is focused on inclusiveness and continuous career development. Additionally, SnapLogic’s affinity group, Women@SnapLogic, provides an internal networking group for women to build community and discuss topics relevant to women in the workplace. Female engineers at SnapLogic are working on breakthrough projects in cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and more, helping to drive our innovation agenda forward.

Are you passionate about technology and looking to put your skills and experience to work at a dynamic, innovative enterprise software upstart? Be sure to check out SnapLogic’s current job openings.

Laura Selig is Vice President, People at SnapLogic.

 

Less frosting, more cake: Data integration transforms customer experience

By Nada daVeiga

I’ll start with the frosting. As far as I can tell, it’s been the Year of the Customer for several years now. During this time, every company has gotten the “customer experience” (CX) religion – improve it or die. Thousands of software applications have emerged during what’s now called the Age of the Customer, focused on improving CX by providing the right individual with the right interaction or information, at the right time.

The Age of the Customer has spawned an entirely new software category, marketing technology (martech), chronicled tirelessly by industry analyst Scott Brinker, who goes by @chiefmartec on Twitter. His oft-shared, visual history of the martech product landscape looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the 2017 marketing technology landscape, Brinker notes:

  • There are now 5,381 solutions on the graphic, 39 percent more than last year
  • There are now 4,891 unique companies on the graphic, up 40 percent from last year
  • Only 4.7% of the solutions from 2016 were removed (and another 3.5 percent changed in some fundamental way – their name, their focus, or their ownership)[1]

Where’s the cake?

My point is that there is a lot of frosting here – thousands of applications designed to address the sexiest elements of customer experience. But what’s missing is cake. Data is the cake onto which martech frosting should be added. Integrated enterprise data is the foundation for effective CX strategies to be built on because otherwise, you’re just playing an expensive guessing game.

That’s where enterprise integration comes in. With the expansion of digital channels and new customer initiatives, the variety and volume of customer signals are more diverse than ever. Beyond classical CRM systems around sales and service, understanding the customer lifecycle means bringing together data from, in addition to martech apps, sources including social media, websites, field service, quote management apps, and Internet-enabled things like mobile devices to sensors.

Bake the cake – integrate your enterprise data

More than ever, your company needs to focus on the cake of data, and the enterprise integration required to create it. The good news is, today’s enterprise integration cloud solutions make it easier than ever to build a rich data foundation for comprehensive, effective initiatives in the Age of the Customer.

To learn how to design your integration strategy to enable success with your customer initiatives, download the white paper, “Integration in the age of the customer: The five keys to connecting and elevating customer experience.” In it, you’ll find actionable insights on how to optimize your organization’s data integration strategy for the digital customer, including:

  • Why you need to ensure your organization’s integration strategy is customer-focused
  • How to plan around the entire customer lifecycle
  • Which five integration strategies help speed customer analytics and experience initiatives
  • How to put the odds of customer success in your favor

Download the white paper today!

Nada daVeiga is VP Worldwide Pre-Sales, Customer Success, and Professional Services at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @nrdaveiga.

[1]Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2017): Martech 5000,” Scott Brinker, May 10, 2017.

 

 

 

Data integration: The key to operationalizing innovation

md_craig-BW-1443725112By Craig Stewart

It’s not just a tongue twister. Operationalizing innovation has proven to be one of the most elusive management objectives of the new millennium. Consider this sound bite from an executive who’d just participated in an innovation conference in 2005:

The real discussion at the meeting was about … how to operationalize innovation. All roads of discussion led back to that place. How do you make your company into a systemic innovator? There is no common denominator out there, no shared understanding on how to do that.[1]

The good news is that, in the 12 years since, cloud computing has exploded, and a common denominator clearly emerged: data. Specifically, putting the power of data – big data, enterprise data, and data from external sources – and analytics into users’ hands. More good news: An entirely new class of tools[2] has emerged that allows business users to become “citizen data analysts.”

The bad news: There hasn’t been a fast, easy way to perform the necessary integrations between data sources, in the cloud – an essential first step that is the foundation of citizen data analytics, today’s hottest source of innovation.

Until now.

The SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud is a mature, full-featured Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) built in the cloud, for the cloud. Through its visual, automated approach to integration, the SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud uniquely empowers both business and IT users, accelerating analytics initiatives on Amazon Redshift and other cloud data warehouses.

Unlike on-premises ETL or immature cloud tools, SnapLogic combines ease of use, streaming scalability, on-premises and cloud integration, and managed connectors called Snaps. Together, these capabilities present a 10x improvement over legacy ETL solutions like Informatica or other “cloud-washed” solutions originally designed for on-premises use, accelerating integrations from months to days.

By enabling “citizen integrators” to more quickly build, deploy and efficiently manage multiple high-volume, data-intensive integration projects, SnapLogic uniquely delivers:

  • Ease of use for business and IT users through a graphical approach to integration
  • A solution built for scale, offering bulk data movement and streaming data integration
  • Ideal capabilities for hybrid environments, with over 400 Snaps to handle relational, document, unstructured, and legacy data sources
  • Cloud data warehouse-readiness with native support for Amazon Redshift and other popular cloud data warehouses
  • Built-in data governance* by synchronizing data in Redshift at any time interval desired, from real-time to overnight batch.

* Why data governance matters

Analytics performed on top of incorrect data yield incorrect results – a detriment, certainly, in the quest to operationalize innovation. Data governance is a significant topic, and a major concern of IT organizations charged with maintaining the consistency of data routinely accessed by citizen data scientist and citizen integrator populations. Gartner estimates that only 10% of self-service BI initiatives are governed[3] to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business.

Data discovery initiatives using desktop analytics tools risk creating inconsistent silos of data. Cloud data warehouses afford increased governance and data centralization. SnapLogic helps to ensure strong data governance by replicating source tables into Redshift clusters, where the data can be periodically synchronized at any time interval desired, from real-time to overnight batch. In this way, data drift is eliminated, allowing all users who access data, whether in Redshift or other enterprise systems, to be confident in its accuracy.

To find out more about how SnapLogic empowers citizen data scientists, and how a global pharmaceutical company is using SnapLogic to operationalize innovation, get the white paper, “Igniting discovery: How built-for-the-cloud data integration kicks Amazon Redshift into high gear.

Craig Stewart is Vice President, Product Management at SnapLogic.

[1] “Operationalizing Innovation–THE hot topic,” Bruce Nussbaum, Bloomberg, September 28, 2005. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2005-09-28/operationalizing-innovation-the-hot-topic

[2] “The 18 Best Analytics Tools Every Business Manager Should Know,” Bernard Marr, Forbes, February 4, 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/02/04/the-18-best-analytics-tools-every-business-manager-should-know/#825e6115d397

[3] “Predicts 2017: Analytics Strategy and Technology,” Kurt Schlegel, et. al., Gartner, November 30, 2016. ID: G00316349

Data integration and best practices in the age of the digital customer

Nada-headshotBy Nada daVeiga

Organizations are competing more than ever based on how they engage with customers. It’s become a vital part of the enterprise digital transformation agenda. Yet in the rush, integration, a foundational element, is often overlooked in the haste to deploy new digital customer applications and experiences. McKinsey recently observed that “Integrating new processes with legacy systems in a cost-efficient way is a challenge most companies face when they digitize their customer. [1]

Why does it matter, and why is it such a big obstacle anyway?

The problem is that a lack of integration can quickly become transparent to customers. In retail, lack of strong integration between an e-commerce system and the CRM or ERP can result in website ordering, pricing, or shopping cart issues that aren’t visible to customer service. This lack of integration often results in customer frustration or a lost sale. In B2B, poor integration between the CRM and ERP can also lead to incorrectly rekeyed customer or order information, resulting in downstream invoicing issues.

But why is it so hard to pull together more integrated customer processes? Because there are just so many applications within the enterprise that manage a part of the customer process.

For example, a recent study by Ventana Research on customer analytics found that 40 percent of respondents worked with 14 different types of data across at least 6 different systems to derive customer insight. [2]

Five key strategies to connect and elevate your customer experience

With integration being the biggest barrier, let’s look at five strategies key to connecting and elevating the customer experience.

  1. Start with analytics, grow to experience

Why this sequencing? Simply, we have to start somewhere in order to measure key metrics, since only things measured can be improved. Getting a clear 360-degree view of the customer – with metrics around customer satisfaction, engagement, churn, and acquisition – provides the blueprint for targeting the best opportunities to upgrade customer experience.

  1. Put customer experts in control

Who better than the sales or service team to put themselves in the customer’s shoes? Often analytics projects can quickly become an IT-led project. While IT has an incredibly important role to play, in governance and ensuring the efficient use of technology, experts in the lines of business should be enabled to connect the dots themselves.

  1. Customer experience is a team sport – get collaborative

The chances are one of your customer process steps will likely depend on another team’s app. Or the data needed for your analytics project will be within another team’s control. With so much cross-departmental integration, ensure different teams are using the same integration platform to maximize reuse.

  1. Plan to keep pace with customer touchpoint variety

Having to perform hand-coded API integrations or costly custom integrations just to keep pace is a sure way to drain budgets. Ensure your integration platform connects with your current apps, whether you’re running Salesforce, NetSuite, SAP, Oracle, or any other app, as well as the ones you plan to use in the future, without requiring having to build connectivity.

  1. Customer data is your fastest growing asset – prepare to scale

There’s often no faster growing asset in the enterprise than customer data. And not just data, the sheer number of workflows around customer experience are set to skyrocket. Choose an integration platform that’ll keep pace. Because being forced to switch customer integration platforms later can quickly put the brakes on a customer experience initiative.

Set the foundation for customer experience success

To learn how to design your integration strategy to enable success with your customer initiatives, watch our webcast, “Data integration best practices in the age of the digital customer,” featuring Michele Goetz, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research Inc, and Ravi Dharnikota, Chief Enterprise Architect, SnapLogic. You’ll take away actionable insights for ensuring your organization’s data integration strategy is optimized for the digital customer. Register today!

Nada daVeiga is VP Worldwide Pre-Sales, Customer Success, and Professional Services at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @nrdaveiga.

 

[1]Digitizing customer journeys and processes: Stories from the front lines,” McKinsey, May 2017.

[2]The Next Generation of Customer Analytics,” Ventana Research, February 2014.