This Week In Conscious Capitalism

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Just a quick list of conscious capitalism activity over the past few weeks and some thoughts...

1. Nordstrom deciding to no longer carry Ivanka Trump products

This one in particular is interesting because the ongoing discussion on 45's influence over his business interests while in office. Also see Kelly Anne Conway's remarks, because seriously wtf?    

2. Uber's apology here following JFK surge pricing during taxi strike. And the eventual step down of CEO, Travis Kalanick's from Trump's business advisory council. Also related, LYFT's reaction. 

3. AirBNB's super bowl ad or just about every super bowl ad this year.

4. Amazon Dash Button for ACLU

This is probably my favorite of the examples this week. As it incorporated the latest in consumer behavior and product innovation. It also targets a user base with a timely need.

Regarding all the interest and questions don't align so much with concerns about how genuine these moves are for the mentioned companies as much as these actions further proving that all corporate strategy moves have an economic factor in mind. So while we may praise a retailer for dumping a brand just remember that finance can explain just about everything. 


Related to the above is what's happening to Under Armour at the moment. Perhaps no other clothing brand has diversified and experienced growth quite like UA has. They've made their target clear (opening up offices in Portland) and have signed some of the biggest names in sports. Their growth, fueled by a mix of diversifying at the right time and integrating technology as well any brand, was increasing at + 40% YOY since 2014. How unfortunate would it be if a company like UA were to experience the effects of conscious consumerism after comments made from CEO Kevin Plank. The concept of a consumer's moral alignment affecting a brand should be explored a little deeper (maybe the next white paper). It certainly raises questions about how far a company should extend it's influence on social issues if it leads to financial impact. And if that company is sports or entertainment oriented, good luck not being affected by reactions from celebrities and athletes like The Rock, Steph Curry and Misty Copeland.

The Inevitable Intersection of Agencies and Consultancies

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

A lot has been written about the changing competitive landscape of advertising and the need for the model to change. Way back in 2010 when I first joined JWT, which turned out to be an opportunity of incredible professional and personal growth for me, I began to see those areas where ad agencies could benefit from investing in, namely, technology consulting, marketing automation, and more specifically analytics. This recent article in Ad Age has led to a number of healthy discussions as of late and I want to briefly share some thoughts on where agencies still have an advantage and provide context on just why consultancies are very well positioned to compete. In many ways, competition here is dependent on who it is that clients will trust as technology and marketing increasingly intersect.

"Growth Practices" has become a common term on both the agency and consultancy side as I've personally experienced building and trying to compete with new offerings in market in both industries. On the agency side, it's more common than not to see an agency try and build an offering around analytics, CX and consulting capabilities. The traditional consulting firms, have done a great job on the acquisition side in bringing in capabilities they otherwise may have had a difficult time building out right from within, like branding, channel strategy, design...the softer side of marketing. And therein lies one factor that is key to the race to the middle; do we build or acquire? 

M&A in this context gets complicated quickly. If one industry leader (hypothetically, Trader Joes) merges with another (Sprouts) that shares similar capabilities and offerings, integration has a better chance of occurring. The profile of employees, processes, capabilities, and functional expertise among it's leaders, etc are disparate at best when you compare a traditional ad agency to a consultancy. Both, if they want to build from within, need to look for completely different profile of employees, make culture decisions, get buy in from existing department heads, and find a way to bring to market a new offering with existing revenue streams. But it does look like consultancies have a done a decent job integrating acquired agencies as both Deloitte (Banyan Branch, Heat ) and Accenture (Fjord, Karmarama) have brought in capabilities they took to market rather quickly with existing digital services.

These agencies don't just have capabilities consultancies can fill gaps with, they have positioned themselves to be trusted advisors to CMOs. They also supplement existing consultancy offerings that enable marketing execution (AB testing, big data, CRM). Agencies on the other hand still have the ear of the CMO, and if they build complimentary value services from within, or acquire and integrate efficiently, can lead CMOs as they take on work that intersects more and more with the office of the CIO/CTO. 

How much work consultancies are winning from agencies is a little unknown, but it's happening. And one reason is that traditional agency work, owned by the CMO, has been slowly converging with that which is managed by the CTO as technology has become instrumental in channel planning and execution. This is where, IMO, the race is. As the CTO and CMO work closer together, which will be the trusted advisor, the agency or the consultancy?



This Week in Provocations

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Just when I thought I had one solid issue to focus on this week with the travel ban and subsequent provocation by Iran's missile test, then Trump's provocation back putting the nation on "notice," Berkeley happens. As of this afternoon an adjacent reaction was seen on Reddit as they shut down an alt-right community

A quick note on freedom of speech...while I agree with the notion that we can share any view we like, there is something to be said about limiting acts that may cause others to react in a destructive way. As this pertains to Berkeley, how was Milo showing up to speak not an act of provocation and one that, given the social climate, wouldn't cause a less favorable reaction from Berkeley residents? I suppose it can also be summed up as..."know your audience."

If some of the activity this week is an indication...perhaps we should start tracking these provocations  as signals. I sense we've moved beyond a place where we make statements for the sake of positioning a message or making a point...we are now seeing counter reactions which are rising tensions further than most of us would hope. The other side of the this coin...perhaps that's what is needed for some progress. 

2017 MBA Rankings

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Every January pre and post MBA graduates anxiously wait for the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings. If not to create a list of target Business Schools, to see if it's worth touting their school's global ranking amongst the most elite of schools worldwide. 

I recall creating that list in 2010 with three in mind; Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Business School, and IE Business School. The list narrowed to the one school offering a balanced mix of functional areas of academic expertise I was interested in (entrepreneurship, digital marketing, OB) and social setting that is hard to rival. An environment where your colleagues represent over 70 nations and countless social political views. I chose IE Business school in Madrid and cannot reccomend the international rigorous MBA experience enough to colleagues and friends considering an MBA. 

I want to provide a short list of impressions and suggestions when deciding which school to choose. 


Pre MBA:

1. The network matters

 A top business school program offers the opportunity to work alongside to high performers at top firms around the world. They will open doors a degree itself cannot. Targeting a program with strong ties to a company or industry of interest is a smart approach; Kellogg and marketing, Columbia and Finance, Stanford and Entrepreneurship. 

2. Grades don't matter

Google shared some thoughts on this (Goldman may not agree). As it applies to positioning yourself post MBA and concern for a GPA, don't be deterred by schools that grade on forced curves. It makes for a rigorous and competitive environment, and much more emphasis is applied in the learning, and not just scoring high marks that align with professor or standardized approaches to complex work. 

3. International or stay home?

I wont' make the case for international, but the differences are clear. Global network, foreign wedding invites, social and political challenges leading to real understanding and and everyone in your program making one foreign city your home. That type of environment makes for challenges and great opportunities to build lasting connections.

Home is home; much easier to assimilate, closer to family, less bureaucracy, less paperwork. Comfortable. Probably cheaper.


Post MBA

1. Leveraging that ranking

Are rankings emblematic of your personal academic achievement, perhaps? At the very least, if your school is ranked high, one can infer you got into and graduated from a rigorous respected program. That carries some weight. 

2.  Staying connected

Some of my closest personal friends are those I worked alongside at IE. We attend each others weddings, travel together, share industry and professional insights regularly, and know if any of us need a hand we have a strong network to leverage. There is quite a bit of truth in the notion that you get to know people best by working alongside them. And in a rigorous setting you really expose yourself personally and intellectually which to some may not sound attractive, but it lends to experiences that connect. 




Is My Organization Prepared for Machine Learning?

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

As cognitive computing platforms are becoming increasingly familiar in the marketplace, a usual conversation I have with clients revolves around the following two questions:

1.     Where is the differentiation in cognitive computing platforms?

2.     Am I ready for cognitive computing?

That second question is the one I pose after we’ve discussed the benefits of cognitive computing, or applying machine learning to data.

Associated with this latter question is the level of insight an analyst, a marketer, or a publicist, is able to work with. So I want to briefly touch on levels of insights as a topic to determine how ready an organization may be for the investment (time, people) of taking on cognitive computing as a resource.

Insights are, in large part, subjective. Take for instance the identification of a new competitor in the market. X competitor appears to be active in MENA. To one observer this may be considered as a meaningful insight, as they now have context for a competitive landscape. We’ll tag this example as a Level 1 (competitor) and level 2 (where they compete) insight. Now, this would beg the question, what would be a level 3, or a level 4… a level 7 be?

This is where deep learning can take you. Level 3 could be identification of the product being sold; product X. Level 4 could be an understanding of the conversations driving need for the product. Level 5 may address stated vs actual needs being addressed by product X, and so on. One platform can deliver various levels of insight that traditionally would require several vendors and research methods, but can one analyst act on these levels of insight? Can your publicist react to a real time discussion about how your product is inferior to another because the ingredients may cause skin irritation on two different marketing channels and with enough context to appear informed and inform others while doing so? Do you have capable copywriters with an editorial strategy to address product and industry trends in real time, with content approvals processes in place, to distribute content and engage audiences on various channels?

What we arrive at is the idea that an insight needs to be actionable, and while that’s a term widely used, I don’t think it’s understood in its entirety. It’s not actionable merely because it provides deeper levels of context, it should be actionable because you have a process designed, perhaps a governance strategy, and a digital toolset to help you act on it; to write the editorial response through various channels at once, set an email alert that drops to a colleague in a different department and geography the moment something is flagged as a significant insight from forums and blogs in a specific geography in southeast Asia, etc.

Other things to consider:

·      Do I have capable analysts that will know where to look for insights?

·      Do I need a data scientist to run a classification engine and teach the machine to bucket accurate associations to topics of interest?

·      Lastly, do I have a good partner (vendor/agency) for this?

The simple answer to understanding whether your team or broader organization is prepared for machine learning or DL, lies in your ability to act on the insights derived from these practices. Otherwise, it may be costly, time consuming, and leave you with a so what reaction to something that allows you to dive a little deeper into data.

The upside? The learning’s I’ve seen with DL can be remarkable. Imagine using only one or two data sources (twitter, and TV/Radio) to get to a level 7-type insight, in real time?