Archive for the ‘competency’ tag
You’ve just landed a new job, and that’s good news! So now you have a few precious weeks to make a great impression, prove your competency, and make sure everyone who hired you agrees they made a good decision to bring you on. Well, one good way is to spend your time learning the business and observing your colleagues before you jump in and start making aggressive changes. More »
The Institute for the Future released a report on future work skills that will be needed by 2020. They are:
- Social intelligence.
- Novel and adaptive thinking.
- Cross-cultural competency.
- Computational thinking.
- New-media literacy.
- Design mind-set.
- Cognitive load management.
- Virtual collaboration.
(Gigaom gives a quick breakdown)
The graphic below from that report highlights areas of focus:
Many folks in the credit union industry are lobbying for an increase in the MBL cap from 12.5% to 25%, and to raise the ceiling on the definition of a microloan from $50k to $250k.
Without getting in the political issues involved here, there is this question; If the lending caps were to be loosened, would credit unions be well positioned to provide banking services to small businesses?
In the research my firm has done on small business banking, we’ve found that there are three things — to varying degrees — that small business owners are looking for from the banks (or credit unions) they do business with:
- Money. Small businesses need money, when they want it.
- Technology. Not all, buy many small businesses put a high priority on a bank’s ability to offer technology in the form of online and mobile banking, remote deposit capture, invoicing, cash management, and other technology-driven services.
- Industry expertise. A third dimension important to small business owners is the extent to which their bank (or credit union) has expertise and resources specific to the industry they’re part of. Specifically, they want to know that their bank can help them track, report, and forecast cash flows.
Are Credit Unions Ready To Serve Small Businesses?
With the influx of deposits that credit unions (well, at least some of them) have experienced in the past couple of years, the availability of money to lend may very well be there. Check.
But I’m not so sure the technology capabilities are in place. While the online banking capabilities are there for consumers, when Aite Group surveyed credit unions recently, only one in five had an online banking platform dedicated to business banking. In addition, Aite Group research has found that credit unions have historically been much slower adopters of remote deposit capture than their bank counterparts.
CUs shouldn’t deceive themselves into thinking that their “service” advantage translates into industry expertise. I’m skeptical that many credit unions have really figured out which industries they have a strong competency in, or should have a strong competency in. Most of the banks (large ones included) don’t know this either.
Fortunately for CUs, this is typically the third criteria used by small businesses when choosing a bank (or credit union) to do business with.
The small business reality is that availability of funds is priority number one. If they find someone willing to lend them money, they’ll take it and move their business there.
So, with a loosening of the MBL cap, credit unions will probably stand to gain some significant new business. Whether or not those loans turn out to be good loans, and if they can keep those relationships for the long term is another story.
Over the past year, I’ve noticed a significant increase on overall adoption of social media by corporations. More importantly, I’m seeing overall sophistication improve, due in part to recent traction achieved by a new wave of internal social media marketing professionals and a growing number of agencies providing supporting services and tools. Unfortunately, a vast majority of companies are still underachieving when it comes to truly harnessing the power of social media. I aim to address that shortcoming in this article.
eMarketer recently conducted a study of social media tools and tactics favored by marketers. As if to validate my concerns about the general level of savvy and competency within corporate marketing departments, you can see below that the most popular efforts are relatively remedial and tactical (social sharing links and basic content). Measurement is equally lagging; most marketers are satisfied measuring gross quantities of “likes,” friends, and followers (versus engagement or revenue).
In a recent article, “9 ways to lose friends and alienate people in social media,” I outlined the most common mistakes corporations make in social media. My hope in writing the article was to highlight the chasm between doing social and doing it well. A few years ago, I wrote “6 social media platforms at a glance” and the follow-up, “6 socially savvy brands.” I suggest newcomers to social media read those foundational articles before moving on to advanced tactics, as outlined in this article.
That said, many companies seem to be fairly well-versed in basic social media tactics, but they’re refusing to go further. They are not adopting more advanced strategies, tactics, tools, and techniques. Thus, I’ve put together the following recommendations that outline advanced uses of popular social platforms as well as second-tier social platforms worthy of attention.
There’s been some hubbub lately about Secure Boot, a hardware-verified, malware-free operating system bootstrap process that aims to improve the overall security of computers. Part of the UEFI specification which is slated to replace the aging BIOS with which many of us are familiar, Secure Boot can forbid the loading and execution of unsigned operating systems. Microsoft is requiring that Secure Boot be activated and enforced for any OEM systems that want to use the “Designed for Windows 8″ logo. The nature of the technology, and Microsoft’s recommended implementation of it, could remove control of the overall system from the end user, and in this configuration Secure Boot may prevent Free Software operating systems from loading.
After some initial hysteria on Slashdot (where else?), calmer minds have prevailed, and have reviewed the UEFI Secure Boot specification in some detail. It’s a pretty marked change from the old BIOS: the use of public key cryptography makes the whole thing considerably more complex. But there’s nothing about Secure Boot, prima facie, that specifically locks out Free Software operating systems.
The Linux Foundation has released a paper titled “Making UEFI Secure Boot Work With Open Platforms” written by Technical Advisory Board members James Bottomley, CTO, Server Virtualization at Parallels and Jonathan Corbet, Editor at LWN.net. Concurrently, Bottomley has collaborated with Canonical’s Technical Architect, Jeremy Kerr, and Red Hat’s Senior Software Engineer, Matthew Garret, to develop another paper titled “UEFI Secure Boot Impact on Linux“.
The former document is a pretty high level analysis of the situation (only four pages), with some overall recommendations on how OEMs can ship hardware that will work with both proprietary and Free Software operating systems. The latter document is a little more technical (eight pages!), with some slightly more specific recommendations for OEMs.
The whole thing can be a little confusing if you’re not already familiar with some of the basics of public key cryptography. Platform Keys, Key Exchange Keys, signature databases. Is this all more trouble than it’s worth? I fired off a few questions to the Linux Foundation for clarification, and James Bottomley responded.
TechCrunch: First and foremost, what’s the real-world effect to end users? If SecureBoot is as complicated at the document makes me feel it is, won’t many people just decide to leave their systems in “Setup” mode and avoid the whole thing?
James Bottomley: Leaving the system in setup mode is equivalent to the current state (no secure boot). However, we know from the microsoft blog that Users who accept the Windows 8 preinstallation won’t be given the option and their systems will be locked down. The idea for users who wish to install open source is that they will be given the option of moving to the more secure user mode or remaining where they are. The point of shipping in setup mode is that handling the complexity of this choice becomes the job of the operating system install or ignition system, which we believe to be the best place for this. We anticipate that the problems potentially caused by first ship of secure boot will be resolved over time and the benefits of booting securely will outweigh the initial teething troubles.
TC: Propping up a full public key infrastructure is a great idea, but well beyond the technical prowess of many hardware manufacturers. It’s not their core competency, so who is to say they’ll do it right?
JB: It wouldn’t be done by the Hardware Manufacturers, and indeed given the security implications, it should be outsourced to an entity for whom it is a core competency. The current effect of the Microsoft Windows 8 logo proposals is that the OEMs are required to manage a list of key exchange keys, which is also not their core competency, so offloading key management to an entity whose core business it is should make the whole process less error prone.
TC: We know that Certificate Authorities are not beyond compromise, as the DigitNotar business has recently pointed out. If a security-lax hardware manufacturer gets compromised, what’s the result to end users?
JB: So this is a problem. The UEFI system contains a mechanism for revoking certificates (which is the same mechanism used in the internet to remedy the DigiNotar intrusion). However, a system which relied on a revoked key in the path of trust would refuse to boot and would either have to be switched out of secure mode or have its UFI updated to remedy the situation. However, such a compromise isn’t really any more likely (and is possibly less likely since it would be a core business interest of the CA) than an OEM key being compromised, so the problem is the same or less troublesome than the situation where there’s no CA.
The promise of “initial teething troubles” doesn’t sound particularly fun, but as with any new technology adoption it’s largely unavoidable. I do look forward to seeing Secure Boot prove successful.
The mini-disaster around the Gap’s logo redesign is a good backdrop to understand that today’s marketplace practically requires design competency. It can no longer be a relegated function but should start to become a core company competency.
Umair Haque has a relevant piece about what it means for a company to lack design competency. He posed five questions to gauge whether your organization is taking design seriously:
- Do designers have a seat in the boardroom? How often does your CEO talk to a designer?
- Are designers empowered to overrule beancounters — or vice versa?
- Is the input of designers considered to be peripheral to “real” business decisions — or does it play a vital role in shaping them? Is design treated as a function or a competence?
- Are designers seen as mechanics of stuff — or as vital contributors to the art of igniting new industries, markets, and catgeories, sparking more enduring demand, building trust, providing empathy, and seeding tomorrow’s big ideas?
- How much weight does senior management give to right-brained ideas, like delight, amazement, intuition, and joy? Just a little, a lot — or, as for most companies, almost none?
Who Owns the Social Web for their Clients – The Advertising Agency – Analysis, Strengths and Blindspots
As a follow up to my Un-Agency post back in June, I thought I would provide a scouting report on the 12 different types of firms trying to command the high ground on the social media/community space and what I perceive to be their strengths and weaknesses amongst the 18 competencies an engaged outsourced firm should have.
In part, I've done it to help clients understand the pros and cons to each agency choice they make here. Dial back 5 years, and as a client not living in social media or the grassroots on a daily basis – I would be confused and potentially charmed out of the best decision. Also in part, to make some sense of this "cattle drive" of new firms now entering and multiplying in the space given the media, technology and cultural shifts happening around them.
In full disclosure, two caveats:
- I run a specialist grassroots marketing services firm and likely have some biases that a focused firm with a strong specialization is a favoured method in most scenarios for social media success
- although I have worked with many partner firms and colleagues, I have by no means seen them all – what I am painting is the typical firm in each space, exceptions do exist but are rare
So, the 12 types of firms making a beeline for social media are:
- the Ad Agency
- the Brand/Design Agency
- the Strategic Consultancy
- the Innovation/Research Shop
- The CRM Firm
- the Social Media Hothouse
- the Grassroots Specialist
- the Digital Agency
- the PR Agency
- the Media Firm
- The Technology Vendor
- the Promotion/Sponsorship Firm
Let's tackle the first one – the Ad Agency - and why not, they still own the lion's share of dollars being spent on creative and communications. They are the award-winning All Stars of the communication space. See chart above – legend: the darker the shade – the better the competency and the lighter the shade – the poorer the competency.
As noted by the chart above, their obvious strengths are ideas, creative and content. They are the Mad Men of 2010. When I was head of marketing at Guinness, some of the work that was created by the ad people and their producers made most movies pale and drab by comparison. They had a really special talent to force you to pay attention and feel prouder, more intelligent for consuming the black stuff.
In a world of scoreboard watching and bean counting, it's refreshing they actually think about and produce stuff that is enormously entertaining and creative and thus, when done well, build one of the biggest currencies in this attention-starved marketplace – getting noticed.
What personal rankles me, as well as a number of my colleagues, is their lack of ability to play well in the schoolyard with other partner firms when we're not talking TV, radio, print or billboard.
Historically, they have always sat at the adult's strategy and planning table with the client, allowing other firms to fight over the execution and funding scraps that fell on the floor. Unfortunately, in the social media space, most have been reticent to acknowledge that they don't operate nearly as effectively in the grassroots engagement, dialogue or measurement facets of the business.
In fact, given monetization issues, staffing talent, siloed departments, pace of business and competing priorities, most would acknowledge behind closed doors that they are horrible at the grassroots engagement side of the business. At worst, some are downright hostile to opening up the brand to the customer for content, insight or advocacy purposes.
Despite all the hurdles inside their firms, they are reactionary to letting any other firm drive the social media car. We just had a pitch where one of the competing firms, having no competency or pedigree in the social media space, claimed rightful ownership to execution based on the "Integration of the idea". For our own selfish benefit as well as the client's, hopefully they don't get politicked into this way of thinking.
Integration is an over-used word by any large firms including ad agencies, particularly when there is an absence of any other substance there. Convergence didn't work in the media world, nor does the "everything under one roof" concept fly in agency land. The truth is most agencies have a competing fiefdoms that operate just as dysfunctionally, if not more then two different organizations would.
Usually there is a hierarchy of creative talent that based on history, the money trail and awards, looks at broadcast first before looking at how an idea travels in social media, word of mouth and community . One only needs to look at the turnover of online creative directors at large agencies to understand the web frustration from within.
From my point of view, here's the Ad Agency Scouting Report :
1) Creative Ideas – ad agencies can legitimately lay claim to owning a brand idea that needs to then be parsed out in a number of different directions- within social media, they have a role in defining and providing colour to the brand idea and positioning so other people can then get excited and execute against it
2) Program Execution – what clients are craving, is somebody to take all the execution off their hands, a good ad agency director and team can be an extremely valued integrating force amongst a number of partner firms that deliver a "whole campaign/community" that is greater than the sum of its parts
3) Brand Positioning, Identity and Design – establishing a parent look and feel to any brand initiative is a key need to ensure initiatives don't look like orphan children from a different parent – being the brand cop and counsellor could be a valued ad agency role
4) Content Development – ad agencies forte is producing extremely good looking stuff on video and print, harnessing those elements and pieces to work on the web can be a lynchpin to social media success
5) Media Awareness – usually the ad agency is in the best position to integrate the efforts with their partner media houses and deliver scalable conversations through paid media – they can act as effective middleman and solution brokers with the media planning/buying firms
1) Technical Infrastructure – one look at most flash-based agency websites will quickly tell you that integrating web platforms, database architecture, information security and privacy, and hosting is nearly the last thing on large agency agendas – they would be wise to seek third party managed host vendors with customer service capabilities
2) Research/Analytics – a weak link with ad agencies and one now under scrutiny given the need for ROI – ad agencies do not have the talent or the motivation to equip a truly helpful and now just-in-time system of monitoring and evaluating performance – they would be wise to work with a dedicated research house that understands the social media space or at minimum, work with an outsourced vendor like Radian6 or Visible than outfit it themselves
3) Influencer Outreach – I've asked agencies before who they're top 10, top 50, top 150 social media influencers are – most haven't an idea nor really care on a day-to-day basis – involving a firm like ourselves, or a seeding firm or media partner would alleviate most concerns here for agency and client
4) Social Media/Community Development – many agencies can pull off an iPhone app. or Facebook page – some are very clever and creative – unfortunately, this is not "living in the social media space" and create very little longevity of impact – the web is littered with these experiments that launched with great fanfare may have got initial traction and then traffic fell off a cliff when people realized their enthusiasm wasn't being rewarded, curated or responded to – community management is the key here, whether it be inside an agency, the client or an outsourced firm, somebody needs to keep the light on as the account executive tries to traffic the print ad that's two days late for Vogue
5) Customer Experience Focus – how people are using online properties on an ongoing basis?, how different marketing touchpoints are affecting the brand delivery of a positive customer experience? how customer insight may informs how a company runs their business better? Although agencies certainly have special access to a client and their executive, they rarely believe that the customer experience is their area of concern in these forums. Companies would be wise to hire online analytics specialists to dive deep on how their web stuff is being used and researchers/anthropologists to understand how this is being reflected and used in the real world.
What are your thoughts? Is this consistent with your experience, or do you have a different point of view. Let's discuss.
Next week – we'll cover off a much different scouting report – the PR Firms.