Thinking about things differently

Thinking about things differently

 

Do you need to respond to disruption in your market but don’t know where to start?

Are you keen to capitalise on digital technologies but unsure what benefits they can deliver or how they would integrate with your existing tools and platforms?

Are you struggling to gauge where you currently are as a business with where you want to be?

By thinking differently about your concerns and challenges, it is possible to gain perspective and realism around the often interminable topic of change and to ultimately develop business strategies that deliver tangible outcomes and drive value.

At Bench, we hold to the principle that everything we do must enable you to either drive and grow revenue, reduce costs,  or empower you to take control of your technology investments and more often than not, deliver all three of these outcomes. One of the key ways we do this is by helping our clients to think differently.

Generally, we find there are four key areas where a change in thinking can help to drive business change.

  1. Understanding the ‘Gap’ and Aligning Strategic intent to Operational Capability

Refined, detailed gap analyses help organisations to understand current marketing and technology maturity levels and highlight where they need to strengthen and change in order to drive value. They also provide specific recommendations as to what needs to happen from a data, technology, people and process perspective in order to enable and deliver this change.

  1. Understanding and Articulating Value and Opportunity

Assessing business value and market opportunity helps organisations to establish and convey the value of particular investments and to identify the opportunities these could exploit and optimise in their marketplace, helping to support business and investment cases. This includes evaluating the continued relevance of current metrics and identifying and defining new, perhaps more relevant KPIs for their changing businesses and marketplaces.

  1. Course Correction

Root cause analyses help organisations to identify why technology programmes or projects may have veered off course or struggled to deliver demonstrable value and highlight ways to bring them back on-track and delivering business outcomes as quickly as possible.

  1. Transformation and Managing Disruption

Identifying how to capitalise on disruption, including how to map out future-focused SWOT and PEST analyses, Competitive Maps and Market Landscapes in order to articulate and prioritise key areas of proposition and service development is key in responding to disruption from customers, competitors and the marketplace.

 

Whether you are grappling with personalised content management for GDPR, want to know how to leverage AI to drive efficiency, review your digital estate or drive best-practice campaign management, learning to think differently  in approaching challenges will really help your strategic planning AND your operational delivery.

We work with a wide range of clients here at Bench and whilst there are commonalities in terms of the organizational challenges that technology and broader digital transformation pose, each client is at a different stage of understanding, application and operational capability.

We are often initially engaged to discuss specific technology application or enablement and where the circumstances allow, this is where our unique Act and Apply practices deliver hugely valuable acceleration against particular operational objectives.

In many cases however, by encouraging our clients to view these specific challenges in a wider perspective and to engage in what on the surface might appear to be a more complex Think exercise, we begin a longer-lasting and ultimately deeper strategic client relationship that delivers against a much broader agenda of organisational change which empowers those clients to address and meet challenges on a basis which otherwise might have become disconnected or worse, crisis-led.

Thinking about ‘thinking’ differently, on an operationally relevant but transformative canvas is at the core of the Bench consulting proposition.

 

Talk to us if you want to learn more about what we do.

Welcome to the new look Bench!

Welcome to the new look Bench!

Today is the start of a new era for Bench, as we launch our new website. While we’re really proud of all the work that has gone into creating our updated look and feel, what hasn’t changed is our strong belief in the practical application of business strategy and technology to enable transformation and create value.

When we initially launched in 2015 as part of The St Ives Group, we did so in response to seeing so many companies confused and concerned by issues such as the sheer pace of change and risk of market disruption, constantly evolving customer views and expectations and the lack of and unavailability of relevant expertise and experience to help solve these problems.

Fast forward to today, and we have successfully helped organisations from across industry to transform and drive value, enabling them to make money, save money, take control and enhance their brand.

We’re committed to continuing and building on this track record, working with clients to help them overcome challenges such as dealing with disruption, understanding how to successfully harness digital technology and transforming operational models in order to compete in today’s market.

As such, we have further honed and refined our service offering under our unique methodology of:

Think – business strategy and transformation
Act – implement the right people, processes and technology
Apply – practical application of services and support

So, please come and pay us a visit at www.mybench.co.uk, where you’ll be able to explore our approach, methodology and specialist services, as well as read our market insights, latest reports and case studies. Please let us know what you think of the new site and if you’d like to have a chat contact the team here.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

You can also visit our LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Welcome to the new Bench Talent website!

Welcome to the new Bench Talent website!

It’s a really exciting time for the Bench Talent team, as we unveil our new website and branding to the world. It’s been a lot of hard work, but we’re really proud of the result and see it as testament to the amazing growth and success we’ve achieved over the last three years.

When we first started out in 2015 we were a team of one as part of the wider Bench offering. Now we are team of 8, and to date have placed 100 candidates in permanent, temporary and contract digital, marketing, data and technology roles.

We first launched Bench Talent to offer an alternative to ‘Big Recruitment’. We wanted to do things differently in an industry where all too often quantity is valued over quality and not enough time is spent asking the right questions or properly communicating with clients and candidates. This is something we’re still incredibly passionate about and we think it is a real cornerstone of our success.

We also know that a lot of our success is due to the great people we work with, and the long-term relationships we’ve built up with clients and candidates.

While we’re delighted with our new website and branding, we are still very much part of the Bench family. This gives us the fairly unique position of being able to draw on an exceptional set of skills and market insight, gained from years of practical experience. In addition, through Bench’s associate partner network, we have access to the subject matter experts in data and marketing technology.

So, please come and pay us a visit at www.benchtalent.co.uk, where you you’ll be able to find all the latest information about the roles we’re looking to fill, as well as our specialist insight into the marketing, data, digital and technology recruitment marketplace.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

You can also visit our new LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

 

GDPR opportunities – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

GDPR opportunities – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

While ensuring compliance with GDPR is of course hugely important, those that treat it merely as a tick box exercise will ultimately fail in this new consumer democracy. GDPR offers a unique opportunity to develop completely new ways of working that are based on the key principles of trust and transparency. In the long-term those businesses that embrace this culture-shift most successfully (and truthfully!) will emerge with a competitive advantage over those that don’t commit so genuinely.

Consumer behavior and attitudes continue to evolve at an astonishing rate and in often-unpredictable ways but who they are and what interests them will remain either unchanged or be clear to discern. The brands that they invest in, financially and emotionally don’t necessarily need to fall-away as a result of these new consumer trends. If organisations have the right level of trust, their customers will choose to share their new behaviours and preferences with you, knowing that they will protect their personal data and respect their privacy at all times.

Beyond big data: smart data

One of the greatest failures of ‘big data’ is that it encouraged harvesting as much data as possible without necessarily asking why this data was needed and how it was going to be used. GDPR will break this cycle, turning big data into smart data. Now organisations will need to ask themselves why they want it and what they are planning on using it for. If everyone had done this years ago, then it would have made aspects such as personalisation much easier.

Going forward, it will be easier for businesses to ensure they are looking at customer engagement across the entire life cycle and not just as a marketing exercise. Storing customer data for the benefit of the customer has to be the mantra, and organisations will need to have a clear vision and a wide understanding of what benefits and customer experience improvements will result from its use and communicate this to their customers.

Taking data into the boardroom

GDPR will also go a long way towards engraining a long-needed organisation-wide appreciation of just how much customer data is being collected and stored across businesses.

At Bench, we spend a large amount of time talking to businesses about data-centricity and using customer-data in every aspect of their strategic and operational planning to improve efficiencies, develop better products, offer better service and anticipate developing customer needs. However, we often hit a brick wall in terms of elevating that conversation beyond the users of data and analytics.

GDPR will bring data into the Boardroom and hopefully alongside the regulatory impetus to properly protect and use consumer data, leaders beyond the CMO and CIO functions will more actively support the critical process of data democratisation and normalisation, which are so key to achieving customer-centricity.

New value exchange

GDPR offers a real opportunity for organisations to review current practices and get their data management and governance in order. Advocates of data value management have long urged organisations to see data as a corporate asset and now is the perfect time to do that.

By establishing what ‘good’ looks like (something that will vary depending on the nature of a particular business) and constantly asking ‘where’s the value?’, organisations can start to better measure the effectiveness of their data strategy and in turn make more use of data to improve the customer experience.

As well as harnessing data to improve the customer journey, GDPR presents a real chance for businesses to re-engage with customers and educate them on the benefits of data sharing. People will be happy to grant access to their data if their needs are being met.

By taking this approach, businesses can also get ahead of the game in terms of allaying any fears individuals may have around how their data is gathered and used. Showing that they have strong, secure data governance strategies in place can go a long way in fostering consumer trust and helping to build strong brand relationships, something which is good for everyone.

Data really does have the scope to revolutionise customer experience, but in order to gain access to good data organisations need to establish trust and to get that trust they need to be transparent.

We strongly urge all businesses not to hide behind GDPR, but to come out and lead with transparency by handing control of data back to customers. Those that do this will be the trailblazers of the future.

Our current ‘Ask the Expert’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies, Response One and one of our Partner organisations, MyLife Digital.

To read the report in full, register to receive it here: ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

GDPR checklist – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

GDPR checklist – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

MyLife Digital, an organisation that empowers businesses and individuals to realise the meaning, value and power of their data, has compiled the ultimate GDPR checklist, which sets out activities you will need to consider – and act on – by the compliance deadline of 25th May 2018.

Organisation

  • My board understands and supports GDPR
  • We have checked we use plain English
  • We have assessed and updated our privacy policy
  • We have a data protection officer
  • We know which departments will be impacted
  • We have assessed the level of corporate risk
  • We understand how we communicate with our supporters
  • We can be fully accountable

Processes and systems

  • We know the source of all data
  • We know what data we are holding
  • We are transparent about the use and sharing of data
  • We can clearly demonstrate that we have consent to use this data
  • We have processes in place to delete data
  • We have systems in place to manage a data breach
  • We can comply with an individual’s right to portability 

Technology

  • We can provide details of all data electronically
  • All data is securely stored and safely encrypted
  • We can fulfil the ‘right to be forgotten’
  • All new technology has privacy by design built-in

Information and rights of access

  • We have updated all our permission statements and they are ready for GDPR
  • Individuals can easily find out what information we hold on them
  • We can verify individual’s ages and identify children for specific consent
  • We have developed template responses
  • We know what additional information needs to be collected to adhere to GDPR

Next steps

  • We have tested an individual’s experience when requesting consent
  • Individual’s can access their own data and update their preferences
  • We can put it right if we get it wrong
  • We can restrict profiling
  • All departments are fully aware of policies, procedures and the new GDPR regulations

Our current Ask the Expert’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies, Response One and one of our Partner organisations, MyLife Digital.

To read the report in full, register here to receive your copy ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

Steps to success – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

Key steps to GDPR success

Understanding the requirements of GDPR is one thing, but being able to translate this into compliance is something else entirely. And of course the larger the organisation, the more complex the process.

With this in mind, what can organisations do to ensure they comply?

1. Map your data flow: conduct an audit

This is perhaps the most important step, and the one which every other element of GDPR compliance is built on. Get the discovery phase right and the rest will follow, get it wrong and the entire process will be beset with problems. By conducting an audit organisations can establish:

  • What data has been collected
  • Where it is being stored
  • Who is using the data
  • Why the data is being collected and its purpose
  • When permission was granted
  • Where permission was granted

This needs to be extremely detailed, right down to the level of where in a building VRNs are stored.

As part of this process, businesses can also determine which legal definition they are processing data under. They will also be able to highlight where they may need to go through a re-consent process with customers, which can act as a great way to reconnect with individuals.

2. Examine your privacy policy

Providing privacy information is already a requirement under the DPA, but GDPR takes it a step further. It has a specific emphasis on making privacy notices understandable, transparent and accessible. Best practice here is to explain with each piece of data collected why it is being collected and how it will be used. This will make it easier for individuals to understand and also be repeatedly informed about how their data is being stored and used.

Of course the level of detail needed in a privacy policy will depend on the type of organisation. For a mail order company who just needs to collect names and addresses it will be fairly straightforward, for a large organisation such as Sky, it will be far more complicated.

What remains the same, regardless of the size of organisation or sector, is the need to take the opportunity to help empower customers and build trust. For example, organisations could look to integrate a permissions management dashboard into their privacy policies, which will not only give customers greater control, but will also enable businesses to use data more effectively.

3. Appoint a Data Protection Officer

Having a suitably knowledgeable person or team of people that focus solely on data protection is not a prerequisite of GDPR, but it will hugely help in complying with it and with data management and governance generally.

If there is not someone with this expertise already in the team, then businesses need to act now to train or recruit someone.

Their role will be two-fold, to act as someone individuals can contact regarding their personal data and also to cascade out information about GDPR and data protection across their organisation.

The Data Protection Officer will also be key in helping to gain board level support, as once this is in place then half the battle is already won.

4. Educate everybody

Every single person within an organisation needs to understand the importance of GDPR and that there is a fundamental move within the organisation to treat data differently going forward.

This again demonstrates why a Data Protection Officer is so vital as they will play a pivotal role in ensuring this happens.

As GDPR compliance essentially involves implementing a new data strategy, it is especially important that the board fully understands the impact of GDPR and is on-board with making resources available to implement the changes.

 5. Communicate externally

Once everyone internally understands the new data strategy and is aware of the role they need to play, businesses can then communicate their new approach externally.

It is hard to impress how important transparency with customers here is – and not for the sake of compliance with the new regulations, but for the good of the company as a whole.

Our current ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies, Response One and one of our Partner organisations, MyLife Digital.

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

New data rights – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

New data rights

Under existing laws, ‘data subjects’ (customers) have:

  • The right to object to processing for direct marketing
  • Right to be forgotten (e.g. Google’s online search results)
  • The right to make Subject Access Requests (SARs)

However, under GDPR legislation, customers will be able to still object to processing for direct marketing, but will also have:

  • A right to object to automated processing (profiling) for legitimate interests
  • The right to be forgotten becomes ‘the right to erasure’, which enables data customers to request personal data to be erased ‘without undue delay’
  • Subject Access Requests must now be free of charge
  • The right to rectification, allowing people to correct personal data about them that is inaccurate, and request the completion of incomplete data
  • The right ‘not to be subject to a decision’ when:
    • It is based on automated processing, and;
    • It produces a legal effect (or similarly significant effect) on them
  • The right to data portability, this is a new addition to the regulations and critics fear that it could lead to disproportionate compliance costs. It requires organisations to hand over personal data to a customer in a usable, transferable format for further use by the data subject. For example, if an individual wishes to switch between service providers.
    • One outcome of this may well be that a new sector of ‘data aggregation’ service providers comes into being. Imagine a proposition whereby all your credit card spending, loyalty rewards and personal expenditure data were aggregated and curated in a live dashboard for you to access and from which personalised ‘advice’ or guidance might be forthcoming. Add to this data from smart meters, online browsing and voice-activated personal assistants and it’s not hard to imagine a huge swathe or live customer data being transferred on a daily basis from multiple sources to a nominated ‘custodian’ of a consumer’s data.
    • It is this obligation to make data available and to transmit it that holds a significant degree of fear for those businesses that understand where the consumer democracy is ultimately heading.

What this all essentially boils down to is that organisations need to better understand what data they hold, why they hold it, how they have gained permission to hold it and whom they are sharing the information with.

They then need to ensure they are being upfront and transparent in effectively communicating this with customers, as well a giving individuals the opportunity to control their own data.

 

Our current ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies Response One and one of our Partner organisations MyLife Digital.

To read the report in full, register here to receive your copy ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

Know your legal basis – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

Know your legal basis and consent mechanism

Under GDPR, organisations will need to process data using one or more of the below legal basis:

  • Legal necessity
  • Vital – (such as in cases of medical emergencies or life or death)
  • Public knowledge
  • Execution of contract
  • Legitimate interest
  • Consent

So for example, a finance company is unable to locate a customer who has stopped making payments under a hire purchase agreement. The customer has moved house without notifying the finance company of his new address. The finance company engages a debt collection agency to find the customer and seek repayment of the debt. It discloses the customer’s personal data to the agency for this purpose. Although the customer has not consented to this disclosure, it is made for the purposes of the finance company’s legitimate interests – i.e. to recover the debt.

Consent mechanisms

Whereas before there was one consent to rule them all, GDPR requires a complete review of consent mechanisms, to make sure they meet the legislation’s new standards. If organisations cannot achieve the new, high level of consent then they must find an alternative legal basis (as listed above), or not process the data in question at all.

As such, businesses will now need to review their consent mechanisms to make sure they meet the GDPR requirements on being specific, granular, clear, prominent, opt-in, documented and easily withdrawn.

The key new points are as follows:

  • Unbundled: consent requests must be separate from other terms and conditions. Consent should not be a precondition of signing up to a service unless necessary
  • Active opt-in: pre-ticked opt-in boxes are invalid – use unticked option boxes or similar active opt-in methods (e.g. a binary choice given equal prominence)
  • Granular: give granular options to consent separately to different types of processing wherever appropriate.
  • Named: name your organisation and any third parties who will be relying on consent – even precisely defined categories of third-party organisations will not be acceptable under the GDPR.
  • Documented: keep records to demonstrate what the individual has consented to, including what they were told, and when and how they consented.
  • Easy to withdraw: tell people they have the right to withdraw their consent at any time, and how to do this. It must be as easy to withdraw as it was to give consent. This means you will need to have simple and effective withdrawal mechanisms in place.

No imbalance in the relationship: consent will not be freely given if there is imbalance in the relationship between the individual and the controller – this will make consent particularly difficult for public authorities and for employers, who should look for an alternative lawful basis.

 

Our current ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies Response One and one of our Partner organisations MyLife Digital.

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

Understanding GDPR – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

Understanding GDPR

So what is GDPR all about? Jonathan Richmond, Associate Director at insight driven marketing agency, Response One, explains all.

The idea of protecting peoples’ personal data is not a new one. Both the 1998 Data Protection Act (DPA) and the 2003 Privacy Act look to do just this. However, with the explosion of digital technology a new set of data protection rules were needed – cue the General Data Protection Regulation Rules.

They mark a complete step change in data governance and although it is being introduced to cover the digital economy, GDPR will also apply to paper based systems. It is not just about consumer data either, employee data is covered, as is anything that is seen as personal data.

Data processing

GDPR requires that data be:

  • Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner
  • Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed
  • Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
  • Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed
  • Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.

By far the most important of these from a marketing perspective is the second bullet point. Businesses have been gathering as much customer data as possible, at any opportunity and through often opaque practices for a long time (register to download, create an account etc.). Now, organisations will have to clearly state that they want data in order to undertake specific marketing as well as be clear about when and through which channels they will communicate. Finally, businesses won’t be able to use personally identifiable data to profile or segment customers without their specific authority.

On a corporate level, the most important is probably the last bullet point. Breaches of personal data security that would have cost an organisation £100k might now end up costing many millions if businesses don’t comply and prove that they are doing so. C-level executives and those with system responsibility, particularly in this age of The Cloud, would probably consider this the most challenging aspect.

Importantly, GDPR also requires that

“The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.”

Meaning that it is not enough for organisations to simply comply, they must actively demonstrate this.

 

Our current ‘‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies Response One and one of our Partner organisations MyLife Digital.

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

Countdown to GDPR – the road to positive compliance and best practice data management

The Final Countdown

With less than a year to go until GDPR comes into effect, it is dominating the news agenda and is a top priority for businesses. From retailers to charities and the manufacturing industry to financial services, the impact of GDPR will affect every organisation that handles customer data and will be far reaching. Indeed, it has the scope to change the face of marketing completely. Yet behind the hype, there is much confusion from businesses of all sizes from across industry, which know that they have much to do to comply with GDPR, yet do not know where to begin.

While for many, compliance with GDPR may seem like a gargantuan task, those that embrace it as an opportunity to lead the way in the new consumer democracy and demonstrate a new level of transparency and trust, will be the ones who ultimately win. Although undoubtedly a complex task, GDPR offers as many opportunities as it does challenges.

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing extracts from our latest report, which aims to provide clear and positive solutions for companies looking at where to start and how to comply with the most significant overhaul of EU data protection law in recent years. It will draw on insights and advice from experts across the marketing and technology industry, setting out what companies need to do to ensure they have best practice data management in place and are compliant ready.

Beyond that, it will explore the opportunities that GDPR offers for organisations. If customer experience is the battleground of the future, then data is key to winning the war and GDPR is the perfect opportunity for businesses to rethink their approach to data and the enhanced customer relationships and experiences it allows.

 

Our current ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report has been produced in partnership with one of our Group Companies Response One and one of our Partner organisations MyLife Digital.

Talk to us if you want to learn more. 

Why we should welcome GDPR

Why we should welcome GDPR

There has been much discussion of GDPR in recent months and this is only set to increase ahead of May next year. It’s fair to say that there has been a general feeling of confusion and trepidation around the new regulation, but it is time for organisations to start focusing on the positives it can bring in terms re-connecting with customers and offering them an improved brand experience.

Getting your house in order 

GDPR offers a real opportunity for organisations to review current practices and get their data management and governance in order. Advocates of data value management have long urged organisations to see data as a corporate asset and now is the perfect time to do that. Just like any asset, businesses should attach cost and value to their data.

By establishing what ‘good’ looks like (something that will vary depending on the nature of a particular business) and constantly asking ‘where’s the value?’, Organisations can start to better measure the effectiveness of their data strategy and in turn make more use of data to improve the customer experience.

Re-engaging with customers 

As well as harnessing data to improve the customer journey, GDPR also presents a real chance for businesses to re-engage with customers and educate them on the benefits of data sharing. People are often increasingly reluctant to part with data and organisations need to demonstrate the value exchange involved. This includes improved service, a better understanding of customer needs and a better brand experience.

Getting ahead of the game 

By taking this approach, businesses can also get ahead of the game in terms of allaying any fears individuals may have around how their data is gathered and used. Many people may have no real idea of exactly what happens to their data and with GDPR looming, there is a real danger that common misconceptions around data use and storage will be magnified.

Showing that they have strong, secure data governance strategies in place can go a long way in fostering consumer trust and helping to build strong brand relationships, something which is good for everyone.

 

Register here to read myBench’s ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report.

Talk to us if you want to find out more.

A new age for retail

A new age for retail

The current pace of change and innovation within the retail marketplace is verging on a revolution. On the one hand, organisations such as Amazon are challenging existing business models and engaging customers in new ways. While on the other we have increasingly empowered consumers who expect a seamless brand offering across an ever-growing range of channels – and they want it now!

As I wrote about in Internet Retailing recently, digital transformation is redefining not just how retailers communicate with their customers, but entire business models too. Indeed, digital transformation and data intelligence are central to creating a customer-obsessed model, something which is particularly important in this ‘age of the customer’.

From mobile applications to ecommerce platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), and, more recently, AI and VR, ever advancing digital technology has led to a fundamental change in the way retailers interact with consumers – and vice versa. Yet this is only the beginning.

All of this presents a multi-faceted challenge to retailers. Not only are they attempting to embrace new operating models and approaches in order to stay competitive and stave off disruptive forces, they are also faced with a wide array of technology to choose from, as they attempt to both navigate new terrain and implement new systems to take advantage of burgeoning technology such as AI.

For heritage retailers in particular, with large legacy technology systems, this can be particularly challenging.

However, retailers need to ensure they have the basic building blocks in place in order to get real benefit from any technology they purchase – and indeed to get benefit from the technology they already have! What is often overlooked is the hugely important role data plays. Nearly every new trend such as AI, cognitive computing and IoT has data at its core. Sure, data is not as headline grabbing as the above-mentioned technologies, but none of them are possible without access to, and good integration between accurate and relevant data.

Don’t start with technology

Start with the customer experience, not with technology. All too often the tendency is to try and solve a need in the quickest way possible by throwing some technology at it. To really get value, retailers need to step back and start with the customer. Understand how your customers are interacting with your brand, how they are likely to in the future and also ask yourself: what disruptions are there in the market that might change the way they do?

Build a roadmap and keep it agile

Developing a technology roadmap that encompasses the entire business and is supported by the entire senior management team is hugely important. This can help to avoid questions over which department ‘owns’ a particular technology project, as they all will.  Built into this roadmap should be incremental targets, some of which can be delivered quickly in order to demonstrate value up front, as well as clear objectives that the business can work towards.

These ‘quick wins’ are critical for demonstrating the value of a system and getting that all in important buy in. This stage should not be underestimated, particularly as businesses are placing more pressure than ever before on the return on investment.

Once an overarching business roadmap has been established, organisations can then tackle the issue of whether they have right people and processes in place to execute it.

Getting your digital estate in order

Retailers are still failing to fully understand their digital estates and the systems they already have. Many are fairly digitally mature, with estates that have grown at a rapid pace and are likely to have multiple systems in place, which are not being utilised or integrated properly.

In addition, each silo is in various stages of maturity when it comes to technology. Further compounding issues is the advent of the cloud, which has led to a greater ability to operate outside of an IT function and therefore not have to communicate across business functions and other silos.


Final thoughts 

Using technology to provide a seamless, engaging, personalised service to customers is within reach for retailers, but the majority still have much work to do to achieve this goal. However, by taking key steps to implement an operating model that puts the customer as the centre, establish an overarching business technology roadmap, tackle silos and use data more effectively, retailers will start to reap rewards. It is not an easy task, but with the right support and expertise, it is achievable.

 

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

Mind the gap – don’t let a poor understanding of the tech you already have in place trip you up

Mind the gap – don’t let a poor understanding of the tech you already have in place trip you up

When catching the tube between meetings today, I was struck by the familiar warning phrase issued to busy underground passengers to ‘Mind the gap’. Whilst I wasn’t in any danger of slipping onto the track, the advice was remarkably similar to what I’d just been discussing with a company keen to make the most of a planned, new technology purchase.

My meeting was to determine if a proper Gap Analysis had been undertaken to make sure the company’s operating model was at the right stage of maturity for the adoption of the new technology it was keen to implement and to benefit from its promise.

Gap Analysis is essential

Not properly minding ‘the gap’ in my experience is one of the most common mistakes organisations make when looking to embrace new technology and it’s one that all too often sees them trip up.

While innovation is imperative, organisations need to be mindful that innovation isn’t done for the sake of it or too early to realise its benefits. Undertaking Gap Analysis and looking at the technology you have and how to get the most out of it should be the first step in accelerating your digital journey.

Know what you’ve got

Organisations need to know what’s in their armoury and how to use the data and people they have before they embark on new innovation. Crucially, they need to understand how to use these resources to meet their business goals and there is no better way to achieve this than through a comprehensive Gap Analysis.

So often businesses have grown organically and have a hodge-podge of technology in place. Understanding what this is, identifying the skill sets required to achieve the most out of existing technology and gaining real insight into how data is being used and stored must be a prerequisite to acquiring the latest and greatest piece of shiny tech.

Aligning with business goals

Marketing and data technologies only have the potential to drive digital transformation, enable business intelligence, allow organisations to become truly data led and ultimately transform customer experience for the better, if they align with business goals and objectives. Understanding this will lead to successful implementations.

All too often, I see organisations either rushing to buy marketing and data technology, or investing in new technology, which then does not deliver on its promise or expectation. They are all driven by a desire to stay one step ahead of the competition and carve out an advantage in an increasingly crowded and fast-paced environment.

Arrive successfully at your destination  

By closely examining current marketing and data architecture, and the way systems, tools and data presently connect (or fail to connect as the case may be), organisations can gather a clearer idea of where there is a genuine need for new technology or how current technology which can be utilised.

It may be that instead of putting new technology in place, an organisation would get more value from using its current technology better – for example by configuring it, staff training or integrating it in a smarter way. In order to successfully do this though, organisations need to have conducted thorough Gap Analysis and audits to identify where technology might be better capitalised on.

Investing upfront at this stage and truly minding the gap will lead to an efficient and effective digital journey and ensure that businesses successfully arrive at their desired destination.

To find out more about how to balance innovation and get the basics of technology selection, implementation and integration right, download our latest  ‘Ask the Expert’ Report on Unleashing marketing and data technology’s true potential designed to help businesses identify and capitalise on key marketing and data technology.

 

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

It’s time to get practical with A.I and cognitive computing

It’s time to get practical with AI and cognitive computing

Everyone is excited about A.I and cognitive computing – the boundless opportunities, the raft of applications in development and the promise of a new era ahead for marketers. I’m excited too, especially by how these technologies are already being used, but I see many businesses falling into a trap. In the rush to embrace A.I and cognitive computing, many of the practicalities around its implementation are being overlooked.

Truly understanding the technology

As I wrote about last week in the Huffington Post  a large part of harnessing the opportunities cognitive computing and A.I can bring is in truly understanding how these technologies work and how they can benefit an organisation. There’s still a lot of confusion around this.

Many organisations mix up predictive systems and cognitive systems, for example. Predictive marketing is based on analysing huge amounts of data and automating responses. True cognitive computing is teaching a system to think like a person and learn as you train it. It can take data (which does not have to be personal) and learn from this. This, in conjunction with A.I technology opens up a huge range of new ways to reach and interact with customers.

Importantly, although cognitive computing is designed to learn and run independently, it will always work best in partnership with people. For example, cognitive technology can run automated tasks such as reporting or email campaigns, freeing up people to focus on creativity and delivering better customer experiences, such as Augmented Intelligence.

Don’t be seduced by gimmicks 

Whilst organisations are keen to stay one step ahead of their competitors, they do need to look beyond a ‘gimmick-led’ application of these technologies and instead investigate how it can be applied to actively improve personalised customer experience.

To do this, organisations need to step back and start with the customer. Understand how customers are interacting with a brand and what kind of experience they are looking for. People don’t necessarily want a relationship with a brand, they just want a good experience.

The North Face is one example of where cognitive computing is being practically applied to deliver this kind of experience. Users visiting The North Face website can have a similar experience online as in-store, thanks to intelligent natural language processing technology that helps customers choose a jacket by asking a series of questions and learning from the answers supplied. Powered by IBM Watson cognitive computing technology together with Fluid XPS the retailer can provide customers with outerwear suggestions tailored to their needs, creating a more engaging, relevant and personalised shopping experience.

Getting your house in order

Perhaps more fundamentally though, businesses first need to get their own houses in order before embarking on implementing new technologies such as cognitive or A.I.

Innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible through the use of exciting technologies is of course great. However, in order to gain value from groundbreaking technology and turn it in to something that will deliver significant improvement to their customers, it is vital that organisations strike the right balance. As Kevin Kelly, author and founder of Wired famously said “perfect what you know”.

 

To read myBench’s Ask the Experts Report in full request your copy.

 Talk to us if you want to learn more.

GDPR aside we have a moral obligation to protect data

GDPR aside we have a moral obligation to protect data

With GDRP looming and businesses grappling to understand its complexities ahead of May next year, there is a real opportunity to stop and think about how customer data is handled. Putting GDPR anxieties aside we have a moral obligation to protect data and GDPR provides a real opportunity for businesses to get this right.

What’s GDPR all about?

  • General Data Protection Regulation rules will be applicable by May 25th 2018 to all organisations that operate in the EU market
  • The regulations are extra-territorial. Overseas firms doing business in the EU market are subject to it. Even with Brexit, UK organisations will still be affected
  • The fines are serious; data breaches can generate fines of €10m or 2% of
    annual revenue. Wider or consequential breaches of its provisions will generate fines of €20m or 4% of revenue
  • Consumers have enhanced rights so they have control over who has their data and where it is stored
  • Consent to use data must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous for each purpose for which the data is being processed
  • The regulation applies (with some nuances) to both the data controller and data processor
  • right to data portability will make it easier for individuals to transmit personal data between service providers.

What does this mean?

In an age where data underpins everything we do this heralds a new era for businesses. GDPR is all about giving control back to consumers and making companies more responsible for their data management, with company directors becoming personally liable for data management processes.

Compliance is one thing. However, if you do this right then GDPR could be the catalyst for very positive outcomes in your business.  The organisations that lead the response to this challenge will be seen as innovators, as brands with a social conscience who are protecting their customers.

There has always been a strong business case for better information management, solid information governance and sensible information lifecycle management – but there is a moral obligation to get this right as well.

 

Register here to read myBench’s ‘Ask the Experts’ GDPR report

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

Adobe Campaign Management – get it right first time!

Adobe Campaign Management – get it right first time!

Marketing automation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. It doesn’t even need to be difficult to prove ROI. Not if you get the implementation right first time.

With Adobe Campaign Management there are some core considerations to ensure you deliver consistent campaigns everywhere, first time.

Take a look at our checklist to find out more about ‘Getting Adobe Campaign Management right first time’, so you get off to the best start with Adobe Campaign Management.

Advice:

Thinking about implementing Adobe Campaign Management and want to get it right first time?

The golden rule is to make sure you have a clear Requirements Definition – this is the most important stage in the entire process.

Here’s our checklist on how to do this:

  1. Identify who your stakeholders are – both inbound and outbound
  2. Identify what channels the solution will be supporting – do you have a native engine or do you require API integration?
  3. Define the customer journey and contact strategy against business objectives – Welcome, Upsell / Cross sell, Lapse / Retention, Abandon Basket, Order confirmation / Dispatch can be defined based on segment objectives and customer preferences but in order to enable these the data has to be right!
  4. To plan messaging and enable only the most relevant messages to reach the customer – consider if you need to integrate the service messaging into the contact history
  5. Get data integration right – the core operational (behavioural and transactional) data is key and must be right before the integration of new channels or sources of data are added into the equation such as mobile app behaviour, i-beacon information, website behaviour, social interaction.

Thought all this through? Then you’re ready to implement! If not, contact us to find out more.

If you need more information on implementing Adobe Campaign Management or if you’d like to chat the process through then please contact Grant about ‘Getting Adobe Campaign Management right first time’ to speak to our team of experts who will be on hand to help and answer any questions you have.

Ask the experts report

 Ask the experts report

Innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible are part of the very fabric of the technology industry. There will always be new and exciting technologies and trends to explore. This is entirely as it should be. However, in order to gain value from groundbreaking technology and turn it in to something that will deliver significant improvement to their customers, it is vital that organisations strike the right balance.

By all means follow the latest predictions and set aside time and budget to innovate, but make sure the basic building blocks are in place too.

Over the last few weeks we have been sharing excerpts from our latest ‘Ask the Experts’ report, which outlines the key marketing and data technology challenges and opportunities facing organisations at the moment.

These can be summarised as:

  1. Getting the basics right

When implemented and integrated correctly, marketing and data technologies have the potential to drive digital transformation, enable business intelligence, allow organisations to become truly data led and ultimately transform customer experience for the better.

All too often, we see organisations either rushing to buy marketing and data technology, or investing in new technology, which then does not deliver on its promise or expectation.

Businesses need to ensure they have the basic building blocks in place in order to get real benefit from any technology they purchase. What is often overlooked is the hugely important role data plays. Nearly every new trend such as A.I, cognitive computing and IoT has data at its core. Sure, data is not as headline grabbing as the above-mentioned technologies, but none of them are possible without access to, and good integration between accurate and relevant data.

  1. Real-time decision making finally gets real

While there was a huge amount of noise about real-time decision-making and real-time next best action marketing a few years ago, we haven’t as yet seen significant practical application of this technology.

This is set to change from 2017 onwards. Many organisations looked into or acquired technology to facilitate real-time when it first emerged as a leading trend, but it is only now that many are actually practically applying it.

  1. Taking steps towards cognitive computing

The concept of cognitive computing and A.I has been much discussed recently, in the same way that real time marketing was a few years ago. While there have been a limited amount of practical applications of this technology to date, there is no doubt that the concept is set to dominate the landscape for some time.

The next few years will see organisations start to get to grips with what cognitive computing can offer. There are still fundamental kinks to be worked out, more fundamentally, though, businesses need to look beyond a ‘gimmick-led’ application of these technologies and instead investigate how it can be applied to actively improve personalised customer experience.

  1. The growing need for data management and governance

Data management is a huge commodity. Proponents of data value management have long urged organisations to see data as a corporate asset and they are right.

Just like any asset organisations should attach cost and value to their data.

Yet how many organisations are actually doing any of this?  Only a small minority of market leaders.

The majority only considers data in this way when a specific requirement rears its head.  Often this will be a regulatory or technology driven change.

The temptation to wait until a project demands better data management is commonplace.  But project thinking can mean data governance and lifecycle management processes happen in a ‘siloed’ fashion.

  1. Getting your digital estate in order

Organisations are still failing to fully understand their digital estates and the systems they already have. Many are fairly digitally mature, with estates that have grown at a rapid pace. Due to the particularly high turn-over in senior marketing roles, coupled with increasing marketing technology spend, businesses are likely to have multiple systems in place, which are not being utilised or integrated properly.

These ‘Frankenstacks’ of disconnected technology have developed for a number of reasons, primarily due to the fact that organisations have been working in silos for years. This creates a monster of parts, all probably very good in their own area but as a combination stitched and patched together and not always serving the common good.

However, in this age of the customer, consumers expect – in fact demand – a seamless, joined up, personalised experience. Something that is difficult to deliver in a disjointed digital estate.

By closely examining current marketing and data architecture, and the way systems, tools and data presently connect (or fail to connect as the case may be), organisations can gather a clearer idea of how to effectively join up and better manage a digital estate.

 

To read the Ask the Experts Report in full request your copy.

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

Getting your digital estate in order

Getting your digital estate in order

Organisations are still failing to fully understand their digital estates and the systems they already have. Many are fairly digitally mature, with estates that have grown at a rapid pace. Due to the particularly high turn-over in senior marketing roles, coupled with increasing marketing technology spend, businesses are likely to have multiple systems in place, which are not being utilised or integrated properly

These ‘Frankenstacks’ of disconnected technology have developed for a number of reasons, primarily due to the fact that organisations have been working in silos for years. Each area, line of business, division, etc. often acquires technology separately. This creates a monster of parts, all probably very good in their own area but as a combination stitched and patched together and not always serving the common good.

In addition, each silo is in various stages of maturity when it comes to technology. Further compounding issues is the advent of the cloud, which has led to a greater ability to operate outside of an IT function and therefore not have to communicate across business functions and other silos.

However, in this age of the customer, consumers expect – in fact demand – a seamless, joined up, personalised experience. Something that is difficult to deliver in a disjointed digital estate.

This disconnect also makes it increasingly difficult to track and understand why and where problems are occurring across the digital estate, especially when there are many stakeholders and agencies involved.

By closely examining current marketing and data architecture, and the way systems, tools and data presently connect (or fail to connect as the case may be), organisations can gather a clearer idea of how to effectively join up and better manage a digital estate.

It may be that instead of putting new technology in place, an organisation could get more value from using its current technology better – for example by configuring it or integrating it in a smarter way. Alternatively, by conducting a thorough audit, organisations will be in a much better position to speedily identify and solve problems such as a sudden drop in transactions. In order to successfully do this though, organisations need to have access to the right skills and expertise to review an estate in its entirety.

 

To read the Ask the Experts Report in full request your copy.

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

The growing need for data management and governance

Data management is a huge commodity

 

Proponents of data value management have long urged organisations to see data as a corporate asset and they are right.

Just like any asset organisations should attach cost and value to their data.

Yet how many organisations are actually doing any of this?  Only a small minority of market leaders.

The majority only considers data in this way when a specific requirement rears its head.  Often this will be a regulatory or technology driven change.

This is understandable as the cost of entry into the data value management club can be high.  There are software costs, management consulting costs and technical implementation costs. The promise of return on investment from data governance needs to be cast iron.

The temptation to wait until a project demands better data management is commonplace.  But project thinking can mean data governance and lifecycle management processes happen in a ‘siloed’ fashion.

There is another problem too.  It is a hackneyed question but apposite in this context; ‘What does good look like’?  The response is typically difficult to define.  What is good for a pharmaceutical company may be quite different to what is good for a retailer. The question also exposes a failing in traditional approaches to data value management projects.  Common wisdom would ask an organisation to consider, say, people process and technology.

Organisations need to identify all the stakeholders, the steering committee and nominate the data stewards, define data related rules and processes, implement data quality related processes and assigned decision rights and accountabilities.

In addition, they also need to constantly ask: ‘where’s the value?’ This is where two key factors come into their own.

The first is measurement.  Don’t they say if you want to improve something you must measure it first?  By building a data governance scorecard organisations can benchmark their progress and see if their strategy is working over time.

The second factor is experience – for which there is no substitute. Here, that means choosing people with experience in delivering a true value-driven approach.  Organisations should also be mindful to select people who understand what value means to their business and have the experience to deliver the results and add value.

 

To read the Ask the Experts Report in full request your copy.

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

Don’t run before you can walk…

Don’t run before you can walk – getting back to basics will help accelerate your business 

The usual rush is on to adopt the latest technologies of the coming year and keep ahead of the trends but it’s important not to run before you can walk or you’ll trip up. While constantly looking forward and innovating is imperative, organisations do need to be mindful that innovation isn’t done for the sake of it.  Getting back to basics and looking at the technology you have and how to get the most out of it should be the first step in accelerating your business.

The importance of getting back to basics

With agile start-ups nipping at the heels of more established businesses and levels of data reaching saturation point, innovation is perhaps more key than ever. Encouragingly, Gartner’s 2016 CMO Spend Report shows that 71% of marketing leaders have a dedicated budget for innovation. However, innovation doesn’t necessarily have to equate to purchasing the latest technology trend.

Ironically, organisations often have more access to innovation than they realise. Businesses regularly purchase the ‘Ferrari’ of marketing and data technology, but then leave it in the garage, by not taking advantage of all the innovative functions it can offer.

Don’t overlook what you already have

When implemented and integrated correctly, marketing and data technologies have the potential to drive digital transformation, enable business intelligence, allow organisations to become truly data led and ultimately transform customer experience for the better.

All too often, I see organisations either rushing to buy marketing and data technology, or investing in new technology, which then does not deliver on its promise or expectation. They are all driven by a desire to stay one step ahead of the competition and carve out an advantage in an increasingly crowded and fast-paced environment.

Frustratingly, the technology to enable them to do this is available, it is just not being selected and implemented in the right way.

Get your data right and the rest will follow

Businesses need to ensure they have the basic building blocks in place in order to get real benefit from any technology they purchase. What’s commonly overlooked is the hugely important role data plays. Nearly every new trend such as A.I, cognitive computing and IoT has data at its core and without getting this basic foundation right and establishing good integration between accurate and relevant data it simply isn’t possible to realise the potential of new and exciting technology.

To find out more about how to balance innovation and get the basics of technology selection, implementation and integration right, download our latest  ‘Ask the Experts’ guide, designed to help businesses identify and capitalise on key marketing and data technology.

To read the report in full request your copy.

We run regular ‘Knowledge Bench’ events. Find out more. 

 

Talk to us if you want to learn more.

Ask The Experts – Is 2017 a Challenge or Opportunity?

We have launched our latest ‘Ask the Experts’ guide designed to help businesses identify the challenges and capitalise on opportunities presented by the key marketing and data technology developments for 2017 and beyond.

The guide also offers practical advice for organisations about the importance As a new year dawns, there is always a rush to predict the key trends and technologies. While constantly looking forward and innovating is of course hugely important, organisations need to be mindful that innovation does not simply mean chasing after the next big thing.

Businesses need to ensure they have the basic building blocks in place in order to get real benefit from any technology they purchase. What is often overlooked is the hugely important role data plays. Nearly every new trend such as A.I, cognitive computing and IoT has data at its core. Sure, data is not as headline grabbing as the above-mentioned technologies, but none of them are possible without access to, and good integration between accurate and relevant data.

Innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible are part of the very fabric of the technology industry. There will always be new and exciting technologies and trends to explore. This is entirely as it should be. However, in order to gain value from groundbreaking technology and turn it in to something that will deliver significant improvement to their customers, it is vital that organisations strike the right balance.

By all means follow the latest predictions and set aside time and budget to innovate, but make sure the basic building blocks are in place too.

To read the report in full request your copy.

 

Talk to us if you want to learn more.