Customer centricity, or putting the customer’s expectations front and center, is not a new concept. But given the reality of the global pandemic, coupled with uncertain times, delivering on this concept is more important than ever, especially for SMBs. Simply put, delivering genuine value across every customer touchpoint can not only help build resilience but also contribute to long-term success.

In this 5th and final episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we explore customer-centricity and how obsessing over the customer experience can help SMBs.

As a first step, understanding the true definition of customer centricity and how to execute is key, says Scott Romesser, GoTo’s Chief Customer Officer. “In the most literal sense, customer centricity is about understanding who your customers really are, what they want from you and your company, and then having a focus on delivering on those needs and expectations. Your objective is to ensure that every aspect of their experience, sometimes referred to as the customer journey, is the best it can possibly be.”

“As I think about where we are today, focusing on customer experience is even more important now,” he continues. “That feels weird saying because it should always be a top priority. But for SMBs right now, especially with cost efficiency becoming a major factor and cash preservation becoming more important than ever , the connection between you and your customers is more essential than ever.”

What’s more, he notes, a successful customer-centric approach has many advantages: for starters, it can boost customer retention at a fraction of the cost of acquiring a net new customer. “It can also turn customers into advocates,” he says. “Ultimately, no one can sell your product as effectively as your own happy customers. But even more fundamentally, for SMBs in nearly every industry, there’s no shortage of competition. Consumers have more choices than ever before. So, you want to make sure that they feel that essential connection to your company.”

Listen in to learn all the details, including Scott’s timely and relevant advice on how to execute on a customer-centric strategy.

Be sure to listen to other episodes in our series, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, and learn how you can future-proof your business with agile IT leadership.

IT Leadership, Small and Medium Business

Most everyone agrees: Before the pandemic, creating a company culture and encouraging people’s connection with their colleagues was simpler – many SMBs had a shared office where employees could gather, work, and collaborate. Today, things are dramatically different – and HR and IT leaders must shift their strategies in kind.

In this 4th episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we explore the way employee engagement has changed, and how business and tech leaders can nurture a healthy and productive workforce in new times with a focus on strong connections.

“It’s been kind of a crazy three years. I feel like we keep using the word unprecedented … there’s so much going on. We shifted a lot for our people. And we had to do it very quickly, in response to the pandemic,” says Jo Deal, Chief Human Resources Officer at Go To. “But I think what people want from work and from … what they want from each other, that cultural kind of human connection piece, has not changed.”

“Connections is what is important to people,” she continues. “We value working with other people and connecting with our colleagues and with our customers.” As a result, SMB tech and business leaders must consider what technology and tools can do to make those connections possible.

“You don’t have any raw materials, you don’t have a production, you just have people,” she notes. “That’s key. If your people are engaged at work with their work and connected to the culture of the company and to each other, if they know what’s going on, they know what the company’s mission is, and they know how they connect with it, then I really believe amazing things can happen.”

Listen in to learn all the details, including actionable insights on how to establish and maintain connections, even when the definition of work has changed, and how to create an equal experience for everybody, no matter where they are.

Be sure to listen to other episodes in our series, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, and learn how you can future-proof your business with agile IT leadership.

IT Leadership, Small and Medium Business

It’s clear that in the last few years, the global pandemic has created unique circumstances for business and IT leaders at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Yet a relentless focus on customers can help build resilience and success.  

In this 3rd episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we explore why success and resilience depend on high-quality customer engagement.

For MK, this focus is essential, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses.

“It’s always been true, how well you connect with your customers. But now we’re communicating with and supporting each other in ever more critical ways,” says MK. “All of us need those seamless interactions with each other. We used to be able to have these rich interactions when we were face to face. And now technology must pick up the slack.”

In fact, the importance of customer experience now trumps goals such as cutting costs as a deciding factor around IT investment, MK says.

I think it’s important to realize that just like all of us, our customers and our employees are experiencing uneasy times. It’s almost like concentric circles of unease. And that has drastically changed the way they work, the way we work,” she says. “But expectations have only grown. Customers, employees, people, they value staying connected. The stakes are very high. We commissioned some research with Frost and Sullivan. And we found that nearly half of employees say they won’t consider working for a company unless the company offers some flexibility.”

“Now consider how hard it is … in this labor market … to make hires. And you see why the stakes are super high,” she says. “With customers and employees – these are your two most valuable assets.”

Listen in to learn all the details, including MK’s actionable insights on how to prevent poor customer experience from undermining your company’s resilience.

Be sure to listen to other episodes in our series, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, and learn how you can future-proof your business with agile IT leadership.

IT Leadership, Small and Medium Business

Data is the new currency of business. We hear that constantly and it is an accurate description of the value that data provides for the successful operation of a business.  Put simply, organizations with “better” data management and use it more effectively, win in the market.  This blog summarizes a recent podcast that featured Graeme Thompson, CIO of Informatica. 

Mr. Thompson started the podcast with an example that drives home the differences between how data and currency are managed in companies today.  A simple comparison of how a CIO and a CFO would answer four key questions set the tone. 

When the CFO is asked “do you know where all your currency is stored?”, the quick answer is yes.  The CIO can’t say the same for the data.If asked, “can you categorize all of your currency?”, the CFO nods in the affirmative, but the CIO knows that many data labels are vague or inaccurate.Asking the CFO if they know who has access to currency, they are certain they do.  The CIO cannot say the same for corporate data.Finally, when asked if currency can be directed for the most profitable use by the company, the CFO can make a positive assertion.  The CIO knows this is not the case.

These four questions provide the foundation for a strategy to enhance the management of data and creating a data platform that enables an organization to leverage it. 

Taking this strategic view of the data asset and making the data the platform for a successful business is also a fundamental change in the role of the CIO.  Rather than focusing on terabytes, cloud services, or how many laptops are in use, a CIO that is focusing on delivering accurate, documented, consistent, managed, and secured data becomes part the firm’s strategic discussions.  This is a fundamental change that enables the CIO to get “a seat at the table”. 

Informatica is enabling this trend with their Intelligent Data Management Cloud, an end-to-end data management platform that acts as the unifying force for making data the currency of your organization.  For more information on how you can create a data platform that gives the organization the same certainty for its information as it has for its money, visit our website.

Data Architecture

It’s clear that in the last two years, the global pandemic has created unique circumstances for business and IT leaders at small- and mid-sized businesses.. Yet strategic technology decisions, such as vendor consolidation, can help support a business’s ability to handle volatility and remain agile in challenging times.

In this second episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we examine how to future-proof your business with agile IT leadership.

In fact, according to GoTo research, 95% of those surveyed have consolidated or plan to begin consolidation to multi-purpose vendors as they seek to streamline and optimize in the face of global uncertainty. Our guest, Paddy Srinivasan, GoTo’s CEO, says this is essential.

“When the pandemic set upon us, most IT departments were in a scrambling mode. And they bought a lot of technologies just to make ends meet as their workforce started dispersing across the world,” he explains. “So, there was a mad scramble for solutions for remote connectivity, monitoring, management, security, and the whole nine yards.”

Fast forward, and most IT departments are looking for ways to streamline these investments, he explains. “Having multiple vendors and tools drive up costs significantly. And it also becomes super hard to share information and have seamless workflows for all the tasks that the employees (both in IT and outside IT) must accomplish on a day-to-day basis.” The answer: Streamlining IT vendors.

Listen in to learn all the details, including Paddy’s actionable insights on how to reduce the burden on IT while keeping employees and customers happy.

Be sure to listen to other episodes in our series, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertaintyand learn how you can future-proof your business with agile IT leadership.

IT Leadership, Small and Medium Business

There’s no doubt that today’s small- and medium-sized business leaders are facing several unprecedented challenges. And building resilience to weather any upcoming storms is essential.

In this first episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we welcome Jamie Domenici, Chief Marketing Officer at GoTo. Jamie’s unique expertise in marketing and hands-on experience in small- and mid-sized companies makes her wisdom and best practices especially relevant and meaningful.

“My passion is around small businesses,” she says. “And my whole life honestly, has been associated with small businesses. And now working at larger companies, I really spend a lot of my time and my efforts thinking about how we help small businesses navigate some of those more challenging experiences.”

Navigating today’s turbulence requires a strategy that allows for agility and strength. Jamie’s advice? “Resilience is all about the ability to bounce back,” she says. “I think a resilient strategy is one that allows you to adapt quickly to market changes, view mistakes and failures as learning opportunities, and most importantly, anticipate problems so you can prepare for them in the future.”

Listen in to learn all the details, including Jamie’s actionable insights on how to use marketing and technology for differentiation.

IT Leadership

The move to digital business has wrought profound changes in certain industries, and financial services is one of them.  Not only are traditional financial services companies using data and technology to change the game, a plethora of “FinTech” startups are using digital products to dislodge traditional players.  This podcast features Peter Ku. Vice President, Chief Industry Strategist for financial services for Informatica.  He shares his insight, expertise, and experiences in helping financial services firm become data-driven.

Financial services firms are quickly moving to deploying a “data platform” that is the foundation for identifying ways to improve processes and allows them to address new opportunities.  The data platform supports several critical initiatives in this industry:

Support for new product development by using data to identify opportunities where current services aren’t available or are unattractive to customers.Improving the customer experience with more relevant content and personalized experiences based on information about that customer’s activities.Improve risk, governance, and compliance with a comprehensive view of data contained in processes and interactions so it can be secured and protected to meet these regimes.

The use of a data platforms to drive new product offers and address customer needs is already beginning.  Perhaps the most visible of these efforts is in personal auto insurance.  Drivers can choose coverages based on price or needs.  The ability to “personalize” their policy and fit it into their household budget has changed the industry.

As financial services firms build their data platform, they will use it to innovate and build new competitive advantage.  Informatica is enabling this trend with their Intelligent Data Management Cloud, an end-to-end data management platform that enables financial services firms to bring together data from many sources or apps to gain the insights that lead to business success.

The Intelligent Data Management Cloud is an essential tool for making data “fit for business use” in financial services.  For more information on how you can create data assets that drive business success, look at: https://www.informatica.com/solutions/industry-solutions/financial-services.html

Data Architecture, Financial Services Industry

Modernization is on the minds of IT decision makers, and with good reason — legacy systems cannot keep up with the realities of today’s business environment. Additionally,      many organizations are discovering their modernization advantage: their developer teams, and the databases that underpin  their applications.

“Legacy modernization is really a strategic initiative that enables you to apply the latest innovations in development methodologies and technology to refresh your portfolio of applications,” says Frederic Favelin, EMEA Technical Director, Partner Presales at MongoDB.

His remarks came during an episode of  Google Cloud’s podcast series “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy.”

This is much more than just lift and shift,” Favelin continues. “Moving your existing application and databases to faster hardware or onto the cloud may get you slightly higher performances and marginally reduce cost, but you will fail to realize the transformational business agility and scale, or development freedom without modernizing the whole infrastructure.”      

The ‘Innovation Tax’

For many organizations, databases have proliferated, leading to a complex ecosystem of resources — cloud, on-premise, NoSQL, non-relational, traditional. The problem, Favelin says, is organizations have deployed non-relational or no-SQL databases as “band aids to compensate for the shortcomings of legacy databases.”

“So they quickly find that most non-relational databases  excel at just a few specific things — niche things — and they have really limited capabilities otherwise, such as limited queries, capabilities, or lack of data consistency,” says Favelin.

“So it’s at this point that organizations start to really feel the burden of learning, maintaining and trying to figure out how to integrate the data between a growing set of technologies. This often means that separate search technologies are added to the data infrastructure, which require teams to move and transform data from database to dedicated search engine.”

Add the need to integrate increasingly strategic mobile capabilities, and the environment  gets even more complex, quickly. In addition, as organizations are striving to deliver a richer application experience through analytics, they sometimes need to use complex extract, transform, and load (ETL) operations to move the operational data to a separate analytical database.

This adds even more time, people and money to the day-to-day operations. “So at MongoDB, we give this a name: innovation tax,” Favelin says.

Toward a modern ecosystem

Favelin says a modern database solution must address three critical needs:

It should address the fastest way to innovate, with flexibility and a       consistent developer experience. It must be highly secure, have database encryption, and be fully auditable.Next is the freedom and the flexibility to be deployed on any infrastructure– starting from laptops, moving to the cloud, and integrating with Kubernetes. It must be scalable, resilient, and mission critical with auto scaling.Finally, to offer a unified modern application experience means that the developer data platform needs to include full text search capabilities, must be operational between transactional workloads and analytical workloads, while bringing the freshness of the transactional data to the analytical data in order to be as efficient as possible to serve the best experience for the users.

“The MongoDB developer data platform helps ensure a unified developer experience,” Favelin says, “not just across different operational database workloads, but across data workloads, including search mobile data, real time analytics and more.”

Check out “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy”  podcast series from Google Cloud on Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.Get started today with MongoDB Atlas on Google Cloud on Google Marketplace.

Cloud Architecture, Databases

The idea of having “The right tool for the job” applies across domains. Two thousand years ago Greek mathematician Archimedes is reported to have said “Give me a place to stand, and the right lever, and I could lift the earth.”


Fast forward to today’s cloud-centric environment, and application developers are nodding in enthusiastic agreement with Archimedes; and while things may be considered abundantly more complicated than in 250 BC., Google Cloud partner Aiven has made it their job to streamline some of the complications that can inhibit cloud-centric application development.

“Our mission here at Aiven is quite simple,” says Troy Sellers, presales Solution Architect at Aiven. “It’s to make the developer’s life easier. And when you’re a company that is looking at driving innovations or transformations into the cloud, for example, they need the right tools to support that activity.”

Aiven provides open source solutions that stand up a cloud based data infrastructure, freeing developers to focus on high value projects, and in the process, accelerate cloud migration and modernization.

“Having the right tool is just as important as having the ideas, because it allows the people with the ideas to get on and focus on the things that are important,” says Sellers in Google Cloud’s podcast series “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy.”

Dealing with complexity

As digital transformation evolves into broader modernization efforts, organizations face a common milestone — they need to expand their cloud-based services, but they lack the staff and skills to do so at scale.

It’s not just a resource question, though. Sellers says, “The challenges today, they’re worlds apart from the days gone by where I used to be building applications myself. I remember, we used to go and talk to customers, when big data was like a gigabyte.”

Today’s modern data and application development stacks contain many moving parts, and different tiers of logic — not to mention the sheer volume of data in play, the need to be aware of regulatory compliance and security issues, and the pressure to keep up with today’s expectations of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CICD) for applications.

“There’s this expectation on developers that releases go from, rather than once every three months, to once every month, to every lunchtime at 11 o’clock,” Sellers says. “Time to market is just getting faster and faster and faster. And you definitely are in a race with your competitors to do that.”

“This is probably one of the main reasons that developers turn to companies like Google Cloud and Aiven for fully managed services, because it just takes a lot of that headache out of managing that. And they can get to market really, really fast.”

The Open Source Advantage

Aiven has leaned into Open Source for cloud data infrastructure since its inception in 2016. The advantages: cost savings, agility, no vendor lock-in, productivity, and efficiency.

“We manage database services for our customers, database services in the cloud, open source technologies such as Postgres, MySQL, Apache, Kafka,” says Sellers.  “We help customers adopt those services so they can focus on what they do best, which is building technology for their customers.”

Check “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy”  podcast series from Google Cloud on Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Google Cloud Platform

Technology is changing how healthcare and life sciences organizations operate.  With more information and analytics to find the “meaning” from the data resource, these organizations are making breakthroughs in therapies, discoveries, and patient outcomes.  This blog details the key points from a recent podcast with Richard Kramer, Chief Strategist Healthcare and Life Sciences at Informatica.  The podcast detailed best practices and strategies for building a data layer in these vertical industries.

First and foremost, organizations are making substantial investments in managing data as an asset. Executives are focused on ensuring that the business has trustworthy fit-for-purpose data, and employees can make it useful. In addition, master data management and governance are necessary to reduce data friction. The idea of master data governance is all about getting accurate and useful data in place so that it can be used across the enterprise.

Some examples provide excellent illustrations of these goals.  Anthem is investing in an enterprise data catalog. They understand it is very difficult to manage data as an asset if they don’t know where it is, where it’s going, or what happens in between. Transparency and trust are mandatory.   Eli Lilly is investing in a data marketplace, a central place for data assets to be discoverable and consumable across a large, complex enterprise.

The benefits of these initiatives are substantial. The goal is to use data to break down silos.  Data becomes the common “language” in a global company, and it has tremendous value by providing consistency and coordination across the business.  Data is also essential to smoothing the processes between different entities, like providers and insurance carriers. With trustworthy, fit-for-purpose data, federated business processes work more effectively.  The data platform is an essential resource for every healthcare and life sciences organization. It will provide the foundation for modern operations that run on facts, not guesswork.

Data Engineering