Vers un nouveau marketing...(Towards a new marketing approach...)
Samedi 9 Septembre 2017
The Evolution of Retail

Mercredi 9 Août 2017
How VR will save retail
As Augmented reality is able to enhance the store experience, Virtual Reality brings the store to customers. It is the very first time, when customers can really have the store in their house. They do not have to drive, it comes to them. It is not an e-Commerce store, where products are presented in a different way or where browsing and searching for a product is not enjoyable but really a store. It is an experience that is exciting and efficient. No need to browse through 52 pages of dresses. You have the shelves and at a glance can see which product you like and then you can dig more. Customers do not like the 50 pages results they get; They usually stop at page 4 or 5. So the notion of endless aisle or the notion of large inventory is actually more annoying to customers than it is serving the cause. Customers want to get to the point. They want to see things they like right away and then dig more into their selection. This is where recommendations should solve it for e-Commerce but I do not think we are yet using it in an efficient way. We use it as a secondary element, while it should the heart of what we serve to customers.

The way VR enables to present products is way more powerful. We can play with the product, we can play with the environment and we can bring more sparkle to shopping.

You can even think that you will be able to be in a store, that will be live streamed. Now you love the Louis Vuitton store in Les Champs Elysées and you will be able to get to this store, whether you live in Tokyo, New York, Weston FL, Vladivostok or Perth.

What if now each of us would have our own shop and no two people will have the same? You would go to a store only for you, with your personal associate, who will know all about you and will be able to help you and talk to you along the process. Everybody would be a VIP and shop the same way as we can sometimes shop at some luxury brands. I, as the customer, am at the center of all!

Customers are bored today. They have too many choices and are lost because they do not know what to choose anymore. We sink them into pages of results and plethora of products that are of no interest to them. They are getting a very bad customer service so they are not loyal. They are price conscious and are show rooming before making their purchase

They go to stores because they need to, but do not enjoy it as much because it is crowded, far, it is cold outside, they do not have the finances, they have kids or are in the rush. Shopping becomes a commodity and is no longer enjoyable as it used to be. Malls are still a social place for teens, who hang out and shop sometimes.

Family members are further away from each other. People spend more time on digital channels and do not have time or stamina to deal with a rude associate, go to a store where the products they want are not available or get frustrated because there is nothing they like. With VR, they get to a store, with things they like, with a nice human interaction, where they can try the product and it will be available because the endless aisle will kick in the back of the process.

So what if a store would no longer a store? What if the store we are used to with shelves is no longer the norm? Why couldn’t we buy our bathing suit on a Bahamas beach, our coffee in a farm in Costa Rica, Kevin Garnett’s Jersey directly on the Celtic’s field, Kathy Perry’s music at Kathy’s home…? Can the intrinsic notion of store can just be redefined? Now we are reinventing retail!

I was at an executive summit and during a roundtable we started talking technology. Somebody said that the technology goes too fast. As retailers, we are still thinking about implementing a solution that a new one comes in. Retailers are facing a lot of disruptions the past 10 years. The market is moving fast and they need to adapt. Some retailers cannot keep up. For example, while most retailers were jumping on the wagon of Ship from Store in 2010, some do not have the functionality yet.

I created a timeline trying to summarize when each technology became mainstream for retailers.

Is technology evolving too quickly for retailers?
Is the technology evolving too quickly or retailers being too slow?

With the new technologies coming on board, retailers can no longer do everything in house. This business model is no longer viable unless they have an army of engineers and retailers who can afford it are rare.

By the time they figure out what others have already solved for, the market is further away. Why should we reinvent things that are already developed and for which some people spent numerous hours of their life figuring out?

In addition, is this particular technology going to be best for me? I need to be able to identify the technology, try it at a decent price and decide for myself if this is what I need for the longer run. I also need to be able to tweak the technology in different ways until I find the right angle working for my business.

The best solution to move fast and allow me to try quickly is to work with people, who know what they are talking about and who made their living of this particular technology. I had been into conversations, where we were wondering if we were going to build a call center or a CRM in house. This is silly! There are so many options there. Make a good selection, go through the evaluation process and work with a vendor. They know what they are doing. They are doing this for years so what makes us think we can do it better than them?

In addition, the scalability and the profitability of the development will never be able to balance. They keep developing functionalities that we can inherit easily. Building it once can be easy but then, how about enhancements and maintenance?

Some years ago, the question buy vs. build was probably valid but today, because of a faster market, I always take the buy route.

A lot of larger corporations, in order to innovate, do not do it themselves; They acquire startups, which figured it out for themselves. They know, that they would never be able to be as nimble and as sharp as startups who live and breath for a very specific functionality.

In our fast moving technology era, the best way to approach the challenge, is to set up a test with an existing solution. Assess and then broaden the project or not. Wash, rinse and do it again so that you are always up to date and always on top of customer expectations.

The biggest hurdles to digital transformation
Many executives leading digital transformation are sharing their frustrations and the challenges they are facing. The road to digital transformation is not easy for these people, who are given the task but not the means. Digital transformation is not new. A lot of people are tackling the subject for many years now and they all relate the same challenges.

Barb is working for an insurance company. She is relating that her colleagues are seeing her as a thread. They see her as the evil, who is going to put them out of work, so the resistance is intense from the departments. She has one champion, who is protecting her but she is the number one enemy for most people. All she achieves is so complicated, while it could be way simpler if she did not to face so much resistance. She spends most of her time lobbying rather than doing.

George is working for a professional services company. He is tasked with digital transformation but the budget is not there. He does not have the tools, he does not have the metrics, he does not have the people and the budget is insufficient to do what is right. He does what he can with what he has and already achieves great success but it is way less than what could be achieved. The company has a lot of potential but does not see it. He is seeing each day this missed opportunity and it is depressing him.

Ellen is working for a fashion company. The company is talking about implementing functionalities that should have already been implemented years ago. There seems that the basics are discussed, while the market is moving forward. The progress is slow. People do not understand and spend more time debating than doing. They are taken over by brands, which are far more innovative.

Ken is working for a retailer, who wants to bring his eCommerce in house. In the CEO eyes, this is just a store front to build. When Ken explains that bringing eCommerce in house involves having also an inventory manager, a call center and connecting to other systems, then the project does not take the same dimension and the investment amount is not as imagined. Also the CEO did not anticipate that now he will need to have the skillsets in house to manage all this. Ken will be spending a year just to educate and to stir the project to the right direction.

Adam is working for a catalog retailer. The team is old school. He is trying to push digital but the catalog is still the center of attention and spend. Designing for print and designing for digital is different. He is having hard time getting them out from the old ways. The ‘’legacy’’ consider him as an outsider and do not value his inputs to the level they should. He keeps having to fight for his business unit and making sure he is getting the resources he needs.

A lot of stories showing that most companies want the transformation but the reality is different. They want the transformation but they do not assign the right resources to it or the budget. What is the magic? They want the transformation but it should not disturb. How can we change without changing? They want the transformation but still want to measure using the same metrics. Isn’t is measuring apples to oranges? They want the transformation but use the same people as the ones they currently have. Don’t you need people who know what they are doing? They want the transformation but only in this area. Is it still a transformation then? They want the transformation but do not want to touch their existing technology. Do you know that digital requires technology? They want the transformation but no impact to the EPS. How can you make an investment without impact? The list of contradictions is long.

I will summarize the major hurdles to transformation:
  • The authority: transformation leaders are the owners of the transformation but because it touches a lot of departments, they work in a matrix organization and have to get everybody along. They keep a limited authority on the tasks and therefore can get stopped by any department, which does not want to collaborate. The politics take on the larger goal.
  • The budget: the organization does not always understand that in order to transform you need some budget. They heard that digital is cheap so because it is cheap, let’s just not give them money. Yes digital is cheaper but the organization does have to invest to put the things right before it can see the benefits. The benefits usually come very quickly and the ROI is high but it might mean spending couple of million dollars for the years the transformation will be set up.
  • The duration: People believe this is going to take 5-10 years to get there so no need to rush. It does not have to be long. What makes it long is usually the lack of understanding, the resistance or the politics that interfere with the process. What can also elongate the process is the budget not being attributed correctly so we have to piecemeal everything in order to be able to achieve the goal. I am not saying tho that a big bang is the way to go. It has to go by steps but sometimes the steps are much longer than needed.
  • The scope: transformation has to touch everything. When we are talking about transformation, we are talking about product, technology, systems, processes, skillsets and especially mindset. We cannot become digital without the right systems or still working with a waterfall process. Digital is going quickly. It is changing often. We need to be able to adapt and therefore the organization needs to be set up in a way to be able to move quickly.
  • The skillsets: finding true digital people and especially people who have lead a digital transformation is not easy. The skillsets are very specific. In addition, the digital people do cost more but companies are not always understanding or willing to pay more so they end up using existing resources who are not savvy or getting people with very little experience. In some areas it is harder to find talents and a lot of organizations are not yet open to get remote people or commuting people to be able to afford the right expertise. The lack of talents is therefore limiting the performance of the teams.
  • The technology: legacy systems, old infrastructures or missing capabilities are also hurting a lot the transformation. When the systems are not adequate, we have to equip the firm with the right infrastructure and these are costs that were not always anticipated.
  • The lack of savviness: the transformation leader is very often his own species in the pond. He is here because the board knows they need such expertise but without really knowing what they need him for or not understanding the scope of what he can achieve. A lot of leaders still have to fight old waves and are therefore not always given the support they need. They have to go through a lot of education to move things along.
  • The short term vision: Digital transformation is an investment. Some CFOs only look at the impact to the quarter or to the year. Their goal is to cut costs and save money in order to increase the bottom line. In fact, a transformation needs some investment and it will get a ROI over multiple years. Because a lot of firms need to respond to their shareholders, investing is not always the priority as it might hurt their earnings per share. We can reduce significantly the impact but the board needs to be ready to give away 1 cent or 2 to achieve a goal that will get a much higher payback in the future. The short term vision and earnings are very often conflicting with the long term savings.
  • The fear of disruption: people are comfortable with what they know and what they have been doing for years. Nobody usually wants the change, however change is inevitable. As soon as the transformation will start, some people will not be happy and will start complaining. The company needs to make it clear that this is the direction to go and not provide an audience to the naysayers. People fear for their jobs, leaders fear to lose some people, people have to adapt and learn new skills. Leaders know that a culture change needs to happen but do not want the rumblings that go with it. The change can be smooth but it cannot be perfect as there will always be some people, who are just fine with the status quo as it is way more reinsuring.

So now why this needs to happen and all the hurdles need to be removed?
  • There are 100 million new businesses launched globally each year. They go faster, they have new ideas and these small fishes are pushing the big ones out. So it is a matter of life or death to be able to transform constantly.
  • Humans, products and companies all follow a lifecycle. The company always needs to prepare the next big thing in order to replace the one getting old if it wants to survive in the long run.
  • Companies like Amazon are investing constantly and are not afraid to take an EPS hit as they know they will come back stronger in 2 years and eat them all. For example, Amazon is talking about VR while some other retailers are still debating to deploy ship from store.
  • The pace of technology is increasing. Now we have a new revolution every 5 years, while before it was every 10 years. We are now even going to see huge changes every 2 years. Who can stay and just watch what is happening there and believe he can survive?

The reality is there. Companies have to face it. Remember when in 2007 some people were saying that the iPhone will not take off. Where are we today? Are we still looking at the iPhone on the other side of the road? No! It invaded our lives! CEO and boards need to embrace the change and understand where the market is going. Digital leaders should not face such resistance and they should not share this unanimous frustration about what is happing in corporations. They know what they are doing, they are here for the company survival, let them operate. Would you put everything in the way of a neurosurgeon, who you selected to remove this tumor in your brain, and who can offer you many more years of life?

Disclaimer: Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Mercredi 14 Juin 2017
Virtual Reality Casino
Virtual Reality is touching all the industries. Gaming has been the first industry to go through the VR revolution. Gaming has extended to Casino gambling now.

This is how we can see some online casinos like Vegas Palms online casino Canada transform into a Casino where we can play for real and feel exactly the same as if we were at a table in Vegas.

Virtual reality is immersive. It puts the player right in the atmosphere and he can get the same feelings. Isn’t it great to travel to Vegas, be at a table and all this right from my sofa? We are not talking here about a simple flat experience, but about a true experience.

Some use VR for entertainment, other use it for therapy. How about resolving some gaming addiction? VR helps with depression, fear of heights, post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, paranoia, fear of people and many others. By exposing the person to the situation she fears, it helps retrain slowly the brain. Maybe gamblers can get their life back by using VR.

What would it mean if we would use a VR Casino environment to teach our kids probabilities? I remember my Math teacher, who was always making us visualize dices to learn probabilities. Wouldn’t it had been much more fun if it was done in a real situation?

Virtual Reality is not only for games. There are so many things we can do. How about people with physical challenges, who cannot drive to a Casino? Can’t they play sometimes too?

The beauty of VR compared to online is that it mixes multiple senses. You can see, hear, touch (and also smell in some cases - there are some experiences enabling smells but it is still at the beginning) all together. In addition you are in a unique environment, cut from reality so the experience is total.

There is a company, which uses VR for weight loss. They created tastes and it is like if you were eating real food but in fact you are not but your brain is tricked so you feel satisfied and do not want to eat more. Isn’t it better than taking pills or going through surgery?

The time, when I was watching Avatar and we were excited about is now. This fantasy is becoming reality. Some are talking about fad. I do not believe it. They were saying the same about social media 10 years ago and they were wrong. VR is a new revolution that everybody needs to take. From Vegas Palms online casino to medicine, manufacturing, retail, education and many more. It is here for real. Who said that we needed to live in one dimension only? Why couldn’t we live multiple realities at the same time? What is reality? The world is changing. With Robots, the human race is evolving to a new level. Scary for some, fascinating for others, but real for all.

Mercredi 21 Octobre 2015
The process of innovation
One of my favorite topic: innovation. It is when a company stops to innovate that she dies. This is just the basic Darwin principle that applies to products and corporation. It might seems obvious but experience has taught me that this concept is not always applied. Innovation cannot be just a cycle, a project, and we are done.

It needs to be part of the DNA of the organization. All organizations, somehow, should have somebody responsible for innovation, who is looking ahead and trying to disrupt, break and redo for a better future. We can argue that innovation can come from everywhere. I would say yes for the idea generation but not for the execution. Managing innovation is an expertise. It does follow a process and it takes a very specific mind. People more comfortable with innovation show the following traits:
  • They are not afraid of failure
  • They are not happy with the status quo and redoing the same thing over and over
  • They are prompt to testing and incremental development
  • They are very humble and always ready to put into question their own ideas by testing, researching, confirming
  • They are very open minded and open to what is happening out there. They do not rehash things they came across 10 years ago, like they did not learn anything new since then
  • They love learning and will not impose ideas to others thinking they know best because they know that knowledge becomes obsolete very quickly
  • They need to have a great emotional intelligence in order to get the buy in and get people to rally and be motivated about the project
  • They know to manage the innovation process which is more than coming up with ideas. A lot of people have ideas but few know how to bring them to life.

Innovation means:
1. Ideation: generation of new ideas. These ideas are collected in a repository and organized based on pre-defined criteria important for the customer, the company or both.
2. Prioritization: the ideas need to be analyzed, measured from an ROI perspective, or a lifetime value or some other weighting criteria depending on the goal to achieve. These ideas will then be ordered by importance.
3. Definition: these ideas now need to become projects. Plan, requirements, budget, resource allocation, duration and return need to be put in place and worked out within the other priorities the organization is working on.
4. Execution: the projects need to be executed by iterations, giving the time to measure, assess and rectify when needed.
5. Testing: The new concept will be tested before execution, during execution and after execution
6. Enhancements: the project will have many steps that need to be executed in the right order. The series of iterations will bring the final product to life.
7. Letting it go: this is very often the hardest for people working on innovation is to let the concept go. Either because it failed or because it succeeded. If it failed, they need to know when to stop and move on. Some people do not know to fail fast and they stick to a dog for ever. If it succeeds, we need to be ready to hand it off to other teams who are going to mature the project and bring it back to a larger portfolio. The product becoming live will then take different skills to market it.

Within each of these step, specific technics and tools are used to move through the cycle. As innovation can be fascinating, it can also cost a lot of money when badly done. People working on innovation are learning to do things on the cheap for a series of phases before moving to another one. I have seem some people spent 2 millions on a concept where we spent $200K for the same project for the whole process (including execution). It is a skillset and therefore not surprising that universities do offer curriculum specialized in the topic.

Vendredi 6 Mars 2015
Can we still talk about ecommerce?
I feel like ecommerce should be replaced by digital experience or digital platforms as we are now selling via different devices whether it is internet, mobile web, mobile apps, tablets, connected TV or virtual reality.

In addition, there are lots of experiences that are building customer engagement or customer consumption and it is not about direct selling but will end up generating sales because digital has a triple effect. Creating a game that delights the customer might give a different perspective of the use of your product than simply reading a product description.

This experience will be more appealing to him and will trigger something different that might not have arisen with a direct/normal commerce experience. With this, the customer will then be interested in furthering his research and he will be giving permission to tell him more about the product. With this small piece of engagement, you will then be able to connect and sell the product. This initial approach was not pure commerce but it turned into commerce. In addition, this first connection might have been on mobile, while the final commerce transaction might have occurred on a tablet.

People tend to look at ecommerce as the way to administer a website, while ecommerce is way broader than this. Also ecommerce refers to the transaction, while ecommerce is broader than the transaction. Acquiring customers, delighting customers, making customers return and turning customers to advocates is all part of ecommerce.

Change management: what does that mean?
This is a big topic for organizations and this is definitely one of my areas of expertise. Each time I got brought into an organization; it was because it needed to change drastically. Transitions and transformations are very special. When you do this, you can really acknowledge that it is a specialty and not everybody is suited to manage change in organizations.

What does it take from an individual to manage change?
1. Determination: you should be driven your goal. You will have lots of hindrances, lots of frustrations and resistance. You will evolve into a very unstable environment with lots of uncertainties and lots of emotions. You need to carry the vision all along the way for you and for your team. You need to be strong as a rock because around you a lot of people will crumble, will give up and will resist.

2. Positive: during change, the vast majority of the emotions will be negative. Besides the people who are directly involved with the project that is driving the change, everybody outside of the inner circle will carry bad energy. A lot of people will not believe you can make it, others will wish you to fail, others will be supportive and others will just be spectators but not really willing to take the risks associated. You will need to know when to listen and when to get your turtle head on. The buzz around you can destruct you and lead you to make the wrong choices.

3. Risk taker: you must like to take some risk. You know how to balance risks and results. You should know when to push, what to give, what not to give. It is a constant balance on what and when, until you get to your point. A lot of people do not manage to do it because they want to get it all without giving up anything and this is just not possible. You need to be OK with non perfection. You need to understand what it means. It does not mean you have lower standards. It means you know that in order to achieve your highest standard, you will have to go through different phases; the first one being far from your perfection; but this is just one step, you can see beyond.

4. Fast: you need to move and know how to make decisions. A lot of failures are due to people who are not making hard choices. It is about not losing the momentum and moving one step at the time. People will not always like the choices and will certainly tend to emphasize the negative but you need to be OK with this. Think that without those choices, the organization would not be where it is at this time. I have seen lots of organizations willing the change but never making it because they were not moving and not ready to make the decisions and be OK with the risks associated.

5. Expertise: you need to know what you are talking about in many areas as people need to be able to trust you. You do not follow a leader who drives change who does not know what he is talking about, who has not done it before and who does not convey confidence. I had been sometimes accused of being too positive. I believe it is because I know what I am doing and because I have gone through this already. As we say fear comes from unknown. When you know it, you are not as much afraid. You know your way through it and you just apply your technique one step at the time.

What does it mean to an organization to go through a transformation?
1. Trust: trust the leaders who are designated to make it happen because they know what they are doing as they have done this before. Support them and provide them the tools to be successful. The leaders need to be unified. Anytime there was not a unity on the subject, there has been failure. Put the right person in charge as otherwise you will just not reach the goal you have.

2. Start: you need to start with something and be OK with the results. You need to know that it will not be perfect right away and will come with a price. You need to be ready to pay the price that will be associated.

3. Forget the past: you need to be ready to say goodbye to your past. The leader will know what to carry from the past but lots of processes, technologies, skill sets, and structure will change with the new organization. You cannot just sit on what worked for you in the past and believe that it will be possible to stay with it forever.

4. Be patient: do not judge too fast. Take the time to measure the benefits and do not believe that all the issues are coming from the change project. The issues arising might come from an old process that did not get change to accommodate the change. You have to attack the issues from all areas and not judge prematurely.

What are the main obstacles you will face in front of change? People! This is the main obstacle. You will spend a lot of your time just managing people and their emotions. The people will go though many steps and you will have to help them go through. It is emotionally challenging for them but you have to let them express themselves during this time. No matter how open you are and listen, they will always have criticism and easily forget where they are coming from. You will have to manage your team, the team of your partners (because you cannot succeed by yourself) and the management as everybody will be going through the same emotions, doubts and frustrations during the period. No matter which organization I had been brought in to manage change, there were challenges. The challenges were all in the same area, to different degrees, but always similar. Change is first about people management and then about process. There is before, during and after. You need to prepare the field and the people, you have to make them run and then you have to get them comfortable with what just happened and understand clearly that this is just the beginning and not the end. They fist not believe in it, then they will see that ‘’Oh my god, this is actually happening’’ so they will start to panic and then it will be there and they will have to adjust.

How to give feedback to your employees?
There is the mid-year review, the end-year review but in my team this is more an HR process. Giving feedback should not be only once or twice a year, it should be constantly. Your weekly one on one should be the opportunity to give feedback and to receive feedback. If the person is doing great, it is going to build her self confidence and make her feel good on a sustaining basis. If the person does less good, she will be able to readjust faster and also she will be able to not get this big dump at once. The lack of performance will be a temporary situation, understood and on which manager and employee work on together.

I have seen lots of bad ways managers are giving feedback:
  • The ones who, no matter what rock star you might be, will only emphasize your bad side and make it much bigger than it is so at the end you just feel horrible
  • The ones, who will never tell you the truth and you actually never receive feedback
  • The ones, who are only seeing one perspective and who do not really know what you are doing so they cannot give you an accurate feedback
  • The ones, who will dump everything only once a year and make you overwhelmed to the point you only want to quit
  • The ones, who only rely on rumors and are not capable of making their own judgment of yourself or who do not know how to balance others point of view and theirs (either their point of view or others is overemphasized)
  • The ones, who will dissect all of your attitudes, communication and anything to a point that you feel like you are just doing nothing right.

I remember one of my best managers who told me that one of his best managers taught him that we should always focus on what people are good at. It is easier to improve what you are good at than what you are not good at.

I apply the following rules with my people:
  • Provide frequent feedback and react quickly when something is not how it should be. Address situations as fast as possible so that they get an opportunity to understand quickly and to adjust quickly
  • Do not make them feel guilty. Nobody is perfect and neither are you so be empathic and tell them that you are going to work with them on the issue
  • Recognize the changes and the improvements people make. Tend to always emphasize the positive and reinforce the positive
  • Do not get stuck on things that are not important. Everybody have their flaws. As long as it is temporary or is not a major disruption, I do not even bother mentioning it. I see the larger picture, not the details
  • I do not judge, I listen and I help. I also give people time. Sometimes, some changes might take longer than others
  • I am true to my words so they feel comfortable.
  • I ask them also feedback about myself and how I can do anything better for them. As managers it is our responsibility to help them and also improve on our side to make them be better.

In many organizations, the time of the reviews is always a bigger deal than it should be just because employees are afraid (because not prepared) or managers do not know how to do it best. It should not be a surprise for anybody. If you are doing the things right, it should just be a summary of what they already know and everybody should go through this process very peacefully.

8 qualities that make great bosses unforgettable
This is an article written by Jeff Haden. I am putting this article as such, as this is the kind of article I could have been writing myself and which is just so much aligned with my believes.

I remember all of my bosses. Some were bad. Most were good. But only one was, in the best possible way, truly memorable.
Unforgettable bosses possess qualities that may not show up on paper but always show up where it matters most -- in the minds and even hearts of the people they lead.

Here are some of the qualities of truly unforgettable bosses:

1. They believe the unbelievable.
Most people try to achieve the achievable; that’s why most goals and targets are incremental rather than inconceivable.
Memorable bosses expect more -- from themselves and from others. Then they show you how to get there. And they bring you along for what turns out to be an unbelievable ride.

2. They see opportunity in instability and uncertainty.
Unexpected problems, unforeseen roadblocks, major crises... most bosses take down the sails, batten the hatches, and hope to wait out the storm. A few see a crisis as an opportunity. They know it’s extremely difficult to make major changes, even necessary ones, when things are going relatively smoothly. They know reorganizing an entire sales team is accepted more easily when a major customer goes under. They know creating new sales channels is a lot easier when a major competitor enters the market. They know reorganizing manufacturing operations is a lot easier when the flow of supplies and components gets disrupted.
Memorable bosses see instability and uncertainty not as a barrier but as an enabler. They reorganize, reshape, and re-engineer to reassure, motivate, and inspire -- and in the process make the organization much stronger.

3. They wear their emotions on their sleeves.
Good bosses are professional. Memorable bosses are highly professional and yet also openly human. They show sincere excitement when things go well. They show sincere appreciation for hard work and extra effort. They show sincere disappointment -- not in others, but in themselves. They celebrate, they empathize, they worry. Sometimes they even get frustrated or angry. In short, they’re human. And, unlike many bosses, they act as if they know it. Professionalism is admirable. Professionalism -- with a healthy blend of humanity -- is inspiring.

4. They protect others from the bus.
Terrible bosses throw their employees under the bus. Good bosses never throw their employees under the bus. Memorable bosses see the bus coming and pull their employees out of the way often without the employee knowing until much, much later... if ever, because memorable bosses never try to take credit. And if they can't, they take the hit. (And later speak privately to the employee in question).

5. They’ve been there, done that... and still do that.
Dues aren't paid, past tense. Dues get paid each and every day. The true measure of value is the tangible contribution we make on a daily basis. That’s why no matter what they may have accomplished in the past, memorable bosses are never too good to roll up their sleeves, get dirty, and do the “grunt” work. No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring. Memorable bosses never feel entitled, which means no one feels entitled to anything but the fruits of their labor.

6. They lead by permission, not authority.
Every boss has a title. That title gives them the right to direct others, to make decisions, to organize and instruct and discipline.
Memorable bosses lead because their employees want them to lead. Their employees are motivated and inspired by the person, not the title. Through their words and actions they cause employees feel they work with, not for, a boss. Many bosses don’t even recognize there’s a difference... but memorable bosses do.

7. They embrace a larger purpose.
A good boss works to achieve company goals. A memorable boss also works to achieve company goals -- and achieves more than other bosses -- but also works to serve a larger purpose: to advance the careers of employees, to rescue struggling employees, to instill a sense of pride and self-worth in others. They aren’t just remembered for nuts and bolts achievements but for helping others on a personal and individual level. Memorable bosses embrace a larger purpose, because they know business is always personal.

8. They take real, not fake risks.
Many bosses, like many people, try to stand out in some superficial way. Maybe through their clothes, their interests, or a public display of support for a popular initiative. They do stand out but they stand out for reasons of sizzle, not steak. Memorable bosses stand out because they are willing to take an unpopular stand, take an unpopular step, accept the discomfort of ignoring the status quo, and risk sailing uncharted waters. They take real risks not for the sake of risk but for the sake of the reward they believe possible. And by their example they inspire others to take risks in order to achieve what they believe is possible.

In short, memorable bosses inspire others to achieve their dreams: by words, by actions, and most importantly, by example. Thank you Jeff Haden for this great article.

10 years after the social revolution…
Fad? We now can say it was not! What did this revolution bring to our life? How did we change? How different are we today?

Things got settled now and social has blended into our lives. There is no such thing as social anymore, there are just habits.

After the rail revolution, we just changed our way of traveling and it got integrated; we stopped talking about trains as something special.

As I was mentioning 10 years ago, social will blend into the list of functionalities websites will require. It was the case for Search functionalities years ago, it is definitely now the case for social functionalities. User generated content is just part of who we are. We are used to read reviews, articles created by users, look at people’s pictures, click on share buttons, login with our Facebook. We are just used to it, without asking more.

10 years ago we were talking about creators, curators and consumers. Where the vast majority of people were consumers, the trend has changed. The number of creators has indeed increased but not to the largest extend. I believe that the number of curators is the segment that increased the most. While people used to be consumers, they are now consumers and curators. They curate all the time and they share. This segment has grown proportionally much more than the other segments.

10 years after the social revolution…

Who are we? Human social…but now we are truly digital social. People are addicted, they cannot imagine living without social. They spent hours on Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and Pinterest…and…

Would you imagine not having trains or planes today? I would not imagine not having social. My friends from there are just here with me. We read the same articles, we talk about our kids, we keep each other informed. I sometimes have more contacts with my friends online, who I have not seen for years, than others who are close by. It is a revolution and it is how our interactions are now formed.

Homesickness and distance are not perceived the same way because, even when people are away, they are close. I can see my kid takes skype as often as he wants to talk to his grand-parents. My family is informed on everything we do on Facebook, they see pictures of my kid growing and we have sometimes the feeling that they are not that far after all.

When I research about a school or about a program for my kid, I do not look for the corporate information; I look for what others have to say, I want to understand their experience. People are looking for others' opinion more often. We care more about others, and because others have tools to express themselves, it can reach more people.

Social has just become who we are. It changed our interactions, it changed our communication channels, it changed our habits, it changed our society. For 10 years, I have been looking at what would be the next big thing that will fascinate me as much as social did when it started. I am not a kid of the age of the rail or the plain, I am not a kid of the age of the internet, I am a kid of the age of social. I was old enough to understand and to see it growing and changing who we are. Being the witness of a revolution is always a privilege. I am looking forward the next revolution...

Quizup and Buzzfeed: Quiz apps forever
Trivia apps are super trendy. Everybody loves trivia, everybody plays trivia. Buzzfeed is the king in Facebook. Everybody shares the last quiz of the day about what country you are , what city you are, what star you are, what old person would you be, …It is easy, it takes few seconds and it is fun. We share with our friends and we react to the results they get. Most of the time, it means absolutely nothing and has no reflection on your personality at all, but…it is fun.

My latest discovery is Quizup, which is much smarter, covers a lot of subjects and what I like the most is that you play against others. You have to beat them, the faster you answer, the more points you get. You can launch a challenge, you can keep playing the same person and you can play against your friends (note: for those who received an invite from me…no surprise). The subjects are varied. You can play countries of the world, web culture, mathematics, colors, logos, science, music…whatever you are interested in, you can find it there. This app is very addictive. If you like competition, you will like it. There is also this music when you play that reinforces the challenge atmosphere. You get a question with a text and image and you have 4 answers to pick from. Pick your answer, see how fast you are, how many points you score and win badges! 6 rounds only and a bonus round, which make each game super fast so that you do not have time to get bored; on the contrary...,you ask for more.

These quizzes are very popular on phones. People like competition but they do not want to get too much invested. They play easily for few seconds and get out with a nice feeling of learning something. Next to the long strategy games that requires time investment and a bigger screen; quizzes can be played on the go in couple of minutes; ideal when you wait for a bus, when you are at the doctor office or at a kid’s game. It is seamless and completely integrated into your life.

TV shows, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and, name it, started back in 1938 and are still part of people’s lives. Now that digital is everywhere, it is very normal that people are still addicted but simply play on different devices. Quizzes are the number one game being played.

Your turn to play now! Name the 3 tops quiz apps in number of users…

Hot US IPO coming up in the internet space
Last year, 2 big IPO were to watch and participate LinkedIn, and Facebook, where you would have made +100% of your investment.

This year, there are few IPO I am watching in the US that are certainly going to be great deals and shake the Internet market:

  • Alibaba: certainly the biggest. This China giant is bigger than Amazon and eBay and is a global incumbent in the international ecommerce. Yahoo has 24% of the shares and it is for a reason. I think this one is going to be big. Alibaba is a huge marketplace but also has great assets to disrupt the global market and break prices even more with their Aliexpress business.

  • Snapdeal: this is to me the second big one. Ebay has invested $50M in Snapdeal, again for a good reason. Indian company, their strength is in the mobile commerce. They are growing fast every day and have a lot of resources looking at the development of the market they are currently addressing.

  • Pinterest: the well known image sharing/social network is also considering becoming public. Pinterest has become a place to be for a lot of brands and companies. The audience is younger and female which is the growing market on the internet space.

  • Roku: TV is back. Roku is democratizing streaming and getting our small screens back to the big screen. With more affordable devices, everybody can now afford TV for cheap. Your Comcast subscription out, you can now invest into TV differently. Combine a Roku device and a Netflix subscription and here you go, you are back on TV. Consumption is shifting. It is no longer about channels, it is about streaming content.

  • Spotify: the streaming of music is there. Spotify is the new generation of music provider. Following the path defined by Pandora, it is now their turn to claim their chair.

  • Weibo: it is the Chinese Twitter. Weibo and is filing in the US.

Note: Foursquare is still in the air and not ready for 2014, but things might change.

Mercredi 19 Mars 2014
Life360: big brother on my data
We know how sensitive personal data subject is lately. It has been a hot topic at SXSW, where Snowden appeared to be the hero of a new era. How much do we want to be public? How much data are going to change our relationships?

I discovered the Life360 app that enables you to know where your family and friends are at any time. I can track when my husband leaves the house, when he returns, when my kid is done with his basketball practice and spy any of their movements. Of course, said like this, it might appear scary as there is no longer an ounce of privacy for anybody. Private investigators are out of job as I can now do the job myself. How much does my husband want me to know each of his movements…I can say he does not.

Now, let’s look at the other angle of the question, which is certainly why such applications have great success. In our crazy world, where schedules are tight, where nobody has any time, not even to give a phone call when we are late because we are tight in a meeting, the app can help. It can also help increase security with children and see when they leave school, when their bus took them, and when they arrived. It also tells us if they are leaving the house in your absence or if they are going to places where they are not authorized. As people are more and more scared and where security is less and less a given, this can help.

I am sure, some people might do a funny face when they look at these apps; the same way they did a funny face when Facebook launched. ‘’What is the point of telling the world about what you are doing…can we keep our privacy?’’ Now they might say ‘’What is the point of knowing everything about your family?’’…things will change. People safety and safety of data in the digital world are very important topics that people have not finished to debate.

Mardi 18 Mars 2014
What is failure?
There is NO failure, there are only lessons! I personally never use such term with my teams. I never talk about failure while I talk about success. I tend to focus on the positive and always show them the right side of the story. We learn, we need to keep learning and not being successful all the time is part of this learning. If you try something new, you might miss the first time, you will learn and them you will succeed. When giving feedback and coaching people, I want them to focus on what makes them strong. It is easier to develop and expand their positive sides than fixing their weaknesses. I take what people are good at and help them be aware of the other side in a way that it will not occult their good side. Nobody can be perfect and nobody can fail constantly. If this is the case, it means, that they are not learning and if they are not learning it is because they are not interested or because their ego is too big.

Failure is just part of the game. You play, you win, you play you lose. If you never try to get outside of your comfort zone, you will never lose but you will also never win. I have much more respect for people who tried and failed rather than those who never tried and can never report a failure. I was reading that some companies are looking for talents who failed many times. The reasons:
  • They are pushing the limits constantly and are not happy with the status quo. They are innovators who are going to see much beyond and therefore offer a lot to a company.
  • They are not afraid to fail. They know how to step up again. It will not diminish them, it will grow them. They are stronger and tougher.
  • They are usually more positive people as they know both sides of success. They also know that with success comes failure so when success is here they recognize it and they know how to trigger it by knowing the pitfalls.

I am not afraid of failure even if I do not like it. I will not trigger it but I will not prevent myself from trying something big because I risk to fail. I am not afraid by risk, this is where the fun is coming. No risk, no challenge and therefore no reward. I am disappointed by our society that sometimes does not give a good credit to failure. When hiring, I have seen some companies having rules where they do not hire somebody who failed or somebody who got fired. I disagree as you might have failed in one context, have learned from it and bring a wealth of success to your next company. I have had people like this and they have been some of the best in my organizations. We need to look beyond, we need to look differently, we need to open our minds, we need to challenge, we need to push the limits, we need to put people on the edge and see how they react, we need to lead people by giving them the confidence that they can try and that it is OK to take the risk. You will see at the end your people grow and become some of the best, if they do not freeze.

People are afraid of what they do not know. People are afraid because they look at the big picture instead of taking one step at the time and making progress every day. If you look at the mountain you have to climb, then you might get demotivated but if you look at your feet and make all it takes to move them one at the time, then you will make it to the top. Failure is just a concept and has in reality no real mean. Also failure is subjective as it can mean different things to people, depending on people’s values, criteria and how high they put the bar. In my world there is no such thing as failure, there are only lessons.

Lundi 17 Mars 2014
What does eCommerce cover?
When we talk about eCommerce, we sometimes do not realize how many functions it covers at the same time. As I wrote prior, eCommerce is an expertise and requires a lot of skills in many different areas from the executive who is leading the charge.

  • Product management: will roll under this expertise both functionality, user experience, design and technology. It is about understanding what the best usability practices are and how to create a delightful and swift experience for the customers. More than that, today it is about creating a seamless experience across the different devices and channels whether it is stores, mobile, social, online, email, TV…This implies understanding the technology, making the best technology choices and being able to execute. Some technology choices might not enable you to achieve the goals you have because the platform is too rigid and therefore there is no room for improvements or scalability for a quick go to market and to keep up with competition and innovation. Technology is evolving very fast so the executive needs to know where to bring the platform next in order to stay competitive. One of the challenges I have seen with some executive is that they believe that their experience is representative of how customer are using the tools. The difficulty is about being able to remove yourself from the experience and create tools that will be useful using focus group, usability testing and A/B test and getting back to A/B testing and customer feedbacks. We are not the typical customer and we have therefore to put our ego and experience on the side to be open to understand what they need. In some cases, you want to push the customer with innovation, but it does not prevent to test with him, even if sometimes he will not know exactly what he wants. Design is also much more important than a lot believe. Having the right imagery, the modern look and the right colors has a lot of influence on the customer perception and therefore purchase. As the end it is all about experience. If the experience is right, the customer is taken through an easy path that will make him more likely to buy.

  • Merchandising: this is about merchandising and promotions. We do not merchandise digitally as we do offline. The demand is different. Because customers have access to pricing and competition at their fingertips, we need to take this into account and understand how to react quickly. Up-sell and cross-sells are also very important. Recommendation can represent up to 30% of the revenues made in ecommerce. How to do it smartly, taking into account all the customers touch points, is where the difficulty is coming. How to use location base promotions, how to move promotions quickly? With online, you can push promotions at the minute. As you can see that you are not making your number for the day, the week or the month, you can push a promotion that is going to turn things around or prevent a very bad result. This implies some planning and some strategy. I always have the B and the C plan in my pocket to be able to react at each instant.

  • Marketing: this covers SEO, SEM, display ads, social. It is not necessary to pour more and more money and SEO but it is important to understand what is best working on SEO and what is best working with SEM so that you define the right balance between the 2. We believe that because we pay, it should work and this is a wrong expectation. It is about how subtle you are distributing your strategy among all the tools. You do not advertise the same thing on social as you would do on display ads. How I talk to the customers depending on the channel is very different and the results may also vary. It is all about constantly fine tuning the results and the approach.

  • Content: a lot has to do with your content. The photos you use, the descriptions you write, the editorial you publish. Customers want authenticity and details but only those that matters. Sometimes they will complain that you put too much description and sometimes they are asking for details that are missing. What is important to convey? Do we need to write pages of blurb or shall we limit the content? In general content is key and is critical for customers to make decisions but also for SEO purpose. Social content is really important. Not the corporate messages because customers do not care about this but the real content. I am always asking myself, do I bring value to our customers if I publish this?

  • Analytics: as an ecommerce executive, I always look at the revenues and how we are doing every single day. However my performance is not only measured on revenues and my metrics can be very unique compared to the offline world. I will measure conversion, time spent on site, Average order value, number of links we have, return frequency…a lot of metrics that enable to have a very fine tuning of the business. Each metric can tell me where my merchandising performs better, what merchandising works better, what is a customer pain point. I keep telling my teams that this is my compass and it should be theirs to make the right decision. Without analytics, I am blind. I can only use my instinct and my experience but all know that this is not enough. Then it is an opinion and it is not tangible and I am fighting against opinion. The decisions should meet the purpose in a tangible way. We analyzed a trend thanks to analytics, we fix it and we measure it and we keep measuring it.

Personalization…the future of products
I remember being on a conference with lots of retailers and they were saying that personalization was very profitable in general. Personalization is when you can put your name on the T-shirt, the initials on the embroidered on the towel, the logo of the school on the sweater, a personal message on the box of a pen…

Customers want to differentiate; they do not want the same as everybody. They are versatile and want to come up with personal things all the time that will put them in a position of influencer in the community. They love novelty and they love when people say ‘’this is great, I love your shoes…’’, they captured attention and shined for a small instant that made them so special.

I discovered this extreme of personalization for shoes. Onesole enables you to pick your sole (among a large selection) and then to pick the tops (among an even larger selection), making the shoes different every day and adjustable to any mood or to any outfit. The principle is really innovative and same as you were able to change the frames of your glasses, now you can change the top of your shoes.

However, in order to get this innovation, you will have to pay a cozy price as the combination of one sole and one top will make the price of the shoe at +$100. Such shoes, not interchangeable, can be bought for far less. Well, being fashion has a price and this is the one it costs to get these interchangeable shoes.

Samedi 15 Mars 2014
Customers are not loyal to brands; employees are not loyal to companies, companies are not loyal to employees…why is there no longer loyalty?

Loyalty implies multiple principles in order to exist:

  • Reciprocity: you are loyal when you feel loyalty on the other side too. You know that you can trust, you know that the person in front will not fail you. For a brand, she will make her promises. She will reward you correctly for your loyalty and she will engage you.

  • Transparency: you need to be transparent and collaborative. People will not feel loyal if they feel that you are not telling the truth or that you are only telling one piece of the story. If they feel left aside, then, they cannot be loyal.

  • Communication: it is about talking and being honest by telling the things that are easy but also the ones that are more difficult. It is about being comfortable to expose weaknesses and not believe that you should always show strength.

  • Sharing control: you do not need to be the one on the spotlight constantly but you want to share the stage with the others. You should be comfortable being the man in the shadow some days as long as it makes the whole system work better. The ego should be left on the side if you want people to be loyal. It is OK to give control to customers for a brand as they will give even more power to it at the end of the journey.

  • Constant check: loyalty needs to be nurtured. You always need to watch yourself and make sure it is there and that you did not slip somewhere in the process. Talk, ask feedback, explain, say you are sorry, but check that it is there as it can go away very easily nowadays.

Vendredi 7 Mars 2014
Power vs. Money
As I was watching House of Cards, Kevin Spacey said about a person that she was more interested in Money than Power. Very interesting to me and it made me think further. Let’s look at people who got successful in business. Once they reach a certain level, what they are looking for is to increase their power and this is why they invest in newspapers, they start to lobby or they work or support a certain government/candidate. Why? Is money just not enough?

If we are looking at human roots, we are animals who need to apply our power on others. There are always been leaders and followers. There are always been a need for the people to follow somebody. Power is part of our genes, while money is not. Look at kids! Some are dominants and others subordinates. Power comes first! In Social Media, we are talking about influencers. Influencers set the tone, show the way, embrace new technologies and have some power via their knowledge. People do not become CEOs because of money, they become CEO because it is a way for them to change the world. Their power, defined by their position, will allow them to achieve goals and make the changes they want.

Very often money and power go together and some would argue that money is power. Certainly to some extend. However, ask to the vast majority of people and after a certain level of wealth, they will say they are looking for power. Once their primary needs are fulfilled (in reference to the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, then power is on the list.

Dimanche 23 Février 2014
Ying and Yang
As always when some situations in the society become more radical, the opposite will arise to provide some balance. In our society, where everything is baked, processed, refined, to the point where we do not even know what it is made of, the opposite, is a complete return to mother earth food.

You might have seen the documentary Super Size Me showing how processed food, offered at some famous restaurant, can be toxic to our body. I suggest you also watch this horrifying movie about animal food, to never eat meat any more.

As opposed to this trend where junk food has become the norm in our plates, there are more and more vegetarians and vegan people. Their manta, let’s eat what mother earth gives us in its natural way. Of course, some may object the fact that even vegetables today are not as good as they are grown with chemical products and are waiting long in the chain before getting to our bellies. However, the revolution is here and some are making big time of this.

Whole Foods is king in the market of organic and is a go to place for all of us being interested in the quality of what we are eating. Some new comers in the market, still find their place like Mrs Greens that is in the same spirit, with some product differences. As this trend might have been minor few years ago and more spread within the running community, it has now extended much further. There are more and more people around me who are vegetarian and vegan that anytime. People are tired about what we consume and are looking for a better life. Kids can find courses about the Ecosystem on Khan Academy and are interested in what happens to our Earth.

As we have the wave to go to more and more process food, we also have the one that opposed to it by going even more and more to raw food. People want to grow their own produce; they want to eat organic products because they do not trust anymore the industry. I read that by 2025, the number of cancers is going to double and one of the 2 causes is food. When you read this, it makes you think…

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