tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/strategy-operations Latest Strategy & Operations content from Econsultancy 2017-02-28T14:52:56+00:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68838 2017-02-28T14:52:56+00:00 2017-02-28T14:52:56+00:00 Why specialists might be hampering innovation in digital transformation Stephanie Miller <p>One risk is to allow that innovation mindset to become stagnant, which is the common paradox of specialization. Let's explore how this can happen, despite the best of intentions.</p> <h3>The specialization paradox</h3> <p>Transformation is a blend of ideation (mindset, culture, vision) and implementation (skills training, attitude, organizational structure, process improvement). </p> <p>Ideation is challenging work, and even so, is only half the battle. Identifying the end goal, quantifying the gaps in current practices and skills, and mapping the competencies that are required for modern marketing are essential steps in business transformation. Today, this process also needs to be agile and responsive to market and customer behavior changes over time.</p> <p>Implementation can be even harder. We have to recognize two different kinds of knowledge: <strong>first,</strong> developing a set of compelling statements to convince, mobilize and motivate a new team of skilled modern marketers and practitioners. </p> <p>Why are we transforming to customer first/digital first/mobile first or some other theme? How will that change make a difference in our business goals?</p> <p><strong>Second,</strong> producing testable propositions about the business reality, namely how to meet customers where they are - digitally and otherwise - using the technology available and with creative solutions that interest and engage people. These practices and procedures have to be achievable and inspiring... and become the proof points that excite marketers to jump on board and add their own successes to the story.</p> <p>The logical output of those two kinds of knowledge is to specialize - letting experts in each area of marketing innovate from deep knowledge and experience, exposing new, strategic ideas and motivating others across the organization to embrace new opportunities. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4237/specialist.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="467"></p> <p><em>Is it a good idea to specialize in only one area?</em></p> <p>Specialization is a good business strategy. Good companies tend to specialize over time - usually because of competition as well as for productivity and cost reasons. The interdependency of marketing activity naturally leads to specialists doing some of the expert production work to streamline costs, advance technical and data management techiques, and strengthen consistency of brand alignment.   </p> <p>Over time, specialists - often located in a Center of Excellence (a hub-spoke model favored in of agile methods) - become themselves enmeshed in their own set of practices and processes. It's hard to innovate from a position of comfortable procedure.</p> <p>Thus emerges a paradox of specialization that must be recognized and addressed if marketing organizations want to continuously improve. A reliance on specialists can actually limit the amount of disruption or innovation happening in marketing teams.</p> <p>Marketing organizations need a wide set of skills and resources because any radical innovation requires the exploration and utilization of new/different knowledge and resources than are current being used. This gap between the specialist teams and the need for general or different knowledge and approaches is a real business risk. The gap is bridged through an ongoing, diligent effort at maintaining the innovation mindset that led to the specialization in the first place.</p> <p>A business must organize for specialization, but at the same time maintain capacity for radical innovation. </p> <ul> <li>Reduce the gap as much as possible, partly by re-conceptualizing (making the new more similar to the established), and partly by simplifying and removing some of the novel elements proposed.</li> <li>With a smaller gap, we can define the role of generalists more specifically, even hiring or partnering with outside teams, or connecting new resources in creative ways.</li> <li>Maintain a wider knowledge base, and developing bridging mechanisms so that specialization models do not simply become a "new normal" and thus resist change.</li> </ul> <p>The same passion that inspires change and leads to transformation of a marketing organization must be nurtured continually. Specialization often seeks to converge and simplify an organization's efficiency. Transformation leaders must guard against divergence of the innovation. </p> <p>What do you think? Does your organization have a commitment to continual innovation, beyond specialization?</p> <p><strong><em>For more on this, read:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68185-four-different-approaches-to-digital-transformation-which-suits-your-needs/"><em>Four different approaches to digital transformation: Which suits your needs?</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63580-digital-transformation-what-it-is-and-how-to-get-there/"><em>Digital transformation: what it is and how to get there</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3008 2017-02-27T12:55:00+00:00 2017-02-27T12:55:00+00:00 Internet Statistics Compendium Econsultancy <p>Econsultancy’s <strong>Internet Statistics Compendium</strong> is a collection of the most recent statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media. </p> <p><strong>The compendium is available as 11 main reports (in addition to two sector-specific reports, B2B and Healthcare &amp; Pharma) across the following topics:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/advertising-media-statistics">Advertising</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/content-statistics">Content</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/customer-experience-statistics">Customer Experience</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/web-analytics-statistics">Data and Analytics</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/demographics-technology-adoption">Demographics and Technology Adoption</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/ecommerce-statistics">Ecommerce</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/email-ecrm-statistics">Email and eCRM</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/mobile-statistics">Mobile</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/search-marketing-statistics">Search</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-statistics">Social</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/strategy-and-operations-statistics">Strategy and Operations</a></strong></li> </ul> <p>Updated monthly, each document is a comprehensive compilation of internet statistics and digital market research with data, facts, charts and figures. The reports have been collated from information available to the public, which we have aggregated together in one place to help you quickly find the internet statistics you need - a huge time-saver for presentations and reports.</p> <p>There are all sorts of internet statistics which you can slot into your next presentation, report or client pitch.</p> <p><strong>Those looking for sector-specific data should consult our <a title="B2B Internet Statistics Compendium" href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/b2b-internet-statistics-compendium">B2B</a> and <a title="Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/healthcare-and-pharmaceuticals-internet-statistics-compendium/">Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals</a> reports.</strong></p> <p><strong>Regions covered in each document (where data is available) are:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Global</strong></li> <li><strong>UK</strong></li> <li><strong>North America</strong></li> <li><strong>Asia</strong></li> <li><strong>Australia and New Zealand</strong></li> <li><strong>Europe</strong></li> <li><strong>Latin America</strong></li> <li><strong>MENA</strong></li> </ul> <p>A sample of the Internet Statistics Compendium is available for free, with various statistics included and a full table of contents, to show you what you're missing.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68811 2017-02-16T14:33:00+00:00 2017-02-16T14:33:00+00:00 Loyalty programs are losing their sway: here's what brands can do about it Patricio Robles <p>The consulting firm polled 25,000 consumers around the world, of which 10% were located in the US, and found that more than three-quarters (78%) say they'll pull their loyalty more quickly than they would have three years ago, and slightly more than a third (34%) indicate that what drives their loyalty today is the same as it was three years ago.</p> <p>Despite the prevalence of loyalty programs, over half (54%) reported switching a provider in the past year. As <a href="http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/consumers-fickle-billions-spent-loyalty/307974/">reported by</a> AdAge, "Retailers, cable and satellite providers, banks and internet service providers were the most likely victims of switchers."</p> <p>For many brands, loyalty programs have been seen as a potent driver of sales for years, but there's evidence that the effects of these programs are dwindling. That evidence includes slowing same-store sales growth and "millions of points that are laying dormant" in various rewards programs.</p> <p>According to Robert Wollan, a senior managing director at Accenture Strategy, "You have to really look at whether you're suffering from the loyalty illusion – that it worked before so it will keep working – or is it time for a fresh look?"</p> <h3>Giving consumers what they really want</h3> <p>Here are several ways that brands can take a fresh look at their loyalty programs.</p> <h4>1. Offer rewards that really appeal to customers</h4> <p>One of the most obvious implications of Accenture's data is that brands are failing to deliver rewards that appeal to their customers. Knowing that consumer preferences and expectations are rapidly changing, brands operating loyalty programs should constantly be polling their customers and performing market research to determine what components are most appealing.</p> <p>Given the growing <a href="http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/consumers-experiences-things/299994/">consumer preference for experiences over things</a>, in many cases brands might find that their customers value experience-based rewards, such as event invitations, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68737-why-brands-are-increasingly-creating-experiences-adventures-to-woo-consumers/">adventures</a> and early access to new products, more than they do cash-based rewards or free "stuff."</p> <h4>2. Don't seek to buy loyalty</h4> <p>The Beatles had it right: money can't buy love. While there is clearly opportunity for brands to encourage loyalty through rewards to customers, many consumers expect more from the brands they choose to patronize.</p> <p>Accenture found that younger consumers in particular are highly influenced by an emotional connection to a brand and the brand's alignment to their social values.</p> <p>While there is risk in getting political, to build loyalty in their relationships with consumers, it appears that brands will increasingly have to find ways to create emotional connections, so savvy brands will identify causes and lifestyles with broad appeal that aren't too controversial.</p> <h4>3. Focus on product and customer service experience</h4> <p>For consumers aged 18-34, product and customer service experience are two of the three biggest drivers of loyalty today, a reminder to brands that if they're not delivering a quality customer experience overall, a loyalty program isn't likely to make up for it. </p> <h3>The perfect case study?</h3> <p>A great example of a brand that is doing much of the above is REI. The retailer, which sells outdoor gear, operates as a co-op and allows its customers to become members.</p> <p>With a $20 lifetime membership, customers receive 10% cash back in the form of an annual member dividend, member-only special offers and exclusive access to REI Garage Sales, semi-annual events at which returned products are available at hefty discounts.</p> <p>In addition, REI members receive special pricing on the brand's services, which include classes, rentals and REI Adventures - tours that offer participants trips to "extraordinary places with handpicked local guides."</p> <p>Beyond the benefits REI offers its members directly, the company actively supports conservation efforts, donates millions of dollars annually to non-profits, purchases green power and carbon offsets, and releases an annual Stewardship and Earnings Report. In 2015, it made headlines with its <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67109-rei-opts-out-of-black-friday-sort-of/">#OptOutside campaign</a> in which the company chose to sit out Black Friday, instead giving its employees the day off and encouraging consumers to enjoy the outdoors.</p> <p>REI's formula appears to be working: its membership has swelled to more than 6m, with more than 1m new members <a href="http://www.geekwire.com/2016/outdoor-retailer-rei-reports-23-increase-digital-sales-record-membership-growth/">being added</a> in the company's fiscal year 2015. That was the first time ever the retailer, which was founded in 1938, gained more than a million members in a year.</p> <p>And those members proved loyal and willing to open their wallets, with fiscal year 2015 revenue growing by nearly 10% to nearly $2.4bn.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68794 2017-02-10T09:30:00+00:00 2017-02-10T09:30:00+00:00 How to plan your digital strategy with the PROSPER framework Ben Davis <p>The PROSPER framework can be used across all sectors and industries, and is envisioned as a cyclical process.</p> <p>As with SOSTAC, the model gets to the root of some basic questions about your business and its marketing activity, such as:</p> <ul> <li>Where we are now?</li> <li>Where do we want to be?</li> <li>How do we get there?</li> <li>How do we know when we've got there?</li> </ul> <p>PROSPER differs from SOSTAC in several ways, including its initial consideration of assets, resources and competitive context as well as the more common understanding of audience. There is also an emphasis on not just measurement but on evaluation, optimisation and learning in the final review stage.</p> <p>Perkin describes the questions posed by the framework as "obvious steps in the process but," he continues, "in my experience it does no harm to remind ourselves of the fundamentals."</p> <p>Below you can see the PROSPER framework in full (Preparation, Research, Objective, Strategy, Plan, Execution, Review) and you can click to open it in a new tab, in a larger size to download or print.</p> <p><em>The PROSPER framework (Click to enlarge)</em></p> <p><a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3797/prosper.jpg"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3797/prosper.jpg" alt="prosper framework" width="615"></a></p> <p>The PROSPER framework is used on a number of Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/">digital marketing and ecommerce training courses</a>.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4395 2017-02-06T10:00:00+00:00 2017-02-06T10:00:00+00:00 Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Internet Statistics Compendium <p>Econsultancy's <strong>Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Internet Statistics Compendium</strong> is a comprehensive collection of the most recent healthcare and pharma statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media.</p> <p>The report will be <strong>updated twice a year</strong>.</p> <p>Like our main <a title="Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/internet-statistics-compendium">Internet Statistics Compendium</a>, this report has been collated from information available to the public, which we have aggregated together in one place to help you quickly find the healthcare and pharma internet statistics you need.</p> <p>There are all sorts of internet statistics which you can slot into your next presentation, report or client pitch.</p> <p>Areas covered in this report include:</p> <ul> <li>Digital healthcare market trends</li> <li>Consumer internet and mobile usage</li> <li>Digital health investment / funding</li> <li>Digital strategy</li> <li>Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables</li> <li>Online pharmacies</li> </ul> <p><strong>A free sample document is available for download.</strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68740 2017-01-25T15:00:00+00:00 2017-01-25T15:00:00+00:00 The virtuous cycle of transparency: 10 of the best company blogs Ben Davis <p>Jeff was talking about letting employees have access to information and data. Increasingly, companies are striving to be transparent not just to their workforce but to the public, too.</p> <p>I've rounded up 10 company blogs notable for their transparency or honesty. There's plenty of inspiration to be had within...</p> <h3>1. The Co-op </h3> <p>The Co-op's digital teams are headed up by chief digital officer Mike Bracken, formerly in charge at the UK's ground-breaking Government Digital Service (GDS). It's therefore no surprise that Co-op has adopted the same approach to publishing.</p> <p>Co-op's digital blog offers information on everything from service design (for example, <a href="https://digital.blogs.coop/2017/01/16/improving-accessibility-in-co-op-wills/">improving accessibility in Co-op wills</a>) to <a href="https://digital.blogs.coop/2017/01/13/mike-bracken-a-busy-first-week-back/">regular updates from Mike himself</a> about the progress of the digital teams.</p> <p>It's also worth noting the <a href="https://colleagues.coop.co.uk/">Co-op has a website for colleagues</a> and prospective colleagues, including detail on pay, policies, perks and more.</p> <p><a href="https://digital.blogs.coop/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3381/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.35.53.jpg" alt="co-op blog" width="615" height="337"></a> </p> <h3>2. Edelman </h3> <p>PR company Edelman does have a 'careers and culture' section on its website, but what's more interesting is the blog of president and CEO Richard Edelman.</p> <p>The blog, titled 6 A.M., covers trends in communications, as well as broader insights from Richard - a nice example being his recent missive from The World Economic Forum at Davos.</p> <p>Such a commitment to ideas shows a progressive spirit of trust and corporate social responsibility (CSR).</p> <p><a href="http://www.edelman.com/conversations/6-a-m/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3382/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.36.06.jpg" alt="edelman blog" width="615" height="364"></a> </p> <h3>3. Basecamp</h3> <p>Signal v. Noise is a fun blog to scout around because it features, by the company's own admission, 'strong opinions and shared thoughts' (e.g. '<a href="https://m.signalvnoise.com/interviewing-job-applicants-in-a-coffee-shop-is-fucking-barbaric-stop-it-stop-it-9d80adc1e45c#.eka2km5fb">Interviewing job applicants in a coffee shop is fucking barbaric. Stop it. STOP IT.</a>')</p> <p>This approach helps to convey the sort of workplace Basecamp might be, and incorporates some more reflective pieces from current employees (such as <a href="https://m.signalvnoise.com/when-the-gift-is-bigger-than-the-box-f17c223dd506#.f35m1y31w">this diary of an intern</a>).</p> <p><a href="https://m.signalvnoise.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3383/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.36.20.jpg" alt="basecamp blog" width="615" height="364"></a> </p> <h3>4. Patagonia</h3> <p>Patagonia's blog, The Cleanest Line, shows the company as a fervent supporter of the Environment Protection Agency in the US and environmental policies further afield (such as action on climate change).</p> <p>It's almost shocking (it shouldn't be) to see a brand taking such an ardent stance, but is a product of CEO Rose Marcario's passion (see <a href="http://www.patagonia.com/blog/2017/01/why-businesses-are-hungry-for-a-strong-epa-and-a-note-on-keystone-xl-and-dapl/">her recent post in opposition to Donald Trump, Keystone XL and Dakota Access</a>).</p> <p>Such honest debate and activism sits alongside features on sport and the outdoors that align the brand with the conscientious citizen.</p> <p><a href="http://www.patagonia.com/blog/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3386/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.37.29.jpg" alt="patagonia blog" width="615" height="336"></a> </p> <h3>5. Government Digital Service</h3> <p>The most compelling example of a publishing mentality when it comes to digital teams, GDS employees blog in remarkable detail about their work.</p> <p>This open approach to digitally transforming a government (surely the most complex of cultures) means GDS can justify and advocate its working methods as it goes. It's impossible not to be impressed, even after a quick browse.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/68740-the-virtuous-cycle-of-transparency-10-of-the-best-company-blogs/edit/the%20https:/gds.blog.gov.uk/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3385/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.37.04.jpg" alt="gds blog" width="615" height="378"></a> </p> <h3>6. Starbucks</h3> <p>Every listicle of transparent companies includes the likes of Buffer (check further down this list), but it must be said that enormous corporates are making an effort, too, particularly when it comes to CSR.</p> <p>Yes, Starbucks' 1912 Pike blog may be just as much about PR, content marketing and brand awareness as it is CSR, but social media allows brands to have their cake and eat it, when it comes to charitable work.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68452-cause-marketing-examples-from-uber-starbucks-jetblue/">We've previously written about Uber Giving</a>, for example, where the marketing team has to prove a link between charitable giving and revenue in order to justify further activity.</p> <p>On its 1912 Pike blog, recipes and cartoons sit alongside articles about Starbucks' work with veterans, college students and coffee farmers. It's a pleasing platform to navigate and includes an email newsletter, too.</p> <p><a href="https://1912pike.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3388/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.38.19.jpg" alt="1912pike blog" width="615" height="339"></a> </p> <h3>7. Unbounce</h3> <p>Not the most regularly updated blog, but there's plenty here, including insightful '<a href="http://inside.unbounce.com/company-updates/unbounces-2016-year-in-review/">year in review</a>' pieces, as well as product rationale and internal debate (e.g. <a href="http://inside.unbounce.com/team/of-montreal-the-case-for-satellite-offices/">the case for satellite offices</a>).</p> <p><a href="http://inside.unbounce.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3387/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.37.54.jpg" alt="unbounce" width="615" height="355"></a> </p> <h3>8. Buffer</h3> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67107-five-digital-organisations-with-a-transparent-company-culture/">I've written about Buffer before</a>, it's probably the most famous exponent of transparency. The company publishes <a href="https://buffer.com/transparency%20">all of its employees salaries and every email sent internally</a>.</p> <p>There's also an Inside Buffer blog, with articles on everything from family leave policy to company failures.</p> <p><a href="https://open.buffer.com/category/transparency/inside-buffer/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3389/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.39.01.jpg" alt="buffer blog" width="615" height="392"></a> </p> <h3>9. GE Reports</h3> <p>GE Reports is a mix of fun content and detail about the company's most recent projects. It's an exercise in education, PR and creating content for use in the sales cycle.</p> <p>What makes it so good is the quality of production - great imagery, great copy and little fluff.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gereports.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3394/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_12.22.26.jpg" alt="ge reports" width="615" height="316"></a></p> <h3>10. B&amp;Q </h3> <p>B&amp;Q's One Planet Home section of its site may not be updated weekly but it does contain lots of information on a range of green issues the retailer is taking seriously.</p> <p>A mix of the company's own 2023 targets (such as a 90% absolute reduction in CO2e compared to 2016 baseline) are published alongside achievements so far (including cost savings) and how-to articles helping customers with their own savings.</p> <p>Commitments range from reducing packaging, water usage and carbon emissions, to creating sustainable transport and greener gardens.</p> <p><a href="http://www.diy.com/one-planet-home"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3384/Screen_Shot_2017-01-25_at_09.36.33.jpg" alt="b&amp;q blog" width="615" height="384"></a>  </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68707 2017-01-25T13:53:00+00:00 2017-01-25T13:53:00+00:00 How does the biggest company you've never heard of recruit digital talent? Ben Davis <p>I'm doing RS (and Corby) a disservice in setting the scene. There aren't many companies that are evolving as quickly, particularly within B2B.</p> <p>A whopping 70% of the company's EU sales were online in 2015, up from 15% in just 10 years. And to give you an idea of the extent of sales, RS ships 44,000 packages globally every day, offering 500,000 products to 1m customers in 32 countries.</p> <p>It makes for a fascinating case study (in fact, you can read previous Econsultancy articles about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67239-the-ultimate-ecommerce-cro-ux-case-study-rs-components/">RS's conversion optimisation</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67955-how-one-simple-a-b-test-helped-rs-components-increase-add-to-cart-conversion-by-159/">A/B testing</a>).</p> <p>Certainly, visiting the Corby HQ, you get a real sense of a business in the middle of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">a transformation</a>. The enormous, '80s-vintage distribution centre looks, from the outside, as it probably always has done - it's built for functionality and won't be picking up a <a href="https://www.architecture.com/Explore/Home.aspx">RIBA</a> prize any time soon (nor should it).</p> <p>However, once you make it past the rather corporate reception with its green potted plants and an enormous company timeline, the digital departments are a scene of relaxed productivity, recently refurbished to more millennial tastes and belying the warehouse setting.</p> <h3><strong>Changing the furniture</strong></h3> <p>There are breakout tables made cosy and private with high-sided benches (the sort you see in airports to allow transfer passengers to get some sleep). Meeting rooms are neither plate glass nor windowless, again affording the right level of inclusivity, with slatted windows decorated in bright primary colours.</p> <p>There's a corner of the office where brainstorming can occur in the round, with an almost amphitheatre-like set-up - banquettes facing a whiteboard. High tables and chairs provide a place to eat lunch away from the desk.</p> <p>Elsewhere, there are more clichéd touches, such as a large cardboard robot and another whiteboard covered in magnetic emojis, which my guide, digital marketing strategy manager Adam Pridmore, points out are just a bit of fun, in a room where employees are encouraged to express themselves.</p> <p>It's important not to scoff at fun, though. If you've ever worked in '80s-built offices in a warehouse complex (I have), you'll know that these touches can make a big difference. With fewer places to walk on lunch and nowhere to go for a beer after work, this commitment to a flexible and enjoyable workspace is vital.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3313/SAM_0940.jpg" alt="rs workspace" width="300"> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3314/SAM_0952.jpg" alt="rs workspace" width="300"></p> <h3>A new digital hub in London</h3> <p>Alongside improvements to the Corby offices, RS has recognised the need for a London base to gain access to a greater pool of talent. Like many other companies headquartered outside of London in the UK (such as Tesco), RS has created a digital hub in the capital. This office opened in early 2016 and now houses around 40 digital team members and some board-level staff.</p> <p>RS recruited for around 35 digital roles in 2016 and 70% of these were into this London digital hub. These London-based positions are chiefly in the digital advertising and SEO department.</p> <p>Harriet Quick, VP of digital marketing, told me that SEO, particularly link building, and digital advertising are the skillsets that are trickiest to recruit for. As language skills are often also required in these roles, for RS's work with international offices in EMEA and APAC, a London base is helpful in finding the right candidates.</p> <p>However, the digital hub is by no means a silver bullet for recruitment. Emily Garvie, HR business partner for innovation, points out that RS "has access to more talent [in London], but there is added complexity in that it’s fiercely competitive". This competition provides a challenge for staff retention, with skilled employees coveted by headhunters.</p> <p>There's also the question of cultural fit when recruiting staff in London (who are often ex-agency) to work remotely with the Corby head office. Quick picked up on this, saying, "People who are used to working at agencies aren’t necessarily used to working in an international matrix environment."</p> <p>She continues, "Obviously, not being in Corby, where the majority of the rest of the UK business is, there’s that difficulty of integrating a London hub which is predominantly made up of agency-based expertise."</p> <p>This is where soft skills come in.</p> <h3><strong>Softer skills are imperative</strong></h3> <p>Though technical skills in digital can be tricky to recruit for, both Quick and Garvie were adamant that soft skills are much harder to come across and also much more important to the success and the development of any new hire.</p> <p>"We’re quite clear - the technical training, we can go and get that. It’s an attitude we're looking for," said Garvie. "Being able to work with other people effectively, to influence, to thrive in the culture we are trying to create. People have to have the ability and the motivation to go and find the answer themselves. You can't teach that."</p> <p>"There’s complexity, as there is in any organisation and... deep technical experts may not necessarily have worked in larger environments where building collaborative relationships and influencing people has been as relevant, due to the nature of their role."</p> <p>Garvie's sentiments mirror Econsultancy's findings in the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/skills-of-the-modern-marketer/">2014 Skills of the Modern Marketer Report</a>, where the key softer skill mentioned by interviewees was 'articulation and persuasion'. These skills can be honed, of course, but they often come from broad experience across customer-facing and business roles, something RS is keen to encourage its digital employees to seek out.</p> <p><em>Chart below shows answers to question 'How important would you say the following softer skills or behaviours are to being an effective marketer in the modern digital world?'</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/8333/soft_skills-blog-full.jpg" alt="soft skills" width="615" height="547"></p> <h3><strong>A people strategy, not a recruitment strategy</strong></h3> <p>A detailed and tailored approach to the personal development of its staff is at the core of RS's digital HR strategy and this comes across clearly when talking to Quick and Garvie.</p> <p>The company understands what competencies each employee or prospect should have and, according to Garvie, is "trying to develop a very open and challenging culture, to give people breadth of experience, opportunities and differentiated development plans, rather than a sheep dip approach."</p> <p>Quick, in her role as VP of digital marketing, says that regular sessions are held with heads of teams to "look at each team's strengths, opportunities, and their succession plans". She adds that "when there’s a gap between [an individual's] capability and the next opportunity, we identify ways to help them so that in the next 12 months, say, they can fill that opportunity."</p> <p>"There isn’t just a recruitment strategy", Garvie adds, "there’s a talent strategy, a people strategy".</p> <p>This people strategy is demonstrated by the policy for secondments between digital teams. Digital is made up of digital marketing, digital analytics, digital content (onsite product content), and ops (development). Quick tells me that two people from the content team are currently on six-month secondments working on email in the marketing team, and another employee is on secondment from Madrid to London.</p> <p>These opportunities are particularly important when you consider that a proportion of the digital staff have backgrounds as print specialists, working on RS paper catalogues. As the company has changed, moving from print versioning and sign-off to a more flexible approach to web, these employees have had to develop new skills.</p> <p>As Garvie puts it, the strategy is "Attract, retain and develop. Rather than just attract. That’s a big differentiator." </p> <h3>But how to convince the best candidates?</h3> <p>Getting this message of personal development and progression in digital roles across to potential hires can be difficult - what company doesn't claim the 'possibility of progression? - but RS is beginning to build out its content to better paint this picture.</p> <p>Recruitment in digital is changing and is no longer about posting an advert on a jobs board and sitting back and waiting. Content and communities matter.</p> <p>RS uses an Oracle talent management programme called Taleo, which helps to manage and grow the company's social media presence to gain better reach with candidates. This approach involves making the most of the current expertise in the digital team to create content that will attract the best talent.</p> <p>Though these efforts are still scaling up, HR has already created compelling video content, for example, showcasing the culture and the people within the organisation. It's a far cry from the dry B2B recruitment videos of old.</p> <p>"Our latest video hopefully gives people a snapshot of our culture...We’ve got some really great stories where people have moved across the organisation and we know that these are the people that have really great insight into our business," Quick explains.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/q7d2V_GKgcQ?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>"It's the same as marketing," Quick continues, "In marketing you have to be where your customers are, and in recruitment you have to be where potential candidates are. It’s not even job search engines (Indeed etc.) any more - we are using skills and expertise to find candidates within their own online communities."</p> <h3><strong>Creating a digital culture</strong></h3> <p>RS's efforts are bearing fruit, with cultural change and talent management seemingly chicken and egg. Employees are given accountability, without "bags of governance", according to Garvie.</p> <p>Over the past 12 months, the company has reduced the remaining agency retainers it had (social media and advertising) and brought the activity in-house.</p> <p>The operations team - 100 strong and managing 30 digital properties - has adopted agile methodology, split into five teams prioritising <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66658-24-best-practice-tips-for-ecommerce-site-search/">site search</a>, product pages, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/10936-site-speed-case-studies-tips-and-tools-for-improving-your-conversion-rate/">site speed</a>, filtering and checkout, with changes prioritised in product sprints. The gains have been impressive, with a 40% improvement in site speed in 2016 and vastly improved search relevancy just two of the highlights.</p> <p>Rolling out changes to the site has been up to four times quicker using agile methodology. And marketing teams, too, have also taken on some aspects of agile, for example sitting together with stakeholders at the beginning of a project and understanding the objectives behind each piece of work. This represents a big change from previous methods of receiving, reviewing and updating proposals over lengthy email chains.</p> <p>"The whole approach for the agile team is to put the customer in the middle," says Quick. "We ask what the problem is then build out from there. Rigorous testing plus an increase in UX resource has helped to turn the way we build our website on its head."</p> <p>To that end, RS has built a new customer lab within its Corby ops offices, and a second in London. Qualitative tools like Foresee, along with session tracking, are utilised by UX experts who are regularly recording user feedback. </p> <p>This customer- and digital-focused approach is something you can see starting to come through from the new CEO, Lindsley Ruth, who has been in place since 2015. As you can see in <a href="http://www.electrocomponents.com/media/videolibrary/2017-half-year-results-lindsley-ruth">a video where he discusses half year results</a> for the 2017/2018 year, the commitment to CX is clear, with Ruth even praising that aforementioned 40% increase in site speed over 2016.</p> <p>You have to wonder how many other CEOs know how much their site speed has improved over the past 12 months.</p> <p>However, Quick and Garvie said that the next big challenge is one that faces many forward-thinking organisations - embedding digital skills across the organisation, not simply within digital teams.</p> <h3><strong>Digital culture should not be siloed</strong></h3> <p>"By having a digital team, you almost take away the requirement of the rest of the organisation to be digital. That segregation shouldn’t exist. We should be rebalancing our focus whether teams are customer facing or not. It could be picking in the warehouse, for example," says Quick.</p> <p>Digital represents 70% of RS's business, but the digital team represents only 180 people out of 6,000 staff. Understandably, this can generate tension if the digital department is seen to be allocated disproportionate resources.</p> <p>Quick comments that a broader focus on digital has to be a combination of upskilling and sharing digital expertise, as well as a topdown approach, and that this is very much in the offing through CEO Ruth. Departments such as sales, HR and finance should become empowered to develop digital skills that increase their efficacy.</p> <p>However, Garvie adds a note of realism saying that "the business has many different cultures (finance, digital, supply chain) and in a company of such size this is quite natural."</p> <h3>The future of innovation</h3> <p>So, what's next for the RS digital team and the hunt for talent?</p> <p>Well, the company is continuing to encourage innovation, to add to successful projects such as <a href="https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/home">DesignSpark</a>, a community of industrial designers making use of RS Components' free CAD tools. This software, alongside initiatives such as RS's high profile partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is great for sales, brand awareness and RS's education work (CSR), but it may also help attract great candidates.</p> <p>Not only do these innovations provide more content to shape recruitment efforts, RS also has one eye on the apprenticeship levy that will be introduced by the Department for Education in Spring 2017. This greater funding for apprenticeships, Garvie says, "will challenge what we do... Apprenticeships and digital is a great partnership and could be a good area for us to attract more people who are very junior in their career."</p> <p>"Getting them in earlier," she continues, "means we can give them technical expertise but also give them rounded business expertise too."</p> <p>So, the next time the RS sales team takes its new innovation truck (engineering's cross between a transformer and an episode of Pimp My Ride) to a school, perhaps the children there will be inspired to start a career at RS.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JjqPVVSAWxM?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p><em>For more on digital recruitment, check out the below posts. You can also benchmark your team’s expertise using the Econsultancy <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-skills-index-lite/">Digital Skills Index</a>:<br></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68487-how-can-companies-attract-and-retain-talent-in-the-digital-age/"><em>How can companies attract and retain talent in the digital age?</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68483-hiring-digital-talent-what-skills-characteristics-do-startups-value/"><em>Hiring digital talent: What skills &amp; characteristics do startups value?</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68718 2017-01-23T11:35:20+00:00 2017-01-23T11:35:20+00:00 What is zero-based budgeting? And what are its benefits for marketers? Ben Davis <p>So, what is zero-based budgeting?</p> <h3>Zero-based budgeting; a definition</h3> <p>The base of the marketing budget is zero. That means that each year, the CMO is not given any money (aside from certain operating costs) unless they can justify why they need it.</p> <p>Where many organisations simply allocate the same marketing budget each year (as an arbitrary percentage of projected sales volume), with anything extra having to be justified, those using a zero-based budget go back to the drawing board entirely.</p> <p>The marketer creates their plan for the year based on business objectives, they then calculate what budget this entails and what return the business will see. Senior managers review this work and either grant the budget requested or query the plan.</p> <p>Mark Ritson last year wrote <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/26/why-unilever-is-right-to-adopt-zero-based-budgeting/">an article about zero-based budgeting</a>, in light of Unilever's adoption of the technique and subsequent scare-mongering from certain corners of agency land. As Mark points out, zero-based budgeting is simply accountability for marketing - anything else is folly.</p> <p>While it's true that zero-based budgeting can involve the re-evaluation of funding by removing expenses and predicting how this would affect performance, it can just as easily involve the addition of functionality; fairly obviously, given the idea is a zero base. Everything is on the table.</p> <h3>The advantages of zero-based budgeting</h3> <p>As Mark Ritson puts it, 'what happens is that senior managers bet their resources on the better marketers with the better plans and the better opportunities and reduce investment in the crappy marketers with crappy plans.'</p> <p>Some other things to consider...</p> <p><strong>Questioning the status quo</strong></p> <p>Zero-based budgeting creates debate within the marketing team and among senior management. This regular review of activity stops inefficient tactics from flying under the radar and can also bring wider business objectives into question.</p> <p><strong>Avoiding waste</strong></p> <p>The zero-based approach prevents the marketing team from spending their money simply to justify the same allocation next year.</p> <p><strong>Prioritisation / focus</strong></p> <p>Planning activity and budget requires the marketing team to define its role. This is the focus Ashley was talking about.</p> <h3>The disadvantages of zero-based budgeting</h3> <p><strong>Time and resource heavy </strong></p> <p>Fairly obviously, a more strategic approach requires some effort (from marketing team and senior managers), as does anything worth doing in life. Some companies combat this by doing zero-based budgeting every few years.</p> <p><strong>Estimating costs can be difficult</strong></p> <p>Some things are difficult to budget for if their results are difficult to measure. Not every activity has an ROI and demonstrating value may be tricky.</p> <p><em><strong>Now read:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68717-what-exactly-is-marketing-ops/">What exactly is marketing ops?</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68717 2017-01-20T10:11:00+00:00 2017-01-20T10:11:00+00:00 What exactly is marketing ops? Ben Davis <p>Here's what he has to say about the latter:</p> <blockquote> <p>The area that I find most interesting is the idea of ‘marketing ops’: the operating system for marketing. This is one effective way of keeping focus but also dealing with complexity and delivering operational efficiency.</p> <p>Just as (enlightened) IT has ‘dev ops’ it makes absolute sense to me that marketing needs ‘marketing ops’. Marketing is adopting ‘agile’ from the world of tech (incorrectly in many cases, but still…) and could do well to adopt ‘ops’. </p> </blockquote> <p>Justin Dunham of Urban Airship gave <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/MarTechConf/marketing-ops-is-a-philosophy-not-a-department-by-justin-dunham">a talk</a> at the MarTech Europe conference in November and attempted to explain the concept of marketing ops, its principles and how it draws on lessons learned from DevOps.</p> <p>Here's a very quick digest of some of Dunham’s points, alongside some wider theory.</p> <h3>Marketing ops; a definition</h3> <p>Marketing ops should allow marketing to adapt quickly to changes in the market, in business strategy, and in customer behaviour.</p> <p>The increasing influence of digital technology in marketing has expanded the scope of marketing ops from project management and governance to areas including: </p> <ul> <li>marketing performance measurement</li> <li>strategic planning guidance and execution</li> <li>resource allocation</li> <li>process development</li> <li>marketing systems and data</li> </ul> <p>Marketing now has tighter relationships with IT, operations and sales, and is considered a driver of efficiency, rather than simply a cost centre, with a concomitant increase in infrastructure, process and reporting.</p> <p>However, it’s probably easiest to think of marketing ops as planning, process and measurement. Dunham uses the more inspiring word, ‘prioritization, synchronization, execution.’</p> <p>In layman’s terms: getting stuff done and improving results. Marketing ops does this by managing the more traditional marketing teams that are often aligned with disciplines or with stages of the customer lifecycle.</p> <p>Dunham sums this up with two example org charts, seen below.</p> <p><em>Example one</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3171/org_1.jpg" alt="org structure" width="650" height="205"></p> <p><em>Example two</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3172/org_2.jpg" alt="org structure" width="650" height="267"></p> <p>You may think this long definition of marketing ops is a bit dry. Dunham livens up the outline of marketing ops by providing some generic examples of how it might work, alongside some guiding principles.</p> <p>Let’s have a look.</p> <h3>Marketing ops; some examples</h3> <p>When it comes to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/content-marketing-and-strategy">content marketing</a>, Dunham describes the role of marketing ops as tackling questions and tasks such as:</p> <ul> <li>What content performs best?</li> <li>Which paid media campaign has been most effective?</li> <li>Make this content available on our site. Deploy this content via email.</li> <li>Can we give the sales team a template to follow up with event attendees?</li> </ul> <p>In product marketing, marketing ops might attempt to answer:</p> <ul> <li>Who’s visiting the site?</li> <li>Where are they coming from?</li> <li>What assets are the sales team using?</li> <li>Can we build an ROI calculator?</li> <li>Help us understand who’s in the database.</li> </ul> <p>In Dunham’s third example, he looks at demand generation, where marketing ops may consider:</p> <ul> <li>How much revenue does a lead from <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-search-marketing-ppc-best-practice-guide/">AdWords</a> generate?</li> <li>What tech can we use on the website to shorten our forms?</li> <li>How can we decrease page load time so we can rank better in Google?</li> <li>Can you suggest some A/B testing ideas to us?</li> </ul> <h3>Marketing ops; the principles</h3> <p>Dunham argues that marketing ops relies on collaboration and has four principles. These are: </p> <ul> <li>Accountability through data.</li> <li>Test and learn.</li> <li>Technology as a competitive advantage.</li> <li>Use workflows and process to go quicker.</li> </ul> <p>I’ve seen other definitions of marketing ops which state that ops may manage the so-called ‘six As’. These are:</p> <ul> <li>Alignment (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-convergence-of-marketing-and-sales/">marketing with sales</a> and more broadly with the customer and the business)</li> <li>Accountability (metrics, measurement, results)</li> <li>Analytics (including models)</li> <li>Automation (technology infrastructure and training)</li> <li>Alliances (with finance, IT etc.)</li> <li>Assessment (benchmarking and improvement)</li> </ul> <p><em><strong>Does your organization have a marketing ops function, or is planning to create one? If so, let us know how it is panning out in the comments below.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68701 2017-01-16T11:47:44+00:00 2017-01-16T11:47:44+00:00 The impact of the sharing economy on retail Nikki Gilliland <p>One industry that has yet to see much disruption from this area is retail. By 2025, however, it is predicted that the sharing economy will be worth a whopping $335bn.</p> <p>Will fashion and retail brands see a slice of the pie?</p> <p>Here’s a closer look at the opportunities (or dangers) the sharing economy presents and how it has already had an impact.</p> <h3>Why is the sharing economy such big business?</h3> <p>Now more than ever, there is a huge demand for services within the sharing economy, with benefits ranging from convenience to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68097-purchase-with-purpose-how-four-brands-use-social-good-to-drive-consumer-loyalty/" target="_blank">social good</a>.</p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.pwc.co.uk/issues/megatrends/collisions/sharingeconomy/the-sharing-economy-sizing-the-revenue-opportunity.html" target="_blank">PWC research</a>, 86% of US adults who are familiar with the sharing economy agree that it makes life affordable.</p> <p>Similarly, 76% agree that it’s better for the environment, and 63% say it’s more fun than engaging with traditional companies.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3017/PWC.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="340"></p> <p>Meanwhile, we’re forever being told that millennials in particular are keen to forgo possessions for a more pared-down lifestyle – with <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/05/millennials-are-prioritizing-experiences-over-stuff.html" target="_blank">73% preferring to spend money on experiences</a> rather than material goods.</p> <p>Altogether, does this mean young people are turning towards non-traditional retail?</p> <h3>A new kind of retail</h3> <p>With just 2% of Americans having engaged in a retail-based transaction in the sharing economy - a much lower percentage compared to entertainment or automotive sectors - it's not a trend that's taken off just yet. </p> <p>However, we have certainly seen some disruption from online marketplaces, with consumer willingness to buy and sell online fuelling the rise of sites like eBay and Etsy. </p> <p>When it comes to the more specific notion of <em>sharing</em> – i.e. borrowing or renting - we’ve also seen a number of companies find success.</p> <p>Sites like Rent the Runway and Beg, Borrow or Steal are built on the idea that consumers can’t afford to buy luxury goods or simply don’t want to spend over the odds, so they offer rental as a short-term alternative instead. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Looking better at brunch thanks to <a href="https://twitter.com/RenttheRunway">@renttherunway</a>. Obsessed with these <a href="https://twitter.com/Nike">@nike</a> pants <a href="https://t.co/FwYyUj9qKj">https://t.co/FwYyUj9qKj</a> <a href="https://t.co/YHCUD2RKCo">pic.twitter.com/YHCUD2RKCo</a></p> — Kayleigh Harrington (@Kayleigh_H) <a href="https://twitter.com/Kayleigh_H/status/782273719351832580">October 1, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>Interestingly, it’s not only luxury brands that are capitalising on peer-to-peer demand.</p> <p>More recently, we’ve seen an influx of new brands appear. The likes of Vigga, a subscription-based service for pre-worn baby clothes, and Poshmark, a way to buy and sell lower-price fashion, demonstrate that it’s not always about getting designer dresses on the cheap.</p> <p><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/154178062" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <p>Whether it’s giving into demand for disposable fashion or offering a way to dress sustainably – retailers are using the sharing economy to provide greater value for consumers.  </p> <h3>Opportunities and challenges</h3> <p>Of course, borrowing or recycling consumer goods is a little different than sharing accommodation or music. There is a behavioural mind-set that most people have when it comes to what they wear or items they use on a day to day basis, and it's very different compared to what they listen to or how they travel. </p> <p>Perhaps this reflects why just a small percentage of consumers are aware of or currently use sharing economies within retail.</p> <p>But is it due to less demand, or fewer opportunities for consumers? </p> <p>That’s not to say that existing brands aren’t beginning to recognise potential value, but many understand that there are far more stumbling blocks for retailers than utility-based companies.</p> <p>While an Uber, for example, is on-demand, guaranteeing that customer needs are met within the shortest possible time-frame - a product-based company has to deal with additional factors like inventory and delivery. </p> <p>One solution to this is sharing the supply chain, meaning that retailers will partner with existing companies to help facilitate services.</p> <p>We've already seen examples of this.</p> <p>Patagonia, the outdoor apparel retailer, has partnered with the freecycle startup Yerdle to encourage the recycling and reusing of its clothing. Similarly, Walgreens has also gone down the partnership route, teaming up with TaskRabbit to deliver its products to customer’s homes.</p> <p>There are many benefits to this tactic, a couple of which include:</p> <h4>Improved brand perception</h4> <p>By embracing the sharing economy, brands can bring awareness to the wider positive values they uphold. Sustainability, inclusivity, functionality – these are all benefits that this business model evokes, and that consumers increasingly care about.</p> <h4>Building community</h4> <p>In turn, the sharing economy helps build trust. By creating a more emotional connection, through both the aforementioned values and sense of community that ‘sharing’ evokes, consumers are more likely to return and remain loyal.</p> <h3>In conclusion…</h3> <p>The concept of the sharing economy is certainly not easy for retail brands to implement, with logistical factors and consumer preferences still being big barriers.</p> <p>However, with the aforementioned benefits, it is a tempting opportunity for existing companies to consider.</p> <p>With a growing number of startups fulfilling desires for greater connection with brands, sustainable values and a minimal lifestyle - there could be further disruption to come.</p> <p><em>For more on the sharing economy, read:</em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66351-how-will-crowdsourcing-and-the-sharing-economy-develop-in-the-next-five-years/">How will crowdsourcing and the sharing economy develop in the next five years?</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68375-airbnb-how-its-customer-experience-is-revolutionising-the-travel-industry/">Airbnb: How its customer experience is revolutionising the travel industry</a></em></li> </ul>