We spend the day at the recent Chief Data & Analytics Officer, UK (or CDAO UK) conference in central London, to see if what people are saying – matches up to what is going on in the real world.

This was an excellent Conference. It brought together a wide variety of vendors, – all of whom were uniquely adept at their respective slices of competence in what is now such a large and technical area of work, that impacts on each and every one of us in our private and corporate lives.

Simon O’Riordan of the Kubicle company puts it well:

““ Data literacy skills are not only required by the analytics or the IT team; all departments and roles within an organization can benefit from data literacy skills. Data literacy enables employees to ask the right questions, gather the right data and connect the right data points to derive meaningful and actionable business insights. ”

And like so many good events, the show could not have gone on, so to say, without the delegates, the protagonists, the audience – and the synergy that the corporates who attended can bring with their interaction and opinions as they sip coffee in the mingling areas.

For many – the “mingling or networking areas”, were the reason for being there at all. It was the opportunity to get to the heart of what does this all mean, for you and your own level of practicality. There is nothing better than knowing how your peers adapt to the same issues that you have.

Probably best at that level of practical assessment, was Nick Barth, of Microstrategy, who took me aside and got to the point of his earlier Presentation :

“Yes, there is the assumption that, the more nerdy, the better – but that is not usually helpful. What we are talking about is the democratising of data, the governance of data in a way that ordinary people can understand. We at Microstrategy often find that we adapt our pitch, so to say, to suit the role of the recipient”.

It’s an important point – giving a practical view of what could be taken as a theoretical concept. We analyse data because we can, not necessarily because we need to have a commercial or practical reason for so doing.

I particularly liked my discussion with Dario Morelli, Head of Analytics at Truelayer, and the need for big connectivity within the financial sector and its need for a simpler process.

It was a contrast to the NHS Presentation that followed the next morning. This was a wake up call of a public sector approach that differed from the commercial ambience of the conference itself. There was a pause of silence when Ming Tang said that her department employees some 2000 Data Analysts. Bearing in mind that by comparison, the UK NHS itself has some 200 NHS Trusts in the UK, can it really take one Hospital area to require 10 analysts?

If there was a concern, it was that in certain key vertical markets, healthcare being the obvious one – data delivery has already moved on. If we compare the UK to say Scandinavia, data and personal info is via our mobile phone and iPad. PC systems have died away and those standards with them.

These discussion points are worth having. The value of the Chief Data & Analytics Officer, UK or CDAO UK, is in these friendly confrontations. And if we didn’t attend – then we wouldn’t get the value, would we?


We prepare for the upcoming CDAO Conference in London this week.

The problem of data – is that it is meaningless without context. Or more commercially – it is silly to have information, if that cannot give you a commercial direction.

We have already seen this year, one major Insurance company stop all of its forward planning – just because its management could not agree on a coherent way forward as to objectives that it wanted to attain.

And in the cross- fertilisation of modern corporates, ie, you need to communicate or at least be on nodding terms with – your management equals, and upwards and downwards – there are just too many people so often in the chain, who think they have a right to an opinion, and who indeed can scupper best laid plans.

Life was so much simpler when you just had a budget, and off you went.

This week, we will be talking to many leading Data specialists, to discuss precisely this – where is your commercial road map. We don’t want to talk about technology, unless this is the delivery mechanism for some deeper objective.

I think we will have lots of interesting discussions. The Conference is at;

See you there~!


We sit in on the recent Future of Finance Conference at London Wembley, from the expert people at IQPC, and congratulate them on a great bringing together of like minded people.

I push open the revolving doors at the Hilton and walk across the soft carpet. It is quite silent, very few people. There is no signage of the conference but it’s obvious the way to go is upstairs. I follow the escalators up two floors and there we are. The girls at the Conference Reception smile, hand me my badge – “sorry, what was your name.. BLOSS?”…. And suddenly, dressed in a royal blue suit and smiling broadly, Richard Walls, Event Director, strides across.

“Richard, great to see you! How was the journey?”

We have never met before in our life. But that does not matter. We are among friends now. IQPC may not have been the first, in these post Covid days – but they were the first that mattered. And if there were some misconceptions, some blind alleys, this Conference was everything that a meeting of minds should be. Groups of varied and disparate financial business leaders mixed with vendors of solutions who had seen all this before, were experienced, who knew the game, knew what to say.

There was a feeling of relief, that we could finally share experience together in a way that was never possible in the far more blunt Zoom and Teams environments. It was not a large event – some 50 or so delegates, and a dozen vendors, but there was never a sales or pushy environment, this was almost Scandinavian in the focus on simple discussion leading to business discussion.

The programme was mixed – but focussed on technical as opposed to commercial.- And even when two of the speakers had to cancel last-minute – there was such goodwill in the audience and protagonists, for others to step up and join the debate.

It was very well organised and structured; the Day One afternoon revolving Group sessions allowed us all to cherry pick the areas of knowledge that we wished to look at. This was a meeting point of shared knowledge. I particularly liked the practical points that Kevin from Siemens Gamesa alluded to, and David Myers’s from Brewin was equally practical in his comments.

Typical was the early morning round table on Day Two, which looked principally at ESG – a concept that few of us had ever considered. It was tough start to the day. After an hour, Richard Walls leant forward from the back and said “we are covering a lot of questions that we had not thought of; we need to plan additional days like this”.

Yes, they do. People nodded their head in agreement at this comment. There was little mention of the impact of people and personnel in the financial changes that were being discussed, the cultural differences that “looking into the future” that cultural differences will bring.

But that again, did not matter.

I got the distinct view that, given enough time – we could have solved the worlds problems. It was a throwaway but so relevant thought on my part.

A Text arrived on my iPhone. I walked away from the huddle taking coffee. My co-Director, Irina, messages me she had just arrived at the Ukraine/Moldova border, from her home in Kiev. Safe at last. Among friends.


As things apparently return to normality, and we start doing proper face to face trade conferences and I could go on – is it time to realise that there is no more a sense of ”normality”. Has the upcoming DTX and its focus on all things “Digital” become a place of learning, and not a place of selling?

Of course it is a place of selling. There are people called Vendors, and people called Visitors, who would not be there if there was not some sort of commercial benefit to both parties. But there the similarity ends. As we all emerge from nearly two years of COVID enforced hibernation, the one thing that is clear, is that nothing is clear.

Sure, we have heard of digitalisation – but there is little consensus as to what that means or what it can guarantee to deliver. We know that “transformation” is a Good Thing. But why is this simply restricted in people’s minds, to technology? At a time when people are rejecting to go back to the commute driven road to work – where do people come into all of this?

What people do clearly need is not information. You and I need a RoadMap. And that’s why I shall join the queue and go spend a day at the Digital Transformation EXPO, at the beginning of October, in London. If the key benefit of this Conference is one of difference – a new way of looking at things, – then this also extends to the choice of key speakers, with investigative journalist Louis Theroux, and Adam Steltzner, fresh from NASA JPL to give me their take on where all this is going.

How so?

Because I am confused by the sheer pace of change. And I want to hear from others, how they solved this bridge into a new future that I am not sure I really “get”. I understand why DTX segments itself into little bubbles of “Cloud based security”, or “AI new advances”, and I could go on. But I believe the real benefit is the mix of experts, and as DTX promises, the opportunity to “exchange ideas with the best in the business”.

This is important, because the concepts mentioned at this Show are hardly new. One of the biggest problems in AI, for example, is that people have heard of AI before.

What people have not heard of however – is how others have used their technology and delivered outcomes that in some cases have been stellar – or have simply not worked. This equates with what we have found in our own research, that technology per se means nothing unless there is a human benefit.
I will listen to the anecdotes as much as the tech. And as any businessman knows, the chat in the coffee queue is often as valuable as the stand out presentation.

So I will learn a lot. The only question is – I just don’t know from whom.

COVID; Analysis of Key Commercial Benchmarks

We look at the past twelve months and ask – if everything has gone wrong, was that simply because of COVID, or were the downsides always there, it’s  just that Covid was the excuse  of choice? Or are there new trends and behaviours come to the surface that we never considered until now?

Looking at the obvious – you can  say that 2020 was the death knell of Events and Conferences. Major companies globally are in trouble and have not been able to rediscover a new secret sauce as to why you and should even  bother to attend an online event. As long as COVID continues, it is doubtful whether many will still be around with their current offering, thru to the end of 2021. In our discussions with vendors, we have yet to find any vendor that is satisfied that being part of a virtual event has has offered them any benefit at all. Criticisms range from “ this is a scam”, to the more polite “ it’s not the fault of the organiser, they are doing their best”  etc.

It is made doubly worse  by the lack of interest from so many delegates.  Worst in our discussions, were anything to do with the UK NHS. Even those that attend workshops have almost nil interest in pursuing a discussion after they have gone offline and  in almost all cases there is no way for a vendor to progress a discussion. Much better are the Financial events; there is a clear monetary and commercial objective  – but even then – online workshops that we looked at – were sparsely attended, the vendors themselves outnumbering the delegates.

This situation is made worse alas by the naivety and astonishing optimism of the conference organisers themselves, who routinely do not bother to answer emails from apparent interested parties, preferring to have a voicemail, saying “we are working from home”.  Or those who publish and write to us with sentences such as:”We bring people together and excite them with truly life-changing experiences. Creating the ideal environment for doing business, learning about new trends and innovations, and cementing relationships. Discover our unique mission, vision and values.”

This is not what people are saying to us.

At least some organisers are trying tho. This one in Liverpool, sent us a nice paragraph:

It is all down to simplicity and not trying to recreate a inperson conference. It is impossible to recreate an inperson event so why not shake things up and cater for what you have in hand. By having more focused sessions and pre arranged 1-2-1’s rather than a networking area sponsors, delegates and speakers have a much more comprehensive experience’
The trouble is – this  is alas not our experience, as well intentioned as it may be.
In short – the market exists on two levels; established vendors who just want to support their brand. They are not so dependent on  people coming to see them. Or at a deeper level – the vendor who has something new to say – in which case, the conference has work to do to keep the delegate focussed and  on-message. One thing is clear; the lack of face to face contact will continue for longer than we care to admit.
Looking  at our work habits, what is clear is that we all accept, employers and employees, that work is a thing we do, rather than a place we go. The problem is, that the novelty has worn off. What started as a great experiment, working from home – an increasing number of people have told us that six months in, they are much less focussed, and that work expands to fill the entire day. There is no “me” time.  We frequently receive emails at 23.00, from companies and even prospects, wanting our attention.  This is damaging to both our work performance and our personal health.
The good people at the property rental specialists Knotel company in London, who we have spoken to,  tell  us that corporates are looking in increasing numbers for short term flexible packages and locations.
All of which is good, for them, but we expect to see as the vaccine kicks in, a gradual return to the heady days of returning to an office to work. It has to be like this, for reasons of sharper contact with one’s colleagues, as well as the dependence on infrastructure, theatres, social gathering, that we all need as human beings. The only question is one of size; just how many people will indeed retreat from corporate values, and decide they actually like to earn less but are happier in themselves.
Moving on… of today (at time of writing I have just received a News Item that we have a Brexit deal, that will deliver us more or less half of what we already had anyway – clearly good news….) – this is a good moment to take stock and see which markets are now relevant, or have changed.
Talking to my colleagues in La Rochelle and Toulouse, and Paris, France; this is not a market that is worth exploring for the time being. The South West France in particular is in deep depression. The empty streets, the 20.00 curfew, has demoralised the french psyche.
Similarly, the failure of COVID free expression in Sweden, has created a sense of uncertainty among an increasing number of areas of Sweden, particularly around the Goteborg area. There are no such hesitations from the south of Sweden, or Norway.
Two things are of interest; there is a new vigour in the UK, to going and doing things. What was unmitigated disaster some nine months ago, has now manifested into something more positive. Similarly, my colleagues in Switzerland are saying “2020 was our best year”, from technology services to  consumer drinks. However – this growth has all been domestic. We would like to see more outreach from Swiss companies internationally.
Ultimately, it will in both  the consumer/delegate, as well as vendor and organiser, to increase their appetite for being serious and implemting change. That thread is the common denominator  of both avenues.  It will be interesting to see in twelve months time, which industries and geo areas have risen to the challenge.,





We look at how the subtle growth of paid-for online Content, will be the revenue stream of choice for the charity and giving market. We focus on the SHEKINAH homeless charity in Plymouth and ask; is their model the way forward?

Charities are not backward when it comes to asking you and I for money. Every charity has it’s “please give me” column, it’s “terrible hardship” note, or “aspirational” look what we can do with your £5.00, and the list goes on.

They all sound so desperate and deserving in equal measure.

The problem is that in current times, the ordinary guy and family, have less disposable money to make the sort of contributions they used to do. And what is worse there is the hesitation of “what am I actually getting for my money. Feel-good factor is all very well but what about feeing your kids?

For many families, there are today’s choices, when for many, there is no comparison, and no option.

Except that maybe there is.

The growth of online Content has spawned a new payment process that allows Charities (and others), to charge nominal sums, in an instant, to read some of their published material. Instead of ticking the box to give a sum of money, the reader ticks the box to read something that stimulates him, that helps him understand better the charity involved – and in return, his small contribution, goes towards making a difference.

The SHEKINAH charity ( uses the EXODOX ( platform in Stockholm, to be the payment gateway. And it works like this.

SHEKINAH create a suitable article – which they publish either on their own site or on a third party News site, They install an EXODOX plugin – and create their unique payment account. They link their article to their payment account. And when you or I visit the Charity or News site, we click on the article, and pay usually £1.00 or so, to access the Content.

It is simple and immediate and you wonder why nobody had thought of this before. Maybe we were all waiting for “tap and go” and familiarity of card based transactions for pretty much not a lot.

But lots of “not a lot” mount up to “quite a lot”, thanks for asking.

The latest SHEKINAH article can be accessed at:



We look at the current Brexit paralysis and its affect on Uk and EU financial organisations

Whilst the recent dispensing of several of its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement by the UK Government has caused Uk business tremendous damage to its reputation and ability to get new business – a couple of key announcements published in the “L’Agefi” online newsletter in France, have crept under the radar unnoticed.

They should not have done so, as they are likely to have the more profound affect to the ordinary person and to pretty much every size of UK business.

It may come as no surprise that the giant AVIVA Insurance company in the UK has sold off its filiale in Paris AVIVA France. These things come and go. What is interesting is the timing, In the same French publication just a few days before, there was a larger discussion about the exit of UK financial firms generally from the EU.

It seems that UK companies, for so long holding out for a continuation of things as they are – which benefits the UK – have decided enough is enough. They are coming home.

On a purely domestic level, this coincides with announcements elsewhere that UK expats, will not be able to continue their UK bank accounts, if they live in EU. It is however – Ok in reverse. If you happen to live in the UK, but have your bank account in Paris – well, that will seem to work fine. I know that because LCL have just sent me a new Bank Card, complete with a personalised photo on the  front of the card, of some flowers in my garden. How nice.

My friend Victoria who lives in a flat in Paris, is very worried. The lack of financial passporting mentioned above, whilst inconvenient, is nowhere near as high an issue as the need to transfer qualifications – which threatens job viability – and quite apart from the shut down of ferry companies, who will no longer operate. And who can blame them? With some 7000 trucks planned to be parked up in fields in Kent, pending customs clearance – we are at the point of having customs-points next to Bromley South train station. More serious, is the lack of any physical card, that confirms residency and country rights. It is another Windrush in the making. In twenty years time, UK expats will not be able to physically prove, that they have UK rights, because the online IT Systems currently used, will be long gone. All of the above facilities that were free before, will now cost you and I money to get back to where we were, and with greater hassle.

As concerning as that is, UK businesses are in an even worse situation. We are now regularly seeing EU companies not wanting to enter into contractual terms with UK companies, because of concerns of contractual behaviour. And in order to efficiently handle financial simple tasks abroad, such as a simple clearance payment for good received or supplied – UK companies are being advised to set up their own EU office. Add to that the lack of mobility of long haul travel for the next six months or so, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see where UK companies are going to expand their business.

According to the newspapers in the UK, we are due for an increased unemployment phase, and there is a need for additional social security support. This is not the time for employees to lose jobs.

One would like to think that some sort of common sense will prevail, but our suspicion in the UK at least is that there are too many large corporate interests that are in direct opposition to the views and needs of the general public, who are both their employees and customers.

Perhaps we are too close to the action, here in the UK. Maybe it takes a French newspaper, to tell us what we should have seen from the beginning.



We look at important new ways for Charities to raise money, increase revenues, and ask – why are they so reluctant to do something new?


The conversation goes something like this. “I’m a Charity. And I have no money. But  I would like to save the world/Africa/the NHS… So – I would like to have some of YOUR money, because you are obviously richer than I, and you don’t need all of yours”.

This same approach also applies to related businesses, such as Theatres, the Arts, anywhere that there are good and valiant people  that are desperate for our immediate help. And it is unfair. The classic donation based revenue structure for charities is centred  around a guilt trip. Heavens, we must do something.  The home page of every Charity, large and small, is honed in like cruise missile, to get us to sign up. 

And we feel good about this. We have done our duty. People say that the “giving” of  presents at Christmas time, is better than the actual “receiving”.  Actually, I’m not too sure about that one, but you get the point.

And yes, some Charities try to offer a bribe – give us your money, and you get some vouchers for this or that, at whatever retail store or coffee place near you. I’ll drink to that.

And it is a pity because it misses the point. Firstly that the key asset that people are indeed interested in, is the depth of knowledge that you yourself have as a charity of many years standing, and that you currently either don’t talk much about or actually give away for free! And second – that people who are prepared to support you, will spend many times over their initial subscriptions etc each month, to buy access to your Content.

In short – your deeper knowledge as a Charity, about human nature, life’s experience, solutions and philosophies, has a commercial value. What is more, the technology exists to make that purchasing decision, simple, immediate.

Welcome to The Futureshapers.  What started out just a few years ago as a publishing platform for deeper business articles, by providing an instant payment mechanism for micro-payment amounts – a few pence here – a quid there – is rapidly becoming the de facto choice not only for businessmen, but for ordinary people  like you and I, to support the charities we wish to help.

There is no big monthly commitment. You just look at the material on the Charity website of your choice, click on the article, and that’s it. 

In theory this is a no-brainer, and you would have thought that there would be a queue of arts and good organisations just wanting to get involved.

Not so.  The stigma still exists that somehow, the fragrance of commercialisation gets in the way of the higher things that TFS and the public,  are very willing and indeed open to trying to do.  More so when you consider that the monthly readership of TFS Articles, is well into six figures, it makes commercial sense for any Charity to reshape their online strategy.

It is already clear, from, the increasing amount of subscription based Content available to us all online, that pay-per-read, is becoming the method of choice, for each of us to access the information we truly value.

If we have already proven to ourselves at last, that we value the good things that Charities are doing, then surely it is not too much to ask that the Charities themselves start to accommodate us – and in doing so, better accommodate the very people and projects they are trying to serve.


The Futureshapers can be contacted at;


Shall we forget about 2020? Not at all.

We take a moment to take a pause, and ask;  is it that we have two choices: either we accept that this year the cards were just stacked against us, and we   accept the doom prophesies. Or we don’t.   This article is a sequel to our earlier comment about humans and recessions. Sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for.

It is fashionable to be pessimistic these days. God knows we have enough right to be.  According to the mainstream media, the “economy” will tank both this year and next. But in the same pages, we learn that in the UK, house prices have reached their highest level since, well, the last time they reached that level. It’s all very confusing.

So conventional wisdom is to assume the worst.  Put what little money we have under the mattress. And do nothing.  In doing “nothing”, we create the very downturn and recession  we have been guarding against.  For some reason, we just love bad news, – and we pay the consequences for that.

The answer – is to do “something”. In fact, it is to do more than “something”. It is to take the view that you carry on as you had originally planned. Surprisingly, if you are that single minded and determined, things are likely to work out.

So what is the secret, of doing “something”?  There are five simple points of understanding.

First – by doing nothing or firing your people – you will not return  to the same place that you left; you will have less people, less experience, less competence, and your market will have less money. It’s a spiral; to the bottom.

Second – your pipeline is your future success. Cherish it, go after it. Silver linings will come back sooner rather than later.

Third – be innovative. Life indeed is not the same as it was. But it is unlikely that there is no demand for your solutions and competences. You just have to phrase it a different way.

Fourth – change your outreach. Forget sending emails, we all get too many, but do invest in video, Seeing is believing and virtual meetings do work.

And Finally – things never were easy. But as we come out of the darkness of COVID – now is the time to reap the rewards while others are still asleep.


We look at the concept that battening down the hatches in difficult times, is good for our corporate health, and ask; maybe it’s not so good for our health… We give an alternative RoadMap.

My good colleagues in our Insurance Clients, show me the data, and it goes something like this – those companies who abandon their marketing and sales ship in any ensuing storm – will lose around 23% of their revenues that year. And it will take them a further two years to recover.

I do “get” that the above scenario is tempting. Our Press and Media do not get our attention by publishing good news stories. The constant doom and gloom which populate all of our news feeds and Inboxes, gives the end of the world impression of reality.

Except that it is not reality. Our experience over the past two months, in monitoring our corporate colleagues and clients, is that it is a true case of “be careful what you wish for”. Maybe you haven’t thought this through…

The fact is that, how you proceed now – is a choice that you yourself will make. Your reaction to events is the same as any other business decision.

So…. This is how it is.

If you persist in treating your sales and marketing facility as a discretionary spend as opposed to an essential lifeline, then you cannot be surprised if your revenues shrink in the immediate and long term.

What we have found is that those companies that continue to go develop their business, do continue to build up their pipeline, and continue to get new business, come what may. We have seen an increase in Meetings, and very little difference between face/face meetings; and Virtual Meetings. Surprisingly, there is actually quite a positive buzz. Our own clients tell us  they have continued to win new projects.

The evidence we have, is that those companies who suddenly stop – will not be perceived as “serious” when the sun comes out and all this darkness goes away.

So what is the answer? We have a RoadMap which you might like  to consider:

1. Keep your marketing and direct sales efforts alive. People do understand the global situation, but they still want to see you and hear from you.

2. Don’t let your people go. The good people will not be there for you when you come back.

3. The longer you leave things, the more difficult it will be to ramp up again. This is because there will be exponentially more competition not necessarily in your space, but in the availability of your customer to see you.

4. Your excuse of using this period for “planning” – does not fly. The same pressures will soon apply as before, when you restart – expect that you will be in a worse state to achieve the results you need to get. You still have the office rent to pay, after all.

5. Remember that your key asset – as we are frequently told – are your people. They will indeed continue to be that – but you have to do your part too.