Advisory Board

Winter 2009

Brainwaves, the official e-newsletter of the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum, is distributed quarterly to Forum members, content requestors and e-newsletter subscribers. Our objectives for Brainwaves are to provide relevant information, stimulate new ideas and help improve your decision-making regarding business performance management initiatives, strategies and execution.

  In This Issue:


Editor’s Note


Customer experience has become one of those intersections where Operations, IT, Marketing, Customer Service and Sales so often crash into one another. True success in delivering an optimized customer experience hinges on the absolute connectivity between all functions, all partners, and all customers. If there is one resolution to keep in 2010, it will be to create a competitive advantage through a superior customer experience.

But, like any skeptic, some of us will wonder what part business performance innovation through interconnected collaboration networks will really affect customer experience. According to the BPM Forum’s latest research, Greater Innovation Through Closer Collaboration, executives do see a clear link between an optimized business collaboration network and the ability to deliver an optimized customer experience. When a breakdown in the value chain becomes apparent and the customer experience is compromised, executives understand that their business will suffer. The challenge is building that robust network that connects all aspects of the value chain, including the multitude of supply and demand side partners that are often on vastly different systems and can be reluctant to merge data or information systems.

But sometimes it takes a simple example of network breakdown to really understand the consequence…so I offer my own recent experience where the lack of a seamless network affected customer experience and almost ruined Christmas.

For years I rented. Then, one year not to long ago, not only did Enterprise “accidentally” cancel my reservation, but they insisted on rebooking at a much higher rate than what I had secured online. After this experience, I vowed to never do business with Enterprise again. But, as with all situations, over time, my ire subsided and I chose price over past service and booked a car for this Christmas.

I booked a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car for the week between Christmas and New Year, made the reservation online, received a confirmation, and get ready to hit the road for the holidays. When I arrived on December 23, I learned that the car was “at the shop getting an oil change” and could be picked up after 4:00 pm, despite my 9:00 am pick up confirmation and that they had tried to call me, but the number was disconnected. When I asked, why they had a phone number that was 1) not what I entered online when I placed my reservation, 2) not the number on my email confirmation and 3) was over 5 years old. The answer for this mess was that the “system” must have messed up. When I demanded a car be found, the manager had to call other locations, because there was no way for him to see through this “system” what inventory was available at other locations. Luckily, a car was found after 5 phone calls and I drove 10 miles to pick up a car that was dirty, had an empty gas tank, and came complete with a rude location manager who tossed the keys at me and said “here, guess this is going with you.”

This system seems to irreparably broken, both from an IT and a human perspective. From the customer’s view there is a breakdown between the corporate web booking system and the individual branches. From web content, order submission, product acquisition and transaction completion, the entire system failed and I was left with the lasting memory that Enterprise Rent-A-Car almost ruined Christmas.

Complex networks of vendors, retail locations, online assets and multiple billing systems must be transformed into an interconnected web of assets that all look to optimize business performance, speed collaboration between partners, access the voice of the customer and deliver a customer experience that engenders loyalty and advocacy. Every dollar counts, and unfortunately, as I can not trust the accuracy of the broken system, Enterprise will not get another dollar from this customer.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to review the report, I invite you to download it at I hope it sparks ideas and innovations that can give 2010 a fresh, profitable kick start!

Liz Miller


Excerpted from: Innovation Myths and Mythstakes: the real truth behind population beliefs, by Tim Coffey, Dave Siegel, and Mark Smith

A lot of energy is spent scrambling for respondents that have had “no past participation” in focus groups.

To our way of thinking, this is a strange pre-requisite.  For some reason, it is felt that to ensure unbiased consumer responses, potential respondents for focus groups should be screened out “for priors.”  Sounds like an old episode of Dragnet, doesn’t it?

But here are just the facts, ma’am:  Getting a fresh batch of consumers for each qualitative project means that you have to start from scratch with every single group! 
It is no wonder that qualitative research has the reputation of just finding more of the same learning that has been heard before? In fact, you’ll often get the same top-of-mind insights from every two-hour session.

To be reasonable, it’s not really all that fair to expect that consumers can give you everything worth knowing about them in a single two-hour session.  After all, at least half of them aren’t even sure they should say what they actually think.  We call them the “Pleasers.”  That’s because they feel as if their role is to give you what you’re looking for. They don’t want to disappoint you, so they literally are there to please. 

Then you get some folks that we like to call the “Riffers.”  They just start “riffing” on a subject – making it up as they go along – looking for the moderator to nod in approval at some point.  You can tell they have never thought all that much about the topic before and won’t figure out how to articulate their true feeling until they are home later that night making dinner.  Then, it suddenly strikes them.  Too late for us, though.
Charlotte Horseman, Director of Consumer Insights, Launchforce and a 15- year market research professional suggests that good research should enable the researcher and consumer to get to know each other more deeply and to work collaboratively to uncover the real motivations and influences that drive consumer behavior.  So, she asks: “Why not engage a set of consumers to take a longer journey with you? Why not use the same consumers for up-front focus groups, or follow up in-homes, and then have subsequent discussions?”

The real objective is not to just see if you can learn something new from focus groups.  It’s much more important than that.  The goal is to find consumers to engage in a fuller process. Focus groups are an excellent vehicle to screen for and select a few great respondents – the ones who are creative, articulate, and represent various interesting aspects of the consumer base.  So why not invite them to stay with the next steps of your insight process, such as in home ethnographies, diaries, and other qualitative methods?

By using initial focus groups to screen for those to engage in the next phase of the process, you’ll enjoy the benefit of reducing much of the risk of having “duds” in the more expensive and complex qualitative techniques. You will have seen these people, heard them speak, and gotten some sense of how they think and how engaged they are in the research process.  You will have already heard how they talk about your category and whether or not they are truly qualified. This is lost if one merely recruits consumers straight to in-homes or ethnographies.
Now you can engage this select, truly qualified set of consumers in more in-depth exploration.  You won’t have to spend precious time re-hashing basic ideas because you got those out in the first focus groups.  Both you and the participants will know what has already been covered.  As you match up what the respondent said in the focus group to what you see at the in-home visit, a clearer picture will begin to emerge. 
By engaging these same consumers after in-home observations (or other tasks), you’re bound to uncover more.  You’ll also have to advantage of being able to recall observations from the focus groups and tie them to what you saw in the at-home ethnography.  In this way you can let participants explain and expound at length.
The key is to keep it going.  You can do this by taking new concepts back to that same set of consumers, as well as fresh ones, to see how the two sets of consumers respond.  You may discover that one set has thought a lot about the category and their own relationships to it, while the other is completely green. 
Another option to think about is gathering together your in-depth participants in another group discussion.  But this time, because of the steps they’ve taken with you along the way, they will be a small, highly engaged and enlightened team capable of having an expert consumer panel discussion on your topic.  It is true in life (as well as focus groups) that the more comfortable and “at home” someone feels, the more he or she will feel like sharing.
It’s really this simple.  If you give consumers the time and opportunity to show you their true insights and breathe new life into your qualitative research, they’ll do all the heavy lifting for you.

(Paramount Market Publishing, Inc., 2009)


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Collaborate to Innovate ReportGreater Innovation Through Closer Collaboration
The Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s Collaborate to Innovate has evaluated the state of multi-enterprise collaboration and innovation among global businesses and leverage insights from leading business and IT executives to explore how companies can better harvest the potential of business collaboration networks to improve customer satisfaction and overall performance.

Download report »

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Interview excerpt from the recent BPM Forum report “Better Innovation Through Closer Collaboration”
Marc Gordon, Vice President of Finance, Best Buy

As the VP of Finance at Best Buy, one of the most recognized consumer electronic retailers with over 3,000 stores around the world, Marc Gordon believes that vendor understanding of consumer demand is the single biggest area for managing both the supply chain and product development. “In the preservation of profits, the better we understand consumers’ needs, the better we can predict demand, the better we can give our vendor partners or business partners insights as to where consumer behavior is going.”

Gordon notes that Best Buy is the intermediary between the consumer and the manufacturer – the company tries to find ways to knit consumers insights into manufacturer behavior. “We as the retailer have the face-to-face experience with the customer that allows us to gather the insights as to what features, which elements of the products sell well with the customer. In the retailing industry, understanding your consumer is first and foremost, and I think through collaboration and having those customer insights through behavioral patterns, really helps both us and the manufacturer sharpen our game.”

The importance of staying in lockstep with manufacturers when it comes to consumer demand has never been more critical to retailers says Gordon. “What’s become apparent to everybody in our industry is the need to keep each other appraised of how the consumer is behaving. I think the rapid downturn that most businesses, especially consumer facing, saw in the past year, it’s increasingly critical that the manufacturers and the retailers such as ourselves, clearly communicate the trends we’re seeing and make sure we adjust accordingly.”

“When we accelerate communication between us and the manufacturers, we allow ourselves flexibility to both adjust up and down on a very short-term basis.”

Gordon believes research and development around new product development as well as overall supply chain efficiency are some of the biggest opportunities for improvement at Best Buy. “In the technology business, you’re only as good as the latest product that you’ve introduced. I think to the extent that we can use customer insights to generate the needs for new products, manufacturers can turn those needs into R&D and actually be able to meet those customer demands.”

“I think another opportunity is in our supply chain and how we can be more effective and more efficient in moving product. A lot of our product is long lead time. It’s a long manufacturing cycle time to the extent that we can work with manufacturers in real time ordering and delivery of product. It helps preserve our profit, as well as the manufacturer’s, as well as it takes costs out of the supply chain.”

Gordon notes that Best Buy’s partners are extremely critical to its company’s go-to-market processes, customer experience and competitive position. “We serve consumers directly. It’s important that we have the right products in the right places at the right times, as this is true for all retailers. And even more important is our products, the products we sell, are primarily technology driven, and for us to compete viably, we need to have the latest and greatest technology at the right prices, but not too much of it because at the end of the day it’s a bit like retailing perishable produce in that its shelf life is limited.

Read More »


Guide to Supply Chain Management: How Getting it Right Boosts Corporate Performance
By David Jacoby

Getting the supply chain right can make the difference between a market leader and an also-ran. Globalization, technology, and an increasingly competitive business environment have wrought huge changes in supply chain management-the art of sourcing components and delivering finished goods to the customer as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. Manufacturers must make certain that components are where they are needed on the production line and no longer. Retailers need to hone their logistical skills to ensure that the supply and stock management of their stores is optimal.

Available from Amazon »

Innovation Myths and Mythstakes
By Tim Coffey, Dave Siegel, and Mark Smith

Innovation Myths and MythstakesConsumers and customers are embracing change and adopting new product offerings and services earlier and faster than ever. The need for your company to innovate is constant — and if you don’t your competitors will. Now you can learn the secrets to reducing the risks while still creating game-changing ideas. Uncover the facts that will help you understand the roadblocks, and how to avoid them while keeping your innovation efforts, and your business or career on track.

Available from Amazon »


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Supply Chain “Game Changers”
By Supply Chain Digest

As others have noted, this brutal recession has caused many companies to really rethink their supply chain strategies. But what are the key trends and factors that companies need to consider in revamping their physical supply chains and overall strategies? Those are the questions Kate Vitasek and J. Paul Dittmann of the University of Tennessee try to answer in a new white paper.

“Firms who continue business as usual, rather than fundamentally altering or at least updating their supply chain strategy are truly playing dice with their future,” Vitasek and Dittmann say. The research, however, finds only about 15% of firms are seriously revamping their supply chains for the “new normal” most companies are now facing.

What are the key trends that companies should consider when developing post-recession supply chain strategies? Vitasek and Dittmann identify 10 “game changers,” some of which they acknowledge may at times seem conflicting, but not surprising given the complex and dynamic world in which we operate.

1. The Mandate for Measurement: Getting supply chain performance metrics right is critical for the new era. “Without proper metrics, a supply chain could be much like a boat at high tide, unaware of the jagged rocks (problems) that exist underneath,” the report says.

Supply chain metrics must derive from overall company goals and objectives, and then be built on three “pillars” of supply chain performance management: process orientation, balance, and a culture that focuses on continuous improvement within a company. Metrics should be balanced, customer-focused, and aligned with the overall business.

Read More »


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Define Where To StreamlineDefine Where To Streamline
The Marketing Supply Chain Institute’s first report, Define Where to Streamline, is a global audit to benchmark the state of marketing supply chain management practices and analyze the business benefits, productivity gains and risk reductions to be achieved. As executives are working to assemble budgets and looking for new ways to fund 2010 programs, many are overlooking an opportunity to uncover significant savings and eliminate waste within their supply chains. This insightful report uncovers best practices and opportunities that can be applied by all marketers.

Download report »


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Business Collaboration Networks
Excerpt from original white paper

Throughout history, people have relied on networks to successfully conduct commerce.
Networks are powerful conduits that allow the unimpeded flow of goods and services. The
more efficient the flow of something throughout an ecosystem—be it goods, data packets
or even language—the easier it is to gain competitive advantage. It is no surprise that the
organization with the best network always wins.

Without question, the development exerting the greatest influence on traditional business
networks today has been the advent of the Internet and, with it, the profound technological,
social, political and economic changes it has produced around the globe. Today almost 1.5
billion people worldwide use the Internet.1 And as the Internet wraps itself around the world,
it is connecting countless physical devices to each other and to people, passing data and
new services from person to person, business to business and country to country.

This virtually limitless ability to exchange information, services and data has rendered
proximity irrelevant, physical barriers inconsequential, and even transformed traditional
relationships, changing the ways in which almost all of us live, work, learn and play. As a
result, enterprises of all kinds are reinventing the ways in which they define themselves
and the relationships that comprise their value chains. Whether it is manufacturing, retail,
finance, media or government, an entirely new way of doing business through greater
collaboration is emerging.

Many describe this newer way of doing business as business collaboration, a concept that
evokes a wide range of associations and capabilities in business. “Collaboration” is often
written about as an organizational culture or set of practices that has become increasingly
important in the connected global economy. From a software perspective, the word
“collaboration” is often used to describe packages integrating e-mail, instant messaging,
group calendaring, file sharing and shared workspaces.

Most companies are improving organizational collaboration using technologies for
communications and workspaces with Web conferencing services, instant messaging,
e-rooms and shareware. And, for businesses who want to engage directly with their
customers there are social networking capabilities, such as blogs, discussion forums, clickto-
chat, ratings and reviews. Using these technologies to drive organizational or business
collaboration is required to engage in today’s marketplace. Businesses are turning to these
foundational capabilities to enable collaboration as a competitive advantage.

To read more, download the full white paper here »


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Acceleration of ECO-Operation
A Milestone Study on Achieving Supply Chain Success and Sustainability

Companies by and large are failing to achieve required visibility and eco responsibility across multi-tiered global supply chains, hampering their ability to drive business gain and reduce environmental strain. A new study released by the BPM Forum and E2open provides the most comprehensive and detailed analysis ever conducted around the state of sustainability and what companies are doing to make improvements in the extended value chain.

Download report »



Upcoming Events

Global Strategic Innovation
Date:  January 22–February 2, 2010
Location:  Lisbon, Silicon Valley, Boston
Innovation is the best way to succeed in an ever increasing globalized world. Strategic Innovation links culture and innovation efforts to the real market opportunities and to the real competitive capacities of companies. The financial and economic crisis which we’re currently navigating provokes deep seeded transformations in global markets and is changing the rules of the game. The post-crisis world will be a different place. Those companies that invested in innovation of their business models and their products and services will be better placed to succeed. Learn More »

iCMG Architecture World – Architecture for Business Innovation and Risk Mitigation
Date:  February 25–26, 2010
Location:  Sydney, Australia  
The iCMG Architecture World summit is focused on enterprise & IT architecture as a specialty, which is distinct from software engineering, programming and project management and very critical for the enterprise success. The key focus areas include understanding of EAF (Enterprise Architecture Frameworks), Component based product line, Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) & SaaS, MDA, Legacy Transformation, ITSM, Web 2.0, Cloud Computing (& Virtualization), Green IT etc. Learn More »

APICS 6 Packed Supply Chain Conference
Date:  February 26–27, 2010
Location:  Texas, US
This year’s conference features over 40 sessions presented by recognized supply chain leaders covering eight topical areas in the General Session and a Special Session called Lean Certificate Workshop.Learn More »

Systemic Business Congress
Date:  March 1–2, 2010
Location:  Mexico City, Mexico  
A collaborative forum for business leaders and expert resource partners in which they can consciously engage with new systemic tools for developing innovative strategies and action opportunities for implementation in your own business settings. Learn More »

Business Process Improvement: Improving Flow and Reducing Waste to Increase Customer Value
Date:  March 23–25, 2010
Location:  Texas, US
This workshop shows how to discover and scope a business process, clarify its context, model its workflow with progressive detail, assess it, and design a new process. Then, the workshop explains how to apply seven principles to improve flow in a business process, and how to use key measures to quantify the effect that improving flow has on key customer and business results. Everything is backed up with real-world examples, and clear, repeatable guidelines. Learn More »


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  • Business performance management focus: people, process, policy, technology, methodologies, best practices and business innovation
  • Pictures, illustrations and charts to support your submission are welcome
  • Include a brief biography with relevant credentials
  • Maximum 850 words

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