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WHY THE BIONIC C-SUITE NEEDS TEAMWORK

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Aaron Goldman, CMO, Mediaocean

 

The modern C-suite has a lot to contend with. This would be true even without the disruption and economic uncertainty arising from political- and pandemic-related events. By now, it’s a cliché to say that every company is becoming a technology company – but that doesn’t change the fact that business leaders are being asked to keep pace with rapid change simultaneously with their traditional role in the company. While members of the C-suite may attain their positions, in part through years of experience, that now has to be married with the ability to spot when experience is out of date and experimentation is needed.

All of this, of course, was supercharged by the onset of a pandemic which left nothing the same, and the Boston Consulting Group highlighted this last summer in an article arguing that we need to make learning a key boardroom competency. A focus on learning in a time of change will, they argue, lead to the creation of the “bionic company’ which fuses human and machine capabilities – and it’s an argument that rings true. We shouldn’t, however, think of this only in terms of a challenge or a problem for businesses: this technological acceleration also means we’ll be able to do things previously impossible. In fact, I don’t know about you, but what the word ‘bionic’ brings to my mind first is not executive meetings, but a futuristic hero with special powers and a cape.

 

C-suite superheroes

Over the last year, I’ve been increasingly been thinking of the C-suite as a kind of superhero team that rises up against challenges and inspires unity within the organisation. This was made visible by the extraordinary events of the last year, when leaders were frequently called upon to go above and beyond in response to what was happening in the world. I’m thinking in particular of the CMO and CFO, who have been face-to-face with the most abrupt areas of change. For marketers, adapting to the needs of consumers who themselves have had their lives turned upside down has required real, rapid innovation. On the finance front, the shifting economic sands have needed faster analysis, using more accurate data to manage the business.

For both of these roles, the skills and tools acquired through the pandemic will fortify them for the future. And while the superpowers may stop short of x-ray vision, there is a light emerging at the end of the tunnel for human health and it’s clear that the pace of change will not slow. Looking ahead, the easing of restrictions should be seen as an opportunity to build back differently, and the daily experience of technology inside businesses should not simply revert back after a year of remote working.

One thing that will revert as we return to steadier ground, however, is that the planning horizon will lengthen, and businesses will again be in a position to plan proactive strategy, not just reactive tactics for the current changeable context. In order to do that successfully, these leaders will need to take the learning they’ve done and make it available to others across the organisation. While Boston Consulting Group rightly focus on building learning into the workflow across the business, there is something more to be said about increasing understanding within the boardroom.

Where companies have already had deep collaboration between CMOs and CFOs, new practices and new assumptions need to be communicated. Where companies haven’t built those lines of cooperation, now is the perfect time to bring the beginning and the end of the revenue journey into closer alignment. And, of course, it’s critical to do this without quibbling about who is the superhero and who is the sidekick ­– it’s more like The Avengers coming together.

 

Endgame

The first requirement for good C-suite collaboration will be a shared understanding of terms and ideas. Sometimes, this will mean shifting your own perspective: CMOs, for example, may need to get comfortable converting their KPIs into more revenue-relevant numbers if they’re to sing from the same hymn sheet as the CFO. Likewise, CFOs will feel the benefit if they contextualise their work in terms which are familiar to other business functions. With smarter, digitised approaches to data, figures like cost per acquisition, return on loyalty, and retention metrics can help deliver that.

Second, collaboration will happen from a place of greater trust and mutual understanding when it operates from a shared dataset. A monthly marketing report is one thing for the CFO; being able to look at real-time intelligence on how marketing is feeding into revenue is quite another. A unified platform which can bring this data together and create actionable insights can place everyone in the mindset where collaborating is the default, rather than an additional task which may or may not be required of them.

Third, collaboration should be built on commitments around how decisions will be taken. When cross-function communication can too often be taken as an FYI, agreeing to drive enterprise value on the basis of shared, mutually understood data ensures that the work needed to establish a collaborative system actually has real-world outcomes. This is where interpersonal efficiency becomes bottom-line growth. After all, it’s no good shining the bat-signal at the clouds if Batman is just going to make up his own mind about whether to respond to a crime.

When everything is set up properly, C-suite executive should feel empowered like a superhero, with the full power of the organisation at their fingertips. From there, the next logical step, as Hollywood has taught us, is the big crossover event where those superheroes team up to achieve greater things.

 

Business

STREAMLINE YOUR BUSINESS FINANCES AND SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE PROFITABILITY

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Every successful and professional business owner knows and truly understands that there is nothing more important and worthy of investing significant time in than the state of their company finances.

Continue reading to discover how to streamline your business’s finances and subsequently significantly increase profitability and cash flow.

 

Invest In Employee Training Courses and Business Mentors

The initial monetary outlay required to invest in employee training courses and even an in-house business mentor scheme will be quickly absorbed by the overall improvement in employee efficiency and productivity. Training courses will bond your teams, improve their morale and sense of belonging to your company. They should also make every individual worker feel significantly more valued and will open up opportunities for individual progression, promotion and advancement. Both quantity and quality of performance are proven to increase within a business that offers employee training courses and business mentorship.

 

Conduct A Thorough Business Energy Audit

As a business professional, you will be all too aware of the sheer amount of money spent every month on your energy bills. To counteract this and potentially significantly reduce the amount you are paying, you should conduct a thorough energy audit throughout the entirety of your business. Water rates for businesses are far more competitive than one may believe and employing the services of an established and experienced company who can compare and consolidate your energy bills would be exceedingly prudent.

 

Outsource Your IT Operations

Contrary to several business ‘experts’ beliefs, there is never the exact right time to outsource your information technology operations and whenever you make the move you will inevitably need to deal with several unexpected issues. However, the benefits of doing so far outweigh any minor inconveniences you may or may not experience.

There are several crucial questions and polite demands you must make to your supplier and, naturally, your soon-to-be business partner, and it is vital to set out clear goals and targets before you begin. It would be extremely pertinent to source an IT business associate who has as few intermediaries as possible to insure a smooth and problem-free collaboration as well as ensuring your new collaborator is up to date with the very latest in technology that is specific to your industry.

 

Use Payroll Software

There are a multitude of benefits to investing in a company payroll system which include, but are in no way limited to:

  1. Fewer, if any, mistakes regarding paperwork
  2. Ensuring your year-end is as stress-free and unproblematic as possible
  3. Fulfilling your moral and ethical responsibilities to your hardworking employees
  4. Simplifying the overall payroll process from start to finish
  5. Saving significant time and subsequent money
  6. Ensuring you are fulfilling your legal obligations to the government

As your business goes from strength to strength, naturally you will gain a significant increase in the number of employees on your payroll and if your payroll is currently done in-house, there is an increase in the risk of human error the higher the employee count.

 

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HOW SMEs CAN EMBRACE CONTACTLESS, WITHOUT DITCHING CASH

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By Tsuyoshi Notani, Managing Director, JCB International (Europe) Ltd.

 

Already popular, the past year has accelerated the usage of contactless payments in lieu of cash transactions – even for very small purchases. As well as using cards with contactless abilities, the ease of using digital wallets such as Apple Pay has increased take-up across the UK, representing 32 % of online payments[1]. Digital payments have the advantage over notes and coins at point of sale because it facilitates a more hygienic experience and speedier transaction.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the contactless cost limit has been raised from £ 45 to £ 100 for a single ‘tap and go’ transaction, compounding moves by consumers to rely on contactless as the payment mechanism of choice. In fact, Link Scheme Holdings Ltd, which oversees the UK cash machine network reported that the number of visits to ATMs dropped by 43 % for the year to March 2021 on the previous year[2], although it does note that some ATMs may have been inaccessible due to pandemic restrictions.

The appetite for paying without cash is huge – and we know that a large proportion of cashless payments are also contactless. For SMEs this can present a challenge. Providing multiple ways to pay can be an administrative obstacle, and often SMEs prefer to operate with cash only, to avoid incurring additional fees and costs. However, there is good reason to offer digital payment methods alongside cash.

Business benefits to offering contactless payment solutions include reduced costs associated with cash handling, and the convenience for customers in offering multiple ways to pay for goods or services. It is also a very secure way to receive payment. A simple and fast way to transact, contactless is the ultimate convenience for customers. For retailers competing in today’s landscape, it is essential to ensure that customers have access to their preferred payment method.

However, this must not come at the total exclusion of cash until a solution has been found for the ‘unbanked’ – those without access to digital payments for one reason or another. For now, solutions are nascent, and SMEs looking to reach all potential customers would do well to offer cash payments but also enable cashless and contactless. For SMEs who increasingly find themselves faced with competition from mega entities, focusing on a convenient and frictionless customer experience is paramount.

At JCB, we take financial inclusion seriously, recognising our role as a key player in the global financial ecosystem to ensure nobody is left behind by the digitisation of payments. We, for example, partnered with FE Credit, to launch two credit cards in Vietnam that are packed with benefits to meet the needs of the unbanked. A few examples of these unique offerings are the Oi Plus Program – a flagship loyalty program that rewards cardmembers on their everyday spending, and EasyPay – one of Vietnam’s largest 0% retail installment programs, and Selfie PLUS – one-click mobile-to-card image upload solution[3].

Luckily, the ‘how’ in enabling contactless and cashless payments is very simple. When picking a card reader, ensure you choose one created by a company which enables multiple cards, as this will enable your business to accept a wide spectrum of payments – and means no sale is lost because of an issue around how to pay. From a JCB acceptance point of view – Lloyds Bank plc, Barclays plc, and Zettle all accept JCB Cards in the UK. Viva Wallet, which supports around 80,000 merchants in Greece, more than 3,000 merchants in Belgium, and more than 6,000 merchants in the United Kingdom and beyond also accepts JCB Card payments[4].

Losing out on customers who do not carry cash is a no-go for SMEs looking to build back business after a difficult year. Enabling card and contactless payments is a surefire way to appeal to customers looking for convenience, removing one big obstacle to purchase for the on-the-go shopper. That is why at JCB, we encourage SMEs to both enable contactless, and accept cash – for the biggest opportunity to enable purchases and to ensure nobody is left behind.

 

[1] WorldPay, The Global Payments Report February 2021 https://worldpay.globalpaymentsreport.com/en/

[2] BBC, ATM withdrawals drop by £37bn during year of Covid 17 March 2021 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56413993

[3] FE Credit to Issue JCB Card in Vietnam, 19 November 2020, https://www.global.jcb/en/press/2020/202011180001_alliance.html

[4] JCB and Viva Wallet’s Expanded Collaboration Across Europe, 25 August 2020, https://www.global.jcb/en/press/2020/202008240001_alliance.html

 

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