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Advancing Growth in New and Emerging Markets through IT

Article

July 2014

Microsoft has identified new and emerging markets (NEMs) as a focus of future growth. This article is intended for Business Decision Makers (BDMs), IT Decision Makers, and Chief Executives to help them understand Microsoft ITs response to the potential of these markets. The article first describes how Microsoft identified markets for focus. It then shows how Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) used cross-function teams to identify gaps in user experience, and how those gaps were prioritized and tracked for improvements. The article concludes with a discussion of the resulting benefits of this data-driven analysis, and how Microsoft IT plans to apply and revise the model and its applications.

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Like many global companies, Microsoft has identified NEMs as a key driver of growth. Microsoft IT has focused on improving the user experience for people using Microsoft products in these counties and regions. Identification of key issues in each user experience area has led to action plans assigned to technology/region teams to address. Results are evaluated each year and new goals established.

Using a repeatable process with stakeholder-reviewed priority has enabled management and team buy-in to support changes from the initiatives. Improved user experience has increased employee satisfaction, and overall support of Microsoft products and processes.

Overview of NEMs

With tight economic times continuing, many companies are reassessing where future growth opportunities may lie. Many traditional product markets have plateaued in growth prospects. However, NEMs offer the potential of double-digit revenue growth through pent-up demand for technologies and services rivaling traditional developed markets.

NEMs are typically defined as countries or regions with a greater risk for investments, with lower income levels per capita, but with the potential for high rates of return. Specifically, the World Bank has defined emerging markets as those countries with per-capita income of less than $12,195 (US $). Despite this income level, NEMs currently produce more than $8 billion in revenue for Microsoft, with more than 60 percent coming from large emerging markets (Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey). This value is expected to almost double over the next few years.

Companies that target NEMs can provide greater customer and employee service to these markets, resulting in increased revenue and goodwill.

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Microsoft IT reviewed existing country and region classifications of NEMs, and grouped each by projected net revenue and geography region. The result provided a structure to set up and track progress in increasing growth by each NEM. For example, regional and revenue growth comparisons can be done based on this NEM grouping:

Figure 1. Sample analysis of NEM growth by region.
Figure 1. Sample analysis of NEM growth by region.

Challenges in Supporting NEMs

Setting up and maintaining support for a company’s presence in a NEM often requires overcoming challenges, including some that are not faced in developed markets. Geographic distances may require IT to provide remote support initially. Language and cultural barriers must also be overcome. Finally, NEMs with higher risk of revenue volatility may be challenged in keeping overhead costs low.

Once IT has a presence in the local NEM, additional challenges can include:

  • Productivity loss due to users performing multiple roles. Staffing may be limited, or may be a mix of local and corporate office employees.
  • Procurement challenges due to restrictions on import and use of usual devices. Equipment may not be available in the NEM to set up an office to match that of the corporate office.
  • Qualified labor force availability. Local employees in the NEM office may require training for applications and processes that are common at the corporate office.
  • Limits on infrastructure quality and availability (including power, phone, and Internet access). Internet access, particularly Internet-based telephone or Voice-over-IP (VOIP), is often difficult to establish at the same level as corporate standards.
  • Government restrictions, including censorship, monitoring, and import rules. Foreign governments have different standards for privacy and intellectual property rights, as well as different technology that is permitted for importation.

The User Experience Model

Microsoft IT identified that to have a product or process succeed, it must have a successful user experience. That is, the user must be able to complete the desired task using the Microsoft product or process with a minimum of confusion, training, or obstacles. Microsoft IT first focused on identifying the tasks that comprise an acceptable minimum user experience. Tasks identified include:

  • staying connected
  • finding help
  • using applications
  • getting trained
  • finding information
  • getting onboard
  • being first & best
  • being productive

To obtain the goal of meeting a minimum user experience, Microsoft IT first formed cross-company teams to identify and rank the categories that comprise the user experience. The result was the User Experience (UX) model. This model provides guidance on how to improve applications and internal processes to better support all markets. NEMs benefit from the UX model because their unique challenges have a framework to address them.

This model ranks user experience categories according to impact on the overall experience. For example, connectivity areas (UX1-Network Performance and UX2-Corpnet Access) were considered the most important because access to the corporate network was key to performing all other tasks.

Figure 2. Microsoft UX model.
Figure 2. Microsoft UX model.

Using the UX Model to Define Minimum User Experience

Once the UX model was identified, the teams focused on identifying measurable minimum user experience definitions by UX category, with an emphasis on NEM needs. Management assigned each UX category an owner to champion and refine solutions.

Table 1. Sample gap solutions for several UX categories.

UX

Minimum UX definition

UX owner

UX3:
Client Computing
All full-time employees in NEMs have a Microsoft Windows 8-capable PC no more than
three years old, while being able to procure new PC in a reasonable Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Field IT Management
UX5:
Onboarding
New Employees
New employees are presented with an IT New Employee Orientation (NEO) within two weeks of their start date, and are enabled to start their job as quickly as possible with a PC and
virtual smart card
Field IT Management
UX7:
Productivity
Training
Users may access relevant training to better understand and leverage IT services and toolsReference & Readiness Services
UX9:
Business
Applications
Customer-facing sales roles have functional business applications that work in typical NEM network environments, and provide a low-impact means to do their jobApplication & Data Services

Using the UX Model for Gap Definition

By using the already approved UX model as a base, Microsoft IT was able to target the needs of NEMs with specific problems and to propose solutions. Cross-company teams that included product and business relationship managers by region, as well as senior management, field sellers, and local IT managers, met to identify what is unique about addressing each user experience goal in NEMs. They also identified how challenges might be addressed. The following table provides a sampling of that effort.

Table 2. Sample analysis of gap definitions for several UX categories.

UX

NEM unique challenges

Insights/reasons/remarks

Possible solutions

UX3:
Client Computing
  • Gaps between global and subsidiary-level financial planning leading to target PC reduction
  • Anti-competitive and protectionist import controls
  • Global averages for PC unit prices were insufficient for high-priced markets (for example, Brazil - PC prices are 100 percent higher than US), due to tariffs and special importation taxes and fees
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are unwilling to provide all PC choices to each NEM, citing local regulatory limitations and limited potential market
  • Ensure subcontractors forecast appropriate funding
  • Establish consistent SLA reviews and negotiated improvements with OEM partners
  • Partner with OEMs who have local manufacturing assets in country
  • Consider appropriate device specifications for NEMs
UX5:
Onboarding
New Employees
  • Age variation and cultural differences for NEM new hires (noted for Latin America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Central & Eastern Europe)
  • Challenge in physical smart card and new PC delivery for first day
  • Many new hires in NEMs have different expectations of training
  • Physical smart cards take time to ship from offices with secure creation facilities to employees
  • Customs can delay shipments of new PCs or devices – e.g. the African continent is a very large geography to ship through
  • Message concisely in person, using visual aids, and provide deeper, role-oriented job aids using links to online content
  • Enable local IT staff to add cultural context to presentations
  • Migrate to virtual smart cards, which may be procured remotely once physical identity is confirmed
  • Proactively order new hardware for employees
UX7:
Productivity
Training
  • Identify NEM-specific need areas and align with global productivity training
  • Fairly high costs
  • NEM employees frequently work across many roles
  • Local sales techniques and customer engagement methods may vary by business culture
  • Localization is fairly expensive
  • Ensure that requirements gathering includes any locally significant context, and leverage personas to better understand audience
  • Focus the content for regional or market-level audiences
  • Invest in localization for key market penetrations
UX9:
Business
Applications
  • Lack of clarity in usage scenarios and complex role structure
  • Hybrid job roles in NEMs and complex role segmentation in large organizations make it difficult to understand user needs
  • Understand how actual NEM roles on the ground align with standard roles within the company

UX Model used for Prioritization of Need

When the minimum user experience goal was identified for each UX category, the teams set specific and measurable goals for each market being targeted for that fiscal year. The teams then assigned priorities by weighting the NEM targets for that fiscal year and the overall importance of each UX category (prioritization of needs), as shown in the following tables.

Table 3. Sample prioritization of need results.

Country criteria considered for weighting

 

UX priority weighting

Criteria

Weight (percent)

 

UX

Weight (percent)

Subsidiary Revenue

30

 

UX1: Network Performance

35

Subsidiary Growth

25

 

UX2: Corpnet Access

20

Head Count

5

 

UX3: Client Computing

15

Research & Development (R&D)

15

 

UX4: IT Relationships

10

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

20

 

UX5: Onboarding New Employees

10

Population

5

 

UX6: Helpdesk Support

3

 

100

 

UX7: Productivity Training

3

 

 

 

UX8: Enterprise Voice

2

 

 

 

UX9: Business Applications

2

Note: Weight percentage values shown are for illustration only.

100

This model enabled the team to clearly allocate available funding to provide the most impact based on targeted NEMs and UX goals. Available funding for user experience improvements could then fairly allocated across resulting projects until funds were no longer available. Unfunded projects could be canceled or rolled into plans for next fiscal year.

Benefits

Microsoft has realized several benefits from using this approach, including increasing:

  • User satisfaction. Users who have application and process problems addressed before they occur are pleased with the ease of performing a task using Microsoft products or processes. Microsoft performs customer satisfaction surveys that result in Net Satisfaction (NSAT) scores. The score is based on Very Satisfied ratings minus Somewhat/Very Dissatisfied ratings for areas surveyed. After using the UX model to address usability problems, Microsoft IT saw NSAT scores for emerging large and medium countries that were 6 percent higher since the change than the company average. The improvement is accelerating, with an 11 percent score increase in the most recent period.
  • Productivity. Users of products and processes optimized for user experience encounter fewer roadblocks in accomplishing a task. They then can complete more work in less time. For example, the Microsoft IT teams recently delivered over 1,400 productivity training sessions to NEM employees over the course of a year, leading to over 600,000 hours saved.
  • Brand awareness and product use in new markets. Products and processes that run smoothly have more acceptance when introduced to new markets. Products with favorable reviews, including recommendations through social media, have more acceptance.
  • Business Partner Satisfaction. Microsoft builds support of these enhanced products and services into Business Partner Satisfaction Surveys (BPS). Internal customers can evaluate IT responsiveness to problems, where use of the UX model can speed resolution to problems. Microsoft IT has seen frequent gains of 12+ percent in BPS scores since adopting use of the model for supporting product rollouts in NEMs.

By listening to user feedback and addressing problems quickly using the UX model, Microsoft IT is driving overall revenue growth in targeted NEMs.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Based on completing the first round of review and prioritization of user experience needs, Microsoft IT identified the following as keys to success:

  • Obtain senior management buy-in up front. Before they began the NEM-targeted UX effort, Microsoft IT met with key leadership throughout the organization to ensure that the project had support to proceed.
  • Involve all organization levels. Feedback from senior leadership as well as regular users of the products provided the key insights required to identify problems.
  • Make ranking of needs fact-based. By ranking fixes and improvements on a model already approved, Microsoft IT was able to show that the identification and prioritization of needs was fact-based. Items were ranked based on criteria already adopted by the teams.
  • Make budgeting neutral. By making budget allocations across a pre-ranked hierarchy of needs, the funding process for user experience improvements avoided any appearance of favoritism.

Future

Microsoft IT plans to continue use of the UX model to refine its support of NEMs. Senior management will meet with each team annually to validate problem areas where minimal user experiences are not being met, and to set goals to address each.

Resources

For more information about emerging markets, see the Microsoft Research: Technology for Emerging Markets (TEM) group site at http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/groups/tem/

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products or services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Order Centre at (800) 933-4750. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information via the World Wide Web, go to:

http://www.microsoft.com

http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-IT

 

2014 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. This document is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

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