Entrepreneur. Educator. Influencer.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Networking in our post-Covid-19 reality

How will networking look like in our new reality? This was the question to which a very interesting Insead webinar tried to answer yesterday, 23rd of June, just as I was getting ready to celebrate Luxembourg's national day. First year when the public celebrations and gatherings were limited to twenty people. Or was it to hundred people? Nobody really seemed to know if I looked at the amount of people present in Kirchberg's central park. The weather was amazing so people enjoyed celebrating the national day by simply spending time together with their loved ones, friends or family. What could be more amazing that this type of celebration? For me it was perfect, with people I know, I appreciate and love spending time with.

But if you take a moment to look back at the last three months, among the three below, which best describes your approach to networking since the beginning of the pandemic?
a. focused on smaller/tighter network (people you already know)
b. about the same as before
c. engaged in growing/expanding network.
Usually in times of crisis, people tend to focus on what they know and this applies also to their relationships. I'm certainly one of those who have chosen a as an answer. I used the confinement to catch up with some old friends since more than 15 years, with some older friends aged over 65, I didn't really have much time to think about building new relationships. Because this is what networking is all about, in my opinion. 

Network: as you notice, the word "network" includes the word "work"; and because people like their zone of comfort, studies show that a surprising percentage of 90% of people don't make the effort to talk to people they don't know. Our friends are usually people we share values and interests with, and this means we also have access to similar knowledge.  


Thursday 4 June 2020

Most important things in life are unmeasurable

Would you apply ROI to running water? Or to the cooling system? Or to having WiFi in a hotel, for example? Many business people analyze investments and their returns to their extremes, but when it comes to digital transformation projects, the KPIs should no longer be the usual suspects, the digital transformation becoming essential to companies. Just like the most important things in life are unmeasurable. Because indeed, the success of the digital transformation will ultimately decide which companies will be winners and which ones will be losers, in the context of our continously increasing competitive market. If in the past our competitors were the guys across the street, whom we knew and understood, nowadays we compete in an international and digital environment.  

There were so many interesting insights in today's conversation on "Leading a data-driven transformation" with Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtiam Holding. I found him brilliant and very inspiring!
As much as we know about the human nature, people change only when there is a big need to change, when they're forced to do it; so any transformation is closely linked to changing the culture and the mindset of the organization. Which means it's essential to create the right context for a company's transformation. In the same time, a company also needs to right people, the best people to lead the company and keep it competitive on the long term. Therefore, helping the employees to continuously improve their skills has been a key element to the transformation in which Alain's company has successfully embarked since 2015, which included, for example, creating a training institute within the company. For your information, Majid Al Futtiam Holding builds and operates shopping malls, movie theaters and hotels. 
Then, the digital transformation should not and could not exist in absence of overall transformation. Another extremely strog point mentioned by Alain was that the most important element in any transformation process is the pace at which it happens, it has to keep moving, just like water. I absolutely loved this example because it's so powerful and easy to understand.  
Another very powerful example was the French fries when he talked about sharing the vision with the different teams in his organization; you can talk a lot about French friend and people would still not get  it. But it takes just one fry to make the difference: you taste it and then you get it. 
Being active in a brick and mortar business, Alain Bejjani mentioned how important is in the digital transformation process the ability of the executives to drive the advancement in the technology and to make it happen on the ground. In terms of data use and data protection, Alain highlighted that in most of the cases the data was already there. It used to be handwritten in the past and now is digital, therefore allowing a larger amount of people to access it, while respecting and complying with the GDPR regulations.

How can companies be a force for good and help consumers in their daily life? Alain mentioned a project in which his company's anonymized data can help governments with their policies on public health. I found fascinating the example of a project in the UAE shared by Alain. Imagine that you go to buy your groceries and upon payment you are informed of the number of calories acquired, let's say 12.000. Now imagine that you are offered the possibility to get the same type of groceries but with only 8.000 calories, by receiving recommendations for other similar products. An excellent example on how a company can focus on the customer value and have a huge impact in terms of health and well-being. 

The conclusion on today's discussion was “People first, People last!”, a great summary by professor Joerg Niessing, professor of marketing, who moderated the discussion with David Dubois, also a brilliant professor of marketing at INSEAD. 

Thank you, Insead, for such a stimulating discussion!

#neverstoplearning #marketing #communication
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