Customer-centric Sales is the New Competitive Advantage

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customer-centric sales

Customer-centric Sales is the New Competitive Advantage

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This Veracle explains why customer-centric sales is the new competitive advantage.

Earlier, we recognised the need for a new frontier for sustainable competitive advantage.

We explored if product differentiation can be that frontier.

The car, coffee, and cosmetic examples illustrate that product differentiation is ephemeral. It has become transient. It is now more a hygiene factor than a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

So, if product differentiation is merely a hygiene factor, how to compete in the cut-throat marketplace?

To answer this question, let us go back to basics.

Consider our typical sales situation. Three entities are present here: the seller, the product (or service), and the buyer (or customer).

Here, many salespeople focus on the first two:

  • How they as seller are different
  • How their product is different

This is the seller-centric approach.

It focuses on sellers and their products.

It reminds me of a captivating scene in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. When Jordan Belfort (Leo DiCaprio) asks some conference attendees to “sell me this pen”, they take this same approach.

Sell me this pen” from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street

However, this seller-centric approach is suboptimal.

It may work in certain situations. But it isn’t ideal for building long-term customer relationships. Hence, it is not sustainable.

That brings us to the third entity present in the sales process – the customer.

Today, the customer has access to a lot more information at the touch of a screen. They can easily compare products and prices. If they don’t like something in a product, they switch just as easily. They know what is best for them.

In short, customers want to be in control of their buying process.

The problem is, the seller-centric sales does not do that.

A working strategy is ‘CUSTOMER-CENTRIC SALES.’

What is customer-centric sales?

Customer-centric sales is the approach that puts the customer’s needs and purchase motivations at the centre of the sales conversation.

In customer-centric sales, you don’t try to get people to buy your stuff they don’t need, by dwelling on seller or product differentiation.

Instead, you focus on knowing customers better. Make it data-driven. We call it developing customer intelligence. You strive to understand customers at a much deeper level.

Generally, salespeople know which customers buy their products?

But many times, they do not know ‘WHY do those customers buy their products.’ Unfortunately, this is more common than we think.

The key is to know the real reason and motive behind the purchase.

But, why is THE WHY important?

Because, customer’s reason to buy your product is likely to be different from your reason to sell it.

And guess what?

Your reasons to sell do not matter; while customers’ reasons to buy do.

This may sound harsh. But it is true.

You may be selling dog food because it is so good in quality that you can also eat. Whereas, the customer may be buying it because it is cheap and convenient.

You may be selling expensive maple wood furniture because the wood is durable and sourced from hardwood forests of North America. The customer may be buying it simply because it is lighter.

You may be selling homemade food as you have fresh organic homegrown ingredients. But the customer may be buying your homemade food because they can get it customised.

The point is this.

Customers buy anything for THEIR own reasons, not yours.

Businesses that get this insight embrace customer-centric sales approach and thrive.

Others that fixate on their own seller-centric differentiation without concern to customers’ reasons struggle.

Consider examples of a few companies where a seller-centric sales approach failed them.

Example 1: A video rental company closed because of not knowing their customer’s why.

You guessed it right.

Blockbuster was in the business of ‘renting out DVDs’. Their competitor Netflix also started ‘renting out DVDs’ in 1997.

Blockbuster’s model was seller-centric. It focused heavily on high street retail sales. Apart from other things, they maximised revenues by charging late returns (of DVDs). Blockbuster made 16% of their revenues in late fees.

On the contrary, Netflix pursued customer-centric sales strategy and studied customers. They enabled consumers to watch videos for a flat monthly fee without worrying about returns.

Blockbuster’s seller-centric model frustrated customers. Netflix’s customer-centric approach eased customers about returns.

Blockbuster vs Netflix

Meanwhile, faster internet allowed online streaming. It enabled customers to watch videos online. Ergo, customer buying preferences changed. They stopped going to stores altogether.

As a result, blockbusters seller-centric model collapsed. Whereas, Netflix re-aligned with customer’s watching preferences by offering videos online on-demand.

Eventually, Blockbuster ended up bankrupt. And Netflix emerged as one of the top ‘over-the-top content platforms.’

customer-centric sales
Source credit: Strategyjourney.com

According to the UK CMO of blockbuster Bryn Owen, Blockbuster’s sales-driven model did them in.

Example 2: “Share memories, Share life.” A Kodak moment (in 2012) that saddened everyone.

George Eastman, Kodak’s founder, invented roll film in 1888.

Kodak was primarily in the photographic film business. They prided on their silver-halide film technology.

Listening to customer demand, Fujifilm started selling film in 1934.

Meanwhile, the digital revolution started in the 1960s.

Steve Sasson, the Kodak engineer, developed the first digital camera in 1975.
Source credit: James Rajotte for The New York Times

By the late 1990s, the demand for photographic films dropped in line with the growing popularity of digital cameras.

Source: PMA, Business 2 community

The rapid spread of digital technology disrupted the photographic equipment industry.

Fujifilm invested in knowing customer’s changing preferences. They adapted to this shift by switching to digital lines of business.

Despite that, Kodak focused on film.

Not just that.

Kodak had acquired a photo-sharing site called Ofoto in 2001. If they were customer-centric, they would have been the pioneer of something like present-day Instagram.

Instead, Kodak used Ofoto to try to get more people to print digital images.

In the end, Kodak filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in January-2012.

customer-centric sales
Kodak and Fujifilm stock performance comparison with key events.

Don Strickland, a former vice-president of Kodak, said: “We developed the world’s first consumer digital camera but we could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the effects on the film market.”

Once the world’s biggest film company, Kodak became a posterchild for failure due to not being customer-centric.

Unfortunately, these aren’t isolated examples of companies stuck with seller-centric sales approach. GM, Nokia, Xerox, JCPenney, Palm, Sony are but to name a few.

Building a new competitive advantage with customer-centric sales

Building a true competitive advantage requires implementing customer-centric sales strategy. This strategy has these three benefits:

  1. You give customers, control in their buying process
  2. Customers get what they want
  3. It is sustainable

Most internet-age companies that are growing rapidly are customer-centric.

Amazon obsesses over customers as they want to be known as Earth’s most customer-centric company. Everyone knows about customer-centricity of Google, Nordstrom, and Southwest.

Companies like Lululemon, John Lewis, and Target have invested in developing customer intelligence to be customer-centric.

So, how are these successful businesses pursuing this deliberate strategy of customer-centric sales?

We will discuss in the next Veracle.

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Product Differentiation

Product Differentiation: Why it isn’t enough anymore

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What is Product Differentiation?

Product differentiation is a strategy employed by businesses to achieve a competitive advantage by differentiating their products from those of their competitors.

Product Differentiation – why?

Generally, salespeople highlight their differentiation advantage to customers in two ways:

  • Our company is unique and special. Buy from our company.
    • This is seller differentiation.
  • Our product is unique and special. Buy our product.
    • This is product differentiation.

We will analyse seller differentiation later.

In product differentiation, special typically means high quality. The source of uniqueness and high quality in a product could be varied. Some of them are rare raw materials, advanced technology, distinctive design, superior personnel, or unusual methods. These become the sources of product differentiation. Customers perceive such products as high performance or exclusive. So, they are willing to pay a higher price for them.

Up until now, product differentiation helped businesses sell, and charge premium to their customers.

However, this is changing.

In a recent conversation with the CEO of a cosmetics company in Europe, he gave a thought-provoking perspective in the context of their product differentiation.

The CEO: “[First] it was ‘natural’. Then we introduced ‘natural fruit-based’. Then it became ‘natural fruit-based paraben-free allergen-free’. And it went on like that… Whenever I try to differentiate my product further, I feel I am narrowing my customer base. It is a big problem because my loyal customer base keeps shifting…

Evidently, his concern is not misplaced.

In an online survey in Europe, 900 women aged 25-65 years buying cosmetics and being interested in organic and natural cosmetics associated different characteristics and qualities with organic and natural cosmetics (see EXHIBIT 1).

Source: Statista 2021, Veravizion analysis

To be honest, this finding isn’t surprising.

There are so many ways to differentiate a product within a category. They may not appear truly differentiated at all.

It appears, product differentiation as a source of competitive advantage is losing its sheen. It may not be enough going forward to compete.

Wonder why it is so?

To find out, we analysed the sources of product differentiation. Our analysis yielded these insights.

In our increasingly global and digital world, the sources of product differentiation have become pervasive.

  • Global supply chains make it easy to procure raw materials from any place on the Earth. That too fairly quickly.
  • A free market economy facilitates the effortless movement of goods and expert personnel.
  • The Internet makes it simple to share information and technology.

Basically, it has become easy to procure stuff and change. This helps your rivals achieve parity with your products in no time.

Let’s see how.

Consider examples from three diverse product categories: cosmetics, coffee, and car. Notice how a product that once appeared differentiated from their competitors’ doesn’t seem so anymore.

Example 1: The Body Shop – the first natural and organic cosmetic brand?

The Body Shop is perhaps the first global company to popularise the use of ‘natural ingredients’ in cosmetics. Anita Roddick, an activist, founded it to also promote ethical consumerism. The business’s original vision was to sell products with ethically-sourced, cruelty-free, and natural ingredients. The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals. The Body Shop truly differentiated itself at the time. And it thrived. This was in the eighties and early nineties.

Product Differentiation
Source: The Body Shop

However, competitors followed suit soon after. Every cosmetic company wanted to show natural ingredients in their product. So much so that, it might be difficult to find a cosmetic company that does not seek to differentiate itself as natural or organic. Looks like, Natural is a hygiene factor in cosmetics now.

Example 2: Kopi Luwak – world’s most expensive coffee

Product Differentiation
Source: Pinterest

Civet coffee, also called Luwark coffee (or Kopi Luwak), is advertised as the world’s most expensive coffee. It is expensive because of an uncommon method of producing it. Civet coffee is produced from the coffee beans digested by civet cat. The faeces of this cat are collected, processed, and sold. A unique process indeed!

Civet coffee is originally from Indonesia. But, it is now produced across many countries in South East Asia. It is available in India too. It may only be a matter of time before we see this coffee in our favourite coffee shops. Moreover, there are other coffee brands such as Black Ivory, Finca El Injerto, Hacienda La Esmeralda, Saint Helena, and Jamaican Blue Mountain that are touted as the world’s most expensive coffee. Apparently, Kopi Luwak seems to have lost its flavour as world’s most expensive coffee.

Example 3: Exotic and handmade Phantom – an epitome of luxury

Product Differentiation
Source: Caranddriver.com

Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé gained fame as your own bespoke exotic car handmade by expert craftsmen. Rolls-Royce claims that no two Phantoms in the world are exactly the same.

Finally, a true differentiator? We thought so too.

Only, there are at least ten other cars which take pride in calling themselves most exotic and handmade. Lamborghini, Bugatti, Pagani trump the track where Aston Martin is not even in the top-3.

Therefore, that forces us to ask.

Product Differentiation: is it a competitive advantage or a hygiene factor?

The point from the above examples is this.

The Body Shop might be natural and organic; Kopi Luwak might be a billionaire’s brew; Rolls-Royce Phantom might be exotic and handmade.

But they are not the only ones doing it in their industry. Rather, they join the crowd by competing on product differentiation.

Ironic, isn’t it!

The truth is this. The more you pursue product differentiation, the more you risk looking like the scores of your competitors doing the same.

It makes one wonder whether ‘our product is high quality’ has become a hygiene factor. It will not guarantee you sales, let alone premium prices. But not having it will definitely hurt sales.

But wait!

Apple pursues a product differentiation strategy. And Apple continues selling huge numbers of iPhones and iOS devices. In fact, iOS had more than 50% of the market share in the US as of May-2020 (see EXHIBIT 2).

Source: Statista

How do we explain this?

Clearly, something is at play here.

Is product differentiation a source of competitive advantage? Or has it merely become a hygiene factor?

If the latter, then how can you compete in the fiercely competitive marketplace?

What are your thoughts on this?

Let us analyse this aspect in the next Veracle.

Cover Photo courtesy: Vix.com

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Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage: you have one? Is it sustainable?

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In a sales situation, a salesperson looks to convince a customer to buy their (product or service) offering. To do that, they must showcase how their offering creates value for the customer. They are aware that the customer would be comparing their offering with those of their competitors. This is where the competitive advantage comes into the picture.

Competitive advantage renders you an edge over your rivals. A company’s competitive advantage makes their (product or service) offering more desirable to customers than those of their competitors.

According to Investopedia, competitive advantage refers to factors that allow a company to produce goods or services better or more cheaply than its rivals.

The factors could be price, product quality, delivery speed, customer service, location, and so on.

Among these, the price factor is different from the other factors.

Let’s see how.

Competitive Advantage: the ‘Price factor’

When a business competes on price, they price their products lower than their competitors’ prices. Therefore, they must produce the product at a low cost to sell it at a profit.

Source: Walmart.com

For example, Walmart competes on price. Their slogan is “everyday low prices”. They must produce or procure products at a very low cost to sell at a profit.

Competitive Advantage: the ‘Other factors’

When a business competes on factors other than price, they must ensure high differentiation from the competitors on that factor. Their slogan would be the best quality, higher speed, better customer service, and so on. However, it takes additional resources, and thus higher costs, to create differentiation. Hence, they must price the product at a premium to sell it at a profit.

Competitive Advantage
Source: Christies.com

For example, dubbed as the world’s most coveted handbags, Hermès Birkin bags are super-expensive. Each bag is handmade by a single artisan craftsman using premium materials like calf skin, alligator skin, and even ostrich skin. And there is a waiting list for the top ones like the one shown here.

This low cost and high differentiation form the basis of business strategy for firms.

Porter defined these two ways in which an organization can achieve a competitive advantage over its rivals as cost advantage and differentiation advantage.

Cost advantage & differentiation advantage served us well.

Thus far.

However, competitive advantage must be sustainable. It should help us sell in today’s fiercely competitive markets and tomorrows. In the absence of sustainable competitive advantage, your product may not continue to sell for long.

This is where the challenge is.

Both these sources of competitive advantage are seller-centric. They talk about seller’s cost advantage and seller’s differentiation advantage.

The thing is, competitive advantage for a business is the factor (or reason) for which the business wants customers to buy their products.

And the truth is, customers buy anything for THEIR own reasons, not yours.

Please do let the above two insights sink-in before you read ahead.

Therefore, it follows that, the factor for which a business wants customers to buy their products should be customer-centric.

That is, the source of competitive advantage for a business should be customer-centric (and not seller-centric).

This is like the movement of scientific theory from the Ptolemaic system (the earth at the centre of the universe) to the Copernican system (the sun at the centre of the universe).

It is a paradigm shift.

When that happens, a business will always be aligned with customer-needs. As and when the customer buying preference changes, a business will be able to respond to the change by correspondingly aligning their source of competitive advantage.

Savvy?! But wait.

What is the significance of this finding?

This signifies that the existing ways of building competitive advantage – cost and differentiation advantage – alone may not suffice.

The evidence is in the huge number of businesses shutting down, like Arcadia group, Chuck E. Cheese, Debenhams, J. Crew, JC Penny, Mamas & Papas, Mothercare, Neiman Marcus, and Wallis to name a few. Some of them are (sorry, were) iconic retailers. The list is long. Many of them are permanently closing most of their stores. Don’t we know that all of them had built competitive advantage the traditional way?

In short, we need to build the next frontier for developing sustainable competitive advantage.

And how do we do that?

Can we do it through product differentiation?

We do it by putting in place a mechanism to understand your customers like never before.

This doesn’t sound anything new, right?

Except, the ways of understanding a customer have undergone a sea-change. There is a lot more we can learn about a customer to help them.

Let us summarise the whole thing.

In the internet age, when brick-and-mortar businesses are finding it difficult to compete and are closing down, companies cannot rely only on the traditional meaning and sources of competitive advantage.

There is a need to build new frontier.

Developing your customer intelligence is the first step in that direction. That entails understanding many more things than we have ever known until now. This new frontier of competitive advantage helps you build a solid platform to grow further and beyond.

Besides, who has ever gone wrong knowing more about their customers?

Cover Photo courtesy: Rob Wingate on Unsplash

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e-Retail Innovations

e-Retail Innovations – How e-Retail is Changing?

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e-Retail Innovations and Growth

Over the last 15 years, the share of online retail (or e-retail) has increased steadily all over the world. For instance, the graph below shows the percentage of e-retail sales out of total sales for the US.

*Note: Data of first 2 quarters of 2020 is taken
Source: United States Census Bureau

Earlier in 2019, e-retail sales accounted for only 10.9% of total retail sales. Yet, in 2020, it rose to 13.9%. Thus, it shows that e-retail has good potential to grow in the coming years.

A major reason for low e-retail sales is customer shopping behaviour. In fact, physical retail and e-retail KPIs are also different.

Notably, there is a basic difference between how customers shop offline and online. It is down to how customers interact with products while purchasing.

Why e-Retail is less than traditional retail?

According to KPMG, the top-three reasons people go to physical shops are to do with touching or trying the product. Indeed, 56% of customers prefer shopping offline for the ability to see and touch the product. Whereas, these are limitations of e-Retail.

Now, e-retail businesses like Amazon have grown with continuous innovations. In 2018 alone, Amazon spent 12.7% of their revenue on R&D. Likewise, many e-retail businesses have disrupted the retail industry over the years with innovations like chatbot, voice search, and drone delivery, to name a few.

The e-retail innovations we discuss here expect to overcome the top-three limitations of e-retail. The aim is to improve the engagement of customers with the products they intend to purchase.

So, what are the most recent e-retail innovations?

Here are three of them:

  1. 3D Models (and videos of product)
  2. Livestreaming
  3. Augmented-reality (AR)

3D Models (and videos of product)

On 14th March 2020, Shopify announced that merchants could upload 3D models or videos directly to their product pages. Fashion merchants selling on Shopify were happy with this new technology. Results showed that the visitors who interacted with a 3D model were 44% more likely to add a product to their shopping cart. Also, they were 27% more likely to place an order than visitors that did not. 

This helped the merchants too. For example, after implementing 3D models in their store, Bumbleride saw a conversion rate increase of 33% for strollers and increased time on page by up to 21%.

Advantage:

In traditional retail, customers can ‘see’ and ‘feel’ a product before buying. In the same way, by using a 3D model of products in e-retail, customers can virtually ‘see’ a product interacting with their home or office environment. This feature increases the engagement rate and ultimately leads to more sales.

Livestreaming

Taobao Live is a live streaming service integrated into the Taobao App of Alibaba Group. On 1st June 2020, Taobao Live sold goods worth $280 million in the initial 90 minutes. Merchants can apply on Taobao app for free and start live streaming of their products. Also, customers can ask queries, buy, and pay on the same app.

Advantages:

  • It is similar to a traditional store being open for customers. But in this case, customers who are interested in the category will join the Livestream. This is a significant advantage as users are already lower down the sales funnel.

  • In digital media, brands have to hire celebrities and tap their brand equity to sell their products. However, in Livestream, anyone can display the products.

  • Users watching Livestream can ask queries related to product and host can answer them or display in real-time. For example, a user might ask ‘can you show how size 7 will fit me?’ The host can then try on size 7 shoe in real-time during Livestream. Subsequently, this increases the engagement of products with potential customers.

Augmented Reality (AR)

In May 2020, Kendra Scott, a jewelry brand, introduced a virtual try-on. This feature implements augmented reality and allows users to preview products.

AR is also being used by furniture retailers like Wayfair and Ikea for displaying how furniture will look in their homes after purchase.

In December 2019, L’Oreal announced a virtual try-on that lets shoppers try on makeup virtually using their phones. Garnier (owned by L’Oreal) also launched a virtual try-on named “Garnier hair colour”. Using the Google Lens image-recognition mobile app made by Google Inc., shoppers can point their phone cameras at the hair-colour boxes to activate the virtual try-on service.

Advantage:

  • In e-retail, users can only visually see 2D product images. But with AR, users can virtually try-on products. They can also get some idea of how the products will look in their surroundings.

As the e-commerce and e-retail industry matures, innovations are likely to continue in this space.

Author: Sumit Patil

Cover Photo courtesy: Vectary

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Online Business Growth

Online Business Growth – The Easy or The Right Way?

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Online business growth – the easy way or the right way?

Onine business growth is a topic concerning most retailers. How can retailers grow their business in these times? The key message is at the very end.

Consider this scenario.

You are the owner of a mid-sized retail business. You presently sell your product to your customers in physical stores. A typical sale goes like this: Customers show up at your store. They specify their needs, you give options. You counsel, they choose. You pack, they pay, and you complete the transaction.  

Thus far, you have been successful in your current brick-and-mortar model. Your business has a loyal customer base. The net profit margin is in the range of 15%-20%. And, the cash flow is good too.

So, you decide to take your business to the next level.

How would you do it?

The answer is ‘you go omnichannel’.

The internet penetration of above 90% in most developed countries makes it a no-brainer. Among the developing countries, the internet has grown by over 5000% since year 2000 to around 59%. Moreover, customers now prefer to buy in an omnichannel environment.

In omnichannel retail, the focus is on providing seamless shopping experience to the customer across multiple channels. Omnichannel strategy helps you integrate physical store, online store, mobile app, and social media.

In-short, your business growth strategy now revolves around selling online.

To sell online, there are two main options:

  1. Create your ‘own online channel’
  2. Sell through existing ‘online marketplaces’

This decision determines the future course of your business.

Let us dissect each option.

Option-1: Create your own online channel

Creating your own online channel includes two things: first, setting up an e-store – an e-commerce website – to display products and receive customer orders. Second, you need to have an efficient and trustworthy logistics system to fulfil the customer orders. The entire order-to-fulfilment process must run smoothly to give customers a seamless shopping experience.

Having your own online channel has several benefits.

Top three benefits are:

  • You can create bespoke personalised experience for your customers. It allows you to ensure stronger connection and engagement with them.
  • You have total control over your business throughout the customer buying process. So, you decide how customers interact with your brand while being on your website. Also, you can create relevant content around your offerings to engage with target customers.
  • Most importantly, you gain direct access to your customers and their data. You can leverage advanced analytical techniques to analyse this data. This analysis can give you crucial insights about the type of visitors, their visiting trends, and their buying patterns. These insights help you decode the online customer behaviour. Using that, you can make appropriate changes to the way you sell online. This data-driven online selling strategy promises to help you grow your online sales.

What do top-brands do?

While it is not a surprise that top brands like Apple, Starbucks, Disney, and Under Armour have their own online channels, most mid-size businesses have also launched their own online stores. It helps them create unique customer experience. The successful ones have implemented advanced analytics to reveal insights about their customer buying behaviour.

Online Business Growth
How top brands ensure unique and enjoyable customer experience through their e-stores

However, a common perception among small retailers is that there are a few disadvantages with this option, viz. higher upfront investment, additional analysis and marketing costs, and higher lead-time for online business growth. Perhaps, that is why, almost one-third of small businesses in the US do not have a website of their own.

That brings us to the second option.

Option-2: Sell through existing ‘online marketplaces’

Online marketplaces allow you to sell products without you having to set up your own online store. The marketplaces host many sellers on their website. Marketplaces are popular among buyers because they allow to buy different products across categories without having to leave the site.

The marketplace owns everything on their website. They take care of the marketing too. In return, you pay them product listing fees and a commission on every product sold.

There are many online marketplaces around. A few are global, some are regional, and many of them are national. The popular ones are Amazon, eBay, Flipkart, AliExpress, Rakuten, Etsy, and Target, amongst many others.

Many retailers tend to choose this second option over the first. It seems easier to them. Ostensibly, they see the following ‘advantages’ in this option – no upfront set-up cost, reduced marketing costs, and no waiting for online business growth.

Except, these advantages hide the real disadvantages.

Let us explain by listing out six key disadvantages of ‘selling through marketplaces’ option:

No Upfront cost = Lose control over sales

You don’t incur upfront cost if you don’t invest in your own e-commerce set-up. Instead, you use the marketplace’s infrastructure to sell. You use their e-commerce applications, their algorithms, and their processes. You depend on them for the sales.

Sure, the sales can increase, but you may not know why. [GE executives recall how Mr. Jack Welch would get angry when the sales went high and they couldn’t explain why.]

In a way, you lose control over your sales process and data to the marketplace.

Why is it a big problem?

Because, if the sales go down, you would be clueless about it. And so, would not know how to fix the problem.

Let us see an example of what it means by not having control.

When you are selling on marketplaces, you cannot control what products are being sold beside yours. Worse, what if the other product looks identical to yours but is from your competitor. Worse still, what if the other product being sold has the same brand-name as yours, but in altogether different category.

It DOES happen!

Here is a real example* of a brand selling at one of the top marketplaces:

The organic soft-cotton baby onesie, is selling alongside

woman’s cocktail dress of the ‘same’ brand-name (but from a competitor); selling alongside

motor flush oil of the ‘same brand-name; selling alongside

a music label of the ‘sam-e brand-name

– all of them in the same window.

And you cannot do anything about it.

Reduced analysis and marketing costs = Risking business survival

Generally, marketplaces own the data on your product sales. The minute a retailer signs up to a seller’s account on a marketplace, they give permission to the marketplace to use their sales data however they choose. Most marketplaces don’t share that data back with the sellers.

So, in reality, when you choose to sell through a marketplace, you don’t just pay listing fees and a commission per transaction. You also pay with your sales data, and future sales.

[I would re-read that last sentence to let it sink in.]

Marketplaces can use your sales data to gather your customer intelligence. They can leverage it to offer your customers better deals through their in-house labels.

Sellers have shared stories about how this has impacted their business.

In short, you risk losing your loyal customers to your competitors if you do not leverage your sales data yourself.

No waiting for sales-success = Less opportunity to build your brand

Online marketplaces try to make the seller onboarding process easy to bring more offline sellers on their e-commerce platform. They try to make it smooth and quick. You can start selling in a few days [and you may stop selling in fewer days if you violate their policies].

Not just that, you may also start realising sales quickly on marketplaces. However, the presence of many other products makes it difficult for consumer to register your brand among so many others in their minds.

You are successful quickly = Threat of getting undercut on prices

If you start doing really well, someone will notice and one of the two things may happen – they may offer to buy you out or they may undercut you on price and terms, eventually killing you.

Online Business Growth

Remember Zappos? Zappos was extremely customer-centric, very successful. It was the first company that sold shoes online, at scale. They put a lot of importance on understanding shoes, their culture and customer centricity.

When Amazon wasn’t going anywhere with its own online shoe store, Endless.com, they made their first attempt to acquire Zappos in 2005. Zappos declined. What happened later is not up in public domain. However, Amazon eventually acquired Zappos in July-2009.

Hyper-competitiveness – Forced to sell on price, not differentiation

Conservative estimates put the number of active sellers on Amazon at 2.3 million as of 2019. Chances are, many of them are selling the same products as you do. This makes it difficult for you to compete, if you do not have aggressive [read: less] pricing, that helps the algorithm pick your product ahead of the competitors’.

Diapers.com may be the case in point. They built a $100 million business selling diapers online. They offered free delivery of diapers and other products to parents. But they couldn’t sustain the competitive pressures and ceased to exist in 2017.

Restrictive TnC on how you can communicate with customers = Limits brand building

There may be marketplace limitations on how your business can brand and communicate itself on the marketplace. Moreover, any slightest hint of violating the strict policies will earn you the dreaded ‘seller suspension’ message.

Does that mean marketplaces are bad?

NO! Not at all.

In fact, they have disrupted some aspects of retail for the better.

For example, online shoppers love Amazon. Amazon is allowing them to have wider selection, shop-anytime-anywhere convenience, and enjoyable shopping experience, all at a cheaper price. They have developed a world-class e-commerce platform over the years.

Marketplaces can be good for small retailers, that do not have resources to have their own e-store. Also, marketplaces may be useful for those businesses not aiming to create an enduring brand.

But they may not be for everyone.

You need to figure out whether marketplaces are right for you.

Then, what is the way forward to online business growth?

Companies are waking up to the risk of increasing their dependency on marketplaces. More and more mid- and large-sized companies are embracing “direct-to-consumer” sales model.

Almost all large businesses and brands have their own e-commerce stores. Some of them were tempted initially but then recovered themselves from increasing their dependency on the marketplaces.

Nike – just doing it without a marketplace!

Nike is one such example. Recently, Nike confirmed to CNBC that it will stop selling merchandise directly to Amazon, as part of its push to sell more directly to consumers.

To quote CNBC, “Prior to 2017, Nike had resisted such a deal with Amazon, focusing its attention on its own online marketplace and stores. The fear for many brands has always been that, by partnering with Amazon, a company loses control over how its brand is represented on the site.”

This Veracle makes a point that mid-sized businesses should strive to have their own e-commerce set-up. They should attempt to leverage their sales data using analytics. This could be the right way for their online business growth.

What do you think? Have you seen a mid-sized business struggle with this dilemma?

*name withheld on request.

Cover Photo courtesy: Pradnya Design Consultants

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customer shopping behaviour in e-retail

Know customer shopping behaviour KPIs in e-retail?

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Customer shopping behaviour is an important concept in retail.

This is why.

How do you grow your retail business? You sell what customers want. How do you know what customers want? Well, you observe how they buy.

When customers buy a product or service, they do certain things. First, they search for the product online or in stores. Next, they try to seek more information and compare prices. Then, they check product ratings and seek feedback from friends. Over time, they engage with brands through social media.

All the actions mentioned above describe customer shopping behaviour.

Customer shopping behaviour in e-retail refers to how customers interact with your website. It involves understanding the actions a customer performs between landing on your website and leaving.

So, how exactly do we “observe customers”?

We do this using the various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs help us get a sense of real-situation quantitatively.

Previously, we saw that e-retail and physical retail have different KPIs.

Now, we can measure the customer shopping behaviour in e-retail using the following KPIs:

  • Total visits
  • Bounce rate
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • Shopping cart conversion rate
  • Sales conversion rate
  • Average duration on page

The flowchart in the figure below illustrates these actions. The little boxes on the right of each process show the corresponding KPI.

customer shopping behaviour flowchart
Flowchart depicting customer shopping behaviour in e-retail

Customer Shopping Behaviour KPIs in e-retail

Here is a brief explanation of each KPI.

Total Customer Visits

Total visits KPI is the total number of visitor landings on a website.

According to Google, 63% of all shopping begins online. That makes ‘Total Visits’ the vital first KPI for an e-retail sale. E-retailers try to increase this KPI to increase sales.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the proportion of visitors landing on your website and leaving without taking any action.

If the website is engaging for customers, they interact with it. More the interaction, lower is the bounce rate, and better are the prospects of making a sale.

There are various reasons for a high bounce rate. Moreover, a high bounce rate doesn’t tell the entire story. Also, there are ways to improve it.

Shopping cart abandonment rate

This KPI means a customer added products in their e-retail shopping cart but later abandoned the order.

According to Statista, 63% carts were abandoned because shipping cost was too high. While these customers have not yet purchased, they are most easy to convert to a sale.

Shopping cart conversion rate

Similarly, this metric helps e-retailers measure the number of completed orders compared to the total number of shopping carts initiated by potential customers.

It is calculated as a ratio of number of visitors who placed an order, to the total number of visitors who started a shopping cart. It is expressed as a percentage.

Sales conversion rate

Google defines sales conversion rate as the ratio of transactions to sessions, expressed as a percentage.

The recent Adobe Digital Index 2020 report pegs average global conversion rate in retail at 3% of the total visits. The sales conversion rate varies across various retail categories. Conversion of consumer electronics is only half at 1.4%. Gifts, and Health & Pharmacy generate the highest conversion rates at around 4.9%.

Average duration per page

One e-retail KPI to measure is the time spent on each webpage. This is tracked as ‘average duration per page’.

This KPIs is based on similar one in traditional retail. In physical retail store, more the time a customer spends inside a shop, higher are the chances of purchase.

So, what do you think? Do you track these metrics? If yes, which ones do you think are the most important for your business?

Author: Sumit Patil

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E-Retail KPIs

How E-Retail KPIs different from traditional Retail KPIs?

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How are E-Retail KPIs different from traditional Retail KPIs?

What is E-Retail KPI?

E-retail is the online website of a retail store. KPI means Key Performance Indicators. So, the key performance indicators for an online website of a retail store are e-retail KPIs.

Traditional retail is a physical brick-and-mortar retail store. Let’s call their KPIs, traditional retail KPIs.

E-retail and traditional retail by their nature are different. The difference exists from two perspectives: the customer perspective and the retailer perspective.

Let us see the customer’s perspective first.

The customer perspective drives their shopping preferences and buying behaviour. For instance, customers who value convenience, price comparison, time-saving, and the ability to shop 24×7 prefer to shop online. Whereas, customers who want to touch, feel, and try the product first tend to shop in physical stores.

Increasingly, customers are buying in an Omnichannel environment. Omnichannel means all channels work seamlessly as one. That is, they discover a product in one channel, check it out in another one, and buy through a third. Such as shown in the figure below.

E-Retail KPIs
Omnichannel shopping is becoming the norm

Now, the retailer perspective.

The retailer’s perspective influences their business operating behaviour. Traditional retailers focus on maximizing the in-store experience for their customers while optimizing store space. While e-retailers focus on the online shopping experience and user personalization.

These two perspectives influence their KPIs.

How E-Retail KPIs Differ?

Many e-retail KPIs are common with traditional KPIs. Some of these are the various financial ratios, customer retention, and conversion rate. However, e-retail KPIs are different from traditional retail KPIs in two major areas:

  1. Customer Acquisition Channels
  2. Customer Shopping Behaviour

Let us see how.

Customer Acquisition Channels

This is the source of customer traffic to your business. Understanding where your customers are coming from is extremely important for business growth.

E-retail channels are primarily organic search, direct search, referral, e-mails, and social media. These channels actually lead customers to e-retail stores (i.e. the website). So, e-retailers can easily measure the percent of customers acquired from these channels. They can then devise their deliberate strategy around these insights.

For example, Facebook generates 13.9% of e-retail website traffic, but actual sale happens in only 4.7% of cases. This is a critical piece of information in two ways: First, it allows you to allocate resources efficiently. Also, it improves ROI.

Traditional retail channels are different.

They are mainly word of mouth or advertisements in print, television, radio, and social media. For traditional retailers, it is nearly impossible to accurately calculate the percent of customers acquired from these different channels. This is because these channels do not ‘redirect’ them to the store.

For example, a customer actually visiting a store may have seen an ad or may have been referred by word of mouth. But, they may not even remember this information when they visit the store.

Customer Shopping Behaviour

Customer behaviour varies a lot between in-store purchases and online purchases. Understanding customer behaviour is central to acquiring more customers.

In e-retail, KPIs like Shopping Cart Abandonment (SCA) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are important and helpful. The analysis of the shopping cart abandonment rate and the list of discarded items can help improve our understanding of the purchase intent of customers. Similarly, understanding a customer’s lifetime value helps in targeting profitable customers more effectively.

Whereas for traditional retail, understanding shopping behaviour for every customer is tricky and costly. We can only perform market basket analysis. This will only analyze the products added together in the cart. But there is no definite way to measure discarded items from carts in the physical stores. Moreover, physical space-oriented KPIs like sales per square foot are not relevant to e-retail.  

In a nutshell, it is essential for retailers to rethink the right KPIs while taking the retail business online. This is especially true since omnichannel shopping is becoming the norm.

Author: Sumit Patil

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Growth-oriented

Are you survival-oriented or a growth-oriented executive?

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Are you a survival-oriented or a growth-oriented executive?

Top executives at any organisation are responsible for growth of the business. Their professional careers grow (only) if their business grows.

The responsibility lies squarely on the chief executive officer. They are in charge to set the strategic direction and align everyone to it to achieve their goals.

However, the chief executive officer role is a complex one to shoulder.

Over the years, the top executive failure rate has varied from 30% to as high as 60% leading to CEO turnover. Significant proportion of this attrition is involuntary. According to The Conference Board, a staggering 30.5 percent CEOs were sacked by their boards in 2019. PwC’s Strategy and CEO Success study puts the lost market value due to this forced attrition at an estimated $112 billion annually.

One reason for this high CEO turnover is failure to deliver desired results in line with stated strategic goals.

These CEOs often have best ivy-league-education and rich execution experience. They have consistently delivered high performance in their previous roles. Yet, they fail in meeting the objectives as CEO.

While there are various reasons behind it, there is one that is less obvious.

The reason has come to the fore more prominently in the current China-virus pandemic.

It is CEOs’ inherent attitude to managing business strategy.

CEOs fall in two categories based on their mindset towards business strategy.

  1. Survival-oriented CEOs
  2. Growth-oriented CEOs

Survival-oriented CEOs are cost-focused. They believe in maintaining profitability by driving the expenses down. They do not think of investing in growth stimulating actions.

During times of crisis, survival-oriented CEOs follow survive-today-grow-tomorrow principle. They shift focus to short-term. As part of that, they cut costs and downsize operations. These actions help them show good short-term results. But long-term growth prospects of the organisation fall in jeopardy.

Their focus, tactical rather than strategic, can be hope strategy at best.

Being a survival-oriented CEO is justified in some exceptionally challenging situations. This is especially true if the actions are temporary taken just to tide over the crisis.

But this is where it gets counter-intuitive.

A CEO is successful when they achieve long-term results despite the challenges, whatsoever.

On the contrary, Growth-oriented CEOs are revenue-focused. They stay committed to achieving their long-term goals despite the challenges.

The growth-oriented CEOs usually follow a very deliberate strategy to grow. They employ innovation and data-driven strategy for future growth. Most importantly, they commit resources to achieve the business goals while adapting to any changes the challenges may present.

Even during crisis, the growth-oriented CEOs do not lose sight of the strategic goals. They fervently keep long-term outlook. The short-term results may suffer in their tenure, but they are more likely to show good results in the longer term.

Such CEOs spend their time and efforts towards planning and pursuing a working business strategy.

Mr. Bezos is one such CEO. Data science and innovation are hallmarks of his growth strategy. In his words:

We can’t be in Survival mode. We have to be in Growth mode.

You can find out your attitude as a chief executive. Take the CEO Genome quiz.

So, have you noticed a survival-oriented or a growth-oriented behaviour recently? What actions did they take that made you think so?

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management consultants making decisions

Why do Businesses hire Management Consultants?

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To succeed in business and to achieve your professional goals, you need to be able to do two things:

  1. Make the right decisions
  2. To be able to justify the right decisions to stakeholders to take them forward

Making the right decisions helps because it saves time and money. Besides, it helps you avoid heartburn caused by the consequences of making wrong decisions. This is especially true when there is a lot at stake in that decision.

Nonetheless, making the right decisions is not enough.

It is equally important to be able to justify the right decisions to get buy-in.

Why?

It doesn’t matter if a decision is right if you cannot get buy-in to implement it.

Do all situations require decision-making?

No, not all.

There is no decision to make in a TINA (“There is no alternative”) situation.

However, the decision-making process kicks in when you have two or more options.

Businesses routinely have to make decisions like Buy-Build, Invest-Hold-Divest, or Strategic Transformation-Operational Excellence.

It becomes hard, complex, and stressful, if the options are similar to one another.

Some examples:

  • Introduce a new product line or stretch the existing product line.
  • Whether your company should invest in improving existing technical capabilities or hiring technical talent from outside.
  • Consulting firms in online retail having to decide whether to advise a client to invest more in technology or in physical stores.

Decision-Making

In essence, the decision making process involves the following five aspects – Objectives, Options, Process, Timelines, and Stakeholders:

  • Why do you need to make a decision – the objective(s)?
    • Are your objectives clear? Do your objectives align with those of your colleagues or do they contradict?
  • What different choices do you have – the options?
    • Have you considered all possible available options for evaluation? Are these options very similar to one another?
  • How do you make the decision – the process?
    • Is it opinion-based (aka gut-feel based) or facts-based (aka data-driven)?
  • When do you need to make the decision – the timeline?
    • Is your decision-making quick enough or is it time-consuming?
  • Who do you need to get the buy-in from – the stakeholders?
    • Can you justify your decision to the stakeholders to get their approval for implementation?

Ideally, businesses must make decisions that are organisation-objective-oriented, facts-based, quick and efficient, and unbiased. Such decisions are invariably optimal for the business.

However, in real-life business situations, decision-making can be tricky:

The objectives of people involved in decision-making may not always align. Thus, they may not arrive at a decision at all.

Personal biases may interfere with business objectives, so the end decision may be unfairly influenced.

The time taken to make a decision may be so long that the particular business situation itself might change in the course of taking the decision, rendering the decision irrelevant.

The subjective process – basing decisions on people’s opinions rather than data – is difficult to justify to get buy-in.

Thus, in reality, businesses tend to make decisions that are subjective, opinion-based, time-consuming, and biased.

Such decisions tend to be highly sub-optimal. They do not invoke the confidence required to invest time, money, and resources to take them forward for implementation.

A decision made in this manner is full of risk and uncertainty.

Guess what?

Risk and Uncertainty are the two things business executives do not like, and want to minimize.

That is why businesses and other organisations look to external management consultants for help in making decisions.

It helps them manage the risk and uncertainty involved in the decision-making process and in the aftermath.

How management consultants help in decision-making?

Management consultants are extremely objective-oriented. They are adept at working with specific details keeping the big-picture in mind, and leaving out extraneous details.

They are highly analytical. It is their job to ensure completeness and correctness of analysis. They apply specialised skills, tools, and techniques designed to analyze different options. Moreover, they leverage their cross-domain expertise acquired from executing similar engagements from the past.

They bring an external, objective perspective. They trust data and facts more than people opinions. Relying on data removes any personal (emotional) bias.

They are particularly sensitive to the urgency of making a decision. They acknowledge that a timely decision is more important than a perfect one*.

Very importantly, management consultants arrive at a decision in an analytical and logical manner. Moreover, they help in explaining and justifying the decision to stakeholders with the help of facts and data.

A decision made in this manner raises the confidence level to commit organizational resources towards its implementation.

This is why businesses and other organizations hire consultants in their decision-making.

How do you make decisions in your business or professional world?

*One important side-note here:

In this aspect, American decision-making differs from German decision-making. In the American business context, external forces like customer request or market need often guide decision-making. So, they think that it is better to make a suboptimal decision quickly, rather than make a better or optimal decision too slow or too late.

On the contrary, Germans believe that the time allotted to a decision should be determined by the nature of the decision. They believe that it is not dictated by external pressures such as customer request or market need or competitor actions. [Source: commentator John Otto Magee on differences in American and German decision-making process]

Author: Sumit Patil

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How will you measure your business and life

How will you measure your business, and life

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The day, last Friday, started on a sad note when I read about the untimely demise of Professor Clayton Christensen, author of ‘How will you measure your life”.

He is more popularly known as the author of nine terrific books on Disruptive Innovation, most notable among them being ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’.

Professor Christensen had conducted a series of management lectures (https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=rpkoCZ4vBSI) for our Saïd Business School MBA-cohort in NMLT at Oxford. I had become a fan of him and really wanted to meet him to tell how much I enjoyed his lectures.

However, there was no way I could meet him just-like-that given his stature. Having said that, Oxford is a place where you can get randomly lucky, especially when it comes to meeting important people.

And lucky I got on that day in late-June almost seven-years ago, when I had a chance meeting with him in the lobby of SBS.

I still remember the day vividly, for it was a cherishable moment for me.

I was chatting with Leo, the ever-helpful receptionist at the front-desk, when I saw him coming from ‘The Jam Factory’ side.

I got really excited at the prospect of saying Hello to him.

When he entered the lobby, he appeared to be deeply engrossed in some thoughts. I observed that he was very tall physically too.

Unsure of whether or not to disturb him, I still went up to him and wished him, only half-expecting a reciprocal greeting in return.

To my pleasant surprise, he stopped and smiled at me. I gathered courage, introduced myself, and told him how much I had enjoyed his sessions, particularly the way he narrated the disruption in the steel industry and the concept of ‘getting the job done’.

He thanked me with a smile and asked me what I wanted to do post my MBA. I told him my plans as briefly as I could.

He seemed genuinely interested and further asked me what purpose I wanted to fulfil that will help me achieve success and happiness [from it]. Clearly not ready for such a question, I mumbled something which roughly translated as ‘I will work very hard to…something something’.

On hearing my answer, he gave me one of the kindest smiles I have received.

He then told me this, which were very insightful words for me.

He said, “Success and happiness are two different things.”

Once the purpose is clear, everything else will follow.”

First know what will make you truly happy.

Furthermore, he told me to achieve a balance [in everything].

I thanked him for his advice. After this little conversation, we wished each other well, and he moved on.

That was the last I saw him on the campus.

I was perplexed as to how such a busy and great man still found time to speak with (then) a student like me.

Later, I learnt that he had recently had a non-management book published.

The book was ‘How will you measure your life’.

I found this small 240-page book full of wisdom, for business as well as for life.

It comes from a man who was not just a great management strategist, but a great thinker, philosopher, and a genuine advisor.

Then I found it, there in the book, is written a sentence by him which solved my perplexion.

I came to understand that while many of us might default to measuring our lives by summary statistics, such as number of people presided over, number of awards, or dollars accumulated in a bank, and so on, the only metrics that will truly matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people…. These are the metrics that matter in measuring my life.

You indeed have, Professor Clayton Christensen!

Rest in peace!

Two Finals, Two Ties and a common winner

Two Finals, Two Ties, and the Common Winner

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“Fed-ex is doing great; is gonna win the finals this time [sic],” said M.

“If the match goes beyond 4 sets, then Djoko will surely lift the Wimbledon trophy,” bet I.

M, a die-hard Federer fan with whom I am having almost fortnightly consulting sessions these days, and I were discussing about the possible Wimbledon-2019 winner. We had an unusual start of the day this week, playing the ‘let’s predict the Federer-Djokovic finals winner’ game, after India crashed out of CWC-19.

Suddenly, the Federer-Djokovic finals seemed more entertaining to watch.

In the end, both of us were right.

Fed-ex indeed did do great coming close to winning the title on two occasions. Djoko indeed lifted the trophy with Federer’s massive mis-hit in the end.

There he squats down to follow his winner’s routine of nibbling on a few blades of Wimbledon grass – the sweet taste of success!

. The Championships 2019. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. \{year4}{month0}{day0}\. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

No, I do not intend to write this post telling how predictive analytics has helped predict Djoko to be the winner against Federer in today’s match.

Except, that is what this might turn out to be!

For the starters, a Federer-Djokovic match has gone beyond the realm of simple analytics.

Why?

Till date, Federer is the only gentleman (ahem… Wimbledon effect, you see!) to have beaten Djokovic in all four Grand Slam tournaments.

Similarly, Djokovic is the only man to have beaten Federer in all the four majors.

Federer has an all-time high number of 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt, while Djokovic, with today’s win, is not too far behind with 16.

Federer has held the world No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record total of 310 weeks, while Djokovic continues to do so for over 250 weeks now.

The playing surface hasn’t been a decider either; both of them have beaten each-other on all surfaces.

Federer is marginally better on 1st serve win % (which is usually > 70%), while Djokovic only slightly trumps on 2nd serve win % (hovering around 60%).

And both gentlemen have achieved a career Grand Slam, two of only eight people to have done so, ever.

With such complex statistics behind the two greats, how do we conclusively analyse, and say that Djoko has a better chance at winning 2019?

Let’s consider these facts:

Federer and Djokovic have faced head-to-head 48 times, with Djoko winning 54% of the times (or 26 games) overall.

Federer dominated Djoko in 13 matches out of 19 (with a win % of 68.5) until 2010.

Since 2011, Djoko has beaten Federer 20 out of 29 times (with a win % of 68.9).

Isn’t this amazing?

Roger ruled the Wimbledon centre court until 2010, winning it 6 times.

Djokovic dominated (well, almost) the Wimbledon since 2011, winning it 5 times.

What comes next is even more amusing.

I had written in this 2015 Veracle on Lessons from Wimbledon Centre Court, how Federer’s winning points came off 5 rallies or less. And the more rallies he played (against Djokovic), the more likely he stood to lose.

Switch to 2019, Djokovic’s winning points came from 8 rallies or more; the more rallies he forced on Federer, the more unforced errors Federer rallied.

In 2015, Federer had 35 unforced errors against Djokovic’s 16.

Also, in 2015, Federer ran 5 meters more than Djokovic, for every point scored.

Later in 2019, Federer rallied 62 unforced errors, 10 more than Djoko.

In 2019, Federer covered 7 meters more distance than Djokovic, for every point scored.

The Two Finals

Then, there is an uncanny resemblance in the match stats between 2015-final and 2019-final.

And I found it fascinating to compare the score-lines from the Wimbledon finals of 2009 and 2019.

2009 Wimbledon gentlemen’s final score-line:

Federer d. Roddick 5–7, 7–6(8–6), 7–6(7–5), 3–6, 16–14

2019 Wimbledon gentlemen’s final score-line:

Djokovic d. Federer 7–6(7–5), 1–6, 7–6(7–4), 4–6, 13–12(7–3)

See the only slight twist in the two score-lines? Just flip the scores of first two sets.

So much for the analytics…

Having said that, what a final it was! The longest one in Wimbledon history – and probably one of the most entertaining ones too?!

In the other tie, England defeated New Zealand with a margin as wide as a thin blade of grass.

In sum, when it comes to such close calls, nerves win. And DATA!

Just saying…

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Cover photo credit: Wimbledon.com

How Deliberate Strategy can be your working strategy

How Deliberate Strategy Can Be the Working Strategy!

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The article “Does your business have a working strategy” mentioned three types of strategies that organizations employ to grow and prosper. The subsequent Veracles discussed the first two – Nope and Hope – strategies.

In this post, we discuss the third type. It is called Deliberate Strategy. It focuses on developing a working strategy for your organization. Here we discuss “How deliberate strategy can be the working strategy for your business.”

What is Deliberate Strategy?

Deliberate Strategy is employed in an organization where business executives are:

  • growth-oriented and are looking for new areas of growth, and
  • have the risk propensity to commit resources to new approach

In this approach, businesses invest resources to develop a bespoke strategy tailored specifically to their business context.

In other words, businesses take deliberate steps within the context of their business situation to increase the likelihood of achieving long-term goals.

In short, the business outcome is not left to chance. Every aspect of operating and growing the business is deliberately and meticulously planned.

As a matter of fact, it is like a journey one undertakes to reach a destination.

Let us explain the analogy.

A journey has four parts: a starting point, a destination to reach, the route that takes from the starting point to the destination, and the resources required to undertake and complete the journey under any eventuality.

Likewise, developing a deliberate strategy requires an organization to take the following four actions:

  1. Understand the current business context.
  2. Define business goals.
  3. Develop plan to achieve the business goals from the current business situation.
  4. Commit resources to achieve the business goals while adapting to any changes.

Let us look at these four steps in more detail.

1. Understand the current business context.

This is the first step. The business executives developing a deliberate strategy need to first develop a complete understanding of the current business context with respect to the external business environment.

Initially, this involves obtaining customer intelligence, acknowledging operational capabilities, understanding product portfolio, acquiring competitor insights, and baselining financial metrics. This step will help you get a sense of your core ideology, financial and operational resources, organization strengths, weaknesses, and problem areas.

Why is understanding the business context important?

Because an organization has to first clearly define a business objective in order to achieve the objective. Here, the business context provides a frame of reference to define appropriate business objectives. For example, a firm with annual sales of $10million grappling with scale-up challenges cannot directly aim to become a $1billion organization.

Moreover, the business context serves as the baseline against which the firm can measure and compare the progress.

2. Define business goals.

Now, organizational purpose and vision are the guiding light for business executives defining business goals. The organizational vision will not be achieved if the goals are unclear. Therefore, it is necessary that business goals are clearly defined. Doing so helps the executives to communicate them unambiguously to all layers of the organization.

A well-defined business goal adheres to the QTR [read: Quarter] principle:

  • Quantitative – firstly, it has to be measurable
  • Timebound – secondly, it has to have a definite time frame within which to achieve it
  • Reasonable – and it should realistic, even if difficult, to achieve in the given time frame

To illustrate, here are some examples of some meaningful business goals (set by real-life firms):

  • Grow annual revenues to $865 million at a CAGR of 20% within three years
  • Conquer 5% more market share in our target market by the end of the year
  • Reduce operational costs to realize 15% profitability YoY within two years

At this point, a QTR-based business goal establishes the destination for a business to reach within a stipulated time.

3. Develop plan to acheive the business goals.

This is the third important step. Once the business goal is defined, the CEO and the top management need to put together a route to that end. Here, a customer-centric plan acts as the route.

This step is especially crucial to developing a deliberate strategy. In fact, this is where a Deliberate Strategy differs from a Hope strategy (or any other best practices strategy).

A Hope strategy is forward-designed and forward-implemented.

Whereas, a Deliberate Strategy is backward-designed but forward-implemented.

Let me explain.

A Hope strategy involves employing strategies and best practices that have worked for other businesses. Naturally, these strategies are picked up by an organization and customized for their use and implemented to reach the business goals. Thus, it follows a forward path.

On the contrary, a Deliberate Strategy starts from the end-point, i.e. the business goals. Mainly, it involves figuring out what is required to reach that state and then coming backward by designing a slew of bespoke actions to reach that state. This is how it is backward-designed.

This is the key difference between the two.

4. Commit resources to achieve the business goals while adapting to any changes.

This is the final step. Once the plan is defined and the business strategy is rolled out, the organization commits to the implementation journey along the strategic route.

As we know, a business strategy for an organization exists within the context of its current business situation. However, the business situation is part of the larger business environment. It generally includes the market (which buys) and the industry (which sells) among other stakeholders, like suppliers, regulators, government, and technology.

Meanwhile, the business environment is constantly changing.

Buyers (or customers), sellers (or competitors) and suppliers keep entering and leaving the business environment, like new passengers en route your journey.

Like you, your competitors are also persistently working on their own strategies to grow and capture market share.

Additionally, governments keep looking for newer ways to tax businesses. Also, the regulators are bringing new regulations to safeguard fair competition. Similarly, technological advancements are disrupting the way of doing business.

On the whole, the business environment is continually changing.

Therefore, it is imperative to keep looking for any changes that risk the execution of your bespoke strategy. Accordingly, the business needs to keep collecting data points and reviewing its strategy at regular intervals to ensure that the journey is on the right track.

To sum up, these are the actions that make for a working strategy.

How Veravizion implements Deliberate Strategy?

At Veravizion, we have developed our own framework that we call contextual problem solving with deliberate strategy. This framework facilitates the development of deliberate strategy using a Context-Drivers-Solution-Impact cycle. Also, it applies to any business across industries.

There are many companies that have employed Deliberate Strategies in the past to grow predictably. In particular, 3M, Amazon, Apple, Boeing, Google, Nike, Nordstrom, Procter & Gamble, are a few examples.

While reading the names of these well-known companies, it is easy to think that deliberate strategy works only for the big ones.

However, it is not so.

In reality, most of these companies were virtually a nobody BEFORE implementing deliberate strategies.

Deliberate Strategy

3M were miners. Their earlier venture, started in 1902, to mine corundum failed. In the past, 3M also tried their hands at other things like making sandpaper. They failed less, yet did not succeed like success.

Later, they chose to embrace “innovation and collaboration” as their Deliberate strategy. Today, 3M is known as the world’s most innovative company.

More Examples of Deliberate Strategy…

Here is an interesting example from “Built to Last”, the bestselling book by Jim Collin and Jerry Porras.

Boeing, until 1952, had been building aircraft primarily for the military. They had virtually no presence in the commercial aircraft market. Moreover, Boeing relied heavily on orders from their only major client – the U.S. Air Force – to survive. In short, nobody knew Boeing. Back then, their competitors Douglas Aircraft dominated and ruled the commercial market with their propeller-driven planes. While Boeing wanted to enter the commercial market with a big, fast, advanced, and better-performing aircraft.

If Boeing had followed the Nope strategy, we would never have known of them.

If Boeing had followed Hope strategy, they would have probably leveraged the competitor strategies of the time and would have built a better propeller plane at best.

Instead, Boeing embraced a Deliberate Strategy.

Boeing’s purpose and vision were to be on the leading edge of aeronautics pioneering aviation. Taking inspiration from there, Boeing announced their goal to make a jet plane for the commercial market. No other aircraft company had done that before them. Moreover, such a project was going to cost them about three times their average annual after-tax profit – roughly a quarter of their entire corporate net worth – to develop a prototype for the jet. But Boeing committed to it. Later, the strategy resulted in such fine planes as 707, 727, 737, 747, and 777. Douglas aircraft could never quite catch up to Boeing. Douglas struggled to survive by merging with McDonnell aircraft in 1967. Eventually, Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997.

Apple is a more recent example of a business that became successful by devising and implementing a Deliberate Strategy. Apple believes in “breaking the status-quo”.

The strategy helped them differentiate in the crowded smartphone market and create an enviable position for them. As a result, Apple was the most valuable brand in the world for eight straight years.

To sum it up with key insights…

Deliberate Strategy helps an organization achieve its business objectives in a decisive and predictable manner.

The predictability comes only by acting deliberately.

The whole process is highly intentional, methodical, and purposeful.

And Deliberate Strategy is universal. The above framework would still work if you replace an organization with an individual or an institution.

There are many examples of successful implementation of deliberate strategy in all spheres of life.

Deliberate strategy is the difference between many successes and failures.

An organization’s strategy is its source of sustainable competitive advantage. Should one squander it away by following someone else’s strategy? What do you think?

You can also subscribe to our blog – Veracles – to receive interesting articles and insights in email. We would love to read your perspectives and comments on that.

Do follow Veravizion on LinkedInTwitter or Facebook to receive easy updates.

Cover photo credit: Brad Wetzler

Other photos: 3M.com, Boeing.com, Apple.com

Can Hope be a Real Business Strategy?

Can Hope be a Real Business Strategy?

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The last Veracle was third of the six on business strategy. It tried to answer whether a business can still win with no strategy. While there are businesses that do not employ any strategy, one can witness more businesses following hope as a strategy. The hope strategy looks like this – let us take these actions that similar businesses take, and hopefully, we will achieve our objectives. So, the perplexing question here is – Can HOPE be a real business strategy?

What is Hope Strategy?

Hope strategy is one where businesses do a lot of the same activities in the hope that it will help them grow.

Hope strategy is most frequently observed in businesses where:

  • business executives are keen for the positive growth outcome,
  • but are not inclined to commit resources required for it.

Now, this seems counter-intuitive.

When a business executive is keen to grow a business, they would naturally want to invest resources to grow, right?! Not quite.

Ideally, business executives have two options to grow their business:

  1. Invest resources to develop a bespoke strategy tailored to their business context and implement it meticulously.
  2. Employ ideas, strategies, and best practices implemented before them by similar businesses in their industry.

The first option mentioned above is to develop a bespoke strategy. That is, this is Deliberate Strategy for your business. This option may appear costlier, at least in the short term, as it involves investing resources in designing a new strategy from scratch. But it isn’t. We will discuss this option later in the next Veracle.

The second option, which involves employing ideas, strategies, and best practices of similar businesses, appears to provide a proven path to progress in the short term.

Ironically, many businesses tend to take the second option out of the misplaced belief that the strategies that have worked for other businesses will work for theirs too. It is far too common to hear, “it has worked for them, why won’t it work for us?”

This belief is the basis for the hope strategy.

However, the problem is that the second option does not sound wrong.

Let us recall “the ship’s voyage” metaphor (cited in the previous Veracle) where we had likened a business to a ship sailing on a voyage to its destination.

The second option is akin to setting the course of a ship by looking at the lights of passing ships. In ship lore, this is a terrible blunder.

Likewise, setting the strategic direction of a business by looking at the strategies employed by similar businesses is a huge mistake.

That is why the second option is deceptive.

In short, what may have worked for other businesses, may not work for yours. This is because the business contexts are very different.

This is the key insight.

How to recognize Hope Strategy?

Businesses following a hope strategy exhibit three symptoms:

  1. Lack of clarity about self-identity
  2. Frequent change in the strategic direction. Taking actions on whims.
  3. Business running in a perpetual reactive fire-fighting mode

When a business has not developed a bespoke strategy of their own, they tend to adopt the strategies and best practices from the leading companies in their industry. In the worse cases, they adopt spur-of-the-moment ideas as strategies.

As a result, there is stress on doing a lot of those things and doing them right. There are too many initiatives and employees are working on too many pursuits simultaneously (without conviction).

Eventually, this approach causes them to lose their core identity over time.

While the business itself might be operating successfully, pursuing too many things causes frequent changes in direction.

Such a business might continue operating until the time it is able to innovate and satiate customer demands. However, the lack of a strategic direction coupled with any external challenges triggers the inevitable declining spiral.

Sony and Yahoo, are two of the many examples of businesses following hope strategy and declining.

Sony, with its miniaturization strategy, was at the top of the music industry before the digital era began. Digitalization happened in the early 2000s and there was a new trend of (illegally) downloading music online. Despite having the technology to launch a product for digital music, Sony did not invest in it. Sony only hoped that the trend would go away, eventually letting their music products business getting doomed.

Let us discuss Yahoo! in more detail.

Yahoo! is another case of how a pioneering business floundered in just hoping that some strategy would emerge.

InitiallYahoo! started in 1994 as a one stop shop web portal where it brought together news and other online services helping users navigate the internet. So, in a way, it was a gateway to the internet for most users of the time.

Exhibit 1 shows Yahoo homepage of 1994 when it was launched.

Can Hope be a Real Business Strategy?

During late 1990s (and early 2000s), it was an undisputed leader of the web with its email, online search and news. The company not only survived the dot com crash of 2000, its sales climbed multi-fold between 2001 and 2008 (as shown by the share price rise in Exhibit 2).

Can Hope be a Real Business Strategy?

In early 2008, Microsoft intended to acquire Yahoo for $44.6 billion, an offer Yahoo formally rejected citing shareholder’s interest. Eventually, Verizon acquired Yahoo, once worth almost $125 billion, for $4.8 billion, underscoring the company’s fall.

So, what went wrong? How does a good company like Yahoo fail so miserably?

Numerous reasons have been put forth to explain Yahoo’s failure. Here are some of the prominent ones:

  • Yahoo was jack of all trades, master of none. They tried to do many things – Yahoo Search, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo News, and Yahoo Sports among others – but didn’t focus on being best in one.
  • Yahoo remained the same portal it was a decade ago and did not innovate.
  • Yahoo was late to mobile, according to a senior editor at Harvard business review
  • They did not focus on hiring the right talent; Yahoo apparently short-changed engineering, and media people were viewed more important, according to an EECS professor at Michigan.
  • Yahoo failed as Marissa Mayer could not perform the turnaround.

All these reasons seem right. And, it is easy to blame Marissa Mayer, who was at the helm from 2012 to 2017, for the ultimate decline.

But the real reason goes much deeper, and much earlier than that.

A close observation of the above five points reveal that these are symptoms of one common underlying cause: While doing so many things, Yahoo kept praying that something will work, some strategy will emerge, and they will survive.

The above conclusion may sound too simplistic, almost frivolous.

However, lack of a clear explicit strategy explains all the above symptoms.

Issue with Self-Identity

Yahoo started as a web portal and generated most of its revenue from selling advertising on the different service platforms it created. The key Yahoo services became so popular at one time that they started treating themselves as a media company, rather than a technology company.

There was a lack of clarity about self-identity.

So, the focus of hiring and talent retention philosophy kept shifting from engineering to media. As a result, Yahoo failed to innovate and remained the same portal even after a decade. Meanwhile, Google and Facebook hired top engineers (doing core programming) and leapfrogged Yahoo with better sleeker products. Gmail beat Yahoo Mail, Google Search outperformed Yahoo Search, and WhatsApp surpassed Yahoo Messenger impacting Yahoo sales.

As a company strategy, Yahoo started taking mobile seriously only after 2012, whereas other competing businesses already had an operational mobile strategy by then. Google’s Eric Schmidt mentioned mobile as one of their strategic areas in as early as 2006.

What about Strategic Direction?

The lack of strategic direction is evident considering Yahoo saw 8 CEOs in 20 years, and 6 CEOs within just 4 years. Founder and CEO Jerry Yang stepped down in December 2008 citing conflict of opinion in terms of strategic direction. His successor, Carol Bartz, openly admitted that she also grappled with the question of what Yahoo is, when she took over in 2009.

The acutest confirmation of lack of explicit strategy came during Marissa Mayer tenure when she spent over $2 billion binge acquiring 53 mobile-based companies, none of them really successful. Check out Exhibit-3 to see if you can identify some of them.

Can Hope be a Real Business Strategy?

In summary, it can be said that Yahoo! grappled with a clear explicit strategy for a very long time. Over the years, the CEOs just pursued what seemed right at the time hoping that some strategy would emerge. In the end, the hope strategy did them in.

Having said thus, it is appropriate to add here that it is very convenient to retrospectively dissect businesses and tell what went wrong. Wouldn’t it be more useful (for you and your business) if you knew the right way to define strategy, and more importantly, be able to tell whether it is going well? The next two Veracles attempt to do just that.

You can also subscribe to our blog – Veracles – to receive interesting articles and insights in email. We would love to read your perspectives and comments on that.

Do follow Veravizion on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to receive easy updates.

Cover photo credit: hbu.edu

Can a business still win with a Nope Strategy

Can a business still win with a Nope Strategy?

Veravizion 2 comments

The Nope Strategy is first of the three types discussed in the previous Veracle titled “Does your business have a working strategy”. It raises a pertinent question, “Can a business still win with a Nope Strategy?”

To give you a quick recap, we read that a business suffers with Nope Strategy when its business-executives:

  • do not want to lose the status quo, so they just want to protect their turf rather than look for new areas of predictable growth, and
  • do not commit any resources for new growth strategy

What happens at a business that has no growth strategy?

Three things ensue –

When a business has no clear strategy, it does not have a specific direction to pursue nor a plan to communicate to its employees.

In such a scenario, the employees do not feel connected by any common long-term objective (even if there is one). Employees tend to work in a silo and perform their tasks on a tactical day-to-day level.

Gradually, the organisation loses track of what customers want. As the business lacks any formal strategy, it is not able to cope when there is an external change (in the micro- or macro-economic environment) like change in customer buying preferences or a change in technology.

When that happens at a company having Nope Strategy, the change triggers the downfall and eventual close-down of the business.

Let me explain this situation with “the ship’s voyage” metaphor.

When a ship sets sail on a voyage, its port of destination is known. And, the captain must work out and navigate the right route to reach the port of destination.

Similarly, a business operates with an aim to achieve certain objective. And, the business executives must design and implement the right strategy to achieve the objective.

A ship must keep sailing along the planned route to reach its port of destination. A ship without a planned route slowly strays eventually losing steam, stalls, and sinks.

Likewise, a business must keep operating with the right strategy to achieve its objectives. A business without a strategy eventually runs out of resources, falters, and fails.

Unfortunately, there are many examples of once brilliant businesses failing and going bankrupt because of having no credible strategy.

Some Examples

that’s cute – but don’t tell anyone about it.

That was the Kodak management’s reaction when their engineer invented the first digital camera. Yes, Kodak invented the first digital camera. However, it was predominantly a film-based business. The management did not see the need for any growth strategy nor did they invest any resources in it. They were insistent on protecting their film-based business. Even when customers started dumping film for digital cameras, Kodak refused to have any strategy to tackle the change, and eventually went bankrupt in 2012.

Similarly, Hitachi, and Macy’s had no credible digital strategy, so when the digital revolution happened, these once immensely popular brands lost their way.

Sears was a huge success running its chain of general departmental stores. However, when Walmart and Kmart made the large retail stores popular, Sears had no strategy to adapt to the change, and faltered.

How Nokia killed Nokia?

Let us take a deeper look into an example of a well-known business that hardly had a strategy when faced with a market change.

In October 1998, Nokia became the best-selling mobile phone brand on the planet. As shown in Exhibit 1, Nokia’s operating profits steadily rose (along with its share price) from 1995 to 2000. During the early years of the millennium, early smartphones started crowding the mobile market, which somewhat hit the Nokia share price. Nevertheless, the share price kept rising with the popularity of Symbian-OS.

Until 2007, Nokia’s Symbian-OS was the undisputed market leader with 60% smartphone market share (see Exhibit 2).

What happened after that is interesting!

On June 29th, 2007, Apple launched iPhone, and in mid-2008, Google partnered with other smartphone manufacturers to capture the smartphones market via Android-OS.

This was the start of the steady decline for Nokia smartphones.

As shown in Exhibit-3, Android (in rising blue line) was grabbing the smartphones market so far dominated by Nokia (in declining yellow line). Over the next few years, Nokia witnessed one of the most painful declines in business history. While this was happening, Nokia hardly had any strategy to stem the fall (even considering the launch of Nokia N97, dubbed the iPhone killer).

Nokia just appears to be at a loss about its strategy.

The downfall and eventual demise of Nokia’s smartphone business (in 2013) lies in the fact that they did not have any strategy to counter the onslaught of newer smartphones.

This observation is echoed by Dr. Yves Doz, INSEAD Emeritus Professor of Strategic Management, in his book Ringtone: Exploring the Rise and Fall of Nokia in Mobile Phones. The reasons mentioned in the book allude to an absence of a unified growth strategy and deterioration of strategic thinking within Nokia management.

According to Dr. Doz, Nokia was in strategic stasis that was visible in symptoms such as dysfunctional organisational structure, growing bureaucracy, and management infighting.

This implies that a business cannot survive for long without a strategy.

Does this mean, then, that a business is likely to do well, as long as it is able to “keep sailing the ship in some direction?”. This will be discussed in the next Veracle on “Hope Strategy”.

You can also subscribe to our blog – Veracles – to receive interesting articles and insights in email. We would love to read your perspectives and comments on that.

Do follow Veravizion on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to receive easy updates.

Cover photo credit: tracy morgan on Unsplash

Does your business have a working strategy

Does Your Business Have a Working Strategy?

Veravizion 4 comments

The previous Veracle discussed whether strategy is really indispensable for businesses. It ends with a few reflective questions for business people.

One of the questions relates to the types of strategies adopted by businesses. No, it does not refer to the cost-based, differentiation-based stuff. It refers to types of strategies at a more fundamental, and practical, level.

The question asks whether your business has a working strategy.

What is a working strategy?

We know that a strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve long-term goals.

A working strategy is a plan of action that incorporates the components essential to achieve the goals.

Before we discuss components of a working strategy, let us first understand the strategies businesses typically employ.

A close observation of businesses reveals interesting insights about the strategies they use to operate and grow.

Such strategies classify into three types.

  1. Nope Strategy
  2. Hope Strategy
  3. Deliberate Strategy

The names given to these strategies might sound ludicrous, but the underlying phenomena are visible all around us.

The first two approaches in the list above are examples of what not to do. Yet, this is what many businesses still do.

The third approach focuses on developing a working strategy. This is the strategy successful businesses implement.

The three types of strategies are different based on the attitudes of executives running the businesses. The difference comes from two factors. First, “the need for predictability of positive outcome”, and second, “the risk propensity to commit resources to grow”.

The need for predictability of positive outcomes

The need for predictability of positive outcomes means whether the executives are keen to consciously make the growth happen, rather than leaving it to uncertainty in the face of a constantly changing business environment.

In simple words, executives’ need for predictability of positive outcomes is high when they are growth-oriented and cannot tolerate uncertainty for long. And executives’ need for predictability of positive outcomes is low when they are cost-saving oriented and are afraid to lose what they currently have.

For instance, Kodak is an example where the top management was cost-saving oriented. They were afraid to lose their film business and so, were reluctant to look beyond film for future growth areas.

The risk propensity to commit resources

The risk propensity to commit resources for growth means the willingness of business executives to expend resources – energy, money, and efforts – to consciously make the growth happen.

To illustrate, Xerox and Sony help us explain this phenomenon.

Xerox was actually the first company to invent the PC. Surprised? But, it is true.

Yet, they did not commit resources to its advancement thereby losing the market share to Apple. Smith and Alexander even wrote a book about Xerox called: “Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, then Ignored, the First Personal Computer.”

On similar lines, Sony actually had the technology to launch a product even better than the iPod. But the executives were too afraid to commit resources to test out something new, eventually losing to – guess who? Apple again.

So, how do these two factors influence Nope, Hope, and Deliberate Strategies?

Nope strategy” is one where business executives have an operational business but have no real working strategy to grow the business. The business executives are oriented towards protecting what they already have, rather than creating new areas of strategic growth.

Nokia and Kodak are two prominent examples of companies failing to Nope Strategy.

Nokia is discussed at length in the next Veracle.

In the “Hope strategy” approach, business executives are keen on the positive growth outcome but are not inclined to commit the resources required for it. The executives operate the business by doing a lot of the same things. The business has some inexplicit approach that is rooted in the belief that if a business follows the industry best practices and adopts the prevalent marketing trends, it should grow.

On probing them, one hears an implicit hope that a working strategy will somehow emerge from the many best practices followed.

Hope strategy is a bit tricky because it does not sound wrong. Here, the business outcome is unpredictable because it varies based on many environmental factors.

What about Deliberate Strategy?

Deliberate strategy, on the other hand, is interesting. Here, an organization devises a plan of action that includes the components of a working strategy. This is to make it work in the context of its environment. It includes defining a specific business objective that is both measurable and achievable. Thereafter, the business develops a deliberate plan that serves as a working strategy to achieve that business objective.

Apple’s growth over the last decade is evidence of how deliberate strategy succeeds. Amazon is another example of a firm growing in this manner.

At Veravizion, we believe in employing a deliberate strategy to help our clients define and achieve their business objectives. Businesses have too many resources at stake to not employ a strategy that truly works.

Circling back to working strategy…

A working strategy, then, is one that assists an organization to achieve its business objectives in a predictable manner.

Predictability is the key.

That is why deliberate strategy is important!

In the next three Veracles, we will dig deeper to understand the attributes of each type of the strategies. We will discuss these with examples to find out the strategy that works.

You can also subscribe to our blog – Veracles – to receive interesting articles and insights in email. We would love to read your perspectives and comments on that.

Do follow Veravizion on LinkedInTwitter or Facebook to receive easy updates.

Cover photo credit: photo by ricardo frantz on Unsplash

Is business strategy really indispensable?

Is business strategy really indispensable?

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Why do I need a business strategy?

Recently, the chief executive of a retail business asked me this question. Let us first understand what strategy is!

In simple words, strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve long-term goals.

People apply strategy in many different contexts. For instance, military, sports, and business are some areas where strategy is necessary to win.

In the military, strategy is essential to win a war. It allows armed forces to plan military operations – offensive and defensive – in order to gain battlefield advantage over enemies, and achieve goals of national (and global) security.

In sports, strategy is essential to win a game. It allows sportspersons to devise a game-plan in order to gain an on-field advantage over rival teams, and win a match.

In business, strategy is essential to be profitable and grow over the long term. It allows organizations to develop business models and design operational processes in order to gain a competitive advantage, and achieve goals of financial security.

Coming back to the question then, is business strategy really indispensable?

For a moment, let us hypothesize about situations when strategy may not be important.

What if you are the general of an army having limitless troops and tanks? Or, the coach of a sports team having boundless talent and practice hours? Or, the CEO of a business having unlimited resources?

These situations might tempt us into thinking that one can easily trump the opponent without needing a strategy if one has unlimited resources.

In reality, organizations always have limited resources.

Even if organizations have resources in huge numbers, they are always finite in quantity.

Military organizations have a finite number of soldiers, shooting weapons, and shells.

Sports teams have a finite number of players, play paraphernalia, and practice periods.

Business firms have a finite number of competencies, capacities, and capital.

So, when you have something in a limited amount, what do you do? You find ways and mechanisms to use it judiciously such that you achieve your objective before expending the resources entirely.

Strategy is that mechanism!

In short, Strategy is important because resources are always finite!

To clarify, here is an interesting way to look at it.

The right strategy assists you in allocating your finite resources in such a way that you can build a competitive advantage against your rivals of any size, and can still win.

There is a gem of insight in that last sentence in case you missed it.

Strategy is the concept that helps you use your resources wisely and effectively. It allows you to prudently allocate your resources where they can deliver the maximum possible returns.

Some Examples

There are numerous examples in the military, sports, and business where a smaller team has implemented the right strategy to beat a disproportionately larger opponent.

History books are replete with instances of battles where a very small army has defeated a large one by employing strategic maneuvers. The battle of Longewala, the battle at Rezang La, Napolean’s 1812 invasion of Russia, and the 1775 battle of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts are few such examples.

Sports archives are awash with games won by employing a tangible strategy; such games were called the biggest upsets of the time as a strategy was a late entrant in the world of sports as compared to some of the other fields. Here are three examples:

In the final of 1950 world cup football, Uruguay beat Brazil by keeping the game simple, focused, and warlike. Brazil was the hot favourites to win the game. Uruguay team was under no pressure and their captain asked the team to play a no-holds-barred natural attacking game, which they did.

In the final of the 1983 ICC world cup, the underdogs India beat consecutive three-time finalists (and two-time champions) West Indies by playing to the team’s strength of disciplined bowling.

One of the best examples of strategy winning a sports match is the “Miracle on Ice” game during the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. In this medal-round game, the United States team consisting exclusively of amateur players (but following military-style discipline) beat the four-time defending gold medallists the Soviet Union that consisted primarily of professional players.

Examples from Business World

The business world is full of case studies of businesses devising deliberate strategies, developing sustainable competitive advantage, and capturing significant market share on their road to business growth. Here are two examples of businesses winning on strategy:

Blockbuster was founded in 1985 as a video (VHS) rental company. Within 15 years, it had 6,500 video rental stores around the US and revenues upwards of $5 billion. Netflix began operations in 1999 and led its strategy based on people’s video-watching preferences. Netflix devised a highly customer-centric strategy that included subscription-based charges and no late fees, among other things. As a result, customers could watch a video for as long as they wanted or return it and get a new one. By end of 2010, blockbuster was bankrupt while Netflix, on the back of its deliberate customer-centric strategy, is worth more than $150 billion today.

In the late 1980s, the sales of carbonated soft drinks were at a high. It would be foolish to introduce yet another drink in the fiercely competitive market. Yet, Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz partnered with a Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya to introduce a new drink named Red Bull. Predictably, sales were (s)low during the initial years. That’s when the co-founder defined a strategy sharply focused on a chosen market segment. To that effect, Red Bull was positioned as an energy drink for students and adventure enthusiasts. The strategy would eventually help the business increase annual sales to 6.79 billion cans in 2018. As a result, Mateschitz became the 31st richest person in the world.

These and many such examples signify that strategy is extremely important because organizations are invariably resource-constrained.

So what?

On this note, some meaningful follow-up questions to ask would be: Is any strategy good enough? Does your business have a working strategy? Are you able to explain it clearly?

You can also subscribe to our blog – Veracles – to receive interesting articles and insights in email. We would love to read your perspectives and comments on that.

Do follow Veravizion on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, to receive easy updates.

Cover photo credit: photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Top analytics trends 2017

Top analytics trends 2017 – An INFOGRAPHIC

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Here are the top analytics trends 2017 for businesses based on what industry and our clients are saying.

These trends reveal a pattern similar to the one observed last year. Embedded BI facilitates the analytics of everything on demand. Moreover, application of IoT devices continues to increase rapidly. Gartner estimates that 20.8 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020.

While analytics, IoT and their applications in business continue to permeate deeper, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is gaining further attention.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning is also the number 1 among the 2017 strategic technology trends report published by Gartner.

Until a few years back, mid-size organizations hardly considered AI as a possible solution to any of their problems. However, the pressure on margins due to increasing competitiveness fueled by online players is making it imperative for all businesses, big and small, to be more efficient.

Besides analytics, IOT, and AI, there is one interesting trend that silently continues to grow and intensify because of how human beings are evolving – the urgent need for clear, relevant, and crisp visualization of data.

According to a research by scientists, human attention span is shrinking so much that even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. The study by Microsoft says that average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, (or around the time the mobile revolution began), to 8.25 seconds in 2015.

While the comparison with the attention span of goldfish is debatable, the underlying insight – that humans are less attentive than ever before – hardly is. Powerful visualization of information remains the key.

Another trend catching the attention of businesses is the use of predictive analytics. In today’s uncertain business environment, companies want the ability to forecast future business performance based on the past. Predictive analytics tries to answer questions such as: What is likely to happen tomorrow? How can we make the business improve? Consequently, predictive and prescriptive analytics are among the most discussed analytics trends among the professionals.

In summary, smart businesses are recognizing the contribution of analytics (and the associated technologies) in their ongoing success. The top analytics trends 2017 continue to reflect this new reality. Unfortunately, Business analytics talent is scarce. Companies are struggling to hire (and afford) the right people that will help them realize the true benefits of analytics. This makes it ever-more critical to engage with partners that will bring on-board the right combination of computing know-how, analytical and visualization skills, and business acumen.

So, here are the top analytics trends 2017 at a glance. Do read-on, review and respond.

Download PDF of Analytics top trends 2017

Top analytics trends 2017

Top analytics trends 2017

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Analytics in Healthcare - A Case study. Image of a medical professional using analytics in complex medical procedures

Analytics in Healthcare: A Veravizion Case Study

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This article isn’t just about the application of analytics in healthcare. It is about how healthcare industry is harnessing analytics to evaluate the latest innovations in healthcare technology. Such as evaluation can help leaders in healthcare make policy decisions about embracing the new technology.

Techno-medical innovations

Over the last couple of decades, there have been quite a few noteworthy technological advancements in healthcare industry. For example, Electronic health records (EHRs); HAART for HIV combined drug therapy; minimally invasive surgery; needle-free injection technology; MRI, genomics; and non-invasive diagnostics.

These innovations are extraordinary because they are disrupting the way healthcare professionals can diagnose and treat patients in a better, faster, and safer way.

One such technological advancement was endoscopic surgery or minimally invasive surgery. This innovation revolutionized the way healthcare surgeons perform surgeries now. Knowledge@Wharton once ranked it tenth among the “Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years” list.

The conventional surgical procedures were highly invasive, riskier, painful, and time-consuming. They required long post-operative hospital stays and longer recovery times. Thanks to technological innovations, today, patients have an option of choosing either robotic surgery or endoscopic (non-robotic) surgery. These new methods result in much shorter recovery times, less pain, and dramatically reduced scarring.  This augurs well for patients who are looking to return back to work quickly.

Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

Many hospitals and cardiac care centers worldwide are evaluating the efficacy of the newer – minimal invasive approach – for specific cardiac surgical procedures.

The conventional cardiac valve repair/replacement surgery involved opening up a patient with an 18 to 20 cm vertical incision at the sternum. The newer minimally invasive procedure involves approaching the heart through a much smaller horiontal incision. This incision (or a key-hole) under the right breast is only up to 7cm.

The new cardiac procedures are more complex for surgeons to perform as the area of access (to heart) narrows down drastically compared to the wider access that the conventional surgery allows. Nevertheless, the new procedure is believed to more beneficial. The benefits involve less bleeding, lower risk of infection, faster recovery times, and lesser expenses for patients.

MinInv-mod

 

Analytics in Healthcare – A Case Study

Our client# had been studying the effectiveness of the new method of cardiac surgery compared to the conventional way of performing the same procedure. The study allowed them to enroll patients for one of the two types of procedures. This enrolling depended upon a number of physiological and health factors of each patient.

They performed the study over a period of three years and recorded the observations. The observed data included the type of procedure performed along with a number of associated output parameters such as hospital stay duration and pain levels experienced, among many others. We chose a power of 80%; we randomized the data for detailed analysis.

Our analysts collaborated closely with the client to understand the nature and significance of each output parameter. We identified the right statistical tools and techniques to be applied based on the nature and type of the data to analyse. The statistical significance level for the analyses 5%.

The results were examined in detail both for statistical and clinical significance. We cross-checked the statistical test results quantitatively as well as qualitatively with subject matter experts for completeness and correctness in order to arrive at unambiguous conclusions. Each conclusion shared with the client was solidly backed with data. The results would help them make a fact-based policy decision to embrace the newer procedure for their center.

Going beyond the statistical analysis, a predictive model was developed based on the results of the initial study. The predictive model would assist the client in determining the right approach to adopt for a future patient depending upon a number of factors. This is expected to improve the cardiac procedural outcome at the healthcare center.

Application of analytics in healthcare

Predictive modeling using machine learning is a powerful technique that helps in forecasting a probable outcome based on empirical data. Predictive modeling and analytics has tremendous potential in healthcare to improve the overall quality of patient care services. Analytics has shown promise to all the constituents involved in the healthcare sector viz. patients, physicians/surgeons, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and public health professionals.

  • Patients – more aware of self-health

Some of the uses of predictive analytics include increased accuracy of diagnosis, early detection of a disease condition in at-risk patients using genomics, and evidence based medicine. In general, with the proliferation of wearables, patients can be more aware and assured of their own physical conditions.

  • Physicians/Surgeons – increase diagnostic accuracy

When a patient is visiting a physician complaining chest pain, it is often difficult for the physician to know whether the person needs hospitalization. If the doctor is using a well-tested predictive diagnostic system, in which he can accurately input the patient’s physical and clinical condition, then the system can assist the physician make an informed judgement.

On the treatment side, a physician can follow a patient’s data (or EHRs) for many years and can prescribe a treatment regime tailored to the patient’s specific condition. As a result, this fact-based treatment reduces the probability of causing any major side effects.

  • Hospitals – improve patient care with low mortality rates

Like the case study narrated above, predictive analytics can help hospitals and research centers in evaluating the efficacy of various procedures and treatments. This can help in improving the mortality and morbidity rates during the post-op period.

  • Pharmaceutical Companies – bring new more effective drugs to market faster

Researching a new drug and conducting a clinical trial for the new drug are two very lengthy, costly and resource intensive processes for pharma companies. The R&D process for pharma companies can become more productive by leveraging the power of machine learning to systematically test the mixtures of existing proven molecular components. This may help in identifying new drugs with higher probability for success. Moreover, predictive modeling can be implemented to test the effectiveness of new drugs in a faster and less expensive manner. This will not only help them bring the drug to the market more quickly, but will also reduce the overall healthcare costs per patient significantly.

  • Insurance Companies – reduce cost of insurance

Healthcare insurance service providers can implement predictive analytics models to better forecast insurance cost for individuals. Presently, the insurance cost is more a function of a person’s age, current medical condition, and the ‘plan’ they are opting for.

Now, advancements in medical technology have made it possible to make genetic information and other healthcare related data easily available. Insurance providers can make use of this information to arrive at future medical expenses for a person. Also, they can make more informed decisions about the insurance costs associated with that individual. This will be a more realistic assessment of insurance needs for a person. Thus, it will be beneficial to both sides in terms of provisions to be made.

  • Public Health (Professionals)

The World Health Organization defines public health as all privately and publicly sponsored measures to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. Here, analytics can be implemented in predicting early detection of pandemics and flu outbreaks. GoogleFlu was a project which estimated Flu and Dengue fever based on search patterns. While the project is not publishing anymore, empirical data is available for research purposes.

Conclusion

While application of analytics in healthcare is possible in all spheres of patient care, it is more about leveraging the power of analytics in rapidly evaluating the true value of techno-medical innovations for human benefits. Analytics makes it possible to make fact-based decisions about adopting it. Moreover, it also helps internalizing these latest technological advancements that promises to help us lead a quality life for a few years more.

References:

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu: a-world-transformed-what-are-the-top-30-innovations-of-the-last-30-years/

http://pharmajet.com: significant medical innovations of the past 20 years

Cover image credit: ©Pharmajet

# Client names and other details are confidential


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Top Analytics Trends 2016 for SMBs

Top Analytics Trends 2016 for SMBs

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Like last year, we bring to you top analytics trends 2016 for SMBs. These trends are based on what industry stalwarts and our clients are saying.

A quick comparison with last year’s trends reveals that some trends continue to evolve. Topics like Deep learning, Self-service-BI, or Cognitive computing are some latest ones being discussed. Nonetheless, others are rapidly gravitating towards some common theme.

One such theme is ‘Big Data Analytics’. More and more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs in short) are going digital. They are embracing analytics and leveraging their data to turn insights into higher revenues, reduced costs, and overall business growth. According to analysts, the big data analytics market is expected to reach nearly $50B by 2019.

Our Trends focus on the applicability of these technologies to small and medium business (SMB) organizations. As we know, technology plays a vital role in running a business successfully. Yet, some of these emerging technologies are not immediately relevant to SMBs. While it can be helpful to develop an awareness of these technologies, very few SMBs are actually going to use them. For example, the uses of 3D printing or AI in 2016.

This year, we have identified nine top analytics trends that are most relevant to SMBs.

1. More SMBs use analytics for business benefits.

Until a few years back, big data (analytics) was more hype than reality. Google was awash with searches involving keywords centered on ‘Big Data’. However, over the last couple of years, analytics has left the hype curve to provide real value. Today, analytics is everywhere.

Earlier, SMBs were not too savvy about maintaining the data of their customers, product orders, and suppliers. This was largely because of the costs involved in the data storage without the apparent benefit of maintaining the data. However, with the data explosion through various media over the last couple of years and with the availability of custom-analytics providers, they woke to the possibility of utilizing their data for getting answers to some key questions around their businesses. As the benefits started becoming visible – in terms of exponential business growth in a few cases – SMBs started focusing on analytics and become more data-driven to improve their business results.

However, making this data meaningful and easy to understand is still a challenge for many. We think that 2016 will be the year that small-scale analytics will really take off for SMBs, as it allows them to leverage their data from disparate data sources for their business benefits.

2. Internet of Things (IoT) enters our daily lives.

This is what Nikola Tesla said in a 1926 interview with Colliers magazine:

Top Analytics Trends 2016 - Internet of Things globe pic
IoT world

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole… and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

How it has become a reality less than a century later!

The Internet of Things (IoT) in its current form proliferated with the surge in low cost sensors embedded with Bluetooth wireless capability onto a small chip. And it is rapidly evolving from the realm of fascinating gizmos to real-world utility gadgets. Many leading companies such as Google, Amazon, Cisco, Dell, and TI have developed their versions of IoT products. There are already some cool IoT devices like Nest, Fitbit, and Belkin, to name just a few, that are vying for consumers’ attention in the market.

So what’s in it for SMBs?

In terms of Google trends shown in Exhibit-A, IoT today is where big data analytics was around 4-years back. Gartner forecasts that there will be 6.4 billion internet-connected things in 2016. Although the potential of IoT is huge, few SMBs consider it their ‘critical’ priority for investment at the moment. For them, it is still a nice buzzword. There is still time before every visible thing will have a sensor attached to it that will communicate with your servers in real-time. Meanwhile, SMBs are willing to watch and ride the hype-cycle.

Top Analytics Trends 2016 - IoT interest over time (Google graph)

3. Predictive analytics to address cybersecurity concerns.

As SMBs expand their technology footprint to run their business operations, the need to secure and protect data grows. Data security and privacy concerns continue to exist among small and large business organizations. However, many SMBs feel challenged and intimidated to deal with the rising complexity of cybersecurity breaches. Companies are normally content with the conventional approach of putting defensive mechanisms to ward off security risks. However, with technology advancements, the security breaches have also become more sophisticated and more risky wherever consumer data is involved.

While large organizations invest heavily into advanced (read: expensive) security mechanisms, SMBs do not have the luxury to do so. Nevertheless, they are now custom-developing predictive analytic models to proactively monitor log files and other user data sources to detect any threat perception or breach alerts. Clustering algorithms can help them identify anomalies in user login or other events which can be recorded on an ongoing basis. 2016 is likely to see an increase in the application of predictive analytics to deal with cybersecurity concerns.

4. Machine Learning algorithms foster man-machine collaboration.

We are entering the ‘smart’ era – smart people working alongside smart machines in smart cities. IDC¹ predicts that companies will spend more than $60 billion on cognitive solutions by 2025. Theoretically, machine learning algorithms based on neural network and AI have existed for a long time. However, their widespread application in everyday life is getting acceptance only now. This is made possible due to the tremendous increase in processing power that enables real-time split-second decision making.

Machine learning algorithms are currently being employed primarily in retail industry. With more people shopping across multiple channels looking for lowest prices, machine learning algorithms will become very popular in implementing dynamic pricing and devising on-the-spot offers in retail stores to retain the buyer.

For example, during this year’s holiday shopping season, leading retailers such as Amazon and Walmart were relying heavily on algorithmic pricing. Both retailers re-priced 15% of 18,000 product SKUs being tracked by a pricing intelligence solution on November 14th alone. These algorithms will be the backbone of any and every e-commerce business striving to win and retain customers.

[Example credit: Forbes]

5. Rising smartphone and tablet penetration continues to increase consumer mobility.

According to a comScore – Morgan Stanley research, mobile users globally have surpassed desktop users at the beginning of 2014. Rising mobile adoption, among people of all ages, impacts consumer purchasing patterns in a big way. With the increasing mobility, SMBs view mobile apps as a way to reach and engage end-users. SMB Group’s 2014 SMB Mobile Solutions Study indicates 59% of SMBs view mobile solutions and services as ‘critical’ to their business.

6. Hybrid cloud options still complex for SMBs.

2015 saw cloud making deep inroads into data-centers, data warehouses, centralized storages, and servers. SMB group’s market study shows that the cloud is poised to overtake on-premises deployment in the next year in areas such as collaboration, file sharing and marketing automation.

However, SMBs are largely using public cloud and staying away from private (or hybrid) cloud options because of the lack of clarity. Microsoft, Dell, and IBM have their own cloud platforms as hybrid cloud options however they do not yet seem to provide a compelling proposition for SMBs to embrace.

7. Omni-Channel integration or cross-device challenge?

Omni-channel is not a buzzword anymore given the availability of multiple screens every customer has. People have indicated that they love to shop across channels. So, more and more brands are going omni-channel way in a bid to woo consumers and to help them buy in their preferred channels. Brands are applying strategies like location based analytics to make relevant offers when consumers are in the vicinity of their stores. Businesses (like Macy’s or Virgin) that offer a unified omni-channel experience to their customers appear to have a competitive edge over others that cannot.

However, in a March 2015 study by Signal, 51% of marketers worldwide reported that they did not have a single view of customers, and only 6% of marketers worldwide reported they had an adequate single view of customers or prospects across all devices and touchpoints.

From our perspective, this year businesses will make this decision of whether they will play the omni-channel game and how.

8. Real analytics talent is (still) scarce.

According to the 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review survey² of business executives, managers and analytics professionals, 49% of respondents, who believe analytics creates competitive advantage for their organization, say that their company lacks appropriate analytics talent. While there is no dearth of analytics CVs in the market, very few of those appear to have real data science skills. In reality, companies need data scientists who possess the rounded knowledge of computer science, algorithms, math-statistics, business, and analytical skills.

Organizations that hire the less than appropriately skilled analysts end up wasting more than just money without any real benefits accrued. This is the reason more than 50% of analytically challenges organizations have stated that they outsource analytical services to external consultants or organizations, according to the survey.

Smart companies are realizing that analytical talent is critical to their success and in short supply, but more than 40 percent struggle with finding the talent they need. There seems to be a growing belief among SMBs that it is best to focus on customers to grow business leaving the necessary analysis tech work to specialists.

9. Visualization will be vital to SMBs application of analytics.

Data and the insights from that data are no more relegated only to the analysts. Business owners and SMB executives want to visualize their data to understand ‘what’s really going on’ in their business. And they want to do it in minimum possible time to be able to focus on the more important aspect of applying those insights for the improvement of their business. Business analytics in the SMB space is likely to stop being just a set of bar- and pie-based charts, and will be more multi-variate and intuitive. SMBs will demand more from the analysts in terms of visualization techniques that makes it easier and faster to visualize, understand, and explore data and uncover real insights from it.

Conclusion

This is an extremely exciting time for SMBs who can now apply customized analytics as per their specific requirements to take their business to a new level in an economical way. We believe this was not an option they previously had. It will be interesting to see how SMBs embrace business analytics to leverage the opportunity and explore unlimited possibilities.

References:

1 International Data Corporation

2 Ransbotham, D. Kiron and P.K. Prentice, “The Talent Dividend: Analytics talent is driving competitive advantage at data-oriented companies,”MIT Sloan Management Review, April 2015.

3 IoT image credit: wikipedia

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Most Popular Perspectives from 2015

Most Popular Perspectives from 2015

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It’s New Year again – Happy New Year 2016!

Thanks for your overwhelming response to our insights shared with you over the last year.  We are excited to announce the most popular perspectives from 2015 published at Veravizion/Perspectives. These are our biggest stories of 2015 in case you missed them.

One of the wonderful aspects about sharing our insights is appreciating the incredible business acumen, diversity, and depth of thinking of our readers. Our articles, which we call our perspectives, are written after carrying out thorough research on every topic. Our belief is that these articles will push you into thinking about how the (business) world is transforming before our eyes, and how some long-standing business principles may not necessarily hold true today.

As the year is over, take a quick glance at how the world is getting used to being data-driven. Enjoy these stories and let us know about your top content in the comments. In the next one, we will see how the analytics world is likely to unfold in 2016.

Most Popular Perspectives from 2015

Story# 13 Lessons Every Executive Must Learn From Wimbledon Centre Court For Business Success

Most Popular perspectives from 2015 - Lessons from Wimbledon

Sports has always had many lessons to share for business success; and everyone and their grandpa knows this. Nevertheless, its relevance has never been as great as it is in today’s analytics age.

This article illustrates this phenomenon by drawing lessons for business success from 2015 Wimbledon final between Djokovich and Federer.

 

 

Story# 2Data Science: The Next Frontier For Business Competitiveness

Most Popular Perspectives from 2015

This article on Data Science by Veravizion was originally published as the cover story in the July-2015 edition of Computer Society of India – Communications magazine. You can also read this article at its source at http://www.csi-india.org (Link path: http://www.csi-india.org->PUBLICATIONS->CSI Communications->CSIC 2015->CSIC 2015(July)).“

 

 

Story# 3The Digital Transformation Imperative: Why Businesses Must Have Online Presence – An INFOGRAPHIC

Most Popular perspectives from 2015

INFOGRAPHIC: click to enlarge

The business world is fast going online, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is in grasping the fact that it may replace your business if you do not become a part of the change, soon.

The infographic in this article gives a glimpse of how fast the consumer purchasing trends are changing from physical to digital, and what you can do about it.

 

 

Story# 4How Do You Achieve Strategic Transformation For Enduring Growth Of Your Company? – Part-I

Most Popular perspectives from 2015

Historically, leaders of cities, communities, and organizations have been embracing strategic initiatives to ensure long term sustenance and growth of their respective ecosystems. Many a times, these initiatives were ‘intentionally’ directed at bringing about long term transformation of their systems. But do such initiatives specifically aimed at strategic transformation always result in the lasting growth of the entity? We discuss it in this article.

 

Story# 5What Does Digital Maturity Really Mean?

Most Popular perspectives from 2015

This is the last article in the Digital Business series in which we illustrate how small and medium businesses can transform themselves from mere-physical to also-digital, and be more competitive. We do this by taking a visual example of a fictitious light business of our lovable businessman Bobstick.

 

 

 

We hope you enjoy these stories!

 

 

Strategic transformation photo credit: businessinsider

You can also subscribe to our blog – Our Perspectives – to receive interesting articles and insights in email. We would love to read your perspectives and comments on that.

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