IS IT THE END OF THE THE BIG-BUDGET PROCUREMENT PROCESS?

We look at changing demands within the UK NHS

I am going to start this all back-to-front. My suggestion is; simply giving the NHS “more money” – is cementing out of date working practices. The problem is – there are things called “patients”. There are more of them, and they are being quite unreasonable by living a lot longer than they should. This is redolent of my Data discussions about relational databases; they are just to clunky to handle the volume of patient data we have (so goes the argument). If Hospitals are going to continue to be relevant, then they need to start with a blank piece of paper, adopt radical new ways of doing things, and that includes how they pay for stuff. Putting in place new practices is inextricably linked to finding innovative ways of paying for them.

The problem is – people don’t like change. Nobody likes change. Our comfort zone is precisely that; why not keep things the same? The common unspoken argument goes something like – It’s all worked more or less, up to now.

Except that it doesn’t any longer. As indicated above – there are just too many people wanting healthcare. And if you believe the guys at CIFS in Denmark, “hospitals” are no longer in the driving seat anyway; it is the patient – or “consumer” – that is increasingly driving us to adopt new facilities and services for which we have no plan and no budget.

But maybe we don’t need a budget. Maybe we should just” do”. One way around this obstacle, is the following:

My colleague, who is a Head of Finance at a major UK Trust – sips his coffee and says; “you know , Richard, – apart from essential capital costs – we have stopped making big budget procurements. We now pay as we go. Suppliers enter into flexible monthly contracts, and we pay for what we use.”

Companies in the UK such as System C, are already looking at these sort of innovative practices; similarly in Scandinavia, the EVRY company now offers iPad based versions of its solutions for smaller clinics, based on a mobile SIM tariff. This is the tip of a very large iceberg

And it is seismic; it brings to an end the five-year contract, the large software acquisition. It means that suppliers can no longer promise to deliver but never deliver (we have seen this several times) – or supply goods and never train their hospitals (and we have seen this too). It also means that as hospital flexible demands change, – so can their supplier, and in real-time.

There are two win/wins here. The first is that hospitals can now engage in new technology Pilots, to prove clinical concepts and prove commercial viability, without fear of long term commitment. It means there need no longer be a “budget hiatus” every year, around now, that delay the introduction of new services that clinicians are desperately calling for.

A direct result of the mobile world we live in, is that increasingly, suppliers are linking their offer to commercial or clinical results in some way. This is important, because it allows much better monitoring; the introduction of new services can be far better and much more simply controlled – with the minimisation of implicit greater risk.

But it also means that hospital management needs to throw out the hostility that routinely surfaces towards the very organisations that are able to help. For this quiet revolution to happen, there needs to be what I will call a “Scandinavian Partnership” model, of engagement. It is an ironic description; Scandinavian procurements and “upphandlings” are some of the most heavily legally monitored in the world – but that in itself misses the point.

In a world where you and I are now able to tell our Doctor and Hospital what they need for us – who needs a procurement process anyway? Just go and do it.

 

New Human Relationships in Customer Contact

We look at the upcoming  CCW Conference in Glasgow in March, and ask – has this Conference really changed things  This is what they say about themselves:

”Delivering world class services has never been more critical as today’s businesses continue to be disrupted with new technologies and competition. Multi channel is the new norm, contact centres face more complex queries, operating models urgently need to be reorganized and super agents need to be created!

Partnering with business to deliver insights and world class service is a major step for customer contact to become more strategic in customer centric transformation. In the age of digital, providing that human touch to both your customers and employees will be the winning recipe. We invite you to join us at Customer Contact Week 2018 where key strategies are shared and the future is shaped.

CCW Europe will see 60+ executive speakers, 25 industry and challenge focused IDGs, 9 plenary sessions and dedicated streams and discussions tackling how to deliver world class service through intelligent customer contact without losing the human touch. You cannot afford to miss out! “

There is no doubt that a more human response in the automated call centres that have populated our life, will deliver.

But the question is – has the market already moved on?  Most people – particularly in the areas of financial services, banking, utilities, would much prefer their vendors and suppliers to go the whole hog, bring back the human face, bring back the local branch. At a time when there is a growing focus on the “Community” – so there is now a need, and a market, for the back to basics of human engagement, – rather than the image of human engagement. It is still faster to buy a train ticket by rolling up at a local train station than trying to buy said ticket on line, and you get the happy start of someone actually face to face being nice to you. Pay it Forward actually works.

Plus, there are added side benefits of this back to normality approach, the obvious one is in retail, the avoidance of plastic packaging and delivery services is becoming a major factor in saving the planet both from the ocean and emissions points of view.

And then again – maybe the answer is a mix, and it comes down to service. A key speaker at the above Conference is from the MOO Organisation – where we ourselves have now migrated to buying all of our cards and print (in stead of our local print shop down the road).

Will we be going?  Yes of course.  But let’s get serious;  online customer contact will never be as good for most situations, as the real thing. And Glasgow is a great place to go visit.

It’s Time to Think About Christmas…

We look at those Christmas Parties that actually make sense…

Actually – frankly speaking – there aren’t many. I would like to say that Christmas for all and everyone is a spirit of goodwill to all men, a time of renewal and friendship. And I would be wrong. For most companies, the annual “Christmas Party” is the minefield of alcohol bad taste, political scheming that rivals Machiavelli in his prime, and moments of deep despair that hit those who awake the next morning, and wonder – “did I really say that to Sophie in Accounts”?

No wonder that so many Trade Associations in Paris prefer to have their annual “Soirée”, in the middle of June. At least when you wake up the next day, you can disappear on vacation down to Chatelaillon. Hopefully it will all be forgotten by the time you get back for the Rentree.

And then there is COSSIOM – whose annual “Get-together” is the model of what business events should be, and where aspiration of actually enjoying oneself – is merged with business networking, for people who know about business networking.

How so?

Because COSSIOM understands that the driver of its flagship event – is business, not hospitality. That people in the Data world that it brings together, – as much as one always likes a glass of champagne – rarely have time to enjoy said glass of champagne. Life is already too stressed. COSSIOM is a soirée for people that value the individual minutes of their day enough to know that the chance discussion, the accidental meeting, that the COSSIOM event delivers, are as valuable as the specific meeting of old and goods friends and clients that have been fostered over the past year.
For that reason, COSSIOM every November has no need to market itself itself as a “business event”. Their website and invitation just says; “Hey guys, just come along!” The people who do “come along”, already know the rules of the game.

Which means that COSSIOM can reach out from the large corporate environment that is its core – to use its Soirée to benefit charity. It is a time of practical giving-back, as well as a random evening of receiving.
As I mentioned somewhere earlier – this is about Goodwill to All Men. What’s there not to love?

Happy Christmas!

Is Brexit a Total Con? And can we Rise Up and be a Nation of Small Shopkeepers Again?

If so, we better get a move on… before we have no shops left that ordinary people can afford to shop in..

Apparently, Napoleon never said his ill-fated and probably correct remark above. The phrase was first used in an offensive sense by the French revolutionary Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac on June 11, 1794 in a speech to the National Convention.

But it’s true nonetheless. The secret sauce of the commercial success of England – is down to to the innate work ethic of ordinary British people, building their little businesses, into larger businesses.

And yet, if you believe the analysis on last night’s UK TV – the Brexit vote to Leave will not deliver, and has never been designed to deliver – the protection and job security for the masses. It will create precisely the opposite, where the very rich become even richer – at the expense of the middle class, who will become lower class, and (as seen on this programme) – Local Councils will no longer be able to afford to house their poorer residents, the single mums, the people who have fallen on hard times, the homeless. The non-availability of affordable housing for our sons and daughters, is a key plank of strategy for enticing very rich non Dom residents not the UK, with the now proven fallacy that their wealth will trickle down to the rest of us.

Because the fact is – no it won’t, and no it doesn’t. In reality it is the opposite. Unless you are very lucky, and happen to work in the key financial and legal sectors, our hard work for the larger corporations or the coffee shops and public services, – simply serves to enlarge the financial gap.

This is due to the fact that non Doms are placing their money into property, at ever increasing prices, – because it is a sound investment – but it takes that property and available pricing, away from the middle class on which Britain depends. Similarly, the low or negligible tax regime, only benefits those who can afford to exploit it. The rest of us don’t have the money to do so.

So why Brexit?

Because the Leave campaign of Brexit is financed by the very high net worth individuals we have discussed above. Leaving the EU will remove us from the social protection that is Europe. In fostering a climate of low taxation, we are deliberately supporting the very people whose interests is theirs, but not those of the UK.

In short, the lower and middle classes who voted to leave – far from voting to protect their jobs, have voted to ensure their own demise.

A key and well referenced Article by Anna Williams, explains this in a nutshell;

https://tweetydoesdemocracy.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/welcome-to-new-britannia-our-green-pleasant-land/

This has gone way beyond simple envy or jealousy. This is now about the key attributes of our valued psyche, the reason that ordinary people still love to come here. The day that only the very rich people can afford to shop in our West End playgrounds of boutique labels, will be too late for our next generation, on whose income we depend for our pensions and other social costs.

The question is – as we walk by the streets of empty shops in all of our local High Streets – is how long will it take us, to understand this Con. Or are we the victims of Fake News indeed!

Why is friendship so difficult?

We look at why do your European friends desert you when you need them most?

There’s this girl I know, she found me on Facebook. I don’t know why. She invites me to be her « friend ». I don’t have a problem with that, so sure, I say, why not. Who are you? Tell you what, (I say) – give me your phone number and we can have a chat.

“No, sorry, (she says) – I only give my number to my friends.“

My colleague in Vilnius Lithuania, is connected. A very smart guy. He calls me and says, « you know what I am hearing Richard? The rumours here are that the local EU people are aiming to make it as hard as possible for the UK to leave the EU with anything much – a sort of deterrent to stop any other countries from following suit. ».

This is not alas the first time we have heard these stories. So, at a time when British troops and planes are currently defending the space of all of the Baltic States – and are committed to continue – what is it about friendship that can be so one-sided? True friendship is a rare thing.

The problem is this. If your « friends » do not support you when you are down – and the UK is in a « down » place at the moment – then what was the point of the relationship in the first place? And it is self perpetuating, because it means that for people like me – who voted absolutely to Remain in our fateful Referendum, and who was not taken in by the lies and total myopia of our Leave cousins – I am now – dare I say these awful words, wash your mouth out Richard – thinking; hey, maybe we are indeed better off out of this Club. They can keep their ball. We don’t want to play any more.

And then you start to think.

The UK culture is at its best when we are in a tight spot. We are an island mentality. Somehow or other, against all the odds (goes the romantic story…)… we somehow survive and keep the home fires burning. We love it when life is unfair. It offends our innate tolerance and sense of fairplay. You don’t need any more motivation that this.

And for sure, the good people of Scotland have already worked out they will sell gallons more whisky if they don’t have to abide by EU rules. And down in Devon/Cornwall, our fishermen and farmers are similarly upbeat. Somehow or other, we have generated a revenue stream that provides for all of us, with quality of life, and that remains a Mecca for immigrants who prefer to set up camp at Calais rather than stop en route a Lille or the tech hubs of Valenciennes nearby.

Which makes me suggest that the guys who do the currency exchange forecasts etc, have got it rather wrong. Now is a great time to invest in the UK, as this is the very time we take off our jacket and actually do some work.

But it is also a strategic time for the colleagues of the EU to reconsider their approach. Your « friend » will have a much bigger chance of coming back, in prodigal son style, if you support them when they leave. And make no mistake, the EU needs Uk money for its grandiose schemes. In the same way that you and I will never shop again at the store that refuses us a refund – so at the end of a hostile Brexit, there is fat chance of us ever wanting to to get back into a relationship with these robbers who have stolen our ball.

That would be a pity for all of us – but then again, it might not. True friendship is a rare thing. In the words of that great Corrs song – Maybe we never liked them anyway.

————

 

Why is paying money – so difficult?

We look at the upcoming keynote conference discussions at Trustech, and ask; do we really need another hotel trip?

I happen to know Copenhagen Airport better than most people who even live in Denmark. I have never been into Copenhagen tho. Business trips are what they are. They are not Tourist trips. Then again – some things need to be discussed, face to face.

For those of us not connected with the intricacies and practicalities and sheer volume, of international payments, how our buying and selling gets sorted out corporatively – then the idea of listening to several of Europe’s leading experts on “payments”, who will be speaking between the 28th-30th November in Cannes – seems a bit unnecessary. A luxury. A junket for jobs for the boys.

The simplistic view is that, well, we all use our contactless card and our Apple Pay, and it all works ok – so what’s there not to love? Why is it all so difficult?

This is not so naive as it sounds, and there are two issues here.
The first is that the absolute importance of making sure payments and money transfers, actually “work” in volume, is essential for any Bank. As one Bank Director told me – “the last thing we want is for pensioners not to get their Giro every Friday”.

Which means that the legacy systems, on which banks still depend – remain untouched. Despite the awareness of mobile disruption in the established order of things (and both Santander and ING refer to this in their recent Presentations) – there is too much risk involved in going back to one’s roots so to say.
The result is a growing level of complexity, based on traditional architecture alongside a slow step by step toe-in-the-water approach to change. This works against what the market – the ordinary guy in the street – is experiencing and now demanding. As life in general becomes more and personalised, in healthcare provision, retail offering, etc – we expect things to “work”, at our own personal level, using the toys we have in our hand.

So when Banks talk about losing their brand identity and perceived value – this is what they mean.

And it creates a problem, because there are just too many individualistic players. There are too many multi-levels of players in the whole process of simply buying a train ticket. Which means that – if there is indeed a problem in the process – well, who is to blame and at what point?

The one thing that banks cannot afford is the risk of failure – but that in itself misses the point, because we are equating “personal transaction – with “corporate transaction”. And whilst Banks accept the way things are going – there is a fear factor in actually “doing something” and throwing out the old and truly embracing the new.

But customers themselves don’t see it that way. Whilst we absolutely “get” that in the big high volume world, there need to be proven systems, and if they are old – but they work – well, where is the problem? – We also absolutely “get” that if at a personal level, we want to be cool and use our smart individual Toys, then we will balance that risk with the state of the art benefit.

So what’s the answer?

It is not necessarily the disruptive rise of the Neo Banks, because their own lifespan and implicit credibility is still too young and under review.

In short – the fear of losing brand awareness is actually the reverse; Those banks that do not live at the cutting edge at a personal level – which is where the increasing volume of personal business exists, and which drives corporate business – are losing their raison d’être because they are not visible.

The fact is, disruptive “mobile” technology – is here to stay. So; in that spirit if we “get” that mobile technology is the way things are going – then why the Conference? Why not just do everything on Skype? Well then again – somethings just have to be said – face to face. At least I’m not travelling via CPH.

American View of the World

We look at the misunderstanding of Western Media towards the Trump Presidency.

I am having breakfast in an airport hotel just outside Hartfield Atlanta airport, and the middle aged man a few seats away, leans over and offers his hand.

“Hi, I’m Dave”. He says; he is one of the many Delta pilots who regularly stay at this hotel – their Training Centre is just a few blocks away. And we start talking. The man is clearly educated, middle class, and well travelled. And then he says something strategic; “it is not what Trump is doing, that is bad – it is his delivery”.

And we open along discussion that goes way beyond the waffles and bacon and eggs. We explore every avenue of American life, and how our civilised media, whilst routinely criticising Trump, is missing the essential point that, Trump America is not divided into blue collar rose coloured spectacled workers who long for the good old days, – and the liberal educated white collared Managers on the other. Trump America has its fare share of ordinary people who are looking at what Trump is doing for Americans if not America.

I am sitting on my premium seat from JFK back to London and next to me, my middle aged American offers his hand. He is a financial adviser for a large Bank. And he says; “you know, our medical situation with Obamacare, is so messed up”. Taking each issue in turn – we have six hours to spend – what he says is an enlightenment:

North Korea – America has for twenty years been trying to be the “nice guy”; and it has been misread as a sign of weakness. Trump is the first President to get bombastic and actually do something about it, or give that impression. His speech to the UN was “the best this man has heard”.
Nato Support; – Trump was right to ask Europeans to pay their fair contribution. And my colleague has a point – many European States have grown used to the idea that the rich nations of the world owe them a living.

Immigration – why can’t we have immigrants who apply to settle, in the normal way? My colleague recounts the story of his father in law, who himself fled from Cuba, and waited in line etc, to go through the proper channels. And on we go…

There are various counter arguments to all of this, of course, but the single biggest issue that will conceivably bring down the Trump presidency, is completely missing from my colleague’s philosophy. The Russian connection and Trump does not have any real significance in either of my new friends’ way of seeing things, and the threat to the US democracy and freedom of values and truth, does not figure for them.

How so?

Because Russia is not on their doorstep, and because the USA essentially is a nationalistic mentality, that looks after the rest of us because it sort of has a moral responsibility rather than any absolute obligation. The conspiracy theories that we are well aware of, and believe are true, in our European society, and that US Media bang on about – are simply not getting through to the average and even many levels of the general middle classes of the USA.

So, what to do?

The answer is to keep on portraying the balanced view that we have become used to in Europe, and to include the USA in discussions. We on this side of the Atlantic are far more European than American, but their friendship and levels of reaching out, are the best in the world. As my colleague in Atlanta says; “Welcome to good ol’. Southern Hospitality!”