The Evolution of Business | How to Remain Relevant During Transforming Times

Evolve or fade; this is the reality of today’s business environment. Continuous, consistent transformation is absolutely necessary to keep pace in an age of unprecedented technological advancement and increasingly shifting consumer demands. Social media has brought forth a two-way channel of fostering the needs of the relationship era, but it has also increased the noise exponentially. Gauging what your customers want and need during this time of hyper-connectivity is sometimes easier said than done, but the fact remains that the most successful businesses are taking a stance of business model evolution, anticipating consumer demands ahead of the competition and adapting their business offerings to fit the times.

Businesses need to continually strive to find a better way in order to stay competitive and relevant in the marketplace, either through a fundamental transformation or constant evolution over time. Businesses that have withstood the test of time, like Corning – who transformed from manufacturing glass casings for the light bulb at its founding in 1851 to developing leading fiber optics and electronic device technologies such as Gorilla® Glass today – understand that adaption is innate to continued business success.

The trends impacting the evolution of business models today are unparalleled in their force and number. A recent survey report explains that “business transformation has taken ahold across the broad corporate landscape due to the confluence of several important triggers, including a tipping point in globalization, a major slowdown in Western economies, significant shifts in technology and energy costs, and the challenges of regulatory compliance.”

Businesses must take note by strategically approaching these triggers through continual realignment of their business models. Flexibility and keen perception to changing environments and consumer demands are key, as even these transformation triggers will change over time.


So, where do you start?

ASSESS  |  As previously mentioned, take into consideration the following when determining a change in your business:

  • Consumer Demands
  • Industry Trends
  • Regulatory Drivers
  • Economic Influences
  • Market Competition
  • Internal Revenue Streams and Cost Structures

SHAPE  |  Establish your strategic vision and define the goals and objectives to accomplish it. Organizations today must actively anticipate the needs of their customer, continually striving to be one step ahead of market trends while also accurately identifying how to achieve it within their business.

ALIGN  |  Align your people, process, and technology to find a better way. Your vision, influenced by the trending transformation triggers in the market, will guide your business’ path, but in the end, leaders must align their business model to fit their direction. Define the depth and scope of your evolution, taking into consideration internal processes and procedures that are the foundation of your back-end business. The current state of your business must be built on solid internal acceptance of any of the practices you wish to bring to market. You cannot successfully bring a service, solution, or product to the market – even if there’s established consumer demand – without embracing the technology and change in-house first.

EXECUTE  |  According to research, over half of businesses undergoing a change fail at achieving their desired trajectory. “In the current complex and fast-changing business climate, organizations often underestimate the significance of operating model refinements necessary to effect transformation across people, process, technology, data management and risk management components.” Don’t be a statistic; plan before you leap.


Change is inevitable, and today’s world is moving faster than ever. Peter Drucker knew it and in 1992 penned an enlightening and altogether spot-on expose on the nature of transformation.

“In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later a new world exists. And the people born into that world cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. Our age is such a period of transformation.”

If your business wants to remain relevant during a time that is seeing extraordinary transformation and technological advancement, it must evolve. Constantly. The process of change is not a check box, completed and removed; it is an ongoing frame of mind, engrained in to your business culture through every decision and every process. Business leaders cannot sit stagnantly in a state of complacency with their current revenue stream, because even if you are not adapting, the market and your competition are.

 

 

At Eide Bailly Technology Consulting, we are constantly realigning to the needs of our clients, expanding our services and solutions to continually find a better way to drive our clients’ businesses forward through the use of technology. This has been realized recently in the growth of our ERP presence in a thriving, new market. Head over to our newsroom to learn more about our expanded expertise and how we’re transforming to provide additional value to our clients.


scott_kostScott Kost is the Director & Principal of Eide Bailly
Technology Consulting. With over 25 years of
experience in the IT industry, Scott’s wealth of
knowledge includes new technologies
implementation, information security and
system operations, leadership
development, and strategic planning.

skost@eidebailly.com

Two-Factor Authentication: The New Standard

Password protection seems to be frame of mind for nearly every online consumer these days. With headlines surrounding credential hacks constantly appearing, from Dropbox to Gmail, it’s no wonder that the topic is a consistent area of concern.

So what can you do?

Well, for one, update your passwords regularly, be that seasonally or on a different rotation cycle. And not to your cat’s name like this guy.

Second, you should consider implementing the latest security practice of two-factor, or two-step authentication. Commonly used with banking sites, this process adds an extra layer of defense against hackers. As the name suggests, it protects your account through the requirement of two sets of identification information, such as a password and a pin. Some online services have even implemented a SMS prompt where, after correctly entering your password, a text message is sent to your cell phone with a unique string of characters to be entered to gain access to your account, drastically improving your account’s integrity compared to the standard single key method. 

Two-factor authentication is not perfect, but it does reduce the probability of a hack since it necessitates more than one set of personal credentials be compromised in order to penetrate your account. The addition of SMS protocol increases your defense substantially as cybercriminals would not only need your passkey but also possession and access to your cell phone.

Many services are jumping on board with two-factor authentication as the new standard for cybersecurity. Google announced in October the support for Security Key, an open standard that allows users to log on to their account via a physical device such as a USB containing a six-digit confirmation code in combination with their traditional password. Similar to the SMS route, both sets of credentials are required to access your account.

This trend in multi-key, multi-source validation recognizes a new era of cybersecurity, which could result in the extinction of single-factor passwords altogether.

 

For more information on how to enable two-factor authentication on your accounts, from Google and PayPal to Microsoft and Facebook, head over to Gizmodo to read tips and tricks by account type.


joe_tillmanJoe Tillman manages and oversees a group
of talented
engineers and IT testers within
Eide Bailly Technology
Consulting’s Service
Center team. With more than 13 years in
the technology industry working as a
business analyst and project manager, Joe
performs process and system reviews while
working with clients to define future strategic
goals, identify gaps, and develop an
executable roadmap
.

jtillman@eidebailly.com                                         

 

3 Reasons Rapid Growth Businesses Need Cloud ERP

In follow up to our recent posts on How Cloud ERP Creates Competitive Advantage and the 7 Practices of Highly Effective, Rapid Growth Businesses, we thought we would spend a little time focusing on habit #3: Think Efficient and how it applies to ERP.
Any successful organization is built on a solid foundation of efficient processes through the use of flexible technology solutions. An ERP system can be a catalyst for accelerated business when strategically implemented, and the right system will drive your business forward, not hold it back with bogged down reporting and manual processes. The benefits of cloud ERP in growing your organization are threefold:

  1. Learning Curves, Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That
    Time is money, and that sentiment could not reign more supreme than for hyper-growth businesses. Traditionally, migrating to a new system – especially a system so integral to your back-end office like ERP – has required a significant investment in training for administrators and end-users alike; however, cloud ERP is instinctively easy to use. Additionally, cloud implementation has a fast turnaround time, giving your organization the ability to spend valuable time focusing on expanding, rather than on downtime with an on-premise deployment. Look for an ERP that runs on the same terminology as your current system so you can jump right in where you left off.
  2. Integration, Now Customized
    Growing businesses require defined processes, processes that will ideally fit to your exact organizational needs. Often times, though, entry-level ERP either cannot accommodate and adapt to business requirements or there is a lack of resources – like time and money – to undergo an obtrusive, major on-premise ERP deployment. The beauty of cloud ERP is the ease of implementation combined with flexible functionality. An organization running on cloud ERP has the power of configuring on their side – customizing forms, adding user defined fields per client, and adapting scripts based on business logic. There is also the bonus of add-ons to the core ERP system; these application extensions via third-parties or the ERP vendor itself add expanded functionality with a few clicks of a button. Cloud-based ERP platforms allow for easy incorporation between business critical areas – whether that’s e-commerce, customer relation management (CRM), or inventory management – through these application extensions, giving you all the information you need working together on one platform.
  3. Eyes Wide Forward
    When you are projecting to grow by large percentages, planning ahead can be daunting. Don’t let your ERP be a limitation. Traditionally, organizations had to accommodate for their future growth by predicting their system needs months to years in advance and, often, missing the target. Keep your business’ focus on current needs while preparing for the future by implementing an ERP solution that will grow with you. Traditional ERP limits growth due to its innate lack of scalability, giving the cloud a distinct advantage. The flexibility and scalability of cloud ERP allows it to expand with your business without a large investment up-front, making it an asset in your growth and not a restriction.

Cloud ERP is particularly efficient in rapid growth organizations because at its core is an adaptable platform that is quick to implement, designed to integrate, fundamentally expandable, and relatively easy to learn – all of which are challenges often faced by emerging businesses using conventional solutions.


trina_michelsTrina Michels is a business applications manager with Eide
Bailly Technology Consulting. Analytical by nature, Trina
aims to streamline operations that are often overlooked
by integrating and implementing end-to-end solutions for
her clients that support their unique business objectives,
leveraging technology to maximize goals.

tmichels@eidebailly.com

 

Move Over Grim Reaper, Hackers Scariest

halloween

Happy All Hallows’ Eve! Looking for a good spook?

According to the recent crime poll by Gallup, over two-thirds of Americans are “frequently to occasionally” worried about being hacked, far surpassing all other crime fears. Concerns of stolen credit card information and the integrity of personal information on devices topped the upper sixtieth percentile in this year’s report, clearly showcasing the growing prevalence of cyberattacks today – and it appears to be justified.

With fears of the Grim Reaper earning less than 20%, perhaps we should rethink our Halloween costumes this year and trade in those black cloaks and scythes for a code book and keystroke reader.

How Cloud ERP Creates Competitive Advantage | Version-Locked versus Version-Less

Leveraging the advancements in technology to gain a competitive advantage is nothing new in today’s business world, but when was the last time you examined your ERP system under the same lens? The pace of business is changing; organizations simply cannot afford to move at yesterday’s speed, and much of today’s demands fall on process efficiency. However, according to Forrester Research, “approximately half of ERP customers are on releases that are two versions behind the current release, which may be four years old or more.” That statistic alone indicates that a large chunk of the marketplace is running on technology that was created when fax machines were still widely relevant and e-mail was just a novelty. The version-locked ERP of yesteryear is fundamentally incompatible with the current structure for success, and it should come as no surprise then that only 4% of today’s IT leaders feel that their ERP system offers a competitive advantage for their organization.

Version-locked ERP is plaguing many businesses today. The aging, on-premise system grows farther out of alignment with the needs of the organization every day, with no updates for new regulations or integrations to the latest e-commerce platform, stagnant behind a buildup of customizations and manual connect-the-data spreadsheets. Before you know it, the business finds itself in a quicksand situation, stuck in place by an ERP system that isn’t evolving with the pace of business and being swallowed by a market that demands continual progression.

Regardless of industry, businesses remaining relevant in today’s economy are growing more distributed, spanning across geographies like never before, and mobility has become a key driver in performance. But in large, organizations are hesitant to implement business applications built on a similarly dispersed, accessible platform. Old ERP was designed before mobile devices and connect-anywhere capability, when business never left the office, but performance beyond the PC is the foundation of the cloud. If the current structure for success is accessibility and fluidity in an elastic workforce, what better platform than the cloud to drive your business processes forward?

Combining the agility and dispersed access enabled through the cloud with the real-time data of an efficient ERP system creates a true competitive advantage for your business – empowering staff across your organization to collaborate and align with business objectives, regardless of their location and independent of your IT resources. Cloud ERP frees businesses from the inflexible, change resistant ERP of the past. They can run on a system that is essentially version-less, with automatic updates to new features and functionality, migrating any customizations with each upgrade. In short, version-less cloud ERP enables businesses to experience today’s innovation while continuously aligning their ERP needs with their evolving business operating environment.

  

Click here to read more about cloud ERP and “The 8 Ways Outdated ERP Damages Your Business.”

 


stuart_tholenStuart Tholen is the Director of Eide Bailly Technology Consulting’s
Enterprise Resource Planning services. With more than 30 years of
experience in tax, audit and IT, Stuart has focused on building and
developing a consulting department to customize and integrate
business solutions for the end-user.

stholen@eidebailly.com

 

 

 

 

Application Whitelisting: A Critical Piece in the Security Puzzle

Following the release of Windows Server 2003, the capability to implement Software Restriction Policies (SRP) has been widely accepted as one of the safest ways to secure corporate networks. Integrated via Microsoft Active Directory and Group Policy features, SRP identifies and controls the programs running on a domain to increase reliability, integrity and manageability of the devices within an environment.

A common SRP technique is blacklisting where known threats are blocked from running through your anti-viral or anti-malware programs. Utilizing blacklisting methodologies within your organization is an essential aspect of any security strategy as it is a cost effective approach to threat detection; however, this is a reactive defense that cannot scale to today’s growing volume and variety of threats. In the instance of a zero-day attack, such as Heartbleed and Shellshock which leveraged previously unknown system vulnerabilities, blacklisting techniques alone will leave your organization completely susceptible as it can only protect you against the known, and in today’s highly ambiguous grey area of security certainty, organizations must be preparing for evolving threats to remain secure and successful.

Enter: Application whitelisting.

Whitelisting is a proactive approach to SRP configuration where, instead of blocking known attacks, a network administrator defines a limited set of permitted programs, called a whitelist, which are allowed to run on a domain. By default, this prevents all other programs – including most malware – from running within the environment. Essentially, it functions as an “if-than” filter thwarting unauthorized applications from breaching a system. When employed in conjunction with traditional security measures, it creates an additional layer in an organization’s defense-in-depth strategy.

Take, for example, if an employee opens an email or inserts a USB drive containing malicious code; through the effective use of whitelisting, it will be unable to run within the domain, maintaining the integrity of your organization’s network. Traditional downtime in such situations ranges from a couple hours to a number of days, depending on the penetration of the malware. While you may feel that your network data is secure, can your business withstand an extended outage?

For an effective application whitelisting solution, network administrators should note that all executable code must be blocked by default so only approved, whitelisted programs can run. Additionally, network users cannot have modification abilities on the files allowed to run, and all installations and downloads of new applications will involve administrator authorization. While there are definite advantages to application whitelisting, like the defense against current malware and the absence of daily oversight, there are some disadvantages to consider before implementing in your organization. Efficient application whitelisting requires regular maintenance of the whitelist as new applications are added and removed based on the approval process defined within your organization. This, in turn, requires some performance overhead for enforcement and continuous improvement definitions. It is also important to consider that end-users will be limited on downloads, applications, and files they are permitted to use which can create some frustration and annoyance. Proper communication on the importance and necessity of rigid policies should be a priority within your security strategy as staff will be more receptive to restrictions when they are made aware of the reasoning. Engage your employees as advocates on your journey to network integrity and never underestimate the importance of a communication plan with all organizational changes.


mike_arvidsonMike Arvidson is the Director of Eide Bailly Technology
Consulting’s Infrastructure Services. With more than 20
years of experience in the IT industry, Mike’s wealth of
knowledge includes network systems implementation,
integrated new technologies, and information security.

marvidson@eidebailly.com

 

Hockey Analytics: The New Power Play

New technologies are constantly appearing and proclaiming their life changing capabilities, but in reality, it can be difficult to visualize their real-word relevancy until they have gone mainstream. By that point, however, you’re often already behind the game. Big data falls into this category. It is both complex and ambiguous, and its impacts are far reaching but widely misunderstood and underestimated. Analytic systems have been around for decades, but with the new stream of valuable information being leveraged to power them, we have seen a whole new revolution in data analysis.

Case in point: the NHL.

Enabled with advanced statistics, franchises in the National Hockey League are evolving their game and strategies with deeper insights into their sport. A shift in leadership tactics has seen the addition of analytics specialists within multiple organizations in the hopes of capitalizing on the overflow of data available in today’s technologically driven world. This is nothing new, though. Baseball saw the power of statistical analytics over 20 years ago with Bill James’ sabermetrics movement, which went on to heavily influence the Oakland Athletics’ successful 2002 and 2003 MLB seasons under the helm of general manager Billy Beane – the main focus of 2011’s Moneyball starring Brad Pitt. Hockey analytics, however, aims to measure a sport that is much more difficult to quantify, but new technologies – like the possibility of microchip streaming – indicate that this is just the beginning.

Hockey Analytics quote

Data analytics in the NHL are creating a cutting edge advantage to coaching staff and executive leaders, aiding them with deciphering the best lineups, pairings, and matchups as well as developing their game strategy, driving scouting techniques, and gauging the overall health of the organization. Like in any business, the more you know, the better you can develop and prepare your organization – a concept not lost on today’s leading hockey clubs.

 

For the full article on the NHL’s data analytics journey, head over to TheStar.com, and for all you fantasy leaguers out there, “fancy stats” can help you with your draft too.

 

The 7 Practices of Highly Effective, Rapid Growth Businesses

There are no defined guidelines or an official rulebook for building and growing a successful business. It takes grit, a substantial amount of perseverance, and a dose of trial and error to make it in today’s business climate. Common sense rules still apply, but the wrong move or position of stagnant complacency can be deadly. Surprisingly, despite the tumultuous economy as of late, we have seen the rise of a number of super-growth organizations, businesses that have truly set themselves apart from the competition and appear to be making all the right moves. So what is their secret? In examining the strengths and successes of some of today’s rapid growth companies like GoPro, Netflix, and Yext, we have identified seven practices of highly effective businesses.

Consider this your official, unofficial rulebook to business success in the mid to late 2010s.

1. Be Value Added and Recognize Emerging Trends
First and foremost, customers want true value from you, not perceived benefits. This may seem simple enough, but what makes being a true value added organization difficult is that fact that customers are continually redefining their wants and needs. And where the customer goes, the market follows. Ultimately, this means you need to build a product or service that adds consistent and compelling value to your audience – beyond the competition – and recognizing emerging market trends can help. In the current “Car Wars” waging in a metropolitan landscape near you, the car service that will step out on top between Uber, Lyft and Hailo will be the business that best capitalizes on the point where emerging trends and customer value meet.

2. Spot Growth 
Businesses grow in two fundamental ways: to their existing customer base natively by leveraging new offerings or to new customers by moving into new markets or diversifying their portfolio. The key to success is identifying the largest potential area of growth for your organization and supporting that strategy across the business, continually reassessing the market and performance metrics.

3. Think Efficient
Hyper-growth businesses are built on a foundation of brilliant processes. Efficient and scalable, these processes enable decision makers to make timely, informed business moves based on the organization’s strategic direction to the benefit of the business, the team and the customer. Hand-in-hand with efficient processes come efficient technology solutions. It is more critical than ever that any system or platform you implement within your organization sets you up for growth, enabling the scalability and flexibility you need, when you need it.

4. Measure and Respond
Despite what some may argue, the ever ambiguous x-factor luck does not have a role in true success. Constant monitoring of performance and growth will provide insight to your path to success, allowing you to determine what is working within your organization and what simply is not so you can make adjustments as you go. You may not be able to control external forces, but you can set yourself up to react – even pro-act. This is where big data comes in to play. Data-driven technologies enable organizations to access real-time information for visibility, flexibility and responsiveness, proving that big data leads to a big market advantage.

5. Foster Focused Vision
The late, great business consultant and author Peter Drucker once said that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” And you cannot have the former without the latter. Regardless of your superior value proposition or outstanding future growth opportunities, your organization will not grow to full success without focused leadership. A true, focused leader aligns to the company vision and drives it forward, adapting in an evolving market and proactively identifying trends.

6. Create a Following
Nothing spreads as fast as good news, except maybe bad news – and nothing is as impactful in today’s marketplace as customers sharing the word on your superior product or service. Identify your brand advocates – be they within your organization or external – in conjunction with your growth strategy and engage them through social media or traditional testimonial case studies. Creating a following of brand loyal ambassadors for your business will be your greatest differentiator on the road to success, but it is important to remember that this is a two-way dialogue. Control the story by effectively mitigating any bad press while highlighting and encouraging others to tell your story to the market. It will be your most effective marketing tool.

7. Stay Agile and Innovative
After creating and fostering an effective, rapid growth business, you may be tempted to take your foot off the gas and coast. But if there is anything we can be certain of it’s that the market can (and will) change in an instant, and today’s winners can become fast losers if they are not continually reassessing their position, their customers, and their market opportunities. Strive for innovation; keep moving and evolving. Customer’s today have more options at their fingertips than ever before, and new competition is constantly appearing – always be one step ahead of the game.


scott_kostScott Kost is the Director & Principal of Eide Bailly
Technology Consulting. With over 25 years of
experience in the IT industry, Scott’s wealth of
knowledge includes new technologies
implementation, information security and
system operations, leadership
development, and strategic planning.

skost@eidebailly.com