Why Your Family Vacation Might Look Different This Summer

As the summer holiday rolls on and the Fourth of July approaches, you, like myself and many of my colleagues, may be planning a family vacation with the kids to the land of perpetual mayhem – theme parks. But this year could look a little different than years past.

Traditionally renowned for endless waiting lines, hordes of people, and erring on frenzied over fanciful, Disney is setting out to change how you and your family interact and experience the Magic Kingdom. On the surface, you may not think of Disney as a particularly technology-driven company, and yet, they are pioneering digital in tourism – with a wristband.

Add this to the list of real-world techie examples, the Disney MagicBand leverages Internet of Things technology via a RFID chip and radio transmitter embedded in a wearable device to drive a more streamlined, enchanting experience for park visitors, syncing with hundreds of sensors throughout the park and an online app, MyMagic+. Simply purchase your park tickets online, select your favored attractions, and Disney will create your ideal itinerary, removing the chaotic crisscross course through the park and building in opportunities to explore and immerse. Taking it one step further, the MagicBand in “Magical Express” mode eliminates the paper hassle with auto shuttling from the airport and seamless hotel check-in, complete with luggage service direct to your room. Gate entry, room access, ride booking, and dining reservations are all driven through the wearable device, customized ahead of your visit with each family member’s color preference and name.

MagicBand

It is the key that unlocks the true Disney experience.

The impact to both the business’ bottom-line and overall customer experience is quite substantial. By addressing the key pain points traditionally plaguing Disney World visits, they were able to digitally reimagine how guests experience the Magical Kingdom.

It was as “simple” as taking the concept of those outdated Fast Passes – issued on-site with a stamped return time, resulting in pre-open wait lines and Black Friday-esque mad dad dashes to top attractions with no guarantee of a spot – and making it digital, driven through an online pre-booking app and synced to those handy, always-on-your-wrist, key to everything MagicBands. For you, the customer, this means a scheduled meet-and-greet with Elsa and Olaf on Thursday and Space Mountain booked for Friday, opening up endless opportunities for new rides, unplanned adventures, and more (stress-free) memories.

On the back end, Disney is gaining more insights on their customers than ever before. They know where they are, what they’re doing, and predicting what they want before they even know they want it, creating meaningful experiences that keep people coming back. With the data reaped in this implementation, they have been able to optimize their employees, removing transaction-based interactions and creating true face-to-face connections. They’re able to see when a restaurant or attraction is under-performing and balance the demand for those over-performing. They have gained visibility into the flow and logistics of their park, adding more bathroom facilities in high congestion areas and additional sitting areas on long pathways.

A focus on the customer’s experience combined with IoT technology has created a true market differentiator for Disney’s parks, and it begs the question: If Disney can innovate with this technology, what can other businesses be doing?

 

I can’t think of a business that isn’t affected by more choice and more access to information and an increasing desire for personalization.

Tom Staggs | COO
Walt Disney Company

From personalized marketing to streamlined transactions and operational efficiency, the opportunity with connected technologies is endless if you have a little imagination.


d.c._lucasD.C. Lucas is technology business advisor with
Eide Bailly Technology. With almost 20 years of
experience, D.C. aids organizations across
multiple industries analyze, develop, and
maintain their current and future business
decisions as it relates to technology.

dlucas@eidebailly.com

 

The 2 Strategies for an Effective ERP Evaluation

If my last post on the 6 tell-tale signs you’ve outgrown your ERP resonated with you, you may now be wondering where to go from here. Evaluating the latest technologies against your defined business requirements is a necessary process when selecting and implementing a best fit solution for your business, enabling you to effectively address challenges and achieve your organizational goals. Once you have determined that you need to undergo a business assessment, you must determine what approach you will take to perform the assessment. There are two differing strategies for effectively identifying the right solution to grow your business to the next level, both with pros and cons that leaders must weigh before moving forward in the process.

STRATEGY 1 | THE PROFESSIONALLY GUIDED EVALUATION
The first strategy for assessing your business needs and solution options utilizes the service of a consultant specialized in assisting with ERP evaluations and requirements gathering. The key benefits of this approach include:

  • Industry-specific knowledge and experience.
  • Skilled assistance with business requirements gathering, analysis, and definition.
  • Utilization of a standardized, formal process for selection, scoring, and negotiation.

Conversely, there are challenges that come with enlisting an advisor for expert guidance, particularly the added time and cost that can be associated with the evaluation; however, it is important to note that the cost of the professional assessment is often offset by the price negotiation ability that comes with working with an experienced consultant with established industry relationships. That being said, if your organization is looking for a quick turnaround from assessment to implementation, adding another cook in the kitchen can have its drawbacks. You will need to accommodate additional time for planning and execution of the assessment, but the final result is often more thorough.

STRATEGY 2 | THE SELF-DIRECTED EVALUATION
Alternatively, you may undertake a self-directed, internally driven assessment. This strategy leverages your organization’s internal resources to gather requirements and identify potential solution options in the market, reducing the cost of evaluation by utilizing existing staff time. For the success of this approach, it is essential to consider your bandwidth in-house to realistically determine the amount of disposable time available to devote to your ERP evaluation.

Depending on your staff’s skill-base, you run the risk in this approach of incomplete requirements gathering due to a lack of experience, knowledge, and/or resources assigned to the evaluation process, which can ultimately result in functionality gaps in your selected solution. Your organization may also experience difficulty in narrowing your search process to qualified solutions as there are a growing number of ERP technologies available in the marketplace. Often, it can be overwhelming and challenging for someone outside of the industry to competently determine which solutions and partners to include in the assessment process, even when utilizing an RFP approach. Additionally, after your selection is narrowed, the time and effort to engage vendors in multiple discovery meetings can be a significant productivity restraint for your business, but it’s a necessary evil to provide enough information on your environment to properly estimate the cost of your solution and implementation with this approach.

Determining the right assessment strategy for your organization involves evaluating your overall budget as well as the availability and aptitude of your internal resources. Both approaches are valid strategies that can result in an effective evaluation process if best practices are applied. Stay tuned for my next post which will identify these best practices when performing an ERP evaluation.


amy_knustAmy Knust is a technology business advisor with
Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. Her broad
experience in enterprise resource planning,
financial management, and leading technology
solutions spanning the past 20 years has been
driven by a continued focus on creating valuable
client experiences through successful
implementations and strategic
planning services.

aknust@eidebailly.com

 

Protecting Your Bottom-Line | What is Your Data Worth?

With the many recent and well publicized data intrusions in the news as of late – not to mention our numerous posts discussing the importance of data security in the 21st century – you may be wondering how detrimental a potential breach would be to your business’ bottom-line.

When doing research on data breaches as an expense today, you’ll come across a number of confusing and often conflicting reports and numbers. Just as the attacks themselves are uniquely executed and characterized, so too are the expenses incurred by the compromised organization. Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study reports that the average cost of a corporate-level attack was $3.8 million in 2014, nearly 25% higher than the year prior. Additionally, they found that businesses can expect to pay, on average, $154 per sensitive or confidential record stolen. Verizon, on the other hand, predicts in their 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, with 90% certainty, that an organization will spend between $52,000 and $87,000 on one thousand stolen records based off findings from insurance claims within the last year.

Regardless of the figure, a data breach is something no business wants to endure. Not only is there a significant price tag attached to the compromised data, but the hit to your organization’s reputation and market share can cause a prolonged financial impact.


To ensure your organization is taking the proper steps to mitigate your risk of a malicious or criminal attack, reflect on the following considerations:

  • What data protection standards do you currently have in place?
  • Are there industry regulations that you need to adhere to? (i.e. PCI DSS 3.0, HIPPA, Sabranes-Oxley)
  • When was the last time you underwent testing of your data security?
  • How secure is your backup data?
  • When was the last time you conducted a simulated data breach and associated response test?
  • How safe is your data from human error and/or system failures?
  • When was the last time you reviewed your organizational security policies and procedures, intently, with your management team?
  • Have other businesses in your industry been compromised by data intrusions?


These basic questions are simply a jumping off point. If, as a business leader, you are not certain of or do not feel comfortable with the responses to one or more of these initial probes, it is essential to begin an internal initiative to develop and invest in your business’ overall security.

Bottom line: You don’t want to be another statistic covered in next year’s data breach cost reports; protect your bottom-line by making data protection a key objective within your business strategy.


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

 

IT Today | The Bimodal Balance

 

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
                                                         Yogi Berra

This is sentiment has never rang more true than in today’s current business climate. Rapid evolution is key as leaders look ahead, making technology more vital to continued success than ever before. Unfortunately, most businesses would not classify their current IT infrastructure as “flexible.” Traditional IT departments can become so bogged down with the regular, day-to-day maintenance of enterprise legacy systems that there is little time or resources left to devote to those forward-looking, next-gen developments that today’s consumers continue to expect and demand.

So how does an organization balance the need for IT stability while enabling innovative, quick-to-market technology initiatives?

Bimodal IT, as coined by Gartner, breaks IT into two distinct “modes” where traditional IT is categorized as mode-1, focusing on system and operational reliability, and mode-2 executes on iterative, small projects for continued technology “exploration.” Imagine mode-1 as your marathon runner, in it for the long haul, whereas mode-2 is the sprinter you call in for the quick close. This allows for flexible agility in the face of today’s growing, dynamic demands without sacrificing the efficiency of your business’ current technology foundation.

Bimodal Balance

A key to success with bimodal is balancing the two often conflicting priorities. Two distinct IT teams will clash over competing focus, influence, and funds within your organization, so it is essential that organizations wishing to move into the IT structure of the future understand how these two modes will run together cohesively. Collaboration and governance will be essential for true bimodal balance. Organizations may begin to realize that their internal resources are too limited to successfully execute on this dual emphasis and outsourcing one of the modes can be extremely beneficial.

With the rapid changes occurring in today’s marketplace, there needs to be a shift on how you view your organization’s technology initiatives. Recognizing the need to reinvent the way that technology drives your business is vital to remaining relevant. If you are not readily preparing for the IT of tomorrow, you risk the future of your business. Leaders must focus on the technologies that will drive the greatest value to the overall business, defining IT’s priorities through the scope of your strategic business objectives.


shelley_earsleyShelley Earsley is Director of Consulting Services
with Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. With

more than 15 years of experience providing

strategic business and IT consulting, Shelley’s
wealth of knowledge includes integrating
business processes, analyzing work flows,
identifying best-fit solutions, and implementing
innovative new technologies
.

searsley@eidebailly.com

Thinking Outside the Box | The Real-World Relevance of Today’s Technologies

Finding your misplaced keys in your house.
Ensuring you’re reaping the most out of your biggest investments.
Aiding in the recovery following a natural disaster.

What do all of these things have in common?

At first glance, these are all real-world examples of problems where technology is rarely considered relevant or useful, but I would beg to differ.

Thanks in large part to increasingly interconnected devices and pioneering uses, technology-driven solutions are growing more prevalent and helpful in our daily lives than ever before.

For example, Tile is an extremely convenient application meets wearable providing an ingenious solution for tracking your keys, purse, wallet, or anything else that seemingly grows legs and walks into secret hiding places.

Recently, Mike Pettine, head coach of the Cleveland Browns, drove an initiative to have the best weight room in the National Football League. To some, that might mean the newest facility with advanced weight stations and increased square footage, but to Pettine it meant visualization into his investments via the Internet of Things. The Browns franchise teamed with Elite Form Systems to utilize 3D motion technology and infrared cameras to record every player’s performance, instantly identifying and tracking effort and progress, to ensure top earning team members are contributing high reaping results.

Further, during the recent recovery efforts following the disastrous earthquakes in Nepal, four men were rescued with the help of NASA technology which detects heartbeats through debris. The cutting-edge technology, Finder, is able to locate victims through 10 feet of wreckage via a suitcase-sized device weighing less than 20 pounds.

These are three instances showcasing the real-world relevancy of today’s leading technologies. Years ago, these solutions would not have been possible, but today’s innovative progression in the marketplace is driving impactful, measurable results both in and out of the business landscape.

Consider the last time you had a roadblock in your organization. What did you do? Tweak your processes to make it easier for your team to accomplish their deliverables? Form an internal “guidance council” to determine how to properly react to future process barriers? Create a new page or sub-site in SharePoint to store your documents in lieu of resolving your growing storage issue?

One of the many things I enjoy most about my role is helping clients get out of this spit, rinse, and repeat cycle of business issues to find a better way. If we can take one thing away from the above examples, it’s that technology is emerging in vast new ways, and today’s leading solutions share the commonality of providing valuable, useful results. Whether you can’t find your wallet for the third time this week or you’re a business leader battling system limitations, there is a solution just outside the box of yesterday’s answer.


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

 

Driving Success with Continuous Engagement

In past blogs I have explained the importance of shifting perspectives to provide meaningful value to your customers. A focus on the experience of your customers can provide actionable insights into the successes and short fallings of your business, as well as help foster brand loyalty over time. But how do you take those identified successes and create recurring, lucrative opportunities for your organization?

Repeat customers are an enormous – and often largely untapped – opportunity for any business. Most leaders are familiar with the 80-20 rule, or Pareto principle, which states that 80% of your business’ future profits will be reaped from just 20% of your total customer base. Combine that with recent statistics indicating that acquiring new business is on average 6 to 7 times more expensive, you are 60-70% more likely to sell to a current customer compared to just 5-20% with a prospect, and, on average, an existing client spends 33% more with your business than a fresh lead, and it becomes a no brainer to facilitate a successful engagement model to nurture your current client base.

Repeat Revenue Graphic

Most businesses feel the path to repeat revenue is through customer service, and while that is a key factor – shoddy service rarely yields reoccurring profits – I would beg to argue that cultivating a culture that focuses the customer’s experience through a continuous engagement model is far more essential. By devoting a resource at every touch point in the client cycle, extending past the point of sale, you will effectively facilitate continuous business through closely-held and well-cared for customers that feel heard and important. Your organization likely offers more than one product or service, and over the life of the customer, their needs will evolve and change, providing you with an opportunity to use your already “open door” relationship to cross- and up-sell additional or complementary services. Additionally, this customer nurture style provides your customer service team with the ability to proactively respond to any issues or arising questions for superior client satisfaction.

Again, perspective is everything. In order to drive success in your business with a continual engagement initiative for your current customer base, you must view customer value on a lifetime spectrum rather than simply by transactions. Your designated customer success resources are not there to push further sales immediately, but rather to nurture the relationship and build trust with the understanding that additional revenue will be generated over time by remaining in touch – and front of mind. Developing long-term, profitable relationships requires a devoted team and commitment to this shift in mindset. Now, that is not to say that new lead generation should be completely neglected within your organization; both play important factors in driving the success of your business. But splitting resources between existing and new development opportunities can be a key differentiator for ensuring overall customer success, which will ultimately drive your overall organizational success and bottom line.


sandi_piatzSandi Piatz is the Director of Business Development
and Client Success Management with Eide Bailly
Technology Consulting. With more than 16 years’
experience in the technology industry, Sandi
specializes in driving business opportunities and
developing valuable relationships, with a focus on
understanding organizations’ business objectives
and aligning their technology initiatives.

spiatz@eidebailly.com

 

Growing Pains | 6 Tell-Tale Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Systems

The moment you officially outgrow your ERP can be shrouded in ambiguity. Systems typically evolve alongside your business, progressing at the same rate of growth and change, until you reach a pivotal point. Understanding the lifecycle of your business and how it affects your vital business solutions is essential to reaching and achieving your next level of success.

Often, business leaders are too close to the situation to recognize the process issues mounting internally. To further aid in determining if your organization has developed past your current ERP system, we have identified the 6 tell-tale signs that indicate it’s time to begin evaluating a new solution.

1. Multiple databases and systems are in place and vital to your daily operations.
It can be as simple as counting the number of logins you use on a daily basis. If there are more than three, it is likely that your system has evolved with many “integrated” solutions. This model creates a number of issues for an organization, such as duplicate data entry, additional cost to maintain integration points, lack of real-time visibility, and manual entry, ultimately equating to unnecessary costs and lost productivity to your organization.
2. Essential processes are managed outside of your system.
This is a signal that the solution does not meet your business’ basic requirements. It is not uncommon to see the use of spreadsheets across an organization, and while that alone does not necessarily signify that you’ve outgrown your solution, if entire business processes are being driven outside the system, it is a red flag. If you are managing quality processes, month end reporting, inventory replenishment, or quoting externally, the time has come to re-evaluate your business needs.
3. You have a national forest stored in your filing cabinets.
Not only does this showcase your heavy reliance on manual processes, but it also indicates operational inefficiency and wasteful spending. Depending on your organizational structure, transferring paper to facilitate a business process – like approvals, for example – can result in time delays, additional shipping costs, and mounting redundancies.
4. You’re playing Candy Crush while your critical reports run in the background.
System performance issues can be a clear sign that you have outgrown your current solution. Many entry-level systems are not designed to handle large volumes of transactions or master-files, and as a business grows – and accumulates more and more historical data – it can basically render the system inoperable. It is best to take action before the problem approaches zero hour. At the end of the day, you should not have to purge or archive critical business data to achieve acceptable performance.
5. Excel is your primary report writer.
If you can’t access valuable data directly from your ERP solution, you have either matured past your system or you are not running the correct solution for your industry. Excel is a powerful spreadsheet analytics application, but it should not be your lone reporting tool. Businesses that rely solely on spreadsheet reporting suggest not only ineffective operations but also major flaws in their organization’s fundamental systems.
6. Your competitors are increasingly gaining market share.
This can be driven by a number of factors, but it all boils down to competitive advantage. If you find your competition excelling while you marginalize, they have identified and capitalized on areas that you are neglecting. Traditionally, business leaders have not viewed an ERP solution as a key market differentiator; however, as ERP evolves to incorporate the entire supply chain as well as omni-channel and other innovative strategies, it becomes increasingly clear that the right solution can not only help you operate more efficiently but also enhance partner relationships and generate true brand loyalty.

A single checkmark off this list doesn’t mean that you need to completely overhaul your organization’s integral systems, but if you can relate to 3 or more, it is best to undertake a business assessment sooner rather than later. Unsure of where to start? Stay tuned for future blogs exploring the effective strategies of evaluating enterprise resource planning solutions to ensure that your business selects and implements the best fit system to successfully address your unique challenges and goals.


amy_knustAmy Knust is a technology business advisor with
Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. Her broad
experience in enterprise resource planning,
financial management, and leading technology
solutions spanning the past 20 years has been
driven by a continued focus on creating valuable
client experiences through successful
implementations and strategic
planning services.

aknust@eidebailly.com

 

Don’t Let Data-Phobia Hold You Back

Data is constantly being created, multiplying, compounding, and, frankly, it can be a little intimidating. Where does your business even begin to sort through and make sense of it all? Looking ahead to 2020, the IDC is predicting digital growth to continue its rapid trajectory, expanding to 44 trillion gigabytes of information – or 10 times the data today in less than 5 years. This bi-annual doubling in capacity will create even more noise, but of course, not all of this data is useful.

Currently, less than 25% of data is valuable, but that will grow to almost 40% by 2020. This development in useful, value-added big data will create not only an expanded digital universe but, along with it, increased business opportunity. Today, leveraging big data is a business savvy means to create competitive advantage and give your organization a leading edge, but in the next few years, it will become a necessary means to remain relevant and grow your market share. Analytic tools and cloud computing solutions are becoming increasingly competitive and affordable, and accessible services like Microsoft’s Power BI allows business leaders to easily analyze Excel data for increased visibility into their existing reporting.

Taking advantage of the trove of insights available to your organization is a key strategy moving forward, and leaders should be integrating big data into the core of their business plans. A first step in making sense in the chaos is to know what you are trying to discover. Start with the question in mind and utilize the data available to you as a tool to help solve your challenges. Are you trying to find new customers? Increase your reach? Hone your marketing? Resolve inefficiencies? By focusing on a specific query, it will be easier to find the solution, or validation, in the data. Create a hypothesis around your business problem and, from there, leverage the data to confirm or deny. Not only will this help you stay focused on the task at hand without feeling overwhelmed and inundated with facts and figures, but it will also keep all involved on the same page, similarly interpreting the results based off the theorem. Starting with a trial hypothesis is a great first phase initiative in a long term data strategy; it will confirm whether data analysis will be beneficial to your organization without risking much in terms of resources, and if it is deemed effective, the resulting outcome will serve as a great starting point for ongoing data insights.

However, looking in to the data is only one piece of the digital pie. After you gather the ingredients, you have to bake it and take informed action based on the results. It’s great to dig in and analyze information about your business, your market, and your industry, but the key value driver in big data comes in the concrete, real-time decisions as a product of your data mining efforts.

As a business leader, it is easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day and forget to look at your big picture strategy. Big data helps to deliver a live snapshot of your business landscape, to provide perspective and aid in finding a better way to do business.


joey_skinnerJoey Skinner is Business Applications Senior Manager
with Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. Joey has
more than 22 years of experience in the information
technology field in roles ranging from application
architect and developer to technology consultant.
His expertise includes a strong understanding of
accounting principles and work flow procedures
with advanced application development and systems
implementation experience.

jskinner@eidebailly.com

 

The IoT Mindset

The Internet of Things is causing drastic repercussions to today’s business models. Capitalizing on the opportunity in the cloud requires a shift in perspective on how to create and generate new value to customers. Traditionally, competition has been waged in features and functionality, shifting to price as product differentials become minute; however, in today’s increasingly connected and integrated world, regular updates and innovation are constantly being pushed to market, and the Internet of Things makes analyzing and reacting to consumer needs a live-time reality, connecting previously disparate things to create new possibilities for value creation.

This shift in perspective from the business models of yesteryear and today’s IoT-influenced mindset is showcased below, courtesy of the Harvard Business Review.

The IoT Mindset