Operational Readiness: 3 Keys to a Successful Takeoff for Any Large-Scale System

By Nicole Helfrich, Delivery Director, Project & Program Management on Sep. 14, 2016 View Comments

After you’ve spent months preparing for the launch of a large-scale initiative, the last thing you want to experience is a deployment debacle due to untested systems and unprepared users.

I recently attended a project management training class that referenced one of the airline industry’s worst. It’s a textbook example of what can happen at deployment with any system when certain, seemingly mundane, operational functions are dismissed during testing.

It happened on March 27, 2008, opening day for Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport, which today is hailed as British Airways’ most technologically advanced and lavish terminals in the world. On launch day, however, Terminal 5 suffered debilitating operational glitches like a malfunctioning car park system and its baggage software being left in test mode. These operational software glitches caused a cascade of issues, including 23,000 misplaced bags, 500 cancelled flights, and a 5-day recovery from the debacle.

The pains felt by employees and travelers of Terminal 5 could have been avoided with focus on a few key areas that are often forgotten due to inexperienced project leads or lack of resources to support these operational readiness efforts.

Here are three steps to ensure a smooth takeoff for any new system:

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Hitting It Out of the Park with Your MVP Launch

By J. Lawson & K. Long - Digital Experience Team on Aug. 9, 2016 View Comments

No, that’s not your Most Valuable Player—it’s your Minimum Viable Product!  

For die-hard baseball fans, Opening Day is full of limitless possibilities. The air sings with hope and excitement. The whole season lies ahead, culminating perhaps with a trip to the Series! (Oh, and don’t forget about the hot dogs.)

That same feeling of excitement ignites in product executives the moment their digital product goes live. They are the biggest fans—and most rabid competitors—of all. But how can you bat 1,000 in such a competitive space? How can you ensure that your minimum viable product (MVP) or minimum marketable product (MMP) will last the season?

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How Content Personalization Can Amp Up Your Digital Marketing Strategy

By Kathryn Markwell, Digital Strategy Lead on Jun. 28, 2016 View Comments

As a marketer, I’m sure you know by now that you’re not going to get very far with a one-size-fits-all approach. Sure, you have a target audience in mind, but are you really in tune with their needs? Your customers may be in the market for what you’re offering, but you have to find and talk to them in different ways. That’s where personalization comes in.

But how do you get started?

In a study by Adobe Marketing Optimization, 97% of marketing and customer insights decision-makers prioritized personalization as the most important capability to their company’s marketing moving forward. These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise – the ROI is astounding. When you focus on providing personalized content to your target audience and have the proper digital analytics in place, you can expect to see increased conversions, better qualified leads, and increased loyalty.

Setting the Foundation for a Personalization Strategy
There are three pieces of the personalization pie that you need to get a handle on before you reap the benefits: personas, journeys, and goals.

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How to Make Your Site Responsive Across Mobile Devices

By Larry Levine, Senior Art Director on Jun. 21, 2016 View Comments


So you have a great digital experience that you want to take mobile. Good for you! But have you done your homework? 

According to comScore, mobile devices now claim 2 of every 3 minutes spent online. Adobe likewise reports that 38% of people will ditch a website with an unappealing layout -- but mobile devices continue to proliferate, and keeping your site functional and attractive is a huge challenge. So how do you optimize your web property to take advantage of all online opportunities?

First, you have to rethink how you approach mobile optimization. It's about much more than merely adjusting breakpoints; you must consider a whole new spectrum of user needs suited for a limited viewing area, as well as unique business/marketing goals.

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Agile Development: 4 Ways to Tell if You’re Living in the Past or Staying True to Agile Principles

By Jesica Wetherhold, CSP, PMP on Jun. 14, 2016 View Comments

Companies have a history of creating lengthy documentation that bogs down software development. In this “pre-Agile” era, requirements were established up front, testing didn’t occur until Agile methodologies developed, and the customer wasn’t involved until they were given the end product. Modifications and changes could cause an entire project to go way over budget or even fail. Everyone knew there had to be a better way.

In 2001, seventeen software gurus came together in Snowbird, Utah to eat, ski, and discuss different approaches to building software. These ‘organizational anarchists’ brought their independent initiatives with them, such as Feature Driven Development, Extreme Programming, Crystal, SCRUM, Adaptive Software Development, and pragmatic programming. Their common focus was on lightweight ways to develop software and by the end of the meeting they established the Agile Manifesto.

A principle of the Agile Manifesto states “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” We know it works. Its history tells a story and helps us understand the true value and impact of an Agile framework in today’s creative economy.

Ask yourself these 4 questions to determine if you’re living in Agile’s past or holding fast to its core guiding principles:

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Content First Design: 3 Reasons Why Lorem Ipsum Isn't Enough

By Kelley McDonald, Senior UX Architect on Jun. 10, 2016 View Comments

The web has always been about content. Sure, people visit websites and use apps to complete specific tasks or interact with others, but it's ultimately the content that facilitates those events.

And while elements like maps, infographics, and videos are considered content, the written word, “real” copy, comprises the great majority of what's actually consumed and exchanged online. Copy is the infrastructure on which digital content and user experience (UX) is built—the glue that holds it all together.

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The ONLY 3 Things That Matter in Agile

By Julius Weems, VP, Strategic Accounts on Jun. 7, 2016 View Comments

For the last eight years, Agile has been the buzz of every company in the IT industry. We can’t go a day without hearing Agile this, Agile development that. We have consulting companies created around Agile practices and businesses trying to ditch their traditional waterfall processes.

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Scared to Make a Referral? 4 Ways to Make Introductions Less Awkward

By Jill Lawson, Vice President on May. 31, 2016 View Comments

Has anyone at your company ever asked you to refer them to a friend or past colleague for a business opportunity? It sounds like a great idea and you want to help, but deep down you’re dreading it. Perhaps you don’t know what to do? Or if it will be mutually-beneficial? Maybe you’d rather spontaneously combust than navigate a potentially awkward situation?

Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: learning how to connect people in your network is a valuable skill that every professional needs to have in their toolkit. The relationships you’ve built with friends and former colleagues over the years can help you establish credibility, give referrals that generate business, and even advance your own professional development and career opportunities.

Admittedly, making introductions comes naturally to me. It’s part of my job. But a recent encounter with a colleague who needed advice on approaching contacts made me realize that not everyone is as comfortable as I am. It’s time that we change that.

If you’re ready to conquer the art of the introduction once and for all, here are 4 ways to do it without feeling awkward:

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7 Ways to Effectively Manage a Product Owner Backlog

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on May. 24, 2016 View Comments

Product backlog management is an art form that requires relentless attention. As a Product Owner, it’s your responsibility to run a well-oiled machine and keep the product backlog healthy. This includes accommodating stakeholders, development teams, and most importantly, users. But how do you manage a product backlog in a way that is effective and results-driven?

Here are 7 tips from an Agile Product Owner who’s been around the block:

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3 Myths You’ve Heard About Content Migration (And Why They’re Wrong)

By Celerity on May. 17, 2016 View Comments

Let’s face it – Content migration is complex. Like, really complex. After all, CMS solutions hold a lot of important data and moving it to a completely new system is risky business. You don’t want to be that person responsible for losing documents, lengthy downtime or underestimating the project entirely. It’s time to get realistic about the process.

Here are 3 myths about content migration that often lead to misguided projects. Let us set the record straight:

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Agile Scrum Framework: 4 Ways to Create High-Quality Software, Part 2

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on May. 10, 2016 View Comments

Scrum’s framework lends itself to high-quality solutions, but many loyalists need clarification on how to address that goal in the daily use of Agile methodologies.

In Part 1 of this blog, I explained two key ways to prioritize quality through Agile Scrum:

1. Use a cross-functional Scrum team to reduce external dependencies.
2. A Development should have a Definition of Done (DoD) so they know when an increment is in fact “done”.

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How Marketers Can Balance Analytics & Creativity (...And Still Prove ROI)

By Jenifer Kern, Vice President, Marketing on May. 3, 2016 View Comments

Marketers are more obsessed with digital analytics than ever before. After all, we need to be. How else can we prove ROI and justify spend? We need data to prove the value of our programs and monitor what’s working and not working.

But have we marketers gotten too focused on data at the expense of our core creative and strategic marketing principles? My humble opinion is.... “Yes.” 

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A/B Testing Tips: 4 Ways to Optimize for Conversions

By Mindy Sabel, Digital Optimization Project Manager on Apr. 26, 2016 View Comments

Whether you’re a seasoned digital strategist or just dipping your toes into A/B testing, you’ve likely come to love the optimization benefits that testing tools provide. In fact, I’d even say that a solid testing program is the key to successful digital marketing and strategic site improvements. It drives better business decisions by helping to decide where your dollars will have the highest impact.

That’s why you should use these critical tips when planning your testing roadmap to get the most exciting, high-impact results:

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Agile Scrum Framework: 4 Ways to Create High-Quality Software, Part 1

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on Apr. 19, 2016 View Comments

Heard of the Scrum framework? It's exceedingly popular for its unmatched success in solving complex software development problems. Scrum, however, only implies the need for high-quality solutions and doesn’t actually suggest how quality should be addressed. Here’s my take on it:

Scrum implementation focused on continual quality and technical excellence is more likely to succeed than one that isn’t, and quality is everybody’s responsibility.

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6 Lead Generation Best Practices that Stand the Test of Time

By Jenifer Kern, Vice President, Marketing on Apr. 12, 2016 View Comments

Lead_Generation_Strategy_Blog.jpgLead generation isn’t a new concept. It’s a popular and over-used term describing how businesses use aligned marketing and sales strategies to attract new leads. While many companies today have some form of lead gen in place, there are an astounding number of businesses – from small start-ups to large global corporations – that struggle to align sales and marketing teams for meaningful lead gen results.

What’s standing in the way? And how can you break through roadblocks if you’ve been aiming to build a strong lead gen function, but are missing the mark?

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The Price of Poor Product Ownership: 3 Ways to Doom Your Agile Project

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on Apr. 5, 2016 View Comments

Being an Agile Product Owner is a difficult endeavor. In fact, I would venture to say it may very well be the hardest and most critical product owner role on an Agile project. You have to keep the team happy and engaged, stakeholders are constantly looking for “status” updates, and you need to appease the customer by understanding their needs and delivering high value as quickly as possible.

I’ve witnessed many unpleasant Agile projects, even to the point of a project’s complete failure, because of poor Product Ownership, despit using a proper agile framework. There are a variety of reasons for that, but I’m seeing a trend of Product Owners spending their time in the wrong places.

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Agile DevOps: A Crash-Course on Docker for Microsoft Containers

By Scott Rudy, Applications Architect on Mar. 22, 2016 View Comments

In technology, getting an idea from inception to value involves a lot of moving pieces, which introduces risk. The concept behind DevOps enables organizations to break down the barriers to reduce that risk and get to value faster. To execute DevOps, developers can use containers for improved automation and on-demand deployment. So, in effect, containers help teams make DevOps possible.

Consider this simple scenario of a single web application with persistence:

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What to Know Before You Jump into Cross-Channel Marketing

By Jessica Mays, Senior Technology Consultant on Mar. 15, 2016 View Comments

Easily delivering the right message to the right consumer at the right time is the dream for many ROI-driven marketers. Consider calls-to-action (CTAs). Did you know they actually convert 42% better when personalized than untargeted CTAs? That could make a big difference to your bottom line. Integrated, cross-channel marketing orchestration tools are key to making results like that a reality for your business.

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Why You Should Throw Out Your Digital Marketing Dashboards

By Kathryn Markwell, Digital Strategy Lead on Mar. 8, 2016 View Comments

Only 13% of CMOs believe they can accurately measure marketing ROI, but many state “improved analytics and reporting” as a top goal for 2016.

How can marketers better leverage marketing data for useful reporting that justifies investments and defends spend? We believe lengthy dashboards misaligned to digital marketing objectives are to blame for some of the divide. So throw out your current dashboards to make room for a fresh strategy.

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Agile Development: 3 Steps to Get Funding from Stakeholders

By Kat Lopez, Senior Consultant on Mar. 1, 2016 View Comments

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  - Albert Einstein

I love this quote because it’s a universal adage that applies to any situation where we find ourselves reviewing lessons learned and reflecting, sometimes in agony, at what could’ve gone better.

In my work, I’ve consistently witnessed clients buy into the theory of the Agile methodology but flounder to commit to Agile fundamentals during execution, usually because unfamiliarity with Agile is overwhelming when faced with the allure, comfort, and predictability of waterfall.

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