Blog

You Don’t Know the Answer ‘till You Ask the Question

James Black Thought Leadership
February 11, 2020

 

James Black provides a comprehensive list of questions designed to help you build a marketing strategy that can help your business move forward in 2020.

Entering the New Year provides a great opportunity to take a quick audit of your brand or business to identify opportunity areas in your 1) customer understanding, 2) go to market strategy and 3) marketing capabilities. These 20 questions are designed as thought-starters to help you get a sense of the state of your business.

 

Areas covered by the questions include:

  • Brand/Business proposition
  • The path to purchase
  • Marketing plans
  • Marketing capabilities

 

Read the full article, 20 Questions to Help Your Brand or Business See 20/20 in 2020, on LinkedIn.

 

tags Brand Management, Business Growth, Marketing

A Reality Check for Business

Natalie Ceeney Thought Leadership
February 10, 2020

 

Natalie Ceeney provides a grim view, but a much needed voice, calling on business to take on the challenge of climate change.

Whether prompted by the flurry of recent announcements from government and Bank of England or by the rise in protests, it’s hard to avoid the climate change debate. Whatever our personal beliefs, its impact on the business agenda is becoming increasingly clear. 

This is no longer a ‘tomorrow’ issue. Last year, California experienced its worst wildfires in a century, not just burning over 750,000 hectares, but pushing the State’s largest investor-owned utility into bankruptcy and two others “just one fire away from insolvency”. Munich Re, the world’s largest re-insurer, estimated that global losses in 2018 as a result of natural disasters totalled $160bn, making it the most expensive year to-date for insurers. But the real cost was far higher, as under half of losses were insured. The rise in premiums likely from climate change may price many households out of insurance completely. In the UK, the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’, an extreme cold weather front, caused losses of around £1bn per day to the economy.

 

Read the full article, As the World Gets Hotter, the Heat Is on Business to Deliver Real Change, on LinkedIn.

tags climate change, social responsibility, Sustainability

Assorted Links, February 10, 2020

Will Bachman Assorted links
February 10, 2020

1. Umbrex member Paul Millerd’s piece, The Boomer Blockade: How One Generation Reshaped the Workforce and Left Everyone Behind, was blogged about by Tyler Cowen. That’s like being picked as the Oprah Book-of-the-Month in my universe. Congrats to Paul.

2. How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class, according to Yale Law School Professor Daniel Markovits, in The Atlantic.

My post on LinkedIn about this article opened, “Other than a failure to define terms, historical errors, a confusion of correlation and causation, a failure to consider the counterfactual, a poor understanding of how corporations work, and a failure to disclose a conflict of interest, I have no complaints about the recent piece by Daniel Markovits in The Atlantic.”

3. I got quoted in this piece on the Cisive blog: Fostering Collaboration in the New Decade

4. Thanks to the Anti–Gig Economy Craze, Freelance Writers Are Getting Hurt from the Mises Institute

5. Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience: How to Tell the Difference from Farnam Street.

It would be an interesting exercise to write a parallel article on good consulting, bad consulting, pseudoconsulting, and how to tell the difference.

Crucial Steps to Building a Subscription-Based Business

Robbie Baxter Thought Leadership
February 9, 2020

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter makes the case for subscription-based businesses and provides a few expert tips on how to take your business in that direction. 

If you’ve been tasked with launching a subscription-based business at your organization, or are thinking about starting your own XXX-as-a-service or XXX-of-the-month-club, before diving in, take a step back.

To ensure a solid foundation, I encourage companies to devote a few weeks (usually at least 2 and no more than 12 weeks) to fleshing out the business case before proceeding. After all, the objective of testing is to assess the viability of the model, make necessary adjustments, and get the green light to move forward at a broader level. Without understanding the business case, how will you, and your organization, know whether you’re on the right track.

 

Details covered in this article include:

  • The business rationale
  • The forever promise
  • Executing the vision
  • The risks of the strategy
  • The early steps, research, and tests needed
  • Criteria for board support

 

Read the full article, Making the Case for a Subscription-Based Business, on LinkedIn.

tags Membership-Based Business, subscription businesses, subscription models

Digitization in Commodity Trading

Boris Galonske Thought Leadership
February 8, 2020

 

This in-depth article from Boris Galonske explains how digitization helps improve resilience in commodity trading.

Commodity trading suffers from shrinking margins and in some commodity classes also from low price volatility. At the same time operating environments struggle with manual routines, legacy processes and systems resulting in high cost income ratios (CIR).

How can this challenge be addressed and how can the profitability and the resilience of trading businesses be increased?

Situation today

Commodity trading exhibits still several manual routines in its workflows, given the physical nature of the business and established processes in the industry. At the same time margin pressure increases as the inherent profitability of several trading businesses decreases. How can this be addressed?

Commodity trading business characteristics

Commodity trading businesses are typically lean by nature. Several years back, high performing businesses exhibited cost-income ratios (CIR) in the range of high 30% – medium 40%. These days these ratios are significantly higher. Large European commercial banks – as a comparison –  even exhibit cost income rations in the range of 70 % – 90% +.

In order to tackle the profitability gap, analytics and middle office activities have been scaled down.

However parts of the trading process have remained untouched.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • How digitization can help
  • Reservations about digitization
  • How to approach trading digitization

 

Read the full article or download the PDF, Monetizing Digitization Levers, on the Silverberg Partners website.

 

tags commodity trading, Digital transformation, Finance

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

Will Bachman Book of the Week
February 7, 2020

Finally finished listening to all four books of Robert Caro’s magisterial biography of Lyndon Johnson.

Better than anything I’ve ever read on showing how power actually works in the U.S. government, and what happens behind the scenes. (Big investment – took me a year, but worth it.)

Highly recommended: The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

How to Ensure Successful Digital Transformation 

CV Ramachandran Thought Leadership
February 7, 2020

 

C.V. Ramachandran discusses what it takes to institute digital transformation successfully by engaging a holistic approach that provides support for every part of a company’s value chain.

Big data, machine learning, connected vehicles, industry 4.0, robotic process automation, blockchain … No matter what industry you are in, you have surely come across these popular buzzwords in recent years. These are the phrases that define digital transformation, a modern industrial revolution that has the potential to dramatically transform companies and economies all over the world. 

A variety of companies are leading the way, with Amazon, Netflix, and Walmart being some of the first to spring to mind. But these are major corporations in information intensive industries, who have been leading the charge in digital disruption. More broadly, according to a recent McKinsey survey, only about 30% of digital transformations actually succeed.

 

Read the full article, Digital Transformation: It Takes a Village, on LinkedIn.

 

tags Business Process, Digital transformation, value chain

Welcoming new member Katarina Podlesnaya

Katarina Podlesnaya New Member Announcement
February 6, 2020

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Katarina Podlesnaya.  Katarina spent 8+ years across management consulting at BCG, venturing and blockchain product development at ConsenSys, advising multiple start-ups, and serving as an owner of a retail business.

Katarina’s expertise focuses on growth strategy, procurement and negotiation, technology, operational improvement, and organizational design.

She currently resides in New York City and maintains a strong network and presence in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Dubai, UAE. Katarina is happy to discuss collaboration opportunities irrespective of global location.

tags Growth Strategy, Negotiation, Operational improvement, Procurement

Todd Bryan attending StartmeupHK 

Will Bachman Conferences
February 6, 2020

Todd Bryan will be attending StartmeupHK in Hong Kong.

StartmeupHK seeks to promote Hong Kong as a startup destination, connect entrepreneurs, and create a vibrant ecosystem that draws innovative, high impact ventures from around the world.

Talent, Culture, and Company

Sherif El-Henaoui Thought Leadership
February 6, 2020

 

It takes more than talent to become a valued employee in today’s workplace. Sherif El Henaoui identifies the benefits of finding the right fit. 

Top people are desired. Every company wants them: the intelligent, creative, endurable, high-performance worker. Since this desired workforce is rare, there is a “war” as suggested by the HR literature. I once heard a quote of a McKinsey partner commenting on the Internet bubble crisis saying, “We won the war for talent, but we ended up with too many prisoners.”

Cultural fit

We want to suggest a more peaceful view on the matter. High-performance is also a result of the cultural fit. This applies to societies and corporations. An aggressive, forward-looking sales professional works well in one type of company but is perceived as too pushy and less collegial in another. Is that the fault of the employee?

 

Read the full article, Fight Your Own War for Talent, on LinkedIn.

tags corporate culture, employee management, leadership

Welcoming new member Adrian Blake

Adrian Blake New Member Announcement
February 5, 2020

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Adrian Blake with Portrane House.  Adrian spent five years as a digital specialist at Partners in Performance, focusing on using digital tools to drive Operational Improvement.

Prior to PiP, Adrian led the Advertising Business Group of DTN in its turnaround for private equity investors, including serving as Publisher of The Progressive Farmer, the world’s biggest agricultural magazine.

He spent 6 years at McKinsey & Co., specializing in Media & Entertainment. He began his career in the Entertainment industry, leading global distribution of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central.

He graduated from Harvard College and has an MBA from Wharton. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and 3 children, where he plays tennis and leads an Irish traditional band. Adrian is happy to collaborate on projects involving digital media and operational improvement.

tags digital tools, Entertainment, Media, Operational improvement

What a 9 billion pixel image looks like

Will Bachman Data Viz of the Week
February 5, 2020

Ever curious what a 9-billion pixel image looks like? Click on this one.  You can zoom in 9 times, and if you’ve got time you’ll be able to count 84 million stars. This is one to show your kids. Via Seth Godin.