Analytics, Strategy, and Agriculture

Tag: enterprise

What Makes an Innovator?

Part of the work I’ve been doing this year is gathering up the last several conversations I’ve had over the course of doing several mobile strategy engagements at various Fortune 500 companies around the US. It’s been on the forefront of companies’ agendas as emerging technology that’ll transform the way business is done, so it’s not uncommon for the forward looking people at a company to be involved in the conversations I have while I’m there.

Typically the person put in charge of mobile is someone that’s been there a while, though it’s also been brand new employees who are just getting up to speed. Regardless, the people that typically champion mobile are A) an executive that knows it’s important and has a deep understanding of the IT culture who has also gained some level of tenure and favor with the CIO to move this initiative forward and B) someone that reports to that individual who has the passion & drive to learn it inside and out, then help promote it throughout the enterprise.

Both individuals typically know it’ll be difficult to maneuver through the foray of enterprise politics, approvals, and individuals and has to be someone that knows mobile inside and out on day 1 who also has the ability to build relationships and help with the user adoption from the get go. There isn’t a “ramp” time on the knowledge, because confidence has to be built for others to follow the direction vs feeling like they’re just as much of an expert and decide down a different path entirely.

I’m brought in as a consultant, because I can do both of those things, and helps augment the staff at the company assigned to make it happen. However, whether I’m there or not, it’s not easy seeding a new technology along with all the best practices and governance elements that come with it to make sure it’s rolled out efficiently and responsibly. People often have their own perspectives on how things should go, there’s conflicting budget request, it’s never a good budget cycle to do this, and technology typically gets adopted slowly. These are just some of the barriers that an organization will face, when trying to push a new technology out into the business.

Yet, over time, the technology does become seeded and eventually does get adopted. It’ll happen at some companies faster than others, but it’ll happen because in the back of everyone’s mind, change has to occur for the business to stay competitive. Consultants like myself help speed up things, because we’ve done it numerous times elsewhere and much like installing carpet – you could learn to do it yourself, but it’s not cost feasible if you’re only going to install carpet once every 5-10 years vs. someone that does it day in and day out.

Those people I met though, that champion the technology, are true innovators. Innovation is difficult, it’s painful, and it’s not fun to shake things up and help people believe that they are in worse shape if they don’t listen to you. Each of these people are innovators in their own right, because they know the current climate and understand what it takes to make change happen along with knowing what needs to change and the benefits therein. More importantly though, they have the gusto and motivation to push that change forward regardless of the obstacles. Too often, the term “innovator” is given to people that invent new ways of doing things or help shape / design a new type of product or service. Though that may be a type of innovator, they will leave at the end of the day and who’s left in the company is now tasked with the other kind of innovation – getting these brainstorms and blueprints implemented and adapted. This requires years of relationship building, execution and trust, selfless service, and a red hot passion for helping their company be better. Innovation means in its simplest form “A new method, idea, product, etc.” and represents newness. It varies from invention though, in that this is translating an idea or invention into a good service or product that creates value for which someone will pay money.

An innovation doesn’t have to create something from scratch, but rather take what’s been created and find a way to apply it. The conception of the idea is the fun part, but it’s the implementation of that idea that’s so tricky. Inventors are all over the place, everywhere you look, and one doesn’t have to go far to see someone that has a patent or credited with inventing something new. To see the innovators though, is trickier, because they’re lodged deep inside organizations or governments or corporations taking those inspirational ideas and creations, and finding a way to apply it to their environment. More importantly, they’re spending the time and effort to grease the wheels and make sure there’s a compatible and acceptable environment for that invention to thrive.

A number of people have written books the last several years on innovation, and the words “disruptive innovation” are mentioned 4.2 million times on Google. Yet, we’re in a worldwide recession with serious issues in every area of our lives, from childhood obesity to guns in schools in the forefront of our minds. There’s no lack of thinking around disruptive innovation, and no shortage of best practices and formulas for being a more innovative you.

I believe the real disconnect though, because the theories and the problems, is the doers in the middle that connect the dots and take a small amount of thinking and do something with it. It’s not easy to be a doer, it’s not easy to connect dots (especially when it’s just a side job). There’s so many things that can get in the way, yet the unsung heroes in every enterprise get up and make it happen each and every day. The real question is, how does one reduce the drag & complexity towards making innovation something the corporations can stomach, support, and streamline?

That’s for the next blog – What supports the Innovator?

Pro’s & Con’s of Mobile Messaging – An Industry Perspective


With multiple technologies to chose from in the Mobile applications space, it’s hard to clearly determine what tool is best for the job. One particular technology that’s growing to meet the needs of enterprise users worldwide is SMS / MMS. With the growing popularity worldwide of text messaging, many companies have begun to look at the possibilities of the use of plain & multimedia text messages for both internal and external communication purposes, as well as alternatives to mobile applications to either provide a method to interact with end users in a device-agnostic fashion or gather / provide information such as promotions, or account information. This paper helps explore some of the pro’s and con’s of this medium as well as some potential use cases for where SMS / MMS has proven to be useful

Introduction to SMS / MMS

SMS (or short message system) was developed in the mid-1980s as a method to exchange short 160 character messages between different GSM handsets worldwide. The technology used was based on a diagnostic method cell tower operators used to communicate tower status between operators and the towers themselves, but was later repurposed for commerical use, with the first text message occuring in 1992, on Vodafone’s GSM network in the United Kingdom. The message was “Merry Christmas”.

In 2008, 4.1 trillion SMS text messages were sent, making a SMS a massive global industry worth several billion dollars. It’s grown in a number of different directions, including the ability to contact emergency services via text message in some countries, such as the United Kingdom and some parts of the US. With it’s popularity, it’s also grown to include multimedia through the development of MMS. MMS was originally designed as a captive technology that would allow carriers to charge end users every time a photo was taken. However, in 2004, most carriers admitted that it wasn’t making them a tremendous amount of money. China eventually led the revolution, in part due to the fact that there weren’t many high powered computers owned, but MMS-capable phones spread rapidly. Since then, MMS has exploded, leading to 1.3 billion active users and 50 billion MMS messages being sent as of 2008.

Since then, SMS / MMS has been used in every way possible to help communicate and interact with individuals. Though messaging technology has been hugely popular, with growing numbers every day, there are certainly draw backs to the technology as well due to it’s limitations around the type of interactivity a company can get, as well as mixed responses due to the overwhelming amount of messages exchanged by individuals, along with a good number of people that continue to not want to communicate via SMS or MMS.

The Pro’s & Con’s of SMS / MMS

This is a list of Pro’s & Con’s we gathered from our own experience with companies around the topic of SMS / MMS , as well as incorporating information we’ve gathered from enterprise cus-tomers, developers, and industry experts.

PRO) SMS / MMS is device agnostic
Utilizing a simpler IDE without requiring an extensive background in a particular pro-gramming language, clients can build applications with minimal training in much less time than a native application

CON) Texting can be considered intrusive
Though texting is a very popular medium, it’s also a very personal and always present medium that some people find intrusive. Given the level of personalization that goes into texting, having a trusted relationship between you and the customer is important before going down that path, and giving clear direction to opt in & out.

PRO) It’s affordable to set up SMS / MMS campaigns
Due to the relatively simple nature of both SMS & MMS technologies, setting up campaigns are reltatively easy and affordable vs other more costly solutions, such as a MEAP solution, to provide device-agnostic mobile communications to end users. Not only that, but all carriers have very mature practices in helping companies set up campaigns

CON) Messaging campaigns traditionally have mixed results
Based on conversations Slalom has had with companies around the topic of SMS / MMS solutions, there have been very mixed results in terms of the cost / benefit, and total feedback gained from campaigns. This was largely due to the highly qualitative results (ex: boosts level of informed consumer) that companies aimed for, but had a hard time measuring after the fact.

PRO) Development is relatively simple, given limitations of medium
Due to relatively simplicity of texting, the bulk of the work is in gathering end points (i.e. customer phone numbers) and structuring the message for distribution. Given cost considerations for MMS, most companies Slalom has experience with have opted to focus on SMS, making it even simpler to launch the campaign.

CON) Interaction is limited due to limitations of medium
Though the medium is relatively simple to develop and launch, this also means it’s difficult to exchange a great deal of information over SMS / MMS, meaning the interaction you have with your end users will also be limited. This is not only due to the text limit size of an SMS message, or data limitation of an MMS message, but also the need to keep messages to as small a size as possible to not confuse or mislead the end user. To get around this, most heavy texting is done in abbreviations such as “BRB” (be right back) or “LOL” (laughing out loud) but for corporate campaigns, this is never recommended due to large numbers of end users that may not be familiar with certain abbreviations.

PRO) Both MMS & SMS are mature technologies, with many vendors to chose from

Though SMS & MMS have been established technologies for a relatively short period of time, their growth and origins have made both technologies mature, and reliable means to exchange information to end users. So much so that When voice and data aren’t operating on a device, due to coverage issues, text messages will continue to work most times.


Though text messaging certainly has both it’s ups and downs, there’s no denying that messaging is a very popular way to exchange information in a device-agnostic worldwide way. Companies have certainly had mixed success, but the first step is understanding how your business problem, as it relates to utilizing mobile devices, needs to be solved through better understanding the logistics and outcomes of both successful and unsuccessful SMS/MMS campaigns for previous companies.

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