Tech

Edelman Trust Barometer 2020: CEOs can seize the day

IMG_5193When the World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos, the first thing I look out for is the Edelman Trust Barometer. Now in its 20th year, the PR agency Edelman has been measuring public trust in people and institutions.

And this year, this stuck out particularly for me:

  • Business is seen as the most competent of institutions, inching ahead even of NGOs. And it is seen as competent, even if seen as too self-centered by most respondents.

Time for CEOs to step up!

The survey shows that people have a high expectation that their company’s CEO takes the lead in speaking out on important issues – from climate change, diversity or jobs of the future. A whopping seventy-five percent (75%) believe CEOs should lead the way to change, almost that it is imperative for them to speak out and not wait for politics and government to step in.

Larry Fink only last week spoke out on jobs lost to automation and the need for ESG-only investments. Microsoft taking more carbon out of its operations. Steps in the right direction. But the level of consciousness needs to be raised! Just think to Siemens who recently have been criticized around their decision to invest in coal mining in Australia despite the recent environmental (fire) crisis.

More needs to be done and being a change enabler should move to the top of any CEO’s agenda in 2020.

Technology is a worry

83% of respondents said they were concerned also about losing their jobs for various reasons like a weak economy, lack of job security, automation, or a lack of skills. Meanwhile, 62% feel work technology is “out of control,” and technological change is happening too quickly. Yikes.

Therefore CEOs will need to make real investment efforts in the coming years in people, not just technology. Why? Because we need a perfect balance of the two!

Mastering challenges collectively

But also engaging stakeholders across the board will be a key opportunities for businesses and CEOs alike. 87% say that customers, employees and communities are more important to a company’s long-term success than shareholders alone.

Maybe we have already seeing a shift when looking at the announcement by The Business Roundtable Group of CEOs who said that we should start to move away from a sole focus on shareholders to a more balances purpose centred on all stakeholders.

My encouraging question to all CEOs out there: How will you use your opportunity to own the narrative and to drive change to build trust in the coming years?

2020: The human decade

The end of the year always brings about many reflections for me, especially as we are about to step into a new decade, still in the middle of our global technology revolution.

And even though we only hear terms like tech or digital, we need to remember that this revolution is first and foremost a cultural transformation with humans in the driver’s seat.

For business leaders it is imperative in the coming decade to truly put humans at the center of their organizations. It’s all about creating positive employee experiences to make employees feel valued, appreciated, safe and energized to bring their best to work.

We need to take a close and hard look at how we define leadership, work and collaboration, saying goodbye to the old normal of “business as usual”. This may be painful but it will be an amazing window of opportunity.

We need to provide a “north star” that brings a sense of meaning and direction, showing us what place our organization and therefore also us as humans have in the world. We need to create a space for everyone where we can share knowledge and experience, continue to learn and have the time for critical and creative thinking. We need to ask ourselves how can we create more connection, kindness, wellness, diversity, inclusion and happiness even amid the crazy pace of technological change that we are feeling.

After all, humans have always been the driving force behind every innovation and will continue to be so.

Leaders who understand how to meaningfully invest in others will have a critical competitive advantage in the coming decade. Maybe we are already seeing a shift when looking at the announcement by The Business Roundtable Group of CEOs who said that we should start to move away from a sole focus on shareholders to a more balances purpose centred on all stakeholders.

I am excited and am looking forward to working with leaders as we move into the new decade to support  you in seizing the vast opportunities to advance the work you do and the people you do it with in truly transformative ways with a focus on the humans inside your companies.

Grow through experiments

Harry_Waisman_labPractice makes perfect. Who hasn’t been told that at some point in their life? But is it true?

I like Adam Grant’s take who believes that what separates the good from the great is the willingness to try new things. You may be successful the way you are, but regardless of whether you are a company or an individual if you follow the same thing, the same routine, the same strategy over and over again you are more or less standing still, it means you are not growing.

Especially today where our world is changing at an incredible speed we need to have the willingness to experiment. To experiment with what you already know, and to experiment beyond that.

As Adam Grant said in a recent interview with GQ:

“..I would love to see every individual, every group try at least one experiment every week. Whether that’s shifting the structure of your meetings, or rotating around the leader for that decision—you can make a long list of what kind of experiments might be relevant. But to me, that’s kind of the big lesson of organizational psychology: the people who are willing to try new things beat the ones who don’t.”

How can you break your silos of your own built routines and start to experiment?

(Photo Credit: Harry Waisman Lab)

Tech Gained $1.7 Trillion in 2017

tech

That’s more than Canada’s entire economy, Germany’s DAX (Germany’s biggest 30 companies put together)! The eight tech giants — Facebook Inc., Amazon Inc., Apple Inc., Netflix Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc., as well as their Asian peers Baidu Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. — have amassed as much money in 2017 as Pacific Investment Management Co., one of the world’s biggest fund managers, has done in about 46 years. Speechless.

Digital transformation dreaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016

Venture captrenditalist Mary Meeker’s annual presentation on the State of the Internet always gets my attention (and many other’s as well) as it outlines where digital trends and with it marketing are headed to in the next few years.

At 213 pages it is a lot to digest and here are my main takeaways;

  • Internet growth is slowing down. The adoption rate was flay YoY at 9%. At the moment it is reaching about 42% of the world’s population.
  • The smartphone is hitting the saturation point. There are 7.4 billion people in the world and about 2.5 billion smartphones. And it seems as though the majority of those who can or will own a smartphone already do. But marketers shouldn’t worry, mobile will only become more important as people spend more time on their devices.
  • Online advertising is up 20% and mobile is a big driver of growth. Google and Facebook are also big drivers commanding 76% of all spend. Meeker sees a $22 billion opportunity in mobile advertising based on data showing consumers spend 25 percent of their media time on mobile while advertisers spend only 12 percent of their budgets here. But if marketers want to be effective they need to fit in with consumer behaviours. Think fitting the content with the platform specific consumer behaviours such as vertical, short length, full screen.
  • Ad blocking is on the rise. Obviously the public is making a statement here – time for marketers to find some acceptance and start to create content that is truly relevant to our audiences.
  • Messaging apps are huge and over time could take over the home screen on mobile devices. After all, 80% of users time is spent on 3 apps: Facebook, WhatsApp and Chrome. We will see a shift from messaging being just for us to be social to include more business related interactions. We must not forget that in Asia messaging apps like WeChat are already more or less used as home screens with people going there to not only chat but also shop, order taxis, transfer money or play games. Plus the next generations prefer to chat than actually physically talk.
  • Visual is exploding and images are fuelling sales. Meeker says that in 5 years at least 50% of searches will be made through images or speech. We are using our smartphones more to tell and share stories – no wonder Snapchat has made such a huge leap recently. For marketers this means if we can help our target audience visualize how a product fits into their lives, we can help drive sales.
  • Video is also obviously exploding with Snapchat and Facebook Live which increases the pressure to produce relevant, authentic and real-time content. Funnily enough, video ads are not doing so well. Ad blocking plays a major part here and many people mute the sound. Once again it is all about relevant targeting and delivering the relevant content at the right time and place.
  • Privacy and personal data. Obviously marketers love digital data as it gives us the opportunity for effective advertising ROIs. But according to Meeker, 45% of people are more worried about digital security than last year. What does this mean? Do not risk the trust you have earned with your audiences and listen to their concerns.
  • And finally after the rise of text, images….now the rise of the voice interfaces. Voice is probably the best “real time” format we have. We can speak faster than typing and it is definitely much more personal. While we may not be there completely from a technological point of view yet this is open up new avenues for sales and marketing.

Marketing customer centricity

3dWhile customer centricity is nothing new, customer experience lies at the heart of digital transformation.

Digital is putting customers in the driver seat, transforming their purchasing decisions. Today’s customers are more empowered, they can get a lot of information online way before they need to get in touch with a sales representative. It is a true shift in power and organizations need to adopt a customer centric approach across their company to offer value.

While most companies today claim to put their customers first, a surprisingly small number are actually doing it right. Servicing your customers well cannot be put into a “one size fits all” strategy and marketing plays an important role in helping to achieve customer centricity.

It’s all about “Personas”
The better you know your customers, the better you can give them what they want. Customer centric marketing needs to acknowledge that there is no average customer. Nobody wants to be spammed with generic email promotions that do not speak to your needs or is just plain boring. This is where personas can help you. By understanding your audiences and buyer types, you can craft a specific message, with relevant content, in the right channels, creating value along the way and hopefully creating long-term relationships, ideally with your customers becoming brand advocates.

Understanding the customer journey
The ‘customer journey’ can be defined as all interactions that customers’ have with a company’s brand, product or services across all touch points and channels. In today’s digital world it is imperative that a seamless experience is created across all channels – and this includes on- as well as offline. Understanding the customer journey allows us to better connect, communicate and give the right information at the right time of the journey or purchasing process.

Make use of data
Too many marketers talk about data-driven marketing but data is only useful if the right technology and know how is in place to capture and analyse. Every day customers are telling us what they want by clicking, sharing, downloading. And it is not about collecting vast amounts of data but more to look at the data and understanding what customers need and want and then using that insight to develop better marketing campaigns, design products and services as well as other efforts and initiatives.

Customer centric business = social business
Customer intimacy relies on two-way conversation. Social media allows you to understand and communicate with your customers, making your relationship with them more meaningful. Social media is a key channel for customers in their decision-making. Make sure that you are present where your customers are present, that you listen, identify the gaps in customer engahement and respond in real-time.

The shift towards becoming a customer centric organization is complex and takes a long time. Marketing plays an important role in helping create a change in corporate culture where the focus is on the customer. The future of marketing (as always) is exciting and challenging.