change

Putting people first

Not a day goes by without most of us not hearing, reading or using the word “transformation”.

And while we may find it easy to transform ourselves, for leaders to manage change can be difficult. Why? Because no one likes change or having to adapt to new situations. I see it every day when working with clients. Too many times we are putting the focus on the magic words of “efficiency” or “effectiveness” or “process optimization”, almost forgetting the special magic word “people”.

By putting people first, organizational change can be much better navigated. After all, it is the people who will be transforming the organization, so as leaders it is your task to enable them to do so – from creating the right motivation to giving them the tools and helping them thrive.

Jim Hemerling, Senior Partner at BCG, in a recent TED talk summed it up nicely in his slide of the five imperatives for transforming organizations with one common theme: putting people first

bcg

Digital transformation dreaming

creativeThere is a huge pile of research reports and studies on my desk how digitization will change the way we do business. And I am sure there are similar piles in many managers’ offices. But what good are the best reports if you are unable to move the transformation forward?

Those that are succeeding in moving along their digital transformation have two things in common: one, they not only understand what digital transformation means, they also know that it means a fundamental change for the whole company. And two, they ensure that they have the right resources with the right expertise to transform their corporate culture to meet the upcoming challenges.

Digital transformation needs to driven by the CEO. Not your Head of IT. Not your Head of Sales. Not your Head of Something Something. It needs to be one of the top strategic priorities for the whole company driven from the top down.

Digital transformation is not walking down a straight path. You will need to be open for new business models. For new ways of implementing products and services. And your corporate culture will need to allow failure.

Digital transformation can be driven an internal facilitator like a Chief Digital Officer or even be outsourced into a new venture that can work without any “analog”disruption from the organization in form of resistance or doubts. But whatever way is chosen at the end of you will need a leader.

Digital transformation needs a leader who has a strong project management background, who is a multitasker, open to try new things. You will need someone who is impatient, a fast thinker , who plays well with others and is able to influence change within the culture of the board and with it the rest of the company. And you will need someone who is a strong communicator. Someone who can combine the “old” with the “new”.

That is why it is imperative for all organizations to start understanding what digital transformation means for their business and  how the digital competencies of new and existing directors will fit emerging strategies. And it is the CEO’s task to ensure that this journey is started on the right path.

Blockchain – a good financial disruptor

Blockchain is the financial industry latest disruptor. Many startups are using the digital-currency technology to tackle financial companies’ slow, antiquated back-office operations. For banks, the blockchain has the potential to become a technology model for a low-cost and transparent transaction infrastructure.But not only startups are embracing the revolutionary potential of the blockchain and other digital innovations, so are regulators like ESMA. They’ve just started a call to hear from all those involved, from existing financial institutions to startups and investors. Pretty cool.

Time to get inspired again

It has been a busy few weeks for me with lots of travel and deadlines to meet. But now that things are finally returning back to normal  over the summer (hopefully!) it is time to get inspired again by all the great innovation going on the world – and not only from a marketer’s perspective!

New technologies are turning the financial world upside down. The WSJ recently wrote “In five years, the biggest banks in the world won’t be banks, they’ll be tech companies.” And right they are. Big tech players in the internet industry like Google, Facebook or Apple are already working on developing alternative payment systems and other innovations for the financial industry. So time for existing financial institutions to get on the wagon. Barclays is a great example of the few players who are taking this trend seriously. For instance, they recently launched “Code Playground”  a website to teaches young people about coding as part of ongoing plans to increase digital skills among its customers. Ticktock on the clock for those who are not yet looking at the disruptive forces in banking.

And of course the Apple Watch. We all know it will have a big impact on marketing and we are seeing many early brand adopters. Like publishers. The New York Times, CNN and The Economist are all making a run to offer us “wrist sized” content. And right they are – while some of us are still wondering why one needs an Apple watch, others are realizing where the web moves to so must your business.

Want to up your  “customer loyalty”? Then  take a look at Marriott’s Mobile App. They have just launched a new feature where guests can make specific requests (as far as 72 hours in advance). Anything from that additional pillow to make you sleep better to getting an extra bottle of shampoo. There’s even a two-way chat feature in case you have a very “specific” request.

Of course we should not snub tweeting potholes or Google’s fragrance emission’s device (yes it’s a wearable that can tell you when you start to smell a bit in the armpitty region) – so if you want to feel inspired as well, take a look at WeAreSocial “Curiosity Stop” for some new impulses. I really have to give them kudos for having formed an internal Innovation Team who scour the world to spot new disruptive forces and seek out the latest innovations and then put it all into this great, little report.

Put an end to the old days of marketing!

westThis week I remembered the “good old days” of marketing where when asked to set up a marketing plan we would talk direct mailings (printed! sent via mail!), classic advertisements, printed newsletters or even “give a ways”.

This has all changed with the arrival of online marketing, social media and the ability to actually measure success. And with it, we have seen a shift in marketing focus. We can now truly connect with our customers, strengthen our relationships and improve customer service and products. We can be nimble and adapt quickly to changes in the market or when we see that our approach is not really reaching the customer in ways we want to. Great progress, right? But for some reason there are still many people in marketing out there who for some reason do not grasp the dynamics of social marketing. Maybe they prefer the good old days, with geeky ads in magazines we never were able to know the value of, maybe they are just scared.


In my opinion, us “old” marketers must really stop looking back at the old school of marketing techniques. Yes, there still are many tools out there from way back when that are still efficient. But the new marketing – which really is effective marketing – allows us to make connections that we were never able to build in the past. Having an online presence is just as important as having an offline one. Online gives us an opportunity to be transparent and to influence. It helps us in managing our competitive
advantage on a daily basis. We can measure market share, revenue growth and return on investments. It allows us to develop a strategy and to control execution. Yes, it may mean additional considerations, time spent and input. But with it we become greater influencers. And what is not to like about that?