Bio: Louis Columbus has over 20 years in the IT industry, specializing in product management, sales and marketing. Immediately before joining Cincom, Mr. Columbus was a Senior Analyst at AMR Research. He earned his MBA from Pepperdine University and completed the Strategic Marketing Management Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He has published 16 books on operating systems, peripherals and integration technologies.
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Bright glimmers of hope are starting to radiate from what had been some ominous, dark clouds of an economy that looked to be in retreat. Jobs continue to be created, industrial production is nearly back to its pre-recession levels, blue-chip stocks have re-couped their losses, and consumer confidence is finally climbing. These are the glimmers of hope that show an economy on the ... Read More
An efficiency and transaction mindset is driving many industries including airlines into a churn-based business model that is tough to escape from.
In 2012 many businesses will need to step up their efforts to make better use of internal systems ... Read More
Measuring online influence using Klout, PeerIndex, and analytics from many other firms competing in the emerging influence management market is growing fast and getting the attention of large investors. Klout raised $8.5M in January, 2011 in a funding round led by two prestigious venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer (KPCB) sFund™ and Greycroft Partners. From a marketing, selling, and service standpoint the value of influence scores is being debated daily on Quora and ... Read More
Nearly every marketing manager, director or VP who is attending my MBA class in International Marketing tells me that increasingly larger percentages of their budgets go to digital over traditional marketing. The primary driver is social media and the urgency to stay on top of what is going on with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the relentless need for content to fuel their corporate blogs. The students in my class are divided on the value of corporate blogs however; some see it as critical for defining thought leadership and others use them purely for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While they are split on this issue, the class is unanimous that the era of digital marketing driven by social media is here and moving very fast.
What does Success Look Like in Social ... Read More
Nearly every marketing manager, director or VP who is attending my MBA class in International Marketing tells me that increasingly larger percentages of their budgets go to digital over traditional marketing. The primary driver is social media and the urgency to stay on top of what is going on with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the relentless need for content to fuel their corporate blogs.
The students in my class are divided on the value of corporate blogs however; some see it as critical for defining thought leadership and others use them purely for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While they are split on this issue, the class is unanimous that the era of digital marketing driven by social media is here and moving very fast.
What does Success Look Like in ... Read More
Social media is enough to make any Marketing VP think they’ve found the Promised Land. Online global communities with easy access, no cost to participate and literally millions of people and companies joining every month, driving traffic estimates to the stratosphere. Social networks and their blistering growth is ... Read More
Moms have a knack for making learning so fun and real that their lessons just stick with you. They teach through brilliant, hands-on examples. Moms have the advantage of using life as their textbook, what happens to you as the lesson plan, and their absolute, unwavering loyalty as the foundation for growing. Moms know what makes relationships tick, how to get you out of trouble, and best of all, the gentle art of diplomacy with Dads and other parents when things go awry.
It’s often said that those who excel in life are lucky enough to find the intersection of their passions and their expertise. I’d say Moms are at that intersection; they give it their all, everyday. And in giving so much of themselves they deliver some great lessons which so applicable to customer ... Read More
The knee-jerk reaction of many company execs is to silence the loudest critics their companies have. From the diplomatic to demanding, the approaches vary but the message often delivered to critics is the same: be gentle in your criticisms and generous in your praise – or go away. Even in 2010 when blogs get much more traffic that newspaper websites, more time is spent on the Internet than watching television, and Facebook and Twitter both have more users than some nations have populations, companies are still ignoring their customers’ voices just because they are not positive. What an opportunity to connect with customers and learn to improve.
Critics Can Be A Great Catalyst For Growth
The natural inclination of any one in marketing, product ... Read More
There are an outstanding series of videos sponsored by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. One in particular is outstanding in the area of early adopter’s contributions to a start-up trying to sell software over the Internet. It features Eric Ries, co-founder and CTO of IMVU, best-selling author and board member for several companies.
In this segment he discusses how early adopters can often deliver excellent insights and help more effectively tailor a new application to specific market needs. It’s well worth the time spent watching. If you have time his entire talk given at Stanford in 2009 is worth checking out.
We’re all getting reminded every day to take ownership of our digital brands and jump on social networks. For companies the pressure they put on themselves is enormous. So strong in fact that I’ve heard of CEOs monitoring follower counts on their corporate Twitter ... Read More
Walking through the doors of the Siemens Energy and Automation Plant in Norwood, Ohio you immediately get a sense of the legacy this manufacturing plant has and the intense, even obsessive focus on customers driving it into the future. This plant has been in continuous operation for over 100 years at this location and is the leading producer of electric motors in North America. There are plaques just outside the front door older than anyone reading this, and inside there is this obsessive focus on excelling at each engine manufacturing task to delight customers.
What amazed me about my visits there was how obsessed the culture of this manufacturing plant is with their ... Read More
Social networks are re-writing the rules of what best practices in marketing are. Brands are laid bare in front of millions daily. It doesn’t take long for just one customer to make a major statement about how they feel about a brand and make a major impact on ... Read More
Sales people live and die by the relationships they make, not by their histories of contacts.
Like archeological finds, rolodexes preserve the past. Some can tell you the entire career of technology buyers over twenty years. Rolodexes are a fine research instrument but a selling tool inching towards ... Read More
Much praise has been heaped on social networks for their ability to streamline customer connections, making it possible to hear the voice of customers much clearer, and serve as a means for everyone from CIOs and CEOs to interns to better listen to customers. I agree, social networks in general and Twitter specifically have opened up the floodgates of customer centricity and hopefully it will change company’s cultures for the better, fast.
In the midst of all this euphoria however, I think it’s important ask the harder questions.
Is all this great inbound customer data actually changing mindsets and philosophies?
Is it changing ... Read More
Nearly every software company, from start-ups whipping out business plans looking for any money they can get their hands on to keep their doors open, to enterprise Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) companies looking to ride the social networking wave into new sales of their existing applications (for the most part) Twitter has become king of the hype cycle. One estimate puts the media coverage attributed to Twitter at $48M for a month.
Let’s just stop a second and ask a really fundamental question. Can you ... Read More
of my best students, a manager of one of the largest Home Depot stores
in Southern California, just finished off his MBA thesis. His research
centered on how Home Depot could become more customer-centric by
trimming back IT systems and processes to free up more time for
associates to focus on customers. In his thesis he shows how cutting
out entire layers of management could make the entire company more
efficient and customer-driven. Clearly this student has a passion
about making his store entirely focused on the customer experience.
The 4th of July's many festivities from parades, to fireworks displays, from entire blocks getting together to decorate in red, white and blue to even one story I heard of a daughters' friend painting the family beagle red, white and blue while he slept on the back porch this afternoon all make this such a genuine American experience.
Over the last several years I've taught more students in international business and strategy courses than any other time. Like anyone, they love a good party that is nationwide, and the 4th is a reason from them to celebrate their freedoms here in America too.
I am Learning From My Students What The Reality of Freedom Is
It is quite moving to be ... Read More
The greater the uncertainty about the future, the greater the intensity to quantify it.
As this economic crisis shows, a strict reliance on numbers alone is
short-sighted, and completely misses the point of what key performance
indicators (KPIs), metrics and ratios were originally created for to
Measuring interprocess efficiency, collaboration, and giving teams
the opportunity to own their performance and shared results matters
most. Infusing ownership of results is far more important than the
flood of figures that many dashboards have.
Why Searching for ROI Is Relative
Return on Investment ... Read More
You have to admire the social networking evangelists in industries that have high maintenance customer bases, but dove headfirst into the social networking pool anyway. That took courage. And many of them are turning it into a success. They are redefining how service is done. Challenging their competitors to keep up that are NOT involved in social networking is turning their customer satisfaction into a competitive strength. You have to specifically admire Comcast, a cable company, for biting the bullet and getting on Twitter, and the airlines who go after customer satisfaction in real time through social networking.
These companies are nailing customer satisfaction ... Read More
Just watching the companies fighting their way through the challenges of this economic downturn one can appreciate what it means to go after intelligence aggressively. There is a small healthcare products manufacturing company in Los Angeles for example that has decided to throw down the gauntlet of transforming its supply chain, sourcing and marketing systems to be more focused on rapid response times to customers. They decided that in the midst of an economic downturn, getting aggressive about how they used intelligence could make a huge difference in their ability to survive and grow.
As it turns out their strategy of aggressive intelligence is paying off with increased ... Read More