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When pitching US market research solutions in the EU, be aware of a different privacy regulative environment. The reason for this short post is that US developers of market research (MR) technologies appear to be unaware that their technologies may not be allowed in the EU (or their functionality severely limited).
In the past week, I have been contacted by several developers intending to present at the IIeX-EU event in Amsterdam that gasp when they learn that they may be subject to the EU regulative framework. For instance, many regions in Europe prohibit the use of CCTV to track customer movement, others limit the use of GPS technologies and still others prohibit the aggregation of data from different sources as it invades the customer’s privacy (basically you can identify an individual which is usually restricted). Yesterday I was asked: “How do marketers manage to work in Europe?” My answer: “They really don’t; they are confined to advertising.” That said, there is no need to panic even if you are presenting next week in Amsterdam. What you need to is this:
Speak with a lawyer that knows the EU privacy regulative framework inside out and outline briefly where your technology may conflict with these regulations.
If your technology does conflict with the EU regulations, do not despair – just open with a statement such as: “We are aware that our technology may not be fully implemented in Europe due to a stricter privacy regulative environment, but we want to demonstrate its full potential so that you may select what components may be of interest to your company.” EU managers are wary of the privacy regulations, so gunning ahead without that type of disclaimer may cause them to stop listening right there. The reason is that if they perceive it as a potential risk in terms of invading customer privacy, they will immediately decide not to explore it further.
Once the disclaimer is established, knowing exactly where your technology enters into the EU regulative red zone allows you to state that during the presentation itself. That removes the immediate barrier and encourages the audience to seek you out after your presentation.
When the presentation is complete and you are approached, find out from them what they can do with your technology. Be more ears than mouth at this stage – it will save you a lot of time and enable you to follow-up using their own ideas as to how to introduce your technology to Europe.
See you in Amsterdam.
When the credit system collapsed in 2008, I was asked which economy I thought would recover first: the EU or the US. My answer: “The US because it is driven by people that want to succeed while Europeans prefer to be taken care of.” This week, I attended a market research and technology conference in Philadelphia, The Insight Innovation Exchange, where this observation was not only proven but greatly amplified. I used to live in Boston where I worked in the market research field and considered myself fairly up to date as to what was at the forefront of market research technology and insight generation. Little did I know what this conference held in store.
The first day, I was exposed to presentations that made me realize that I was not a little bit behind – I needed a landspeeder in order to catch up! The first presentation was ‘Fizzy Visuals: 12 Years Evolution of Reporting Insights with Coca-Cola‘ given by ace presenter Patricio Pagani of Infotools. He clearly demonstrated how large customers can be brought straight into the development phase that results in solutions and services that are tailored to customer needs. Infotools has not only done so for Coca-Cola; they also list Microsoft, Ford, Audi, BMW, Mazda and Viacom as their clients which proves that their method works wonderfully. Listening to Patricio was a great experience and of tremendous value to entrepreneurs and solutions providers of practically any size, type and geographic location.
Next up was a presentation by Nick McCracken, Product Innovation Research Manager at Ford, titled ‘Creating a Truly Global Marketing Research Function‘. He began by illustrating what the condition of Ford was once the crash hit and car sales plummeted. For many companies, such a sudden decline in sales means downsizing upon downsizing until nothing is left and the company evaporates into thin air. Nick, however, showed how Ford managed to regain market trust and loyalty through groundbreaking market research techniques and attention to customer expectations, wants and needs, and succeeded in bringing sales back to pre-crash levels. One example that really hit home was the observation that we usually have our hands full when attempting to open the trunks of our cars. How about this concept?
There is much more going on at Ford that can be directly traced back to effective market and consumer research and this conference really brought it all out. If other conferences are hits, the IIeX is a ‘Best of‘ album. Gasping for air, I both dreaded and looked forward to what was to follow. I also realized that the US is not years ahead of Europe; it is decades as these selected presentation titles show:
- The Power of “Wow”: Emotional Valence in Social Media (David Johnson, CEO, Decooda)
- It’s Not The Size Of The Data, But What You Can Do With It (Zachary Nippert, Chief Marketing Officer, MotiveQuest)
- Technology Frontiers: Text, Sentiment, and Sense (Seth Grimes, Principal Consultant, Alta Plana Corporation)
- It’s Not Mobile Research, It’s Research In a Mobile World (Bob Yazbeck, Vice President, Digital Methods, Gongos Research)
- Listen In: How to Gain Insights from Conversations (Frank Cotignola, CIM, Global Analytics and Digital Insights, Mondelez International)
This box of confectionaries was of course followed by a main course: ‘Expert Panel: Big Data or Big Brother? Ethics & Regulations in a Data-Rich World‘ featuring:
- Tom H. C. Anderson, Text Analytics Champion, Anderson Analytics/OdinText
- Peter Milla, Principal Consultant, Peter Milla Consulting/CASRO
- Steve Cohen, Co-Founder, In4mation Insights
- Jason Raguso, Leader, O2 Integrated (a Gongos enterprise)
- Neil Seeman, CEO/Senior Resident, The Riwi Corporation/Massey College, University of Toronto
- Brian Cain, Vice President, Global Market Research & Analytics, Merck & Co., Inc.
- Phil Davis, CEO, Rapleaf
- Gina Sverdlov, Consumer Insights Analyst, Forrester Research
This was only the first half of day one; there were two more days of this! The entire schedule is available here so you can see what you missed if you were elsewhere occupied. This is only beginning, however, so keep an eye on the IIeX; it will only get better. Now, attempting to summarize this great event in a blog is like attempting to describe the picture below using a typewriter (if unsure what a typewriter is, click here):
Each day ended in a networking event hosted by various firms involved with the IIeX conference. These events were held at bars or restaurants and enabled a free-flowing dialogue between solutions and service providers, potential customers (usually in the Fortune 500 category), VCs, consultants, and visionaries like Ari Popper, who gave an incredible lecture on how science fiction can project the future and then sent us through an exercise that forced us to really consider what the future may hold in store for us. Most of us have gone through such exercises before, but few have completed them with Fortune 500 managers on their team. The World Bank also had a presence there which indicates that market research and related technology is taken quite seriously at the highest levels and for good reason; the better we can project the future, the better our growth strategies will be (and I personally believe it will culminate in ‘individual choice‘ as opposed to ‘economic means‘).
So, to spiral back to where I started, the IIeX conference is a prime example why the US will, in my opinion, maintain its leadership position as far as innovation and market drive are concerned, at least in the foreseeable future. Where else in the world can a blender like the IIeX be established that allows businesses to form partnerships, seek mentors and advice, forge strategic alliances, meet privately with major corporations, interact with VCs, give presentations to a highly receptive audience, and become a part of something much larger? This is a new model that creates energy of a type I have never experienced before. It was as if the air itself was electrified and when conference came to its conclusion, I not only felt up to date; I felt as if I had gained a vision of what is to come over the next 3 years (I want to say 5 but that is an eternity given current pace of things). To finish, this entire concept is cooked up by a handful of visionaries that have both the ability to envision it and to execute it to perfection!
It is the US that will propel the world forward through futuristic thinking and innovation while Europe hesitates to take risks and overthinks everything. Life is about taking risks for safety leads straight to stagnancy (as Kyle Nel, International and Multicultural Research, Lowe’s Home Improvement, pointed out during our panel titled ‘Data Philanthropy: Channeling Information To Drive Public Sector Innovation‘. That is where I fear Europe is heading unless the Horizon 2020 EUR 80 billion EC fund is deployed with actual monetization strategies and growth targets as leading concerns. Play is safe and those billions will be wasted. Bring in that market savvy and business drive from the US as part of the free trade agreement between the two regions, and Europe may find itself with more business intelligence firms than just SAP. Europe has slept for too long; it is time to wake up.
Most businesses start on an individual with an idea. The second step is usually selecting partners to develop that idea. ‘No man is an island entire of itself,” wrote John Donne (1572-1631) in his Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (Meditation XVII, 1624), “every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Most of us realize this, but we tend to make mistakes when implementing it by selecting partners. While it is only natural to make mistakes when assembling partners for the first time, there are some simple methods that can be used to prevent these first-time partnership exercises from becoming problematic. Having known someone for decades is not a valid reason for a partnership; it can actually have the reverse effect and be a disaster.
Some people seem unable to form strong, lasting partnerships while others succeed in doing so time and again. While talent comes into play, the key success factors are focus, vision and strategic thinking. Consider partners to be ingredients in a donut: Would you pour a batch of liquorice into the batter? Probably not, so before selecting a partner, ask yourself the following three questions:
Q1. Do I really need a partner?
The answer depends on whether or not a partner is essential in building the business. If you can build it yourself, you have no need for a partner just yet; you may be looking for a contractor instead. If a partner is essential, the next question is:
Q2. Why do I need a partner?
A partner is not supposed to do your work or enable you to work less. Your laziness is not a valid reason to give away part of your business. Doing so is plain silly but many do so nonetheless. A partner either has some specific skill or access to a network that is absolutely vital to getting your business off the ground. A partner can also double you up in case your workload is too great, but for IT start-ups that suggests business inefficiencies that have to be dealt with or your business may fail. If you manage to determine why you need a partner, the next question is:
Q3. Whom should I partner with?
This is where things can get tricky as you enter into the realm of personal interaction. If you have 5 different people on your radar but can select only one, which one do you pick and why? You have to be very cold and calculating; this is your business and the wrong selection may cause it to fail. Still, this process is uncomfortable for most which is why so many mistakes are made. Fortunately, there is a way to do this is an impersonal but constructive manner that will actually make you look good no matter whom you pick. We call it:
PASCO – THE PARTNERSHIP SCORECARD
The Partnership Scorecard – PaSco – is based on core business areas and lets you and potential partners determine your combined strengths and weaknesses (it is also very effective for employee recruitment but that is another discussion entirely). We use PaSco internally and also on client businesses to improve overall efficiency levels and reduce ‘fat‘. The core business areas addressed are:
- Management & Operations (e.g. Corporate innovation, Strategic management, Communication)
- Finance & Economics (e.g. Capital budgeting, Investment banking and analysis, Econometrics)
- Marketing & Sales (e.g. Campaign management, Lead generation, Profitability and market analysis)
- Legal (e.g. Commercial lending, Corporate taxation, International trade and tax law)
Each section is broken down into 20 or more subcategories, which potential partners check based on whether their strength in that specific category is High, Medium or Low. As you did this too, the consolidated scorecard will award points reflecting the summation of your scores and theirs; providing you with clear overview of how individual candidates stack up against you. The last thing you want is a partner that doubles you up; you are looking for a partner that is strong where you are weak!
The image to the left are actual client results that clearly indicate operational strengths and weaknesses. Based on the charts, Financial and Legal skills are weak and next in line as far as partners are concerned, whereas marketing and sales are less important (digging deeper, however, reveals that while Marketing is strong, Sales is weak, so there is an argument toward pumping up the sales department).
With this type of mapping in place, the personal element is replaced by hard facts. The gap in business operations has to be bridged to even out the slices and the candidate that delivers the best results – i.e. makes the slices more uniform – ought to be selected. The PaSco approach disarms to candidates not selected and actually provides them with valuable insight into how a strong business foundation is established. They learn from this and that makes you look good regardless of whether you select them or not, thereby neutralizing the ‘personal‘ factor.
If you have already screened candidates properly, there should be no non-factual elements to disrupt the verdict such as ‘Do I want to work with this one‘ or ‘I’d rather work with that one.’ If you find yourself doing that, return to Question 3 above. This is your business we are talking about; not a fishing trip.
If you would like more information on the Partnership Scorecard, contact us.
There are 7,105 known living languages in the world. Cloud-based business solutions have to address at least the top 10. Without local language support, a cloud company has to rely on target audience professional language skills which can be problematic. While someone may be very good at reading and writing common English, that same individual may be completely at a loss when it comes to words and terms relating to his or her profession. A marketing professional from Stuttgart may have read the entire Stephen King ‘Dark Tower‘ series without missing a word only to get stuck on a platform that asks: Please enter unit contribution for incremental cost analysis.
Anyone know what a ‘question wagon‘ is? This is an Icelandic market research term and it is introduced here to illustrate the language problems associated with professional terms and phrases. If you understand a ‘question wagon‘ to be ‘survey‘, you are correct. This type of scenario is typical in professional environments and we must remember that one of the primary skills associated with any business degree or profession is linguistic command; the actual application is literally dependent on it. If we lack the words, we cannot communicate effectively; if we cannot communicate, we cannot execute. As a result, the tools we use to develop our strategies and tactics become less useful.
Cloud companies tend to be reluctant to offer localized version of their webs due to loss of central control; i.e. the partners handle local sections. When it comes to platform localization, the problem becomes that of magnitude; the task may simply be too great for partners to handle. Both concerns are valid but there are ways around these problems. By breaking the GLOCAL approach in two sections – web and user platform (i.e. user interface) – we are left with two challenges:
- How to maintain multilingual webs.
- How to maintain multilingual dashboards.
The top 10 languages of the world are (parenthesis reflect what percentage of world population uses each one):
- Mandarin (14.1%)
- Spanish (5.85%)
- English (5.52%)
- Hindi (4.46%)
- Arabic (4.23%)
- Portuguese (3.08%)
- Bengali (3.05%)
- Russian (2.42%)
- Japanese (1.92%)
- Punjabi (1.44%)
In order to provide sufficient local content to capture target audiences, the website has to provide some content in the local language. This is not a complete translation of online materials, just what is most important such as:
- The sales pitch: Targeted material as to how the company and its platform leads to customer success.
- Peer pressure: A list of local customers with quotes and local media coverage.
- Contact info: Localized support makes most business managers – buyers – feel more at ease with their decision to buy.
This content can be delivered on 2 – 3 pages by the partners, who then use direct links for marketing purposes. The only issue the company needs to decide on is how may local urls it wants to secure. It is a considerable investment, but for a serious company it is one of the keys to staying at the competitive forefront.
Dashboards and cloud applications require partners to do some more work, however. Sometimes, this is best left to professional translating agencies for two reasons:
- Partners may not be talented copywriters which renders the text clumsy.
- Partners are supposed to actively engage the market and this activity may slow them down.
Still, partners know their market and how to approach it which renders them ideal to lead this effort. One of the main challenges is that dashboards and platforms cannot be condensed as localized web pages can; it is an all-or-nothing affair. In order to make this step easier, it is highly recommended that developers use a separate language table rather than fixing the language in the code itself. Partners are then directed to translate these tables and maintain them; it is simply part of their responsibility. This design issue is often overlooked when planning cloud applications and while it may work initially, it creates problems once the company attempts to go global. In some cases, tearing the application apart and piece it back together with proper language controls in necessary, but that is a step most CEOs hesitate to take and for good reason.
Cloud cooperation is one thing; efficient cooperation quite another. Partners need to become more involved in localization activities so they can capture their own sections of the world. In order for this to happen, the cloud company needs to ask itself whether or not it wants to apply the GLOCAL approach or not. If it decides against it, it risks losing market share to local competitors.
Cloud computing … can anything be more vague? A cloud is a mist that cannot be clearly defined and I am seeing that reflected in many business strategies out there. For you that have not given this term much thought, I recommend clicking on the image to the left; it will lead you to a world filled with unclear phrases such as “… the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams …“, “… sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network …” and that the “… origin of the term cloud computing is obscure, but it appears to derive from the practice of using drawings of stylized clouds to denote networks in diagrams of computing and communications systems.”
For some peculiar reason, pitching SaaS services (henceforth termed ‘service’ for legibility reasons) as ‘cloud-based‘ is in many cases a sufficiently strong argument for business managers and professionals to take things seriously. I attend sales meetings quite frequently and have noticed the effect the word ‘cloud‘ has in these scenarios. It does not seem to matter how strong – or weak – the service is or how impressed the target audience is; once the word ‘cloud‘ is uttered, gasps and nods follow as if Moses just came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments raised above his head. The only thing ‘cloud‘ really says is that ‘We host your data and provide you with a web-based interface to work with it.’ So? Does anyone remember the AltaVista translator? That was cloud. Google is cloud, Netscape (I was actually at AOL when these two fought for market leadership, so that link is quite gratifying) is cloud, most statistical agencies on the planet are cloud. So what makes ‘cloud‘ such a sales clincher?
I have begun to suspect that the market likes the word since it offers both sides a handy shortcut; sales people can dodge explaining how everything is pieced together and buyers can appear knowledgeable – both look smart and everyone is happy. There are some big problems associated with this shortcut, however. Many cloud services lack proper support as their go-to-market strategies are not properly thought through. Anyone with basic skills can build a cloud application. The most basic one is setting up a web page using this code (if you copy it into Notepad and change the ending from .txt to .html, right click and open in browser, you have taken your first step into the realm of cloud computing):
<p><strong>Need help with your Marketing Strategy?</strong></p>
<p>I have tons of experience there.</p>
<a href=”mailto:email@example.com?subject=I need help with my Marketing
Strategy” class=”button”>Contact me</a>
Not very fancy, but it does provide a service and uses code to deliver it – sending an email. It could be expanded to convert monetary time series into uniform currencies and aggregate data frequency into a calculating matrix (e.g. for international portfolio management, investment analysis or market research), but that little snippet is actually the essence of how cloud applications work. So how many will gasp now when they hear that word?
To me, ‘cloud‘ means much more than just providing something that works on the internet; it means servicing customers at the local level and that is where most ‘cloud‘ based companies hit a wall (and now I will address you developers directly):
You may have the best platform on the planet but still fail against a third-rate system simply because they provide local support and you do not!
There is a myriad of ‘cloud‘ solutions appearing every hour but only a handful make it past month twelve. Most perish, mainly because they lack a solid go-to-market strategy outlining how the service will be leveraged internationally or, more precisely, how the company intends to go truly global. A ‘cloud‘ service has to have centers in all target locations or local competitors will block them; it is as simple as that. If you are based in Colorado and want to attack France, get a French partner that will drive the effort by providing local support or local competitors will steal your customers (getting a customer that has already begun using one platform to change over to a competing platform is very difficult and expensive). Although it is an old term, GLOCAL should guide all ‘cloud‘ marketing and expansion strategies.
Google, Microsoft, IBM, SAP and most of the leading ICTs established global partner networks early on to drive their sales efforts. It worked and they are now international market leaders. Why emerging SaaS providers do not use that strategy is very odd and, in my opinion, a fatal mistake. First, if you are located in the English-speaking country, you can forget penetrating Europe except for Malta and the UK. You may get a few deals, but local entities will seize the market from under your feet simply because they offer localized services. I am seeing high quality cloud platforms being rejected here in Iceland as the localization element is missing, but I truly do not blame developers for leaving this 319 thousand people market for last. Still, we have an internet penetration rate of 96.62% (click on image left; source) so overall penetration rate will be considerable.
To continue on that tangent, many cloud developers use Iceland as a test market. It is absolutely ideal for this type of market testing, especially in terms of trying out different strategies before rolling them out to larger markets such as Germany, France, Japan, China, Brazil and South Africa. We at IceStat and the Icelandic Development Agency receive on average 3 inquiries a month from ‘cloud‘ developers from the US, EU and Asia but are very selective in who we work with. We urge ‘cloud‘ developers to adopt the GLOCAL ideology if they want to own their respective niches. We are well positioned to run strategic marketing tests here in a controlled environment that can be scaled up for attacks on larger markets. Capturing key sectors and market segments in the US or EU is difficult and time consuming; up here it is easy and fast. Make use of it!
When you go cloud, go all the way. In technical terms, the cloud may be described as the “… sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network …“
In strategic terms, that translates to:
“… sharing of resources to achieve market leadership at the local level similar to an organization (like the United Nations) over a well-integrated and cohesive partnership network.”
The word ‘cloud‘ may be great for sales, but it causes developers to forget what really matters – the customer.