The car has the potential to become the ultimate loyalty card.
The car is essentially an extension of our everyday lives. Most people use their car every day, spending a considerable amount of time listening to music on the radio or making important phone calls on the go. As a result, drivers spend large amounts of money using their car, i.e. gasoline, car washes, vehicle maintenance, accessories, shopping trips or traveling to entertainment venues.
What if car brands could support or even influence the purchasing decisions drivers make?
Until recently, engaging with anything other than the car controls, stereo and navigation system was difficult and quite frankly dangerous. This has since changed due to improved voice controls, better touch screens, ultra-fast connectivity and Artificial Intelligence.
Now cars have the possibility to do more than just take its driver and passengers from point A to point B. Technology has created a huge opportunity for the car eco-system and brands moving forward.
Imagine if the car helped its owner automatically keep track of gas station loyalty programs and accumulated points, restaurants in the area with great lunch menus, or deciding whether or not it’s worth a detour from the weekly grocery trip to go pick up your favourite bottle of wine, seasonal vegetables or fresh seafood. Forget about Alexa, teach the car what you want and it will become indispensable to you.
Improving brand loyalty for the car brand is sufficient enough for car manufacturers to justify venturing into loyalty, but the business case is much greater. With changes in car ownership among millennials, autonomous cars and rapid development in NLP and AI, now is the time to act.
Will the automotive industry wait for Amazon or Google to take over the car? Or will they take control over their own destiny?
Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, DMI, www.dminc.com
The car has the potential to become the ultimate loyalty card. The car is essentially an extension of our everyday lives. Most people use their car every day, spending a considerable amount of time listening to music on the radio or making important phone calls on the go. As a result, drivers spend large amounts of money using their car, i.e. gasoline, car washes, vehicle maintenance, accessories, shopping trips or traveling to entertainment venues. What if car brands could support or even influence the purchasing decisions drivers make? Until recently, engaging with anything other than the car controls, stereo and navigation system was difficult and quite frankly dangerous. This has since changed due to improved voice controls, better touch screens, ultra-fast connectivity and Artificial Intelligence. Now cars have the possibility to do more than just take its driver and passengers from point A to point B. Technology has created a huge opportunity for the car eco-system and brands moving forward. Imagine if the car helped its owner automatically keep track of gas station loyalty programs and accumulated points, restaurants in the area with great lunch menus, or deciding whether or not it’s worth a detour from the weekly grocery trip to go pick up your favourite bottle of wine, seasonal vegetables or fresh seafood. Forget about Alexa, teach the car what you want and it will become indispensable to you. Improving brand loyalty for the car brand is sufficient enough for car manufacturers to justify venturing into loyalty, but the business case is much greater. With changes in car ownership among millennials, autonomous cars and rapid development in NLP and AI, now is the time to act. Will the automotive industry wait for Amazon or Google to take over the car? Or will they take control over their own destiny? Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, DMI, www.dminc.com
You’ve built and sold a successful business – what’s next? Many entrepreneurs turn to angel investing to help other businesses grow. Angel investing is fast becoming the go-to source of funding for start-up owners looking to take their businesses to the next level. In 2015, a record £1.8bn was invested in 3,265 ventures through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Unlike venture capitalists, angel investors generally take a longer-term approach, providing “patient capital” and investing on the basis that they may not see a return for up to a decade, or indeed any return. Furthermore, they bring the benefit of their experience to the businesses in which they invest. “One of the most important things about angel investing is it’s not just about the money you’re bringing to the business,” says Jenny Tooth, CEO of the UK Business Angels Association. “It’s a very personal thing, identifying the businesses you want to invest in and knowing that you’ll be able to help them post-investment, bringing advice, support, contacts and customers – all the things that will really make a difference.” From the point of view of the entrepreneur, this is all good news. But what’s in it for the angels themselves? For many, a wish to help and support others while keeping their hands in, so to speak, underlies the decision to provide funding. But there can be sound financial benefits, too. Although angel investing is regarded as high-risk, with some 58% of deals not returning the original investment, many businesses supported by angels do go on to enjoy significant success. And valuable tax breaks are available for investors under the EIS and SEIS. Spreading your wings So how do you go about becoming an angel investor? It’s not as simple as just finding a promising business and getting out your chequebook: regulations are in place to protect both investors and business owners. First, you will need to self-certify as a high net worth or sophisticated investor, which entitles you to receive business plans and make investments through your own decision. Typically, angel investors will provide between £5,000 and £150,000 in funding to single ventures, in return for a shareholding of no more than 25%, in order to ensure that business owners can hand over additional stakes in future rounds of fundraising. In order to mitigate risk, you will need to diversify your portfolio and invest in multiple start-ups. To make this possible, as well as sharing risk and reducing the burden of due diligence, many investors join together in syndicates, either formally or on an ad-hoc basis. “I think it’s very important to invest alongside others, especially in the early stages of becoming an investor,” says Tooth. “To work with and learn from people who have already been through the due diligence process will help you with your own decision-making. You might also have the skills and experience to become a lead angel – someone who has more involvement in the company and really brings hands-on help on behalf of your fellow angels. “The beauty of the syndicate model is you’re spreading the time you spend. You’re sharing risk, sharing decision-making. Companies will also need further rounds of finance, and as a syndicate you’re more likely to be able to pull that together and have the firepower to follow those deals through. You’ve also got more muscle in terms of negotiations when you’re investing alongside others such as VCs.” Where to invest With a host of promising start-ups out there competing for funding, from property developers to app developers, pharmaceutical companies to caviar farms, there is no shortage of investment opportunities. Most would-be angels invest in an industry in which they have experience, so they can bring expertise as well as cash to the table. Look for a management team that has the right blend of skills, experience and attitude to build not only the business but a long-term working relationship with you, the investor. Beyond that, investors should ask themselves whether the business has the potential to address a real gap in the market, to be disruptive, and to change their industry or society more widely. Assess the market in which the business operates: what competition is out there, does the entrepreneur hold a defensible position in the market, and how scaleable is their business model? Finally, look at the nuts and bolts of the deal: the valuation of the business, the proposed shareholding, the potential for growth and exit, and the extent of your role within the business. By working alongside other investors, you can greatly enhance the benefit you bring not only to the business you’re supporting, but to yourself as an angel, says Tooth. “The best investing happens when investors know each other and each other’s skills and can build trust and a relationship through the due diligence process and post-investment, drawing on one another’s skills and knowledge.” Please note that this is unlikely to be a suitable investment option for many investors. It will only be suitable for sophisticated investors willing to take a high risk with their capital as there is a risk an investor may lose some or all of their capital if the company invested in fails. Also, due to the nature of the shares they are fairly illiquid and as such investors must be aware they may have difficulty, or be unable to realise their shares at levels close to that which reflect the value of the underlying assets. All EISs and SEISs must invest in unquoted UK smaller companies and such companies, by their nature, involve a higher degree of risk than investment in larger companies. As such there is a risk that any of the investments may not perform as hoped and in some circumstances may fail completely. Therefore this type of investment should not be considered unless you are willing to accept a higher level of risk. The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances. Brought to you by Lynn Anderson Ltd, Founder Member & Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management www.lynnanderson.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org An investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the funds you select and the value can therefore go down and well as up. You may get back less than you invested. An investment in a Stocks & Shares ISA will not provide the same security of capital associated with a Cash ISA. The favourable tax treatment of ISAs may be subject to changes in legislation in the future. The level and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependant on individual circumstances.
By Applied Influence Group For anyone who's part of a senior leadership team, a change in CEO can be as exciting as it is scary. But ‘preparing the ground' for this transition can make a huge difference to your own relationships inside and outside the business, and more importantly, give the new leader the best chance of success. In the military, it would be unusual for a Commanding Officer (read, CEO) to be in post for longer than 2.5 years. So, there was plenty of opportunity to practice! Interestingly, for those in the Specialist Intelligence world, we used the same influence processes and tools to ‘Prepare the ground’ as best we could for a new CO, as we did to understand complex networks of insurgents to effect large scale, strategic influence in the battlespace. The steps described below are one slice of this influence strategy tool kit, borne out of operational military experience. SET SOME GOALS So what do we mean by 'preparing the ground'? Quite simply, it is influencing stakeholders for the purpose of capitalising on the change when it happens for mutually beneficial gain. At the Applied Influence Group, we consider the business outcomes of influence in 3 ways (client related, internal to the organisation, and external to the organisation) and this context is no different. Therefore, examples of business outcomes you might seek are: Any client concerns regarding a potential change to agenda or direction are understood and removed The expectations of strategic suppliers are understood and managed Employees’ fears surrounding the repercussions that might directly affect them are dealt with to avoid affecting individual or group performance The first rule of influence is always to understand, so once you’ve identified the business outcome you want to affect, you can map the landscape in order to influence it. INFLUENCE MAPPING Let’s take the first example: understanding and removing any client concerns regarding the change of CEO. How might you map the relevant stakeholders to know who you need to influence and how? Step one. Consider which stakeholders have the most impact over this issue (i.e. concerns regarding the change). This isn’t just about those that hold the greatest authority or decision-making power, but identifying key stakeholders that could influence decision makers, even those that sit outside the client organisation. We often find that PAs and junior stakeholders sit on here. Map the stakeholders on a diagram that looks much like an archery target with 3 circles; those that have the most impact over the issue in the middle, and the lesser the impact the further out you go. To represent each stakeholder, you can draw a small circle with the person’s initials in the middle, or have a look-up table if it gets too crowded. Step two. Understand the relationships between stakeholders. You might develop your own system for representing the relationships, but at the very least denote a strong relationship with a double/thick line, a known relationship with a single line and an assessed relationship (you don’t know for sure) with a dotted line between two stakeholders. Step three. Consider your existing influence over these stakeholders. Add in the ‘you’ factor. The criteria used for this is up to you, but be consistent. Identify those that your organisation/team have strong, average, weak or no influence over. Step four. What can you see that you couldn’t before? Is there a stakeholder with high impact on the issue (a decision maker for instance), that you know to have existing concerns about the change, but with whom you have limited influence? Can you identify another stakeholder that has a strong relationship with this decision maker, with whom you have strong influence over that can become a bridge to reach them? Or, can you identify that you have no bridge to this decision maker at all and therefore need to increase your own influence over other stakeholders around them. Can you identify a stakeholder that you have strong influence over and has high impact on the issue and strong relationships with detractors, that can become an influence agent on your behalf? WHAT'S CHANGED? Once the new CEO is in, you might want to re-map the same issue to see what's changed. How has your organisation's influence over the same stakeholders changed in that time? Has there been a shift in relationships or new 'nodes' of influence been created? Has there been an increase in the number of influential stakeholders that still hold concerns? Monitoring a particular issue (like client concerns) using this mapping tool can highlight potential problems for your CEO before they occur. Looking at these maps and asking ‘what can you see?’ will start to reveal your path to successful influence and set your new CEO up for success. To find out more about the Applied Influence Group, please visit our website.
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself" - Henry Ford We certainly agree with Henry Ford's view that moving forward together is a key element of business success. In context however, Ford's meaning was that everyone in his business was to follow his lead exclusively; which is something we agree with less. For Applied Influence Group the key influence skills for team performance and group cohesion are understanding and communication. Understanding different perspectives, desires and fears; and communication to create a shared vision of the way forward in line with the required business outcomes. This article look at different perspectives and skills that help with this. Preparing for a CEO Shakeup For anyone who's part of a senior leadership team, a change in CEO can be as exciting as it is scary. But ‘preparing the ground' for this transition can make a huge difference to your own relationships inside and outside the business, and more... Read more Trust and Preparation; Key to Team Cohesion and Success The Summer success of the Lionesses has done wonders to increase interest in Women's football and if it hasn't done now, Thursday's Semi Final clash with the Netherlands is sure to pique even the most cynical of fan's interest. Win lose or draw... Read more Top Level Miscommunication The Harvard Business Review report below highlights some of the issues that commony exist between CEOs and their CMOs and suggests some solutions. At it's simplest level the issue seems to be poor communication and this problem isn't solely the... Read more Hi We're Generation Z - Who Are You? Although I'm slightly uncomfortable with lumping people in buckets such as Generation Z it is indisputable that those entering the workforce from now on will have grown up with technology in a way that generations before didn't. In many ways this... Read more Group Emotional Intelligence Emotional Intelligence often focusses on individual skills and attribute. The benefits for groups and teams of having individuals with high levels of Emotional Intelligence is understood but there is often a lower focus on how the skills can be... Read more Invisible Diversity Groupthink is a problem that affects many organisations. Not only do certain ideas take hold and become accepted as 'truth' but certain ways of thinking about things can also become entrenched. The article below discusses the benefits of... Read more Applied Influence Group
Historically, economic forecast – on which most countries taxation, interest and spend policy is based - has used Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) models (1). In 2008, these models failed and a financial crisis of gargantuan proportions followed. The echoes of that crisis can be still heard in the economic, financial and political systems of the western world. Human resourcefulness knows no bounds and shortly after, a number of academic institutions look for solutions to the forecasting problem. And they found a promising one. Not too dissimilar to weather forecasting – economics can also be forecast bottom up. In this approach, an economy (or a sector or a region) is modelled by modelling each one of the economic atoms (an “agent”) - be a family or a firm - and each one is giving a behaviour, which today can span from basic to quasi-AI, and thus provide with nuances not possible in DSGE models – such as adaptive, irrational or even criminal behaviour. Such agent models can then be run under a number of scenarios and give us valuable data on the future. This is referred as Agent-based Computational Economics (ACE for short). And this is not a dream, some small scale exercises in the EU and USA have already been done (2). Technology is here that allows to simulate systems in the region of 500 to 1000 million families and firms – we just need to get going to code the behaviours of interest. And while the benefits to mankind are vast – there are also practical upsides. Firms will then be able predict the impact of new marketing campaigns, product launches, new competitor entry, regulatory changes or new supply chains. We live in a complex world – of the kind people could not have imagined 50 years ago, and which is getting more complex by the pass of each day. We cannot leave the future to random guessing, intellectually flawed arguments or politicians motivated by short term goals. Juan E Amador Global Head Financial Crime Risk Technology HSBC Bank PLC Notes: (1) For an eloquent, detailed, introduction see: Andre Haldane, The Dapple World, 10 November 2016. http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2016/speech937.pdf (2) A good summary of a EU-sponsored initiate can be found here: Gencer, M; Ozel, B. Agent-Based Modelling of Economic Systems: The EURACE Project Experience; 2010. http://www.ecomod.net/sites/default/files/document-conference/ecomod2010/1316.pdf And for the US here: Atxwell, RL; 120 Million Agents Self-Organize into 6 Million Firms: A Model of the U.S. Private Sector; Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, 2016. http://www.ifaamas.org/Proceedings/aamas2016/pdfs/p806.pdf
You have your entire career ahead of you. Exciting stuff! There’s a chance that by the end of your 20s you’ll be settled on a career path that will dictate your income and development until your retirement. Scary stuff! Now is the time to find out what you really want to do and set your mind to achieving it so as you can be satisfied with the career path you have chosen. Here’s how: 1. Define your goals Setting goals on what you want to achieve allows you to stay focused on career success. To do this, write specific actions for what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. By writing down your goals you are able to examine them more objectively. Include a list of companies you want to work for and a second list of companies that you can work for based on your skills. Do your research, then contact the hiring manager at each company asking if they have any openings, highlighting your relevant experience and skills. 2. Ensure your CV is first class The job market today is highly competitive and your CV needs to stand out and present you in the best light to firmly grab attention. Make sure you tailor your CV to each company and job for which you are applying. It takes time but it will be worth it. Read our CV Doctor article for more in-depth help on your CV. 3. Improve your LinkedIn profile Your LinkedIn profile is your online CV and can potentially open the door to major career opportunities. 9 out of 10 recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn, so do not miss out! If you want to improve your LinkedIn profile, take a look at this blog. 4. Network Just sending out your CV is not enough, you need to put a face to your name. Whenever possible try to personally meet people. Go to recruitment agencies and meet your recruiter. Make personal contact with the companies you have identified as possible employers. Networking online is also important – join in LinkedIn and Twitter conversations (using the hashtag) and start engaging. 5. Learn a new skill Never be afraid to ask your employer if they can offer you additional training to broaden your skill set, they may even offer to pay for it. It shows you are eager to grow. Additional learning not only looks great on your CV, it’s vital in today’s competitive market. 6. Take up a new project or hobby Working on an outside project often demonstrates your abilities away from work and may open up the door for new opportunities or promotion. Are you a budding writer? Start a blog. Do you enjoy playing sport? Consider becoming a coach. You never know where it will lead. Also consider becoming a volunteer, it can serve as an amazing networking opportunity and looks great on your CV. 7. Don’t be afraid to take risks If you want to get ahead you have to be prepared to make a change. It’s easy to get into a routine of a mediocre job and feeling comfortable within that job. Now is the time to take risks. If you have an idea for a new business or have an urge to move abroad to explore career opportunities, do it now, as the chance may not come up again. Push yourself and you will achieve your goals.
What are your most important assets? Your people, staff, employees, or that awful term, human resources. What is the biggest threat to your organisation? The same. The Danger Within People are important because they are intuitive, innovative, creative, responsive, curious, and at times, unpredictable. It's that mix of abilities and attributes that creates the magic you depend on to provide the value your customers pay you for. It's also that mix of abilities and attributes that leads to the biggest single risk to our businesses. It's our curiosity that leads us to click on the link in an email that downloads a cryptolocker virus, which then locks us out of our data and demands a bitcoin ransom. It's our desire to be responsive that makes us insert the nearest USB memory stick to hand in our laptop that contains monitoring or destructive malware. And it's our focussed creativity that makes us leave that laptop in a bar, that just happens to contain a client database packed with the names, addresses and credit card details of their customers. And that's assuming any data lost or damage caused is entirely accidental. If one of your employees has a grudge or financial incentive, suddenly the problem multiplies. Our most important assets are also our biggest threats. You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em! Malware as a Service (MaaS) According to the 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) the two fastest growing threat types are 'Person' (primarily phishing attacks, aimed at duping people to click on email links or open rogue attachments), and 'User' (devices, such as smart phones and tablets). That puts our people front and centre of the 'attack vector' of choice for the bad guys. And the mechanics behind these attacks are industrial in scale. To the extent that new cloud-based industries are developing, called MaaS (Malware as a Service) and EaaS (Exploits as a Service). They even have helplines and money-back guarantees! So it is really a case not 'if' we are going be hit by a cyber or data-loss incident, but 'when'. Another scary statistic is that 75% of all malware is custom written and not re-cycled. That means people are targeting our businesses directly using these cloud-based services. So What's a Company to Do? There are various strategies IT can put in place. Network monitoring systems, minimum access privileges, role separation, anti-virus applications, data loss prevention systems, 'explosion sandboxes', AI-designed enterprise immune systems or behavioural analytics, that use machine learning to detect 'good' and 'bad' behaviour. Many and varied. These are all worthy of your consideration and add to the layered defensive strategy you should be implementing. However, the single most effective way to reduce your risk is to sharpen-up your staff. Teach them what is good and not so good, what is likely to lead to a problem and what isn't. And as important, what our clients expect us to do with their (and therefore your) precious assets. In the knowledge economy, data in all its forms is the second most precious thing we have. Yet we tend to assign it only third rate protection. You wouldn't let me loose on a particularly complicated piece of the large hadron collider without some significant education. So why do we let untrained people loose on our clients, or your own data? There are many ways to do this, which I'm not going to go into here, other than to say that it should be slightly more imaginative than a poster saying, "Be careful with that spreadsheet!" A separate post, perhaps. The Opportunity The trick we are really missing here, though, is the opportunity this presents to actually impress our clients even more that we currently do. Assuming I'm not the only one noticing the increase in cyber threats and data loss, data theft and the sudden increase in use of bitcoins, our clients should be increasingly concerned with how their data is being handled. Talk Talk, the Panama Papers, WADA, DNC, the number of major incidents of systems being hacked, and often by the simplest means, is growing. If I was a client handing my data to a supplier I would want to feel assured that it will be safe in their hands. We of course provide all the written and contractual assurances, but I'm sure Mossack Fonseca in Panama gave these to their customers. As a client, what would be much more convincing is if the people who were working directly on my business could talk intelligently to me about information security, how my data is managed, protected, processed, and how those with access to it are trained to maintain that confidentiality, integrity and availability. And even better, to be able to demonstrate that too. When I put my car in for a service, if I see the mechanic putting oil in the washer bottle I'm going to be a little concerned. If he or she says they've replaced the diesel filter when it's an electric car, I'm going to start asking questions. This doesn't mean we have to start educating our Account Directors about encryption types, nor our Marketing Directors about each of the 114 controls in the ISO27001 information security standard. What we should do be doing, though, is integrating subject-level, common sense, non-technical help about information security to all of our staff. Dancing with Clients But especially to those client facing folk, so they can talk intelligently about data residency, retention policies, access restrictions, backup & restore requirements, and yes, at a high level, use of encryption (then hand over to those that know most about that stuff); in other words, what 'good' looks like, what 'bad' looks like, why it's important, and what the consequences of going off-piste looks like to not only the client, but also your business. (Of course you have to be doing all this stuff, as well as talking about it.) If you can do this, not only will you be much better at looking after what's most important by addressing the single biggest threat to your vital company assets, but you should also have a much more confident client. And that can only be a good thing. By Gavin Whatrup www.sales-filter.com
“No deal is better than a bad deal” “Not in a mood to compromise” “No deal IS a bad deal” Soft, Hard or Squidgy Brexit? (Stop Googling - I made the last one up). No matter where you stand, the whole process has become something of a spectator sport. At times an unedifying one, with people taking up hard and immovable positions or 'red lines' one minute, and abandoning them the next. The whole thing seems somewhat chaotic. So what is going on? Is the British political class as second rate as some would have us believe? At first glance, it might seem so. Or are they playing to the rules of the game that, just like cricket, can be somewhat opaque to the uninitiated? Rule 1 – Winners lose Bold statements threatening dire consequences seem to go against the first rule of negotiation - make the deal Win/Win, or the deal won't last. Not only that, but at least from the UK side some of the utterances have been frankly nonsensical - "Brexit means Brexit" was an interesting start. The latest is "No deal is better than a bad deal". No deal in fact is a deal. One that puts the UK on the world default trade rules set down by the WTO, and they are very bad indeed compared to where we are now. On the EU side, we have Michel Barnier saying he is 'not in a mood to compromise'. Intransigence abounds, and we seem to be heading for lose/lose, not win/win. What we are seeing is the hard reality of complex negotiations. There is a table in the centre. On one side is the UK Conservative party. On the other, the EU negotiation team. But behind each is a mess of interests, personalities and positions that have somehow to be reconciled and managed. Rule 2 – Principles not positions For the EU side, there are 27 sovereign governments, ranging from the hard right in Poland to the pro-European in Germany and France and leftist Greece. At one level, these negotiations are about the UK exit, but on a far more important level for Europe, how these negotiations are undertaken and the result that emerges could strengthen the EU or tear it apart completely. Up against the principle of European solidarity and peace, the UK might be at the table, but they are a small sideshow to the main event. For the UK side it is just as complex. In the Conservative party itself there are Remain, Soft Brexit and Hard Brexit factions. Then we have the reluctant Brexiteers of the Labour party, and the Remainers of the LibDems and the SNP. The Conservatives are a minority government, being kept in power by a small, very socially conservative Northern Irish party (another negotiation). There are cross party alliances being formed in the Commons. It is all about as orderly as a box of frogs. Different positions abound, from Jacob Rees Mogg's “if it’s good enough in India we’ll accept it here” on emission standards to the SNPs threat of another independence vote if they don't like the result (although the latest election result appears to have weakened their hand just as it has the Hard Brexiteers). It just shows what Brexit has become in the UK - a subject of internal party wrangling. Victory looks like a win in the next general election. The Europeans are (at least for the Right) the whipping boys to be blamed and demonised for all the ills of the world, in their quest for dominance of the UK. A bad process, a bad deal, and the ability to blame the Europeans for it might just be the outcome they are looking for... All of which is about the second rule of negotiation. Understand the principles behind the stated positions. Only if you get what your side and the other side really care about will you understand what to give and how to get a good result. Looking at the principles playing out on each side at the moment, I'm nervous. Rule 3 – Know the game you are playing But I do have hope. The last UK election gave a great example of what happens when you lose track of your most important stakeholder, and misunderstand the game you are playing. In 'Game Theory', there are finite and infinite games. In a finite game, there is a winner. In negotiation, this is win/lose. In an infinite game, the game never stops, so there is no winner, only staying in the game. In negotiation, this is win/win. Think of a football match. 2 sides, 90 minutes, the only purpose is to win. By fair means or foul. It is a finite game that has an end. So, if one player finds a way to cheat, maybe a dive in the penalty box or a sly tug of the shirt, there are no negative consequences as long as the ref doesn't see. This game is Win/Lose. Now change the game. Still football. But widen the view. The footballers are playing for their contracts. They are wondering about their next move, or getting into their national team. Before and after the game it is all hugs and handshakes. Score a goal, and the scorer runs to the fans, kissing the club badge on their shirt. In the end that is where the money comes from, and their relationship with their fellow professionals and the fans will in the long term greatly determine their career. The aggregate of those fan relationships and how well the players play determines how many people watch, and therefore what their wages are. This is the game footballers and clubs really play, and it never ends. This is the position the negotiators find themselves in. If they try to 'win' the Brexit negotiation, they will both lose. Just over a month ago the Conservative right tried to 'win' by calling a snap election on their version of Brexit, and talked openly of crushing the Labour Party and finishing it as a power in British politics. They tried to 'win' British politics. Two months ago, I was thinking that History would judge them harshly. It turns out I was wrong. History may well do, but the electorate got there first. From a very low start, Labour came within a whisker of the Tory popular vote, and added together left leaning parties received more votes than right leaning ones (if less seats). The Tories forgot who they were supposed to be fighting for. It is about the electorate. A party that forgets that and focuses on the opposition instead will find itself in trouble as the Conservatives just have. In this negotiation, both the EU and the UK must remember who their real stakeholders are. If the deal they strike does not work for their electorates, the people will judge them harshly way before history gets a chance to. That is my beacon of hope. Negotiation is everywhere The couple of principles of negotiations mentioned here were cemented a long time ago (early ‘80s) by Fischer & Ury. Negotiation skills and practice has come a long way since. Max Bazerman’s Negotiating rationally (1991) looked at how cognitive and motivational biases make for bad negotiations and bad decisions. The US airlines industry as a collective lost $3 billion in the ‘90s in giving away free seats due a competitive escalation of commitment in their frequent flyer programmes. And these companies were run by smart managers. Harvard Business School’s Deepak Malhotra has written (and tweeted) a lot about explosive negotiations and conflict escalation in his latest book “Negotiating the impossible”. His HBR piece on “When winning is everything” is a masterpiece on escalation of commitment. Good negotiation skills stand alongside selling and influencing as key life skills whether you are an employee, an entrepreneur, a manager or a government leader. If you want to find out more about how a negotiation works, try out TechUK’s one day course on Negotiating Fundamentals. TechUK is a membership organisation of 900 companies collectively employing more than 700,000, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. The last one of the year runs on the 14th of July: http://www.techuk.org/training/management-skills-training/item/10834-negotiation-fundamentals-and-skills Neil Marshall is Development Director of ChangeSchool. ChangeSchool believe elite business education should be for everyone, not just the few. Reach him at email@example.com or +44 7967 092015
Cyber risk has risen to the top of the corporate agenda but few company leaders are aware of the full extent of damage caused by a cyber breach — or the full costs. CGI has worked with Oxford Economics to create a rigorous model that captures the damage done by cyber breach to a company’s share price. The Cyber-Value Connection reveals that share prices fall by an average of 1.8 per cent on a permanent basis following a severe breach. To put that in context, investors in a typical FTSE 100 firm would be worse off by an average of £120 million. However, in some extreme cases, breaches have wiped as much as 15 per cent off affected companies’ valuations, substantially more than this sum. The damage to shareholder value is significant today — but The Cyber-Value Connection analysis suggests severe cyber breach will become even more costly in the future as industry analysts include cyber as a factor affecting valuation and new regulation demands that companies disclose incidents. Clearly, the CEO has responsibility for increasing company value. With the link between cyber breach and company value established in this report, it is clear the CEO’s responsibility must also include direction and governance of cyber security. The Cyber-Value Connection concludes with advice on how they can challenge their organisation and put in place effective governance. Key findings of the 2016 Cyber in the Boardroom: UK plc at risk paper included: • Over a third of C-suite executives believe a cyber security breach will affect their organisation in the next 12 months • The average annual cost of a breach is estimated at £1.2m, although damage to a brand's reputation is of most concern • 81% of boardrooms say they've increased scrutiny of their cyber defences since 2015 The full Cyber Value Connection report is available here, or Cyber Security in the Boardroom: UK plc at risk can be viewed here. By Andrew Rogoyski, Vice President, Cyber Security, CGI UK www.cgi-group.co.uk/experts/andrew-rogoyski
New core IT platform implementations are complex, challenging and often one-off change events, that your own team have not been through before. The programme organisation, workstreams and activities involved can be extensive. How do you implement a new IT platform within budget and with minimal business disruption? Click on the infographic below to discover: How to deliver a new bank ready platform How to implement a back book migration The key elements to succeed W: www.xceedgroup.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 020 7480 0030
Faced with fundamental IT challenges, including digital transformation, cost reduction, scaling IT capacity and managing operational risk, what do you do about outsourcing and insourcing? Do you make it all or part of your IT Estate? There is an ever increasing number of outsourced projects taking place, yet there is an ongoing stream of disastrous results being reported in the press. Where is it all going wrong? Xceed Group has created an infographic explaining where outsourcing can go wrong and the steps to take to ensure your outsourcing project is a success. Click on the infographic below and discover: How outsourcing can tackle fundamental IT challenges Where it can all go wrong How to avoid being the next disaster www.xceedgroup.com email@example.com T:020 7480 0030
(GDPR) General Data Protection Regulation will be enforced from May 2018. If you manage Personally Identifiable Information (PII) for EU citizens, this regulation will impact your business. The following infographic, brought to you by Xceed, explores what you need to know about GDPR, including: How it is different from current regulations What counts as PII The implications of non-compliance Who your data processors are www.xceedgroup.com firstname.lastname@example.org T:020 7480 0030
By Viren Lall, Managing Director of ChangeSchool.org In our teaching at different London universities, we are often asked ‘How do I get an original idea for my business? Every time I check, my latest idea has already been done!’. A fundamental principle of entrepreneurship is that everything starts with you – who you are, who you know and what you know. Think Apple were the first to think of the iPhone? Check out GO, a US firm from 1992! What Apple did was started with what they could do already – the iPod and iTunes. They added a phone to it. So the place to start is with you. Start with a skill that you have, and think of a business that you can build around it. Your idea is an opportunity unique to you A new business idea is closely tied to the skills and the passions of the entrepreneur. In workshops we have conducted for several years, we have never found two people with the same idea. In a thought experiment we conduct with the participants, we ask people to swap ideas and ask if they would like to pursue someone else’s idea. The answer is an overwhelming no. Why? The idea is only a true opportunity when an individual backs it. Is the opportunity uniquely mine? Do I have the skills around it? Can I build a team around the concept? Is the timing right? Do I have the skills, passions and connections to pursue it? You can see that it is highly unlikely that two individuals feel exactly the same way about an idea. The world is teeming with entrepreneurial ideas, most of which die because they are not validated, improved and executed. If an idea was that easy to copy, it wasn’t great in the first place In this talk by James Caan, he answers a question raised by a participant on whether she should share her idea with others. As a successful entrepreneur, Caan has always discussed his idea with others. He doesn’t ask if it was a good idea, as he knows that all you will get from people are responses to make you feel good. What he wants is to find flaws. What would make this idea fail? What must he do by way of experiments, conversations and validation activities to make the idea a really robust opportunity? https://youtu.be/YwcLFv5L810 It’s all in the execution and hitting milestones Entrepreneurial businesses that just have an idea are the highest risk, lowest value ventures. As you move through the journey of developing the concept, validating with your target customers, building a proof of concept, a minimum viable product, proof of market and revenue and proof of growth potential, you increase the value of the idea and the venture step by step. This diagram explains the journey. This is covered in detail in their Spring 2010 article on MIT Sloan review, the conclusion is “The typical start-up process, whether in nascent entrepreneurial ventures or in the innovation units of established businesses, is largely driven by poorly conceived business plans based on untested assumptions. This process is seriously flawed. Most new ventures, even those with venture capital or corporate backing, share one common characteristic: They fail. There is a better way to launch new ideas — without wasting years of time and loads of investors’ money. This better way is about discovering a business model that really works: a Plan B, like those of Google Inc. and Starbucks Corp., which grows out of the original idea, builds on it and once it’s in place, helps the business grow rapidly and prosper.” In summary, your idea is going to change. Many times. So don’t worry too much about the original idea – just get on with it. But shouldn’t I protect my idea? In fact, unless your idea is a based on a unique invention, spending money and effort on patenting is counterproductive and just a distraction from getting started and building your market. It will rob you of valuable focus and resources that should be put towards building your company. The video above by James Caan covers this topic beautifully. Getting started is the key The point is, you start with you and you start somewhere. Because then you have something to talk to customers about. Customers then buy or don’t buy. You learn more about what they need or want, and you change what you do to win more customers and build a business. Whatever your business ends up looking like, one thing it won’t be is the same as when you started. There are hundreds if not thousands of great books on entrepreneurship, “Getting to Plan B…” by Mullins and Komisar is a great one to look at look at economic models and sustainability. Komisar’s book “The monk and riddle” is an interesting narrative on why a purpose is important behind building a better faster cheaper alternative and Mullins’ previous book “The new business road test” is a must read on what you need to do before writing a business plan. If you want to learn more about how to start a business, you will find evidence based, research backed, strategies that successful startups use here. Includes how to launch products, enter new markets and develop customers. If you want to know where to get help, you will find researched options on what support you may need at each stage of your business here. Use it to help you avoid the most critical mistakes that cause business failures.
The Digital Divide (Source:ReadITQuik) The internet has been a great force in creating a more equal society. Today 3.5 billion people have access to the internet in some form. It has democratized information, communication and education, created millions of businesses and touched on and improved so many life’s. However, at the same time the digital divide is about to increase again. While speaking about the latest mobile trends I often get the question or comment that technology development must slow down at some point. “I cannot cope with more” people say. The reality is the opposite. Technology innovation and the impact on society and our life’s is accelerating. Over the next couple of years there will be more new technologies than ever to keep up with. Many people will choose not to or won’t have option. What happens when someone doesn’t upgrade their phone every 2–3 years? What if you don’t download the latest apps for public and private transportation, healthcare, education, the messaging apps that people communicate with and make payments through the mobile phone? The technology savvy and geeks are taking over. The most valuable and profitable companies in the world are tech companies. Amazon might become the worlds first trillion dollar company. The first trillion ire could become a reality within the next 20 years and it will be a tech entrepreneur for sure. Political parties and leaders have an advantage because they understand how to use and leverage technology. Artists, actors, authors, journalists and other creative roles are more successful if they know and use technology to their advantage. Restaurants, bars and hotels depend as much on IT skills and social media as they do on the quality of their property and service. Doctors and nurses that keep up with the latest development in their field provide better care to their patients. Economists and statisticians that know how to use data visualization have a huge advantage in story telling and winning their audience. Jobs go to engineers, preferably younger engineers as fresh skills are valued higher than experience by many organizations. The world is slowly becoming cashless, local retail stores are closing and replaced with eCommerce, bank branches and ATMs disappear. This is just the beginning. Because society is changing rapidly whether we like it not. Computers leveraging Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning will be able to beat humans at almost any single skill within the next 5–10 years. This means that the computer engineers and the people that control the technology will have even more power. Homes are becoming smarter but also more complex. Every device is becoming connected. Cars drive themselves. VR and AR may cause dizziness and headaches in the short term but will extend abilities in the long term. We have to get used to talking to machines, to controlling interfaces with our eyes and motion and eventually the machines will listen to our brainwaves. Even if only half of these technologies come true within the next 10 years it will impact most people. What happens if someone doesn’t want to be or cannot be part of this change? What happens to those who are disconnected? They will be left behind. As technology leaders we have a responsibility to ensure that this doesn’t happen. We need to make sure that technology is for everyone and that people don’t feel alienated by it. That it truly makes life better for everyone! How can we contribute? Here are a couple of ideas / suggestions on where to start: • Create better products and services that solve real problems and are easy to use • Spend a few hours every month teaching your parents / grandparents how to use new technology • Volunteer to teach and share your knowledge online through videos or education for adults at a local community centre for the unemployed or elderly • Donate your old (not too old) devices to people who need them instead of leaving in the drawer and eventually throwing away What do you think? Do you agree that there is a problem? If not then why and if yes share your thoughts about how we reduce the digital divide. DMI is starting a new initiative under the Moville umbrella to ensure that our customer engagements are inclusive of everyone. We will keep you updated about the progress. This article is dedicated to my parents who gave me a big advantage in life thanks to early access to computers and learning to program. My father who’s now retired stays busy giving teachers access to advanced data visualisation tools and my mother provided feedback to this article on her iPad. Together we can bridge the digital divide! About the author Magnus is a computer engineer and serial entrepreneur as a co-founder of 8 start-ups and 3 successful exits. He’s currently Chief Innovation Officer at DMI (http://diminc.com) after the acquisition of Golden Gekko.
Planning for retirement is just one area in which, with the benefit of hindsight, many people wish they’d taken action earlier. How often in life do we look back and wish we had done things differently? According to a recent study, two in five pensioners regret retirement-planning mistakes which have left them struggling financially.1 Nearly one in five say that they didn’t save enough for retirement, and 15% regret not starting to save earlier in their working lives. Understandably, many of us still have misgivings about locking our money away for decades – especially if we have more immediate calls on our income. Nevertheless, if we’re serious about planning for the future, we need to put away surplus income today, since doing so funds our lifestyles tomorrow. With that in mind, how should we go about saving for life after work? Putting aside arguments over whether the current government – or a future one – will rein in pension tax privileges, there are some compelling reasons why a pension is still the most obvious answer. Pension contributions attract tax relief on the way in and they accumulate capital gains free of tax once inside. When you access your pension savings, the first 25% is normally tax-free. While you cannot draw benefits until your 55th birthday, this can also be an advantage as it restricts the temptation to tap into your retirement fund before then. Getting off the mark How much pension income you need in retirement will be determined by a number of factors, including your health, your living expenses and your desired lifestyle. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. However, the average worker in the UK earns £26,364 a year2, so a pension income of around £20,000 might seem like a reasonable target for most people. Assuming you qualify for the full single-tier State Pension of £8,094 a year3, you would need to find at least £12,000 a year from your other pensions to achieve an overall income of £20,000 per annum. Achieving this, however, can be very challenging for those on low incomes, or those with unpredictable earnings – but especially for those who delay saving. For example, someone in their mid-20s who starts saving into a defined contribution (money purchase) pension today would need to save around £250 a month to achieve an income of £12,000 by the time they reach State Pension age. Someone who delays until their mid-30s would need to put away £420 a month; and a 45-year-old who hasn’t started a pension would need to start saving around £850 a month.4 This analysis assumes that the fund would be used to purchase an annuity. Of course, under ‘pension freedoms’, people can draw down their defined contribution pension in a variety of ways; but an annuity remains a widely chosen method of providing a retirement income – and a useful yardstick against which to measure the required saving rates. Playing catch up “The sooner we start, the more choices we have later,” says Ian Price, divisional director at St. James’s Place. “The power of compound returns [gains on gains] means that 10 or 20 years can make a big difference.” “However, you should never think that it’s too late to start saving, or that you can’t catch up. There are significant opportunities to make up lost ground if you have the available means and allowances,” he adds. You can put as much as you want into your defined contribution pension each year, but you’ll normally only get tax relief on contributions up to £40,000. If your scheme operates what is called a ‘relief at source’ arrangement, your pension provider will add tax relief of 20% to your pension contributions, and then you can claim anything above the basic rate via your annual tax return. A £40,000 contribution could effectively cost a higher rate taxpayer just £24,000. Moreover, you can make use of allowances from the three previous tax years if these haven’t been utilised. This year is particularly important, especially for higher earners, as it is the final chance for pension savers to use the £50,000 allowance that was in place in 2013/14 – before it was reduced to £40,000. If it is not used before 6 April 2017, it will be lost forever. However, the fact remains that the best way to secure a comfortable retirement is to save as much as possible as early as possible in your working life, and take financial advice. The longer you delay saving, the harder it will be to build the kind of fund that will see you through retirement. Brought to you by Lynn Anderson of St. James's Place Wealth Management The value of an investment with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than the amount invested. The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances. 1 Prudential, 15 April 2016 2Office for National Statistics, 15 March 2017 3 www.gov.uk, 17 March 2017 4 Aegon.co.uk, accessed 20 March 2017; the example is based on a male who pays basic rate Income Tax, buying a single life, level annuity, and where pension contributions are invested in a default equity and bond lifestyle fund
"If you disassemble a modern drone, VR headset, or IoT device, you'll find mostly smartphone components." -Chris Dixon of a16z Every business and organization, large and small, will be touched by IoT over the coming years whether it’s smart buildings, transportation, logistics, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, finance, energy utilization or something else. Some will be able to make it a major competitive advantage and others will just do what their competitors are doing. Typically, the need for one or multiple IoT specialized partners comes from one of these three needs: The organization has a problem that could possibly be solved using IoT technology The organization has a bunch of connected devices stemming out of different initiatives that need to be managed and/or data output that is not yet structured The organization is working on an IoT approach/strategy But with 300+ vendors claiming to have the right “IoT Platform” for your business, where do you begin? How do you pick the right IoT partners? Here’s a 3-step guide based on our experience: 1. Define the Problem Too many IoT projects start with a technology or solution being tested and implemented. Just like with any other IT projects, the greatest ROI comes from identifying and solving business problems. So, start by identifying problems that the business, customers or employees are experiencing and look at how these could be solved with technology. Use tools such as DMI Active (DMI’s methodology based on Design Thinking, Lean UX and Human-Centric Design) if you don’t already have a long list. Once you’ve identified problems, explore them to really make sure that you understand them before jumping to solution solving. Prioritise the solutions based on factors such as business impact, complexity and cost. Example: A pharma company that provides hardware to hospitals for patient treatment wants to better understand how the product is being used (utilization, location, results, etc.). This could give insights to product improvements, maintenance schedules, selling more equipment, training needs and more. A beverage company finds out through data that they are missing out on 10% of revenue from existing customers due to inventory running out before the weekly delivery. The delivery team says they need to increase the amount of trucks and drivers to solve the problem, which will increase cost substantially. Would it be possible to solve this problem with better utilization of existing trucks and drivers with the help of vehicle tracking and predictive analytics? 2. Test Concepts and Solutions With a clear problem definition, it’s time to start looking for solutions. Integrating IoT in a new product will take time. Typically, the roadmap for any hardware combining connectivity is at least 12-18 months and it’s difficult to do anything about this. The challenge is simply the combination of hardware design, software development, building and testing a prototype, and taking the product to mass market production takes time. And at the end of this cycle there’s another 6-12 months’ lead time to make major changes to the product. We believe that organizations should always attempt to test the concept/solution before embarking on big implementation and integration programs. And if it’s still necessary due to time pressure, then run the proof of concept in parallel as input to the core implementation program. Some of the 300 IoT platform providers, or one of the additional thousands of sensor and connected device suppliers, will be able to provide you with solutions that can easily be prototyped. Select one or a couple of them to evaluate. Run a proof of concept rather than pilot if possible. The pilot can be integrated into the implementation. As per previous articles on prototyping, make sure that end-user feedback is integrated every step of the way. Also, clearly define the success criteria for the proof of concept and final implementation with KPIs that can be used to track progress towards the core objectives every step along the way. Example: Let’s go back to the pharma company above. To connect the device itself and integrate sensors will take at least 2 years including development, certification, security auditing and more. The company wants to test if tracking the device usage will really be worth the effort. To start with, they identify 3 different solutions with sensors using sound, motion and electric circuit measurements and does a proof of concept with all 3 in parallel. The proof of concept is implemented and evaluated in less than 2 months and achieves the desired results. 3. Choose the Best Solution Fit for You Now the problem has been identified and a solution has been prototyped and proven to work. Now it’s time to answer the question in the title of this article. How to choose a partner that can help implement the solution. Pick a partner with relevant industry experience for the problem/solution (assuming there is one) to manage risk and minimize time to market. With hundreds of IoT companies in the market, most are specialized in specific verticals or use cases. Put together a list of the top 5-10 companies and select the ones to invite for a RFI or briefing. Make sure to keep the first implementation limited to the top 3-5 use cases really required and no more. For companies that lack in-house competencies in IoT UX design, integration, development, connected analytics and security, it might be a good idea to pick a partner to help with the end-to-end implementation. This will vastly increase the chance of achieving objectives within the desired timeline. Finally, launching the solution is only the start of the journey. Once implemented, use the data output, customer feedback and other results to optimize and improve. Example: A furniture manufacturer has identified an opportunity to improve time to market by end-to-end tracking of its products from manufacturing to stores. The concept has been proven with an early proof of concept. Now it’s time to choose a scalable solution. A list of the top 5 suppliers of IoT for logistics and supply chain applications is put together including Alien Technology, Cargo Sense, Xerafy, Arviem and maybe DHL as one of the top IoT-powered logistics companies. Cargo Sense is selected based on fit, cost and time to market. In Conclusion Always start with the problem, then test the possible solutions and finally work with best of breed partners to implement, evaluate and continue to optimize and improve. Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, www.dminc.com
With the run-up to the end of the tax year fast approaching, have you taken action to avoid missing out on the valuable tax-saving allowances and opportunities that would otherwise be lost? Below is a ten point tax checklist on valuable relief and exemptions: Ensure you have made use of your ISA allowance of £15,240. Ensure your spouse or partner has maximised their ISA allowance to fully utilise the combined allowance of £30,480. Make contributions of up to £4,080 per child into a Junior ISA to help younger generations get a head start. Those wishing to maximise pension saving should ensure they have fully utilised their annual pension allowance. Unused pension allowances can be carried forward, but only from the three previous tax years. If your 2016/17 allowance is fully utilised, you should review whether you have any unused allowances from the 2013/14 tax year first. If you're thinking of making a large pension withdrawal, it could make sense to spread the withdrawal over two tax years to minimise your Income Tax liability. Take advantage of your annual Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemption by taking gains of £11,100 in the tax year. Those with larger liabilities might look to take gains over two years, and make use of tax-free inter-spouse transfers. High earners should take steps to bring their taxable income down by making pension contributions or charitable donations. These can help individuals rate tax band, which starts at £150,000; to regain their Personal Allowance, which starts to be withdrawn from £100,000; and avoid losing Child Benefit, which is gradually removed if one parent in the household earns more than £50,000. Use your Inheritance Tax gifting exemption of £3,000 for this year, and carry forward last year's exemption if it hasn't been utilised. If you own your own business, consider taking a dividend income and a lower basic salary to reduce National Insurance contributions (NICs). The first £5,000 of dividend income is tax-free. Divert your pre-tax profits into a personal pension to reduce your company's liability to Corporation Tax, Income Tax, including on dividends, and NICs. Contributions will need to be paid before your company’s financial year-end for the business to qualify for the deduction in that accounting period. In many cases, the deadline will be 31st March, 2017. You have until April 5th to act, so don't lose out! Brought to you by Lynn Anderson Ltd, Founder Member & Principal Partner Practice of St. James's Place Wealth Management www.lynnanderson.co.uk email@example.com An investment with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the funds you select and the value can therefore go down and well as up. You may get back less than you invested. An investment in a Stocks & Shares ISA will not provide the same security of capital associated with a Cash ISA. The favourable tax treatment of ISAs may be subject to changes in legislation in the future. The level and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependant on individual circumstances.
“I’m not sleeping, I can’t think straight and I feel overwhelmed. And I’m worried that if my colleagues find out how I’m feeling, they’ll think I’m incompetent”… Sadly, I commonly hear these complaints in my specialist coach-counselling practice. Not untypically, a corporate manager will arrive feeling anxious or depressed, and sometimes these feelings are compounded by additional struggles to cope with panic attacks, addictions or events experienced as traumatic. The first reassurance I can offer is that they’re not alone. The Centre for Mental Health estimates that presenteeism (showing up for work, but not performing) due to mental health conditions results in a whopping bill to the UK economy of £15.1 billion per annum – throwing costs for absenteeism into relief at a (mere) £8.4 billion. Recent research from the Health and Safety Executive also makes for grim reading in revealing that in the past year, stress accounted for a hefty 37% of all work-related ill health cases, with workload pressures, tight deadlines and lack of management support cited as key culprits. These statistics sound a clarion call for HR professionals tasked with addressing the epidemic through workplace wellbeing strategies. But whilst there’s an obvious case for broadcasting the fact that mental health at work matters, if we want the message to be received, our businesses need to tune into the facts about stress; what triggers it, how to spot it, and what to do about it. And most importantly, to learn that prevention is the best cure. Let’s start by busting a myth. Stress and anxiety - and the psychological distress that results - isn’t a sign of weakness and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. It’s simply an ancient, biological response to feeling under threat – part of a system designed to keep us safe. A certain amount of pressure at work keeps us focused. So, feeling anxious about a presentation can motivate us to prepare; feeling worried about job security might prompt us to look for alternative roles, feeling angry about a staff member’s behaviour could be the spur for that much-needed conversation. But it’s when these feelings are unresolved and levels of emotional arousal remain high, that the accompanying stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, remain in our system for too long and prevent us from resting and digesting. Chronic levels of stress are toxic, can compromise immunity and lead to burnout. Next, the million-dollar question; what are the triggers? In a nutshell, feeling consistently stressed rather than stretched by our work. To be stretched, we need to feel secure and in control, forge open and trusting relationships and experience a sense of achievement. This is a tall order though, when you consider that we’re wired for threat. Our biological survival mechanism (the brain’s ‘security guard’) evolved to help our ancestors to get the hell out of dodge when they faced being eaten alive. The system (which operates in a threat or reward-style binary code) worked a treat with dangerous predators and of course still does. Corporate life presents few mortal threats, but unfortunately, this ancient ‘fight or flight’ mechanism can easily trigger off a disproportionate stress response in relation to things like change initiatives, job insecurity and difficult relationships. And when worrying about a potential risk turns into endless rumination, relatively minor hassles can morph into imaginary predators. Our brain doesn’t distinguish between a real or perceived threat. To quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet; “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. An imagined fear can feel as real and frightening as a sabre-toothed tiger. And when our emotions are running high, our IQ literally drops. This explains why the ‘symptoms’ of being in ‘survival’ mode include feeling unable to focus and think clearly and why stressed executives are often seen to be ‘acting out’ in inflexible, defensive or aggressive ways. Stress levels are further exacerbated by the fact that many company systems, processes and practices in a post-digital world don’t align well with human being design. In particular, digitally-enhanced performance or talent management systems and rankings which require people to ‘evidence competencies’ in line with unwieldy frameworks are fundamentally anti-social. Focusing on self-protective evidence-gathering requires negative introspection – a perfect ingredient for stress! No wonder Dr. David Rock of the Neuroleadership Institute likens the anticipation of a performance review to “the feeling you get down a dark alley when you hear footsteps behind you”. An additional by-product of the vast amount of unsolicited information that lands daily in our inboxes, is that we’re letting our fingers do too much of the talking. I regularly see minor issues (which could’ve been nipped in the bud early, in conversation) escalating through unproductive email exchanges where people resort to second-guessing others’ motives and intentions, lose empathy and end up lashing out. The self-protective habit of email ‘blind copying’ further ups the ante by compromising privacy and making us feel unsafe. And when we’re lured into the trap of too many ‘all staff’ emails there’s a temptation for senior managers to get buried in detail and then end up micromanaging and overcontrolling. Inevitably, this has a knock-on effect on employee engagement - we’re problem-solving creatures, and we don’t think creatively in a mental straightjacket! Most importantly though, we’re not designed to multi-task. There’s now a raft of evidence to suggest that in a world of information overload, unmanageable executive workloads are a prime stress trigger. Edward Hallowell, a US psychiatrist has coined the term ADT – or Attention Deficit Trait to describe the toll that information overload is taking on our mental health. The ultimate price of executive ‘overdrive’ and poor self-regulation can be seen in an increase in binge working, instant gratification, addiction, anxiety and depression at work. The HR profession has a critical role to play in redesigning organisational practices and encouraging habits which create a hospitable climate in which employees can thrive. And that’s a hot topic. But for now, here are a few simple brain-savvy stress-busters to start practising: Learn to recognize your personal stress triggers and develop strategies to manage these. When you start to feel wound-up, take a break and concentrate on breathing deeply to calm down. Focus on making the outbreath longer than the inbreath, to stimulate relaxation. Build in downtime. We work best in 90 minute bursts with 10 minute breaks. Our energy dips for a purpose – to allow us to process learning, rest, and recharge. If we push through these dips using energy boosts from caffeine and sugar, we elevate stress hormones and reduce our brain power. Less is more. Switch off your phone and devices to allow you to focus on the important stuff. Don’t drain your ‘mental battery’ surfing your inbox. Practise the habit of tuning into information from your gut. When you notice anxious feelings and thoughts, reality-check your fears with a trusted colleague to gain a fresh perspective and support. Finally, diet, sleep and exercise are the best medicine for stress. Regular exercise, like introducing a short walk into your working day, releases ‘feel good’ endorphins. Cathy Harris, Director Keychange Coaching, keychangecoaching.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 07964 099 959
What used to be viewed as a less than desirable career option is increasingly becoming the profession of choice, made attractive by its image as a fast-paced people business. In this blog we take a look at why choosing a career in recruitment has become so appealing. Competitive Salary and Great Perks One of the main draws to the industry is that if you succeed in recruitment then your earning potential is vast. With often uncapped commission schemes and impressive incentives such as all expenses paid holidays abroad, it is easy to see why more people are seeking out a career in recruitment. One of our Consultants earned over £200k last year and you could do the same! Fast Progression The opportunity for promotion in this industry is second to none. Performance is easily measurable - produce good results and you can expect to be climbing the career ladder well before you would in another role. Rewarding Recruitment changes lives. Literally. What could be more rewarding than that? Social Environment Recruiting is all about engaging with your candidates and clients, so if you enjoy speaking to people both over the telephone and face-to-face then recruitment is a good career choice for you. It involves building lasting relationships with your contacts, understanding their needs and using your knowledge to help them. Competitive and Varied As a recruiter, filling each role is like entering into a competition with your competitors. When you successfully fill these roles it is energising, exhilarating and exciting! You’ll face a variety of assignments and challenges with every new position you work on, keeping the job interesting and continually challenging. Do you think you’ve got what it takes? The JM Group are actively looking to recruit: Associate Recruitment Consultants – if you are a recent graduate who is driven, enjoys a challenge and would like to join one of the most established and well respected recruitment companies in the UK then we want to hear from you. Experience Consultants with a proven track record of developing business and delivering a range of quality recruitment solutions. Email your CV to us today email@example.com or call us 020 7251 7300.
Last week we published part 1 of Alex Powell’s blog which looked at the application of blockchain technology within financial markets. Alex is a senior financial services professional working in capital markets, exchanges, asset management and asset servicing sectors. He has served as a Partner at Accenture and EY (Ernst & Young) and has line management experience as a former COO for HSBC Securities Services. He is currently advising on an early stage FinTech start-up. Part 2 of Alex’s insightful blog continues this week. In my other article on Blockchain in Financial Markets, I set out what I have been seeing and working on in the application of blockchain, or distributed ledger technology (DLT) to payments and post-trade processing. Every firm in each industry sector is reviewing what changes blockchain might drive and how they can take advantage of the new technology. Here is the rest of my synopsis of what is going on but importantly what I am actually seeing and hearing about. Here I shall cover know your customer, reference data, asset management, custody, trade finance and insurance. Know your customer (KYC) KYC is a pretty obvious area where blockchain technology could be used to share customer information on a selective basis. After payments and settlement (post-trade), KYC is probably the most directly obvious financial application. Since the credit crisis began, KYC has come to the fore to better tackle money laundering and fraud. A number of financial services ‘utilities’ formed to process KYC information for the benefit of members of the utility. The largest are Thomson Reuters, Depository Trust & Clearing Corp Clarient Global, Kyc.com a joint venture between Markit and Genpact, and SWIFT KYC Registry. So far they appear to be using traditional technologies. There are a few players attempting to apply blockchain to KYC, mostly in the retail space. Kyc-chain (a Hong Kong company), Innopay and PwC is assessing how a blockchain could be used for “know your customer” procedures. The consulting firm Z/Yen is active here and also in DLT for insurance. Reference data The benefit of putting reference data such as market and client/counterparty data on a blockchain is that it eases the need to reconcile and disseminate the data. Credits Blockchain has been working on a proof of concept for a major stock exchange group and several banks and information providers are considering how data could be more easily shared and distributed. Asset management Blockchain could be totally transformative for the funds industry, both in how it operates and in reducing costs. Operational efficiency could be improved and incumbents and new entrants could make use of the technology to offer new services. The big use cases for the asset management industry are probably in Transfer Agency, (which handles the subscription and redemption of funds), funds distribution and fund accounting which could offer shared ledgers of fund valuations. A group of fund managers including some of the largest; Schroders Aberdeen Asset Management, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Aviva Investors, Henderson Global Investors have come together to explore areas where blockchain could be deployed. My sense is that asset managers are quite a way behind the sell side on the blockchain adoption curve. Custody I suspect that all large custodians are exploring blockchain in some capacity. The Bank of New York Mellon, for example, is active with Settlement Coin and has made prominent hires to look at blockchain technologies. Arguably custodian banks have the most to lose if (or when) securities settlement moves on to blockchain solutions. This is because information on settlement can be transferred to all participants seamlessly and so could flatten the custodian to sub-custodian to CSD structure which exists today, robbing them of current business or further eroding their margins. Trade Finance For the past two years, trade finance has been touted as an area up for disruption by blockchain, combined with the internet of things (by attaching radio frequency identification devices to physical assets). Barclays and start-up company Wave claim to have become the first organisations to execute a global trade transaction using blockchain technology. A letter of credit transaction between Ornua (formerly the Irish Dairy Board) and Seychelles Trading Company is the first to have trade documentation handled on the new Wave platform, with funds sent via Swift. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) are using a blockchain prototype to streamline the paper-heavy world of global trade. The consortium used the Linux Foundation open source Hyperledger Project blockchain fabric, supported by IBM Research and IBM Global Business Services. Blockchain will certainly drive changes to trade finance operation and enhance traceability and transparency. Insurance The insurance industry is going through digital transformation in terms of processing and claims management. Take telematics installed in cars which enable insurers to better forecast the likelihood of car crashes and accident claims and reduce the cost of insurance for safer drivers. Blockchain is being considered for claims management as a means of storing customer contract information and sharing it amongst insurers, then using smart-contracts to manage the claims processing. But for this to happen it requires wide scale industry adoption using a common claims processing platform. There could be similar benefits for the automatic underwriting of policies too. To wrap up….. In my view, the most valuable benefit of blockchain based solutions is the ability to easily share data amongst participants and eliminate the need for multiple reconciliations. For any use-case, this requires participants to sign up to and use the solution. Adoption is the real challenge just like setting up any multi-participant solution. The winners in years to come will be the ones who succeed in generating the ‘network effect’ for their solution and overcome regulatory and legal obstacles. Alex can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://uk.linkedin.com/in/alexapowell