Understanding Your Digital Toolset

So you have a thriving enterprise, but it feels like you can’t get anything done internally in the time you feel it should take. And it always seems to take at least twice as long as your competitors to release a new website, mobile application or software update. The bad news is, we’ve learned through history that no business is too big to fail.

You’re not alone. In fact, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recently split the company in order to create better efficiencies within each newly formed company to help aid against slow performance.

For the large percentage of companies that aren’t Berkshire Hathaway or Alphabet (Google’s reformation) and don’t have the luxury of a major reformation, there are frameworks and tools that can help.

Automation is key

While automation sounds great at first, not everything in a company needs to be automated, and self-service automation tools might not work if your organization is selling complicated goods or services that require manpower to setup. Here are some simple tips when it comes to automation.

  1. Think about automating all software, website and application deployments. There is no reason you should require a senior release manager or the VP of Engineering to get manually build and push development, beta and production builds. See http://martinfowler.com/intro.html.

  2. If you’re going to think about #1, you should also have the technology team look at code coverage tools, continuous integration and automated testing frameworks. See http://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/sikuli-tutorial-part-1.

  3. You should consider automating inside sales tools, and embrace the automated scheduling, reminder and follow-up features for your favorite sales software. See http://www.hubspot.com.

  4. Data entry and data collection is a great area for investigating automation fitness. If you are hiring people just to keep up with data entry, copy/paste and logging, this can all be automated with off the shelf software or some engineering chops. See https://import.io.

  5. Analytics is always a pain point for thriving organizations. You’ve gotten some basic intel, but now you need to know 100 other things to help make better decisions. If you have one or more staff members going to multiple analytics platforms and using spreadsheets as glue, this is an area you can impact greatly. See http://www.google.com/analytics/

Security is also a priority

It could be a good thing if you’ve never heard of a pentest, otherwise known as a penetration test. Basically, a series of tests are done against your website, app or company software to check for vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

I wonder if this could have prevented Ashley Madison from being penetrated (http://gizmodo.com/the-ashley-madison-hack-is-only-the-beginning-1725075472).

As an enterprise, you depend on a security toolkit to prevent these types of hacks and exploits. Here are the top 5 tools I recommend for continuous monitoring:

  1. Fortify (http://www.ndm.net/sast/hp-fortify)

  2. Coverity (http://www.coverity.com)

  3. Core Security (http://www.coresecurity.com/core-impact-pro)

  4. New Relic (http://newrelic.com)

  5. Veracode (https://www.veracode.com)

Consultants can help

I recently met an amazing and humble entrepreneur, Larry Underwood, who owned Fix-A-Flat and sold it to Pennzoil in the late 1990s. What I found amazing after talking to Larry was the story you don’t hear in popular media: The company was making over $180m annually and had 12 employees.

Larry was able to achieve high-impact growth using on-demand contractors, and each of them knew their respective trades very well, and Larry only used them for short periods of time. Another benefit he talked about, was that consultants can be on 1099, allowing the corporation to log them differently than salary expenses of full-time employees.

Larry gives a lot of credibility to those contractors, from who he was able to leverage an unparalleled mastery of skills to grow his own company.

Final thoughts

While often not thought about as a digital tool, consultants can save time and money in the long run because they can bring experiences and tacit knowledge within the digital realm to help prevent future problems.