YouTube for Business: Building NextGen Office365 Video Portals

It’s refreshing to see the direction Microsoft has been taking lately given the change in leadership! Satya Nadella, since taking over for Steve Balmer in February 2014 is focused on “Mobile first. Cloud first.” That sounds simple enough, right? But what does “mobile first” mean exactly? If you immediately thought of a phone or tablet – you’re half-right! Nadella is not only referring to mobile devices, but he was speaking to the mobility of hardware around the user; for example: devices like the Microsoft Band and the Apple Watch that measure health data, along with interactions between users and wifi-enabled thermostats like the Nest – and WeMos!…

Open Enrollment: Take Two

Members of the Obama Administration were likely holding their breath recently as they braced for the 2015 open enrollment period to begin on November 15th. Last year’s launch of began with the site collapsing on the first day and only six people successfully purchasing an insurance plan.

This year’s open enrollment period got off to a better start with 100,000 people successfully submitting applications and 500,000 logging into the site on the first day, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.…

Data Privacy in Insurance

Two months ago, if someone were to Google search for a subsidiary of one of the nation’s largest bond insurers, they could find information about its corporate structure, access annual reports, and read about their history. However, due to a simple misconfiguration of a database server one could also discover a wealth of private consumer account numbers, balances, and internal administrative credentials. While this particular issue was resolved before malicious hackers seized the opportunity to acquire consumer information, it also generated several headlines and created distress for the reputation of the company in question.…

Inventory Management and Realizing the Full Potential of Engineered Labor Standards in Distribution Centers

Inventory management is often talked about as a way to keep track of product to reduce shrink and maximize profits. However, poor inventory management can also affect the proper implementation of discrete labor management systems such as FLEXdls or Red Prairie. These systems rely on accurate item counts, case cube measurements, slotting sizes and case weights to produce accurate engineered labor standards. If inventory management is not kept in check, the standards employees are being held to will not be accurate and companies will not realize the maximum savings possible with discrete labor management systems.…

Doing it to Yourself: When Policies and Procedures Induce Behaviors that Negatively Impact Customers’ Experience – Part 1

John vance 120x120

Firms put increasing effort into measuring, enhancing and refining customer experience, recognizing that building brand and product advocacy is central to prolonged business success. Conventional wisdom focuses on the relationship between a brand and its customers, a bi-directional relationship based on providing products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations. Now let’s put a disrupter into that relationship – other customers.

In the vast majority of sectors and consumer businesses, the impact of one customer to another is through the advocacy of the business in question.…

If You Want to Control Your Destiny, Let Your Customers Control Theirs

Digital access has increased customer expectations, thereby impacting insurer’s retention rates.

In today’s increasingly digital market, consumers want to control their destiny when purchasing insurance policies. In 1995, less than 1% of the world had access to an internet connection. However, the International Telecommunication Union reported that this number has skyrocketed to 40% (3 billion users) by the end of 2014 and is projected to increase in upcoming years as well. In combination with the advent of companies such as Google and Amazon, which consolidate and organize the available information on the internet, consumers have become accustomed to researching and comparing prices as they make their financial decisions.…

Visual Studio Online: Integrating with Cloud-Based Project Management Tools using Zapier

Why use Zapier?

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online, initially branded as Team Foundation Service or “TFS in the cloud”, has evolved into a fully-fledged hosted ALM service. And with the addition of VSO service hooks, first released in May of 2014, Visual Studio Online can integrate with other cloud-based services as well.

For now however, service hooks are still in beta and the list of direct integrations is fairly sparse (14 services in total). Anything outside of those supported services requires some additional work.…

Is the Environmental Protection Agency Changing its Mind on the Clean Power Plan?

Wil Mcnamara_120

Facing what has been fairly consistent resistance to the draft Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued statements that could be interpreted as a partial retreat on some of the CPP’s objectives, or at least a willingness to make changes to the draft rule. In late October, the EPA announced that it would welcome additional comments, after an already-lengthy public comment period—from stakeholders on three topics:  (1) the 2020-2029 timetable for compliance, (2) the building blocks that states were originally suggested for states to use, and (3) method to calculate state-specific CO2 goals.…

Advanced Metering Infrastructure, the Hidden Building Block

The fourth building block in the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) is the decrease in electricity use and demand resulting from improved energy efficiency and demand-side management. As with all the building blocks, the EPA estimated the energy efficiency potential in each of the states. The efficiency potential was factored into the final state carbon reduction goal by reducing the denominator of the state emission rate targets (lbs/MWh).

EPA is quick to point out that this does not prohibit a state from using demand reductions to comply with the CPP.…

Clean Power Plan Regulatory Update: What’s Going on in Your State

Wil Mcnamara_120

The states continue to debate and take action related to EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Following is a synopsis of some recent developments.

  • Even though the CPP is still in draft form it is not free of challenge and is being litigated. As of this writing, the following states having filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on August 1st, in a coalition move of opposition against the CPP: Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Clean Power Plan: Latest News to Know

Ameren Missouri to Reduce CO2 Emissions by 30% over Next 20 Years

On October 1st, Ameren Missouri filed its 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Missouri Public Service Commission. The plan calls for major expansions of solar and wind power and is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2035. Ameren acknowledges that its electric generation fleet is aging and its IRP provides a roadmap for transitioning to cleaner power as older plants near retirement.…

Contact Center Transformation: From Strategy to Inception

Cindy Garrett

West Monroe Partner’s High Performance Contact Center team recently conducted a half-day workshop at the ICMI Contact Center Demo and Conference in Chicago.  We demonstrated how you can transform your contact center from the ground up – from organizational design, to reworking operations and strategy, to the technology and processes that support your goals.  Attendees learned how to develop a roadmap by prioritizing and executing key initiatives.  We shared insights on best practices and lessons learned, as well as a structured approach that can be utilized to transform the customer experience in your own center.…

Happy Cyber Monday! Are you Using Behavioral Economics to Design your Customer Experiences?

Dave Nash_120

Today, Cyber Monday, is perhaps the biggest online and digital shopping day of the year.  But all one needs to do is go to any brick and mortar store on Black Friday to observe that consumers don’t always behave rationally.

Companies fail when they assume that customers always make rational decisions or even perceive their experiences logically.  Behavioral economics offers insights into how individuals (e.g. customers) make decisions and perceive interactions – the cornerstone of customer experience. …

Does the CPP Go Far Enough? RGGI Seems to Say “No”

Wil Mcnamara_120

The Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first market-based emissions trading program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, submitted joint comments on November 5, 2014 to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supporting the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP). This position in and of itself is noteworthy, given what has been largely critical or non-supportive public filings by utilities and state regulators, including lawsuits challenging the enforceability of the CPP.…

Teaching Computer Literacy without Computers


As part of West Monroe’s Fischer Global Service Fellowship Program, I am spending several months in Ghana teaching IT literacy. This blog shares the unique experiences and insights I’m gaining in my time working in these communities  helping local schools improve their IT infrastructure and education.

The Aboom Methodist School is the leader in IT education in Ghana. But what does it mean to be the leader?

Each day in Cape Coast, Ghana, students from schools around Cape Coast central will travel to the Aboom Methodist School for computer literacy education.…


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