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The Chief Marketing Officer is Dead

The Chief Marketing Officer is Dead | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

The CMO position is dying for four reasons:

1] Most CMOs are not really immersed in marketing activities. By this I mean understanding, creating and delivering value to the customer. Too many CMOs focus on PR and communications rather than products or pricing, so as not to invade the space of the Chief Innovation Officer or the CFO.

2] CFOs have become more powerful because of tough trading conditions and short-term pressure from financial markets. The CFO is also winning the race to the very top—most CEOs now have a finance or engineering background, and few come from sales and marketing.

3] Marketing impact is often hard to measure. Marketing is more art than science. It's hard to know whether all those millions of dollars spent have led to an increase in real sales. And when a downturn comes, the marketing budget is often the first to be cut.

4] Nobody has a clear idea of what marketing is. Ask 20 senior managers in any company what marketing is, and you’ll get 20 different answers. By contrast, most people would agree on a definition of finance or production.

Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, CMOs can take the following practical steps to reclaim some of their lost power:

1] Get rid of the CMO title, because nobody understands it. Create the new title of CCO – Chief Customer Officer. This person must be the voice of the customer in the organization, taking views and messages from the market and spreading them internally. More and more companies have a CCO or a senior executive with a similar title, from to the Washington Post.

2] Get the CEO to be the CMO. Chief executives can drive the customer-centricity agenda better than anyone else, because they can shape a company's culture and drive the recruitment of customer-oriented people. Having the CEO as CMO also sends a strong message throughout the organization that the customer is front and center and that marketing is everybody's job.

3] Get the CFO on board too. Doing this requires taking some of the fuzziness out of marketing. CCOs need to be financially literate and produce hard numbers that show the return on investment from marketing.

4] Use customer knowledge to build influence. With backing from the big two in the C-suite, CCOs can use their customer knowledge to influence discussions of product design and pricing, and make a company's offerings more sensitive to the market.

Back in the 1950s, the management guru Peter Drucker wrote that a company has only two key functions – marketing and innovation – and that all other functions should support these. Sadly, paying attention to the customer is less and less common these days. The CCO can be the first step toward reversing this trend.

So – goodbye to the CMO, hello to the CCO.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Long live the CCO!

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Innovating in an Age of Personalization
FountainBlue curates articles and information about the emergence of the Age of Personalization, and how leaders and companies are succeeding with the opportunities ahead.
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Why Robots Will Not Decimate Human Jobs

Why Robots Will Not Decimate Human Jobs | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Slow economic growth is the mantra of political campaigns and economic angst. Growth in economic output per hour (“labor productivity”) achieved an annual pace of 3 percent for a full half-century between 1920 and 1970. Since 1970 that rate has slowed to about 1.5 percent, and in the last six years productivity growth has slowed further to a lamentable 0.5 percent annual rate.

My book The Rise and Fall of American Growth attributes this enormous contrast between rapid growth in 1920-70 and slow growth after 1970 to the basic nature of inventions. Growth in the middle of the 20th century was propelled by the invention in the late 19th century of electricity, the internal combustion engine, the telephone, chemicals and plastics, and the diffusion to every urban household of clear running water and waste removal. America made a transition from 50 percent of the working population on farms to a largely urban nation, and the drudgery of household work – carrying water in and out, doing laundry on a scrub board – made a transition to modern bathrooms and kitchens by the 1950s.

The digital revolution associated with computers has since 1960 dominated the sphere of innovation, as office work transitioned from the typewriter and old-fashioned calculator to the new world of personal computers, spreadsheet and word processing software, the internet, and search engines. But the impact of this revolution in boosting productivity growth lasted only one decade (1995-2005), a much shorter impetus than occurred earlier in the century when productivity growth achieved its 3 percent annual pace for five decades from 1920 to 1970. 

Why? The computer revolution altered office work but did not extend into everyday life as had the earlier inventions that brought us electricity, motor vehicles, and the modern kitchen and bathroom. Smart phones were introduced by Blackberry in 2003 and by Apple in 2007, but their uses are primarily to boost consumer enjoyment through social networks and game-playing, not a part of the market economy that creates jobs and pays wages. 

Why has productivity growth been so mediocre, a 0.5 percent annual pace since 2010? In my view this has occurred because most of the benefits of the digital revolution were over by 2005. Everywhere you look, from corporate offices to check-in desks at doctor, dentist, and veterinarian offices, the equipment on the desks is the same as in 2005, as is most of the software. 

This slackening of the pace of economic growth due to the minor impact of new innovations has both a pessimistic and an optimistic aspect. Slow productivity growth dampens the ability of business firms to provide wage increases to their workers. But slow productivity growth also means that steadily growing output continues to provide new jobs, 15.5 million of which have been created in the U.S. since early 2010.

But how can so many jobs be created in a world of technological hype of robots taking over the economy? Aren’t robots about to decimate jobs, throwing half the population out of work as has been predicted to occur over the next decade by the two Oxford economists in 2013, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne?

Robots are nothing new; the first industrial robot was introduced by General Motors in 1961, and by the mid-1990s robots had a major role in automobile factories, welding together body parts and freeing human workers from the noxious fumes of the auto paint shop. But robots have made little impact outside of manufacturing. Even Amazon’s high-tech warehouses use robots just to move shelves to human workers, who hand-select the items to be shipped as well as the packing material, and pack the shipments by hand.

But outside of manufacturing and wholesale warehouses, robots are hard to find. I play a game called “find the robot.” In my daily strolls in and out of supermarkets, restaurants, doctor and dentist offices, my nearby hospital, offices in my own university, and the vast amount of employment involving elementary and secondary teachers, personal trainers, and old age caretakers, I have yet to find a robot. 

In my journeys, the closest thing I have found to the introduction of a robot in the service sector is that in a local casual dining restaurant, there are kiosks on the tables to allow patrons to pay their bills without human intervention. But offsetting that is the fact that my local supermarket recently removed its self-checkout electronic kiosks to be replaced by human express checkout agents, apparently due to excessive fraud as customers slid expensive items by the dumb credulity of the self-checkout kiosks.

The Frey and Osborne pessimism about jobs is total fiction. They predict over the next decade that 55 percent of airline pilot jobs will be eliminated. Sorry, but government regulations require two pilots in a commercial aircraft, and a switch to one pilot per aircraft is nowhere in sight. They predict that 92 percent of retail checkout clerk jobs will be eliminated, but there is no robot-like replacement of retail clerks in sight beyond the 30-year-old invention of bar-code scanning.

Surely multiple-function robots will be developed, but it will be a long and gradual process before robots outside of manufacturing and wholesaling become a significant factor in replacing human jobs in the service, transportation or construction sectors. And it is in those sectors that the slowness of productivity growth is dragging down the economy’s overall performance. 

My book concludes that the rapid economic growth of the mid-20th century cannot be repeated. Those “Great Inventions” were too important and too pervasive to happen again anytime soon.  But let us not forget, the corollary of slow productivity growth is the rapid creation of jobs, as we have witnessed in the last six years and will enjoy for the foreseeable future. 

Robert J. Gordon is professor in social sciences at Northwestern University and the author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth, one of six books on the shortlist for the 2016 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, to be announced Nov. 22.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

The 3%+ economic growth between 1920 and 1970 was sparked by inventions and innovations that transitioned us from urban living to modern bathrooms and kitchens by the 1950.

Most of the benefits of the digital revolution started in 1960 were over by 2005, and we have witnessed slower productivity growth of 1.5 and even .5 percent since 1970. However, this does not discount the rapid creation of jobs we've witnessed in the last six years and will enjoy for the foreseeable future. 

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Having Diabetes Is No Longer Going To Be A Life Sentence

Having Diabetes Is No Longer Going To Be A Life Sentence | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

by Reenita Das , CONTRIBUTOR
I cover healthcare issues related to transformation and convergence

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their ownSource: Frost & Sullivan
While 415 million people suffer from diabetes today, this number is set to rise to 642 million by 2040. As one of the top five mortality causes of 2030, diabetes is indeed a serious global healthcare issue. While we wait for regenerative medicine to provide us with lab-grown pancreases to replace diseased ones and permanently treat diabetes, patients unfortunately will have to continue searching for better tools to manage their disease. The good news is that several approaches have already been undertaken to develop such tools to help them do so.

Here are the top five ways that Frost & Sullivan’s transformational health program analysts predict diabetes management will change in the future.

Mandatory Screening

Current global statistics on diabetes diagnosis are grim–1 in 2 diabetics remains undiagnosed. A primary challenge to overcome this issue lies in the gold standard for diagnosis–fasting and random blood glucose levels. However, this is set to change with the arrival of non-invasive methods to predict diabetes risks. The Scout DS system by Miraculins is one such device. Using visible light to assess skin diabetes biomarkers (like the Advanced Glycation End-Products) on the forearm, the system throws out a diabetes score in 90 seconds. If the score is high, the patient is referred to a specialist for additional tests and consultation. The non-invasive, quick, no-fasting, no-bloodwork system means you could be getting screened for diabetes during your next annual physical checkup at your general physician’s office.

Nutrigenomic Profiling

Every individual is different when it comes to metabolic rates, exercise capabilities, tendencies to put on weight or stay lean, inclination to eating sweets, predisposition to diabetes and so on, courtesy of DNA. But now, we have the ability to sequence our DNA and have access to what is known as the individual nutrigenomic profile. The modern science of nutrigenomics combines nutrition and genetics, enables individuals to know how food constituents interact with their genes at molecular levels, and contributes to the disease. This knowledge can help diabetes prevention, or assist diabetics in better managing their disease. Don’t be surprised to see a diabetic person armed with a food scanner (like TellSpec or DietSensor) assessing his restaurant dish and dessert against his nutrigenomic profile

Non-Invasive Monitoring

The “holy grail” of diabetes monitoring is non-invasive glucose monitoring that can end pricking fingers for testing several times a day. There are several approaches being developed; broadly, these could be categorized based on where monitoring occurs–eyes (tear drop), fingertip, earlobe and saliva. Apart from big names like Google and Novartis involved in making such monitoring products a reality, there are also smaller players like Medella Health, LighTouch Medical and Quick LLC. Approaches include contact lenses, passing light (visible, infrared or other) through the skin to detect glucose and even salivary assessments. So the next time you are talking to a diabetic person and their contact lens turns a bright color (an indicator for hypoglycemia), get them a chocolate pronto. They will thank you!

Background Therapy

Of course, a potential “cure” for diabetes is replacing pancreatic β cells with stem cell-derived, lab-grown cells. But the current focus of the industry is the artificial pancreas–although we have Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G as the first of this category, we are likely to see many more advances in this area. Competitors like BigFoot Biomedical, Dexcom and Animas Corporation are also developing similar systems. What these essentially mean is freedom from daily monitoring glucose levels, guesstimating appropriate insulin dosages and injecting them. Another advance that will change the field is being developed by Sensulin and other major pharma companies like Eli Lilly–glucose-responsive, once-a-day insulin that could potentially replace basal and prandial insulin. While this insulin still would be taken once a day through the same insulin pens or other delivery devices, the release of insulin in the body would be controlled by blood glucose levels alone, controlling these levels far better than regular insulin delivery. Overall, diabetics would now be able to live worry-free–either injecting insulin only once a day, or simply letting the artificial pancreas system take over completely, improving the overall quality of life. Your diabetic friend might just stop carrying her glucometer, test strips, lancets, insulin pen and chocolates (or maybe not chocolates).

Analytics And Artificial Intelligence

A future diabetic person will have their genomic information incorporated in to their diabetes management regimen. Big Data analytics will play a very important role in informing the patient (not the caregiver!) what they should eat, how much they should exercise and how to manage the disease–in real time. An artificially intelligent interface will “communicate” with the user. For example, the a distant-future system might tell the patient (based on her past history, genetic predisposition and today’s diet and activity levels): “If you have that particular dessert now, it will cause your glucose levels to shoot up, necessitating immediately performing activities like jogging to burn approximately 150 calories or an insulin injection of 0.5 units. Please select your choice–jogging or automatic insulin delivery” (numbers are hypothetical).

Does this mean now is the best time for diabetics? We are definitely along the way to finding a cure for this disease, but until then, advances in technology will surely make the life of a diabetic person much easier.

Are you a diabetes patient advocate or an entrepreneur? We would love to hear your opinions on what you think will be the future of diabetes care.

This article was written with contributions from Siddharth Shah, Research Analyst and Venkat Rajan, Global Director, both from the Visionary Health program of Frost & Sullivan’s Transformation Health practice.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

How science and healthcare will make it easier for those who suffer from diabetes

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Do You Live in a Bubble?
5 Lessons from the 2016 Presidential Election

Do You Live in a Bubble? <br/>5 Lessons from the 2016 Presidential Election | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Published on November 9, 2016
Russell Walker
Clinical Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

The 2016 Presidential election offers many valuable lessons. It shows that for many Americans, especially those in urban areas, there is a bubble. Living in a bubble is a challenge for sound decision-making and leadership.

The lessons embedded in the surprising results of this election remind me of leadership, decision-making, and even big data analysis.

The majority of polls predicted that Clinton would win. Indeed, even the published probability of Clinton winning was over 90% on the eve of the election. How can so many polls and predictors be so wrong? The triumph of big data failed. Or did it? A careful review of the polls tracked by Real Clear Politics shows that the LA Times and the IBD/TIPP polls consistently showed Trump ahead or tied. Virtually, every other poll predicted a Clinton win.

The lessons are important:

1) Truth is Not Revealed by Committee: Asking many people with the same perspective only amplifies the errors that they have and you have. Clearly, the polls that predicted Clinton, especially the on-line polls, were subject to this error.

Key Take Away: Seek out experts, not averages or committees. Even Michael Moore predicted Trump would win Michigan. Remember the tragic result of the NASA launch team ignoring the input of the experts on the safety of the Challenger launch. The launch commander ignored an expert’s opinion.

2) Seek Out Disconfirming Information: Building analytical models that are influenced by confirmation bias and further do not search for disconfirming information lead to bad results – be it with big data or small data. More attention to the LA Times and IBD/TIPP polls would have made the results less surprising. Similarly, as some people saw the US housing crash coming, there is enormous value in seeking information that disconfirms your perspective and hypothesis.

Key Take Away: Don’t seek why you are right, but rather examine how you might be wrong. It is rigorous and leads to better decision-making, greater open-mindedness, and better insights.

3) Know Your Customer: Trump got closer to his customer and understood their issues and concerns. CEOs and business leaders have similar challenges. Get close to your customer and know what they want, think, and believe (about your product, your firm, and you).

Key Take Away: Rarely does your customer (or employee or constituent) tell you what is wrong. It takes work and deliberate effort to learn from them. Remove the language, “I think” and replace it with “What do you think?” Leaders listen and then react. The least effective executive seminars I have led are those where the CEO or leader tells the team what to do or think. It stymies the flow of information and creativity.

4) Challenge Your Perspective (Always): The best ideas and theories are those developed by defeating the counter-hypothesis. Proving yourself right is not as valuable as examining other theories as alternatives. Surprises, insights, and great discoveries come from challenging prevailing wisdom, ideas, and perspectives. Challenge your own ideas!

Key Take Away: Learning requires asking questions. Asking hard questions requires examining what you believe and why it might be wrong. Humble yourself and re-examine your ideas; it will make you a better decision maker.

5) Get Out of the Bubble: Staying in HQ behind your computer screen is easy. Walking the floor, meeting your workers, getting to know them in person, and getting to know your customers is work. For political and business leaders, it is easy to remain in a safe bubble and to support yourself with people that think just like you. It is a commitment to leadership and discovery to move outside of the bubble. Do it every day! Consider ideas with an open mind and look for insights that reveal surprises and discoveries in data and daily life.

Key Take Way: You only get out of the bubble if you want to do so. Successful leaders get out of the bubble. A simple test can help. Do you know the people that make your food or clean your office? Do you acknowledge them? Do you thank them? If not, there is a first and easy step out of the bubble. Acknowledge them, thank them, and listen to them.

Leaders are identifiable to everyone in their organization. It is hard for leaders to get to know every employee or customer. However, if you do it with effort, you will earn great respect and admiration from those that already look to you for guidance.

There is a whole world outside of your bubble. Go find it!

About Russell Walker, Ph.D.

Professor Russell Walker helps companies develop strategies to manage risk and harness value through analytics and Big Data. He is Clinical Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University. He has advised the World Bank, the Department of State, SEC, IFC, multiple US Senators, and a host of corporations.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Interesting perspective on why the election predictions of the majority were wrong

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5 Forecasts For The Future

5 Forecasts For The Future | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Every now and then, it’s a fun and healthy challenge to think distantly. Sure, we already expect self-driving cars, wearable hardware, a connected home, and augmented reality. But where does the foreseeable future take us next? I’m talking more Black Mirror than investor thesis. What new problems will we be struggling with? What will kill us? What will connect us? While solutions change, some questions will always remain. If only to stimulate discussion among friends, here are a few ideas on my mind these days:

  1. Social media will become passive.
  2. Our (augmented) reality will be a land grab, and always be under attack from brands.
  3. Interfaces will compete with the technology underneath.
  4. Autonomous vehicles in cities will become a public utility.
  5. We will transcend “tragedy of the commons” with technology that aligns self-interests with community benefits.

Allow me to explain, as well as share some implications for each:

(1) Social media will become passive.

The concept of actively “posting” or “sharing” will be frowned upon and entirely replaced by a passive stream of your life’s experiences, whereabouts, and media consumption. Imagine a 24 hour channel of you that is authentic, aways live (or automatically programmed), and always accessible to your friends (or if you’re born in the age of transparency (post year 2000), accessible to anyone). Any effort to actively post something will be seen as “manual editing” and will be perceived negatively unless it is an artistic statement. Quality will be community and algorithmically-determined, surfacing the highlights of your experience in a way that is automatic and thus deemed more authentic. Implications?

  • So many social products and new forms of advertising will emerge to accommodate the era of passive social. Viral growth of new products and media will happen more naturally based on how many people are tuning into you. Simply, whatever you’re doing or consuming is what other people will discover.
  • Typical forms of paid user acquisition will become obsolete, replaced by product placement and “experience placement.” The prices you pay for products and services in your life will be offset by the exposure you bring. The bigger your network (and the better your “CFV” (Conversion From Viewers, a measure of how actionable your content is for those that follow you), the less your life will cost!
  • I am struck by the idea of trusting automation over what someone does manually. It’s the evolution of how we are drawn to inferior photos on Snapchat in a more primal way than carefully posed and edited photos on Instagram. The objectivity of algorithms over the subjectivity of human tendencies may cause us to “trust” algorithms more. We value an unedited photo and “collective intelligence” for the same reasons — they make us less paranoid that we’re being lied to (and thus help us believe and relate). With the loss of “manual editing,” social media will become a more effective form of empathy and truth.
  • Given the passivity of social networks, their relevance will rely on context. Social networks will pop into and out of our life depending on where we are, what we’re doing, and what we want. Visiting Spain for Christmas? Expect to have “contextual ephemeral social networks” (sorry) that enable you to navigate, connect and plan activities with other friends in Spain during the week you are there. When the trip ends, the network will dissapear.
(2) Our (augmented) reality will be a land grab, and always be under attack from brands.

Personally, I’m more bullish about augmented reality than virtual reality. The augmented layer opens up a ton of exciting (and horrifying) ways for brands, friends, governments, and artists to get in your line of sight based on where you are and when you’re there. Quite quickly, I see it getting out of hand. While the physical world has practical limitations that keep billboards at bay, the augmented world won’t. To get a feel for how bad this could be, check out this video. Implications?

  • Perhaps “ad blockers” will be the most important apps in the era of augmented (and virtual) reality? Whatever platform and device you use to augment your reality, advertising is the most likely business model. If the increasing number of paid search results in a typical Google search today is any indication, your augmented reality will constantly be under siege. To fight it, you’ll install intelligent or crowd-sourced filtering software that will override unwelcome parts of your augmented reality experience.
  • Perhaps the major platforms for augmented reality will designate certain zones as commercial or non-commercial? Zoning has worked well enough for governments. I can see your home — and all other private property — being designated as “non-commerical,” and thus off-limits to advertising. If Snapchat’s filter submission and approval system is any indication, augmented reality will be an unprecedented land grab akin to the domain-name craze in the nineties.
(3) Interfaces will compete with the technology underneath.

A few years ago I shared my excitement for the “interface layer: where design commoditizes tech,” and how superior interfaces will aggregate multiple services underneath. In the future, we will want fewer interfaces in our lives — and these interfaces will integrate all sorts of utilities into a simple flow. Examples?

  • Modern interfaces will revolutionize how we plan our day by aggregating the disparate services we wish to schedule, from rides and food to babysitters, into a single interface. The underlying providers of such services will compete for presence in the interface, based on price and revenue share with the interface itself.
  • The interfaces we use at work will become customizable. People will be able to choose and customize the “skin” for the tools they use in the enterprise. Consumerization of enterprise technology will bring us to a place where productivity and employee morale is meaningfully higher when interfaces are user-friendly and custom.
  • Interfaces will change the way we get customer service from companies and governments, negating the need to interact directly with cable companies, utilities, or government websites. The interface companies will monetize by proactively suggesting optimizations to your plans (saving you money) — or offering premium ways of saving time. These modern interfaces will empower customers and citizens by stripping away the benefits of friction enjoyed by providers (companies and governments rely on how damn difficult it is for us to do certain things!).
  • And for the left-field prediction, an entirely new mobile operating system will emerge that is location-centric rather than app-centric. In a modern world where we want fewer interfaces with interconnected functionality, it is time to rethink mobile. Functionality should be visible and then hidden based on where and when we are, rather than what apps we installed. In fact, apps shouldn’t exist. Whatever we need (whether we know it or not) should be at our fingertips, and (no surprise) our voice command should summon anything we want.

The biggest implication of the emerging interface layer is ruthless competition to be the default. The utility-based providers underneath these interfaces will be pressed on margins and will compete to be the default provider in the interfaces we use on a daily basis. To survive, the providers will focus more on optimizing the cost-efficiency of their services rather than spending money building their brand and relationships with customers.

(4) Autonomous vehicles in cities will become a public utility.

When (not if) all transportation within a city’s limits becomes automated and increasingly regulated, cities will rethink infrastructure and public transportation. Some cities already see Uber as a solution to “last mile” transportation quandaries. Perhaps planning and scheduling software for public transportation becomes more important than the commoditized technology in the vehicles themselves. Perhaps transportation will join the ranks of water and electricity? Implications?

  • A whole series of questions emerge: Will on-demand and autonomous transportation data become a public asset? At what point will mass transit adopt autonomous vehicles and become completely automated? Will the future of mass transit be operated by governments or private companies? Will companies that create technology to plan and schedule mass transit for government (like Remix Software) commoditize the tech that performs the transportation? As an Uber investor, i’m mixed about this, but I believe Uber’s dataset alongside its advances in autonomous technology will be its moat.
  • On the topic of autonomous vehicles, I was thinking the other day about the consequences of preset routes and what would happen when vehicles “disobey.” Call it a CGW — “car gone wild” — when a vehicle, with or without passengers onboard, begins to roam either out of bounds or off the set schedule or route (attention Black Mirror writers!). Perhaps the vehicle was hacked? Or perhaps conflicting instructions around traffic conditions or passenger destinations, coupled with artificial intelligence, take the vehicle on an unexpected course. Ultimately, government safety officers must be equipped to control anything that runs automatically.
(5) We will transcend “tragedy of the commons” with technology that aligns self-interests with community benefits.

The “tragedy of the commons” is the unfortunate human tendency to take advantage of shared-resources out of self-interest, thus depleting the benefits everyone could enjoy through collective action. Back in the day, farmers would take their livestock and selfishly deplete the town commons before returning to their own lands (which they would sustain thoughtfully). If everyone just agreed to graze the commons sparingly, it would last and benefit everyone. But self-interests obstruct the common good. People who abuse insurance spike prices for the rest of us. People who cheat taxes cause the rest of us to pay more. Through increased transparency, networks, and artificial intelligence, technology will enable us to collectively regulate and align our interests. Implications?

  • Any product or service that bakes in a cost for “bad actors” can be transformed. The way we buy insurance, get mortgages, and pay taxes may change once we can unbundle the costs and align our interests with larger groups of likeminded people. Would you pledge to eat healthier to lower your health insurance premiums? Would you pledge to drive safely and disclose the speed of your driving for cheaper insurance? As technology permeates our everyday actions, you’ll have the option of surrendering a degree of self-interest for lower prices.
  • Social networks will reduce the frequency of abuse and trolling through new tools powered by human curation and artificial intelligence that diminish the reach of bad actors. If you troll or fail to participate in the collective efforts to protect the platform, your voice will be heard less. To be anonymous and still be a steward of the medium is the future of freedom of speech.
  • Your reputation will become portable, recognized and rewarded beyond the brands and governments from whom you earned it. If you have a history of over-using customer service or being an outlier on the cost curve, you may not be eligible for better pricing.
  • Collective bargaining networks will become the default source for certain insurance and financial products. Bartering and “favor based” economies will become more mainstream as equality can be tracked.
What to do with forecasts?

Forecasts for the future are not an investment thesis. The future won’t happen until the present is ready for it. One of the things I’ve learned from the partners at Benchmark is just how important it is to invest with a tremendous insight into the present. But for a seed investor, product leader, or entrepreneur, forecasts for the future add a new lens to pattern recognition. Aside from what I look for in a founder, team, and product, I try to determine whether the future is a headwind or a tailwind for a company. Is the team attempting to defy a likely outcome or make it happen in a better way?

If nothing more, considering the future exercises our imagination and sparks conversation and debate with people you can learn from. Bring it.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

5 Forecasts: Social media, augmented reality, UIs, autonomous vehicles a 'tragedy of commons'

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From Babies to Billions: The Honest Company Trajectory

From Babies to Billions: The Honest Company Trajectory | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
When I read the other day that the Honest Company, founded in 2011, was likely to be acquired by a large, established consumer packaged goods (CPG) company for nearly $2 billion, I initially was surprised. As a fan of the brand and its creator, Jessica Alba, my wife was not. After all, she pointed out, Alba started the company based on what she herself had experienced as a new mother: the need for a trusted supplier of safe, eco-friendly products for babies.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it made perfect sense for a large CPG company to make such an investment. Consider that Amazon is encroaching further and further into territory traditionally controlled by the CPG-retail ecosystem. According to Yahoo Finance, “Amazon now has a warehouse or delivery station within 20 miles of 44% of the U.S. population.” Amazon is also expanding its private-label business, now offering everything from food to diapers.

Yes, diapers. Which brings us back to Honest Company – a consumer-driven business built on an e-commerce-first model. As Alba describes the epiphany that led her to start the company, “[brick-and-mortar] stores should be for perishables, not products.” As traditional CPG-retail ecosystem players seek to keep pace with the rapidly changing marketplace, many will seek to acquire built-on-Web companies. Think of Walmart buying Jet for $3 billion, or Unilever picking up Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.

It’s not only about acquiring a growing and trusted brand with a large base of repeat customers. It’s also a way of fending off niche players – Dollar Shave Club is a good example – that win customers based on an innovative service model and are then positioned to expand into other products and audiences. Even more important, legacy CPG companies seek to absorb e-commerce-first businesses in hopes that their success can be replicated throughout the enterprise.

Whoever acquires Honest Company will need to ensure, on the one hand, that they don’t disrupt a business model that is clearly working. On the other, they need to think holistically about their overall enterprise and how to bring the rest of their brands more directly to consumers. CPG companies that embrace this challenge will be well positioned in the years to come.
Linda Holroyd's insight:

It's about service and excellence. It's about brand. WTG Honest Company!

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Transforming operations management for a digital world | McKinsey & Company

Transforming operations management for a digital world | McKinsey & Company | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |


Transforming operations management for a digital world

October 2016,

By Albert Bollard, Alex Singla, Rohit Sood, and Jasper van Ouwerkerk


When combined, digital innovation and operations-management discipline boost organizations’ performance higher, faster, and to greater scale than has previously been possible.In every industry, customers’ digital expectations are rising, both directly for digital products and services and indirectly for the speed, accuracy, productivity, and convenience that digital makes possible. But the promise of digital raises new questions for the role of operations management—questions that are particularly important given the significant time, resources, and leadership attention that organizations have already devoted to improving how they manage their operations.At the extremes, it can sound as if digitization is such a break from prior experience that little of this history will help. Some executives have asked us point blank: “If so much of what we do today is going to be automated—if straight-through processing takes over our operations, for example—what will be left to manage?” The answer, we believe, is “quite a lot."

More digital, more human

Digital capabilities are indeed quite new. But even as organizations balance lower investment in traditional operations against greater investment in digital, the need for operations management will hardly disappear. In fact, we believe the need will be more profound than ever, but for a type of operations management that offers not only stability—which 20th-century management culture provided in spades—but also the agility and responsiveness that digital demands.

The reasons we believe this are simple. First, at least for the next few years, to fully exploit digital capabilities most organizations will continue to depend on people. Early data suggest that human skills are actually becoming more critical in the digital world, not less. As tasks are automated, they tend to become commoditized; a “cutting edge” technology such as smartphone submission of insurance claims quickly becomes almost ubiquitous. In many contexts, therefore, competitive advantage is likely to depend even more on human capacity: on providing thoughtful advice to an investor saving for retirement or calm guidance to an insurance customer after an accident.

That leads us to our second reason for focusing on this type of operations management: building people’s capabilities. Once limited to repetitive tasks, machines are increasingly capable of complex activities, such as allocating work or even developing algorithms for mathematical modeling. As technologies such as machine learning provide ever more personalization, the role of the human will change, requiring new skills. A claims adjuster may start by using software to supplement her judgments, then help add new features to the software, and eventually may find ways to make that software more predictive and easier to use.

Acquiring new talents such as these is hard enough at the individual level. Multiplied across an organization it becomes exponentially more difficult, requiring constant cycles of experimentation, testing, and learning anew—a commitment that only the most resilient operations-management systems can support.Seizing the digital momentAnd if digital needs operations management, we believe it’s equally true that operations management needs digital. Digital advances are already making the management of operations more effective. Continually updated dashboards let leaders adjust people’s workloads instantly, while automated data analysis frees managers to spend more time with their teams.

The biggest breakthroughs, however, come from the biggest commitment: to embrace digital innovation and operations-management discipline at the same time. That’s how a few early leaders are becoming better performers faster than they ever thought possible. At a large North American property-and-casualty insurer, for example, a revamped digital channel has reduced call-center demand by 30 percent in less than a year, while improved management of the call-center teams has reduced workloads an additional 25 percent.

Achieving these outcomes requires organizations to tackle four major shifts.

Digital and analog, reinforcing each other

Digitization can be dangerous if it eliminates opportunities for productive human (or “analog”) intervention. The goal instead should be to find out where digital and analog can each contribute most.That was the challenge for a B2B data-services provider, whose customized reports were an essential part of its white-glove business model. Rather than simply abandon digitization, however, the company enlisted both customers and frontline employees to determine which reports could be turned into automated products that customers could generate at will.Working quickly via agile “sprints,” developers tested products with the front line, which was charged with teaching customers how to use the automated versions and gathering feedback on how they worked. The ongoing dialogue among customers, frontline employees, and the developer team now means the company can quickly develop and test almost any automated report, and successfully roll it out in record time.

Driving digital, enterprise-wide

Developing new digital products is only the beginning, as a global bank found when it launched an online portal. Most customers kept to their branch-banking habits—even for simple transactions and purchases that the portal could handle much more quickly and cheaply.

Building the portal wasn’t enough, nor was training branch associates to show customers how to use it. The whole bank needed to reorient its activities to showcase and sustain digital. That meant modifying roles for everyone from tellers to investment advisers, with new communications to anticipate people’s concerns during the transition and explain how customer service was evolving. New feedback mechanisms now ensure that developers hear when customers tell branch staff that the app doesn’t read their checks properly.Within the first few months, use of the new portal increased 70 percent, while reductions in costly manual processing means bringing new customers on board is now 60 percent faster. And throughout the changes, employee engagement has actually improved.

Realigning from the customer back

The next shift redesigns internal roles so that they support the way customers work with the organization. That was the lesson a major European asset manager learned as it set out on a digital redesign of its complex, manual processes for accepting payments and for payouts on maturity. The entire organization consisted of small silos based on individual steps in each process, such as document review or payment processing—with no real correlation to what customers wanted to accomplish. The resulting mismatch wasted time and effort for customers, associates, and managers alike.

The company saw that to digitize successfully, it would have to rethink its structure so that customers could easily move through each phase of fulfilling a basic need: for instance, “I’ve retired and want my annuity to start paying out.” The critical change was to assign a single person to redesign each “customer journey,” with responsibility not only for overseeing its digital elements but also for working hand in glove with operations managers to ensure the entire journey worked seamlessly. The resulting reconfiguration of the organization and operations-management systems reduced handoffs by more than 90 percent and cycle times by more than half, effectively doubling total capacity.

Making better leaders through digital

The final shift is the furthest reaching: digital’s speed requires leaders and managers to develop much stronger day-to-day skills in working with their teams. Too often, even substantial behavior changes don’t last. That’s when digital actually becomes part of the solution.About two years after a top-to-bottom transformation, cracks began to show at a large North American property-and-casualty insurer. Competitors began to catch up as associate performance slipped. Managers and leaders reported high levels of stress and turnover.

Speed and scale: Unlocking digital value in customer journeys

A detailed assessment found that the new practices leaders had adopted—the cycle of daily huddles, problem-solving sessions, and check-ins to confirm processes were working—were losing their punch. Leaders were paying too little attention to the quality of these interactions, which were becoming ritualized. Their people responded by investing less as well.

Digital provided a way for leaders to recommit.

An online portal now provides a central view of the leadership activities of managers at all levels. Master calendars let leaders prioritize their on-the-ground work with their teams over other interruptions. Redefined targets for each management tier are now measured on a daily basis. The resulting transparency has already increased engagement among managers, while raising retention rates for frontline associates.

Organizations investing in human and digital capabilities can start by asking themselves several critical questions:

  • Do we really understand how customers interact with us now, and how they want to in the future?
  • How can we give customers the experience they want, no matter which digital and human channels they use?
  • How can we speed our metabolism so we can uncover new opportunities for better performance?
  • Can our culture become flexible enough for us to collaborate effectively with our customers through constant change?

Capturing the digital opportunity will require even greater operations-management discipline. But digital also makes this discipline easier to sustain. Adding the two together creates a powerful combination.


About the author(s)
Albert Bollardis an associate partner in McKinsey’s New York office,Alex Singlais a senior partner in the Chicago office,Rohit Soodis a partner in the Toronto office, andJasper van Ouwerkerkis a senior partner in the Amsterdam office.

The authors wish to thank Chandana Asif, Joao Dias, Kingsley Gifford, David Hamilton, David Jacquemont, Somesh Khanna, David Taylor, and Alex Yeo for their contributions to this article.

Linda Holroyd
CEO, FountainBlue
650-395-8177 voice
650-646-1117 text and cell
650-209-7677 Skype, linda.holroyd-fountainblue

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3 timeless ingredients to successful modern marketing strategy

3 timeless ingredients to successful modern marketing strategy | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Recently, while vacationing in Tuscany, we hired a driver and we went wine tasting. Our first stop was the most famous winemaker Antinori Family. Gorgeous, newly designed winery, but from the moment we walked in, the vibe was unwelcoming. The receptionist did not greet us, the wine pourers in the tasting room had total attitude and were not interested in either engaging with us nor describing the wines we were tasting. Besides that, each small tasting was expensive! Disappointed, we departed with no wine in hand and hurried on to visit a few other good wineries in the picturesque area.

Our most memorable stop by far was at the Tenuta Tociano winery in San Gimignano. To our pleasant surprise, the owner Pierluigi greeted us at the gate with an umbrella while wearing an apron and boots (it was raining heavily). He introduced himself, made sure he knew our names, where we were from and then proceeded to escort us to a small table which was loaded with empty wine glasses and cheese/salami plate for the tasting. ( I later found out that he makes sure he greets or speaks with everyone that visits his winery.) Pierluigi gave us the background on his wine and all the awards they won from Wine Spectator. More importantly, however, he was also charming enough to tell us all that awards don't matter because wine preference is a matter of taste and he did not want us to feel compelled in any way to prefer one wine more than the other due to its "high" ratings.

He then introduced his nephew, who spent the next few minutes entertaining and educating us with some tasting techniques. He had us all swishing the wine around and practically gargling on it. Interesting enough, everyone in the room was laughing and smiling and feeling awkward together. On the table, they had a paper placemat and a pen to identify which wines you preferred and cleverly, on the back of the placemat, a handy order form to purchase the wines we had just tasted, as well as a spot to put your contact info to join their exclusive online community and hear about their stateside wine tasting events.

As a veteran marketer and sales person, I totally appreciated the marketing and true salesmanship of this small winery. These were my takeaways that apply to any business, whether you are a 700-year-old winery, or any company doing business today.

1- Greetings Matter (first impressions)! You can have the slickest website or coolest office ever, but you must find a way to also make people feel welcome, whether it's in your place of business or your website. Do not be indifferent!

2- Be Generous. Educate and give people information that pertains your industry for free. Much like the winemakers' nephew who spent time teaching us how to properly taste wine from awkwardly sticking your nose in the glass to swirling in our mouths, he taught us about the differences in Chianti grapes and educated us on the difference between a Chianti, Reserva or a super Tuscan. What is your place of business doing to educate or give information or content for free? this builds loyalty immediately. They were extremely generous in their pouring, which built instant loyalty and yes a wine buzz.

3-Create a Community: Figure out a way to make your prospect be a part of your community. During our visit, we were encouraged to sign up and be part of a Tuscan wine lovers community with wine articles, videos and discounted wine with free shipping to the US. There are thousands of wineries in the Chianti region but this winery figured out a way to get us to be an advocate, a member and potentially a long time shopper. One of my favorite go-to resources for great tips on building and nurturing a successful community to grow your business ( .

People interactions matter. Honestly, I bought Chianti wine on our trip based on how sellers engaged with me during the wine tasting (yeah this proves I am not a wine connoisseur.) It's similar to any business, the product itself must be good, but the sales interactions and the customer service portion of the business are vitally important. It isn't sufficient to have just slick packaging or a gorgeous website, your people interactions and how your company makes prospects and customers feel matter more that you realize. Scott McKain's book Collapse of Distinction: has some great practical advice and some entertaining examples of how much customer service matters.

We now live in an attention-based economy. When we are lucky enough to have our customers/prospects attention that's when need to be authentic and engaged. So pour that glass of chianti and ask yourself what am I doing to make my customers feel appreciated and feel satisfied that they are getting good value from your products and services.

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New insights for new growth: What it takes to understand your customers today | McKinsey & Company

New insights for new growth: What it takes to understand your customers today | McKinsey & Company | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

New insights for new growth: What it takes to understand your customers today
By Jonathan Gordon, Volker Grüntges, Vicki Smith, and Yvonne Staack

Companies that know how and when to use the wide array of research tools available today have a big competitive advantage in generating insights that lead to new organic growth.

What do Unilever, Philips, Amazon, and Netflix have in common? At first sight, nothing much. They compete in very different industries, and while Unilever and Philips are firmly rooted in the 19th century, Amazon and Netflix are unthinkable without the Internet.

What they have in common, though, is that they drive growth by meeting consumer needs better than their competitors do. Core to this consumer focus is a strong belief in insights, and in the active use of a diverse mix of insight tools—new and old, qualitative and quantitative, digital and analog—to get better answers.

Unilever, for example, has successfully engaged in consumer cocreation to launch TRESemmé, a fast-growing dry-shampoo brand that is now one of the best-selling mass hair-care products in the US. Philips has achieved major market-share gains in highly contested home-appliance categories through city-level growth analysis. Thanks to its data-driven recommendation engine, Amazon attributes more than one third of its revenue to cross-selling,1 and Netflix saw its subscribers triple between 2011 and 2015, largely because of its ability to develop hit shows such as House of Cards, based on advanced analysis of subscribers’ past viewing behavior.2
Developing a better understanding of customers is increasingly a strategic necessity, because fast-moving markets, new technologies, and new business models are changing what customers want and how they shop. Yet many companies still spend the bulk of their research budget on traditional techniques (e.g., focus groups, interviews, and surveys), or treat insights as an afterthought, which leaves them with a limited and often incorrect view of what customers want. That is a recipe for obsolescence in today’s economy.

While there is a vast array of marketing analytics and insights capabilities, this article focuses on those tools, techniques, and approaches that specifically lead to new commercial growth, i.e., new products, services, or markets. (An insight is defined as the discovery of a fundamental consumer need that companies can use to create value for the customer and the business.)

A new approach to insights

Getting to a level of understanding about what customers really want requires the ability to understand what motivates consumers, as well as how they shop and make decisions. Based on our work with leading companies and innovative insights vendors, as well as proprietary research, we have identified five research approaches that are best suited for generating the kinds of insights that lead to new growth opportunities.

1. Observe consumers ‘in the field’

Observing consumers as they shop or use a product is often deeply revealing about their behaviors and motivations. This kind of research is closely tied to behavioral economics, a school of thought that seeks to understand the way consumers actually make decisions. It’s also a pillar of design thinking, which puts the customer at the center of a system of interactions with the brand.
John Kearon, the founder of UK-based agency BrainJuicer, a two-time winner of Esomar’s Best Methodology award and a leading provider of observational and ethnographic research, believes that “anything based on observation of what people really do is massively more accurate than what people say they do—or the reasons they give for saying it.”3
One international food company, for example, was seeking to introduce European markets to a new product: a dip that could also be spread on bread. The CEO believed that countries like France or Italy would be ideal pilot markets, given the countries’ obsession with good food. To test this hypothesis, a team of ethnographic researchers conducted “dine-alongs,” where they joined subjects in five countries both in restaurants and in private homes.
Through observation and casual conversation, the team found that consumers in two other countries were actually more open than those in France and Italy to international cuisines and new flavors, and would be more receptive to the company’s product. Based on this research, the company changed their market-entry priorities and increased their launch targets to more than a 10 percent share in the category, which unlocked additional sales of more than $10 million annually.

2. Digitize the daily diary
While consumer diaries—literally a written record someone creates to track their daily decisions and purchases—have been around for some time, digital advances and mobile devices have made this kind of research much more versatile, accurate, and accessible. Typical applications include video recording, photographs, and blog posting of food or beverage consumption, media usage, patient journeys, or compliance with medical prescriptions and therapies. What’s more, the results are available within days, if not in real time, rather than after weeks or months.
In a pioneering case, a maker of pharmaceuticals and medical devices used digital diaries to better understand how arthritis patients self-administered injections several times a day. Participating patients used mobile devices to film themselves performing these tasks. Additionally, researchers observed patients at home. The research revealed that some patients skip injections because of the discomfort and pain they cause or the anxiety patients feel. Not all patients, however, admit such qualms to their physicians, who then will frequently prescribe higher dosages of pain medication. A member of the observation team said, “Until now, we have never seen how patients live in their day-to-day lives.”
To address this issue and increase patients’ compliance with the prescription regimen, the company is working on a needle-free drug delivery system as well as other ideas for new products and services that would make the life of arthritis patients a lot easier. The total opportunity has been valued at almost $100 million in incremental revenue.

3. Use advanced analytics to get much more granular insights
Today, the mass of data about consumer behavior allows marketers to get past broad and often deceptive averages to dive into much more granular levels of insight that can unlock new opportunities. Those who invest in big data and advanced analytics often achieve up to 10 percent sales growth, up to 5 percent higher return on sales, and a margin uplift of 1 to 2 percent.4
A next-generation car-rental company with ambitious growth plans, for example, used advanced data-mining techniques to target new customers more effectively. It started by analyzing its database of driver profiles and trips to identify distinct groups of customer archetypes. The team then pulled in external data from a variety of sources to build a scoring model to identify drivers in a given city or neighborhood who fit one of the ten archetypes the business had developed. They then tailored offers and communications to each of those segments. Within one year, the company grew its customer base by more than 10 percent and increased its revenues by almost 20 percent.
Philips US applied advanced analytics to simulate the market potential for various combinations of price tiers, channels, and product portfolios—not at a country or even regional level, but city by city in dynamic markets.
With that information in hand, the marketing team created offers that targeted the most promising segments in each city. The market share in relevant product categories increased from 15 percent to 19 percent, and the EBIT for the company’s consumer lifestyle division jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. Says Pieter Nota, CEO for Philips Consumer Lifestyle: “Based on the global growth analysis, we devised a plan to double revenues over the course of less than a decade without compromising profit margins, partly driven by product innovation in two highly dynamic categories.”

4. Better listening and learning with social media
Social media allows companies to listen in on unfiltered conversations consumers are having about their preferences, experiences, and habits. Many services exist, such as Hyve, Winkle, BrandWatch, Synthesio, or Google Analytics, to unlock insights from analysis of online discussions, consumer reviews, topical blogs, and keyword-driven trend analysis. Active listening enables companies to detect relevant buzz early on (be it positive, neutral, or negative), react swiftly, and unearth clues that can lead to innovations.
Beiersdorf, the personal-care company and owner of the Nivea brand, tapped into an ongoing social-media conversation to develop a completely new product line. Using Hyve’s Netnography Insights software, the company found that consumers were complaining in multiple online forums such as that deodorant leaves stains on textiles.5 Further analysis revealed that the issue was widely discussed and that users shared advice on how to remove various types of stains.
In response, the company developed a new type of deodorant that prevented yellow stains on white clothes. To test the concept, Beiersdorf turned to almost 2,000 dedicated followers of the Nivea brand. It turned out that consumers were not only concerned about yellow stains on white clothes but also about white stains on dark-colored clothes. Beiersdorf refined the concept and marketed it as “Nivea invisible for black & white,” stressing that “white stays white and black stays black.”
Ansgar Hölscher, in charge of consumer insights for the Nivea brand, says, “Thanks to social listening and online consumer cocreation, Nivea Black & White became the most successful product launch for Beiersdorf in ten years.”

5. Cocreate with consumers on digital platforms
Manufacturers of consumer products are inviting their customers to generate new ideas to advance their product development and gather feedback on new products, even before launch. This goes beyond just listening to customer preferences and bringing them into the creative and development process. When done well, cocreation can reduce market-research costs, increase customer loyalty, and develop the products and services that customers want. Leading vendors in this field include CrowdWorx, Innocentive, Synthetron, noo F/X, and Lunar, the award-winning design firm recently acquired by McKinsey.7
Procter & Gamble became a high-profile proponent of this approach when it launched its Connect+Develop program, which aimed to leverage external idea generation for future product development. One of the innovations that originated from this program was the Swiffer range of cleaning products that collectively contribute about a billion dollars in annual sales.8
More recently, Unilever made headlines when it created a new hair-care range, TRESemmé Fresh Start Dry Shampoo, with the help of consumers. It learned that half of US women do not wash their hair every day, even though many of them feel insecure on the days when they don’t.
To learn more, Unilever engaged with women in My Beauty Café, an online community dedicated to hair care and beauty regimens. Community members contributed to every step of product development, from initial ideation and concept refinement to sample testing, packaging, and advertising. Launched in 2010, the new range generated first-year sales of almost $8 million. Subsequently, Unilever’s share of the US mass hair-care market jumped from 9 to almost 16 percent. Today, Fresh Start Dry Shampoo is one of the ten best-selling products in the overall styling category in the US mass market.9
Generating insights is a vital, iterative process. Testing and learning, adding innovative methodologies to your tool kit, and discarding techniques that no longer add value have become core insights disciplines. While reengineering how companies generate insights is crucial to finding new growth, how effective it is relies on an approach that is as dynamic as the market itself.

About the author(s)

Jonathan Gordon is a partner in McKinsey’s New York office, Volker Grüntges is a senior partner in the Munich office, Vicki Smith is a senior expert in the Chicago office, and Yvonne Staack is a senior expert in the Hamburg office.

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Age of the Customer

Age of the Customer | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

FountainBlue’s September 2 VIP roundtable was on the topic of Embracing the Age of Personalization. Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Hitachi. The executives in attendance at this month’s roundtable represented a wide range of industries, roles, functions and company sizes. Therefore, their perspectives on who the customer is, what the customers’ needs are, and how best to address them varied widely. Below is a compilation of their collective thoughts regarding serving the needs of the customer.

  • Companies can’t be everything for everyone. They must have a clear idea of which customers they serve and know how to serve them well, to the point of even anticipating their needs.
  • Serving the customer means also that the business must morph, depending on the needs of the customer. This in general means offering more customized professional services, offering platforms for customizations, offering integrated products and services, etc.,
  • Companies from all industries are better leveraging technology to deliver to the needs of the customer.
  • Companies must adhere to the policies and requirements of the company where their headquarters are located, as well as all the countries where their customers reside. Interactions and services may become quite complex and complicated.
  • Gone are the days when people await the formal glossy newsletter. Real-time, social communications and interactive mobile applications are the best ways to connect with your customers, partners and other stakeholders.
  • The attention span of the customer has gotten really short. Think about offering a 20 second sound bite as a teaser so that they will see a 14 minute video show.

Here are some predictions from our group of execs:

  • Pay-as-you-go software-as-a-service offerings will become an essential requirement for vendors.
  • Customer expectations will continue to rise exponentially and companies will be continuing to scramble to get customers the level of instantaneous, detailed information and analysis they seek.
  • The Intelligence of Things will be focused on solving real-world problems.
  • The role of the channel will become much more important and channel leaders will be chartered with translating the needs of the customer and simplifying and mapping these to solutions which are scalable, leveraging technology.
  • Immersion experiences will become more integral to better understanding the needs of the customer.
  • Ease of use and intuitiveness of flow will be so much more important as customers will have low tolerance for things that are too complex, confusing or complicated to be usable. It’s an Age of Convenience!
  • Configuration platforms will help customers customize to their own needs, following an architecture and structure designed by companies.
  • Companies which offer integrated services from soup to nuts will earn a large and loyal customer base.
  • Companies who can best understand and sell to niche international markets will see better returns. An example is Coke, who has a separate formula for different locations. In fact, most companies already do this, with the BMW3 series being an exception.
  • The same can be said for companies who can successfully connect with specific industry verticals.
  • There will be more money available in general, but it would be offered to fewer companies who truly understand the needs of the customer and seamlessly deliver to those needs.


    • 5 Tech Trends Redefining the Customer Experience, Information Week, August 2016 
      • Create Multi-modal instant content, integrating words, images, sounds and video.
      • Think of IoT as devices that provide the next major channel of communication.
      • Leverage data science to deliver differentiated and personalized experiences. 
      • Automate business processes with bots, agents and supervisors.

      • Invest in a modern microservice cloud architecture, where applications are divided into hundreds of independent microservices. 

    • The Age of Personalization: Why Curated Content Is Good For Business, Magnify Team, July 21, 2016
      • Personalization has transformed from a marketing objective to a larger value system that guides how we produce and consume content
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Personalization: Why Curated Content Is Good For Business

Personalization: Why Curated Content Is Good For Business | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Personalization is now everywhere. Over the past few years, it has transformed from a marketing objective to a larger value system that guides how we produce and consume content. The advent of big data and artificial intelligence gives business and advertisers greater access to information about their customers’ behavior online, and in turn, helps them curate options based on their individual needs.

Amazon was one of the first companies to use customer data to make purchase suggestions based on a user’s browsing history. Now, most websites and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, use data to tailor content for specific users. Personalization has caught on because it’s highly effective, and useful not just for companies but for consumers as well.

Customers now want, and even expect, content that is tailored to them. A study conducted by Janrain, a company that tracks consumer identity, found that 74 percent of people report feeling frustrated with websites when content – such as offers, ads or promotions – has nothing to do with what they want. A 2015 study conducted by Gigya, another company specializing in customer identity management, found that “65 [percent] of email users were likely to unsubscribe from a brand’s emails if they weren’t relevant to their interests.” It’s common sense – why waste time with something that isn’t useful?

Personalized recommendations also tend to bump up revenues. The Harvard Business Review finds that personalization can raise sales by more than 10 percent, and McKinsey notes that 35 percent of purchases on Amazon and 75 percent views on Netflix come from personalized recommendations. Recommendations drive users deeper inside an e-commerce site and can significantly increase a seller’s conversion rate (the number of customer transactions, or purchases per visitor, to a particular store or website). A study of purchasing and browsing behavior conducted by MyBuys, a data provider that helps companies understand their consumers, showed that personalized recommendations on product pages increased conversion rates by an astonishing 411 percent. When those recommendations were on the homepage, conversion rates increased by 248 percent, but the most effective place for recommendations was the shopping cart, which led to a 915 percent increase in conversion rates. Recommendations also increase a company’s average order value.

Personalized advertising is also becoming more popular. Confident that the company has the ability to track and target users better than any other platform, Facebook will now be collecting information about all Internet users and selling personalized advertising on a broader scale in what appears to be an attempt to take over online advertising. The rising demand for social media ads, which can provide a level of specificity other advertising cannot, is clearly increasing, suggesting that brands are focusing more on personalization in their advertising. Consumers have come to expect personalized messages, and now it’s up to brands to deliver if they want to maximize the effectiveness of their advertising.

McKinsey predicts that companies will continue to dive further into the personal lives of consumers: “Social media could well make up 22 percent of marketing budgets in five years as retailers increase their spending to facilitate and influence peer connections about brands through paid ads and branded pages on social media platforms,” the consultants write. One goal of this social spending is to promote peer recommendations through social networks and user reviews, which have proven to be 10 times more effective than recommendations from salespeople. One thing is become quite clear: The personalization of content and recommendations is not going away. It’s too good for business.

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Mainstream VR for sports still 2-5 years off, says Warriors’ digital chief

Mainstream VR for sports still 2-5 years off, says Warriors’ digital chief | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Mainstream VR for sports still 2-5 years off, says Warriors’ digital chief

Kenny Lauer, vice president of marketing and digital for the Golden State Warriors, answers questions at a FutureCast event put on by the AT&T Foundry at AT&T Park in San Francisco Credit: Fredric Paul

Kenny Lauer, VP of marketing and digital for the Golden State Warriors, talks tech and sports


Network World | Jul 18, 2016 8:32 AM PT 

Professional sports teams around the world—including the NBA’s Golden State Warriors—are working furiously to leverage all kinds of technology, from mobile connectivity and social media to player analytics and augmented reality. But according to Warrior’s vice president of marketing and digital, Kenny Lauer, it will be at least two to five years before virtual reality (VR), perhaps the most exciting new development, will achieve widespread adoption.

According to the warm and approachable Lauer, who spoke at a FutureCast event put on by the AT&T Foundry at AT&T Park in San Francisco last week, VR requires a complex ecosystem, including hardware, content and many other factors.


What VR needs

For VR to succeed, you first need an installed base of headgear, Lauer said, and then you need to put arrays of cameras in all of the arenas to capture the action. VR also needs to be less isolating: When you’re wearing a VR headset, for example, you can’t really high-five your friend after a great play, and you can’t enjoy a snack, either.

On the technical side, VR audio still needs work, Lauer noted.

“We need to improve on that quite a bit. … We need to mike up the court and deliver it to all parts of the arena. It fundamentally changes the experience,” he said.

Finally, “media rights is a big challenge for [all kinds of] streaming content” including VR, he added. It isn’t easy to get the leagues, the teams, the players, the TV networks, the equipment vendors, and everyone else involved all on the same page. And only “then you can figure out revenue!”


VR can’t be stopped

Lauer is confident, however, that VR is going to happen.

“Ninety-nine percent of fans can’t be at the game,” Lauer noted, and 99 percent of the ones at the game are not courtside. “VR collapses the distance between fans and players. … It’s a no-brainer for sports franchises.”

Lauer is not worried that high-quality VR experiences will cannibalize the desire of people to come to live events.

“I do make a distinction between the live vs. online experience,” Lauer said. “There’s something uniquely powerful about being at a live event.”

For one thing, he added, only live attendance gives fans the feeling that they can actively affect the outcome of the game.

Of course, VR is far from the only tech sports teams must focus on.

“We are a constant student of what is happening,” Lauer said.

Sports teams are in a lot of businesses, he notes, from the television business to the food service business, but it all adds up to the “experience creation business.”

“We have a Harry Potter bag of technologies we can use to create experiences,” Lauer said. “We are exploring other ways to bring people closer, [and] that’s valuable for other service-oriented business.”

The Warriors want to provide a variety of hooks for fans beyond when they’re watching a game.

Lauer said the Warriors are “evolving into an entertainment company that also plays basketball,” which may be why he wanted the word “digital” in his title.

“A lot of people want to talk to the head of digital,” he laughed. “No one wants to talk to the head of analog.”

Linda Holroyd's insight:

What a concept - Warriors are an entertainment company that happens to play basketball!

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Stretching the Envelope of the Internet – for Retailers

Stretching the Envelope of the Internet – for Retailers | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

I'm personally overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information to which a typical professional is exposed.


The new VNI report predicts that by the end of the decade, there would be 3.4 devices and connections for every human on the planet, up from 2.2 per capita in 2015, through a combination of more access to personal devices and the deployment of machine-to-machine (M2M) or internet of things (IoT) devices. 



The challenge becomes how to stretch the functionality and usability of our platforms and devices so that we can strategically and tactically leverage the data to serve the needs of our customers in an efficient and practical manner. 

We will write a series of posts for doing just that - stretching the envelope of the internet, specific to different industries. Below is targeted to the retail industry.

  1. Solutions which address the astounding number of mobile devices and IoT sensors will be more practical and immediate to a larger base of users. So adding mobile implementations for existing web solutions only make sense, especially if these implementations also integrate IoT sensors, and particularly as Google has implemented mobile-friendly web site standards.
  2. Web 2.0 solutions have done a great job bringing products online and allowing for the secure ordering of products. We can take online ordering to the next level - think from-the-device-to-the-door - if we add order personalizations, warehousing and delivery, fulfillment through Drop Ship, support and set-up options to typical online orders.
  3. Drilling down onto the prior point, in this Age of the Customer, allowing online shoppers to customize their purchases - beyond size and color and into try-before-you-buy immersion experiences - will likely both increase orders, as well as customer satisfaction levels.
  4. If you link these immersive experiences - whether it's a customized graphic or video or a virtual reality solution - to social networks, whether it's a group of friends, a community of experts, or a group of fellow shoppers, customers will more likely become more engaged and better enjoy the experience.

  5. In turn, if you integrate the localization aspect, connecting shoppers to physical retail presences, more customers will more likely participate as there's an option close the deal on-site, after doing the online research, plus purchase other items once they are in the store.

  6. Forward-thinking retailers are connecting with existing communities of experts and fanatics who share a common interest, hobby or passion. Providing customized offers and solutions to this market, and allowing the community to vet purchase options would not only increase sales, but also increase satisfaction levels.

  7. If we take ordering solutions to brick and mortar storefronts, implementing personalized shopping lists, with tailored made coupons based on real-time physical location would also increase targeted engagement.

  8. The other side of the coin is how IoT and mobile solutions can decrease operating costs - by proactively managing inventory and security for example.

  9. With these comprehensive mobile, IoT and on-site app solutions, retailers would have a better understanding of customers. Real-time measurements and analytics from these apps can report on success metrics, real-time, allowing retailers to tweak strategies and tactics to increase engagement, participation, margins, and volumes.

  10. Voice or text originated solutions can also leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to support product comparison and ordering needs, automating the online research for product selection, and even placing orders based on pre-specified criteria.

These are some thoughts for stretching the envelope of the internet in the retail industry. We welcome your feedback, additions and comments. Share your retail strategies and goals at 

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Some specific ways tech will stretch the way we live and work

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Director of Solutions Marketing at NetScout on “Guardians of the Connected World”

Director of Solutions Marketing at NetScout on “Guardians of the Connected World” | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Director of Solutions Marketing at NetScout on “Guardians of the Connected World”

Michael Segal, Director of Solutions Marketing at NetScout, talked about business assurance in the era of digital transformation.

In his thought leadership presentation at the 2016 Chief Information Officer Leadership Forum held on March 9 in Chicago, Segal began by talking about the modern IT organization in the age of digital transformation. Segal defined digital transformation as the industry shift from relying predominantly on physical assets to utilizing information and digital assets in the corporate value chain. This shift has resulted in companies redefining the customer experience, operational efficiencies, and business models.


“Digital transformation can’t accelerate unless you have an ecosystem of partners and technologies available to support this change,” stated Segal. These new technologies can be utilized in the Cloud, on premises, off premises, privately, and publicly, and include unified communications, the Internet of Things, mobility, etc.


If we look at the entire infrastructure, the key criteria—especially scalability and velocity—for assuring the quality of the business is continuous monitoring. Service is defined as all the components that enable it, including the infrastructure and the applications running on the infrastructure. “Eventually,” said Segal, “services are consumed by user communities, and we want to assure a high quality of service delivery. Naturally, the volume of data grows exponentially with this process.”


Business assurance is about assuring the business velocity—how well it operates in a production environment. The higher the velocity, the higher the business agility.


“I’d like to introduce the fourth dimension of digital transformation—chaos,” said Segal. In the same way that time was identified in the special law of relativity as the fourth dimension and gravity is associated with the curvature of the time-space continuum, chaos curves the business velocity and doesn’t allow it to accelerate further. There’s too much data to process in real time, and it becomes prohibitive.


What are the prerequisites that make business assurance effective? Segal outlined six characteristics:


  • Holistic and real-time visibility. This is derived from continuous monitoring and high resolution in real time, based on a historic view of business services and their infrastructure.
  • Actionable business insight. You don’t just want insight and a holistic view. You want insight that can be acted on to fix what needs to be fixed.
  • Ultra-high scalability. Will your scalable business assurance platform be able to conquer the chaos?
  • Data-source consistency and coherence. There are multiple data sources being used. The most coherent and consistent data is traffic data. Every action and transaction happens somewhere in the traffic data and, by tapping into this information, it can be continuously monitored and analyzed in real time. If other data is leveraged as secondary sources of information, there will still be consistency and coherence because the core-data analytics already exist, and they’re based on structure data.
  • Purpose built. Have a platform that uses purpose-built information.
  • Non-intrusive. The observer effect creates distortion, so you want a passive platform that’s not impacted by the observer effect.

In summary, in business assurance and IT transformation, instead of looking at application performance management, network performance management, or network elements in which IT operates in silos and success metrics are IT-centric, Segal advised that we look at business assurance, which changes the paradigm to the quality of user experience, collaboration, and reduced risk associated with both performance and security to assess business performance success.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Focus on the quality of user experience, collaboration, and reduced risk 

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How the convergence of automotive and tech will create a new ecosystem | McKinsey & Company

How the convergence of automotive and tech will create a new ecosystem | McKinsey & Company | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

As the high-tech and automotive worlds merge—with four disruptive technology trends driving change—a complex ecosystem is creating new rules for success.

As four technology trends reshape the global automotive sector, customer preferences are moving away from its traditional strongholds, such as chassis and engine development. This shift in customer preferences and the sheer size of the automotive sector have attracted new players: a potent mix of large high-tech companies and start-ups. Both differ from the automotive incumbents on virtually every level.


These new entrants and the disruptive trends they bring—electrification, autonomous driving, diverse mobility, and connectivity—will transform typically vertically integrated automotive value chains into a complex, horizontally structured ecosystem. The newcomers are well positioned (and expected) to make moves in novel areas such as autonomous driving. Consequently, today’s OEMs and tier-one suppliers must abandon strategies aiming at total control of vehicles and instead pick and choose where and how to play by shedding assets, streamlining operations, and embracing digital acquisitions.

Four trends that favor software-driven innovation

The fortunes of players in the automotive sector have always depended on what customers see as valuable. Most of this value has resided in the hardware of vehicles and in the automakers’ brands. However, future innovations will probably focus on disruptive technology trends, so the customers’ perceptions of value will shift, increasingly putting incumbents in danger. The four trends that will favor the newcomers are these:

  • Electrification. Drivetrains will shift toward hybrid-electric, electric, and fuel-cell technologies as they mature and become cheaper.
  • Autonomous driving. The operation of automated cars will move from advanced driver-assistance systems to fully autonomous driving as the technology matures.
  • Diverse mobility. As the sharing economy expands and consumer preferences change, the standard model will continue to evolve from outright purchase or lease to rentals and car sharing.
  • Connectivity. The possibilities for “infotainment” innovations, novel traffic services, and new business models and services will increase as cars get connected to each other, to the wider infrastructure, and to people.

Attracted by the shift in customer preferences, the importance of the new trends, and the global automotive market’s massive size and value-creation potential, technology players are making their way into the sector. As they develop new software options, cars are evolving into computers on wheels, a change similar to events in the computer industry 20 years ago and the cellphone industry 10 years ago. As a result, we anticipate that a complex ecosystem will emerge in the automotive sector.

Although the sector adheres to a vertically integrated business model, with OEMs in full control of their supplier networks, the new tech players are more focused on horizontal moves:

  • A number of high-tech players are developing autonomous-driving systems that are quite likely to merge into what the computer industry calls an operating system (the central system that makes a unit run).
  • Disruptors from the taxi and ride-sharing industries are developing innovative new business models.
  • Two leading online and technology companies are focusing on in-car entertainment platforms, which they hope will become the standard for applications.

No single player is likely to dominate any part of such a horizontally organized, complex value chain by itself. But many of the new tech entrants are well positioned to take the lead in the software-focused parts. For each part of the ecosystem, there might be room for only a few winners, since few players will be able to invest the resources necessary to reach scale (Exhibit 2).


























The automakers have invested billions in car hardware, from engine plants to stamping facilities and beyond, so they have the best position to dominate the hardware-focused areas. In software, the tech players enjoy significant advantages, including leading-edge capabilities, agile operating models, and the financial muscle required to pursue exploratory investments aggressively. For the automakers and tech players, success in tomorrow’s mobility sectorwill depend on how well they build on these natural advantages.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Electrification, Autonomous driving, Diverse mobility, Connectivity - will tech or auto have the edge?

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The U.S. Just Got Hit by a (Values-Based) Tsunami

The U.S. Just Got Hit by a (Values-Based) Tsunami | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

The U.S. Just Got Hit by a (Values-Based) Tsunami

Published on November 14, 2016

Bruce Kasanoff


Fair warning: today I'm going to share a research-backed perspective on the values at work that may have impacted last week's U.S. presidential election. These values have impacts far beyond politics, as they could impact how we work and live for decades to come.


There's a lot to unpack here, so I apologize for the longer than usual post. Here goes...

Last week, I used Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to make the case that we need more empathy to help us better understand the perspectives of others. Some readers commented that the flaw with Maslow is that people cite him without supporting their conclusions with actual research. This led me to the UK, where Pat Dade's firm has spent many years connecting Maslow's work with research.

His firm, Cultural Dynamics, bases its work on quantitative research that has been conducted since 1973, measuring the values, beliefs, and motivations of (primarily) the UK population. They have used this research to split the population into three different values-based groups.

In both the United States and UK, the long-term trend in recent decades has been a decline in the number of Settlers in favor of the other two groups. Here are some of Pat's fascinating observations. The subheads are mine, but all observations in quotes are his:

The need for change: "When Settlers are no longer the dominant group a political system will need to evolve, or break, if it is to satisfy the group replacing the Settlers - the Prospectors."

Our institutions must change: "As needs are met and new needs emerge... the institutional structures that satisfied the Settlers become less relevant as the Prospector needs increase and the systems fail to change at the same rate."

The role of young male Prospectors: Pat uses the term "Golden Dreamers" to describe young, primarily male Prospectors who are both vocal and so outspoken as to often be labeled as "trolls" online. He says, "Golden Dreamer voices become amplified when political institutions become unfit for purpose. The amplification occurs when the voices of those representing the Prospectors with 'shattered dreams' leads the ‘confirming voices’ of Settlers who believe their dreams have turned to nightmares and there is nothing to do about it."

How the media magnifies fear-based voices: "The Settlers and Prospectors who hold these values (smoldering resentment fueled by fear)... exhibit behaviors (that) make great copy and drama for the media - and a feedback loop creates even more extreme views and behaviors."

The great divide emerges: "The emergence of the Pioneers with a vastly different set of needs has added drama to the scenario. This conflict between the ethical liberal values and the moralistic and pragmatic values of ill-liberal values lies at the heart of the battle for the soul of democracy... liberal institutions and organizations (are failing) to satisfy the needs of the Settlers and Golden Dreamers."

We need a new vision that satisfies all: "The fact that (Golden Dreamer/Settler values) are winning very close elections is a wake-up call for liberal values to stop compromising with inhumane values and behaviors. A new version of a liberal democracy is yet to be created. Now is the time... the US contains almost 50% Pioneers and the UK almost 40% - but (these groups) have to be attracted to people and policies who are less political and more ethical as representatives in social and electoral processes."

The majority will always want change: "Most people are Prospector or Pioneer and will be looking for change, not battling against it."

Warning - danger ahead: "Prospector and Pioneer values are driving (entrepreneurial activities and innovation) within organizations, and initially these groups will see the bright side of the technology – but they will also be the first to see the dark side. This hasn't happened yet – the narrative is still about the bright future – but we expect a backlash before 2020 and the next elections in the UK and the US."

Summing it up...

One could easily make the case that both major political parties and our largest companies have been far too slow to react to these shifts in our population. If Pat is right, nearly every group is unhappy now:

Pat says that the mood of Settlers and the Golden Dreamers portion of Prospectors may be best captured by Bob Dylan's line, “If you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”.

The rest of Prospectors and all Pioneers are watching as seemingly everything shifts away from their values. To make matters worse, "their" institutions aren't successfully formulating or communicating a positive formula for change.

Why did I share this?

In the U.S., confronted with very different choices, voters were split virtually 50/50. The only thing that united the population was that almost no one liked the choices.

Elections are a highly visible way to judge the sentiment of the population, and this election - like Brexit in the UK - revealed a tremendous clash in values. These values don't just separate us politically; they separate us in terms of how people perceive nearly everything.

This is an issue for all: companies, employees, leaders, non-profits, student, freelancers, retired folks... everyone. If we dismiss it as "our politics are broken" then we are doomed to suffer endlessly.

I'm an optimist, so suffering endlessly is not an acceptable solution. Instead, we need to be realistic. The same old answers are long past their breaking points. We need fresh faces and fresh ideas.

In fact, optimism may be the right way to test any potential solution. The right answer should spark optimism in all three groups: Settlers, Prospectors, and Pioneers. That has been the magic of the American Dream: it sparked optimism in all. We need to rekindle that sense of optimism, not just in the U.S., but all around the world.

Bruce Kasanoff writes and edits content for a wide range of entrepreneurs and executives.


Linda Holroyd's insight:

Bring the Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers together

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Why investors are throwing heaps of money at machine learning

Why investors are throwing heaps of money at machine learning | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

If you’re a whip-smart investor with big bucks to spend, chances are you’ve got your fingers in the AI pie.

It’s a market where $50 million is chump change, so if you really want to play with the high rollers you’ll need more room on the check.

Sentient’s up to $144 million in an AI platform play, while Vicarious Systems has thrown $67 million at AI algorithms.

So it’s pretty fair to say that if you’re a bot, you’re going to enjoy a top-notch private education.

But why now? What’s made machine learning and AI the hot stuff du jour?

It’s a game changer, that’s what.

AI and machine learning are about process optimization, but taken to the extreme.

The more they learn, the smarter they get and the more they’re going to utterly disrupt the economics of the world as we know it.

But first they’re going to disrupt the economics of software development.

It won’t be long until a project that currently takes a full year of work and a team of 6-10 devs can be compressed to a couple of months.

And that’s just to start. Because while humans are pretty well optimized, machines are just getting started.

Skeptical? Sure. But we’ve seen it before with the first industrial revolution. And that was when machines weren’t so bright.

Now they’re smart enough to put whole teams of devs – and all the teams supporting them — out to pasture.

Take the stock exchange ticker symbols that epitomize Wall Street. Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg used to spend a small fortune maintaining their databases of AAPLs, MSFTs, and AMZNs – collating their information, tracking prices, and preparing reports.

No longer. Machine learning can automate all of this. Those databases can now run on AI power alone thanks to models primed to identify ticker patterns or news relating to a publicly traded company.

The fact is, if it’s repetitive, process based, and involves large amounts of data, it’s a prime target for machine learning.

And let’s face it – those are the kinds of problems developers are targeted with solving.

After all, good developers are the ones who are lazy at heart. They want to solve a problem once, not multiple times.

And machines are crafted for efficiency. They’re born pattern recognizers and problem solvers.

And given enough time and enough maturity, we’ll be seeing systems that possess near-human intelligence in narrow domains.

That’s a lot of smarts for a lot less money than it would take to hire a team of crack developers. Which is why investors are throwing money at machine learning like there’s no tomorrow.

Because they see the tomorrow – and it’s one that involves a ROI that humans just can’t offer.

Sure, there’ll be road bumps.

Machines are as left-brained as they come, and some problems are fuzzier, messier, and broader than machines can currently handle. Finding a way to solve those right-brain problems – the ones that require logical leaps and creativity – is where the real opportunity lies.

Because when we’ve done that? We’ve cracked the secret to our own humanity. We’re still figuring our how own brains work, so recreating them is going to be a challenge we might not yet be up for. But the lure of that is pretty spectacular.

There’ll be massive failures. There’ll be efforts to solve the unsolvable. We’re betting that companies that build out toolkits to improve the accessibility and usability of AI will be some of the first winners in this field. Helping data scientists all over the world make use of AI to solve individual problems in specific domains will be one of the first places the economic value becomes apparent.

This, of course, is only the beginning. Data exchange between these models will further accelerate the usefulness and cost effectiveness of this AI. When it all comes together, there’ll be successes that will change the very fabric of our economy – and how we see and do things. Smart investors see it. They’re willing to gamble on the failures because they see the game changing potential of the successes.

Simplifying and compressing data science is the first place we’ll see the economics of machine learning start to pay off. It’ll mean smaller teams and condensed projects.

But let’s face it – putting ourselves out of a job is utterly worth it for the future that could be.

With a tireless, dedicated genius working with us on solving problems, we can turn our attention to the more rewarding, inalienably human bit: defining them.

Jeff Catlin is CEO of Lexalytics.

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Secrets of the Next Wave

Secrets of the Next Wave | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Dear 21-year-old me.
Have you ever considered just how you might start such a letter to your younger self? The question is a trick, of course. It’s a way to ask: What has the experience of career and life so far really taught you? What single secret might you wish to slip, like a fortune cookie paper, into the pocket of your younger self? Or, more practically: What do you want to tell your 21-year-old child heading to a first job? The baby-faced executive working in your office? The one running your company? Or even, perhaps more usefully, this: What can I do differently in the future?
If you had to make a fast and intense study of the secret to success now, you could do worse than scanning the names and lives that follow on LinkedIn’s 2016 Next Wave list. The list itself is kind of a miracle of technology. Ages ago I was an editor at TIME Magazine and we always crabbed together those fancy-sounding annual Time 100 lists with far less than the level of intellectual rigor you might have hoped: “Hey, let’s add that Peruvian ceviche master after the Prime Minister of Australia?!” And, sure enough, an artisan of fluke, lime and chilies would make it on the list. Ahead of Bill Gates. Buzz sold. 
The Next Wave is different. It’s an attempt to use data to fillet out of the world around us a sense of what’s working now. And, by implication, what’s not. Our world runs on networks after all—for medicine, finance, transportation, just about everything. These networks can be studied and measured and understood. So why not use them to tell us something about work?
As you read through the Next Wave list (or if you’re on it!) you’ll discover one thing pretty quickly. Animating all the brilliant ideas, the moving personal stories, and the historic-scale ambitions of each Next Waver is this single insight into what makes a powerful career now: We are what we are connected to. I don’t just mean connections to people. I mean the ideas you and I are tied to, good or bad. The experiences. The hopes. The puzzles we work on as we drive or run or consume our morning coffee. This list is a stark lesson that if you’re making an inventory of your life now the right place to start isn’t with a measure of what you have in the bank. Or the market cap of your firm. Or even your resume. No. Try this much simpler and more powerful puzzle: What am I connected to? The people on the list here: They have 25 times more connections than the average member on LinkedIn. 
I have spent a good part of the last few years trying to sort out why some people and companies and movements succeed now, while others fizzle out or implode. It’s something I think about a great deal, not merely in my day job as CEO of Kissinger Associates or as a board member at Starbucks and FedEx, but also in considering politics and history and economics. Why do some nations fail? What’s happening in our country now? I have found that success today in any endeavor is marked by a kind of intuition about connection. You and I look at a car and think: “Car”. The Uber guys look at it and see a revolution. The White House looked at ISIS and said, at first, “amateurs”, because they couldn’t quite make out the webs of power really at work. In my own career, if I’m honest, the biggest wins have come from connection—not inspiration or genius or drive. So if I were speaking to 21-year old me? The message would be fast: You are what you are connected to. 

What the Next Wave list celebrates is, in a sense, a new kind of corporate athlete. Not merely the team player, but the connected one—the figure who has that skill, whether working in a traditional law firm or some bleeding edge startup, to tie together unique groups of people or concepts into something new. You’ll find on this list a data scientist working at a fire department, a Google executive flipping ISIS wannabes back, and the media entrepreneur who turns her tools loose on the problems of race, diversity and society. In the past, there was always an eagerness to celebrate the great CEO or general or politician who battled ahead on their own, smashing obstacles with the unbreakable club of their egos. Those are the folks who used to make up lists of this sort. We know better now, I think. The great executives or innovators we celebrate here, the ones whose breakthroughs we study and consider in that “Hey, what does this mean for me?” kind of way, all drew on connection to make their success possible. 

If you look at any collection of powerful careers now, no matter how you sort it—venture capitalists in China, aid workers in Ghana, biologists in Amsterdam—real success is marked by an honest and useful mania for connection. And this tells us something about the age we live in. A hunger for new links often emerges during periods of really radical change. During the Industrial Revolution, for instance, the very first scientific journals and technical congresses came into being as figures from around Europe gathered to share ideas and challenge old thinking. Or think of the disappearance of Latin as the dominant language of scholarship. When, 400 years ago, scholars began using ordinary French or English, it was because they wanted to connect to an ever larger audience. “How fast can our ideas spread?” figures of that age asked. Little wonder the great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant said the motto of his age could be simply recorded as: "Dare to know!" Our age? "Dare to connect!" is not a bad motto for success.
What a list like this one reminds us is that there is a certain power that inheres in making links. It’s the power of discovering something new, of exercising our empathy, of being open to surprise. When I was younger, a boss once gave me this advice: Just do one big thing every year and you’ll have a successful career. Write a book. Launch a new project. Change jobs. His point was that in order to crack through the white noise of our daily work, we need to be sure each year to strive for one big leap.
I’ve tried to follow this advice pretty carefully and found it’s been a useful guide. But it’s clear to me it’s not enough. Do one big thing every year, sure, but this too: Make a list of all the new connections you want and then ruthlessly jack them into your life, one after another.
In my recent book The Seventh Sense, I’ve called this instinct to connect a whole new skill—really a sensibility that marks success now. I mean an ability to look at the world, see connection, and use it. It’s a skill that can be learned. And it is what will mark the winners and losers of our age when we look back several decades from now. What the data tells us about the Next Wave leaders is something I think we all know by instinct now anyhow: Success and connection are really the same thing now.
So let’s go back to the start. Tell us: What would you tell your 21-year-old self? Or your 51-year-old self? Something about sales? Friendships? Connection? What didn’t you know then that would be of help now to all of us as we try to figure out this strange and exciting new business world around us? Go ahead: Connect us to your ideas! (It’s the only way we may make it to the Next Wave in our own careers.)

Joshua Cooper Ramo is co-CEO of Kissinger Associates and a board member of Starbucks and FedEx. He’s also the author of the New York Times best selling book “The Seventh Sense,” which was #1 on McKinsey's latest CEO reading list.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Here's to those who are building that seventh sense

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Why "Relationship Workers" will replace "Knowledge Workers"

Why "Relationship Workers" will replace "Knowledge Workers" | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

There are two factors today that are dramatically shaping the future of work. Technology is reshaping what can be done by machines. Every day, there are stories of jobs being taken over by Artificial Intelligence. From reading X-Rays to writing financial reports for publications and advising clients on how to manage their portfolios, several jobs that were formerly within the domain of humans are increasingly getting done by machines.
Robots do not get temperamental or take vacations. And the costs of having a robot are also dropping. Several of the jobs that are considered indispensable today will not exist in the future. A host of digital technologies, from chatbots to virtual reality, is taking over jobs that humans have done until now.
The second factor is the increasing complexity in our world. Problems are getting too complex to be done by one individual. The days of the lone genius working alone in a lab are over. Problems have to be seen through a multidisciplinary lens. No longer can someone from one discipline solve problems all alone.
Traditional economics was based on the assumption of the rational human being, who would weigh all options and incentives before making a choice. However, economics failed to explain the biases and blind spots inherent in the human psyche. That led to the birth of Behavioural Economics, which was born out of the fusion of economics and psychology.
But when the Nobel Prize was given to Daniel Kahneman, the father of Behavioural Economics, it was given for his work in the field of economics. Maybe it is time to rethink the categories of the Nobel Prize in a world that is increasingly transdisciplinary.
When the nature of work changes, the skills portfolio needed to do that work also changes. Google’s fonts are designed in cross functional teams where coders work with psychologists to design fonts that will be more attractive to users. Google needs anthropologists who will help understand how a user behaves and thinks. Their insights become useful inputs for designing and continuously tweaking the company’s products and services.
Working in trans-disciplinary teams will mean that knowing how to manage people and coordinate with others will be skills that will be valuable in the job market. Routine problems will get solved by algorithms. Human beings who can solve complex problems will be valuable. Being able to leverage data, form a hypothesis, present the idea to others and convince them will be important. Creative people who are skilled in working with others to solve complex problems will be flooded with opportunities.
If accomplishing the task becomes more and more dependent on others, we will need to work more closely with others. None of these skills can be learned by taking a class. They have to be built through interactions and feedback. We will need others to be able to succeed.
Computers and automation saw the rise of the “knowledge worker”. A knowledge worker was a person whose job involved handling or using information. With computers increasingly taking over such jobs, those who are skilled in working with people will become more prized. The future belongs to people who are more emotionally intelligent. This may be the era of the “relationship worker” – someone who can handle complex human relationships.
Those who can navigate complex human relationships with empathy will be the most valuable workers in future. Do you agree? Have you seen the early signs of that already? I would love to know what you think.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Transcend the need the knowledge and the need for tech - Become a Relationship Worker

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Why the Future of TV Isn’t TV

Why the Future of TV Isn’t TV | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Why the Future of TV Isn’t TV
Published on October 2, 2016

Tom Goodwin
EVP, Head of Innovation at Zenith

I wrote this piece for the Wrap, it's featured here.

You can think TV is in terminal decline or that it’s watched by more people, more often, for longer than ever before and you can both be right. Such a dichotomy is representative of the powerful forces for change in an industry where digitization is changing behaviors, business models, consumer expectations and well, everything. Digital disruption is existentially powerful, we can be scared by what Napster did for music, or what Amazon did to retailers, or we can embrace the new opportunities that having a proliferation of screens and pervasive, fast connectivity provides.

Like many things, it used to be simple. Our media channels correlated perfectly to the single specialized device we consumed that media on. Radio programs via radio stations listened to on radios via radio waves. TV shows on TV channels via TV masts. News via newspapers on newsprint, movies and movie theaters, all clearly separated verticals with no possibility for confusion.

Digitization has destroyed that, as all media becomes bits and bytes, the Internet becomes the pipe to all content and devices become converged, the boundaries between music streaming and radio, between digital art and short films and, most importantly, between video and TV have all blurred. What becomes the defining feature of TV vs. Video? Is it the device it’s watched on? The length of the content? The production quality? Or is it the pipe for the data?

I think in an age where Apple commissions TV content to run on Apple music, where Burberry shows premium footage via Smart TV app, where we stream the NFL via Twitter on a phone, or watch news from Hulu in VR, it seems that the delivery mechanism, the device and the content length offer poor guidance in what TV is and isn’t. It seems more likely that TV in the post-digital age is best defined by the content quality. For years the difficulties in production, the cost of distribution meant that professional commissioners would decide what should be created and distributed. They were the arbiters of what was TV.

Now it’s everyone. Content and creativity is democratized, 4K cameras are cheaper than ever, Kickstarter can fuel every dream, Facebook live or SnapChat give everyone a platform. From YouTube celebrities to viral sensations becoming musical stars, it’s no longer 1,000 TV channels, it’s 1.5 billion connected video cameras in pockets, 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each second and billions of views per day through social media.

What we have in 2016 is abundance in all directions. We have more screens, in more places, than ever. We have devices like mobiles creating ever more incremental media moments in life, the mindless swiping in the elevator, the illegal snatched glance at a red light, the subway commute. More screens, more moments, it’s a pie that’s growing and this best describes the vast opportunity for everyone in TV. The challenge is how we can make better content, how we can aid the discovery and sharing of the content and how we will make more money and in better ways.

We’re in a status quo before a paradigm shift. We’re at peak complexity, we have a legacy system of set-top boxes with small incremental changes built around the edges. I now need to select my remote before I decide what show to watch. I need to remember the 13 perfect button presses to watch Jon Oliver on demand. We have SVOD, AVOD, streaming, stored content, broadcast — it’s messy. Terrified of the value destruction first seen in music, retailing and aggregation portals, it’s easy to see why the TV industry is slow to change. Why would they? Yet, we have huge mounting tensions building, we have skinny bundles, OTT, Twitter on the Apple TV, rising levels of privacy — all chipping away — but none delivering the final blow to consumers who are increasingly frustrated being spoiled by the simplicity of a Google search bar or access to everything in one place via Spotify.

TV will one day all be digital. In a world of 5G, set top boxes could fade to the smartphone as a hub. VR content can be made and streamed in real time. Micropayments could take off. Geography will become meaningless. The notion of broadcast vs. streaming will be a false choice. We need to embrace that reality now. All these changes allow more money to be made from more people, more often and in new ways. Everything from rights negotiations, to content format, to payment systems and business models need to be assessed with a future focused lens.

Technology is not a threat, new media doesn’t replace the old, it just gives a new framework to pull it through and creates more places for it to appear. First, it replicates old models in new ways but then it transforms them.

And it is this transformation that makes TV the best place to be right now. Everyone should be thinking about how TV content can mean new things: No longer beholden to ad breaks, shows can be of any length, shows can be interactive, shows can cross screens, shows can be rich immersive storytelling in VR. We need more games-design thinking and less moving image. TV content can be shared in new ways, socially discovered. But how do we replicate the water-cooler moments of the TV of the past? How do we embrace social networks as the distribution network of the future and not be scared of the attention they steal?

This is TV’s moment, it’s time to embrace the change. Quality content has never been more in demand, we have never had more moments to watch it, there has never been a bigger audience. It’s time to look forward to a future where TV content is unleashed from the box that is TV.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

More interactive, more immersive, more content - customers win!

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Why Innovation Fails

Why Innovation Fails | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Why Innovation Fails
Published on September 28, 2016
Stefan Lindegaard
Chief Transformer at Transform - or Die!
Why innovation fails? That is a question that has many answers and one that should always be put in the context of the specific organization and situation. Yet, I have seen enough failures on (corporate) innovation so that I can share my perspectives on what goes wrong.

I have been asked to do this in just 12 minutes at an upcoming conference. Here you get some of the messages I intend to share. My focus is on corporate innovation efforts. Your feedback is appreciated.

Executives do not understand innovation. Yes, this is often said and yes, executives are an easy target. But you know, there is also lot of truth to this and when I speak with corporate innovation teams around the world, how to get their executives better onboard for innovation efforts, is one of the key topics.

Middle managers do their job. Strange, how can this be a bad thing? Well, if middle managers do their jobs as they have been told by their executives they will almost always favor the day-to-day business over the innovation activities. Imagine this as a battle between day-to-day and innovation, you play 10 times and you have the day-to-day team win 9-1. That is my experience over the last 10 years.

Why? Because of the objectives and incentives put forth in general for the middle managers and in particular because of the executive decisions made in conflict situations. Their actions speak louder than their nice words on innovation. When you have conflicts, executives tend to get short-sighted, avoid experimentation (and the inevitable failures that comes with innovation) and hang on tight on control (which can drain many innovation efforts).

We are back to my first point on executives that do not understand innovation. What happens with the middle managers is because of the executives and their actions – or rather lack of actions. Point made.

You try too hard to build a culture of innovation. Very few companies have a definition of innovation. They don’t even have a common language and understanding around innovation. Granted, this can be very difficult in large organizations with several business units and many different functions. Maybe you should just admit that this is difficult. Talk less about innovation and get back to basics.

You need to build an adaptive and agile corporate culture. It does not have to a culture of innovation because if you can’t even define what innovation means for your organization, how can you then dare to think that you can create a culture around this? I just don’t get why so many organizations still try this, but it really helps me understand why so many fails at trying to build a strong innovation culture.

You don’t open up your organization. I have witnessed many attempts at opening up corporate innovation efforts over the years. What I have learned is that the companies that succeed are those that are comfortable with experimentation, loss of control and willing to share as much information and insights as possible (because they believe that fast execution is what really matters for success). This comes with open innovation. Too many executives – and their organizations – are just not ready for this.

People first, processes next, then ideas. If you equate innovation with ideas, you have already lost. The front end of innovation (where you get ideas and work with them in the early stages) is now the easier part of innovation management. Why? Ideas are everywhere today and if you struggle to find ideas (even the good ones), you are just not doing your job well enough.

The real challenge is the back end of innovation – the execution part – and here you need the right people at the right time for the right projects and in the right context and with sound processes for this match to happen.

The thing is that all companies have some kind of a project pool where they log their innovation efforts into different categories. But I have not yet met a company that had a people pool to match this project pool. In short, a people pool helps you identify, train and place the people who could contribute the most during the three phases of innovation known as discovery, incubation, acceleration. You need to know the people and you need to have the processes in place to use them in the right way.

The lack of a strong networking element in the corporate culture. One of the most prevailing set of thoughts in any organization is based on a simple question: “What’s in it for me?”.

Most people ask themselves this question when they are asked to contribute to activities that are beyond their well-defined day-to-day tasks. Innovation falls into this category for most employees. So you need to know the reasons why people want to help, but most organizations fail to get this insight and use it for building a strong networking element in their corporate culture.

The networking element also requires that you look into strategic reasons for networking, builds a roadmap for networking according to your objectives and train people to become better networkers.

A note on corporate innovation teams: They need to know their key partners and resources for innovation - internally as well as externally - but innovation teams rarely do a stakeholder analysis. They don’t know their backers, blockers and those who are neutral – and they don’t know why they have the stand they have. Big mistake.    

You die because of the corporate antibodies. Too often, an organization is plagued by silo issues that hinders the ability to bring out the best combinations needed to execute faster and better than the competitors. Too often they also tap into the usual suspects to get the job done and too often, the employees favor the status quo over change. Corporate antibodies in this form will kill your efforts and this is not just for innovation.

I only have 12 minutes to get my points across. It would be great if you could let me know the top three messages that you like the most as this can help me sharpening my focus.

The good thing is that I also have a longer session later at the conference where I can share my insights on what companies and organizations should do to get a better impact with their innovation efforts. I will share a post on this later. 

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Thought-provoking article on why innovations fail

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The four pillars of distinctive customer journeys | McKinsey & Company

The four pillars of distinctive customer journeys | McKinsey & Company | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

The four pillars of distinctive customer journeys
By Joao Dias, Oana Ionutiu, Xavier Lhuer, and Jasper van Ouwerkerk

New research reveals that focus, simplicity, “digital first,” and perceptions matter most.

In recent years, customer experience (CX) has emerged as a major differentiator for large companies, including financial-services providers. In a McKinsey survey of senior executives, 90 percent of respondents confirmed that CX is one of the CEO’s top three priorities.

It’s a priority because the stakes are so high. For financial institutions, for example, rising customer expectations are pressing organizations to come up with more functional improvements even as alternatives to traditional financial services are emerging. In this dynamic environment, financial institutions face a stiff challenge to differentiate their offerings while reducing cost and complexity for customers—and to do it at a profit.

Overcoming these challenges is critical not just to meet rising customer expectations and to compete with new digital attackers but also to generate significant business impact. Our research indicates that for every 10-percentage-point uptick in customer satisfaction, a company can increase revenues 2 percent to 3 percent.

At a time when the customer-satisfaction scores of top-quartile institutions can exceed those of bottom-quartile players by as much as 30 to 40 percentage points, the financial payoff from best-in-class CX can be significant indeed. These gains come from a variety of sources, including additional product purchases generated by cross-selling and upselling, such as when a borrower increases the value of a loan.

Would you like to learn more about our Digital McKinsey Practice?
Visit our Customer Experience & Design page
To understand what constitutes distinctive CX in financial services, we performed benchmarking research on five key customer journeys—the series of interactions a customer has with a brand to complete a task—in banking and insurance.1 The survey findings in this article relate specifically to retail customer onboarding but apply generally to the other journeys we studied.

Reaching the top quartile of CX performers is no easy task. Cost, design, and value are emerging as key differentiators for customers, yet companies often lack guiding principles to shape those efforts. By analyzing and ranking correlations between customer satisfaction and operational factors (such as the reasons a customer chooses one company over others, cycle times, features offered, and the use of digital channels) in our survey, four pillars of great customer-experience performance stood out:

1. Focus on the few factors that move the needle for customers

We asked customers to assess different characteristics of the end-to-end experience, including the first interaction with the institution, the ease of identifying the right products, and the knowledge and professionalism of staff. We found that only a small number of characteristics (typically three to five out of 15) had a material impact and accounted for the bulk of overall satisfaction (Exhibit 1).

For example, when analyzing the characteristics of the customer onboarding journey, we found that transparency of price and fees, ease of communication with the bank, and the ability to track the status of the onboarding process accounted for 42 percent of overall satisfaction. The next three highest-ranking characteristics—assessment of broader customer needs; products and services received immediately after account opening, such as debit cards and mobile and online banking access; and ease of identifying the needed product—account for an additional 34 percent. Conversely, characteristics such as the courtesy of staff, the timeliness of callbacks, and the clarity of documentation had limited impact on satisfaction. This finding strongly suggests that banks should concentrate mainly on those things that make the most difference to customer satisfaction.

2. Ease and simplicity: The payoff trade-off

Today’s harried customer values convenience. Cutting down the time it takes to complete an individual journey, such as applying for an account, by making it easier and simpler has a deep effect on customer satisfaction.

For example, in France, customer satisfaction drops by up to 30 percentage points when the time to open an account exceeds 45 minutes. That 45-minute point marks the “satisfaction cliff.” But what’s really important to note is that there is a diminishing payoff in reducing the time it takes a customer to complete a journey. In France, again, the impact on customer satisfaction when taking between 15 and 45 minutes to open an account is relatively minor (the “satisfaction plateau”). Cut that process to below 15 minutes and satisfaction increases by up to ten percentage points. Companies need to work out the trade-off, then, between the investment in improving the ease and simplicity of a process and the resulting improvement in customer satisfaction and new value created.

As more processes are digitized, journey times will be cut back. But low cycle times alone don’t equate to superior CX. Rather, our research indicates that customers respond most positively to the ease of a transaction or process.

3. Master the digital-first journey, but don’t stop there

We analyzed different types of customer journeys: those that are completely online, those that start online and finish in a branch, those that start in a branch and finish online, and those that take place fully in a branch. We found that digital-first journeys led to higher customer-satisfaction scores (Exhibit 2) and generated 10 to 20 percentage points more satisfaction than traditional journeys.

For all the advantages of digital-first journeys, those journeys that are the most digitized across all the interactions lead to the greatest customer satisfaction. Nevertheless, many financial services do not provide fully digital services even when they exist, such as digital identification and verification. This finding indicates that financial-services providers can still significantly improve CX by digitizing complete journeys.

4. Brands and perceptions matter

It may not be surprising that companies whose advertising inspires their customers with the power and appeal of their brand or generates word of mouth deliver 30 to 40 percentage points more satisfaction than their peers. But how advertising or word of mouth affects perceptions is crucial. Two banks in the US, for example, performed nearly identically across a set of customer journeys. However, customers viewed one bank as delivering a much better overall experience than its rival, because the higher-ranked institution’s advertising promoted its user-friendliness.

That perception had an important effect on identifying promotions that were effective for attracting new customers but, on average, had a nearly neutral impact on satisfaction. The average, however, is misleading. Promotions are slightly negative for traditional banks but positive for purely online players. In the same vein, physical proximity to a financial-services provider tends to have, on average, little discernible influence on customer satisfaction. Again, though, the value to customers of physical proximity can vary widely from institution to institution and from country to country, pointing to a need for financial institutions to understand their customers at a more granular level.

Why the customer experience matters
Despite the impact of word of mouth in shaping perceptions, our survey revealed that few customers recommend a financial-services provider on the strength of their existing relationship with it. An existing relationship alone does not turn a customer into an advocate. Institutions that do more to please their existing customers and help them tell their story to their peers might be able to mobilize a new group of influential advocates for their products and services.

It pays to customize
While the four hallmarks for outstanding customer experiences tend to be universal, experience designers should focus on a range of customer preferences based on country, product, and age group. For example, we observed that the ease of navigating through the account-opening process had a larger impact on satisfaction in Italy than in France. Conversely, the assessment of broader customer needs is more important in France than Italy.
When looking across products, we also found detailed differences, such as the satisfaction factors for current accounts and mortgages. When working with current accounts, customers derive the greatest satisfaction from transparency on prices and fees; when they’re applying for a mortgage, by contrast, they most value the ease of filling in the application form.
Finally, there are also differences among customer groups. The ease of communicating with the bank is more important to customers 55 years and older than to 18-to-24-year-olds. Conversely, the ability to identify the right products is more important to 18-to-24-year-olds than to those 55 and older. This suggests that processes and value offerings need to be modular with their emphasis varying with what matters most to each customer segment.
Knowing what to do is the right place to start. But a company’s success in building out great customer journeys requires agile capabilities that excel at rapid iteration and testing and learning.2 Reacting to live feedback from real customers is often the difference between a good and a great customer experience.

About the author(s)
Joao Dias is a partner in the Cologne office, Oana Ionutiu is a specialist in the Bucharest office, Xavier Lhuer is an associate partner in the London office, and Jasper van Ouwerkerk is a senior partner in the Amsterdam office.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Move the needle forward, keep it simple, manage the digital journey, as well as your brand and perception

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How Will We Be Targeting in the Future?

How Will We Be Targeting in the Future? | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Software, content, and just about everything else you see online today has been designed for the masses. Apple builds one Mail app for millions of people to use; EA expects a wide swath of people to enjoy the video games it creates; journalists write news stories intended for mass consumption.

And this makes sense; it’s how most products are made these days. After all, it’s not feasible to craft a custom offering for every individual, right?

In fact, we’re just barely scratching the surface of personalized products. A/B testing and variants let us target increasingly granular demographics with the content most likely to convert them, but this isn’t true personalization — at least, not yet. But what if every piece of software, every article, and every video strived to be what each person wanted it to be?

It’s already happening in journalism, e-commerce, financial services, and business intelligence. In fact, a pioneering automation company in the Research Triangle of North Carolina called Automated Insights is working on just that.

Robbie Allen, its founder and CEO, claims the company is the largest content producer in the world, having written more than 1 billion articles in 2014 alone. “We flip the traditional content creation model on its head,” he says. “Instead of one story with a million page views, we’ll have a million stories with one page view each.”

The same is coming to video games and other software. One day, we’ll have applications that can adapt themselves to each user’s needs. Automation and AI will make this a reality, and the game will change not only for consumers, but also for entrepreneurs.

What the Future of Automation Means for Startups

There’s a reason companies like Atlassian, for instance, focus on project management for developers and don’t branch out to project management for construction or financial services: If you go after too broad a market, someone will build a more specific — and more personalized — system that better serves the needs of your niche.

This is how markets fragment, and it’s why businesses are advised to target one very specific part of their market. Going forward, though, you should expect to be able to target individual people and companies using automated development systems that can tailor a piece of software to fulfill a customer’s precise need. Targeting usually takes place at the marketing level, but you’ll soon see that moving to the product development level as well — when software products become able to self-modify in order to better suit individual users.

Automated capabilities will affect hardware, too. Standby Screw, a custom parts manufacturer in Ohio, is already reaping the benefits of having intelligent machines perform custom operations that originally took hours of manpower. The company uses Baxter, a Rethink Robotics’ product, to perform a variety of tasks — even repositioning parts bumped out of place — without having to stop or be reprogrammed.

Baxter has freed up valuable time for employees to do tasks that require more creative intelligence and has cut down on the production time needed to build custom parts and packaging. In the future, enhancing customization will be the bare minimum for companies looking to remain competitive — startups, and even larger businesses, will have to differentiate themselves through other means, such as price and customer service.

What this means for entrepreneurs is that the barrier to entry will be considerably lower: Fewer employees will be needed to complete increasingly complex tasks, rendering startup costs, even for manufacturing, relatively negligible.

How to Prepare for a Brave New Personalized World

So how do existing tech companies prepare for this future of ultrapersonalization? What’s the best way to stay on the cutting edge of the automation revolution?

Here are three ways to stay on top of the customization game:

  1. Don’t be late to the party. Begin looking at ways to adopt automation and personalization technologies as soon as you possibly can, including partnering with other companies and products that can help you get to that next level. Mercedes, for instance, has taken advantage of Nest’s developer program, and its cars can now let your smart thermostat know what time you’ll be home. Nest can get your home to the optimal temperature before you pull into the driveway.

Lest you think only tech companies in Silicon Valley need to worry about this issue, a recent survey found 60 percent of businesses across a variety of industries are already seeing returns on their investments in personalization tools. Nearly every industry will be deeply affected by this movement toward greater personalization — to remain competitive, it’s best to prepare now, regardless of your area of expertise.

  1. Expect the rules to change. The hard and fast rules of the startup world (i.e., find a specific target market, build one product that works for that group, and market it accordingly) are going to change. A core product that’s good at accounting, project management, or payroll, for example, could adapt and personalize itself to fit the needs of a broad range of individual prospective users.

In the near future, many businesses will allow each consumer to customize, and in some cases, design his or her own product from scratch — even if it’s digital. Something as mundane as breakfast cereal is already being hyperpersonalized: Muesli now allows you to create your own mix on its website. Creating something that’s perfect for just a percentage of the population is no longer a requirement; automation and AI will allow you to paint with broad strokes.

  1. Implement automation in product testing. Thanks to automation, the timeline of going from idea to implementation will be dramatically decreased.

Many companies that have shifted from a completely manual testing process to a hybrid of automated and human testing are already seeing efficiency improvements in product development. The shortened time frames that result would be a huge boon to startups, which are more often than not limited on time and resources.

A future where nearly every product and service is customized to fit the individual is closer than you might think. By preparing for this future and incorporating automation wherever possible, entrepreneurs and existing startups can ensure that they remain one step ahead of the competition.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Embrace the opportunities around an age of personalization!

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Why Leaders Need to Know What Machines Can't Do

Why Leaders Need to Know What Machines Can't Do | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Why Leaders Need to Know What Machines Can't Do
by  Geoff Colvin @geoffcolvin JUNE 20, 2016

Some jobs really must be automated; others need the human touch.
When stock markets plunged early this year, managers at USAA’s investments division noticed something odd. Customers who routinely conducted business online were suddenly lighting up the phones. USAA had nothing new to tell them—its fundamental advice hadn’t changed, and they could have found that guidance online. Yet clients deeply wanted to talk to a real human being, and never mind why. They just did.

That reality illustrates a high-stakes decision that confronts managers in every industry: choosing which employees must be replaced by technology and which must not be. Growing numbers of jobs at every level can be performed by ­machines—not just faster and more cheaply than humans can do them, but better. In many of those jobs, such as in factories, failing to replace people could doom a company through uncompetitive costs. Yet in other jobs that machines can do well, such as giving financial advice, replacing too many humans could be a fatal error. How to decide? Three situations in particular seem to justify the costs, and quirks, of people.

When customers value the human touch. Many decisions that in theory are calculable—where to invest, whether to sue, how to respond to a medical ­diagnosis—are in fact laden with emotion. Many people need to interact with a person before choosing a course of action. In finance, law, medicine, and other fields, workers who handle those interactions most adeptly will be the least susceptible to replacement.

When constituencies must be represented. All organizations are run ultimately by and for humans, and most are complex matrices of desires, incentives, budgets, and myriad other factors. If marketing can’t get along with sales, or management with labor, nothing good can happen. Technology could optimize the whole intricate machine, but it will seize up if humans can’t agree on how to make it go.

When someone must be accountable. So long as humans and not machines are in charge—let’s assume that’s a long time—societies will demand that people be made to answer for decisions, even if technology recommends those decisions. Government officials, military officers, judges, business managers, basketball coaches, and others in leadership roles will remain where the buck stops. Technology may reduce the number of people in such roles—it’s already taking over tasks of middle managers, for example—but responsibility will ultimately end up in human hands.

As machines grow more powerful, deciding who must go and who must stay becomes harder. A guiding principle: Just because technology can do a job brilliantly doesn’t mean that it should.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

We need humans when: the customer values the human interaction, when constituents need to be served, and when someone needs to be accountable.

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It Takes a Network for CMOs to Stay on Top

It Takes a Network for CMOs to Stay on Top | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Combine velocity and volatility with the 24/7 global business cycles and it becomes virtually impossible for any leader to stay on top of his or her game. For Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), staying on top can spell the difference between success and failure, for them as well as their companies.

Marketo funded a qualitative study looking into emerging marketing trends. A wide range B2B and B2B2C Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) participated, representing companies ranging in size from the Fortune 10 to early stage start-ups across financial services, manufacturing, high technology and SaaS industries.

Only 24 Hours in the Day
A common refrain heard in the study were the challenges of juggling multiple demands on time, while trying to keep up to date.

Andy, a CMO of a Fortune 15 healthcare services company summed it up well, “I have internal goals to meet and pressures to address that are not based on best practices or what is happening in the marketing discipline. Seventy percent of my time is spent on internal constituents.”

And when the question of travel came up, CMOs said they needed to define priorities.

Andy shared a sentiment that was echoed by most CMOs, “Conferences don’t do it for me; networking with peers is more useful. But it needs to be local.” Katy, another study participant is the CMO with a high profile Fortune 1000 social technology vendor, shared, “When I’m out of town or at conferences, I’m with customers. They are my priority.”

CMOs want to network with peers, but LinkedIn Groups, exclusive meetups, CMO-only conferences and CMO tracks at conferences offer little perceived value and require valuable time out of office. If they have to travel, CMOs opt to meet with prospects and customers before sitting in a conference or dinner meeting, regardless of how prestigious the group is.

When do CMOs find time to read from the daily deluge of posts and articles available? They don't. Not from lack of interest or motivation, but from a lack of time. Just as customers are overwhelmed and fatigued by the constant bombardment of information, so too is the CMO. CMOs regularly scan a handful of publications including Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and McKinsey reports. The topics of interest vary based on the issues facing them and the company. Andy summed it up with “if a topic peaks my interest, I’ll read more.”

4 Strategies, 1 Secret
CMOs employ 4 strategies to stay on top:

1. Routinely visit customers to understand market shifts and new expectations.
2. Network with a handful of trusted peers by scheduling periodic calls or meet ups.
3. Stay in touch with trusted consultants and influencers.
4. Hire right.
The CMOs who succeed at staying current share a common secret: they rely heavily on their teams. “I’m constantly blasted with ideas from my team and they educate me,” shared Katy. “I’m very focused on hiring a good team and giving them room to grow and experiment.”

By adding new roles — many of which didn't exist five years ago — CMOs are rapidly evolving their teams’ competency portfolio:

  • Social engagement and community managers
  • Chief content officer, evangelists, editors, chief listener, chief storyteller
  • Data scientist, marketing operations, business analyst, center of excellence managers
  • Chief customer officers, customer experience analysts, customer marketing specialist, employee engagement strategist
  • Digital/growth acquisition, digital experience marketers, lifecycle marketers, marketing technologist

Hiring the right candidate is challenging, regardless of company size or industry. It's difficult to find the right person out of a large candidate pool who fits the culture, offers the right expertise and is interested in joining the company. Marketing leaders of large and small companies resort to hiring from their network. The candidate quality is higher and frequently a better fit.

Larger, established companies face an additional obstacle of not being considered ‘hot’ enough. This reduces the pool of candidates substantially for key positions in analytics, data science, modeling and digital marketing. Millennials — who make up the majority of the candidates — feel that large or mature companies would restrict their creativity, mobility, opportunities and need for flexibility. To keep competitive, established company CMOs evolve their culture, structures and spend a lot of time selling their vision of the company.

CMOs with brand cache companies have the reverse problem: retention. Their employees are constantly being recruited away with lucrative offers, creating in one case 20 percent annual turnover. These CMOs retain top talent by regularly moving people between roles and increasingly offering high performers more latitude, responsibility and opportunities to do new things.

One irony in this growing reliance on teams is that anyone seeking to woo the CMO as their ideal target buyer, need to redirect the marketing and sales strategy to win the hearts and minds of their subordinates.

Building the Business Case for Marketing Hires
Any discussion of adding headcount brings with it the age old conundrum of how to justify hires in environments where the business case is based on revenue ROI. Unfortunately many of the new marketing competencies required to build awareness, reach, engagement, credibility and loyalty in this "age of the customer" are either indirectly linked or are too new for anyone to have hard data on their impact on quantifiable revenue.

CMOs cited two strategies on how to justify new hires:

1. Contract with candidates to complete a high visibility project
Engage the candidate as a contractor for a project that has high visibility with key constituents and let the value-add and impact of the project’s results "sell themselves." This approach is effective for some positions such as videographer, sales enablement, field marketing/ops and digital branding, but doesn't apply to all positions.

2. Redefine traditional roles with new competencies
Reduce traditional marketing headcount in print advertisement, etc. and repurpose them for new competencies. This approach is used to bring in data scientists, social managers and digital branding where the link to revenue is not directly measurable.

CMOs are building networks made of employees, contractors, Martech vendor specialists and influencers to gain the agility that companies. Clark, a CMO with a Fortune 1000 SaaS Financial Software provider, values this approach as it “enables me to have continuous access to the best and brightest while easily adjusting the mix in response to market and business changes.”

The CMOs who stay on top of their game know, this is no one person job.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by garryknight
About the Author
With more than 25 years of marketing and leadership experience, Christine Crandell, President at New Business Strategies, is a recognized thought leader, expert, practitioner, speaker and author regarding corporate strategy and customer experience. Christine’s Forbes blog, “Outside the Box” focuses on helping the C-Suite understandhow to drive faster revenue growth through innovative business strategy, practices and models.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

CMOs employ 4 strategies to stay on top:

1. Routinely visit customers to understand market shifts and new expectations.
2. Network with a handful of trusted peers by scheduling periodic calls or meet ups.
3. Stay in touch with trusted consultants and influencers.
4. Hire right.

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Building Better Social Networks: Beyond Likes, Follows and Hashtags

Building Better Social Networks: Beyond Likes, Follows and Hashtags | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Here are some cold, hard social media truths: likes, follows, shares and hashtags aren’t communities. The newsfeed is little more than a way to consume news and maintain relationships with people you already know. Hashtags are often ineffective.

As much as we love it, social media doesn’t make it easy to build new communities around a shared identity or interest. Legacy products such as Facebook Groups and the like only scratch the surface of what’s possible in a digital world where three billion people are connected by supercomputers in their pockets.

When software’s never been smarter nor have we been more connected, the lengths we ask people to go to in order to meet new people around the things that matter most to them are absurd. To many, a web forum is still held up as state-of-the-art. To truly harness the power of social networking, we need to think beyond views, likes, follows and hashtags.

My A-Ha Moment

Most of my professional career has centered on creating software platforms dedicated to building communities. And by communities, I mean networks that build real, tangible relationships between people who share an identity or interest, whether it be a profession, medical diagnosis, political candidate, sports team, social cause or subculture.

Back in 2007 I launched Ning, a platform for niche networks on the web. From the moment we offered “your own social network for anything,” I saw the excitement of pez collectors, teachers, Brooklyn artists, Dallas Mavericks fans, DIY Drone enthusiasts and Offbeat Brides connecting for the first time live in their own communities.

I was hooked.

I loved that people could create networks around anything that mattered to them, no matter where they lived, what they looked like, how popular or unpopular they were in the real world or how much money they made. These were communities created around strong identities and interests. But as social networks evolved, the world naturally and collectively gravitated to more familiar connections. As more people joined networks and connected to high school friends, extended family, college classmates and professional colleagues, the people we already knew started to consume the majority of our time online.

Since 2007, a few things have changed. I left Ning and started Mightybell to create a new generation of mobile-centric identity networks. Maxed out with connections to people we know, I believe we are at an inflection point where the social-networking world is ready to connect and build new relationships in smarter, more natural ways with new people who share a common identity or interest.

Don’t hashtags bring together people around interests? The most popular hashtag movements aggregate people’s perspectives in one place. They are fantastic at demonstrating energy around an idea, but they are missing the opportunity to build towards concentrated, sustained action, support, learning and real relationships. It’s not for lack of organizing savvy by leaders. It’s the limitations of the software. We can do better than platforms that require a convoluted combination of hashtags and poorly organized numbers for questions and answers to “have a conversation.” No one should have to work this hard to chat.  

The difference between real community building and the current state of “communities” built on the dominant networks is evident in this comment from a member of Beyond Type 1’s new network dedicated to navigating Type 1 diabetes:

For people trying to connect with those who share their identity or interest, sifting through junk to get to something valuable is simply wasting time. That an app dedicated to building relationships between people navigating Type 1 Diabetes didn’t already exist was a missed opportunity that Beyond Type 1 is filling.

In this new, more effective definition of what it means to create a community, likes, follows, shares and hashtags are the means to attract members, and these new identity networks are the end, offering the opportunity to bring together a coalition of the motivated to build strong relationships with each other, not just with you.

For brands with a passionate customer base, advocacy organizations, not-for-profits, authors, influencers and anyone with the desire to build a community, these identity networks create a powerful engine of sustained action and durable relationships that outlast any individual campaign, book or hashtag.

A New Way to Think About Engagement

If you are not coupling views, likes, follows and shares with a destination, you’re missing the opportunity to craft a powerful network of your most motivated fans and followers.

This isn’t throwing people together in an empty channel or forum online. Imagine a new world where the network plays the role of a host. A new member joins an identity network like Beyond Type 1 for those touched by Type 1 diabetes or OWN IT for small business owners and is instantly connected to those members near them in real life, those members who share the same specialty and those members who share an interest in the same topics.

As this same new member shares more about their interests, their feed becomes more personalized and they see the most popular and highest quality conversations happening in the topics they care about. The most relevant members are not only surfaced by location, profession or stage, but can also message similar members based on how they answer polls, which live chats they attend or the groups they opt-into within the network.

Organizing and connecting your community more deeply in the same place also removes the friction and arduous work currently needed to connect the right people to each other or organize events. Imagine tapping the most active members in a particular geography to host a meetup. An identity network already knows which members are in the same location and can take care of inviting, managing replies and – through APIs – can even suggest a venue without requiring the network host to lift a finger.

With these new models (and the powerful technology behind them), we can finally retire the simple, chronological group comment thread, event page or chat room paradigms created when we accessed the internet from a dial-up connection. Facebook Groups will remain for small groups and Meetup will still be there for local groups not connected to a larger network, but when you want to build an army, the savviest leaders will turn to the organizing power of identity networks to build stronger, deeper relationships at scale.

A Better Way to Create a Community

The key to translating your likes, follows and shares from a hashtag to an identity network is reframing your definition of success from big numbers alone to one that includes, at its core, a more deeply engaged community of your most motivated fans or followers. Once you wrap your mind around this, the mechanics of growing an identity network are straightforward:

It’s about them, not you. If you want to build real connections and sustained engagement between members, share the spotlight. At Mightybell, as we’ve introduced new features like polls, questions and groups, we’ve seen the percentage of contributing members double across our roughly 50,000 networks. More contributing members trigger more interesting and diverse notifications that bring more members back frequently. Then, as more of your members engage in the network, you as the host can step back and see a self-organizing community emerge.

Encourage members to share ideas, stories and experiences, not advice. The one thing dead communities have in common? Advice. It’s not inviting as a reason to join a new network. Much more inviting are similar people sharing their practical ideas, stories, experiences and current dilemmas with each other in a convenient mobile app. Create the conditions for sharing stories and practical ideas, and your network will become more valuable almost immediately.

Choose icebreakers over listicles. The biggest mistake we see over and over again is a host repurposing generic “content” they’ve created for content marketing. The sad truth is that a listicle built to drive sharing on LinkedIn doesn’t spark conversation among new members in a community. Rather, we’ve seen dramatically better results with a portfolio of conversation starters – or “engagement strategies” – that seek to offer members multiple ways of contributing to and participating in the network.

In addition to things like multiple choice polls, live chats, hangouts and meetups, the best engagement strategies include introductions, topics, hot or cold polls, percentage polls, questions and prompts. Think about them as a portfolio to use in rotation to bring in more members to contribute and share their stories. As we use these today, we regularly see over 50% of members contributing to an identity network. That’s a far cry from the accepted rule that says only 1% of people contribute to networks while the rest of us consume.  

Likes, shares, views, hashtags and follows are no way to organize in a live, social and mobile-first world. Given the intelligence of software and the sophistication of algorithms, they are downright pedestrian. To build powerful, effective, sustained communities, we need to think beyond them. Identity networks are already unlocking new connections across the three billion-strong graph of humans on mobile. The technology is here. The only thing you need is to know who you’re going to bring together.
Linda Holroyd's insight:

Next generation internet is about creating those communities

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