Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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New breed of software market leader has six traits

The environment, health & safety (EHS) software market is hot this year. Six deals announced in the first half of 2016 total $750 million to $1 billion. With all of this investment in the market, which companies will take the money and run—and become the new market leaders?

new-breed-software-market-leader

Creative Art/Freepik

Companies in most all industrial sectors must manage environment, health & safety (EHS) and sustainability information. Managing this information manually is not an option for most organizations, so a niche software market has evolved over the past 20-plus years. Today, the EHS software market accounts for billions of dollars in annual license and subscription revenue and implementation fees.

Big investment in EHS software companies fuels market changes

Investors and software industry analysts alike are paying attention to the EHS software market niche. These significant investments mean that “green”—environment and sustainability—is good for business.

Market leaders exhibit six traits

With all of this investment in the market, which companies will take the money and run, and become the new market leaders? Investment alone does not make a company a leader; money can enable success or it can get in the way. I submit that a new breed of market leader will emerge, and must exhibit six traits.

The new breed of EHS software market leader must exhibit six traits; vision, adaptability, innovation, a customer-centric view, knowledge base, and intellectual capital.

1. Vision. Formulating a vision requires questioning the status quo. Executing that vision requires leadership, a great team, business processes and technology. Communicating the vision internally and externally is critical to success.

2. Adaptability. Internal issues can quash the impact of new investment. Vendors that can quickly integrate and absorb the organizational change will have more success than vendors that cannot. Adapting to external issues like regulatory and market changes is equally important.

3. Innovation. Customers expect more of software today than ever before. Mobile and Cloud capabilities are the rule, not the exception. Usability is king. Vendors that offer innovative, but not bleeding edge, solutions can capture market share over competitors that use older technology platforms.

4. Customer-centric. Vendors that look outward towards market and customer needs—and innovate to meet these needs—will become the new leaders.

5. Knowledge base. Vendors must have a team that understand subject matter, IT, and business issues in the sectors they serve. Vendors that lack knowledge in some of these disciplines will fall short.

6. Intellectual capital. Hiring the “best and brightest” is not enough. Vendors need to invest in developing employee skills to execute the company vision.

Exciting times ahead

Companies in most all private and public sectors must manage EHS information, and the EHS software market accounts for billions of dollars in annual license and subscription revenue, plus implementation fees. Think of it as a sleeping market that recently awoke. It will be exciting to see how 2016 investment invigorates this niche market, and which vendors emerge as leaders by 2020.

This post first appeared on the Strategies for Software Lifecycle Management blog.

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12 tips for killer software demos

When selecting enterprise software, demos are a key part of the due diligence process. Even with a short list of 3–4 vendors, sitting through several days’ worth of demos can try your patience. Learn how you can work with prospective software vendors to deliver a killer demo to engage and inform your stakeholders.

12-tips-killer-software-demos

Freepik/Jill Barson Gilbert

I recently facilitated an enterprise software selection process. This required gathering information on software and vendor capabilities, interviewing reference customers and participating in multiple software demos, among other activities.

While each software vendor on the “short list” can address a vast majority of the client’s business needs, each vendor has a range of capabilities. So, how do you set the stage to allow comparison and to make the demos informative and enjoyable, instead of exhausting?

12 Tips for Killer Software Demos

Avoid “demo killers” like poor preparation, dismissing key stakeholder needs, going off script, talking too much, failing to engage the audience, poor demo skills, bashing the competition and apologizing for the demos or software.

The most successful and enjoyable software demos were those where I worked with my client and the vendor in advance of the demo. Here is insight into my approach for “killer demos.”

1. Prepare

Ask important questions before the demo, for instance, the business drivers for the enterprise software; what systems the company uses today; the company’s primary concerns; the expected benefits of the new software; user community and job roles; stakeholders who will attend the demo; decision-makers and key influencers.

2. Focus on needs

Shape the demo around users’ needs — not wants — and priorities. This requires documented software business requirements, with user consensus on needs and priorities.

3. Avoid the standard demo

Standard demos show that the vendor did not consider the customer’s needs. Instead, take astandard approach as described in these tips.

4. Don’t change a thing… except…

Demonstrate the software in its standard, “out of the box” form — without integration,customization, or significant configuration — unless otherwise requested by the customer. An exception is minor personalization using the customer’s branding.

5. Show a day in the life

Simulate the user’s day-to-day experience. For example, show how a “power user” creates monthly reports, and enters detailed data. Show how a casual user completes an assigned task. Show how a site manager or a corporate manager views key performance indicators (KPIs) on a dashboard.

6. Stick to the script

Create a “storyboard” for the demo based upon business needs and priorities. If the customer provides software scripts and/or demo data, then make sure that the scripts align with the stated needs and priorities. Demo the software to best showcase its capabilities while addressing each script.

7. Start at the end… then go backwards

First demo reports, dashboards and workflow that show how a user interacts with the software. Then demo key data entry forms. Demo a workflow or two. Run a few key data queries. But demo software configuration, workflow configuration, report and dashboard creation only if the users would do this day-to-day.

8. Speak to selection criteria

Understand the customer’s software selection criteria, and address them throughout the demo and dialogue.

9. Address resource needs

Address how many subject matter experts (SMEs), project managers and IT resources the customer will need for implementation, roll-out and ongoing maintenance. Provide customer references that can back up these resource estimates.

10. Have IT experts available

Summarize the software’s architecture, hardware and software needs; installation options (on premises, Cloud, Software as a Service) and implementation — but don’t bore a room full of subject matter experts with IT details. Have IT experts present or on call during the demo to answer IT questions.

11. Distinguish yourself

Address how your software will improve the customer’s business. Be positive about capabilities and transparent about third parties you use to deliver software and services. Boast about your successes, and back up statements with evidence. Do not make negative or false statements about the competition.

12. Deliver strong

  • Know your audience – anticipate and address their needs.
  • Engage the audience – control the content and flow, and encourage dialogue.
  • Have a strong opening – capture the audience in the first two minutes.
  • Make your case – benefits the customers will gain, and what sets you apart.
  • Respect the clock – arrive in plenty of time to set up, and plan to finish early.
  • Get trained – learn how to speak to a group and how to demo software. 

Conclusion

A well-delivered demo can make up for software shortcomings, while a poorly-delivered demo can destroy the chance of customers embracing even the best software. Demos can be compelling and enjoyable when the software vendor and prospective customer organize a “killer demo” through preparation, focus, speaking to business and IT issues, and strong delivery.

This post first appeared on the Strategies for Software Lifecycle Management blog.


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New CIO.com blog post | 5 ways a consultant can benefit your software implementation

lifecycle-navigationIf you shudder when you hear the word “consultant,” you’re not alone. Yet a consultant can invigorate and strengthen your software initiative, while saving time and money.

Here are five ways that a consultant can positively impact your software initiative (read the full post).


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Risk Management is a big driver for EHS software

It used to be environment, health & safety (EHS) compliance issues that drove the big software selection projects… air emissions calculations and emissions inventories, wastewater discharge monitoring reports (DMRs), annual toxic release inventory (TRI) reports, and other three-letter acronyms (TLAs). Lots of different EHS compliance programs use the same information, but in different ways, creating a data management and reporting challenge.

Then came governrisk-managementance, risk and compliance (GRC)… many organizations struggled to bring EHS within the sphere of GRC, instead believing that GRC was all about financial issues following Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) legislation, or risk management following high-profile industrial incidents and accidents.

However, many of these organizations and others see the value in identifying and managing risks–having a strong risk culture has an upside.

In a recent LNS Research post, “Why Risk Management Dominates EHS Priorities,” Paul Leavoy says that

Increasingly, manufacturers are embedding risk management approaches into their EHS programs, particularly from a technological perspective… they are trying to embed risk management into EHS software.

Read the blog post here.

Office 2016 for Mac


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Microsoft announces Office 2016 for Mac preview

Microsoft typically updates its Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and OneNote) about every three years. And with the introduction of its Office 365 Cloud version, the software giant can tweak the software any time it wants.

What about the Mac users who rely upon MS Office? The number of Macs in the enterprise is growing, with BYOT (bring your own technology), as well as corporate adoption of the Mac platform.

The last product release was Office for Mac 2011, over five years ago. So the recent announcement of Office 2016 for Mac was welcomed by Mac aficionados. You can install the Office 2016 for Mac preview without impacting your existing Office 2011 version; you can use both–just not at the same time. Look in your App Launcher and you will see icons for both the 2011 and 2016 versions of each app.

First takes

The biggest change is the addition of OneNote, which is logical considering last year’s release of OneNote for iOS (free). Having used OneNote for Windows for over ten years, I find the Mac version lacks a few “must have” features, like the ability to

  • toggle grid lines on and off, and to print the grid if desired.
  • create reusable page templates.
  • set default paragraph (line) spacing, as well as paragraph spacing within the document.
  • use a variety of bullets, vs. one (•), when using multi-level bullet lists.
  • create and save user-specific styles, e.g. headings in different fonts, styles and colors.

Microsoft advertises Office for Mac as “the familiar office you know and love.”
Unmistakable office | Designed for Mac | Cloud Connected.

Microsoft is working to consolidate the Office brand and bring Mac users into the fold. The application icons resemble the Office 2013 Windows version icons.  I happen to like the (old) Office 2011 icons because they are more innovative, just like a Mac user expects. However, today’s design trend is “flat” user interfaces with bold colors.

Office 2016 for Mac

Photo: Microsoft

All Mac Office applications resemble their Windows counterparts, with the goal of a familiar, but simpler, user experience. I think the Mac version may suit many, but will disappoint others who expect quantum leaps in features in the new version. After all, it has been five years in the making! A few examples…

  • the ribbon interface resembles that in the Windows version. So far, in the Office 2016 for Mac preview, the user cannot move the ribbon below the menu, as is possible in the Windows version.
  • Office 2016 offers a limited number of built-in design templates (style, color and font combinations) and does not appear to take advantage of the default and built-in Mac OSX fonts (i.e., Helvetica Neue for late-model Macs, plus a laundry list of Apple fonts).
  • When opening a new file, the user can choose from a few pre-formatted letters, rėsumės, spreadsheets and presentations, but there is no link to hundreds more on the MS Office Web site. The solution: Mac users can download Windows templates and open them without losing data and formats.

Release plans

Microsoft plans to release Office for Mac 2016 in the second half of 2015. Look for it in the Mac app store. According to the Microsoft Web site, if you have an  Office 365 subscription, you will get the current version of Office for Mac, free.

I look forward to the official rollout. As an ex-Windows user, I will continue to use and explore the capabilities of the Office for Mac Preview versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote–despite the feature gap. I don’t use Outlook, as Mac mail provides me with a consistent user experience across my smartphone, tablet and notebook. I do miss some Outlook features that Mac mail lacks, especially the seamless integration of mail, contacts, calendars and tasks and the ease of data import and export.

Those interested in downloading the preview can find it here.


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Five global predictions for 2015

Today was all about tomorrow. Let me explain… this morning, I attended a Webinar on 2015 trends in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market; this afternoon I completed a survey on the top global trends for 2015. Here’s my take on five global trends for 2015. The common thread is information technology (IT) and the environment.


It’s all about the Cloud

Businesses continue to move to the Cloud in droves, with a large percentage already there. A big benefit of the Cloud is the shift away from internal management of IT infrastructure, placing part of the risk onto Cloud providers. Another benefit is the ability to shift from older, “on premises” enterprise software license models that require constant upgrades to newer, Software as a Service (SaaS) apps where all user organizations are on the same version of the software. And a third benefit is anytime, anywhere access to information that allow more informed decision-making.

It’s not just mobile technology, but mobile technology enabled by the Cloud, that will allow businesses to break from old paradigms and utilize Internet-enabled solutions. My article on the Cloud will publish on 01 February 2015.

Information security remains a top concern

Information security will remain a top concern among organizations into 2015 and beyond. ApplePay went live this quarter, and it was supposed to be an alternate cashless payment method, but not a Point of Service (POS) app. With the release of the iPhone 6 and the latest iOS, Apple has teamed with Bank of America (and others?) and ApplePay is a POS app! Many remain concerned about Near Field Communications, where a cyber hacker can steal sensitive financial information.

Magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards are so 20th Century. A few years ago, many merchants tried laser bar code readers for payment cards (e.g., payments at gas pumps), but removed the readers… were the readers that hard to use, or were they too costly to maintain? After recent security breaches some U.S. banks are revamping credit card security measures–adding security “chips” that other countries have used for decades. It’s about time… but users still must “swipe” their cards through a reader.

Global energy and natural resource challenges

The U.S. is enjoying the “energy boom,” at the highest domestic production rates in decades, and needs to ensure that there is not a rapid “bust.” Despite the drop in oil prices (barrels of West Texas Intermediate Crude), North American Shale Oil plays will continue into 2015.

Cheap natural gas prices will allow the chemicals industry to continue with large projects, the scale of which we have not seen in the U.S. since the late 1970s and early 1980s. While the demand for new natural gas and liquids pipelines remains high, these projects will slow a bit. Why not deposit some of the cheap oil and gas to increase the National Petroleum Reserve?

Changing demographics and consumer spending

Many emerging countries will continue to see the largest increase in spending power in the under-35 population. The consumer population in the U.S. will continue to increase dramatically in two segments—over-60 and under 35 years old—thus creating the challenge of serving both markets.

Considering how much consumer technologies spill over into business, the challenge is applying these technologies to address the needs of divergent populations. In 2015, software applications will be all about the user experience, and the real challenge will be the balance between the user experience and addressing enterprise needs such as information security and scalability.

Cashless payments

Consumers will continue to increase their comfort level with online, cashless payments. Mobile cashless payments will take a while to gain market share amid concerns of cybersecurity and as consumers upgrade their mobile technology. Regardless of the method, companies in the payment business must move to multi-factor authentication and anonymous, one-time authorization codes that are more difficult to steal, or, if stolen, are useless.

While consumers–especially the 35-and-under demographic–have handily adopted paperless check deposits, this will not quickly spill over into the business world. Businesses will continue to remain entrenched in hard-copy checks, P-cards (Purchase Cards) and ACH (automated clearinghouse) payments in 2015. So, keep the car gassed up (or charged) for those trips to the post office and bank.

With the new year coming upon us quickly, there is plenty to think about with respect to information technology and the environment. Your thoughts?


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Energy sector looks to integrated EHS IT solutions to manage risk in a complex operational and regulatory enironment

We are in the midst of a 21st Century energy boom. It has created thousands of jobs and reduced the U.S. dependence on imported crude oil. New technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) create new opportunities as well as risks. In light of recent offshore and onshore incidents in the energy and chemical industries, regulatory agencies are in the midst of making new policies and rules. How do organizations keep up with this complex, dynamic business environment?

“Risk is an integral component of a safety culture. It must be the lens through which we view the interaction between technology and the human element.”
–Brian Salerno, BSEE Director

Most organizations use spreadsheets, email and documents to manage environment, health & safety (EH&S or EHS) data. Even those that use more robust information technology (IT) platforms admit that they do not use IT to its fullest.

To better collect, manage, and use EHS information, many energy companies are migrating to integrated EH&S software applications for the first time. Others are taking a hard look at replacing legacy systems with more robust IT platforms.

The latest IT Insight column, 21st Century Energy Boom and Greater Risk Awareness Drive EH&S Software Initiatives, describes the pressure that the energy industry faces in managing mountains of EHS data while also minimizing the risks associated with everyday business. The column describes lessons learned in the Gulf of Mexico and a new risk management approach that is taking hold. Read the full article here.