A nightmare service model

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I woke up at midnight from a nightmare, and knew first thing this morning that I had to write this post. The nightmare was caused by a service model I am participating in where I acquire the services of an expert.

Why would an expertise service model give me a nightmare? Let’s first look at the service models we are used to, and then I can show you where this one caused my severe reaction.

We are used to a subscription (utility) model, where we sign up and consume, and then monthly (or other time frames) we are billed for our consumption. If you do not use the service, you are still billed for a basic fee for connectivity.

The next more common model is one of retainer. I use the services of an expert when it is necessary (lawyer, consultant, accountant) and they bill me on billable hours, and I pay when service has been rendered.

I am currently consuming remote expertise with a different model, and this is the one that gave me bad dreams. I pay a monthly fee, and can (per week) ask for visual analysis for up to six events. I submit the events, and then the expert gives their opinion (usually within 24 hours) via a visual medium. But it is my responsibility to provide the data in the right format and form, and to take actions after the expertise. I am also responsible for the monthly payments, as no reminder is sent. This is a small, but lucrative, business where this service is one of the smaller services of the service provider.

Why does this give me bad dreams? Because I have been using the service for 7 months so far, and I always have to remember where I am with the service (what week, what events, what payment is still required) and my subconscious reminded me last night that I have two more weeks and need to get some more events to load. Guilt by taking full advantage of my payment, in other words.

I am seeing a shift from classical service models of subscription and retention to models where the consumer has to take a more active role in the service provisioning. These services are more complex and less mainstream, and cannot actively scale as the subscription model does.

Is service complexity really a growing phenomena? In my business, I see the opposite that more and more information is put in front of a paywall to tempt the potential client (kid, candy store) to enter and to see the level of expertise on offer.

Yet when I consume from other small businesses not in technology, I see increased service complexity and enhanced consumer participation.

What do you see in your business? Reach out to me here or via my Twitter feed (@afairch) and let me know.

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When personalization is too boring

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I have noticed more often these days the attempts of platforms to personalize my experience. When I say ‘notice more often’, I am saying that it is too obvious and also clear to me that they have not profiled me that well if this is what they believe I am looking for. And frankly, it is becoming boring!

Or the picture of me that they are reflecting back to me is seriously flawed, like a cartoon character version of me. Perhaps their algorithms are not tuned well, or they are only seeing a part of the information I have to offer as I have changed my search methods to be less obtrusive to an observer?

I say this in light of research work I am doing with Ovum on Account Based Marketing strategies and vendors. When you see the plethora of data being collected, yet in the case of me personally the mistakes being made on what interests me and what I might click on, it tells me that marketers generally are not realizing that most of us are turning down the volume on social media in our lives, and only listen to trusted voices of friends, family and people who influence we look to as trend setters. It is harder for marketer to remember that it is a ‘pull’ market right now, no longer a ‘push’ market.

I am helping someone I know craft their personal branding message, and I see others who are trying to help them implement it get it wrong on the basis of not understanding all of the parameters involved.

This leads me to believe that the problem with the social media algorithms used is that the data model is not large or complex enough to understand the subtleties involved. There appears to be a lack of learning occurring, and re-targeting efforts just amplify that finding.

So like many others I know personally, I am dialing down the use of social media and going back to more original sources, personally mined, to get my information for decisions. I’ll let you know how that goes in a few months. 🙂

GDPR for Marketers – Distraction or Opportunity?

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On March 28th at 11am EDT (4pm CET), Dr. Alea Fairchild will participate in a webinar on “How to Thrive in the World of Data Protection and Privacy for Marketers”. Registration is still available via this link.

Post-GDPR – how does your marketing team deal with data privacy now?

GDPR came into force on May 25th of last year, and for many marketers, it was a wake-up call to reexamine internal procedures and processes.  

GDPR as a regulation takes a wide view of what constitutes personal identification information. Companies now need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for name, address and national ID number. The GDPR carries provisions that require businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. And it also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU.

Since its implementation last May, marketers are still not clear on how it is enforced, what the penalties are, and how best to tackle compliance for those small and medium size businesses without an internal legal team. And since May, we have seen other regions refocus their efforts on privacy and consumer data rights.

So is GDPR taking time from other priorities, like cybersecurity or data protection policy, or does it bring a benefit to better engaging the customer? Or are the two related?

According to a recent Ovum report, about two-thirds of U.S. companies believe that the GDPR will require them to rethink their strategy in Europe. Even more (85 percent) see the GDPR putting them at a competitive disadvantage with European companies.  That last figure is puzzling, but culturally telling, as I believe from my experience that U.S. companies view customer and prospect data differently than in other regions of the world.  So how can data handling be transparent and create a climate of trust in the business ecosystem?

Let’s highlight some of the topics we will be discussing on March 28th in the webinar.

How did consumers react prior to GDPR last May?  Businesses were confused on how to reach out to prospects and customers in their data systems, so many marketers did mass mailings to notify people that they held data on as to ask permission to continue communicating with them. This provided a terrific opportunity to cement a closer relationship with prospects and customers.   And of these many marketers blew it, and instead gave reason for people on their mailing lists to opt-out with pleasure.  Why?  Because instead of telling people how important they are and how you plan to interact with them going forward, these mails just reminded them they were signed up to a mailing list that was no longer relevant to them.

Have we seen a business impact? Let’s face it, data privacy is a business issue with strong implications on customer experience, brand reputation, and personalization. Trust, transparency and reputation are all on the line every time we engage with a prospect or customer. Those that took this as an opportunity worked on addressing this as a benefit to the relationship by pointing out how they handled data, why they collected it and how it was used, as well as how they plan to use it going forward.

Were there any early adopter benefits? Firms that were first to embrace GDPR consistently report improvements in their business outcomes, including their customer experience and data strategies. GDPR has also been pushing firms to innovate and prepare to deliver services of the future, in line with compliance and transparency. GDPR can be an opportunity to more clearly engage the prospect or customer as a trusted provider of service.

Where is data protection and privacy headed next? Tech companies cannot require that to receive value from their products and services, you must give up your data. If you want to ask for data, there should be a reason for it and there must be an option to revoke the information if requested. To be precise: Consent must stand out, be clear and include the reasons for collection.

Where should we focus our DPP efforts? Decide the purpose for collecting the data, and the manner in which it is collected.Make the necessary process investments, supported by good tools, to know the state of your data protection efforts beyond a dashboard. DPP efforts should include internal data protection awareness workshops, privacy impact assessments (PIAs), managed breach detection and response, and breach notification policy.  Get the necessary tools for a data audit, as data discovery, mapping, and protection technologies are all key aspects to protecting consumer data and privacy. Cybersecurity monitoring, threat detection, and alerting systems are necessary to ensure GDPR compliance. Because under current GDPR requirements, organizations have to report a breach within 72 hours of discovery.

What can I do to proactively make this an opportunity for our marketing team?  Privacy protection compliance should be enforced through not only business processes and strategies but also investment in technologies and incident response management.  Data breaches are not only expensive but erodes trust in the brand.

Why are so many of us preferring to work from home?

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Like many, I get a lot of work done from my home office.  But there are drawbacks to it as well.  I miss the chance encounters with colleagues, I cannot catch up on the latest non-virtual watercooler info, and I miss the local lunch food options which are more plentiful in the center of the city. #foodie

But why do so many of us prefer home working?  Is it the commute, the better technology, the lack of a dress code?  😉

For me, the office environment lacks the inspirational aspects as well as the comforts.  My employer has set us up in goldfish bowl offices with no visual privacy and six to an office space (or more for the admin staff). Private conversations require departing to the hallway with the mobile. My colleagues down a floor below have created an open working space, but again with the goldfish windows and lack of atmosphere.

Personally, I love analyzing why certain office spaces make work fun.   I really enjoy the postings of such folks as Interior Architects (@IAarchitects) and Robin (@robinpowered ) who showcase the best of what workplaces can look like.

I do not need a Foosball table or a go-cart to make my life in the office complete.  But I want to work smart and live smart, as work/life are so combined these days.  I’d like a PUDO in the office, pick up/drop off dry cleaning, and group Deliveroo scheduling to save money and start conversations amongst foodies.

So why are employee experience services so low on the HR list of things to make the environment successful?    What role does HR play in the connected office?  Are role-based operations more efficient and/or more fun?

I am working on a smarter offices e-book, so if anyone wants to have conversations with me on the subject, reach out please.   🙂

2018 – a new beginning

Like lots of us, I started last year with great expectations on what I could achieve.  And looking back, I did achieve quite a lot and learned quite a bit as well.

This year, instead of looking ahead and setting goals, I looked back and decided what went well and where I wanted to spend more resources on, and what did not go well and I wanted to shed certain assets to have less burden on my shoulders.

I moved away from unprofitable alliances, and moved closer to both clients and colleagues who provided me energy and knowledge.

And now, here in 2018, I am doing an energy audit as to where my time goes, and what outcomes I get from those activities.  Because life is too short to waste energy on what does not feed your spirit, your soul and your wallet.

You will be seeing some new areas from me, including hotel technology, connected offices and reviews of analytics tools.  Much to learn still in this world, and never too old to learn it….

 

A feeling of disgust

I came from a congress in Paris yesterday, where I was energized by new ideas and trends.  But over the last two days, I have had several internal requests for assistance.  Dare I say it, for help.  Some are honest and forthcoming (professor, I need a brainstorming session on my research question) and some are sly and deceitful  (are you still willing to….. where I never was willing to begin with….).

What I have learned from these encounters is you are as honest as you are hopeful.  I am happy to help the honest and trying, and unwilling and ignoring those who are obviously driven by other intentions.  Because life is too short to waste time and effort. 🙂

 

Creating an industry out of the unwanted tasks….

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I was re-reading the Fast Company article on the gig economy and the results of the Workforce for the Future report by the Aspen Institute when I came across this comment and had to stop and think for a minute. “According to 2016 Workforce for the Future Survey, having gig positions means they are able to onboard new talent and off-board unneeded skills without the burden of employment taxes and paperwork.” So if we are talking about only employing for the core competency of the business, then all the rest would be outsourced to contractors.  OK, but….

There is already a business model of outsourcing components of functional activities (bookkeeping, human resources elements such as getting work permits, etc) from enterprises to specialist firms.   As we create the gig economy, there is more than likely to be a market for unneeded skills as a commodity, perhaps as a Service (UNSaaS?).

What if someone would create a marketplace that consolidates all of the freelancers with those unneeded skills so that they could commoditize them and offer them as a bundled service with other elements, like the foresaid bookkeeping and permit acquisition? And this marketplace, based on the amount of work contracted through the marketplace (tiered model), could be the one to offer benefits for the contractors?

A thought.   I am always on the lookout for new business models, perhaps this one is an interesting structure……

Transparent technology, but can I opt-out?

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A news article on wearable tech peaked my curiosity this afternoon with the first day of CES in Las Vegas.  Cruise ships that personalize your experience with a wearable medallion that share information on you to create ease of use and facilitates door opening, etc. This object can be worn as a necklace, clip or keychain – or carried in a passenger’s pocket. It will connect to onboard facilities, tracking meal orders or automatically unlocking guests’ cabins as they approach the door, as well as aid crew members by providing information on the guest to personalize the service.

But wait a minute — ease of use is great, but do I want all crew members to know things about me?  Is there an opt-out function?   What about guest privacy, can these be hacked? What if I do not want to be included in the ‘find the location of friends and family onboard the ship’ aspect, but I like the rest?

I have to say I liked the idea of the RFID band at the Disney parks for your hotel key, mobile wallet, etc as it is around your wrist and you control where you use it.    But when the object is disseminating info in a near field communications (NFC) manner, then I have to wonder if I can shut it off when I am in the public toilets, for example, vs. announcing my presences there if I am a celebrity onboard.

So I’d like to see a great user introductory set-up interface where you can customize what you opt-in and opt-out for in terms of services and information submission.  It would add even more value to the high end user who would be wearing it so they can control what is provided and how it is provided.

I have to say I am a bit sensitive to broadcasting data about myself in the public (or near public) spaces.   I just bought a new smart phone, and fairly stunned at the some of the permission requests of the new apps.    Only taking on board the minimum at present, cannot believe what they ask for!

But physical tokens for ease of service provisioning is becoming a hotter trend, so please to see a more sophisticated object vs a rubber wristband.

Thoughts of someone at the tail end of the Baby Boomers

This is not a piece about New Year’s resolutions, nor is it gloom and doom from a rather horrid 2016.  It is just my reflections on what it is like being at the tail end of the Baby Boomers, working mainly with millennials and generation X co-workers, and losing my reference points ahead of me. I can see why people in their 50s and 60s are suffering from health issues while those ahead and behind are not feeling the same stress. Because those of the Greatest generation have paid their dues, and the folks behind us have no idea what is coming, as they live for today’s experiences and quick wins, not tomorrow’s rewards.

Things that I took for granite, like the nightly news being reasonably unbiased and factual and that the government was generally there for beneficial reasons for society, have been fundamentally changed.

Business models have changed, some more fundamentally than others.  And more likely than not, I am now an information outlier, in that I do not want to offer bytes of myself to do mobile banking, selfies, live video feeds – I am looking to consume information, not involuntarily provide it. And although I am willing to pay for the consumption, things I thought should be free are no longer, and visa versa.  I am tired of people trying to put their hands in my wallet [or on my contacts list or on my agenda] for things that I am not willing to give.  So I can either become more analog and opt-out, which many of my peers are starting to do, or I can severely curtail my digital footprint to what is necessary.

As a society, I feel that we have gotten ruder and more homogeneous, as to be truly different invokes hate and mistrust.  Society now self-serves, and builds its own communities of exclusivity, not inclusivity.   Instead of building and celebrating individuality, we are all trying to be unique in the same way.’Look at me, look at my photos, read my blog, listen to my Vine commentary, watch my vlog’.  See how creative I am not.  See what I have plagiarized from others to sound intelligent and insightful.

I find the naïveté  of the generations behind me scary.   And I really hate the email trend they have started with the first line “I hope you are well” when they do not know me or my situation. It is the inability of the younger generation to start a conversation without the word “hey” that shows the digital decline of conversational skills.

So as I watch those ahead of me planning for imminent retirement, I face 2017 knowing that at the tail end of the Baby Boomers, I face some hard choices on how to move forward: existing in my own sphere and co-existing gracefully with the shifting tides, sharing the world of the younger generations with bemusement and amusement (looking like the granny in the vinyl bodycon dress), or going off the grid entirely.

 

 

In an extraordinary year….

The US election, for me, is an echo of the other things happening in my life and around me.   I am seeing talented people of my age and gender struggle to find balance, meaningful employment and peace of mind.  I am seeing people who have given their all to country and to company be sidelined and disenfranchised.  I am seeing what was my peer group change life status to consultant, retired  or perpetual traveler; all are rebuilding their lives outside of the mainstream milieu for their final era as they have given up on being part of the mainstream and have left for pastures calmer.   I am seeing my new peer group of 30 something co-workers compassionately boosting my spirits, helping support me as I have taken on too much, yet have too little.

I have found my world rocked not only by the cruelty of timing, but the callousness of the shallow selfish souls that are becoming the mainstream norm, regardless of political or religious beliefs.  Common decency is giving way to fatigue and wariness.

I do not see this election as a battle of good vs evil, but as an example of how out of balance the world is at present.   Not just my world, but the world of those around me.   I really have to search to find someone who is joyous and happy right now in any age group of my acquaintance. We are missing our sense of fun and fair play.

I am an optimist by nature, but a realist by profession.   And I think these next few weeks will be telling for us as global citizens in how we reach out to each other and create a society that can thrive, vs exist day to day, waiting for the next news item to drop….