We take a look at the latest IQPC Conference formula and ask – does it work for us?

The man opens the inner door as I and my two colleagues from Portugal – who I have never met before- enter from the outside courtyard.

He is dressed in a Polo shirt, and a bath towel. He has no trousers, and his hair is damp. He has some soft leather sneakers on.

“Are you lost?

Yes of course we are. It is a ten minute walk from the Putney Bridge tube station, past the security barrier and through the immaculate lawns of the Hurlingham Club, and the arboressence of pathways. We are trying to find the Conference.

“Then let me show you a shortcut”.

The man beckons us through, we enter a further courtyard, the man slides into a black 4×4 and we walk up the stone steps into a modern but eloquent glass atrium, which is indeed – where the Conference is.

The Hurlingham Club is as distant as it needs to be. This is no typical Conference mingling among the tourists who are checking out of whatever four star hotel they have found in the city. This is a venue for serious players. The 100 or so Delegates who have found their way here, a sort of crystal maze if you will – are all serious players. Large corporates do not send their key financial execs to this sort of Conference unless they can deliver, and can feel at home on this global stage fo financial business decision makers.

The Future of Finance Conference is three days long. It is a Management Conference, not a Tech event. Sure, the topics discussed inevitably contain technology, but this is no GDPR Roadshow. Life has already moved on. The focus is as much about corporate vision than AI and Robotics. Typically, the 40 minute sessions – and there are many and varied and you pick and choose the ones that work for you etc – focus on Transformation – how to bring your team with you, establishing a culture of improvement – and inevitably, something about Brexit. I could go on. And in between, people mingle and chat in the frequent coffee breaks. Everybody shares anecdotes and business cards.

I had long gone by that time. But it establishes a central truth, that the value in IQPC Conferences is as much in the informal networking amongst peers, as in the more formalised presentations.

My colleagues from Portugal are taking a quick cigarette outside the exit as I make my own way back to the exit. They give a cheerful wave – “see you in Lisbon?” It turns out we both used to work for the same company. The next IQPC Conference will be in Lisbon, and I have been invited.

Will I come?

You bet!!

Conferences – do we need them?

We look at the need to get together and ask – does it work?

Conferences are big business. A casual search for any vertical mix of “meeting point”, be it by topic or geography, could keep you and I continually doing the rounds of expensive hotels and free lunches everyday except weekends, until midway thru 2019 – and we haven’t even got through January some twelve months earlier.

Either the common understanding is that; conferences work. Or we are simply creatures of habit, we go because we always did.

Except that, for many – conferences, and the mini exhibitions that accompany these – deliver very little. Particularly for vendors, who splash out large sums but frequently tell us its a lot of cost for what ultimately does not deliver. And similarly for delegates – why is it that Speakers who should know by now how to communicate their corporate benefits, are so frequently unprepared, whose presentations are just so dull? Is it – to put it another way, there are simply better ways of achieving your goal – be it sales prospecting, market info, meeting your peers – than by jumping on the cattle run.

Then again – judging by the highly competent lists of theoretically highly competent decision-makers that always herald every getting-together – these guys would not do it, if it didn’t work. The answer, is to pick and choose the meetings where a/ you want to be visible; and b/ where the delegates that surround you are actually worth meeting.

And sure, there are the classic industry standard get-togethers, that are like the perennial flowers in my front garden. its the same people, the same format, the same booths, the same visibility. If you are not there, then people “assume” you are not anywhere. I am not talking about these. You can put healthcare, and hospitality into those boxes. There are many more.

The trick is to identify conferences that are addressing an actual market need. Nowhere is this more obvious and important, than in the technology arena. And these conferences too are changing. If 2016/2017 were the years of Big Data, and then GDPR – we are now seeing the more discussion based formulae. These are the meetings that you need to go to, because they deliver original thinking.

It has long been recognised that the real hidden benefit of this level of conference – is the casual networking, the informal discussion. Best among the upcoming conferences is the Future of Finance 2018 Discussion, on Feb 19th in London. Organised by IQPC, this promises to be an innovative forum based event, that brings together the people that can shape the industry, and where you can play a part. Worth registering.




Is it already too late for GDPR?

We look at how industries are preparing, and ask – have businesses already moved on?

For the past two years, whole industries ranging from Conference Organisers, to newly articulate Vendors – have sprung up professing abilities and proficiencies to help us manage the data compliance of GDPR – coming live in just a few months.

And their message may have been getting through. In Scandinavia, you cannot find any free Consultants able to take on any new projects. In our calls to UK vendors, few even answered our calls.  If past history is anything to go by, companies typically leave things to the last minute – so maybe there will be this rush to the final hurdle when the deadline May comes around.

Or maybe there won’t. According to Richard Copland, Partner at The Future Shapers – those companies that were going to do something – have already done so. The concern over GDPR among the large corporates where this can matter – has already been dealt with and life is moivinbg on to more important areas of data handling.

This mirrors our own experience. In interviews we have had in the Financials and Insurance areas, the need is not for data compliance.  The concern is how to identify key bits of customers information that can  make a commercial difference. In other words, technology  and IT is not the problem any more;  we are getting back to basics of – what drives our businesses and above all, what will give these companies a commercial edge.

Interestingly,  Trade Conferences per se are no longer seen as the giver of new comparative information, because it is rare to find vendors who genuinely have anything new to say.  Whilst there are exceptions to this,  their importance is in the casual networking of vendor to delegate and delegate to delegate.

Where this takes us in the future – is that 2018 will be the catalyst for specific vendors who genuinely have a new vision and a new take on their market. Linking technology to commercial benefit, will be the difference.


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.


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!

Time for Digital Transformation. We look at the new Report from Logicalis.

NEW YORK, November 15, 2017 –

Just a year after we published our own assessment that the CIO remains the biggest barrier to corporate improvement, we have received the following from the Logicalis company. According to the results of their new  global survey, CIOs around the globe are more determined than ever to achieve digital transformation within their organizations despite setbacks experienced over the past year. Logicalis is an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com) and is making the survey results available online at their  website. You can ownload a copy of the 2017/2018 Logicalis Global CIO Survey here: http://ow.ly/jVfZ30gzqws.

And what they conclude, is this:

The survey, which polled 890 CIOs across 23 countries, unearthed surprising findings this year. Although CIOs are determined to achieve digital transformation, optimism about their strides toward success has waned over the last 12 months. While only 11 percent report their organizations have “no desire” for transformation, those that ideologically embrace digital transformation have made only minimal advancements to date:

* Just 5 percent classify their organizations as “digital innovators,” down from 6 percent in last year’s survey.
* Fewer CIOs (19 percent) see their organizations as early adopters today, a step back from last year’s 22 percent.
* However, the proportion of CIOs that characterize themselves as part of an early majority with digital transformation rose from 45 percent last year to 49 percent this year, illustrating that, despite difficulties, IT leaders are moving ahead with digital transformation plans.

The main barriers to delivering digital transformation, CIOs say, include complexity, cost, culture, skills and security issues. Notably, 44 percent of CIOs cite the complexity of legacy technology as their top obstacle, while 50 percent point to cost, 56 percent name organizational culture as their largest issue, 34 percent say it’s a lack of skills, and 32 percent identify security as their biggest hurdle.

Far from discouraged, CIOs around the world have big plans for overcoming these digital transformation barriers:
*51 percent say they plan to replace and/or adapt existing infrastructure.
*51 percent plan to attempt culture change within their organizations.
*38 percent will address skills shortages through increased training and development.
*31 percent expect to invest in extra security capabilities.

“The way businesses view technology is undergoing an exciting yet fundamental shift,” says Vince DeLuca, CEO of Logicalis US. “The goal behind technology is no longer simply about implementing and managing tools that enable people to do their jobs. In a digitally transformed enterprise, it’s about giving people access to the information they need to fuel business agility and growth and to empower collaboration that will create business models no one has yet imagined. Digital transformation is the foundation upon which this new way of doing business will be built, and as this year’s Global CIO Survey indicates, IT leaders around the world not only recognize this, but they are determined to provide the platform their organizations need to embrace the change that is to come.”

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;


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!