Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cognitive Computing , @DXWorldExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Customer Benchmarking Motivates Action | @CloudExpo #SaaS #Cloud #Analytics

Many CSMs at Software-as-a-Service companies conduct Quarterly Business Reviews with senior executives at key accounts

Customer Benchmarking Motivates Action
By Ed Powers

Electric utility companies promoting power conservation programs discovered that simply informing consumers of their electricity usage relative to neighbors lowered overall consumption. This type of normative social comparison has produced the same effects in other domains. Why does this work? How can the idea be used in Customer Success?

Keeping up with the Joneses
Homeowners typically receive letters from the power company showing how many kilowatt hours they've used over the past month compared with other homes in the vicinity. In addition to bar charts, consumers see a "smiley face" if they're doing well or a "frowny face" if they're trailing the average. The mailers typically also include a list of recommendations for conserving energy.

social norm

Surprisingly, this simple trick works. People change their behaviors when they see how they stack up against others. In multiple experiments run by the utility companies, providing benchmarks reduced overall power usage 2%.1 That may not sound like much, but across millions of homes the savings are substantial, helping power companies meet their government-mandated conservation goals. Similar outcomes from communicating descriptive norms have been shown in hospitality (reusing towels more often),2 voting (increasing turnout),3 and charitable giving (boosting the number of donors).4

What causes this behavior? Neuroscientist David Rock says subconscious social drivers are hardwired into our brains after eons of evolution.5 One primary driver is status, how we view ourselves in the "pecking order." Social bearing means survival-whether it's humans, birds, or wildebeest, members at the apex of the hierarchy are more likely to continue living and pass along genetic information. To aid our preservation, we reflexively perceive higher status as a reward and lower status as a threat. As a result, we savor outranking others and become anxious when we fall short.

Seeing rank expressed in numbers may increase the urgency to act. Neuroscientists have found that the brain uses the same circuitry to process number comparisons as it does to determine social status.6 The findings suggest we subconsciously use numbers to record social rank, and seeing status expressed numerically activates overlapping neural networks that may add fuel to our emotional response. Whenever emotions are strong, decisions and actions tend to follow.

Better business reviews
Many Customer Success Managers (CSMs) at Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies conduct Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) with senior executives at key accounts. Customers derive business value from deploying and using software, so a common objective is to ensure implementation milestones and adoption goals are met. Executive engagement and attendance at QBRs, however, is a chronic problem. Often CSMs do a poor job of describing how the software subscription impacts things like organizational productivity and decision making, but other times they simply fail to capture the attention of senior leaders.

Showing comparative data can help. Besides demonstrating progress vs. the customer's goals, showing results relative to the customer's own peer groups has greater impact. Executives are usually competitive people. When they see their organization is ahead of the pack, the fact suddenly becomes a talking point with their own bosses. When they see progress is behind the curve, they are more likely to push subordinates and make things happen. Sharing the tidbit garners increased attention and raises CSM status in the eyes of executives. "Information is power" is also true among top managers, and good intelligence is always appreciated.

The approach works at scale, too. Like the power company, automatically communicating descriptive social norms can move the needle in large populations of small customers. When SaaS companies show individual performance relative to benchmarks via tailored e-mails and in-product messages, they can influence behaviors in mass audiences without the need for personal contact. A simple change in how data are communicated can bump customer usage as well as CSM productivity.

New automation tools make the process much easier. OnlyBoth's benchmarking engine uses artificial intelligence to automatically uncover readable, motivating, action-provoking insights and customer comparisons. CSMs can use this novel intelligence to nudge customers toward greater success during business reviews and for routine, personalized e-mail communications campaigns.

We're naturally wired to compare ourselves with others. SaaS companies can easily capitalize on this basic human nature. And that would place them ahead of the pack.

References

1 Alcott, H. (2011). Social norms and energy conservation. Journal of Public Economics 95, pp. 1082-1095

2 Nolan, J., Schultz, W., Cialdini, R., Goldstein, N., Griskevicius, V. (2008). Normative influence is underdetected. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 34, pp. 913-923

3 Gerber, A. and Rogers, T. (2009). Descriptive social norms and motivation to vote: everybody's voting and so should you. The Journal of Politics 71, January 2009, pp. 178-191

4 Frey, B., and Meier, S. (2004). Social comparisons and pro-social behavior: testing "conditional cooperation" in a field experiment. The American Economic Review, December 2004, pp. 1717-1722

5 Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. NeuroLeadership Journal

6 Chiaoa, J., Haradaa, T., Obyb, E., Lia, Z., Parrish, T. Bridge, D. (2008). Neural representations of social status hierarchy in human inferior parietal cortex. Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Continue reading

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Raul Valdes-Perez

Raul Valdes-Perez co-founded OnlyBoth in March 2014 and is CEO. He co-founded Vivisimo in 2000, a search software company that provided enterprise products and web-based consumer services, serving as its CEO for nine years and as Chairman for twelve until its acquisition in 2012 by IBM.

At Vivisimo he was named a 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the North Central Region and a top ten reader favorite for Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. magazine. Earlier, he was on the Carnegie Mellon computer science faculty. He received seven research grants from the National Science Foundation and published 50 journal articles and book chapters in computer, natural, and social science.

He received a computer science PhD from Carnegie Mellon in 1991, where his advisor was the Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon, and B.S. and M.S. degrees in information engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Raul authored the book Advice is for Winners: How to Get Advice for Better Decisions in Life and Work in late 2012, and is on several company and non-profit boards.

CloudEXPO Stories
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully been able to harness the excess capacity of privately owned vehicles and turned into a meaningful business. This concept can be step-functioned to harnessing the spare compute capacity of smartphones that can be orchestrated by MEC to provide cloud service at the edge.
All zSystem customers have a significant new business opportunity to extend their reach to new customers and markets with new applications and services, and to improve the experience of existing customers. This can be achieved by exposing existing z assets (which have been developed over time) as APIs for accessing Systems of Record, while leveraging mobile and cloud capabilities with new Systems of Engagement applications. In this session, we will explore business drivers with new Node.js apps for delivering enhanced customer experience (with mobile and cloud adoption), how to accelerate development and management of SoE app APIs with API management.
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addressed the challenges of scaling document repositories to this level; architectural approaches for coordinating data; search and storage technologies, Solr, and Amazon storage and database technologies; the breadth of use cases that modern content systems need to support; how to support user applications that require subsecond response times.
The technologies behind big data and cloud computing are converging quickly, offering businesses new capabilities for fast, easy, wide-ranging access to data. However, to capitalize on the cost-efficiencies and time-to-value opportunities of analytics in the cloud, big data and cloud technologies must be integrated and managed properly. Pythian's Director of Big Data and Data Science, Danil Zburivsky will explore: The main technology components and best practices being deployed to take advantage of data and analytics in the cloud, Architecture, integration, governance and security scenarios and Key challenges and success factors of moving data and analytics to the cloud
For years the world's most security-focused and distributed organizations - banks, military/defense agencies, global enterprises - have sought to adopt cloud technologies that can reduce costs, future-proof against data growth, and improve user productivity. The challenges of cloud transformation for these kinds of secure organizations have centered around data security, migration from legacy systems, and performance. In our presentation, we will discuss the notion that cloud computing, properly managed, is poised to bring about a digital transformation to enterprise IT. We will discuss the trend, the technology and the timeline for adoption.