Posted by: Tony
Date: January 26, 2017
Welcome to the Advantage Co
From the very beginning in 1978, it has been my goal to provide the vision, resources, and confidence necessary for the development of the Advantage Co as a business experience for those willing to take the full measure of the challenge. This approach has energized our Root Philosophy for nearly 40 years, and it has been our good fortune to build a number of world-class businesses. However, sustaining and enhancing our extraordinary success will depend, in large part, on a technologically advanced resource that will reliably enable the creation, development, operation, and governance of a variety of opportunities, partnerships, and investments.
In order to bring our ideas and concepts to life, and, more importantly, to continue their ever-changing and dynamic growth, I have decided to unite a number of disparate and fragmented support functions into Advantage Global Resources as a remarkable and dependable resource for our businesses, partnerships, and future clients.
This morning, I will attempt to lay out for you my new plan for the organization, staffing, management, development, delivery, advancement, and growth of Advantage Global Resources. Thanks for being part of it.
Advantage Global Resources Introduction
Mission Statement: At the core of all our operations will be our new support organization, Advantage Global Resources. This new division will provide the essential backend resources for the origination, design, structure, financing, development, growth, reporting, monitoring, analytics, compliance, security, accounting, and governance of all our business operations.
Advantage Global Resources will be a combination of APHQ, Advantage Accounting, Advacovery, Advantage HR, tdt, and Smart Squad Design. We will be launching Advantage Global Resources immediately.
We will start with a meeting of all AGR participants every Thursday at 9AM.
Over the next several months, we will be renovating the second floor of the Walker Center in order to fully accommodate, organize, and facilitate Advantage Global Resources. We will be building a fully staffed cafe’ and breakroom, as well as an enlarged state-of-the-art conference room for meetings, seminars, and presentations.
Initially, all of the Advantage Global Resources staff will be paid by their current employer [Stereo Advantage, TW&Co, APHQ, etc], but, starting January 1, 2018, they will be employed by Advantage Global Resources and their services will be billed out accordingly to AGR’s respective clients.
Although there are certain undeniable advantages to having support personnel on site, I am convinced that bringing everyone together into a state-of-the-art facility and cohesive environment at the Walker Center will far outweigh any on-site benefit. From the recruiting and training of new personnel to providing continuing education and upward mobility to the introduction of new technologies and business intelligence to team interaction to business opportunities to client access to essential camaraderie and governance, I believe the creation of a centralized Advantage Global Resources is essential.
I am looking forward to our meeting this morning. There will be a test, so be sure to bring something to write with and on. The test will include accounting and math questions, Handbook questions, and general knowledge queries. Thank you for filling out the questionnaire. Thank you for your support.
Advantage Global Resources Client Development
At Advantage Global Resources, the development of our backend support services has positioned us to realize our potential as a fully functional resource for a variety of business operations. The services that we now currently deliver to all our clients [Capax Discovery, c1 Advantage, AP, ABX, CISO Sentinel, TW&Co, Giancarlo’s, LTS, Stereo Advantage, etc.] are indeed world class, and since we possess these skills, why not leverage them to everyone’s benefit?
The remarkable international growth of Capax Discovery and the government baptism of Autonomic Resources have compelled Advantage Global Resources to ramp up our service resources for our entire network of companies. This now provides a foundation which prospective clients would find hard to replicate or access anywhere else. Quite frankly, I believe we have built a world-class operation for professional services of our ilk. Our eclectic service and product offerings for our clients are nothing short of incredible.
We will be promoting the development of these services through Advantage Global Resources. Although AGR is initially for our Advantage businesses and partnerships, the Root Philosophy can not be denied the opportunity that our outstanding back-end resources provide. This is a resource that can certainly grow into a vibrant profit center with an international clientele.
AGR will eventually be prepared to provide clients worldwide the essential backend resources for the origination, design, structure, financing, development, growth, reporting, monitoring, analytics, security, compliance, accounting, and governance of their operations.
According to one estimate, organizations around the world may outsource $700B in business and IT services in 2017. That so many organizations are willing to invest so much is a testament to the effectiveness of outsourcing as a service delivery model.
The Advantage Global Resources team is putting together a remarkable group of professionals, combining their unique and diverse expertise into an effective program dedicated to providing our clients with unique access to our spend reduction and category procurement and development solutions. As business unit leaders artfully steer their organization through the demands of a dynamic global experience, we will provide an appropriate focus on developing a clean architecture with embedded processes and governance to ensure continual complexity control.
We will also help facilitate a sustainable growth and results agenda, providing a speed to benefit for our clients without the cumbersome introduction of a burdensome and invasive consulting engagement. AGR will provide an independent acceleration module that bypasses the complexities inherent in the very structure our clients created.
Advantage Global Resources Business as a Service
Although many of our companies currently engage in the front-end activity of customer acquisition, I feel the true value in the Advantage Co will be found in providing a menu of readily available resources for our partners and clients to successfully take their businesses to market as fully functioning operations.
Below is a profile that will explain AGR’s behind-the-scenes purpose and benefit to our potential clients.* Behind-the-scene operations of a business are those which traditionally the customer rarely comes in contact with, but, with AGR, we will blur the behind-the-scenes line to deliver advanced services that are often viewed as front-end customer oriented operations.
As we develop new technologies, Advantage Global Resources will be able to capitalize on cloud computing’s ability to enhance traditional business models and support new ones. We will be able to combine our remarkable resources with cloud computing horsepower to offer our clients the ability to essentially outsource an entire business function in one fell swoop. This Business as a Service is what Advantage Global Resources hopes to create with the entire array of technology solutions at our disposal.
Here is a primer on BaaS [borrowed freely from Wikipedia and various websites and blogs].
What is Managed Services?
Managed services is the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions as well as a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. It provides an alternative to the break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done.
Adopting managed services is an efficient way to stay up to date on technology, have access to necessary skills, and address a range of issues related to cost, quality of service, and risk.
Additionally, managed service providers now offer all sorts of services delivered through cloud technologies. In delivering business automation remotely, AGR, as a managed service provider, can help our partners and clients to introduce more efficiency and versatility into their operations. This is the kind of new services that Business as a Service [BaaS] addresses.
BaaS outsourcing will enable our partners and clients to move from a high fixed-cost, capital-intensive model to a variable, consumption-based cost structure. As a result, they will be able to quickly adjust resources to meet evolving demands of their business, wherever they arise, with greater flexibility and predictability.
What is Business as a Service?
Business infrastructure is the basic systems of a business covering all kinds of resources that any given company has at its disposal. It links goals and activities through planned processes and systems ensuring the proper coordination of all human resources, processes, and other operational tools necessary to deliver manageable, profitable growth. This provides a solid foundation, a replicable platform, a model, and a formula that makes each time we do something, easier than the time before. Business infrastructure also ensures consistency in the delivery of customer value, and it is the key to reaping the benefits of economies of scale.
Back-end operations of a business infrastructure traditionally provide the services that make up a business function, such as accounting, administration, HR, IT, communications data processing, document handling, design, compliance, reporting, security, etc., while front-end activities generally focus on the customer experience. Technology, however, has transformed the delivery of many front-end activities from what were once considered back-end activities.
Nothing has contributed to blurring of the line between back-end and front-end activities more than the cloud. Companies have been automating business processes for decades. In the not so distant past, they were forced to do so either manually or programmatically, but with the advent of cloud computing and Business as a Service, this approach is changing rapidly.
Why does Advantage Global Resources need to develop Business as a Service?
- For standardization
- To create a consistent experience for customers and employees
- To demonstrate ability to scale
- For sustainable operations
This concept of Business as a Service will allow our partners and clients to remotely run and monitor entire business verticals in the cloud, and allow them to focus on their core business activities instead. BaaS will bring to the table the following benefits:
- Speed: Delivery of the best business results, fast.
- Adaptability/Agility: Add on innovation from third parties to enterprise business processes.
- Scalability/Elasticity: Service availability to other companies with shared costs and shared risk options.
- Reliability/Repeatability: Process learning, improvement, and automation internally and externally.
- Cost Flexibility: No capital investment with a subscription pricing model.
- Analytics: Performance, efficiency, and cost improvement reports.
- Strategic Goal Focus: Greater efficiencies and innovative business capabilities by combining platforms, applications, infrastructure, and knowledge processes.
- Collaboration: Improved communication between business and IT.
- Monitoring and Accountability: Real-time monitoring and management of business processes.
The cloud, however, is not just about technology – it is a paradigm shift.* It presents new economic models that companies can use to provision IT and managed services. Today, most organizations have started their inexorable migration to the cloud, with the promise of costs savings and faster time to realize tangible revenues. More and more enterprises are turning to third parties to reuse their solutions rather than lock their valuable capital in sourcing hardware and software themselves. This outsourcing model allows enterprises to be more efficient while achieving business agility across multiple channels, markets, and customer segments.
This all represents an incredible opportunity for Advantage Global Resources. The expanding market for our remarkable menu of business resources continues to expand exponentially, and we anticipate being in the vanguard of BaaS just as we were with our FedRAMP IaaS ATO.
Advantage Global Resources Technology Leap Forward
In business, it use to be the big crushed the small and the strong devoured the weak, but in today’s disruptive environment it is the quick that overwhelm the slow. Therefore, we are embarking on a dramatic push to put us at the vanguard of technology for ourselves and our clients.
Advantage Global Resources will develop new business technologies over the next three years in order to push us to the vanguard of technological innovation. With newly developed and deployed technologies we will be able to make better data-driven decisions, create an app-centric environment, and increase productivity.
Business technology encompasses a wide range of hardware, software, and services that keep companies running and enhance operations. Technology plays into every aspect of a business, from accounting to customer interface to product design and development to distribution to sales to service, etc.
Additionally, by making our new business technologies available to clients as a comprehensive backend solution, we will be able to stay at the forefront of technological innovation without the burden of escalating costs as our new technologies become a profit-producing enterprise [on their own].
The Advantage Co is all about creating opportunity, and new business technologies will help us identify, develop, and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities for ourselves and our clients. We must learn how to better model future demand uncertainties, how to predict the outcomes of competing choices, and how to choose the best course of action in the face of risk and reward. We must introduce frameworks and ideas that provide insights into business opportunities, along with introducing the methods and software available for tackling our inherent challenges quantitatively as well as the issues involved in gathering the relevant data.
Productivity is the efficiency of processes. Companies with a high level of productivity are often characterized by their successful integration of information technology and strong data management. With newly developed and deployed technologies we will be able to make better data-driven decisions, create an app-centric environment, and increase productivity.
We need to improve the way we think about transforming data into better decisions. We will start by recruiting and enabling a new Chief Technology Officer [CTO]. I have discussed the new CTO position with the two of the most tech savvy people I know, Jerry Hawk and Tom Thomson; and they both emphasized the need to not only have someone with the requisite tech skills, but a CTO with exceptional people skills as well. Transforming our company with new technologies will most likely cause some consternation at every level. Our new CTO will be challenged to introduce advanced business analytics into every aspect of our business. Change is seldom welcome, especially when things are working so well, so it is going to take someone with the unique ability to deliver new technologies to an often unreceptive audience.
Our new CTO will have direct impact in four key areas:
- Business Intelligence [BI]
Business Intelligence can be described as a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of our raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.
Our new and updated BI technologies will provide us with a historical, current, and predictive view of our business operations. The core functions of our business intelligence technologies will be reporting, data mining, business performance management, benchmarking [comparing our business performance metrics to industry bests], predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics.
Business Analytics [BA] is the practice of methodical exploration of all our data with emphasis on statistical analysis. Our business analytics will be used for data-driven decision making. Recent improvements in data-collecting technologies have changed the way we can make informed and effective business decisions. Good numbers and good instincts lead to good decisions.
Our new and updated business analytics will focus on developing better insights and understanding of our business performance based on data and statistical methods. Our predictive analytics will be used to make predictions about unknown future events, while our prescriptive analytics will be used to find the best course of action for a given situation.
The management of our information – including the analytics used to transform it – is an evolutionary process, and we are just getting started. Identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on BA insights can provide us with a competitive market advantage and continued long-term growth.
We typically rely on our accounting department for three things: knowing the rules, getting the math right, and submitting filings on time. Their finance function has earned our trust, but more for the role of reporting and less for analytical insight. Our accounting department must now start to evolve their role to be looking at the organization as a whole and discussing how to best optimize our performance.
In the accounting world, BI means automating the process of weeding through mountains of financial data to glean actionable insights to help us grow revenue and manage risk. Today we are witnessing the the emergence of business intelligence as a way to leverage the valuable data our accountants collect every day in the ordinary course of business. These new accounting solutions need to be fully integrated throughout our sales, production, and servicing functions allowing informed decisions at a glance, while automating repetitive functions to alleviate strain on human resources.
- Operational Intelligence [OI]
Companies of all types have critical business processes they must manage in real-time. BI solutions are unable to address the moment-to-moment need for real-time decision making. Operational Intelligence represents a turning point in the evolution of BI. Traditionally, BI has been the province of business analysts who analyze trends and patterns in large volumes of historical data to improve the effectiveness of strategic and tactical decisions. But OI changes this equation: it moves BI out of the back room and embeds it into the fabric of the business, intertwining it with operational processes and applications that drive thousands of daily decisions. In essence, Operational Intelligence merges analytical and operational processes into a unified whole.
Operational Intelligence is real-time, whereas BI is an after-the-fact and report-based approach to identifying patterns. OI is primarily event-centric, whereas BI is primarily data-centric. Although BI tools give clues about business processes, they don’t give any real insight into the business process itself. This operational insight is provided by a comprehensive OI solution.
Our operational Intelligence (OI) will be a form of real-time dynamic, business analytics that will deliver visibility and insight into our business operations. Our OI solutions will run query analysis against live feeds and event data to deliver real-time visibility and insight into our business and IT operations. This real-time information can be acted upon in a variety of ways: alerts can be sent, business processes can be triggered, and executive decisions can be made and implemented using live dashboards. More often than not, our Operational Intelligence will be enabled for its real-time monitoring capabilities when we want to take immediate action.Additionally, our OI will increase the value of our BI by delivering information and insights on demand to all participants – from the shipping department to partners – so they can work smarter and faster to achieve our critical business objectives. In essence, our OI must deliver the right information to the right people at the right time so we can take action.
Additionally, our OI will increase the value of our BI by delivering information and insights on demand to all participants – from the shipping department to partners – so they can work smarter and faster to achieve our critical business objectives. In essence, our OI must deliver the right information to the right people at the right time so we can take action.
- Customer Interface
The customer interface is the environment in which our products or services are delivered. It involves contact with the customer [encompassing interactions that are person-to-person or via an app, email, phone, Skype, blog, website, ecommerce, or some other medium].
Our customers expect us to anticipate their needs and wants. This requires a set of integrated solutions that will allow us to create an environment where customers get what they want, when they want it. We must bring together solutions that are able to push and pull data so we can use the most complete insights. We can then use these deep insights to predict what our customers want, at the right time, and in the right way.
For us to realize the benefits of recent innovations in customer interface technology, we need to understand the value consumers place on technology as part of the shopping process. Customers today are less satisfied with the level of service provided, the availability of product information, and the speed of the shopping process. New technologies can enhance the shopping experience, but our applications must be tailored to the unique requirements of our customers.
The essence of Customer Experience Management [the process of managing a customer’s entire experience with us] is treating customers as individuals. However, with the growing trend toward online purchases, successful interactions through traditional channels [such as in-store purchases and call center communications] often fall to second place behind social media. While it is important to stay ahead of the product comment pages, user-generated content, positive and negative feedback from referral sites, and other online customer data, it is equally important to create a customer experience strategy that incorporates all customer touch points. In particular, this includes the impact of customer-facing employees who will require more technology than ever to be at their disposal in order to fully ensure a successful customer experience.
Our goal is to merge the digital space with our physical environments. We’re not there yet [and it may take beyond 2017 to get there], but we need to create a mobile and digital app-centric interaction with our physical environments as the main area for continued growth:
- Mobile payment and rewards solutions [like Apple pay].
- Geolocated advertising based on our customer’s proximity to our physical location.
- Digital interactions with products, services, and promotions for our customers while they are in our environments [not only the environment itself but the actual department notices that our customer is there and starts communicating with them, via their phone app, about product info, FAQs, and promotions].
We certainly have a long way to go, but I am confident that over the next three years we will be able move out to the forefront of technology. We are going to put together a tech panel of experts (starting with Jeff Wynn), and I would really like everyone to participate.
And if you know of anyone who would make a great CTO, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS I took liberal advantage of several websites for the information and descriptions used above.