Newscred #thinkcontent – Chicago


Great to appear that the first Newscred #thinkcontent event in Chicago, great overviews from Twitter, Kelloggs, CongraFoods, I am sure everyone learned that they are not as far behind as they think they are, it’s just difficult to keep up!

Retaining talent through technology investment

Constant staff and talent turnover is one of the most detrimental indications of a poorly performing business. Not only does it bear a huge financial penalty, but it constantly disrupts business operations, knowledge and competence.

Talking to key CFO’s it’s one of the top 10 issues that they want to fix, the financial penalties are huge, it’s like flushing money down the toilet, there is no return, no reason, it’s just plane stupid.

Now you are going to get turnover, but it can be an epidemic in some companies. I remember well meeting a CEO of a large advertising agency in New York 8 years ago, who’s main concern was that every 3 years the company turned over the entire employee roster! Can you imagine, potentially the company has no one with more than 3 years experience and knowledge of the fundamental values of that business!

Technology has a much larger influence now in employee satisfaction. Ask yourself are you a company focused on “technology infrastructure and ERP” or are you a company focused on “social information and mobile technologies.” Although you have to have both, the first one is an exercise in cost reduction, while the later is an exercise in talent investment.

You see 20/30 year olds, your most productive people don’t want to be constrained by complex technologies and email systems, they are just boring, linear and clunky to them. What they want is technology that encompasses their behaviors, beliefs and daily interactions. So Social tools like Chatter, Jive, Yammer are key “social binding” applications that catalyze peoples interactions with the business and it’s talent, they are engaging, interesting, insightful, playful and damn-right effective. Layered on top of your essential business tools, like timesheets, BPM software and your key ERP tools, they remove the irrelevant elements only exposing users to the information that they need.

If your technology leaders are still trying to push out complex, old fashioned ERP/UI tools to your most talented people, you will loose them. ERP technologies to front end users just fail on the user experience level (even Larry Ellison has stated recently that the ERP technologies of the past are not the future), so embed their outputs into the “social interstate” instead. Why do you think Marc Benioff has changed the focus of Salesforce products from CRM to “social engagement” through Chatter? Because he knows that a fair majority of Salesforce licenses stay on the shelf, because the user experience is not that great in the core product.

So have “social business activity” centers, not Enterprise Resource Planning. Have “talent catalyst centers” not Human Resource Software. Have “collaborative and information portals” not desktop office applications, have “social conversations” not email, have “customer knowledge” instead of CRM.

Large companies blow $’s each year on talent turnover, only because once they attain the talent, they cannot leverage the talent and today’s talent is restless, constantly being comfortable with change, new challenges and bold actions, businesses are not.

If you are a “C-level executive innovator” or “global head of talent” I would advise you to take a strong look at your overall technology strategy and refocus on empowering, enabling and engaging your talent, before the CIO’s strategy makes them head for the door.

Treat your technology like your top-talent and you will be successful!

The above statement may sound simple, but in reality there is not much in common with the way we treat both in our organizations. I fundamentally believe the reason that most technologies don’t deliver the measured ROI, is because we see technology as a “necessary evil” instead of a “absolute for success.”

Organizations invest large amounts of capital in acquiring, developing, managing talent and similarly they do the same with technology, but why does it appear that we get more value over the longer term with our people than our technology? Well here are my insights to why and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls.

Top talent, make “the complex simple”, do the same with your technology. As an example emerging technologies like Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) can simplify the complexities of your business by outsourcing not just the technology stack but much of the operational overhead of your business. So use it, start with a hybrid solution off/on-premise, then migrate, it will help your business become more effective and efficient and conserve valuable cash for other more important investments.

Top talent, are great “communicators and leaders” and inspire others to achieve. Do the same with your technology, get out of linear/closed technologies that don’t communicate the principles and culture of your business. In technology terms Social Enterprise technologies are the great communicators of business innovation, ideation, thought, competitive advantage and insights and they do it 24 hours a day and never leave. Social technologies are business technologies that improve communication, collaboration and breakdown internal political and geographical boundaries.

Top talent, need constant mentoring to be successful, so does your technology. Once you select a technology, don’t just leave it and expect it to change your world, it will not! Technology needs to be constantly reviewed, as when your business environment changes it will effect the performance of your business technology. Do not neglect your technology and make sure your technology leaders are capable business people (invite them into your strategy meetings) who can adapt and adopt technology for the future.

 Top talent is there to grow your business, so do the same with your biz. tech. Anyone can reduce technology costs, just don’t spend. So when looking at business technology look for the positive growth affects on your business first, because this is the real upside. Tech guys will talk about cost reduction and as technology innovation always reduces costs anyway, it’s not a game changer. Think of technology as a 24 hr business partner, leverage it, expose it and use it!

Be prepared to remove what you have just recruited if your top talent  doesn’t work out. Biz Tech. is the same, so always have a fall back plan, make sure you have an equally capable “hot-swap” technology ready to hand, contracts in place, data migration in place, go-live business continuity strategy in place. So when the unforeseen happens (and it will), your business is covered. I am shocked how many times I see just one key technology hanging out there carrying far too much expectation on it’s shoulders. Remember in business you always have someone else you can promote, so think the same with your technology.

In the end your top talent will leave if you don’t progress. Stagnation, dead-ends, no new challenges and your top people will leave, the same can be said for your biz. tech. The business must have a keen eye on “what’s coming” from the vendor, new updates may assist us in leveraging what we have to increase performance, API’s and data extractions are key marks of software agility and maturity. Don’t be fooled into just the front-end (the interview) get under the technology to see what it’s really made of.

If your CEO is ignoring you it’s time to go. If you are reading this article and you cannot get your CEO to read it too. The writing is on the wall for you and your technologies future. If your CEO has scant regard for technology and doesn’t include a “technology assessment” around your business strategies, future and daily business, then you are doomed. Hit the restart button.

Why 3.14 ideas are more than enough to drive business success.

If you look at LinkedIn nowdays, there are constant references to “5 ways to improve your sales success” or “10 things to avoid in your first meeting.”

Excuse me, but I am getting a little bored of these exaggerated explanations of common things we do every day. To be honest the more we learn the more complex we appear to make our lives, probably to justify our investment and time on that learning cycle of life.

When I get sales people or executives coming in with these great plans, my first thoughts are – have they actually thought through clearly what they are trying to achieve. You see most things have already been done or they just become repackaged because some variable has changed that alters the dynamic or relevance of the original idea. To be honest, life is like a circle, “what comes around goes around.” So before we commit to many items on our check list, think what you really need to do to make things happen in your business.

π is a great definer, a constant irrational mathematical equation with no solution, yet simply defined by 3.14 or  π! Now I am no mathematician but I can understand this concept because it’s easily summarized as 3.14, because that’s all I need to know to use the equation.

π also defines the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and by defining this 3.14 becomes the circle of life, having no end, a little like business, we constantly go round in circles, ever expanding the demands until we no longer understand what the initial objectives were because we forget the constant equation that defines our goals.

So, if you are a CEO or a senior operator of the company, if your ideas cannot be explained or presented clearly within 3.14 cycles or elements, I suggest that your 3.15th idea is a repeat of something you have already done.

So smart leaders know that “simplicity” is the killer of complexity, the driver of clarity, the realization of achievable goals and in the end the factor of success.

Look no further than the Warren Buffet’s of this world, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they defined their legacy, by the simplicity of their ideas, knowing that complexity just takes you around the same circle as before, wasting time, effort and ultimately killing success.

I only have 3.14 ideas any more and I end the meeting.