HOW BEST TO DEVELOP YOUR BUSINESS IN 2020; OUR NEW YEAR MESSAGE

At a time when the doomsayers of global warming have us reaching for the duvet and cancelling our frequent flyer airmiles, we ask – just how far do we need to go, travel-wise – for the sake of business, and does it work anyway?

Actually – we don’t have to go very far at all. But that does not stop the fanciful dreams of hopeless romantics jumping on long distance planes. There has to be a compromise, but so often, the decision makers of such compromises have their own vested interests – or often no actual interest.

GLOBAL WARMING. YES, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YOU AND ME. EVERYONE ELSE.

I’m sitting at one of those speed awareness courses run by our UK police people to chastise errant speedy drivers like myself, and I am looking out of the window, and there is this girl next to me and she too is looking out of the window. And my mind is starting to wander. It’s not that I’ve had a bad day – but I am increasingly tired of the doomsayers telling me that my new hybrid motor car, actually costs more in fossil fuels to make the thing – than my lifetime of electric driving savings can generate.

WHY ARE BIG COMPANIES, BIG? IS IT BECAUSE THEY LOOK AFTER THEIR CUSTOMERS?

We look at the recent CX Network Conference in Stockholm and ask, maybe it’s more than that?

The next question, which I haven’t raised – is; well, if you are a small company, but you want to get bigger – well, is it just a matter of customer focus? Sorry to say, but the answer is alas No. But I think you knew that already, although some of the answers about attitude etc, might surprise you. I will come back to that one.

If you’re going to talk about Customer experience, then there is no better place to sit down at Fika time and chat with friends, – than anywhere in Sweden. Communal consensus and discussion in Scandinavia is a religion and disturbing any colleague as they break for lunch is like interrupting someone at Communion. But this is 10.30 in the morning.

So here we are; drinking our glass of milk and nibbling on our cake, and we are looking out across the water towards Gamla Stan. Pretty much all the big names are there; Vattenfall, Danskebank, Sweco, and I could go on. Each one looking at the alchemy of – how do you translate the act of dealing with a customer, into an actual repeatable experience that transforms your business to “stand out in a sea of sameness”.

And what the delegates and speakers say is that – customer experience does not start with the customer. It starts with the employee. The problems of employee engagement are bigger than the simple act by comparison, of reaching out to the guy whose payments to you, contribute towards your personal mortgage. If you cannot communicate your corporate focus and reason for existence, within your organisation, there is precious little chance of spreading your gospel beyond that.

In the past, this message has not been understood by management. It has translated into an act of self-harm called “Managed HR”, where numbers and individual performance, ie, measurable stats, have taken prime position.

The message here at this Conference, is that life has moved on. Engage with your own employee – and by default you will engage with your customer. You could say this is a triumph of human values over corporate monotony, but the key message from Stockholm and this CX Network event, is that if you can motivate and create an employee experience, then that individuality will take you beyond the “me too” of everyone else in your vertical market.

After launch we talked in small groups about the mechanics of this process, we talk about innovation, of being brave, of making mistakes in the way you communicate. The best presentations were those who were Ok to admit that “guys, we did not know where this would take us”.

And sure, this is not going to reach the heights of an away day at Disney. There will not be the emotion of a roller coaster ride. But there will be for sure the light-bulb moment.

But the bigger surprise is that this is a pan-market discussion; the usual vertical market focus of a typical CX Network event, has been surpassed by bringing everybody together from wherever they come from, from banking thru Energy, thru Retail, thru data and analytics – to HR. And perhaps that is the secret sauce of this meeting of minds. Ultimately, people are people, and human nature is human nature. Reach out to the individual – and you grow as a business. That’s how you do it.

IS THE UK NHS THE VICTIM OF ITS OWN STANDARDISATION?

We all agree that having healthcare standards is a great idea. But what if those standards no longer reflect society? We give a four-point RoadMap that every hospital and surgery should follow.

It’s a truth universally accepted that hospitals, and healthcare in general – are not keeping pace with the demands put upon it. The common excuse, equally universally trotted out – is that – well, – there are just too many people, too little funds. We all live too long, and there is less porridge for the three bears. Goldilocks will have to wait for the second sitting.

It’s a lovely story, if only it were true.

DARK SECRETS. NOW IN THE UK.

We review the latest block-buster novel from Delphine Montariol and ask, why do we need yet another detective story?

You could be forgiven for asking this, but as in all good detective stories, life is not what it seems. Sure we have Agatha Christie as the single sleuth – but remarkably, she is the exception. Nowadays, crime solvers go in pairs.

You could argue that it was always thus, too. Starting with Holmes and Watson – we now have Cagney and Lacey; and Starsky and Hutch – and fast forward a decade to the UK favourite, Morse and his sidekick Lewis.

And then we have location. No self respecting UK crime thriller would be complete without a nice Country House – and set in an age even before people who voted for Brexit were born. All we need is a nice fancy train, a murder before Afternoon Tea, and two new detectives – called Worthington and Spencer.

If you are looking for the classic “whodunnit” with all the rose coloured prejudices and expectations of a century or more ago, Dark Secrets is a perfect mix of elements with only one hesitation – which is; the author, Delphine Montariol – is French.

Delphine Montariol is a celebrated and known French writer. She is a History graduate. She knows more about English history than you or I ever studied at school. It is this fascination that gives the book and story line its authenticity, and it stands out because of that. Christmas is coming. Worth a read.

ITS PANTOMIME TIME! OH NO IT ISN’T!

We sit back and laugh out loud at this latest rethink of the Offenbach classic, “Orpheus In The Underworld” – and ask; how can we laugh – and be disturbed, at the same time.

You can argue that this “Orpheus….” has everything. It is quite astonishing. It is a fusion of extraordinary drama, of sublime choral sound, of sheep that go ”bah bah” in time to the music; of myriads of balloons, that seem to be the leitmotiv (balloons are everywhere), as a symbol of transitory suspension between two worlds I suppose.

It is Mozart on steroids – a sort of Magic Flute but where there is no happy ending. Which is why you will not take your little kids to this run up to Christmas entertainment. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this performance has “wit and charm” – it is simply seriously funny. But in her chat discussion just a few weeks earlier, director Emma Rice indicated that this is going to be a different take – and she did not disappoint. The melodies of the first Act soon give way to sexual depravity, male hedonism, and the implicit conclusion that if you play with the Devil, then be careful what you wish for.

Except that Eurydice – played by Mary Bevan – has no particular wish to play with the Devil as such. Mary’s melodies, interpretation and dramatic art of her journey from one world to another, and the realisation of what marriage is – are the stand out features of this performance and I found myself reminded of when i first saw her in ”Two Boys” all those years ago, the ability to stand alone on stage and carry the audience with her.

And then we have Alex Otterburn, who was very funny, self-deprecating, as Pluto, with his West Country shepherd accent. A sort of Moliere’s “Tartuffe”. As I travel back to Devon as I write this piece, I would have loved to have seen more of this – but what the heck!

This is a cast of exceptional performers, each contributing vital elements. I loved Ellie Laugharne as Cupid. I could go on.

My first recollection of ENO’s “Orpheus” as a young teenager, used a tube train as the slapstick way to travel between worlds. Emma’s use of a London Taxi and cabbie, for the public opinion, is better, and just so ridiculous, the little things where the taxi does not start, for example.

Perhaps this is why I left the Coliseum excited and yet confused. We take for granted now the edginess of ENO productions, the taking of Opera to its limits. This performance continues that trend cum laude. The mix of elements that really should not go together, or how can anybody even think they go together – but somehow they do – that can deliver not satisfaction but a darker truth?

But again, this is to be picky. This is thought provoking entertainment on so many levels. Just don’t bring the kids, at least not yet.

Do Lawyers need AI? Good question…

We look back at the recent IQPC Conference on the need for AI, within the legal profession, and ask – who needs this anyway?

It’s a stupid and naive question. Lawyers are the byword for heavy and voluminous documents and the search for precedence.  You can argue  that if anybody needs some sort of automated way to find the data that will  get you  out of jail – it is your lawyer.  And whether this is criminal or private or commercial – the economics are clear; understanding  and devising new ways to handle a legal process – and then automating it – can save billable hours.

And that is the question, and why this intriguing and intensive and experience lead two day event,  was so critical – and explains why of all industries, the legal profession is the last to seriously take a peek under the hood, of the benefits of an AI process.  In a market that so depends on its billable hours – why would you want to reduce your billable hours anyway?

It took a day of separate speeches and discussions and coffee networking – before on Day One, we reached this nadir. It was worth waiting for.

Key speakers and delegates from some of Europe’s leading brands, had flown in from across Europe and taken the DLR  from across the road, to meet at Canary Wharf, and listen and contribute. A key strategy and benefit of an IQPC event is the informal inclusion. Nobody is afraid to say what they mean, and everybody understands that the more they contribute, the more they benefit, from everybody else.

In many ways, the informality belies it’s importance as a means of sharing important best practice. And this allows the delegates to ask the difficult questions. Day One, where we were present, allowed all parties to go beyond their earlier preconceptions that billable hours are the key essential, set that aside, and say :”well, there are other ways of doing this now”. 

What is clear is that – unlike say financial services or Chief Data environments, the legal profession does not come to the table with a problem  that it has to fix. People don’t use lawyers because they want to – it is because they have to. This has allowed the profession to do its own thing, in its own way. Up to a point.

Sure, this Conference was friendly, supportive.  Key corporate legal decision makers rubbed shoulders with public sector movers and shakers. Networking around the water cooler on steroids if you will.

But what is clear, now, is that internal competition from one lawyer to the next – and also the growth and competence of Inside Counsel, has woken up the need to be more commercial. The need indeed for survival, in a real world, has finally kicked in. 

Are Healthcare people missing the point?

As the need for the provision of healthcare has moved from Hospitals to the Community, we have been looking at who “gets” that?

Actually not very many people, by that I mean, very few hospitals, and very few established vendors. In a survey that we are still conducting, of approx 100 key Hospitals in the UK NHS – the ordinary consumer (that’s you and me) with our smart data on our wrist, is light years ahead of knowing about their health situation, than the very places they go to when things look serious.

What is worse is that, not just established vendors seem to be clinging on to their market position with solutions that cannot possibly keep up with what the ordinary guy expects – but that newer start ups, who regularly look for funding – are being overtaken by Apps that are already in use for free. on our iPhone or Android device.

We have written about this before on our these Press pages, but our initial and interim assessment is that, whilst accepting that hospitals are routinely underfunded in the UK – their salvation will be the inclusion of primary care, sorting out issues before they ever get to the need for what hospitals currently do. so they become a one-stop shop. There are significant reductions in costs in this combination.

Approx 10% of the hospitals we deal with ourselves, get this notion – and either reach out to providers of community finance, or they include private paid-for health clinics, within their own walls. These tend to be the ones that regularly top the league tables of health excellence.

But what does not work – is doing nothing, because patients are now starting to walk with their feet away from these hallowed institutions anyway. We are very interested in hearing from those organisations who link ordinary Apps, with their healthcare services provision, and if we can, we will be pleased to publish their experiences.

CAN A.I. HELP THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND CAN IT INDEED HELP YOU?

We take an advance peek at the upcoming AI Legal Forum from the experts at IQPC, in London this week, and ask – where does AI fit into this very personal relationship-based industry?

The AI Legal Forum is rocking up at what should be already the centre of UK artificial intelligence. With its base for two days this week at the Hilton London Canary Wharf, the venue is surrounded by the movers and shakers in the banking and financial industries. If anybody depends on accurate use of data – it is them.

So we are in good company. The Forum already has some of the UK’s leading Legal Firms as Speakers, including a couple of large Media companies and PDA vendors. It is a broad church. And it needs to be,.

Reading through the nice announcements, what the Forum is there to do, is ask questions of its delegates rather than deliver information. Sure, there will be experience lead discussion – but as much can be gained from the feedback as the initial presentations from each leader or speaker.

A key element will be the redefining of how legal firms calculate their revenues, from what source. A major bugbear from customers who require legal advice is the constant focus on billable hours, and this is a key topic under discussion, as we move in to new ways of assessing client value.

It’s about time. But then, in the legal profession, you could say it has always been that way.