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2018 Technology Trends: The Reshaping of the Business World

We are at an interesting crossroad nowadays in regards to technology. All of the technological advancements we see around us on a daily basis have brought numerous changes to our way of life. The year 2018 will see an even greater focus on these types of advancements such as self-driving cars, drone deliveries and the rapidly evolving artificial intelligence (AI) programmes. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a software engineer or computer scientist to become a leader in the digital revolution. What is even more vital is the ability to match technological solutions with existing business problems in innovative ways.

Given that people nowadays are using mobile apps, connected devices, wearables, social media and the list could go on and on – the level of engagement with brands is unprecedented by using a vast array of digital technologies. Given this increased level of engagement, a business’ success hinges more often than not on the organisation’s ability to create an enjoyable experience for their customers. It is also true that recent research unearthed a strong correlation between superior customer experiences and revenue growth.

The technical director for Google Cloud, Jamie Erbes, has said that: “Consumer expectations are at an all-time high, and the bar will keep rising through 2020,” and “People want products and services that offer a high level of personalisation and adapt to their lifestyle. When that doesn’t happen, they quickly move on.” Many organisations have already started to build a strong foundation for a better 2020 digital experience. So what exactly is going to change?

  1. Data is all around us and it keeps growing

We as people are ‘producing’ a fantastic amount of data as we go on with our lives. From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to the digital footprint we create through the use of Netflix or Fitbit or even our connected systems at work. In case you were wondering, every second, 900,000 go on Facebook, 452,000 people post on Twitter, and 3.5 million people search for something on Google.

Given this fantastic rate of data creation means that every two years the amount of data is doubling. This is also known as Big Data. This massive explosion of data has made many other trends possible, and by learning how to tap into the insights will increase everyone’s prospects in just about any industry.

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The field of artificial intelligence or cognitive computing revolves around machines or computers that are capable of reproducing or mimicking ‘thinking’ in a similar way people do – especially when it comes down to learning. Being a computer certainly has its advantages meaning that if you teach them how to learn they will do so incredibly fast and, as an added bonus, with a greater degree of accuracy than any human being would be capable of. The indisputable result is that they will become more knowledgeable and capable and able of finding solutions to problems.

It has been predicted that by 2020 half of online searches will be done by voice with 30%(!) of them being made by using devices with no screen whatsoever. For example, this year, BMW will launch cars with Alexa pre-installed, just as Ford has done. Businesses will increasingly use AI assistants in order to manage daily schedules and offer us information when we need it. Going even further, some people are talking about the opportunity to drive sales through the use of chatbots and ‘natural’ language-capable marketing tools.

The days in which we were adding a customer’s name to marketing emails are behind us. The more customers feel treated like actual people, rather than just numbers with money, the more connected they feel to the companies that serve them.

  1. Blockchain

Blockchain represents the distributed, encrypted and ledger behind the now famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin. However, it has uses far beyond making people interested in cryptocurrencies filthy rich. Experts have been saying that it represents a giant leap forward towards information storage and security. Simply put, a blockchain is a digital file in which blocks of information are connected to one another (or ‘chained’ together) and is secured through private key cryptography, making sure that only those with the right permit may edit only the sections of data they are entitled to. In other words, anyone capable of ‘installing’ blockchain technology to current business problems is very likely to find this particular skill in very high demand.

As people become more involved and vigilant about social responsibility and online security, blockchain will become tremendously important. For the organisations that actually have a nice story to tell, it will definitely be a valuable way through which transparency can be created and also building a brand in a way it was never thought possible before.

  1. Public Cloud

As mentioned earlier, the amount of data we create is doubling every two years. According to a recent study done by International Data Corporation, between the years 2016 and 2020, the worldwide spending on public cloud services will more than double, reaching a figure of $195 billion.

It will be a difficult and tedious task to move companies towards the adoption of public cloud services, but in order to advance IT departments and leaders will have to spearhead this necessary move.

After a couple of years in the training phase, IT employees should be ready to work side-by-side with their marketing colleagues in order to implement technologies such as AI, blockchain, and public cloud into the real world. Whether companies are ready for it or not, the technological advancements are going to be put into action. To keep moving forward, these are the top trends that organisations worldwide cannot ignore in the coming years, whether they understand them or not and they will have to be implemented so that they won’t be left behind.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/01/15/5-technology-trends-that-will-make-or-break-many-careers-in-2018/#71d22ce63a86

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/12/27/top-5-tech-trends-that-cmos-cannot-ignore-in-2018/#7405b7503552

https://cloud.withgoogle.com/build/leadership/technology-trends-cios-need-2018/

 

Dealing with Procrastination and Overcoming It

We all procrastinate from time to time, sometimes even more than we would like to admit to ourselves. Procrastination is part of our lives. Usually, it’s those ordinary things – like sorting documents, looking over bank accounts, or tidying the things on your desk. But often it’s the bigger things that necessitate more time, more commitment and energy that put us at more risk of failing or looking foolish. Such actions include things like updating our resume, looking for a new job or even pursuing a long held aspiration.

Of course people tend to get very creative with the reasons why now, today, just isn’t the right time or they are not in the right state of mind. But people don’t stop here reasons may vary from too stressed, too risky, too busy, too broke towards too disruptive, too inexperienced, too young, too old, too uncertain. From time to time these reasons are valid and we have to be prepared for that. Typically, they are just excuses that keep us from doing what we really have to do and experiencing the emotional hardship inherent in making meaningful changes in our personal and professional lives.

At the heart of things we have fear.  It is a potent and instinctive emotion and represents the reason why we want to shield ourselves from pain (including the emotional side of things) and somehow ‘demands’ us to get away from anything that might be threatening. If left unresolved, fear can lead us to the hope that if we procrastinate longer, our situation will miraculously improve, or our problems will magically disappear into thin air and be replaced with a lot of courage. We often tell ourselves that ‘one day’ we will be ready to make that big change, or take that big chance and in that ‘one day’ the timing will be better, our confidence will be soaring and the circumstances will definitely favour us.

Unfortunately the reverse is generally true. As the days go by, our fear grows stronger, until it will eventually lead to our ever-growing burial ground of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential. Philosopher William James was not wrong when he talked about the impact of procrastination on our lives: “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an unfulfilled goal.”

There are a few methods through which you can get yourself going when you feel procrastination is creeping up on you.

  • Acknowledge the situation

Firstly, it is recommended you openly acknowledge that you’re starting to procrastinate. Procrastination can sneak up on you in many forms and when you least expect it, so it’s essential for you to be vigilant. Afterwards, ask yourself why you are doing it, what is your underlying reason and then start searching for the right approach to tackle this issue.  Stanford philosophy professor John Perry created the term ‘structured procrastination’. The idea behind it is that people procrastinate by doing the least important tasks on their to-do lists, so professor John Perry says that we can trick ourselves by pushing down our important tasks from our to-do list and our trivial ones to the top.

  • Be brave all day everyday

When you start working on reducing your procrastination, building momentum is crucial. Commit to yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone at least once per day. It can be something really small and it should be right at the start. In the end, it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, as long as you are taking the necessary steps in the direction you feel is right. So take that first step, then another, and so on because after all life is worth enjoying.

  • Spreading procrastination times throughout the day

The fact that we live in the real world means that there are and will be days in which we’re tired, even though we try so hard not to be. Taking this factor into account, you could organise a schedule of well-timed ‘mini-procrastination’ sessions between each task. Instead of waiting for a big break when you want to do whatever you want offer yourself 10 minutes between each task. In those 10 minutes you can do what your heart desires: check Facebook, make a dinner reservation, weekend plans or any other pleasant activity. You will be surprised by the amount of work you will accomplish when you don’t feel bad about procrastinating. Also, you will soon realise that you’re not indulging your procrastination, but actually set up a few breaks. Breaks are guilt-free and they mentally recharge you for the rest of your day.

  • Break your important tasks into smaller ones

The bigger the goal the more difficult it is to actually start working on it. Shortly after, you begin to feel overwhelmed and procrastination is only a step away. So when you feel out of your element, try and break your task into more manageable steps, as small you feel you need. Soon enough, the steps you have to undertake will simply unfold in front of you.

  • Channel your fear

As mentioned earlier, fear is a very powerful emotion that can keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves. Our brains are hardwired to survive, so in the moment you feel fear our instincts tell us to sit tight because nothing bad can happen this way. But if you manage to focus your fear, it can work for you and not against you. Pull out a pen and paper and write down the cold hard facts if you would continue to do nothing. Be honest to yourself, the purpose of this exercise is for you to understand that the fear you are experiencing at the moment is more manageable that the one you would feel when things are left undone.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-orer/my-very-own-3-steps-to-de_b_10360486.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/03/25/why-you-procrastinate-and-how-to-stop-it-now/#583832c51837

https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2016/04/15/10-scientifically-proven-tips-for-beating-procrastination/#7c78426c296a

https://www.themuse.com/advice/advice-procrastination-no-routine-change

Building Trust and Credibility with your Customers

Customers’ happiness is always going to be tricky to achieve and maintain. Although the global economy is growing and thriving in certain industries, Forrester, a market research firm, has discovered that companies shouldn’t rest on their laurels. In fact, according to the Forrester report for 2018 that next year will be a “year of reckoning” for many brands as they face the facts that consumers might not love them as much.

Interestingly enough, customer experience scores have stalled in recent years, without a single brand improving their trust and experience scores from 2016.

One of the main reasons for the halt in customer experience is that clients are interacting with brands more often. More interactions mean more opportunities in building brand loyalty, but it equally provides more opportunities to create unhappy customers, which is what seems to happen. Customer confidence is at a high level at the moment, which means they are more than willing to spend, but unfortunately they don’t trust the vast majority of companies. Customer experience is one of the best ways in which to boost trust. Top survey responses say treating employees well is what drives the experience and helps customers trust a brand, offering the best services and listening to customers concerns and issues.

The Forrester report also revealed that personalised companies will thrive. Instead of trying to serve everyone, brands will have to learn from successful of companies like Facebook and Starbucks and start serving a more narrow set of customers. The most successful companies realise they can deliver more value by focusing on the unique needs of specific customer segments instead of trying to provide everything to everyone. Companies that are suffering in their customer experience scores are Walmart and Amazon due to their numerous products and services.

Transparency Is Crucial

Transparency is a core competency that should no doubt come naturally. Yet so many businesses are struggling coming to terms with what it really means.

Customers and clients are smart and they know when you’re being truthful or when you’re trying to trick them. Honesty is the best policy and they’ll appreciate and admire your company even more when you admit to a mistake or avoiding the topic altogether.

It is recommended that you don’t try to cover up errors. Discuss about the matter at hand, explain how you wish to handle it and thoroughly explain what steps are being taken to prevent any future errors. To implement transparency effectively leading by example is quintessential. Your employees will admire you even more for being honest.

Consistency Brings Harmony

Consistency goes hand in hand perfectly with maintaining great service. Strong internal expectations lead to great external results.

From a business point of view, consistency should exist in every aspect of what the company does:

  • Employees should provide equivalent levels of service.
  • Equipped with all the tools it needs, your sales team should address questions and queries in the same way.
  • The company should stay on course with the current state of products and services, rather than constantly shifting gears to try new tactics or initiatives.

Develop a powerful measurement in order to assess whether something is working. If it isn’t viable anymore, there should already exist a plan B or C.

From a leadership standpoint, consistent performance shows employees what you expect from them. For example, if you miss a meeting without a good reason, don’t be surprised if they consider doing the same when interest serves them.

Great Service Matters

According to the survey done by Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now, when customers have faith in a brand, 83% of them will recommend that specific organisation to others and 82% will continue to use that brand on a regular basis. Although there is hardly any mention about the time you went above and beyond for a client, you’ll definitely hear from the displeased ones if you failed to make a deadline or delivered a product that didn’t operate by the books.

Earning the trust of a customer with great service is an essential first step. How would you want to be treated if you were the client? The hard truth is that service should come naturally, instead of being strategically planned. The more you plan for great service, the less time you’ll actually have to deliver it.

Sure, there will be times when you’ve tried your best and can’t seem to make any headway with a particular problem. But you want to strive for responsiveness and always exceed expectations.

Sealing the Deal

Maintaining solid business relationships does not mean your customers or clients have to like you. Everyone wants to be liked but it is impossible to be liked by every person you come in contact with. However, creating customers and clients for life is more about them entrusting you to deliver on your promises. It takes a lot of effort, but in the end your hard work will pay off again and again, with repeat business, even more referrals and knowing you met and exceeded your customers’ expectations.

Organizations with great customer relationships are able to grow their businesses without tricks, fee cuts or special treatment. You have to be good at what you do, obviously, but having a truly successful business is based on one very simple concept: trust. With trust, you’ll have clients and customers for life. Without trust, you may as well pack your bags and go home. Building trust takes time and a lot of hard work. But is entirely feasible if you and your team work on three of the most important core competencies: service, consistency and transparency.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2017/11/13/ten-ways-to-build-trust-with-new-and-existing-clients/#75edfdda4b0b

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/04/22/three-ways-to-build-customer-trust/#5e32c56f22b8

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2017/11/14/consumer-trust-at-an-all-time-low-says-forrester-in-their-most-recent-report/#607e348c1a19

Successful Brainstorming: Possibility or Hoax?

In terms of brainstorming, people often tend to forget that in order for it to be achieved the answer is quantity, not quality. Brainstorming represents the essential first step in early stages of a new project, so it is crucial that everyone understands how important it is to be open towards all ideas and variables. Naturally, issues occur when team members feel the need to filter themselves from potentially good ideas that they may seem far-fetched or just simply because they are afraid of rejection and embarrassment.

Another common misconception about brainstorming is that employees and managers alike believe it can be done only in a certain way: the evergreen group discussion with everyone involved. It is not necessarily the worst idea, but it can have major drawbacks from a creative point of view. There is a general tendency that during these meetings, the first two ideas that get bounced around tend to be the focus of the entire meeting. In a recent study on traditional brainstorming methods, it has been discovered the fact that only a handful of people do approximately 60-75% of the talking. Logically, it can prevent other ideas from being discussed.

How to Make Brainstorming Better

There are many ideas through which brainstorming sessions can become more practical, based on individual creativity, idea generation and a better meeting experience. The following strategies will help your organisation’s brainstorming.

1. Select only necessary employees: Choose the people you need for a brainstorming session. If the meeting is filled with people who have no relation to the nature of the discussion, their contribution and participation will be zero. Moreover, more people mean a higher level of difficulty in passing along ideas given the fact that people may exhibit anxiety in explaining their ideas. A manager’s best bet here is the creative individuals who can actually carry the discussion in a productive manner.

2. Brief sessions: It is as clear as day that shorter meetings are more efficient. The current tradition is for a meeting to last for an hour. However, shortening the meeting time will entice people to bring ideas to the table much faster with a healthy disregard to keeping some ideas for themselves. Normally, a meeting shouldn’t be any longer than 30 minutes. Managers can always do follow-up meetings to discuss leftover ideas or if the schedule is too hectic then the recommendation is individual brainstorming time.

3. “Bad” ideas are welcomed: Managers should encourage their employees to speak their mind. Good ideas “happen” after a lot of other ideas have been bounced off at the meeting table. People should understand the fact that there is a very fine line between good and bad ideas. From a managers point of view all ideas are welcomed given the obvious fact that it will lead to the best solution in the end.


Read also: What Makes a Great CPO


4. Brain Writing: The general principle of this technique is to separate idea generation from actually talking. The manager shares the topic with the team, and the team members individually write down their ideas. This helps eliminate anchoring and encourages everyone on the team to share their own ideas. It also gives everyone more time to think over their ideas, which is especially helpful for your introverted participants. This brainstorming technique works best for teams who seem to be greatly influenced by the first ideas presented during a meeting. When you get your team to brainstorm ideas individually, away from distraction and public opinion, concepts are generated that may not naturally surface when in a larger setting. Individual brainstorming techniques such as this will often give you more unique ideas than when the group is left to think up topic ideas.

 5. Online Brainstorming: These days, virtual teams are becoming more and more common across all industries. The evolution of email and collaboration tools makes working remotely the norm in some organisations. Having a central location online where team members can collaborate is crucial for these virtual teams — talking here about cloud-based document storage or an online collaboration tool. One of those brainstorming exercises for groups involves using an online mind-mapping tool to answer very specific questions or simply to generate ideas that might be tangential to the main problem. What other ideas surround this concept? Map these examples out, visually.

 

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.wrike.com/blog/techniques-effective-brainstorming/

https://www.inc.com/larry-alton/5-strategies-for-team-brainstorming-to-use-in-your-next-meeting.html

https://www.inc.com/kat-boogaard/4-easy-tips-to-improve-your-brainstorming-sessions.html

What Makes a Great CPO?

Extract from an article published in Supply Management Magazine:

“There are more than 96,000 procurement and supply professionals in the UK alone, according to CIPS estimates. For the ambitious among this large group, there exist only a handful of strategic CPO roles to compete for. So what helps someone get there? Is there a secret sauce of competencies, skills and behaviours that the best of the best have in common? It’s something SM set out to explore in a first-of-its-kind study to assess the psychometric make-up of forward-thinking procurement leaders.

We handpicked 45 CPOs from large, global organisations, including FTSE-100 listed multinationals, government departments and high street brands, and put them through the Great People Inside Full Spectrum, a completely new assessment platform just launched in the UK by psychometric assessment company Great People Inside (GPI).”

To read the full article, please access this link.

 

Recruitment based on Organisational Culture

Appointing leaders may seem to be easier said than done, but this is not the case at all. According to an academic research paper done by the American Psychological Association, the rate of successful hired leaders is around 30%. In the United States alone, 75% of employees have reported that their direct manager has been poorly chosen and it obstructs them from doing their work. Furthermore, 65% of them would accept lower salaries in order to change their manager with someone better equipped for the job.

There are numerous reasons why this situation occurs over and over again. Mostly, this is due to the over-reliance on intuition in the early stages of recruitment instead of using proper scientific validated selection tools. The problem that almost always arises when hiring new leaders is their incongruity with the organisation’s culture. Even though on paper the candidates may seem perfect and they tick all the boxes in terms of skills, leadership capabilities and expertise, organisations tend to overlook the congruence between their values and the candidate’s values. Consequently, leaders hired for their excellent skills and talents are often fired on the premise of poor cultural fit.

What Is Organisational Culture?

In layman’s terms, organisational culture revolves around the collective mindset and norms of employees, as well as palpable aspects revolving around the work environment which directly mirror these beliefs. The effectiveness of organisational culture relies upon the company’s workforce, business market and strategies. Moreover, given the fact that there are countless organisations around the world, organisational cultures are abundant and different altogether.

How Can Culture Be Related to Recruitment?

There is a close relation between the recruitment process and organisational culture due to their association to employee selection and retention. Attractiveness wise, culture represents everything ranging from brand image to company projects. There are organisations that hold culture in high regard and plan their recruiting accordingly. Due to this type of recruitment, only the right people are being targeted and attracted, whilst others are somewhat determined to look elsewhere for employment.

Primarily, experience and expertise are central characteristics to a leaders’ potential, but, unfortunately, they are unsatisfactory in determining leadership performance. To be more precise, personality traits such as: curiosity, self-awareness and integrity won’t help predict a proper leader to fit the role within the company. In order to properly evaluate how fit a leader is with an organisation, their motives and values should be analysed. These characteristics act as an inner compass, revealing how they would conduct activities, in what type of culture they would thrive and what kind of projects they will deem necessary or engaging.

For instance, if a leader truly values tradition he or she will have a strong opinion regarding right and wrong, will have an affinity for hierarchical companies and will exhibit a low tolerance for innovation. Simply put, these types of leaders would struggle in a creative environment. Leaders who value relationships will develop a strong bond with their staff and their focus will be on creating and maintaining collaborative work and social relations. If they are given a role within an individualistic organisational culture, which would isolate them, they will fail. Subsequently, we have altruistic leaders who focus on improving employees’ lives. If the organisations they work at are profit driven, their skills will be wasted.

Understanding the company’s organisational culture

It is absolutely essential for a company to know their own culture; otherwise knowing a leader’s motives and values becomes practically pointless. Regrettably, a vast majority of companies do not understand the importance of pinpointing their culture and generally tend to rely on clichés such as: ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘innovative’, ‘diverse’ and ‘results-oriented’. Of course, there is the off-chance a company hires a leader who can perform in any kind of environment. Unfortunately, these leaders are an exception, a rare breed, because in most cases potential in leadership depends greatly on context.

Although its significance, organisations don’t pay attention to culture, they just let it evolve from within. It is somewhat good news, due to the fact that if companies start recruiting with the idea of developing a proper organisational culture, it can vastly improve employee retention and performance which translates into growth and profits. Another argument for cultural-based recruitment is that while job demands may constantly change, culture will always be a constant within the company. Statistically, people being hired in part to their cultural fit are more likely to become a company asset.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation, can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2017/06/when-leaders-are-hired-for-talent-but-fired-for-not-fitting-in

https://www.forbes.com/sites/propointgraphics/2016/11/13/hiring-for-smart-talent-not-direct-experience/#37b671f42dcf

https://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/recruiting-hiring-advice/strategic-workforce-planning/hire-for-the-organization.aspx