The beta blog

Showing all posts tagged with Agile organisation

< The beta blog | Sep 17, 2014

The digital world of freight haulage

It is hard to think of an industry less likely to conjure up an image of digital revolution than freight haulage, which is more associated with heavy vehicles, roadside cafes and the movement of physical goods around transport networks.

However, at the forefront it is, with haulage firms around the world grasping the potential of the ‘internet of things’, and busily harvesting data from all possible sources and applying advanced analytics to address their biggest business challenges. The industry now abounds with examples:

  • Locus Traxx, a specialist in refrigerated cargo haulage in the US, has wired up its entire fleet with sensors to detect a range of metrics on its containers and the goods inside them – temperature, vibration, door opening events – all of which send data back to HQ in real time. As a result, Locus Traxx is able to immediately identify when its cargo is in danger of being damaged, causing wastage with the inevitable impacts on costs and customer relationships. Through its data approach, Locus Traxx claims to have reduced wastage to zero.
  • Other operators have started to combine vehicle telematics and other journey log data, with HR data on lorry drivers to predict which drivers are most at risk of having a road accident, in order to proactively intervene and address risk factors.
  • Some innovative European haulage firms are collecting journey log data from on-board vehicle systems, and combing this with external data sources – such as weather data - to optimise route planning and freight scheduling, with claims of up to 10% in fuel savings.

Cargo wastage, accidents, fuel costs – data analytics is now having a major impact on some of the haulage industry’s biggest cost drivers, in some cases making a genuinely transformational difference to the operator’s bottom line.

The lesson? Analytics is powering a revolution in the transport and logistics industry. The new digital age is not just about consumer devices, apps and disruptive online businesses. It is also profoundly changing some of the most – ostensibly - old world industries, by enabling the better management of physical assets and real world operations.

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< The beta blog | Sep 5, 2014

The importance of social media policies

Over the last number of years social media has become a useful communications channel for both our personal and work lives. The rise of mainstream social networks such as Facebook and Twitter has been nothing short of phenomenal as people have joined in their millions and, in Facebook’s case, billions to communicate with friends, loved-ones and colleagues regardless of their physical location.

Social media is certainly here to stay and is growing in more importance as organisations of all kinds understand the benefits it can bring. However, social media is still a relatively new form of open and transparent communication and one which has legal and ethical implications in a work setting if employees don’t understand how to use it properly.

For example, a recent BBC report indicates that police forces in England and Wales are making use of social media policies to discipline employees who have posted inappropriate content online (both during working hours and outside of working hours). This is with good cause as some examples of cases investigated by police forces included:

  • A community support officer with Devon and Cornwall Police who received a final written warning after posing with weapons on Facebook
  • A sergeant with the same force who was given a written warning after making remarks about senior officers on the site
  • A Gwent police officer who was using Facebook was given a written warning for sending an "abusive" message to a member of the public

While a social media policy is not restricted to the police force the examples above illustrate that even the professionals working in the emergency services are not immune to inappropriate use of social media.

Rolling out a social media policy

Drafting a pragmatic social media policy can allow an employer to minimise risk associated with employees’ use of social media (in both a business and a personal capacity), by proactively defining acceptable and unacceptable uses in the context of the employment relationship, and ensuring that disciplinary action can be taken if required. Social media policies can be aligned to company-wide employee policies and there is often an overlap between the two. Aggressive behaviour online and off is never tolerated, for example.

What should the policy cover?

When drafting a social media policy an employer should carefully consider its purpose and objectives, weighing up factors such as the employer’s attitude towards social media use in the workplace (will use be encouraged or discouraged?), the nature of the employer’s business (a young, cool, table tennis playing start up at Silicon Roundabout is unlikely to want to have the same social media policy as a more traditional City organisation), the workplace environment, and just how stupid some of its employees have the potential to be (if in doubt just dig out the damning snaps from the most recent office Christmas party).

Nevertheless, most policies should at least include appropriate restrictions to:

  • Limit personal social media use during work time
  • Protect the employer’s confidential information and intellectual property
  • Prevent infringement of third party IP
  • Prevent discrimination, harassment or bullying
  • Prevent liability for discriminatory or defamatory comments posted by employees
  • Prevent the misuse of personal data belonging to other employees, or customers
  • Protect the employer’s reputation.

Can employees’ use of social media be monitored?

A policy can address use of social media outside office hours, and regardless of whether an employer’s device is used. However, employers should remember that the Information Commissioner’s Employment Practices Code explains that employees have legitimate expectations that they can keep their personal lives private and that they are entitled to a degree of privacy in the work environment. If employers wish to monitor their workers, they should be clear about the purpose, and satisfied that the particular monitoring arrangement is not excessive, and is justified by real benefits that will be delivered. This is increasingly becoming an area of focus for Claimants who may try to allege that an employer’s actions in monitoring their personal messages is a breach of their right to a private life. A well drafted social media policy could help employers rebut such an argument.

When is disciplinary action appropriate?

Employees can do and say unwise things when using social media, often in the heat of the moment and without thought, or on the mistaken assumption that their words won’t be seen by anyone except their friends. As with all disciplinary issues, employers should follow a fair procedure (with reference to its disciplinary policy) and ensure that any sanction is reasonable in all the circumstances. They should consider whether employee training on the topic may be appropriate.

As social media continues to grow and become even more ingrained in our day-to-day lives, the need for a tailored social media policy will only increase.

If you’d like to know more, please contact John D. McGonagle, (PwC Legal IP/IT and Commercial team) or Jonathan Harries, (PwC Legal Employment team).

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< The beta blog | Sep 1, 2014

20 Questions for the CCO: #3 Are your marketing communications a fair exchange for customer attention?

‘From interruption to engagement’ has probably featured loudly in the title of a major marketing conference or paper every month for the last fifteen years. In an era of time shifted TV, the decline of print and rise of ‘skip ad’, why on earth would anyone watch, read or interact with an advert that gets in the way of something they are trying to do?

In truth it’s still possible to buy ad space, fill it with ordinary creative and see something happen as a result, it’s just got harder, more expensive and less rewarding. This is not a sustainable strategy.

The best marketing communications of today (and by extension those that will form the table stakes behaviour of tomorrow) are about a fair exchange between you and the customer. Do you offer them enough of value to warrant their precious time and attention? This fair exchange could be one, or ideally a combination of the following things:

It arrives at the right time – I’m in the market for something and you reach me at the right time. In the old world this just meant keeping your car ad running in What Car? every week. In the digital age this is about developing a sophisticated understanding of your customer’s behaviour, both on and offline and using the right data and tools to be present when it suits them.

It entertains me – Marketing communication that reaches people on an emotional level, making them laugh, cry or think is always more effective than a straight ‘buy me now’ message and generally builds brand as well as driving action. It can be hard to justify the investment required but just ask Cadbury, Honda or Nike if they thought it was worth it.

It’s useful – Great marketing isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do, sometimes to the point that your product is its own marketing. What useful products or services are you offering to your customers for free as a way of building a relationship? Whilst examples like Strava and Tesco Clubcard come to mind, remember this isn’t new, it’s a fundamental human truth. In fact the original Michelin Restaurant guide was a piece of free content designed to encourage people to drive out of Paris and wear out their tyres!

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< The beta blog | Aug 20, 2014

20 Questions for the CCO: #2 The best digital experiences are available to all, do you measure up?

In pre-digital era, the best customer experiences were only accessible to the wealthy. If you didn’t ‘turn left’ in life you didn’t get to enjoy them. Equally, normal customers couldn’t miss what they didn’t have, ignorance was bliss. Consequently the standards a company had to reach to satisfy those customers were lower.

Today it’s a different story. In our democratised digital world, the best experiences aren’t just accessible to all, they are often free. Everyone has access to the most seamless, intelligent and thoughtful experiences like watching content on Netflix or finding music on Spotify. And whilst services might come with premium features, the basic process of interacting and using them is the same for everyone – rich people don’t get buttons that are easier to click.

There are no shortcuts in how to respond to this. Great digital experiences are rarely just about hiring the right design agency or paying for testing, they are born from businesses that either start the right way, or those that are prepared to make the often difficult and expensive structural changes necessary to put customer experience at the heart of what they do. It’s about defeating internal politics about who owns what part of the process and making an investment in something that doesn’t always have an obvious and directly measurable return.

Next in this series we'll be asking if your marketing communications are a fair exchange for customer attention.  

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< The beta blog | Aug 19, 2014

The personal data revolution and why it could benefit everyone

Yesterday we launched PwC’s Future of Work series which looks at trends and changes in the world place. Today’s announcement looks at the growing trend of personal data and how both employees and employers can utilise it for mutual benefit.

In the report we predict that data monitoring of employees is set to rise over the next decade as Generation Y enters the workforce – by 2020 this generation will form half of the global workforce and bring with them their different attitudes to technology and personal data. The research reveals that the younger generation are more open to sharing their personal data with their employees, with 36% of Generation Y workers saying they would be happy to do so.

Just as advertisers and retailers are using data from customers’ online and social media activity to tailor their shopping experience, organisations could soon start using workers’ personal data (with their permission) to measure and anticipate performance and retention issues. This sort of data profiling could also extend to real-time monitoring of employees’ health, with proactive health guidance to help reduce sick leave.

The report, which is based on a survey of 10,000 workers (2,000 in the UK) and 500 HR professionals globally, found that employees are more open to sharing their personal data than previously thought. Today’s millennial generation of workers are tomorrow’s decision makers, and with over a third happy to share their personal data (including their social media data) this could become routine in the years to come.

What’s clear is that the personal data revolution is upon us as we collect more and more data about ourselves through digital, social and (increasingly) wearable technologies. Organisations have an opportunity to develop measureable benefits for those who hand over their data and building trust through clear rules about how it is acquired, used and shared since digital trust is vital in a world in beta

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< The beta blog | Aug 18, 2014

20 Questions for the CCO: #1 Does the business get your role?

There have been several new additions to the C-Suite titles in the last few years. Some have been pretty frivolous and say more about an organisation’s marketing strategy than its management. The role of ‘CCO’ or Chief Customer Officer is one that’s here to stay however.

The challenge is getting the rest of the business to actually understand what the role means. A recent Forrester report groups CCO roles into three types: Advisory – representing the customer view across the business and seeking to influence different areas to serve that view. Matrix – a formal part of the organisation with dotted line responsibility over different business units. Operational – a powerful position with structural control over areas directly related to customer experience and the authority to bring other departments into line with that. Under any of these models the CCO is dependent on many different functions to succeed. To create a seamless omni-channel retail experience for example, a CCO might need to coordinate IT, distribution, marketing and sales teams. It can be difficult to define where they stop and those other functions begin. After all, shouldn’t everyone be thinking about the customer and shaping their activities with him/her in mind, regardless of whether they are accountable to a CCO?

This makes it critical that everyone in your organisation has a clear idea of why you are there, what you want to achieve, how you fit in and what value you add. We believe getting this right starts with three key things:

Authority – The necessary remit from leadership and the visible support of the rest of the C-suite team.

Personality – A CCO must be able to relate to everyone in a firm, making their vision and plans for better customer experience relevant and specific to very different people in very different ways.

Footprint – Whilst CCOs might have direct responsibility for functions, they rarely come with a large bespoke team. That makes it critical to find and maintain a network of fellow customer evangelists across the business that can make delivery of the customer centric vision sustainable.

Next in this series we'll be looking at the digital experiences you're creating for your customers and if you're creating the right ones for them. 

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< The beta blog | Aug 13, 2014

Learning to be customer centric in a world in beta

“Any colour you like as long as it’s black”. Surely our ability to respond to customer demands has moved on since the time of Henry Ford’s famous quip.

Life and pensions businesses are certainly determined to become more customer-centric. Digital developments are a key part of this, helping to create closer connections and a more appealing customer experience. Health sensors, social media monitoring and other new profiling techniques can sharpen customer understanding.

But how genuinely customer-centric are the results? I’ve come across a lot of organisations that know a great deal more about their customers, but are still trying to sell them the same old products. Most life insurers are still divided into protection, savings and annuity siloes. They try to match their products with an appropriate customer rather than starting with what customers want and then developing solutions to meet this. This is an approach to customer demands that owes more to the industrial age of Henry Ford than the digital age of Apple and Amazon.

But a very different future is now opening up for life and pensions. Digital interaction and insight can move your business from product push to a personalised customer experience – true customer-centricity. A good example of how this might work would be helping customers to balance the emotional as well as financial trade-offs between how much they want to live off now and their desired standard of living when they retire. We all struggle with these questions. But nobody is really providing the answers or at least helping people to get a real handle on the various options and their implications.

Helping people to manage these different needs and aspirations is an opportunity to create genuinely customised solutions for customers. Product boundaries would no longer exist. Solutions could contain mortgages, equity release, tax and inheritance planning, as well as pensions and life cover.

This isn’t just a question of technology. It demands a fundamental shift in culture and objectives. And while it might seem like a distant future, the foundations are already coming into place. If your business can’t keep pace, other financial services businesses and new entrants will move in ahead of you.

Click here for more information on how insurance can thrive in an increasingly digital world. 

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< The beta blog | Aug 1, 2014

Failure is an option. Why life insurers must learn to embrace the f-word if you want to succeed in the digital age?

Sometimes, failing can be the best thing you can do. And no more so than in today’s digital age.

I know what you’re thinking – surely failure dents reputations and erodes share values, right!

Well this is certainly how most industries including life and pensions have seen the ‘f-word’. In this industry, we’ve become accustomed to long and sweeping business planning cycles. Executives set direction and stake their reputations on the success of its execution. This pursuit of fixed targets, and all the planning, design and build that goes with it is how most business change is approached.

But we now live in a digital age. Customer expectations are constantly shifting and the time to respond is severely limited. The market has moved on by the time most life insurers have made their decisions and put their new capabilities in place. As I’ve also seen all too many times, there’s a tendency to piggyback lots of other requests onto new systems. This makes the whole exercise even slower and more muddled.

So what should you be aiming for? Such is the speed and uncertainty of market developments that it’s virtually impossible to predict what customer demand will look like in a few years’ time. A better approach is to take a leaf from tech savvy businesses. They scan for gaps in the market and use digital capabilities to get to market quickly.

From flexible pension plans for self-employed builders to health, wealth and retirement solutions for targeted groups of young professionals, you could have a whole series of start-ups on the go at any time. Customers will soon let you know whether your hunch is right or wrong. Some ventures will get a good response and can then be expanded to meet demand. Others will fail. But that’s OK, it’s no great shakes, as your bets are spread. You can learn from the experience and swiftly move on to other openings. Indeed, the real f-word here is ‘feedback’.

Losing the fear of failure is going to be a cultural leap for many organisations. But putting your finger in the wind and hoping that your big investments will pay off is a much greater risk in today’s fast moving marketplace. It’s how quickly and effectively you can test the market and respond to the feedback, including outright failure, which will make the difference in the digital age.

Click here for more information on how insurance can thrive in an increasingly digital world.

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< The beta blog | Aug 1, 2014

The future of work in a world in beta

In a world in beta our needs and priorities often change as technology allows us to perform tasks quicker, better and, in some cases, in complete automation. We see this perhaps best in the way the workplace is changing as new technologies are enabling people to make a living in new and different ways that don’t require the typical office set-up or to be based in a specific location. Work is now much less somewhere you go than something you do.

Our new report, titled ‘The future of work: A journey to 2022’ identifies a number projections for what the future of work might look like and how working 9 to 5 might become a thing of the past as workers move towards different ways to make a living.

The report features surveyed responses from 10,000 workers and 500 HR professionals globally to find out what people really want the future of work to look like, and what that means for businesses. We’ve identified three ‘worlds of work’ with different characteristics:

1.The Blue World: where the corporate is king and big company capitalism rules as organisations get bigger and bigger.

2.The Green World: where consumers and employees force companies into developing a powerful social conscience and green sense of responsibility.

3.The Orange World: where small is beautiful and technology fragments the big bad world of global business.

We’ll be discussing all three worlds in a series of blog posts on the People Agenda blog over the coming weeks but I want to start by focusing on the world where technology empowers the rise of the ‘portfolio career’.

On the People Agenda blog we discuss in more depth how people feel strongly that they no longer want to work within the constraints of the typical office environment. This is because of::

  • Advances in technology: Means that we don’t have to be shackled to our desks - one in five people want to work in a ‘virtual’ place where they can log on from any location or use collaborative work spaces. It also reflects the way in which we talk to each other has changed with greater use of communication tools like Skype.
  • People as brands: People believe that they will have their own brands and sell their skills to those who need them. They will be working for themselves, where they choose. So for me, the big question is how do organisations start to prepare themselves for this shift and help them communicate what this means?
  • Flexibility and varied challenges: People’s lack of interest in working in an office reflects the growing desire among many workers to have more flexibility and varied challenges by working freelance or as a contractor for a number of organisations.

It’ll be an interesting time for big business and the future of work in a world in beta. The growth of this agile, innovative and entrepreneurial middle market could soon start to challenge big businesses as they can compete on specialism and price due to their slimmed down business model.

For more in-depth insights visit our blog post on the report and, as always, we’d love to hear your views on the topic. 

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< The beta blog | Jul 23, 2014

Haven’t we been here before? – Why things will be different for life insurance in the digital age?

Yes I know we’ve been here before. From fresh competition to new regulation, the life and pensions industry has been bracing itself for any number of ‘seismic shifts’ over the past 30 years. In reality, the ways in which products are designed and sold have hardly changed.

But this time it is different. The big question is no longer if, or even when. The change is happening now. I think the reason why the impact is going to be so far-reaching this time around is that it’s customer expectations that are changing. The other decisive factor is the development of digital. We have seen how this has turned other sectors on their head and providing the catalyst for this shift in the marketplace.

You only have to look at the success of Amazon to see how customers have become accustomed to the ease and intuition of digital retail. As our recent survey has shown, consumers now want this level of user-friendly experience from their life insurers. What I found most striking from the survey is how quickly online channels have become consumers’ preferred way to source information about life insurance and interact with their insurer.

This is only the beginning. The latest developments in digital profiling allow you to build up a real feel for your customers’ changing needs and aspirations. The result – closer engagement and smarter solutions.

So who is set to benefit? Most insurers are still trying to crank their unwieldy systems into gear for the digital age. The slow response is opening the door to tech-enabled new entrants. They can use low cost distribution and advanced customer profiling to undercut the competition. We’ve seen in sectors like music and publishing how swiftly established players can be marginalised if consumers see that they can get a better deal elsewhere.

So doing what you already do a little better isn’t going to cut it anymore. Innovation is critical. Your business also needs to be as quick and agile as the new entrants that are setting the pace in the marketplace.

Julian Baker · 1 month ago

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