10 Perspectives to Digest for 2019

We are entering the last year of the 2010s. One year from 2020, a year painted as the poster child of human advancement and something of a sci-fi fantasy. From all I can tell, we haven’t exactly accelerated into a Jetson reality of flying cars, robot maids, and buildings in the clouds, but we do have Sophia the first humanoid robot citizen of Saudi Arabia, the beginnings of currency beyond government-driven assets, and a shift in everyday living, retail, and consumerism as proposed by Faith Popcorn where everything we need and could want is available via our homes and/or our mobile devices (otherwise known as “cocooning”).

As resolutions and grand plans waltz together in the hearts and minds of the collective, I offer a few of my own perspectives on society, work, life and the challenges we ought to be focused on as we approach a new decade.

Here are 10 perspectives for you to digest in 2019 and beyond:

  1. Lose the notion of “best-in-class”, “best practices”, “best-of-breed”. What seems to be the “best” is in the eye of the beholder. What your company deems a “best practice” is seldom the best set of solutions for your competitor. What works best for you in your life is not likely the blueprint for another human being. We have spent decades trying to be the best and create the best. Scenarios change. People change. Each passing moment diminishes the likelihood that something will be best or even suit the needs of those your practice or product are meant to impact. Focus on making a positive impact. Do your best whether through practice, action, or developing a product. Focusing on positive outcomes on a consistent basis is the best thing you can offer anyone.
  2. How can we be creating things in the likeness of a human when we have yet to perfect being human? Nobody loves the prospect of the future and technology more than I do (well maybe Elon Musk). My concern is we are creating things in our image when we have yet to perfect what it means to be human. Let’s face it we are failing at humanity currently and have been just passing to borderline failing at being human for some time now. We’re smart enough as a species, but can we honestly say we have lived this human existence to the best of our ability? It is likely that we are creating things like AI and robots in an effort to pass the buck on this human existence thing. There is still time to get it right. The question is are we up for the task?
  3. Fewer resolutions and more resolving to do a little better every day. Who are you trying to impress with your “new me, new year, who dis” posts? Better yet is this thing you plan to change or you wanted to be accountable to something you’re even passionate about? Most resolutions are baseless. When you resolve to change or accomplish something typically you have either grown tired or weary from the anguish and/or unfortunate outcomes a situation has brought to your life. In other words, those things that really caused you the most suffering in previous years are more likely to be a true catalyst of change rather than social coercion to make a random resolution. Change because it is necessary for you to do so, not because it’s popular.
  4. There is only so much that can be achieved in a given year, so cut yourself some slack. I am guilty of assuming I could conquer the world in a year and then some. The truth is there have been years when I achieved all goals on the list and years where I achieved everything but what I set out to do. This life is a journey. Some years we are prepping the field. Other years we are planting and yet other years we are reaping from the fruits of our labor. Set goals, but leave some wiggle room for serendipity, failures, and setbacks. They are all a part of the process.
  5. Are you good? Are you well? Do these questions make you uncomfortable? Wellness and wellbeing aren’t just some new age hippie concepts. People are suffering. Your employees are suffering some in small ways and others in some profound ways. Your pursuit of market domination is largely to blame too. You can’t operate in an industry that employs human beings to perform work and not be concerned with their wellbeing. I mean you could do that, but the road forward is looking disastrous. Prioritize your wellbeing and make sure your people do the same.
  6. Hippies in HR. Yes, this is a thing. I spoke at an event this year where we got into a debate about the need to do our jobs as HR practitioners in a way that adds to the greater good. In other words, can we be effective at our jobs by being ethical and human-centric while also focusing on impacting the bottom-line? It may seem like an old gripe, but it is front and center for younger practitioners who have yet to be initiated into an HR ecosystem only concerned with being seen as something more than a support function. The younger practitioner I spoke with said Hippie HR needs to be a thing. What do you think?
  7. Data isn’t our problem, accountability is. According to Forbes Contributor, Bernard Marr we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. We have produced 90% of the data we have currently in the past two years. Having more data to equip us with better insights isn’t any longer an issue. The issue we have is we have no clue how to slice and dice the data to get to the crux of some of our more pressing issues. Even more disturbing is the fact that in some cases we are refusing to do the data cleansing and storytelling for fear of what it will reveal about our practices, outcomes, intentions etc. If we were that transparent we would actually have to be accountable to fixing some things rather than parading accolades that make us seem like we are doing the right things. More accountability, please?
  8. Be careful. Your bias is showing. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity is either part of the fabric of your company or you are simply looking to skate by on hiring the one or two poster humans that will serve to show how “hard” you are trying not to be diverse and inclusive. At this point, it would be much easier on diverse groups of people if you simply say in your job description that you are intolerant. You should simply have your CEO deliver a personal video message on your career website stating that you see no necessity in promoting the interests of a variety of people. He or she should say they are afraid of reasonable accommodations and have no desire to learn which is why you lack differently-abled people in your workforce. Your bias is showing and you will lose every time. Masking it doesn’t make it any less obvious. We see you.
  9. Control is a disease. You can’t control anything but yourself. The deafening cry to end hierarchy isn’t because the hippies of the world of work just want to obliterate it; it should be reimagined because it is an old framework that has very little utility in our modern world. Every system we have created through the decades is flawed in some way. Nonetheless, the inherent flaws are ones we can manage so long as there is overall utility in using a particular process or control within a given time and circumstance. The abuses of power have been many and much of it has hinged on these tightly-wound organizational structures that were meant to wield power from the top leaving an unhealthy lack of power further down the food chain. How can we evenly distribute power without relinquishing the necessary order and structure needed for the run of a profitable business?
  10. Privacy and boundaries take center stage. It’s fair to say there is no such thing as privacy. Every day there are breaches exposing us and our information in ways we couldn’t imagine a decade ago. Platforms like Facebook are busy selling our data to companies unbeknownst to us. Is privacy the new luxury? We started the decade with the message that sharing of information is the new currency. It’s possible that the end of the decade will bring more talk of sharing less and having more boundaries around how much of ourselves we give to the matrix and each other.

I almost gave you 19 perspectives, but I think these 10 perspectives are enough to chew on for now. My hope is that you walk away from this article with a more expansive focus on all of the things impacting the humans we employ, service, and the ecosystems we are all playing in. Increasingly, we have to step outside of our oftentimes narrow focus on executing HR or business strategy to see clearly where we can improve what we do.

Wishing you all a prosperous, balanced, and insightful 2019 ahead!

Are We There Yet: The State of Digital Marketing and Data Adoption

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Dun & Bradstreet hired me as a blogger to cover their Data- Inspired Digital Strategies Forum Event in New York on December 1st, 2015.  I am not formally employed by Dun & Bradstreet. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

It turns out the answer to the aforementioned question is a resounding “no”. There are a lot of ideas and theories about how businesses can effectively engage with their respective markets. Unfortunately, the limiting factor at the moment is not that we don’t have enough data or even opportunity to be actionable- but that we have too much data and very little adoption of using it for most purposes in business. This was just one of the many takeaways I gleaned from the panel discussions at last week’s Dun and Bradstreet’s Data-Inspired Digital Marketing Strategies Forum – which took place at the Sofitel Hotel in New York City on, December 1st.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

The big question of the day was: How can we use data to better reach the right people at the right time?

Have you noticed that many of the ads that you view online now seem somewhat tailored to things you search or products, services and people you are interested in? What about the sudden shift in voice of several of the leading brands? The vintage use of catchy phrases, jingles and an impersonal tone is no longer the foundation of good marketing or good business. We’re in an age of rapid transformation on all fronts of business. Think about the last commercial or ad you viewed. Chances are the commercials or ads you viewed didn’t just cut-to-the-chase and urge you to purchase something. Of late, marketing is starting to sound and feel a little more personal. It is almost as if the company trying to get your attention had you in mind when they created said service, product etc. What is clear is that businesses must meet the customer where they are by making sure they are engaging with prospective customers with the right messaging or solution at the time when they are poised to make a purchasing decision. Anudit Vikram, SVP, Chief Product Officer-Audience Solutions for Dun & Bradstreet shared that: “Digital Marketing is about how many integrated touch points we can have with prospective customers across all channels.”

It turns out looking at “quantity” of touch points alone isn’t a comprehensive marketing approach either. Businesses have to also be mindful that the data they are harnessing is quality. Your insights and planning will only be as good as the data that has informed it. This is where many companies are missing the mark. It is key to take a step back and consider what the overall plan is. As I have mentioned in several articles this year, you cannot do the “data thing” just to do it. It was echoed in several of the talks that there needs to be clarity around the outcomes businesses are trying to achieve. It was also strongly suggested that businesses have a concrete plan for how they will harvest and synthesize the data that will facilitate digital marketing initiatives.

To ensure that you are on the right track to having good and clean data, do the following:

  • Start small by piloting your data collection on one initiative or program. This allows you to triage any issues and standardize your measurements before extending your methods to other areas of the business.
  • Be clear on what measures and methods you will use to measure outcomes. Data is only as good as its inputs.
  • Implement the right technology resources to facilitate the collection, evaluation and application of your data. Technology implemented correctly can be helpful in centralizing the collection and management of your data- decreasing the necessity of having to manipulate the data regularly due to errors.

It is clear that the way we conduct business and market our services has changed given the digital climate we are experiencing. What isn’t as clear is: How do we get people to consistently make use of the data that is available them?  Moreover, how do we get people to see that the use of data (be it in marketing or otherwise) as an opportunity and not as a threat?

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Looking towards 2016 and evaluating the state of data adoption and data-driven marketing Josh Mueller, SVP of Digital Operations at Dun &Bradstreet stated: “2016 is an inflection point for digital marketing.” That is to say that we’re at a prime point on the trajectory and evolution of digital marketing where we are poised to “target, capture and convert” our most prized customers. It is time to decide whether your business can survive with or without the use of data insights. Better yet, can you afford to continue blindly marketing to your customer segment while settling for marginal responses and outcomes. Let 2016 be your “inflection point” and reflect on how you can start putting the data you have today to work in an effort to improve your business across-the-board.

 For further insights from the event, check out two of the speaker presentations below:

Theresa Kushner, VP of Enterprise Data Management- Data, Data Everywhere: Making the most of it in the 21st Century.

Josh Mueller, SVP of Digital Operations at Dun & Bradstreet and Anudit Vikram, SVP Chief Product Officer-Audience Solutions for Dun & Bradstreet- Data-Inspired Digital Marketing.

 

Cybersecurity is a Business and Personal Imperative

Campaign/FTC disclosure: I will receive compensation for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Freedome VPN has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my influence on social media and knowledge of cybersecurity concerns. I am not formally employed by Freedome VPN. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of F-Secure

Image courtesy of F-Secure

As HR professionals, we are responsible for handling sensitive information all day. From new employees’ social security numbers to legal documents-we are entrusted with the identities of our people daily. In business, we are increasingly relying on technology to house sensitive information; but are we doing everything in our power to ensure the security of our employees information? Those of us that have worked in government or government-related companies understand that the best defense against potential cyber threats is the individual. Training your employees to identify and prevent potential exposure to threats provides a formidable first-line of defense to hacking, phishing and other cyber annoyances. Which begs the question-what are the secondary and tertiary lines of cyber defense?

After working remotely for sometime now, there are always company concerns about the security of my own devices. In fact, I have signed waivers in the past stating that the devices I used would utilize an anti-virus and malware program to prevent privacy threats- among other safeguards. I was also provided a virtual private network also known as a  VPN”, so I could work securely from any of my devices. With a demand for BYOD flexibility on our heels, how do we allow flexibility in how work gets done, while ensuring that our systems and proprietary information are secure? It requires robust technology as well as the collective of diligent individuals.

I have been using Freedome VPN for just about three weeks now. I’m not sure my online behavior would meet muster based on the case I am trying to make for iron-clad cybersecurity practices. For one, I regularly used open WiFi networks without using a VPN that could protect my information. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), most WiFi providers strongly suggest the use of VPNs’ to encrypt your data when using open connections in their terms and conditions. Oops! I never thought about using a VPN for personal use. It never occurred to me that it was necessary. I’ve always used it in business and saw it as the company’s way of allowing a safe bridge to company information. The need for protection on my desktop and laptop was evident, but I was neglecting the one device I spend the most time on- my smartphone. Double oops! I suspect I’m not the only one that has been slightly negligent and maybe greedy for a strong WiFi connection -such that I potentially compromised my privacy.

Shockingly, within the first day of using Freedome VPN, I had over 100 tracking attempts on my phone (seen in the screenshot below). On my laptop, I have had 14,218 tracking attempts blocked to date.

I had 154 tracking attempts within the first day of using Freedome VPN.

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It is evident that whether you are an individual,  SMB or Enterprise company, you need to invest in technology like Freedome VPN. It’s easy to download whether using a desktop,  Android or Apple Device. Once it is downloaded, it is activated by touching the center circle labeled “connecting” (as pictured above) and you are protected. Working with other VPN’s, it has often been a struggle to log-on and connect consistently. Often times, it would take me several attempts to sign into my VPN successfully before I could begin my work. With Freedome VPN, it is on all of my devices and there is no downtime. This allows me to be productive on-the-go without the concern of being exposed to cyber threats.

Protection is as easy as touching any of the headings and swiping back and forth to turn your protection “on” or “off”

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Everything we do is online. I have been the victim of identity theft twice in my life where my personal accounts were hacked. I have watched friends and colleagues who have had blogs and entire bodies of work hacked and destroyed. This is the reality of life lived both personally and professionally in the digital realm. Security is one of the most pressing concerns for both businesses and individuals today. It’s about time that we have simple online protection that works seamlessly with all of our devices without the hassle.

Freedome VPN has been incredibly generous with offering free trials of their product. As such, I am offering my readers a 90-day free trial so you can see for yourself how easy and powerful this product is. Go to: http://freedome.f-secure.com/vip/index.html and use code: “qsf257“.

If you’re not yet convinced of how easy it is to steal your information when using open WiFi networks, check out the video below from F-Secure. It shows you that anyone can create a WiFi network in an effort to steal your information. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Privacy is not a game.

 

 

 

 

 

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