Strategic Outreach

Managing Change Via Communications

When the change initiative changes

About our Epic Implementation at Providence Health & Services: 27 hospitals (ranging from small rural hospitals to 700-plus-bed medical centers) and 350 clinics across five state are moving to a single-build Epic Electronic Health Record system (2012-2014).

A seismic change to an organization or to its core operations is hard enough to accomplish, but from a communications standpoint, it’s even more challenging when the change initiative itself changes along the way. After going live on Epic at six hospitals and dozens of clinics within four months last year, our leadership realized that the initial, highly aggressive go-live schedule could not be maintained. Problematic areas included: building unique lab interfaces for every hospital and clinic group; getting revenue cycle processes up and running (ex: charge capture); and getting physicians across the system to agree to standardized order sets.

After having trumpeted “full steam ahead” for many months, we suddenly needed to explain the need for a 6-month pause in hospital go-lives so that the Epic team could fix, complete, or improve a whole bunch of things. Ambulatory go-live waves of clinics, however, continued during this period.

Our intention was not only committing to getting it right, but also to reinforce that we are a “learning” organization that expects mistakes, and expects to learn from them.

What didn’t change: the executive sponsors’ involvement and commitment to the objective and the program. Strategically we remained consistent; tactically we were flexible. During the inpatient go-live pause, twelve high-priority workgroups hammered out specific deliverables. Communications were open, transparent, positive, and frequent.

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May 29, 2013 Posted by | B2B messaging, Change Management, Corporate Communications, IT Process Change, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IT Change Management Requires Good Communications

Information Technology swells and recedes as a separate business entity with changing corporate structures.  A number of Fortune 500 companies are eliminating their overarching CIO positions and moving IT to the Business Unit level.  In some cases,  an “IT Leadership Group” is ordained to create standards, allocate resources, etc. The fear when doing this is that Business Unit level IT silos will be controlled by people who lack overall corporate perspective and have limited accountability.

Sounds like a corporate communications opportunity for folks like me who have been involved in IT process change.  I was recently part of the opposite situation: the large corporation I was working with had centralized IT after years of Business Unit IT autonomy.  The upside was that IT was being treated as a strategic bottom-line-enhancer.  The new penalty, however, was that the Business Units felt that they weren’t being listened to – that IT crammed canned solutions down their throat without regard to their individual B.U. needs and requirements.

And so it goes.  Clarifying IT missions and getting employees on board to make it all work is a fascinating endeavor, and I’ve had the pleasure of working on this equation both internally and externally.

It’s true during process change (effecting staff) as well as organizational change that impacts management: it can be difficult for IT managers to fully embrace the communication part of the equation. As Management Leadership guru Jim Clemmer puts it: “A direct and positive correlation exists between the results obtained and the amount of time spent upfront helping everyone understand the need for the change and training to help them deal with the changes.”

Terse content (i.e. messaging), convincing and to the point, is a key element.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | B2B messaging, Change Management, Content-Inspired Conversations, Corporate Communications, IT Process Change | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Wouldn’t You Put Your B2B Video on YouTube?

The use of YouTube by B2B marketers is growing fast, and since an entertainment element is preferred by viewers, this is where serious companies with complex offerings should lighten up a bit and relate to the “people” side of things.

Novell’s “Gimme” video for its WorkloadIQ (a suite of products for intelligent workload management) is amusing, clever, and right on in terms of the message. In it, conversations directed at the IT guy consist only of two syllables: gim-me (with various inflictions).  The “gimme” theme is something everyone in IT can identify with; in fact, anyone who is employed within the service and support sector of the business world would probably give this a knowing nod.

Even though the little commercial can be shared from the Novell site, YouTube is the fastest way to get extra mileage and awareness from the effort, and if the producer is lucky, videos like these get a big viral boost. Plus, if it had been on YouTube, I  could have easily imported it as a playable video right into this blog post.

Maybe it’s not up on YouTube because Novell is in the process of being bought by Attachmate and a consortium led by Microsoft, and they want to appear serious.  Microsoft doesn’t really have a great sense of humor as far as I can see – typically when they try, it looks like they’re trying too hard.

Other tech sector big-leaguers are cool enough to jest. My favorite Intel TV spot pokes fun at what’s funny to a techno worker. It’s far more interesting than the overplayed “robot who gets his feelings hurt” spot that had a Super Bowl premiere this year.

So is B2B awareness-building success on YouTube just for the big guys?  Not really. The Earnest Agency, a London-based B2B marketing services agency decided to take their research report that summarizes B2B use of the social web, and turn it into a lively animated video (think Monty Python animated cut-outs).   In the first six weeks (last autumn) it got 6500 views, 90 mentions on Twitter, and they saw a 30% increase in traffic to their website and a 77% increase in weekly visitors to their blog.

But there was one hitch. When you click the play button below, you’ll see that you have to then click a link to YouTube to see it.  See my explanation below.

Looks like you can only view it on YouTube.  It seems Sony Music Entertainment forced them to stop offering it on the agency website, since the soundtrack is a Dave Brubeck recording.   But apparently showing it on  YouTube is allowed (because it’s an educational venue?)  My take on Earnest’s mistake: 1) they used the whole jazz recording, not just part of it.   2) Earnest Agency is indirectly selling something…themselves.  It’s a commercial purpose.

Back to the bottom line on video: lighten up and use YouTube.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | B2B messaging, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Content-Inspired Conversations | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is Story-Telling Time

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, reflection … and family stories recanted over mincemeat pie.

Want a lesson in extremely compact story telling?  You may have seen AT&T’s Rethink Possible TV spot.

If these guys can visually tell the life story of a fictitious future U.S. president right up through inauguration, along with the meeting and courtship of his parents, in 30 seconds, and still have time to include a leisurely look at the parent’s curious, flirtatious first glances …  while demonstrating the cell phone technology that made the meeting possible …. then certainly we B2B PR content developers can deliver a case study in a one or two short paragraphs.  Some of us do.

Happy turkey day to all my colleagues and friends.  I’m going to try my hand and making a mincemeat pie from scratch – complete with rich, brandy-fortified hard sauce.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, B-to-B Social Media Technology, B2B messaging, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Business Storytelling, Content-Inspired Conversations | , , , , , | 1 Comment

One ERP Vendor Product Page Scores High

B2B home page rating scaleBy its nature, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) installations are complicated and broad in scope.   Below, I rate the product home pages of three top ERP vendors, using my Core Score method (see point criteria at right).

NetSuite (an ERP package combining CRM, ERP and web activity) is the winner, awarded all the points except for “News headline and link,” totaling  11.  But they also get 4 bonus points, with 3 of them for effectively differentiating their product/service from competitors.  So the grand total is 15.

I love the use of many customer logos that are links to Customer Success Stories – although it would be better if the stories were on web pages rather than downloadable PDFs.

By comparison, Microsoft Dynamics ERP and SAP Business All-in-One product home pages both score 9.  Sage MAS 500 did poorest among those examined, with 4 points out of 12.

All companies got one bonus point for not using “leader” or “leading” in the text, although NetSuite succumbed on their “About” page. All are clearly leaders in the ERP game and can prove it – nothing would be gained by proclaiming it.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | B2B home page, B2B messaging, Brand and Reputation, Issues That Worked, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Describe Customer Challenges Right on your B2B Home Page

Stating two or more customer challenges that can be solved by a product/service, right on your home page, earns your website 3 points in my Core Score rating.

B2B home page rating scale

Telogis (Aliso Viejo, CA) scores with their sequence of specific customer problems on their banner sequence at the top of their home page.  Telogis provides a Software-as-a-Service platform that helps fleet managers manage their global workforce better through GPS location technology. It includes tracking and scheduling applications for both mobile and office-based assets.

One example from their sequence: “Do you need to find the closest crew and dispatch them to an emergency work order?”  The prominent “Solutions” button takes you to the Telogis answer.  These type of specific problems draw in the site visitor, whether it’s a first-time visit to check out the company, or if it’s a return visit from someone who knows Telogis.

More tasks improved by the Telogis platform are previewed in text blocks on the page, with links. Very clean layout, no clutter. They also get one Core Score point for  their text links to specific problem-solving ideas (see point system at right).

I couldn’t give Telogis a full 3 points for the “Home page succinctly states what the company actually does” slot.  I’ll give them one of the three points for the Business Intelligence graphic with the key areas (listed in quadrants), but there is no text that confirms that they are indeed a SaaS platform provider.  You have to navigate two more levels (past the “Company” and “Why Telogis” pages) to find this, although you could argue that it’s assumed.

Telogis just barely scores the final 3-pointer, quantifying benefits (on the home page), with this text: “When the benefits of driving with Telogis – better fuel use, routing, deployment, response times, safety, hours, maintenance and customer goodwill – can pay for your system in a quarter, don’t drive blind.”   Stating payback is powerful … so why do so many marketers bury it deeper in the site?

Telogis doesn’t get a point for news headlines on the home page, nor for a link to a customer testimonial.

Leader Schmeader

Telogis does however get a Bonus Point for not using the word “leader” in the home page text.  Hallelujah.  It amazes me that companies as prominent as software giant SAS bother to proclaim that they are “a leader.”  My first thought when I see this: “Congratulations, touting yourself as a ‘leader’ just put you in the company of thousands of others including every little fly-by-night outfit in your industry.” If you’re SAS, you should be above this clichéd adjective.

Total Score

The Telogis home page scores 9 out of 12 total.  Impressive.

More critiques to come.

October 25, 2010 Posted by | B2B home page, B2B messaging, Brand and Reputation, Business cliches, Website content | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Give your B2B Home Page the Core Score

There’s a lot of attention given these days to the SEO and navigation aspects of B2B websites…and most marketers are aware that sites should have gobs of helpful content, news and links.  But what about the initial messaging and information presented on the home page?  It either quickly makes a connection with people who don’t know your company or what you do, or it doesn’t.

So here it is… my rating system for B2B marketing-oriented website home pages. Completely subjective and yet somehow slightly scientific.   I call it Core Score.  It’s not about the look or the navigation…it’s about value propositions and specifics.  There are 12 potential points in the basic tally.  I’m also, however, going to add bonus points and some subtractions (more on this later).

Links to home pages that demonstrate each of the six home page attributes are included below.

Three points each for:

==Home page succinctly states what the company actually does (3 points)

Examples: see TruecarFirst Solar

==Quantifies benefits in terms of cost reduction, time, ease, efficiency, and/or productivity   (3 points)

See Freight CenterRiverbed, or  Johnson Controls

==States two or more customer challenges that can be solved by product/service  (3 points)

See Telogis, CybersourceSourcefireB2B Home Page Core Score

One point each for:

==Text links to specific problem-solving ideas  (1 point)

See IxdaABB

==Links to testimonials/examples  (in addition to access from main nav bar)  (1 point)

Many examples: one is Johnson Controls

==News headline and link (1 point)

Many examples; see Autodesk

In upcoming posts, I’ll calculate total Core Scores for individual home pages for companies in the tech sector and other industries.  Your input on selections and scoring-weight are welcome.

October 20, 2010 Posted by | B2B home page, B2B messaging, Brand and Reputation, Business Storytelling, Tech Sector Thought Leadership, Uncategorized, Website content | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment