IDC's Top 10 Predictions for Worldwide SMB, 2017-2020 study reports that "what has been the relatively fragmented and improvisational nature of SMB IT spending will begin to echo the coordinated and managed approaches seen among larger firms." That said, if small and midsize business spending is to mimic larger firms, so too should their project management practices.
IDC goes on to say that in 2017 small business IT spending will top $20 billion, with both traditional 2nd Platform (PC, server, network) and 3rd Platform (social, mobile, cloud, big data) spending continuing to grow, as well. And that SMB IT leaders will need to develop "IT staff skill sets that are both domain specific and consultative."
Today, SMB's are increasingly positioned to adopt affordable project management solutions, making it easier to successfully execute projects on time, within budget and within anticipated quality standards.Adopting a project management solution at the beginning
In 7 project management tools any business can afford, I discussed some of the benefits of web-based PM solutions that can make light work of collaboration and manual tracking of project tasks, time and budgets for any business. But don't just take my word for it, here are some SMB owners who have first-hand experience adopting project management solutions from day one.
Adam Broetje, CEO of Odd Dog Media says for his company, "It was essential for scale and for work quality. We are a blend of a technology and a service company, so to keep on top of all the moving pieces we had to have something that organizes our team's work as we grow. Along with growth comes the inevitable loss in quality, so in order to keep our service top-notch we had to have a way to monitor project progress."
[ Related story: Comparing agile project management frameworks ]
Mark Tuchscherer, president of Geeks Chicago says, "when we started Geeks, all of us worked from home and we didn't have an office, but the first purchase we made was a cloud-based project management system. The reason for this was the [number] of tasks deadlines, and projects we had to manage was astronomical, and the old spreadsheet way of managing things didn't work."What are the benefits of this approach?
Broetje says in leveraging "dashboards that we provide for our clients, we have to-do lists that we would keep for each client. Trouble was we had to log into each client's account separately to see what was on the list. Ensuring our team was logging into over 75 different clients monthly was hard and managing the progress was even harder."
Here are just some of the key benefits of early PM solution adoption for SMBs that I listed in my previous article.
At Odd Dog Media, Broetje says that finding the right project management system, slowed them to centralize their to-do lists while also integrating them into the client portals. "Our execution on deliverables saw immediate efficiency improvements (over 30 percent) and our management team now has a high-level overview of progress so our quality has improved as well… We must have tried to implement over 20 different project management systems over the past five years. The biggest lesson learned is that the right mix of features & simplicity is really hard to find but so worth the time to get it right," says Broetje.
Broetje says SMBs should write down the most critical items their system needs to do for their business and advises they keep those items at the forefront of your search. "It's easy to get sidetracked by shiny features and the time/energy it takes to implement the wrong system is back-breaking," he says.
Mark notes that at Geeks Chicago, in addition to having the right project management solution, "We also quickly adopted the agile Scrum methodology with all of our projects. As soon as we started with Scrum, we almost completely eliminated scope creep and 96 percent of our projects launched on time."
[ Related story: IT project success rates finally improving ]Advice from the experts
To become contenders in already highly saturated markets, it's becoming an imperative for small businesses to ensure they have the right tools, right out of the gate, for successful project management collaboration, documentation, execution and communication. Here is what our experts wish they did more of at the start of their journey.Don't rush into any project management solution
"If in doubt, you can get by with Google Sheets as a hold-over while you're taking the time to do your software search & vetting properly," says Adam.
Tuchscherer agrees adding: "The one thing I think we would do differently would conduct more research on the software we wanted to implement for our projects. At the start, we did test out three-four systems before we landed on the one we use today."
The bottom line is to make sure you do your due diligence on the tools you go with. Ensure they have the features necessary to succeed and the ability to scale with your business.
TurboTax coaches you every step of the way and double checks your return as you go to handle even the toughest tax situations, so you can be confident you’re getting every dollar you deserve. Its typical list price of $59.99 has been reduced a generous 40% to $35.79, a deal that is exclusive to Amazon. Learn more, or take advantage of the deal now, on Amazon.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rising in prominence with the proliferation of chatbots, virtual assistants and other conversational tools that companies are using to improve customer service, productivity and operational efficiency. But AI is also helping to automate and streamline tasks in data-intensive industries traditionally ruled by rigorous science and good old-fashioned human analysis.
Seed retailers, for example, are using AI products to churn through terabytes of precision agricultural data to create the best corn crops, while pest control companies are using AI-based image-recognition technology to identify and treat various types of bugs and vermin. Such markedly different scenarios underscore how AI has evolved from science fiction to practical solutions that can potentially help companies get a leg up on their competition.
Are you app-solutely missing the boat?
These days, we carry our smartphones everywhere. People are using them to play, order food, make purchases, do research, communicate, check reviews, read books, find love and generally get by day to day. Some people are even running their business from their phone! In fact, many of you probably prefer using apps over your desktop when it comes to things like checking emails, updating your social media accounts or checking your online banking.
Smartphones have already revolutionized the way brands can market to consumers through branded apps that connect businesses to their customers 24/7. Brands are already using apps successfully to connect with their customers, think of Dominoes and Starbucks, Ebay and Amazon they are using apps really successfully. Apps offer a far more direct marketing channel now than ever in the past, from an push notification that offers you a personalized offer when smart geolocation technology detects a customer is near their store, to in-app offers that offer a 10 percent discount if you purchase those 3 items that have been sitting in your basket for the past 3 days.
Zuora aims to win the next IT stack war – but it’s probably not the stack war that’s comes most readily to your mind. Tien Tzuo, CEO and co-founder of Zuora, wants to own the application stack that drives your subscription business and he believes that virtually every company will be a subscription business before long.
Key to success in an A.I. or IoT or data strategy is data scientist productivity. Data scientist productivity is defined as the volume of business-critical results driven through data science. The difference between successful data-driven companies and not so successful ones is the productivity and throughput of the data science team. Increasing data scientist productivity and throughput leads to positive side effects, including standardization of data science processes, tooling and data science methodology, as well as an increase in the availability of case studies and foundational data science that can trigger and speed up other data science efforts.
Companies are investing more money in emerging technologies that can help anticipate and detect a variety of threats, including phishing scams and advanced persistent threats, both of which are weighing heavily on the minds’ of corporate board members. For 2017 CIOs are eyeing tools that use anomaly-detecting analytics and machine learning algorithms to protect their companies’ data.
“Our level of investments is increasing because of the increasing capabilities of the threat actors,” says Bob Worrall, CIO of Juniper Networks, who spent 12 percent more on cybersecurity tools in 2016 that he spent in 2015. His budget will increase more in 2017 as he purchases tools to shield Juniper’s corporate data and intellectual property. “As the bad guys get smarter we have to as well.”
We write a lot about collaboration and partnerships at CIO.com. After all, it has never been more important for IT leaders to partner — whether that means working with the growing number of vendors that provide critical competencies once firmly rooted on-premises or, perhaps more importantly, partnering with CMOs and other C-level executives in departments that command their own technology budgets.
While our primary role as technology journalists is to provide information to help you do your jobs better, leverage your expertise and advance your careers, we sometimes have the opportunity to practice what we preach.[ Analytics 50 winners for 2016 ]
We’re proud of our partnership with Drexel University and the LeBow College of Business, and the fruits of that collaboration: the Analytics 50 awards program. This initiative, which we expect to expand in the coming years, is a blend of academia and media. A lot of partnerships look good on paper. This one certainly did, because Drexel’s Decision Sciences department and CIO.com are both committed to reporting on analytics. It’s a natural fit. But partnerships don’t thrive because they look good on paper.
Data and analytics are reshaping organizations and business processes, giving organizations the capability to interrogate internal and external data to better understand their customers and drive transformative efficiencies.Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
John Martin, senior director of enterprise
Mani Janakiram, Intel’s director of supply chain strategy and analytics.
Like mobile and cloud, big data and advanced analytics have been reshaping organizations and business processes. In 2016, organizations increasingly moved data analytics projects into production as they sought the capability to better interrogate internal and external data to better understand their customers and drive efficiencies.[ Analytics 50 winners for 2016 ]
Here are our picks for the most significant big data and advanced analytics trends in 2016, as illustrated in 15 stories from the past year.
In previous articles, we talked about three of the five capabilities needed to turn data into insight. The fourth key capability is to have “data-centric processes.” What we mean by this is twofold:
Many articles have been written about data-management-specific processes, including the two previous installments in our CIO.com series — "Ensuring the Quality of 'Fit for Purpose' Data" and "Mastering and Managing Data Understanding." In this installment, we cover processes that already exist within an organization. We look at the role of data and discuss how to make the related processes more data-centric. We also break down the ways data-centric processes can have the most impact on an organization in:
Your business spends a lot of time analyzing the market you sell to, but can you take a step back and instead create the market that you want? Experts in the little-known field of behavioral economics and market design say “yes.”