Remarkable work, Gumbo!
“Customer-centric” is frequently claimed by CMO’s to describe their marketing visions. But, like many feel-good marketing buzzwords, “customer-centricity” has lost much of its meaning. Many marketers give it lip service, but there’s not a lot of alignment on how to define it, or where to start.
Marketers aren’t as customer-centric as they think.
For all the hype, delivering on the promise of putting the customer at the core of the business is a struggle. It’s not just a technology challenge. It’s fundamentally an organizational and cultural effort. Trying to make an organization “customer-centric” through technology alone is relying on pixie dust.
Customer-centricity and omnichannel were key themes at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York last week. I was struck by this comment from Jason Goldberg, SVP of commerce at Razorfish:
“A ton of those omnichannel things are checkbox items and a bunch of retailers have checked the box. If that was your attitude, then omnichannel is done. But if you’re doing this because customer behavior is fundamentally changing and you need to figure out how to cater to new expectations of the customer, we’ve just begun…
“Nobody can say we created this amazing store environment that people want to go to instead of Amazon. We’re very early days on that.”
It’s an exciting time for marketing, because every year brings new tools to reach our customers in more compelling ways than ever before. But the work is more than checking the box. It’s more than buzzword-deep.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years.
“Tracking the Customer Journey“, July 2016
“Customer Journey Mapping“, April 2016
“Big Data“, January 2014
This is a photo of my grandfather, Will Jenkins. It was taken in 1909, when he was 13. He made the glider himself and took it to Cape Henry, about 17 miles by trolley from Norfolk, where his first flight took him eight feet, and his last that day took him 40 feet and broke one of his uprights. They made 13-year-olds differently then, I think.
He built the glider, incidentally, with a gift of $5 sent to him by an American Civil War veteran after a school essay he'd written about Robert E. Lee was published in the local paper. The war, after all, had ended only 44 years earlier.
In 1946, by which time he'd become a notable writer of science fiction, he published a story called 'A Logic named Joe', which described a global computer network with servers and terminals, that starts giving people the information that it thinks they ought to know as opposed to waiting for them to search for it - the Singularity, if you like, or maybe just Alexa. He also, as I recall, predicted reality TV somewhere.
And yet, despite predicting half of our world, as a father in the 1950s he could not imagine why his daughter - my mother - wanted to work.
This isn't exactly an uncommon observation - lots of people have pointed out that vintage scifi has plenty of rocketships but all the pilots are men - 1950s society but with robots. Meanwhile, the interstellar liners have paper tickets, that you queue up to buy. With fundamental technology change, we don't so much get our predictions wrong as make predictions about the wrong things. (And, of course, we now have neither trolleys nor personal gliders.)
I was reminded of this photo recently when I came across a RAND 'long-range forecasting' study, from 1964. The authors polled a range of experts on what the key developments in coming decades would be and when they'd happen. Fields addressed included space flight and medicine, but the most interesting in this context is what was then called 'automation' (the past tended to describe as 'automatic' what we would now call 'computers'). The double-page spread below shows the conclusions (click to enlarge).
Some of this has happened more or less as predicted - we did get air traffic control, automated subway trains and computerised taxation (except in the USA). There are some great comedy predictions here too - that 'centralised wire tapping' would take until 2030, or never, or that people in both 1964 and 2016 thought we'd have automated driving 'by 2020'.
However, to me the interesting thing is how often the order is wrong. What we now know to be the hard problems were going to be solved decades before what we now know were the easy ones. So it might take until 2020 to 'fax' a newspaper to your home, and automatic wiretapping might be impossible, but automatic doctors, radar implants for the blind, household robots and machine translation would be all done by 1990 and a machine would be passing human IQ tests at genius level by 2000. Meanwhile, there are a few quite important things missing - there is no general-purpose computing, no internet and no mobile phones. There's no prediction for when everyone on earth would have a pocket computer connected to all the world's knowledge (2020-2025). These aren't random gaps - it's not just that they thought X would work and didn't know we'd invent Y. Rather, what's lacking is an understanding of the structural impetus of computing and software as universal platforms that would shape how all of these things would be created. We didn't make a home newspaper facsimile machine - we made computers.
You can see this tendency to ask the wrong questions, or questions based on the wrong framework, in this TeleGeography report from 1990. It was clear that the world was changing, and that the telephone network would see new uses. But if you're asking about new uses for the 'telephone network', that of itself probably gets you to the wrong place (again, click to zoom).
Picking this apart:
- We will have home computers ('multi-media terminals') - correct
- And they'll be connected to a network - correct
- And move data across national borders - correct
- So international circuit-switched call volume will go up - um, no.
- And that needs to fit into the regulatory structure of how state-monopoly fixed-line telephone companies exchange and charge each other for international voice calls - 😐
Today, we don't carry the internet over the PSTN - we carry the PSTN over the internet.
This time last year I wrote a post about how the future of the mobile internet (as we called it then) looked in 2001, and what one could have predicted. It was obvious that we'd all have phones connected to the internet by now, but that that didn't get you to the iPhone, Snapchat and Alexa or DJI - we were talking about Nokia, Microsoft, AOL and NTT DoCoMo just as TeleGeography talked about circuits and RAND's experts talked about 'automation'. Openness and permissionless innovation were missing.
So, a pretty common theme of discussion in tech now is to ask what comes 'after' mobile, now that it is moving from the creation to deployment phase and the smartphone platform wars etc are over. There are a bunch of exciting things going on, certainly, from machine learning to AR and VR to electric and autonomous cars. What content will work in VR? Who will be best placed to make AR glasses? Will EV batteries be a competitive advantage, or end up, like LCD screens, as a low-margin commodity? Who will have enough of the right kind of driving data for autonomy? But every time I think about these, I try to think what questions I'm not asking. I still want a glider though.
“People don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad bosses,” according to an old saw. Our research suggests there’s truth behind this saying: bosses matter far more for employee job satisfaction than any other factor we measured. But what makes someone a great boss?
Studies of leaders often focus on their style or charisma, but we wanted to look at how workers are affected by their boss’s technical competence. That is, is the boss is a real expert in the core business of the organization? How much expertise does he or she have? Boss competence is, admittedly, a multifaceted concept. Hence we measured it in three different ways:
- Whether the supervisor could, if necessary, do the employee’s job.
- Whether the supervisor worked his or her way up inside the company.
- The supervisor’s level of technical competence as assessed by a worker.
Using these three measures of supervisor competence, we found that employees are far happier when they are led by people with deep expertise in the core activity of the business. This suggests that received wisdom about what makes a good boss may need some rethinking. It’s not uncommon to hear people assert that it’s a bad idea to promote an engineer to lead other engineers, or an editor to lead other editors. A good manager doesn’t need technical expertise, this argument goes, but rather, a mix of qualities like charisma, organizational skills, and emotional intelligence. Those qualities do matter, but what our research suggests is that the oft-overlooked quality of having technical expertise also matters enormously.
Research into the topic of expert leadership is recent but burgeoning. Modern evidence demonstrates, for example, that hospitals may do better if led by doctors rather than by general managers, that U.S. basketball teams do better when led by a former All Star basketball player, that Formula One racing teams do better if led by successful former racing drivers, and that universities do better when led by top researchers rather than talented administrators.
In our project, we studied 35,000 randomly selected employees and workplaces. The samples are from both the U.S. and Britain. We use traditional ways of measuring the job satisfaction of employees, like the survey question we asked in the U.S.: “How do you feel about the job you have now?” 1 = “dislike very much”, 2 = “dislike somewhat”, 3 = “like fairly well”, 4 = “like very much”. People’s answer on average was 3.2. In Britain, we asked: “Please answer on a 7-point scale from “I am completely satisfied with my job,….I am completely dissatisfied with my job.” We found the answer in Britain was, on average, approximately 5.3. Overall, these ratings seem to us to be good, but perhaps not great, news. Workers are fairly happy.
When we look closely at the data, a striking pattern emerges. The benefit of having a highly competent boss is easily the largest positive influence on a typical worker’s level of job satisfaction. Even we were surprised by the size of the measured effect. For instance, among American workers, having a technically competent boss is considerably more important for employee job satisfaction than their salary (even when pay is really high).
Although we found that many factors can matter for happiness at work – type of occupation, level of education, tenure, and industry are also significant, for instance – they don’t even come close to mattering as much as the boss’s technical competence. Moreover, we saw that when employees stayed in the same job but got a new boss, if the new boss was technically competent, the employees’ job satisfaction subsequently rose.
The bottom line is that employees are happiest when the boss knows what she or he is talking about, and that drives performance: there is growing evidence, from randomized trials done under laboratory conditions, that when you make workers happier they become more productive. One study found that quite small boosts in happiness went on to produce a reliable 12% extra in labor productivity. Moreover, employees who are happy at work are less prone to quit, and it is well known that a high level of quits is expensive for a company. Lastly, it has recently been demonstrated that firms with happy employees go on to have better stock-price growth in the future.
The boss casts a very long shadow. Your job satisfaction is profoundly molded by your boss’s competence; and your own team’s job satisfaction levels depend on your competence.
Começa a se consolidar uma explicação padrão do impeachment dentro da esquerda. Em diferentes versões, ela tende a envolver alguma combinação de (a) efeitos do ajuste fiscal de Levy, (b) uma articulação política entre elite econômica, mídia e Judiciário e (c) a radicalização da classe média, ressentida com a diminuição da distância entre ela e os pobres. Essa coluna é sobre essa terceira tese.
Em seu livro "A Radiografia do Golpe", de 2016, o sociólogo e ex-presidente do Ipea Jessé Souza argumenta que, durante o ciclo de prosperidade lulista, "muitos, especialmente na classe média tradicional, não gostaram de ter de compartilhar espaços sociais antes restritos com os 'novos bárbaros'" (p. 82). Entre os espaços compartilhados Souza cita aeroportos (que tornaram-se acessíveis a brasileiros de menor renda na última década), shopping centers ("invadidos" por jovens de periferia durante os célebres "rolezinhos") e estradas congestionadas pela chegada dos novos motoristas.
Esse ressentimento diante da diminuição da desigualdade seria, segundo Souza, irracional: em que pese a ampliação do acesso às universidades, as desigualdades de capital cultural e social que distinguem as classes sociais permaneceram razoavelmente intocadas.
Assim, para Souza, a classe média, movida por esse ressentimento irracional, teria se deixado manipular por elites econômicas e políticas que teriam objetivos muito diferentes dos seus; e teriam constituído a base popular do processo de impeachment de Dilma Rousseff (o "golpe" do título do livro).
Em si, a tese do ressentimento não é absurda. É comum, por exemplo, que ricos de famílias tradicionais demonstrem ressentimento diante de "novos ricos". Em tese, algo semelhante poderia ter acontecido alguns andares abaixo na hierarquia social.
Mas o que salta aos olhos no trabalho de Souza, e nos outros que pude encontrar defendendo a mesma tese, é a falta de evidência empírica sistemática de que o ressentimento de classe média sequer exista em alguma escala relevante.
Eu conheço gente de classe média que, de fato, se ressentiu de ter visto pobres no aeroporto, mas era gente que já era bastante preconceituosa antes da mobilidade social do lulismo. E também conheço gente de classe média que viu na "Nova Classe C" novas oportunidades de negócio.
Mas se quisermos basear nossa explicação do impeachment no argumento do ressentimento, precisamos de evidências mais sistemática do que "eu conheço alguém": precisamos de pesquisas de opinião, trabalhos de campo, etc. Por enquanto, não temos nada disso.
E mesmo se o ressentimento tiver existido, como saber se foi ele o fator que levou a classe média às ruas? O próprio Souza admite que Dilma foi, em um certo momento, mais popular que Lula na classe média, e o processo de mobilidade social continuou durante a era Rousseff. Por que o ressentimento não levou a classe média às ruas antes, digamos, no auge da mobilidade?
É preciso enfatizar, como faz Souza, que muita gente que ajudou a derrubar Dilma Rousseff jogou pesado, jogou sujo, e tinha sua própria agenda. Mas começar a conversa supondo que os manifestantes da Paulista foram enganados soa demais como autocondescendência da parte da esquerda.
A selection of paintings by Daliah L. Ammar (previously featured here). More images below.
I am not what you’d call “outdoorsy.” My father is. As such, when I was a child, most of our family vacations involved fishing, clamming, crabbing, or picking blueberries.
For the first few years of my life we would sleep in tents, but then dad made a sort of home-brewed RV by building plywood furniture in an old van he’d bought as surplus from the phone company.
When I pointed out that our vacation consisted of spending our days looking for food, and our nights sleeping in a windowless van, I was chastised for my poor attitude.
It’s funny how technological change rolls out at different speeds. When I took on my job as an office manager, I had already been all-digital with my schedule and contacts for years. (a large part of actually making a living as a standup comic actually comes down to schedule and contact information management.)
When I got the office manager job, many of the company’s executives were just beginning to make the transition from Rolodexes and Dayrunners to software, and it fell to me to do quite a bit of data entry. Then, often, I would be asked to print the information I had entered in a format that would easily fit into preexisting Dayrunners and Rolodexes.
The software of the time often had an easy means of making those prints automatically, but it still irked me.
Adam Victor Brandizzi