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If you’re trying to understand how retail tries to adapt to an always-on, always connected customer base, US department stores are fantastic case studies. Macy’s, the largest of them, went probably through all the cycles of digital trends you can imagine. Specially when advertising was concerned.
In a dramatic recent turn of events, Macy’s started to strategically disengage from influencers campaigns, where high-profile Youtubers or Instagrammers would be paid to feature Macy’s products to their audience.
Two weeks ago I had to rent a car from Hertz. It was one of the blandest experience I’ve had with a customer desk in a very long time. This is not a rant on Hertz or this particular team. I could guess that my customer experience by all their standards had been amazing. The process was smooth and I’m sure it checked all the quality control boxes, or customer satisfaction KPIs they had. I just tend to have an obsessive frame of mind in regard to building added value as a brand… or not.
But there was one thing that was absolutely baffling to me. Let me explain…
Imagine your company has one of the most advanced big data platform you can think of in your market. Imagine you have access to an unparalleled level of insights and forecasts about who your customers are, what they want, and how they think.
Here comes the question I’d like you to ponder for five minutes and really think about: What would you do with this analytical power?
Don’t settle for general non-opposable answers such as « Improving the value we deliver in key segments » or any other BS. Give me something real. A real breakthrough you would be able to implement because you’d have enough data to convince your board and unlock the biggest investment your company will make next fiscal year.
What. Would. That. Be?
Most senior managers I ask this question to are not able to give a convincing answer on how they would use « big data ».
That makes sense. Most of the time this dream of technology is a magical pony you think you should chase for fear on missing out on the next revolution. It is also a way to convince yourself and your team that you’re not responsible for where you are right now. That there is a something to blame that is beyond your reach.
Alas, for good or bad technology is a neutral agent. It has no purpose by itself. Even if you become the best at « big data » it doesn’t mean you’ll be the next Amazon or Google. These companies had plans before tech.
I published already a few things about the notion of opposable marketing, which to frame it simply, just asks the question: do you say something meaningful to your market?
Being cost-efficient, having good quality, paying attention to customers, etc. All that means nothing. Because no one does the opposite of that. If no one markets the facts they sell over-expensive products that are dangerous to consume because they don’t care about who buys them, why would you waste your time explaining you don’t do that?
After Google this is now Microsoft that tries to wow us with their vision of the future, introducing Surface Hub 2.
Past the obvious elegance and desirability of the product we have to ask if Microsoft will manage to regain its splendor. The strategy is now more and more obvious: if Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple and first and foremost consumers companies (even some use consumers as products), will Microsoft be able to transform in an ubiquitous business platform?
To the credit of Satya NADELLA they already have started to tune down Windows as a core focus. But this is a slow refocus for now. One should ask if merging with IBM and rapidly adding payment solutions wouldn’t be the next logical step.
Or is it just about selling more Azure cloud solutions and Office 365?
The digital wake-up call you need is maybe not the one you think. You are understandably worried that you don’t own the platform where your customer experience and your brand are dissected live every second. But what is the option anyway? PR you way back to relevance?
Two weeks in Shanghai working with dozens of MBA students holding managerial and executive positions in various industries always ground me back to the basics of business. One of the most basic questioning that managers, innovators, or would-be entrepreneurs are asked is: can you explain your business? The answer is always a mess.
It’s not about product or service anymore. It never was. Since the beginning of times, every transaction has always been both a product and a service. But you might be confused because finance is still looking hard at Capex versus Opex and that’s fair. Tax people might also still lag behind and account for VAT, investment, and transfer of ownership in different ways, but why would that mean that your customers should care?
Scalability is a magic word for innovators. It is what sets Amazon apart from your local retail store, Uber from a taxi company, and Apple from Asus. It is also what ultimately differentiates startups from run-of-the-mill tech ventures. But scalability is a call difficult to answer, partly –but not only– because it’s very ill-defined. Let’s try to explore some key points you should wrap your mind around if scalability matters to you. Continue reading How business scalability works