Jointly with The Hub Zurich and the ethical Finance working group “Die Vorbänker” anvalad will be present at this year’s “Partnering for global Impact” conference in Lugano from July 9th onwards. And while the majority of projects aim at developing regions we have a host of people on board, that could also make a difference to banking and society in the western nations:
- Transparency on policy – still we have a number of countries, amongst others Switzerland, who do not make their internal policies publicly available. This leads to a protectionist attitude and often to a gap between external marketing speak and internal code of conduct. We should ensure, that the practices and policies we live and are governed by are fit and suitable to be out in the critical public eye.
- Make money & serve the society – initially banks were bound to serve their local community. They had a mandate towards society while still having the right to earn money – for their owner, their shareholder and their employees. But in recent years this more and more has grown to be their sole “raison d’être”. It’s clients and regulators and employees who can jointly opt to change this. And it’s our fundamental belief, that this does not impede profitability objectives but in the long run even will become a now prerequisite for running a successful business.
- The Partnering for global Impact event is all about combining the quest for successful business models and the creation of positive and sustainable impact. We have helped our clients in a number of projects to align & combine these seemingly contrary objectives.
If you want to know more about our PfgI projects in the pipeline or what we can bring to the table in your current situation and context, drop us a note. We’re happy to discuss & suggest.
Ever heard the inventor of the web, knighted Sir Tim Berners-Lee speak about “The Data Revolution”? Neither did I and apparently my expectations were somewhat wrong. Just judging from the scope and depth of his works Tim has done wonders for the standardization and openness of the internet. And he has a wealth of ideas and is bubbling with new and upcoming trends. But there’s another scale of his genius… It’s how confusing his series of facts and topics seems to the uninitiated… If confusion is a function parameter of the genius – then this speech at the Teradata Universe in Dublin was true genius. Excuse my ignorance…
Listening to the speech of Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business at the Teradata Universe Confence in Dublin, some fascinating aspects for the financial services came up. Erik and his team researched the usage and characteristics of the components that make up the overused “Big Data” buzzwords. The most interesting bits are Nanodata, Now-Casting and HiPPOs:
- Nanodata – the data items we use to base our Analytics on are getting ever smaller. From true customer transactions we have moved to clickstreams, tweets and Facebook likes and dislikes. In most banks and financial services we see these information commodities only used fragmented and very partially, compared to the telco or retail industry.
- Now-casting – digital communication is no longer a one-way road. Leveraging social communities and micro-blogging platforms like Twitter innovative companies can actively involve their customers in company decision making. It’s true theat banks have a hard time listening to their clients in the real world but extending the feedback loop to digital channels would be a smart way to drive down cost and listen to different clients and partners than those that choose to visit a real world branch.
- HiPPOs – or the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion – is a reputation based insight, that evaluate information not following plain statistics but filter and weigh who’s best suited to make a more valid and more educated decision. Imaging wine guru Robert Parker would not simply evaluate a new wine but use his human tasting capabilities to engineer and create a new wine. Similarly Google search analytics provide an easy and publicly available insight into people’s interests and hence upcoming actions. And in predicting housing sales data the Nanodata based prediction were 66% more accurate than those of highly paid experts.
As a conclusion the research found that a data driven decision approach always wins over the expert or HiPPO based approach. One of the key concerns that Erik shared is the level and maturity of privacy and security in conjunction with public data – he predicts that we will have multi-billion dollar event within the next 12-24 months.
Most of the time university research is far removed from day to day work of operational financial services, but Erik and his team at the MIT media lab have shown some great examples and explains what big data will be about and how you can put it into practical use today. Check them and their works out at his profile & paper.
Driven by our membership and engagement at the Hub Zurich, we have started an ethical finance working group, trying to get a hands-on approach in changing the ethics of the finance industry. However we’re still discussing the priorities at hand. And obviously we would very much like to understand, what the general public thinks most important:
- Driving a bottom-up, grassroots change campaign forcing retail banking to react and adopt
- Engaging big players in a transparency & impact reporting movement => changing the system from within
- Leveraging the philanthropy business of both banks and their clients to find a middle ground of the first two extremes
What’s your view on where we should put our focus?
I fully believe in the paradigm that off shoring helps this world to become a better place. Over time I’d agree, and way too slow for us to be satisfied, I’d agree as well. But here’s my 5p’s why I still think we’re heading the right way:
- Education matters – for all the people and raising economies out there it’s a clear sign that education helps to become more prosperous and earn a better living.
- Getting even – while the outlook might be bleaker for some of us Westerners reaching a more level playing field in terms of jobs, opportunity and wealth distribution seems to me a good thing. Everybody just has to keep up its act – but we are still very privileged with the baseline we are starting from.
- Flexibility is a must – while it still may be about labor arbitrage for some firms, off shoring is becoming more and more a required capability for many companies to be able to grow and maintain their profitability. Getting skills not available in your home market and becoming more flexible with economic up- and down-swings is getting even more crucial than shaving some dollars (Euros, Swiss Francs, Yen) off your payroll cost base.
- Aspirations grow – almost all off shore service providers aim at reaching up the value chain and moving from plain headcount providers to service and solution partners. This will increase the pressure to innovate on both ends of the off shoring deal.
- The facts compute – when you track the world stats on google analytics project on population growth and education and medical progress you can clearly see, that things have changed. While there’s still too much hunger and poverty in the world there has also been great progress in Africa, India, Asia and South America. In many countries a four person middle class household has become the norm not the exception.
I’d like to collect some success stories off your successful off shoring experience. Be they along the overall betterment path mentioned above or be they about organizational success in transforming on shore work to off shore opportunities. Give us your story and we’ll use it in our upcoming Hub session on ethical off-shoring.
We are about to engage in a new challenge where a host of old legacy reporting solutions should be drawn together under one common and joint reporting portal. And while I’m quite aware of the various tools and technology options that are out there, I’m wondering on how and how far we could and should carry this idea.
I’d be very happy if you could help with some of your own thoughts & experiences:
- Should we fuse and embrace Social Software? (the client is rather traditional and not used to embracing social SW in his daily routine)
- Would you use the portal features of an established (and likely employed) reporting tool or go for a fully fledged independent portal framework?
- Speed over Features – since speed ad completeness of integration matters more to our client than richness of features, we’d like to opt for a minimum starting point. What would you consider the minimum features mandatory?
Thanks a bunch for any experience & insights shared…
Have you ever faced a reporting inventory of over 2500 reports? And alongside several stakeholders with slightly opposing views:
“That’s a wealth on information on which we act and steer and decide. We’ll need every single one of these reports”,
says Mr. Fact Junky
“Every business can be run on 3 max 8 reports, no matterwhich size, industry or geography”,
says Mr. Lean’nMean
And I guess the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremist views. Here’s how we have approached the reporting dragon in the past. Maybe you can add & share your experiences:
- Introduce the target grail – There is no holy grail of reporting tools and strategy. Yet when listening to the different departments and vendors you feel like amidst the crusades – religiously fought over existing data marts and new pet projects. Usually to focus a divers and heterogeneous group of BI users on a common strategy & direction you’ll have to transport the benefits of standardization and centralization of data. Paint a picture where the data is common and normalized but the freedom of creating new and independent reports, analysis and dashboards remains.
- Find a fast success story – your most common reaction will be “yeah, right, you’re thest that tries…”. If you have a good understanding of the dragon’s weak points you can tackle a small but important pain point. For example don’t try to solve all cost reports at once, maybe just start with headcount.
- Build your round table – be aware that you will not slay that dragon one handed, you’ll need to build your host of supporters. Sponsors usually are a good place to start and usually they are more convinced if you can tell them about ways to increase revenues rather than only save cost.
- Offer services for the lazy & creatives – with BI there is no size fits all, but two usually do surprisingly often. Offer a full service, highly customized and tailor-made service from data integration to report creation full through to the editorial commenting process. As a second option offer a DIY self-service infrastructure. You’ll be surprised how much of your BI center’s workload will fall away, when your tech and data savvy users start to lend a hand. Last and optionally it’s a good idea to offer an ad hoc analysis team to generate fast answers to the questions of stakeholders that cannot do it themselves and don’t need the fancies of a full report or dashboard.
- Slay the dragon – Turn them off – regularly that last and obvious step is ignored or disregarded. Once you have tuned your user community to the target state of mind they will accept and welcome if you replace their former partial data marts & manual reporting processes and guide them toward the common future.
Sounds too easy and straight for you? I agree that for large organizations we’re usually talking a 2 to 3 year process and not a single big six month project. But once embarked on a common trail it’s amazing how much momentum your own report crusade can develop.
Start to raise your banners.
Having passed off the afterglow of the New Year’s fireworks and enjoying the privileged banking holiday our eyes turn towards the challenges of the year ahead. Let’s see how solid strategy and hands-on execution turn your plans to bottom-line impact:
- KYO – Know your objectives – don’t just start off the new year with leftovers from the last. Instead take stock and reflect and decide whether your priorities are the right ones. Is it important and is it urgent?
- CSU – Create sense of urgency – use everyone’s reset button and good intentions to start off in a positive and constructive mood where everyone knows what his mission and purpose will be
- EWYD – Enjoy whatever you do – not talking away that there are enough tasks no-one likes to complete, but whenever you treat yourself and your team to the quantum fun you deserve, the work gets done faster and easier. So don’t forget to celebrate and have fun. Surely you’ll find enough reasons to do so – last year’s left-over celebrations are not to be forgotten
Have a great start of a great 2012 to all of anvalad’s employees, clients, friends and partners.
We wish all our clients some peaceful and merry days. And since the year-end is positioned very friendly for entrepreneurs this time round, we’ll extend our holiday greetings to extend towards a list of new year’s resolutions we want to see put forth by banks for 2012. In the new year our favorite bank will:
- sell only products that fit the client’s risk profile and time horizon
- measure their own success by the performance generated for their
- establish a triple bottom-line reporting for investment products
- be getting serious about mobile advice and social sales
- understand social entrepreneurship as a complement to philanthropy banking
Obviously we are looking forward to many engaged discussions in 2012 and welcome dedicated guest writers…
Indulge responsibly and have fun!
your anvalad team
So to wrap-up all of these practices into a short but comprehensive summary:
- leaders create an environment of active mutual support.
- And any environment is only defined by what we create, promote or allow.
- In that sense leadership has nothing to do with organizational rank or financial powers but all to do with your inner wiring and worldviews.
You can start leading today. Just don’t believe everything you think.