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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

It is generally accepted that small businesses are the growth engine of any economy, but how are they coping during a pandemic? A recent report from Cisco examined the digital maturity of small businesses across eight countries (the UK, the US, Germany, France, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Chile). It looked at their readiness to adopt new technologies, the impact of technology on growth, and the challenges and opportunities they had experienced. Some insights that stood out for me:

1.COVID-19 has accelerated digitisation in small businesses — Over 70% of the businesses surveyed said that they were digitising faster as a result of the pandemic. This figure rose to 80% in Latin America, although admittedly from a lower start. …

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Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

Tactical voting is not new — not in the UK, and not elsewhere. In UK parliamentary elections, voters are generally aware of which candidate in their constituency has the best chance of beating the government candidate. They are often prepared to ‘hold their noses’ and vote for a party that is not their first choice, for the sake of beating a party that they really do not want to see in government.

Tactical voting is simple — but only if the voting system is too

That is easy in a first-past-the-post system. You just look at the share of the vote in the last election, and work out which party was second. Suppose you are back in 1997, and you want to cast a vote that will give the best chance of a non-Conservative government — which frankly was how a lot of people felt after 18 years of Conservative government. If you lived in a Conservative constituency, you would simply have voted for the party that had got the second-biggest share of the vote in the previous election. Never mind whether your heart was with Labour or the Liberal Democrats, or even the Monster Raving Loony Party, voters were united behind the need to end Conservative government. …

David Ogilvy, co-founder of advertising agency Ogilvy & Mathers, is the mentor I never got to meet. His book Ogilvy on Advertising is a classic, as much for its inherent readability as the pragmatism and sense of his thinking. In a world where advertising budgets are increasingly tight, it may be surprising to learn how many of Ogilvy’s points still resonate. In my world of coaching thought leaders to be more effective, it is stunningly relevant.

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Photo by Maciej Pienczewski on Unsplash

Advertising is designed to sell, not to be admired for its beauty When Aeschines spoke they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said “Let us march against Philip.’” What matters is not how many people admire your advertisement, but how many go out and buy the product as a result of seeing the ad. …

Gamification is the use of games to encourage particular behaviours, such as an app that gives points for healthy activities. It has been around a while, but in a fairly low-key way. However, 2018 may be the year in which gamification hits the mainstream. Digital transformation requires a change in mindset, and gamification could be a way to achieve that. Here are a few observations if you are considering introducing this element to your own programmes.

Gamification is NOT about making games — Instead, it is about using some of the ideas behind games to make working more fun, and more entertaining. It helps to engage people in their work or as customers, but it must also — if not chiefly — be about getting things done more effectively. It is games as tools, rather than ends in themselves, and it is therefore vital to think carefully about the problem that you are trying to solve. …

One of the phrases often heard in management meetings is ‘run with the ball’. Sometimes this is in the sense of ‘pick up the ball and run’, or ‘continue a process that someone else has started’, which may perhaps be from rugby. There, the ball quite often ends up on the ground, but still in play, and someone needs to pick it up and carry on the move.

More often, though, the phrase is used as an alternative to the idea of passing, which probably draws on American football. There, the two main tactics available are to run the ball up the field towards the goal, or to pass it forwards. …

Some artists’ work is instantly recognisable: Andy Warhol’s prints, for example. Or Van Gogh’s swirling use of paint and line, whether painting sunflowers or a landscape. Picasso’s amazing way of painting faces. You could see a picture by any one of those artists and immediately know who it was by.

Why is this? It is certainly not because every picture by each of those artists is the same. Far from it. The subject matter is, on the face of it, diverse. But there is a thread of consistency running through each artist’s work, both in terms of technique and to a certain extent, in the subject matter. …

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Image credit: Heidi Sandstrom

Retail is a huge employment sector, especially in the developed world. The retail sector is coming under increasing pressure from digital disruption, with consequent impact on how we live and work. I recently caught up with Erich Hugo, founder and director at BAS ITG, to discuss the future of retailing, resulting design implications and how both will affect us all.

What does consumer experience really mean from a design perspective?

Consumer experience is becoming key to survival in retail, largely because of digitalisation. Digital platforms are a great equaliser, by which I mean that companies cannot rely on their products to distinguish them anymore. Instead, they have to find something else to differentiate themselves, and that it turning out to be consumer experience. The company that offers the best consumer experience will be the one that succeeds in attracting and retaining customers. For designers, this means incorporating real time information where available into the definition of the product or service. …

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In all the excitement about Fintech, blockchain and newer disruptions, it is easy to dismiss the growing impact of social channels in finance. The immediacy and associated ‘bubble’ tendencies have both been discussed at length in response to recent world events including Brexit and the US presidential elections. However, lesser attention has been given to the relentless way in which social media changes customer (and employee) sentiment and preferences. Here are some of my favourite examples of how financial services players have integrated social into their business:

Customer service

Banks have been using social channels to help them provide banking services. Back in 2012, DenizBank, in Turkey, was the first bank in the world to offer ‘banking via Facebook’. Bank customers on Facebook could use the social media site to monitor their balance and transfer funds. Other banks have since adopted Facebook as a way to check customer credentials: ICICI bank, for example, has a mobile banking app that piggybacks on customers’ Facebook login details. …


Puni Rajah

Trusted adviser to thought leaders. Industry analyst, consultant and coach. #IoT #designthinking #storytelling

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