CII Thinkpiece on networking:: the smell of bs in the morning…no thanks!


imageI’ve been in this business for a long time and, despite there being plenty of people able to bear witness to the fact that I’m a pretty “social animal” the truth is I have always despised networking! I cringe at the type of gathering that has, otherwise typically reserved Brits, feign joy because somebody who sells printing or dry cleaning services has just done some business with the person who sells life assurance or will writing. It’s all…well, how can I say this, FALSE! There is never the enthusiastic whooping and hollering of a Jerry Springer show and I’m sure an awful lot of that is down to the simple fact that most people are there under duress. Their boss or their sales figures sent or led them there out of desperation and the first measure of their success is how many business cards (even compliment slips) they offloaded or collected!

Nor am I keen on engaging with people purely on the basis that there might be some business in it. Exchanging pleasantries and small talk over a glass of wine and canapés whilst trying to ingratiate ourselves to each other would give anyone indigestion.      

If these are the basic ingredients for forming worthwhile, longstanding, business relationships then, to me (because this is only my opinion) the business world (particularly in Financial Services) IS as shallow and undeserving of trust as it has consistently shown itself to be in recent years. The thing about it is that, ALL the people who recognise these scenarios from their own past experiences are both vendors and buyers of a range of different products and services! So, we know bs when we smell it in the room or on our new best friend’s breath. Often it is the smell of fear or business-sponsored insincerity worn like an ill-fitting suit!!!    

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Bob Dylan and the evolving role of Social Business in the redistribution of “absolute power”


Complexity to casualtyYou can’t fail to have noticed the sorry demise of some major High Street brands in recent years. It’s true that a lot of the “tales of woe” are as a result of the, immediate impact, of the global financial crisis but that is only part of the story. Because, there have probably been more casualties, large and small, as a result of the far-reaching “aftershocks” and resultant recession. Read more of this post

Panning for “customer gold”


For once, I don’t intend to get too “hung up” on promoting the social media message from this article. But I DO want to highlight, what to me, is the fundamental message about using the data that a business produces…and too often discards…to align capabilities to Buyer/Customer service.

I know, from my experience in the insurance industry, that too often “customer segmentation” is done in accordance with what best suits the organisation e.g. premium spend, line of business, trade, etc. This may have made sense at one time but I’m not so sure that this should still be the case.

The NEED for (and benefits of) operational alignment recognises the interdependent nature of a venture. Every business function generates information as “digital verification” of the resources it requires, the processes it undertakes and what it produces. The ability to share that information can empower at every level of the organisation. However, only a truly ethical, values-led, business can fully engage its employees and offer the transparency that customers, increasingly, demand.

With such a message, products that deliver sustainable value and communication tools – particularly social media – the means to attract and accumulate “gold” is as close to being assured as it can be!

Aligning to buyer expectations on service can only come from “across the board visibility into metrics up and down the organization”, said Goldberg.  His mantra is a simple one, “transparency comes from empowerment which comes from information.”   How do you get transparency? Empower front line employees with better information and insights based on analytics and qualitative information such as resolving the customers issue on the first call” Most of the customer experience in Service comes from dealing with an agent or sales associate.  They have to get it right in every encounter.  Analytics and big data are the core enablers of empowerment.  The other enablers are company leadership and culture change.  “Many companies do not really know what it means to live in a socially-driven world.  Their CEOs need to recognize how customers want to be talked to,” shares Goldberg.

The Gold in Social Customer Service

Facebook and GS tie-up may be unholy disaster (Part 2)


I was reassured to find out that I am not the only person who “harbours concerns” about the future for Facebook:

“…This meme has slowly propagated, and quite a few other analysts have looked at the same; See Douglas Rushkoff and the Reformed Broker, amongst others. Goldman Sachs does not agree with this assessment, as they just poured $500 million into FB at a $50 billion dollar valuation, with an option for another $1.5 billion right behind it.

If and when Facebook goes public, they must monetize their user base — I find it hard to see how they do that without annoying their base of users away. Mine is a decidedly non-consensus viewpoint.

The free web app has to figure out a way to have the site generate revenue and profits from its immense user base. Currently, they generate about $ 1 billion dollars in revenues at about a 25% margin”.

Read full article: 5 Questions for Facebook Investors

Facebook have been “valued” by banksters Goldman Sachs at an outrageous amount but, on a couple of levels, this may be just a step too far: Facebook has already lost some of its appeal. It has become less “personal”, more confusing and complex with the addition of more and more features.    Then there was the underhand way in which the privacy debacle was handled. Facebook are only where they are now because of … Read More

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Facebook and GS tie-up may be unholy disaster


Saint Wolfgang and the Devil, by Michael Pacher.

Image via Wikipedia

Facebook have been “valued” by banksters Goldman Sachs at an outrageous amount but, on a couple of levels, this may be just a step too far:

Facebook has already lost some of its appeal. It has become less “personal”, more confusing and complex with the addition of more and more features.   

Then there was the underhand way in which the privacy debacle was handled.

Facebook are only where they are now because of the phenomenal growth of its membership and it has been becoming more “monetized” (that’s commercial for us Brits).

Now it’s Facebook v Google.

How many people are  interested in taking sides, if it came to that? If presented with that choice I suspect that, given similar functionality, less commercial (or more personal) would be a major factor.

But, wait a minute, even with this huge investment from GS I have an inkling that success or failure will be determined by the memberships reaction to a deal, done with a firm, who were at the very centre of dodgy multi-billion dollar “off-book” deals, lies to Regulators, pressure on rating agencies, lying to and cheating clients, etc.      Of course GS weren’t  the only guilty firm responsible for saddling much of the current and future generations of potential Facebook members with debt that is not theirs and that they may never be free of.

Want some insight into why or how they have such a bad rep? Here’s what a former MD of GS had to say on their modus operandi:

…get the business, rake in the fees—and pawn off the overpriced goods on the clients (even the “shitty deals” so Goldman’s not holding the bag. That dirty formula cost Goldman a $550 million fine less than six months ago.

Yet the Facebook phenomenon shows us that nothing has changed. Goldman again moved aggressively to get the business—investing $75 million into Facebook early, at a low valuation,

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