By Jason Walsh, CEO of CPP GroupLike all companies, CPP Group is taking the necessary steps to manage the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
As a global organisation operating in 12 markets, the business is attuned to adapting and this is strengthened by having in-market teams that have local knowledge and expertise. Lockdown restrictions have already begun to be lifted in some markets, with the UK following suit, and businesses around the world are looking to develop strategies that are going to successfully navigate the new normal.
This article authored by CPP Group CEO, Jason Walsh, will highlight global insights from CPP on how understanding the impact within different markets should inform how businesses respond in relation to services and product development. It will examine the importance of a multi-market strategy and how this is essential for international businesses.
A tailored approach
Central to any business that wants to see success in international markets is appreciating that a one size fits all, off the shelf model will not be suitable in every instance. It’s essential to create a tailored approach based on individual market needs as this is what directly informs how and what services and products a business develops.
This has to be underpinned by local knowledge. Now more than ever, insight is going to be key in understanding how consumers within those territories have been impacted by coronavirus.
The power of local knowledge
If a business is looking to add value to partners and customers, then having a thorough understanding of how individual markets operate is fundamental. From CPP’s perspective, the growth of the middle class in India and the aging population in China have been key trends that the business has harnessed when it comes to exploring the technology solutions and services that are most relevant to those markets, such as healthcare.
We have really seen the value of having in-market teams that are on the ground, responding quickly to customer demand and business partner challenges. Operating in this way further strengthens your business’ ability to be agile, especially during a time of rapid change like we have encountered over the past few months.
COVID-19 driving change in consumer needs
As a result of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, consumers will now be seeking reassurance from businesses, especially those that offer services that can bring significant benefits and peace of mind. It is the dependability that they value their customer’s health, wellbeing and security that needs to be a core element of how businesses operate going forward.
In the insurance and banking sectors having a strong NPD will really resonate with consumers. Businesses need to show that they understand the markets they operate in and use this insight to offer appropriate product solutions, for example life insurance and wellness products such as LivCare in India, which provides on-demand, online healthcare support. The shift from cash to digital payments as a result of Covid-19 has triggered a big response from businesses in certain markets like Turkey, where mobile payment products are being extended to include NFC and contactless cover.
The importance of understanding consumers is particularly important if a business provides technology services. Technology used properly is agile by nature and enables you to respond quickly to consumer needs. But it still needs to be relevant and delivered in a way that adds real value to their lives – For example, the pandemic has significantly shifted consumers’ priorities in terms of what they deem as essential. There is an increased focus on the home, which is now a hub for combining work, play and family time, and there is more demand for the use of technology in the home, which is driving digital usage.
There is also, understandably, a sustained focus on health. CPP has started to see this already in China and the wider Asia-Pacific region, with the delivery of new travel and health-based products. There has been an increase in consumer expenditure on healthcare and a rise in the number of patients using telemedicine platforms and applications.
Evolving partnership models
As well as technological advancements, COVID-19 has paved the way for new forms of digital transformation as businesses shift operations to cope with office closures, restricted movement and supply interruption.
A key driver of this is a demand for speed in the delivery of services. From insurance claims to onboarding new customers, lockdown has emphasised the challenges using physical channels can pose. As a result, some businesses are experiencing operational headaches as they try and quickly adopt a more digital approach.
To help navigate these changes, we are expecting to see a shift in businesses implementing an ecosystem operating model in order to be able to meet the new demands of consumers. Partnering with other businesses in order to deliver products and services digitally is going to become more common.
CPP’s parametric InsurTech arm, Blink, is a good example of how businesses can work together to offer better services to end customers. Driven by data to predict real-time travel disruption and offer immediate insurance solutions, Blink delivers the responsiveness and certainty that consumers want.
Many complications with claiming on travel insurance came as a result of coronavirus being an unknown entity, making it a struggle for insurers to identify how best to serve their customers. As a result of this, parametric insurance will play a significant role moving forwards, especially as travel begins to open up again, as it offers a pre-agreed amount of cover based on the probability of a pre-defined triggering event.
A supportive culture
What should also be a key factor in any multi-market strategy, especially in times of uncertainty, is a strong people and culture positioning that helps colleagues feel supported and empowered. This is also connected to encouraging local teams to be entrepreneurial; they are your eyes and ears in the local markets so an integral part of understanding the most successful way to operate.
CPP’s International Support Centre that operates out of Leeds in the UK is in place to support all market functions. While dedicated, in-market strategies are key, it’s also important to focus on the bigger picture and to ensure they are aligned with a single corporate vision. This will provide the ability and resource to envision what the future may start to look like.
All these elements are essential to ensuring your business has an effective multi-market strategy that is able to navigate the changes set to be brought about by Covid-19. The pandemic has certainly encouraged many businesses to reflect on their approach and this could be an opportunity to refocus how your business is operating. What’s certain is that in the short-term, there needs to be a strong human element running through any strategy if you want to successfully resonate with partners, colleagues and consumers.
Finding and following your website’s ‘North Star Metric’
By Andy Woods, Design Director of Rouge Media
The ‘North Star Metric’ (NSM) is one of many seemingly confusing terms to come out of Silicon Valley but its message is simple and universal.
It refers to the single metric businesses use to guide activity, drive key decisions and measure success. And while it may seem naïve on the surface, to boil business success down to a single metric, there is a method to the apparent madness.
It doesn’t mean businesses simply ignore all other performance data but instead measure it against the overarching goal they’re working towards.
Here’s how businesses can create their own North Star Metric and follow it to website success.
What is a North Star Metric?
The idea of a North Star Metric is to focus on the goal which delivers the most value for the business and its customers.
It’s a popular strategy adopted by successful business around the world. For example, Spotify set its North Star Metric as ‘time spent listening’, while Amazon focused on ‘purchases per month’. Every business decision was then geared towards increasing these metrics.
For the business, this increase means greater advertising revenue and sales, while for users, spending more time using the service or making more purchases shows the platform is meeting their needs.
Chasing this North Star Metric sees businesses align their efforts towards a single goal. For ecommerce businesses, this means sales and marketing activity is aimed at taking users to the website, where service experts provide relevant content and information and website designers add natural calls to action.
Finding the North Star Metric for your website project, whether it be sign-ups, purchases or more time spent on site, allows the whole team – plus your agency, if you work with one – to move in the same direction.
What does a successful NSM look like?
Nominating your NSM before undertaking a website project allows you to focus all your efforts in design, functionality and content on delivering your goal.
However, some businesses may have been operating for years with a North Star Metric that isn’t quite right. If you’ve been focusing your efforts towards a goal which isn’t driving value for the business or customers, and for which you struggle to measure impact, you may need to switch focus.
Key considerations for making sure your NSM delivers a positive impact for your business include:
Generating engagement: the internet is full of businesses fighting for custom and users don’t owe them anything. If a website doesn’t give them what they need, they can find one that does within minutes.
Solving consumer challenges: Customers want a product or service that solves their problems and they want it now. Does your website contain information that answers their questions? Does it call out the key features of your product or service that makes their life easier?
Building trust: The chances are, many businesses offer a similar product or service to you. Customers need to know your business is trustworthy if they’re to part with their cash. Case studies, awards and user reviews are examples of content which can improve your brand authority.
Finding your website’s NSM
Identifying your NSM doesn’t mean picking a goal that sounds good in the boardroom. It needs to be a targeted, realistic and measurable goal.
Dial-in on your NSM by answering these three questions:
What is the single most important thing your website should deliver? The answer to this should be simple and obvious – more sales, sign-ups, downloads or leads.
What do users want from the site? You’re likely to have many users, so try to identify your main three here. What are they looking for when they enter your site? Advice, a product, a follow-up from an employee?
Which metrics tie together the above? You need to be able to measure your performance in answering these questions. If you’re after more leads, monitoring on-site user data – like time spent on site and number of pages visited – gives you an indication of what users want and how well you’re meeting their needs.
There are many questions to answer when finding your NSM. A useful way to arrange the information is in a visual hierarchy. Place your NSM at the top, with the answers to these key questions as branches.
Breaking it down into a visual flow chart like this also helps with gaining crucial buy-in from the whole business, with teams visualising how their role fits into the wider goal.
As your business grows and industry and user demands change, you may need to adapt your NSM.
If you’ve been working towards an appropriate NSM, it may only need tweaking slightly. For example, as a start-up, your NSM may have been building awareness by generating more leads. After a few successful years, the business may decide to switch the focus from leads to online sales.
While the metric changes slightly, the original strategy has already laid the foundations for the new goal, with your website designed to drive traffic and provide helpful content to inform users’ buying decisions.
Using analytics data, businesses can make changes to their website to align with their changing goals. Look at how users are behaving on your site. Are there ways you can encourage them to convert or sign-up?
This data helps you understand where to add calls to action or how to improve website design and functionality, so completing a form becomes a natural part of navigating the site and accessing content.
Risk assessment: How to plan and execute a security audit as a small business
By Izzy Schulman, Director at Keys 4 U
Despite the current global coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty it has placed on the modern workplace, businesses cannot afford to relax their attitude towards security. Especially as there have been reports of increased break-ins and cyberattacks among the crisis.
Conducting a thorough security audit could be the key to improving employee awareness and identifying weak points in the business to avoid breaches.
Starting from scratch
The first step in an effective business security audit is a risk assessment – reviewing the workplace and all business processes to identify every risk.
No stone should be left unturned. This means conducting a physical inspection of the office, plus breaking down all employee tasks and demands and even reviewing how employees are working from home amid the current pandemic.
It’s important all risks are identified, so relevant and proportionate measures can be put in place – from heavy lifting to ensuring a comfortable office temperature.
At this stage, it’s also important to get employees to buy-in to security policy. Everyone needs to play their part to ensure complete safety.
Let employees know you understand they’re busy with their role but everyone needs to pull together to stay secure.
Offering incentives like employee recognition emails or even small rewards like gift vouchers may incentivise employees to go the extra mile.
Assessing the workplace
The average small business break-in sees around £2,000 lost in stolen property – not to mention the cost of disruption as a result of lost or damaged equipment.
Office security audits should begin with entry points, checking potential break-in spots like doors – and windows if you’re on a low floor – are monitored by alarms and cameras. Make sure these are visible, as this is known to deter potential intruders from trying their luck.
The workplace must also be protected against fire risks. Not only do fires threaten to destroy property and disrupt businesses, but hefty fines can be issued for failing to meet fire safety standards.
Carry out a thorough fire risk assessment, including nominating and clearly signing fire exits, establishing an emergency procedure and educating staff on its steps.
Safety audits should also highlight any trip hazards or danger of falling objects, plus any electrical or flooding risks.
Plus, this year has brought its own health and safety risks, with the coronavirus pandemic demanding new hygiene and social distancing measures.
For businesses with over five employees, the government has put together a specialised risk assessment for a COVID-19 compliant workplace, including advice on handwash stations and staggering shifts to avoid contact.
The online threat
The cost of cyberattacks to UK businesses is estimated at around £34 million a year – from the theft of intellectual property and the cost of recovering from the attack.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has only increased the risk, with many employees encouraged to work remotely, away from employers and IT managers.
A combination of technical IT solutions and educating employees on cybersecurity best practices can help businesses navigate these uncertain times.
For example, multi-factor authentication technology means employees are prompted to enter multiple login credentials to confirm their identity – typically their standard password plus a one-time code sent to their phone.
Even if their password is stolen, the attacker is still unable to log in to the company network without the additional code.
Managing permissions by employee case adds an extra layer of security, with individuals only able to access the data they need. If an employee’s device is breached, it limits the amount of data available to the attacker.
Keeping the company network secure is a team responsibility. Arrange calls in small groups in which IT professionals can explain new remote working protocols in detail and emphasise the importance of adherence, as well as answering employee questions.
Investing time and budget into identifying and addressing threats now, places businesses in a stronger position to maintain high standards of security in the future.
All information gathered from the security audit should be recorded, laying the foundations for a security framework and annual security audits. Log each hazard, along with the status of the risk and measures taken to prevent it.
The idea is to create a clear and structured audit process, which is intuitive to follow if personnel changes occur, or in an emergency. Include a priority checklist with the most significant risks, along with key dates for renewals or updates of any key equipment or facilities.
Update the file year-round, with all new information which may impact business or employee security. Any physical changes to the office should be recorded, along with new or updated equipment and machinery and any significant IT updates. Include key contacts and manufacturer information in the notes to speed things up in case of an emergency.
Buying enterprise professional services: Five considerations for business leaders in turbulent times
By James Sandoval, Founder and CEO, MeasureMatch
The platformization of professional services provides businesses with direct, seamless access to the skills required to face any crisis or opportunity.
The business world was ill-prepared for the current crisis, but a new breed of professional services marketplace platforms is providing valuable access to much-needed enterprise software and data specialists to curb the damage and rise to the challenge.
In today’s age of distributed teams, remote working and material lifts in online communication and commerce, digital systems and data skills are highly important and a matter of success or failure for many organizations.
Enter the ‘platformization of professional services’. Over the last few decades – in a majority of sectors – consumers’ worlds have been reshaped by platformization and personalization. Companies which have offered traditional products and services have moved online or they have been replaced by nimbler online competitors.
The most successful of these companies exhibit two qualities: They offer a platform for others to trade, communicate and to build upon, tailoring their services to the needs of individual consumers. Platformization and personalization.
The innovations born out of the platformization and personalization of B2C businesses are now beginning to transform the buying and selling of goods and services between businesses as well.
This means that businesses increasingly have extraordinary human capital investment flexibility and can safely, cost effectively remain well-equipped to survive and thrive through the most turbulent of times.
Here, MeasureMatch Founder and CEO, James Sandoval, has summarised five core benefits of the platformization of professional services for organizations feeling the heat from shareholders, competitors and even disruptions from pandemics.
The best of today’s professional services marketplaces will win the confidence – and budgets – from clients because they not only provide access to highly desired skills and services, but they’ve also gone to extraordinary lengths to maximise success by conducting, amongst other things, identity, insurance, skills vendor partner verifications. And this is on top of star ratings, written reviews, flexible contract management and more.
The combination of cloud computing services, plus deep ravines of data from historical customer engagement and completed contracts, means that professional services platforms can and should add exceptional value immediately on entry, and across every step of the experience – prior to spending a penny.
Professional services platforms are built for people to use – people from different walks of life and with different business needs. The best platforms provide an equally exceptional layer of people. They differentiate with added human value in the form of due diligence, domain and process expertise.
The OECD says unit labour costs “can be expressed as the ratio of total labour compensation per hour worked to output per hour worked (labour productivity).” Teams and individuals contracted via marketplace platforms, however, are armed and ready with requisite domain knowledge, experience and skills – which means there’s no requirement for the overhead costs commonly required for training, insurance, HR, office rent, utilities, which can amount to 25% to 100% on top of salaries.
Taking into account the contributions made by an unlimited capacity for precise machine-driven matching, exceptional accountability and flexibility, measurable productivity lifts, topped with human customer service and an attractive cost basis, it’s no wonder professional services marketplaces are exploding in popularity. The opportunities for value creation are material and available now.
The future will come with more complexity, surprises and risk. The platformization of professional services, together with advancements in enterprise personalization, will help everyone to embrace it all with confidence, balance and success.
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