Live Adobe Webinar: Shared Services and the Cloud in the Public Sector

This week Adobe will be hosting a live webinar debate discussing the role of shared services and the cloud in the public sector. The webinar will take place at 2pm, Thursday 3 February 2011 (for 45 minutes).

The panel is made of leading figures from technology and the public sector (see below) and will be moderated by Helen Olsen editor of Local Government IT in Use and

  • Mark O’Neill, CIO, Knowledge Management, IT & Working Environment at Department of Communities & Local Government/Department of Media, Culture and Sport
  • Liam Maxwell, IT specialist and Conservative Councillor at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (Lead author on Conservative think tank paper: Better for Less)
  • Alan Banks, MD Adobe UK

During the programme, which will be broadcast live over the internet using Adobe Connect, we will be asking the audience to participate in polls to gain their views. You can also submit questions in advance of the interviews for an ‘Any Questions’ section at the end.

Click here to register to watch the interview live. You will be sent the live link the morning of the webinar and click here to submit a question to the panel.

Hope you enjoy the webinar!

Managing Customer Experience Management in Public Sector

Here in the UK, the minds of everyone in government and public sector have been duly focused on the Comprehensive Spending Review, as well as ongoing budget cuts and the undoubted effect that it will have on how services are delivered to UK citizens. It is sometimes difficult to look beyond ‘this Sceptred Isle’ and easy to feel that the issues which we have to overcome are unique. The reality is that local authorities and government bodies across Europe face the same issues and pressures as we do in the UK.

We recently hosted a very insightful seminar with colleagues, partners and customers from the Nordics. The topic for discussion was customer experience, customer engagement and the role that technology plays in redefining the experiences users have. You can view the whole webinar via the video below and a short summary of the topics covered is below.

A problem shared…

Just like in the UK, central and local government departments across the Nordics have to economise – searching for cost savings and efficiencies across their operations. New technology processes which incorporate tools such as rich internet applications, content management and electronic document management are being investigated as a means with which to not only reduce costs, but to increase the quality and efficiency of the way services are delivered.

Niels Tapdrup, citizen service manager, Municipality of Skanderborg in Denmark is heading a project which will streamline the ways in which citizens contact the council more efficiently, collating postal mail, email, online and telephone enquiries. Tapdrup explains how efficiency and cost saving are essential. The challenge they faced was how to change their channel strategy, and move expensive traditional channels of communication, to cheaper online methods whilst at the same time improve services for citizens.

The citizens changing demands

The customer, or citizen, is king and their needs must be met. Johan Salenstedt managing director, Adobe Nordics explains how the demand on how we use and access information has changed dramatically – people are familiar with just ‘using’ applications, rather than being trained on how to access them. Facebook is a perfect example of this – no one has ever been trained to use Facebook, yet implicitly millions of people use it every day. The same now applies to business or public service applications.

Barriers to implementation

In the discussion familiar barriers to change were identified, which concentrated on the internal operation of a department or authority:

  • How do you tackle the initial business process?
  • How do you manage the inevitable cultural shift within the organisation caused by doing things differently?
  • And finally, overcoming the elephants in the room – those things which have always been seen as too expensive or difficult to change.

How to succeed

Rule number one for a successful IT implementation is to plan with the customer in mind. The needs of the end user must drive the new system. For example, any new technology or process which is delivering information and services must be delivered in exactly the way that the end users wish to receive it. Salenstedt confirms that public sector services must replicate consumer applications – they need to be easy and intuitive to use, whilst available 24×7 on mobile and PC and must be personalised to the individual users needs.

Secondly, developers need to involve all stakeholders in a collaborative consultation process. It is vital that they ‘show’, rather than ‘tell’ how new functions and solutions will operate. Taking a brand new approach to processes which have been set in stone for years is not easy – overcoming cultural barriers could make or break the project. For example, if the users don’t see the benefit in electronic documents, then they’ll always revert back to paper documents. Involving stakeholders at the outset will help to address these cultural issues.

Authorities can reap the benefits

The benefits are clear as at Skanderborg they reduced the cost of a single ‘traditional’ citizen contact point from 145DKK (£16.50) to just 10DKK (£1.15) by using an online interaction point – this is a huge saving.

Taking a business minded, commercial attitude to public sector reform is perhaps the best approach to managing this difficult process of business transformation. Local authorities can fundamentally change the dynamic within an organisation and the way it interacts with its customers. This can be an un-nerving process but is often essential – a new way of working in which customer experience and customer centricity are embedded in the organisation.

Adobe is leader in web conferencing

November has proven to be an important month for Adobe’s web conferencing solution Adobe Connect. Earlier this month we were very pleased to announce the availability of Adobe Connect 8 – incorporating improved usability, enhanced collaboration functionalities and a host of other benefits – and now we are delighted with the news that Adobe Connect has been recognised as a “leader” in a new Gartner report.

Gartner has positioned Adobe in the Leaders Quadrant of its 2010 research report “Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing”. Adobe was one of 15 vendors evaluated in the report.

In a statement accompanying the report Gartner said that the web conferencing market is set to grow 20% in 2011. Interestingly, the tough economic climate could actually drive adoption in web conferencing as organisations look for ways to drive down operating costs.

The cost saving benefits of web conferencing have been very publically touted by the IT industry and providers of web conferencing solutions for many years. But doubts about the technology have acted as a barrier for some individuals and organisations, preventing them from embracing the technology.

In Adobe Connect 8 we have a solution which is both technologically advanced and has usability at its core. It is certainly our hope that this, coupled with continuing validation from third parties such as Gartner will help increase the take-up of web conferencing in 2011.

Adobe MAX 2010, the week in review…

Last month saw Adobe host MAX 2010, the biggest event in the Adobe calendar. Amongst the thousands of attendees, lucky delegates saw Martha Stewart discussing the future of digital publishing, US indie rock band The Bravery performing at the closing party and even an appearance from star of the big screen William Shater, who added an extra dimension of Hollywood class to the proceedings.

But amidst the glitz and glamour there was serious business to be done. MAX brings together designers, developers and business leaders from across the world – it’s a chance to talk a bit about what Adobe is doing and showcase some of our solutions and new technology but importantly it provides a forum for delegates to discuss what they are creating and how their work is shaping the future of digital content and services.

Proceedings were kicked-off on the first day with a keynote presentation from Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch. Kevin set the seen for what was certainly a key theme through-out the conference – delivering multiscreen experiences. This is an incredibly important topic at the moment and an area in which Adobe has a long history of solving cross-platform challenges. Adobe is now helping to clear a path through the platform and standards fragmentation of the multiscreen world, enabling organisations to deliver content, applications and services across desktops, smart phones, tablets and TVs.

You can watch the full key note from Kevin via the video below. This also includes a behind the scenes look at MAX and some very cool simultaneous live DJ’ing and coding.

Enterprise technology certainly played a major part at MAX this year, not least with the launch of Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite 2.5 . This latest version of Adobe’s enterprise solution chimed appropriately with the wider theme of multiscreen technology and will go some way to improving customer experiences across multiple screens.

Adobe LiveCycle Mobile ES2 extends process management, data capture, and content services to mobile devices, providing true enterprise mobility. It easily integrates with back-end systems and enables intuitive mobile experiences for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows Mobile devices.

Alongside this, a series of ‘Solution Accelerators’ are designed to enable organisations to more quickly develop new customer-facing applications and services. We’ve also made it easier for organisations to embed real-time interaction – chat, voice, video, screen and application sharing – into these services.

A core element of LiveCycle is the ability to extend existing business processes to the point of customer interaction via the ubiquitous Adobe® Flash® Platform, including the Flash Player and standalone AIR runtime, and Adobe® Reader®.

With Adobe AIR, developers are able to use familiar tools including Adobe Flash® Professional CS5, Adobe Flash Builder™ and Flex to build rich standalone applications. Thanks to the launch last week of Adobe AIR 2.5, AIR now supports smartphones and tablets based on BlackBerry® Tablet OS, Android™, iOS, and desktops including Windows®, Macintosh and Linux® operating systems. This means that the 3 million Flash developers worldwide can now build a single application and easily deploy it across multiple application stores and devices.

In other MAX enterprise news, it was also very pleasing to see that today Adobe’s hard work within business process management (BPM) was recognised. In the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Process Management Suites Adobe received a significant positioning placed in the “Leaders” category. Adobe’s focus on delivering intuitive processes across Web and mobile touch points is helping to transform the quality of customer experience and is something we are very proud of..

Commenting on the report vice president and general manager of LiveCycle, Adobe Kumar Vora said: “Our user-centric approach to BPM enables organizations to improve service by automating and increasing visibility into customer-facing processes, achieving significant ROI.”

For more on MAX 2010 visit the official web pages and also check all the photos on flickr. And finally for the eager amongst register now for MAX 2011.

Adobe Connect 8: The New Era of Web Conferencing

Monday saw the launch of Adobe Connect 8, the latest version of Adobe’s web conferencing solution. Based on Adobe Flash Player, Connect is a great multi-purpose web conferencing solution ideal for Web meetings, online training and webinars.

Cost saving and the need to drive efficiency is at the top of the agenda for everyone at the moment, whether it’s government, education or private sector organisations. web conferencing has long been seen as a cost effective and efficient way of sharing information, collaborating and virtually coming together – so now couldn’t be more appropriate time to launch the new version of Connect and help organisations to achieve the full benefits of web conferencing.

The new additions in Adobe Connect 8 mean that we now have a solution which is easier to use, enables better collaboration, provides richer audio and video experiences, offers improved access and has finally increased security and support. All in all we feel this goes a long way to making Connect the best enterprise web conferencing solution on the market today. For full details on what we’ve added to Connect visit the Connect pages on the Adobe website.

For more details on what’s new in Connect 8 check out the short video below:

Get your Flex on at Flex and the City

This upcoming event on 20th October is a must for all Adobe Flex developers and members of the Flex community.

The Flex London User Group is putting on a 1-day free event ‘Flex and the City’, at the Barbican in London. It’s aimed at showcasing the use of the Flash Platform in the enterprise market.

Industry experts will share their knowledge through presentations and talks as well as showcasing real world applications leveraging the power of Flex in the enterprise market. Presentations will cover a range of topics and products including Flex, AIR, LCDS and Blaze DS.

A wide range of speakers will talk about their experiences of having developed and deployed enterprise apps. They include:

  • Michael Chaize – platform evangelist, Adobe
  • Richard Lord – technical architect, BrightTALK
  • Graeme Harker – trading system developer, Rule Financial
  • Richard Marsh – senior practitioner, Full Fat UK
  • Jodie O’Rourke – development lead, IPTV start-up
  • Conrad Winchester – dz015

This is a great opportunity to meet some of the Adobe team, professionals, community leaders and network with Flex developers and designers. For full details of the speaker programme click here and for further information about the event and details of how to register visit the official Flex and the City website.

Hope to see you there….

Discover how Customer Experience Management can transform private and public sector

Two important dates to put in the diary next week for anyone interested in customer experience management (CEM). Adobe, in partnership with Local Government IT in Use, will be hosting two live webinars exploring the importance of CEM and providing real, practical advice into how CEM should be integrated into everything an organisation does.

Details of the webinars are listed below. Both webinars will be broadcast live over the internet using Adobe Connect simply click here to register to watch the interviews live, specify which webinar you are interested in and link will be sent to you on the morning of the webinar.

We’re also keen to make these sessions as interactive as possible, so if you have a question which you’d like to put to a member of the panel in advance of the webinar then now is the time to ask -  just click here to submit your question and the panel will endeavour to answer it. You can also submit questions during the live webinar itself.

Tuesday 28 September. 2pm (UK time). Customer Experience Management and the Citizen – Can a focus on citizen experience drive down costs in public service delivery?

With budget cuts in the public sector a continuing reality and next month’s Spending Review on the horizon, the panel will explore how technology and a focus on customer insight, or experience, can cut through organisational silos, drive up service standards and deliver much needed efficiency savings.

The panel will include:

  • Dr Paul William, Basildon & Thurrock NHS Trust and Electronic Medical Records
  • Nigel Kelly, Ministry of Justice’s e-Working Programme
  • Johan Salenstedt, Managing Director Nordics, Adobe
  • Helen Olsen, Managing Editor, LGITU magazine and

Wednesday 29 September 2pm (UK time). Customer Experience Management – What makes a great customer experience?

Three factors – usefulness, usability, and how enjoyable the experience across all interaction channels – are key to creating happy customers, says Forrester. The analyst’s research also concludes that these three indicators are not only measurable, but critical to an organisation’s success.

The panel will include:

  • Jonathan Browne, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Jon Atkin, Scandocs,
  • George Neill, Experience Architect at Adobe UK
  • Helen Olsen, Managing Editor, LGITU magazine and

We’ll also be tweeting live from @AdobeEnterprise and if interested in following the conversation the tag is #LGITUlive.

Web conferencing and reducing public sector spending

On Wednesday I joined, as a panelist, a live debate on whether web and video conferencing could help the public sector save money.

Public sector cuts are, as we all know, high on the political agenda, and only last month the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, published online details of all his department’s spending over £500. Over £1.5m was spent on travel and hotel accommodation including £635,000 on taxis and cars. For me, web and video conferencing can make a real dent in these costs.

Appropriately, the debate was broadcast live on the web using Adobe Connect, Adobe’s web conferencing technology. We ran a number of live audience polls during the event which showed broad belief that web conferencing could help the public sector cut travel costs (92% said yes), training costs (100%) and carbon emissions (100%). Perhaps more tellingly, less than 10% cited cost as the main obstacle to wider adoption but 75% cited cultural issues.

Best practice advice from the panelists for obtaining end-user buy in for adopting web conferencing was as follows:

Joel Smith, Head of IS at The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), the key was making the adoption of video conferencing over the web an evolution not a revolution:

  • FERA started with an audio conference and presenter controlled slides
  • Then moved users on to an audio conference and shared workspace where they could work on the same document together
  • Before moving to full video conferencing

Andy Jones, Senior Learning Consultant at Thomson Reuters it has been a focus on ensuring a great first time experience of web and video conferencing for new users, whether it’s eLearning or a virtual team meeting, by:

  • Training presenters, team leaders and trainers on how best to use web / video conferencing
  • Keeping sessions short initially
  • Providing an interactive experience for learning that includes live questions and virtual break out rooms
  • Making sure whoever is leading a session takes time to plan it properly

From my perspective I’d add two further points:

  • The importance of finding an internal champion to evangelise and encourage use of web and video conferencing
  • The need to continually measure the benefits of web and video conferencing to the organisation. Highlighting the travel costs saved, the carbon emissions avoided and, most importantly, the levels of engagement and satisfaction among employees. There’s a great plug-in for Adobe Connect called Footprints that can help.

We covered a lot of really interesting areas during the debate, from costs and return on investment examples to deployment options, I’ll post more details in due course along with a link to replay of the debate, but in the meantime I’m interested to hear what you think.

Will Cawthorne, Connect Evangelist, Adobe UK

Organisations must work even harder to please customers

Thanks to my colleagues over in the US for flagging this very insightful piece of research from American Express. The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer explores attitudes and preferences toward customer service in the US and beyond.

Headline finding appears to be that in tough economic times customers want even more for their money – 61% said that customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment. Further proof (as if it were needed) that even when internal budgets are being reviewed and in some cases slashed, the customer experience should not be ignored – if anything investment should be increased.

Some other interesting stats from the report:

  • 27% feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service
  • 28% say that companies are now paying less attention to good service
  • Half of consumers (52%) expect something in return after a poor customer experience, beyond resolving the problem
  • Most consumers (70%) want an apology or some form of reimbursement if they receive a poor customer experience
  • The three most influential factors when deciding which companies they do business with include personal experience (98%), a company’s reputation or brand (92%), and recommendations from friends and family (88%)

Finally, for no other reason than it’s summer, and we’re feeling nostalgic, here’s a wonderfully retro 80s advert on YouTube for American Express.

Some more perspective on the recent acquisition of Day Software

Last week we announced that Adobe entered into a definitive agreement to launch a public tender offer to acquire Day Software. Rob Tarkoff, SVP and GM of our Digital Enterprise Solutions business, and Day CEO Erik Hansen offer more perspective on this announcement, what it means, why we are doing this, in the below video.