It’s time to reconsider the SaaS model in a modern context, integrating developments of the last nearly two decades so that enterprise software can reach its full potential. More specifically, we need to consider the impact of IaaS and “cloud-native computing” on enterprise software, and how they’re blurring the lines between SaaS and on-premises applications. As the world around enterprise software shifts and the tools for building it advance, do we really need such stark distinctions about what can run where?
Right now, there is growing interest in the role that learning can play in organisational change, but we are starting from a place where learning is seen as separate to the practice of work, and also something different from more operationally focused knowledge sharing.
The digital commons has become a common problem, clogged by disinformation, stripped of privacy and squeezed by insatiable shareholders. Online propagandists stoke violence, data brokers sway elections, and our most intimate personal information is for sale to the highest bidder. Faced with these difficulties, big tech is increasingly turning to Wikipedia for support.
I’ve been prompted by some discussions on LinkedIn to write briefly here about CRM – or customer relationship management to give it its unabbreviated title. The idea behind CRM is that an organisation can record every interaction it has with its customers, so that anyone picking up a future call can be instantly caught up with what is going on, and analysis of the data can yield clues as to where services are breaking down and need improving (“3,000 calls this morning about missed bins? Maybe we have a problem…” – ok, not that, but you get the idea).
This sounds like an eminently sensible thing to do, only in most cases it turns out that it isn’t in practice. Firstly, over the years, getting CRM systems used beyond the contact centre (whether directly or through integration with back office software) has proved very difficult, so this complete record rarely is actually complete, thus defeating the purpose. Secondly, the supposed goal of a single record for every customer is invariably brought down by data uncleanliness, the habit of creating additional records for the same customer, and a general sprawl of records where customers don’t fit into neat holes (eg issues around services delivered to households, and those to individuals that often result in a mess of customer data).
So CRM for CRM’s sake seems like a non-starter. But in the last few years I have been involved in projects that have involved implementing CRM and CRM-like systems. How can this be justified?
For me it comes down to a fairly simple process. First identify the outcome you are trying to achieve, whether as part of an individual service delivered to customers (or residents, or users, or citizens: pick your favourite) or a corporate wide thing. Then assess what capabilities are needed to make that happen (booking, reporting, case management, assessment, payments, document management etc) and then work out which of those capabilities you already possess in a reusable way, and which you need to buy. Now, if those you need to buy can be delivered in the way you need by implementing a system that calls itself a CRM, then fine, buy and implement the CRM system. But there is no capability called ‘CRM’ and no service outcome called ‘CRM implemented’.
Hence, no CRM for CRM’s sake, but by all means buy a CRM if it delivers the capabilities you need to transform your services.
This is our first Salesforce integration, and it was made possible through the use of an API, developed by Rutland’s own tech team. At our end, all we had to do was write the code to integrate with it, and boom, two-way communication.
Transformation is a world away from simply polishing the way things are currently done (the “lipstick on pigs” approach – the tired web- and form-based service design ethos of the past few decades, stuck Groundhog Day-like inside the broken silos and reference frames of existing organisational services). Improving our public services relies on the ability to step back and rethink and redesign current public policy by focusing relentlessly and selflessly on improved outcomes, with a profoundly beneficial and positive impact on people and their experience of delivering or receiving public services.
We’re working to find out what a digital planning application service would look like if it were “so good, people prefer to use it”. However, one of the early things we learnt was that high quality data is the key enabler of providing a better digital service.
There are bigger issues at work: software that does not reflect the needs of its users, a Planning Portal that does not collect as much data in a useful form as it could, and teams who might benefit from tapping into another’s information and workflows.
Let’s put it short and sweet: Microsoft buying GitHub is likely to be good news for developers.
OpenStack is one of the most important and complex open-source projects you’ve never heard of. It’s a set of tools that allows large enterprises ranging from Comcast and PayPal to stock exchanges and telecom providers to run their own AWS-like cloud services inside their data centers.