Thursday, February 28, 2013
February 20, 2013
Breaking, Creative, Popular
What does a brand like Heineken do when over 1700 people apply for a job position at the company? Skipping the standard questions and already prepared answers, Heineken wanted to test their applicants in a slightly different way in order to find the right person for the job.
It would be a shame for me to ruin the experience, so I advise that you check out the video below. The only thing I would ad is that I give kudos for this stunt – not only is it an interesting idea for somewhat of a guerrilla marketing campaign, it also cleverly points out to the consumer that they’re in good hands. Enjoy!
If you were hiring, would you test your candidates in a similar way to find out what they were really made of?
“The Candidate” was developed by the Global Heineken Brand Digital and PR team in collaboration with Publicis Group, Milan.
Watch this clip.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
George Bernard Shaw said, "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, they make them."
Well, it's pretty apparent, isn't it? And every person who discovered this believed (for a while) that he was the first one to work it out. We become what we think about.
Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn't know where he's going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety and worry—his life becomes one of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing... he becomes nothing.
How does it work? Why do we become what we think about? Well, I'll tell you how it works, as far as we know. To do this, I want to tell you about a situation that parallels the human mind.
Suppose a farmer has some land, and it's good, fertile land. The land gives the farmer a choice; he may plant in that land whatever he chooses. The land doesn't care. It's up to the farmer to make the decision.
We're comparing the human mind with the land because the mind, like the land, doesn't care what you plant in it. It will return what you plant, but it doesn't care what you plant.
Now, let's say that the farmer has two seeds in his hand—one is a seed of corn, the other is nightshade, a deadly poison. He digs two little holes in the earth and he plants both seeds—one corn, the other nightshade. He covers up the holes, waters and takes care of the land...and what will happen? Invariably, the land will return what was planted.
As it's written in the Bible, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap."
Remember the land doesn't care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance as it will corn. So up come the two plants—one corn, one poison.
The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land, but it works the same way. It doesn't care what we plant... success...or failure. A concrete, worthwhile goal...or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety and so on. But what we plant it must return to us.
You see, the human mind is the last great unexplored continent on earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will return anything we want to plant.
Written in 1957, the audio recording of The Strangest Secret earned the first Gold Record for the spoken word, with sales exceeding one million copies.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Bernard Golden | Feb. 20, 2013
I observed an interesting debate on Twitter a couple weeks ago between an advocate of "enterprise" computing and an Amazon Web Services champion. After it went back and forth I bit, I offered my contribution: Somebody is using a ton of AWS, and it's growing like crazy.
Listening to this debate reminds me of the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus discussion about how two people can discuss something and still fail to understand the other person's basic perspective. In the case of this Twitter debate, the discussion failed to address a key question: What are the requirements of the applications running in those environments?
The crucial fact is that those who defend enterprise computing fail to grasp the fact that legacy IT infrastructure and operations don't address the requirements of new application types that I label the "three M's"-mobile, media and marketing. These apps are flocking to public cloud computing because they're not well served by traditional infrastructure and are much more aligned with what cloud computing brings to the table.
It's critical to understand the characteristics of these applications to understand why demand for cloud computing is in its early growth phase-and why we're about to see its already rapid adoption accelerate even further.
Cloud Computing and Mobile: A Different User Population
Legacy enterprise applications could be tuned to a couple operating systems and a few browsers. They also had very predictable user populations and use patterns. The emphasis for these kinds of applications vis-à-vis infrastructure is to implement a static environment and make it difficult to modify.
Mobile applications, on the other hand, are a very different. They run on a bunch of different devices, which increases the combination of interfaces that applications need to be able to support. Moreover, companies often provide API interfaces to their applications to enable independent developers to create applications outside the purview of the company's own IT organisation-the company won't even know what devices are going to be in the user population.
The growth of APIs is one of the real underreported stories of the past couple years, but it's huge and very much driven by a mobile application world. (The upshot of this is that mobile applications pose significant challenges to the design and operation of legacy applications.)
Public cloud computing environments, by contrast, are well-suited for the demands of mobile applications. High-load variability is easily handled by their very large infrastructures.
Cloud Computing and Media: Huge Traffic
It's something of a misnomer these days to talk about a media company, since every company is becoming a media company. Video is becoming the sine qua non of how companies communicate with important stakeholders. And it's huge. Every year Cisco Systems comes out with five-year projections of Internet traffic, and every year the company ups them. The reason? Video.
Every company is leveraging video in one of the following ways-and this list is certainly not exhaustive:-
* Marketing campaigns, particularly those with a clever or snarky twist, like the Will It Blend? series from Blend-Tec that has racked up 221 million views. Every company's fervent wish is that its marketing video will go viral and drive heightened consumer interest in its products.
* Partner, user or employee training. There's no faster way to demonstrate how to use a product than with a video. Plus, video is much more engaging than written documentation.
* Announcements. Video is a good way to make a company's announcements stand out from the blizzard of written press releases spewed onto the Internet every day.
Video is a huge consumer of bandwidth, and it's very sensitive to latency disruptions. The average company's internal network is insufficient to support the kind of traffic video requires, and the network capacity that is available is tuned to support legacy transactional application needs. When you marry mobile and video, it's obvious that legacy infrastructures are inadequate to support the requirements of these applications.
Cloud Computing and Marketing: Constant Change
Now that marketing and advertising have shifted decisively to the Internet, their nature is changing as well. Because ad delivery used to be so difficult, marketing and advertising campaigns remained static. Rolling out a new TV ad across the U.S. required getting new tapes to multiple TV stations and cable/satellite providers. The process-especially making sure everyone had the right version of the ad-was so time-consuming that changes were relatively infrequent.
Today, by contrast, online marketing and advertising campaigns are served up centrally. This reduces the change overhead by more than 90 percent.
But guess what? Reduced friction encourages more change. In turn, that requires changes to both infrastructure and application code. In other words, it means a radically reduced application lifecycle-and that runs smack into legacy infrastructure managed to reduce change, with management controls such as ITIL imposing manual processes to control infrequent change.
The expectations of the next generation of marketing and advertising is that campaigns can be rolled out quickly, modified rapidly and terminated immediately. If you read my last post on cloud computing budgets, you know this kind of application is projected to be a majority of IT spend in 2017.
Consequently, the expectations of the majority of IT spending are going to confront the legacy practices and processes for enterprise infrastructure and applications. It's not going to be pretty. While many in the IT community have an unspoken wish that things will settle down and we'll go back to the old ways of doing things, that wish can pretty much be written off. These expectations aren't going to go away.
If anything, one can predict they will be even more strongly pushed as the possibilities of what can be done with online marketing become more embedded in the discipline. In five years, the everyday expectation will be marketing campaigns tuned daily-or even hourly-in according to real-time analytics performed on tracking data.
I expect the discussion to be over in five years. The definition of enterprise will have expanded to incorporate the requirements of the three M's, and the practices and processes of legacy IT will have been discarded as inadequate for the needs of the three M's. Mobile, media, and marketing will force as much change into IT as the PC did-and, as the change plays out, with just as much disruption.
Bernard Golden is the vice president of Enterprise Solutions for enStratus Networks, a cloud management software company. He is the author of three books on virtualization and cloud computing, including Virtualization for Dummies. Follow Bernard Golden on Twitter @bernardgolden.
• Persist no matter what.
• Endure discomfort.
• Request help.
• Steadfastly hold on to your beliefs
• Envision triumph.
• Very consistently keep at it.
• Embrace adversity as your teacher.
• Refuse to give up.
• Enjoy and celebrate every tiny bit of progress!
Like to share a chapter in The Best Way Out is Always Through. Enjoy!
An excerpt from
The Best Way Out is Always Through
by BJ Gallagher
Mary Kay Ash banged her head on the corporate glass ceiling one too many times. Working for several direct sales companies from the 1930s until the early 1960s, she achieved considerable success. She climbed the corporate ladder to become the sole woman on the board of directors of the World Gift Company—quite an accomplishment for a woman in the 1950s.
But life wasn't rosy at the top. Even though Mary Kay had the title and the track record, she was not taken seriously by her male peers. In board meetings, her opinions and suggestions were ignored, dismissed, or even ridiculed. Male board members minced no words in their judgment, pronouncing her guilty of "thinking like a woman."
Since the sales force was almost entirely female, Mary Kay thought that thinking like a woman was an asset. But her fellow board members disagreed. Finally, in frustration, she retired in 1963, intending to write a book to assist women in the male-dominated business.
Sitting at her kitchen table, she made two lists: one list was all the good things she had seen in the companies where she'd worked, and the other list was all the things she thought could be improved. As she re-read her lists, she realized that what she had in front of her was a marketing plan for her ideal company. In just four weeks, her "book" had become a business plan, and her retirement was over.
Both her accountant and her attorney did their best to discourage her, warning that she would be throwing her money away on this venture. But Mary Kay had heard enough male nay-saying in her corporate years—she ignored her advisors.
Her husband, unlike her accountant and attorney, was very supportive. With his help, Mary Kay developed cosmetic products, designed packaging, wrote promotional materials and recruited and trained her female sales force.
Then the unthinkable happened; her husband of twenty-one years died of a heart attack. Another woman might have dropped her plans, or at least delayed them, but Mary Kay was a strong Texas woman. She stayed on track with the help of her twenty-year-old son, Richard Rogers, and rolled out her new business in September of 1963.
Beginning with a storefront in Dallas and an investment of $5,000, Mary Kay Cosmetics earned close to $200,000 in its first year—quadrupling that amount in its second year. When Mary Kay took her company public in 1968, sales had climbed to more than $10 million.
Mary Kay's unusual corporate motto, "God first, family second, career third," was unconventional, to say the least. But she understood the need for women to have balance in their lives, and she was committed to providing unlimited opportunity for women's financial AND personal success.
Mary Kay authored three books, all of which became best-sellers. Her business model is taught at the Harvard Business School. She received many honors, including the Horatio Alger Award. Fortune magazine has named Mary Kay Cosmetics as one of the Ten Best Companies for Women, as well as one of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.
At the time of her death in 2001, Mary Kay Cosmetics had 800,000 independent beauty consultants in 37 countries, with total annual sales of over two billion dollars.
Never underestimate the power of a woman with a mission!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
April 2nd, 1903.Miss Annie Sullivan73 Dana Street,
Cambridge, Mass.Dear Miss Sullivan:I have read Helen's book with interest and delight. . . .Why in all the world did you not tell us about those letters to Mrs. Hopkins, when we were preparing the Volta Bureau souvenirs; they are of the greatest value and importance, and contain internal evidence of the fact that you were entirely wrong when you gave us the idea that you proceeded without method in the education of Helen, and only acted on the spur of the moment, in everything you did. These letters to Mrs. Hopkins will become a standard, the principles that guided you in the early education of Helen are of the greatest importance to all teachers. They are TRUE and the way in which you carried them out shows — what I have all along recognized that Helen's progress was as much due to her teacher as to herself, and that your personality and the admirable methods you pursued were integral ingredients of Helen's progress.Now what I want to impress upon you is this: – That it is your duty to use your brilliant abilities as a teacher FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHER TEACHERS.I don't want to bother you with this thought too much at the present time; but, as soon as Helen has finished with Radcliffe College, I AM GOING FOR YOU.You must be placed in a position to impress your ideas upon other teachers. YOU MUST TRAIN TEACHERS. . . . It is a fallacy to suppose that blindness is an ADVANTAGE to a deaf child — it is a fallacy to suppose that language can be intuitively acquired. Once we realize that language is acquired by imitation — it becomes obvious that language comes from without, not from within. The most startling demonstration of this fact was contained in the Frost King incident. We all do what Helen did. Our most original compositions are composed exclusively of expressions derived from others. The fact that the language presented to Helen was in the early days, so largely taken from books, has enabled us in many cases to trace the origin of her expressions but they are none the less original with Helen for all that. We do the very same thing. Our forms of expression are copied — verbatim et literatim — in our earlier years from the expressions of others which we have heard in childhood. It is difficult for us to trace the origin of our expressions because the language addressed to us in infancy has been given by word of mouth, and not permanently recorded in books so that investigators — being unable to examine printed records of the language addressed to us in childhood — are unable to charge us with plagiarism. We are all of us however, nevertheless unconscious plagiarists, especially in childhood. As we grow older and read books the language we absorb through the eye, unconsciously affects our style. Books however do not affect our language to the same extent that they affected Helen because our habits of language, have already been formed before we come to read books. Nevertheless our style IS affected, hence the very great importance of selecting with care, the kinds of books to be read by children.It is ridiculous to expect that a deaf child – or a hearing child for that matter — shall talk or write good English, unless good English has been PREVIOUSLY presented to the child in spoken or written form — and in sufficient quantity to impress Good English expressions upon his mind. Then — and then only — will he spontaneously use good English in expressing his own thoughts. This thought lies at the ROOT of the instruction of the deaf. Once we clearly grasp this conception we can see the cause of the poor English used by the deaf. It makes one sad to see how this principle is persistently violated in all of our schools for the deaf — but you have pointed out the remedy and have clearly demonstrated the truth of your position by an illustrious example.My best wishes go with you and Helen, and in conclusion allow me to repeat — what I began with — YOU MUST TRAIN TEACHERS.Yours sincerely,Alexander Graham Bell
Thanks to Edison, sunset no longer meant the end of your social life; instead, it marked the beginning of it.[…]Yet all of the artificial light in use around the world before Edison developed his lightbulb amounted to the brightness of a match compared to the lights of Times Square.
When I went through Switzerland in a motor-car, so that I could visit little towns and villages, I noted the effect of artificial light on the inhabitants. Where water power and electric light had been developed, everyone seemed normally intelligent. Where these appliances did not exist, and the natives went to bed with the chickens, staying there until daylight, they were far less intelligent.
People will not only do what they like to do — they overdo it 100 per cent. Most people overeat 100 per cent, and oversleep 100 per cent, because they like it. That extra 100 per cent makes them unhealthy and inefficient. The person who sleeps eight or ten hours a night is never fully asleep and never fully awake — they have only different degrees of doze through the twenty-four hours. … For myself I never found need of more than four or five hours' sleep in the twenty-four. I never dream. It's real sleep. When by chance I have taken more I wake dull and indolent. We are always hearing people talk about 'loss of sleep' as a calamity. They better call it loss of time, vitality and opportunities. Just to satisfy my curiosity I have gone through files of the British Medical Journal and could not find a single case reported of anybody being hurt by loss of sleep. Insomnia is different entirely — but some people think they have insomnia if they can sleep only ten hours every night.
As one is about to pass out of the library attention is arrested by an incongruity in the form of a cot, which stands in an alcove near the door. Here Edison, throwing himself down, sometimes seeks a short rest during specially long working hours. Sleep is practically instantaneous and profound, and he awakes in immediate and full possession of his faculties, arising from the cot and going directly "back to the job" without a moment's hesitation…
Awakened at 5:15 a.m. My eyes were embarrassed by the sunbeams. Turned my back to them and tried to take another dip into oblivion. Succeeded. Awakened at 7 a.m. Thought of Mina, Daisy, and Mamma G. Put all 3 in my mental kaleidoscope to obtain a new combination a la Galton. Took Mina as a basis, tried to improve her beauty by discarding and adding certain features borrowed from Daisy and Mamma G. A sort of Raphaelized beauty, got into it too deep, mind flew away and I went to sleep again.Awakened at 8:15 a.m. … Arose at 9 o'clock, came down stairs expecting twas too late for breakfast. Twasn't.[…]Had dinner at 3 p.m. Ruins of a chicken, rice pudding.[…]The sun has left us on time, am going to read from the Encyclopedia Britannica to steady my nerves and go to bed early. I will shut my eyes and imagine a terraced abyss, each terrace occupied by a beautiful maiden. To the first I will deliver my mind and they will pass it down down to the uttermost depths of silence and oblivion. Went to bed worked my imagination for a supply of maidens, only saw Mina, Daisy and Mamma [G]. Scheme busted. Sleep.
In evening went out on sea wall. Noticed a strange phosphorescent light in the west, probably caused by a baby moon just going down Chinaward, thought at first the Aurora Borealis had moved out west. Went to bed early dreamed of a demon with eyes four hundred feet apart.
Slept as sound as a bug in a barrel of morphine.
Slept splendidly — evidently I was inoculated with insomnic bactilli when a baby. Arose early, went out to flirt with the flowers.
I have got so much to do and life is so short, I am going to hustle.
Five feet ten inches high, with boyish but earnest face, light gray eyes, his dark hair slightly gray falling over his forehead, his hat tipped to the back of his head, as he goes ardently to his work, which has averaged eighteen hours a day for ten years, he is indeed a pleasant man to see.You perceive he is not the man to be daunted by obstacles. When one of his inventions failed — a printing machine — he took five men into the loft of his factory, declaring he would never come down till it worked satisfactorily. For two days, and nights and twelve hours — sixty hours in all — he worked continuously without sleep, until he had conquered the difficulty; and then he slept for thirty hours.He often works all night, thinking best, he says, when the rest of the world sleeps.
'Do you have regular hours, Mr. Edison?' I asked.'Oh,' he said, 'I do not work hard now. I come to the laboratory about eight o'clock every day and go home to tea at six, and then I study or work on some problem until eleven, which is my hour for bed.''Fourteen or fifteen hours a day can scarcely be called loafing,' I suggested.'Well,' he replied, 'for fifteen years I have worked on an average of twenty hours a day.'When he was forty-seven years old, he estimated his true age at eighty-two, since working only eight hours a day would have taken till that time.Mr. Edison has sometimes worked sixty consecutive hours upon one problem. Then after a long sleep, he was perfectly refreshed and ready for another.
'I've known Edison since he was a boy of fourteen,' said another friend; 'and of my own knowledge I can say he never spent an idle day in his life. Often, when he should have been asleep, I have known him to sit up half the night reading. He did not take to novels or wild Western adventures, but read works on mechanics, chemistry, and electricity; and he mastered them too. But in addition to his reading, which he could only indulge in at odd hours, he carefully cultivated his wonderful powers of observation, till at length, when he was not actually asleep, it may be said he was learning all the time.'
'You lay down rather severe rules for one who wishes to succeed in life,' I ventured, 'working eighteen hours a day.''Not at all,' he said. 'You do something all day long, don't you? Every one does. If you get up at seven o'clock and go to bed at eleven, you have put in sixteen good hours, and it is certain with most men, that they have been doing something all the time. They have been either walking, or reading, or writing, or thinking. The only trouble is that they do it about a great many things and I do it about one. If they took the time in question and applied it in one direction, to one object, they would succeed. Success is sure to follow such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have an object, one thing, to which they stick, letting all else go. Success is the product of the severest kind of mental and physical application.'
Many organisations around the world implement their IT systems without considering the alignment factor between their business processes and IT initiatives. This often results in misalignment of these two very important elements. IronHorse, founded by Stan Singh, aims to help organisations with such problems and beyond.
"At the same time the organisation does not get to reap all the full benefits from such an IT project implementation. More importantly it is often detrimental to the business," said Stan.
Having played leading roles in major IT projects within the hospitality and retail industries since 1979, and having been a member of the PIKOM Council for well over 11 years, Stan now is the principal consultant at IronHorse Asia, a company he founded recently to help organisations with these problems.
Still not jiving
"Proposed systems look OK during vendor's demonstrations but during actual implementation, users generally find huge gaps, some of lesser importance but others are major and sometimes these gaps can be a show stopper during the system implementation process and critically, sometimes these gaps show up half way through the project life cycle. In such cases, modifications become inevitable and unavoidable as a 'way out' especially if such gaps appear to be critical to the operations or desperately required by the business. In this scenario, projects are usually delayed and at the same time cost increases, while these project implementors' competency also becomes questionable," said Stan.
"Some implementors believe and think that just because they have undertaken one project before, they can duplicate its implementation to map across other clients, but the fact remains that no two businesses, or I should state, that no two or similar retailers operate in the same way, even though if they were to carry the same inventory type," Stan added.
Mind you, while the retail industry has many business segments and not just Head Office & Stores operations to consider, there are a number of other 'sub-industry' segments within the overall retail spectrum or the Retail ecosystem.
The Iron Horse founder emphasised that one needs to understand how all this is inter-connected and functions, and how everything in various business units integrates with one another as part of the close loop or end-to-end process.
"Otherwise the Retailer is not able to take full advantage of such IT implementation in their business. What's more going forward, if there is a new business strategy or an expansion plan that the Retailer is seeking to implement as part of their ongoing growth plan, what will happen next especially if the organisation does not have any overall visibility?
"Equally it is completely hopeless to bolt systems or processes on top of one another as part of the new initiative and as seen over the many years, that is exactly what is happening across such implementations and one often ends up wondering 'where did we go wrong and with so much cost incurred yet we failed to meet the objective.'"
HiYo Silver! & Tonto
In his younger days, Stan was a cowboy film buff and named his consultancy Iron Horse after the native Indian term for the steam engine.
"I realised that during that period depicted in those films, trains were the only mode of transport in the inter-city business and retailing supply chain, and that trains and the tracks they run on are similar to business and IT processes today," said Stan. "The train's wheels must be aligned with the track or it will derail, and many business failures have been due to the misalignment of business and IT processes."
Iron Horse Asia's five consultants including Stan, together have over 64 years experience in consulting, development, implementation and training related to IT systems. It's a Malaysian entity and the "Asia" comes from the dot-asia top-level domain name in its website.
"Business is about people and people is about business and if one can understand the perimeters and the parameters of the ecosystem of an organisation, the business rules it operates by and industry best practices with a view to identify and to recognise the gaps and shortcomings, then project managers today can align any system.
"It's all about what the customer is today and where they want to be tomorrow," said Stan.
"Retail is a very dynamic and complex industry, where there's much turnover of IT staff and operational staff, resulting in new employees bringing old habits from their previous experience into their new organisation, and after they convince management that modifications need to be made to the system, whether they turn out to be good or bad, but after they leave, everything comes to a standstill. Sadly, this process continues especially where there is a lack in control.
"For example, at Laura Ashley, we discovered that when the IT system was implemented, not its management but its business users 'demanded' some 200 modifications which were made and it took 18 months to deliver, by which time most of the staff who requested them had either left or moved on to another department and later during an IT audit exercise it was discovered that less than 5% of those modifications were actually used, while some did not even know they were made, while the implementation and maintenance costs went up.
So today, I would request to know from users that when a particular modification is requested by them, my question forward would be such that if the requested modification cannot benefit the customer, organisation or resolve any disparity or gap in a given process that potentially has risk element to it, then this will be REJECTED. Ultimately they must be able to demonstrate the ROI even if it's in intangible form."
"However, with the right processes and systems well established (like a country's constitution), organisations will experience stability," he added.
Would cloud computing solve such problems?
"No. Cloud will help reduce IT costs to an extent but the same problems will remain without the right, philosophy, policies and best practices in place," Stan replied.
Many organisations around the world implement their IT systems without considering the alignment factor between their business processes and IT initiatives. This often results in misalignment of these two very important elements. IronHorse, founded by Stan Singh, aims to help organisations with such problems and beyond. We continue from Part 1 of our article that chronicles Stan's experiences in the industry.
Stan cautioned that there is a fine line difference between updates and upgrades and it's always good and prudent to know this before hand and have this clarified and documented as part and parcel of the contractual terms in the agreement
"However, in all this, most implementors are also unable to provide workaround or recommend realignment or re-engineering of business processes to match the system which would have saved some of these costs. So in this regard when we look at cost, we are taking into account cost in terms of waiting or loss time for the business to launch, deviation from original business cost, additional maintenance cost, human resource cost, and so on so forth.
Especially in retail, besides warehouse management, there's also head office management, procurement management, buying management, store operations management, store visual management, merchandising management, supply chain management and financial management, and all these require an in-depth understanding at the management, operations and transaction levels in order to advice, implement and lay the foundation to provide the organisation the ability to have complete visibility of the business from an end-to-end processes perspective and more importantly, be able to identify any single point of failure in the processes and to counteract this whilst mitigating risk factors.
Lack of subject matter experts
Incidentally, knowledge in retailing and the business and data flows and importantly how this integrates, is very important that spans across various segments of the retail industry such as Fashion, Hypermarkets/Supermarkets, Convenient Stores, DIY Stores, Drug Stores, Petrol Stations, inclusive of Single or Chain Stores and there are huge operational differences that also comes with various challenges and complexities when IT is introduced as the backbone in these businesses
"It requires a complete understanding of how the industry works but I've seen so called 'experienced' consultants appear on the doorstep, only to find that they had worked in a warehouse for 15 years and suddenly become 'experts' in the retail industry," said Stan. And so on the other hand "While someone may have been working as a carpenter for 20 years but that does not make him a contractor either."
What a business needs is a Subject Matter Expert who can discuss, interpret, advice and follow through in all areas of the retail business cycle or simply, understand how retail works in its entirety when addressing business issues arising during open discussion stages with the retailer,that is also outside of the system offerings.
Too many cooks… and all that jazz
Furthermore in such instances if there is more than one supplier involved in the implementation of any given project and when issues arise that cannot be resolved for whatever reason, these suppliers will 'play' the blame game or create jurisdictional disputes as to who is right and who is wrong but at the end of the day whatever is said and done the matter still remains unresolved on the table and the customer or the organisation suffers as a result of such disputes
"Sometimes the clauses in their contractual terms also don't seem to favour the retailers, as it lacks clarity, don't usually cover all the deliverables due to many unknown areas and when these so called unknowns are discovered, they result in additional costs to clients and these usually end up either as, cannot be done due to timing or lack of resource on the vendor end or the cost is simply too high for the vendor to absorb and perhaps is passed on to the retailer.
"But at the end of the day this too remains on the table unanswered unless somebody is willing to either pay for these unknowns or to do it away with or suffer with poor workarounds as suggested by the vendor," Stan opined.
So what does all this mean?
"You paid for a system and before you can even implement it in the business you end up having to wait and still continue to wait and unable to use it effectively. In some instances, the supplier will advise the retailer to "use" and implement whatever is available first, and will 'cross' the bridge later so as not to 'halt' the project."
Stan cautioned about this, "But I can safely state here that usually when the time comes to address the previous matter that has been put away, these are simply either forgotten, the person-in-charge has left the organisation from the supplier or the person from the organisation itself has also left and due to poor documentation, sometimes these becomes 'new' issues to be discussed in the next meeting."
Also more often than not, the vendor or supplier of the solution also have different sales, implementation, development and support teams, which results in a huge disharmony to the entire process, and when project managers come onboard they are unable to recognise the differences between their clients' business and IT processes and system offerings to what was either said or demonstrated or documented during the sales and demo cycles.
"This is a very common error occurrence which leaves huge gaps that is still happening today," said Stan
A valuable experience
Stan had been head-hunted to join the MUI Group in 1997 as general manager of Group IT and stayed for 14 years, his longest with any company. He was later promoted to vice president, then senior vice president and as the global chief information officer (CIO), responsible for all MUI Group's IT systems across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, the U.K. and the USA.
In 1998, the MUI Group acquired Laura Ashley in the UK which had business in Europe and the USA as well. Besides its foundation in having a brick and mortar retail chain stores, it also has e-Commerce offerings, Main Orders & Catalogue Sales with Phone sales, Franchise business, Wholesale and occasionally had Outdoor Event Sales. So in short Laura Ashley is a true blue Multi-Channel Retailer.
"For example, in this particular scenario there were 36 various systems that were bolted "together" to address the various business channels that had many complexities and as a multi-channel retailer, Laura Ashley, were faced with huge disparities in processes, major disparities in data integrity, data mismatch, major repetitions in processes to get similar results in different systems, and much money was spent on maintenance, modifications and upgrades," said Stan.
"After evaluating them all, overtime working very closely with the Senior & Operations management, I was able to consolidate them down to 9 systems with major improvements in data segmentation in processes and ended up with a huge reduction in IT costs in terms of people and maintenance, and more importantly reducing peripheral cost such as upgrades."
"Our biggest task ever was to implement retail systems at Laura Ashley U.K. Subsequently, we also implemented systems at Laura Ashley U.S. and the Metrojaya departmental stores in Malaysia, while our biggest challenge was to make Laura Ashley's U.S. system Year 2000 (Y2K) compliant due to the fact that after the management buyout it became an independent entity and we started from zero base to bring the business and IT together and importantly to cross the Y2K safely.
"We completed the task at the back office and front office in its stores across the U.S., including one store that was based in Hawaii all within under three months," said Stan who added that this feat hugely surprised global management consulting firm, Ernst & Young, which did not believe it could be done.
Stan left the MUI Group in 2009 because he wanted time to write his book about the retail industry entitled, 'Something They 4Got 2 Teach U in Stanford.' Meanwhile, he had drawn huge interest from Oracle and SAP to work on their retail segment regionally but finally joined Wincor-Nixdorf retail as its managing director later that year. He stayed till 2012, when he left to found Iron Horse Asia.
"I founded IronHorse Asia because I wanted to help small-to-medium sized and even larger companies where much remains to be done in terms of automation, not only their implementation of IT systems but also to help retailers rise to the next level with clear objectives and how they can use available technologies to become multi-channel retailers and to go beyond their traditional retail ways," concluded Stan.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
Pink, wary of the disagreeable twinges accompanying the claim that everyone should self-identify as a salesperson, preemptively counters in the introduction:
I’m convinced we’ve gotten it wrong.One of Pink’s most fascinating arguments echoes artist Chuck Close, who famously noted that “our whole society is much too problem-solving oriented. It is far more interesting to [participate in] ‘problem creation.’” Pink cites the research of celebrated social scientists Jacob Getzels and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who in the 1960s recruited three dozen fourth-year art students for an experiment. They brought the young artists into a studio with two large tables. The first table displayed 27 eclectic objects that the school used in its drawing classes. The students were instructed to select one or more objects, then arrange a still life on the second table and draw it. What happened next reveals an essential pattern about how creativity works:
This is a book about sales. But it is unlike any book about sales you have read (or ignored) before. That’s because selling in all its dimensions — whether pushing Buicks on a lot or pitching ideas in a meeting — has changed more in the last ten years than it did over the previous hundred. Most of what we think we understand about selling is constructed atop a foundation of assumptions that have crumbled.
Selling, I’ve grown to understand, is more urgent, more important, and, in its own sweet way, more beautiful than we realize. The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are.
The young artists approached their task in two distinct ways. Some examined relatively few objects, outlined their idea swiftly, and moved quickly to draw their still life. Others took their time. They handled more objects, turned them this way and that, rearranged them several times, and needed much longer to complete the drawing. As Csikszentmihalyi saw it, the first group was trying to solve a problem: How can I produce a good drawing? The second was trying to find a problem: What good drawing can I produce?As Csikszentmihalyi then assembled a group of art experts to evaluate the resulting works, he found that the problem-finders’ drawings had been ranked much higher in creativity than the problem-solvers’. Ten years later, the researchers tracked down these art students, who at that point were working for a living, and found that about half had left the art world, while the other half had gone on to become professional artists. That latter group was composed almost entirely of problem-finders. Another decade later, the researchers checked in again and discovered that the problem-finders were “significantly more successful — by the standards of the artistic community — than their peers.” Getzels concluded:
It is in fact the discovery and creation of problems rather than any superior knowledge, technical skill, or craftsmanship that often sets the creative person apart from others in his field.Pink summarizes:
The more compelling view of the nature of problems has enormous implications for the new world of selling. Today, both sales and non-sales selling depend more on the creative, heuristic, problem-finding skills of artists than on the reductive, algorithmic, problem-solving skills of technicians.Another fascinating chapter reveals counterintuitive insights about the competitive advantages of introversion vs. extraversion. While new theories might extol the power of introverts over traditional exaltations of extraversion, the truth turns out to be quite different: Pink turns to the research of social psychologist Adam Grant, management professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania (my alma mater).
Grant measured where a sample of call center sales representatives fell on the introversion-extraversion spectrum, then correlated that with their actual sales figures. Unsurprisingly, Grant found that extraverts averaged $125 per hour in revenue, exceeding introverts’ $120. His most surprising finding, however, was that “ambiverts” — those who fell in the middle of the spectrum, “not too hot, not too cold” — performed best of all, with an hourly average of $155. The outliers who brought in an astounding $208 per hour scored a solid 4 on the 1-7 introversion-extraversion scale.
Pink synthesizes the findings into an everyday insight for the rest of us:
The best approach is for the people on the ends to emulate those in the center. As some have noted, introverts are ‘geared to inspect,’ while extraverts are ‘geared to respond.’ Selling of any sort — whether traditional sales or non-sales selling — requires a delicate balance of inspecting and responding. Ambiverts can find that balance. They know when to speak and when to shut up. Their wider repertoires allow them to achieve harmony with a broader range of people and a more varied set of circumstances. Ambiverts are the best movers because they’re the most skilled attuners.Pink goes on to outline “the new ABCs of moving others” — attunement (“the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people an with the context you’re [sic] in”), buoyancy (a trifecta of “interrogative self-talk” that moves from making statements to asking questions, contagious “positivity,” and an optimistic “explanatory style” of explaining negative events to yourself), and clarity (“the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had”).
For a taste of what makes To Sell Is Human worth picking up, here are some familiar faces and favorite voices: