Pressing for returns

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Pressing for returnsOn 27 Nov 2001 in Auto-enrolment, Personnel Today Blowing the budget on HR IT systems in time of recession may not sound likegood business sense, but suppliers armed with ever-more sophisticated tools aremaking the case for investing now to get ahead in the human capital game. ByKeith RodgersEveryone knew that the economic data coming out of the US this month wasgoing to be bad, but the scale of the problem took many seasoned watchers bysurprise. According to figures released by the Labor Department at the start ofNovember, 415,000 jobs were lost in the US in October – a fall that pushedunemployment rates in the world’s largest economy up by one half of apercentage point. Combined with data showing that 24 million jobs will be lostglobally in 2002, the picture could hardly look bleaker. For some specialists in the human resources IT industry, it was yet anotherblow – now, one would assume, is not a good time to be touting recruitmentsoftware applications. The marketing arm of the IT sector, however, has always proven to beresilient, and even in the face of global slowdown, vendors are busy puntingout statistics that demonstrate how investment in HR software can lead to fastreturns. For example, Job Partners, an online recruitment service provider,argues that getting the employee acquisition process right is as valid in arecession as it is in boom years. Because some skills remain hard to find andgood quality candidates are more reluctant to gamble on a job change,streamlining your recruitment processes is as important as ever if you arelooking to improve your human capital asset base and cut operational costs. Andwhile it might not be the kind of investment that first springs to the mind ofa finance director looking to improve the bottom line, there’s merit in theargument. HR IT investment still makes a lot of sense in the current climate –it just needs a solid business case. For years, HR has been the poor cousin in the IT market. Viewed historicallyas a transaction-based activity – in much the same way that the HR functionitself has long been viewed primarily as an administrative centre – investmentwas largely driven by somewhat prosaic needs. More recently, however, as the HR function has begun to carve out astrategic role for itself, the IT industry has set its mind to systems thatimprove effectiveness, particularly in terms of employee measurement, retentionand the leveraging of human capital. These strategic systems, catering foractivities such as performance management and competency assessment, focus ondelivering both hard and soft benefits. In the boom years, when organisationswere prepared to gamble in the hope of gaining a competitive edge, thesesystems were beginning to find their way on to boardroom agendas. Now, as IT budgets and headcounts are slashed, boardroom focus is elsewhereand the criteria for investment have changed. Whether it is a system upgrade orprocurement of a niche product, approval rests on delivering rapid, tangiblereturn – and preferably, one that shrinks the cost base. “Companies arereally zeroing in on the cost-reduction side right now,” says StaceyLawson, vice-president and general manager of employee relationship managementat Siebel, which recently entered the HR market. “Intuitively they believethere are lots of benefits, but in all areas people are looking more directlyat the cost-saving side of ROI. That’s life these days in enterprisesoftware.” Ironically, while the IT industry continues to offer ever-more sophisticatedsystems, many organisations still lag behind at a basic transactional level.Any administrative process that involves either manual labour or duplication ofactivities between HR and employees is ripe for automation, from timekeepingrecords to updates of personal information and delivery of pay advice. All of the major HR systems from leading suppliers such as PeopleSoft,Oracle, SAP and Lawson provide the engines and application modules to handlethese kinds of processes, while a raft of specialist software providers offeran alternative in the shape of “point” solutions. In each case, theROI argument is relatively simple. If you can cut costs – not just in terms ofHR administration, but also from the line of business – and improveeffectiveness, particularly the quality of management data, you’ll probablyhave a business case that the board will listen to. At a transactional level, however, some of the more significant efficiencygains promised by vendors go beyond basic automation and involve a degree ofcorporate reorganisation and a new approach to data management. In particular,the advent of Internet-based systems from the leading HR suppliers has promptedmany organisations to look at rolling out employee portals, the front-endsystems that form the platform for Web self-service. By allowing end-users to input their own HR-related data and checkinformation through their browsers, organisations can automate a range offunctions, from enrolment in healthcare schemes to online distribution ofpayslips. Re-keying of data – a resource-hungry and error-prone operation – ismade redundant as users enter their own information directly into systems in atimeframe that suits their working patterns. In addition, as end-users becomecomfortable with the methodology, the portal provides a means to distributeboth HR-related and corporate information across an organisation. On thesurface, this combination of hard cost-savings and soft benefits makes for aconvincing business case. Even at a pure process level, however, early adopters of employee portalswarn that implementation throws forward a number of challenges. For one thing,portal deployment is dependent on the development of a suitable IT infrastructure,and for users of older technology, that may require an upgrade to a moreflexible system architecture (see box). This kind of investment clearly impactsthe ROI equation. At a cultural level, meanwhile, HR departments have to be aware of a varietyof issues when they adopt this kind of technology. Information dissemination,for example, has to be carefully controlled – because data is being”pushed” to the user rather than requested, reactions can be negativeif employees receive irrelevant material or simply feel they are being swamped.In addition, take-up of many of the add-on services that organisations aretempted to offer employees – such as personal holiday offers from corporatetravel agents – can be low, particularly in European countries where Internetusers are less familiar with online retailing. Above all, the HR department hasto be ready to handle change – self-service demands that HR administratorsrelinquish control over many of their activities, raising the spectre of majorrole changes or redundancy. Each of these cultural issues could have asignificant impact on the real – as opposed to projected – investment story. But while these transactional and process-based investments focus ontangible cost-savings, the argument for implementing HR technology is much morefundamental, based around potential productivity gains and the more strategicissues surrounding effective human capital management. As Roger Moore, servicesdirector at RCMS, argues, “ERM is more than any single product or system.It should link together existing disparate employee-related systems includingadministrative, business intelligence, knowledge management and reportingsystems, as well as systems to manage staff performance, analyse skillslevels/shortages, and improve staff efficiency, training, loyalty andcollaborative working.” Clearly at this level, the investment argument becomes far more complex forHR, but it rests primarily on the assumption that in most companies, humancapital and retained knowledge is not being effectively leveraged. At onelevel, that requires companies to build an effective enterprise-widedata-sharing structure, allowing knowledge to be freely disseminated betweenindividuals and departments. In itself, with all the data collation andsecurity concerns it entails, this is a significant challenge, and one thatgoes beyond the traditional remit of HR. In terms of performance management, meanwhile, the stakes are raised higherstill. Human capital analytical software touches every part of an organisation– to be able to understand how well individuals, departments and theorganisation as a whole are performing, and then use that information to managechange, HR needs to work closely with line managers across the company. If, forexample, an account manager’s performance is measured on the basis of clientsatisfaction, the HR-related data needs to be combined with external customerresearch. Many of the leading HR management systems vendors have developed businessintelligence applications that can demonstrably help this process, measuringthe effectiveness of employees and departments in their day-to-day activitieswhile giving senior managers a strategic insight into the strengths andweaknesses of the total human capital base. While some of these applicationsare based around relatively mature management tools, such as the balancedscorecard, many of the newer applications coming on to the market are morealigned to traditional financial processes such as budgeting. Software vendors point out that while the ultimate goals of effectiveperformance measurement require a far-reaching reassessment of companypractices, there are a significant number of short-term gains to be made. Forexample, the framework for skills and knowledge analysis is typically builtaround some kind of competency assessment programme. Although the initialprocess of assessing and recording skills can be laborious, it can producetangible short-term results even in the throes of recession. Eudie Thompson, CEO of specialist software developer Zynap, argues thatcompanies that develop competency profiles of their employees – including theirpre-hire CV, details of training courses and instructor assessment, appraisals,projects undertaken, and even extra-curricular activities – may discover theycan leverage the skills they possess in-house rather than recruit. Thefunctionality to perform this kind of competency management is contained in araft of systems, from HRMS applications to Learning Management Systems and inZynap’s case, an artificial intelligence based system currently underdevelopment. Ultimately, whether companies choose to invest in HR IT at this leveldepends on whether they buy into the whole concept of effective human capitalmanagement. If HR is still perceived primarily as an administrative function, investmentapproval is likely to be limited to transaction-based improvements. If HR canmake a case for a strategic role, investment in more sophisticated toolsbecomes far easier to justify. Paving the way for a partnership approachThe concept of”collaboration” has primarily been driven in the IT industry byissues well outside the domain of HR, covering “back-office”supply-chain issues such as manufacturing and logistics, and more recently”front-office” business strategies such as customer relationshipmanagement. Moving towards collaborative working practices does, however, havea significant impact on an organisation’s underlying IT infrastructure, whichin turn affects HR’s ability to fulfil its own role. The core principle of collaborative commerce is to streamlinethe way organisations work together in order to match customer demand moreclosely with vendors’ ability to supply. At the back-end of the equation,companies are developing ways to exchange data more freely, improvingvisibility down the supply chain so that every organisation involved in thedevelopment and delivery of products or services is aware of what its partnersare capable of delivering. More advanced forms of collaboration are beingpursued in sectors such as the automotive industry to allow for collaborativeproduct design.At the front-end of the equation, meanwhile, companies areattempting to use customer relationship management as a means to get a morein-depth understanding of real demand and purchasing patterns, which can be fedinto their forecasting processes. Ideally, the business relationship with thecustomer should evolve into a partnership, where customers see the benefit ofsharing data with their suppliers because it ultimately improves the quality ofservice.Underpinning this collaborative model is a new, more flexibleIT architecture that allows for easy integration between different systems. Inparticular, systems that are designed specifically for the Internet offer fargreater flexibility for collaboration at an organisational level, bothinternally and externally, and also give individual users more flexibility inthe way they work. The previous generation of IT architecture was built aroundthe concept of client/server computing, where the bulk of applicationprocessing was carried out centrally, but the “client” system – suchas a PC – ran some code. Pure Internet architectures, by contrast, turn the”client” primarily into a pure access device that allows users to loginto the system easily through various different types of equipment, includingremote PCs.This flexibility has a number of technical benefits for the ITdepartment, but it also underpins the development of collaborative HR-relatedinitiatives such as employee portals. HR vendor PeopleSoft, which rebuilt itsentire enterprise application suite around an Internet architecture, has nowturned the issue into a central plank of its marketing strategy, and the likesof Oracle and others have joined the fray.Although the choice of enterprise-wide architecture is unlikelyto be driven by HR, the implications for the department mean that HR managementshould have a say in decisions affecting its own technology capability. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

RWJBarnabas Health and ShopRite launch free in-store wellness classes for adults

first_img“Eat Well. Be Happy,” is based on a curriculum developed in tandem with nutrition experts and dietitians from RWJBarnabas Health, as well as the supermarket’s own team of dietitians. The classes are held on a rolling schedule, and available at all participating ShopRite locations across New Jersey. Customers can sign up by visiting both the kids’ and adults’ sessions are each six weeks long, participants can drop in at any point. While the kids’ classes feature scavenger hunts, cooking instruction, healthy recipes, and nutrition and wellness tips, the adult class focuses on a wide variety of topics, including successful goal setting techniques, meal planning tips, recipes ideas, label reading, and much more.To find a participating ShopRite nearest you hosting classes, please visit www.shoprite.comFor more information about RWJBarnabas Health, visit ShopRite and RWJBarnabas Health are expanding their partnership to provide a new education program designed to help shoppers to manage their weight and improve their overall well-being. Titled, “Eat Well. Be Happy,” the six-week program will be offered free of charge to customers starting this month, and taught in-store by ShopRite’s team of registered dietitians.This is the second program offered to ShopRite consumers as part of a joint initiative between the supermarket and RWJBarnabas Health, the state’s largest and most comprehensive health care system. In April 2017, ShopRite and RWJBarnabas Health first partnered to develop and launch “Hands-On Healthy Kids,” a free program that inspires lifelong healthy eating habits in children. The program is currently offered at select ShopRite locations across the Northeast.last_img read more

Gary Clark Jr. Officially Releases Stylistically Diverse New Album, ‘This Land’ [Listen]

first_imgToday, following months of anticipation, Texas blues torch-bearer Gary Clark Jr. has officially released his fifth studio album, This Land. Since the then-unnamed album was initially detailed back in October, fans have eagerly awaited the release of the project, which Clark promised would stretch perceptions of him as a straight blues artist.As Clark explained in a video announcing the project, “When I started off on the record, it was really about the drums. If the drums aren’t poppin’, you’re wasting your time.” He continued, “I got all the colors, I’ma paint with all of them. … My punk edge comes from really just wanting to be a punk. Reggae influence? Yes. It goes back to that fusion thing. … When I was growing up, a lot of music venues played lots of different types of music every night. A lot of influences. A lot of stuff going on. It’s in what I do, I guess. … I’m not gonna give you my whole recipe, but the only person who can put rules on it is yourself.”Related: Gary Clark Jr. Shows Off Diverse Musical Styles On New Album In ‘Saturday Night Live’ Debut [Watch]Now that sprawling 17-track album is out, it’s clear Clark wasn’t exaggerating about its stylistic scope. From the scorching hip-hop-inflected diatribe of “This Land” to the defiant blues-rock of “What About Us” to the smooth R&B-turned-arena rock of “I Got My Eyes On You” to the shimmery pop vibes of “I Walk Alone” and the island reggae aesthetic of “Feelin’ Like A Million”, This Land wastes no time making good on Clark’s promise of a diverse offering.The wide-ranging approach continues to broaden with the Ramones-like punk drive of “Gotta Get Into Something”, grungey horn-fueled anthem “Got To Get Up”, the Curtis Mayfield-reminiscent croon and NOLA-style horns of “Feed The Babies“, the soulful slow burn of “Pearl Cadillac“, the early rock and roll feel of “When I’m Gone”, and the disco-funk-flavored “The Guitar Man”.Of course, Clark’s well-known blues chops are still on display, from the distorted drive of “Low Down Rolling Stone” to the easy-going front porch strumming of “The Governor”, which also makes a contrasting cameo at the end of the fiery “This Land” music video.But as soon as you think the album is moving back toward Clark’s more familiar blues territory, it takes yet another left turn into “Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow”, a contemporary R&B number that wouldn’t sound out of place on a record from any mainstream hip-hop artist’s album.Gary Clark Jr.’s 12-bar roots once again bubble to the top to close the album proper with “Dirty Dishes Blues”. However, his stylistic diversity once again pops up in the album’s two bonus tracks: the 808-propelled “Highway 71” and the sexual 70s funk vamp “Did Dat”.All told, This Land is a truly impressive, wide-ranging showing from an artist long associated with a somewhat niche style. If you thought Gary Clark Jr. was just your run-of-the-mill blues shredder, This Land will make you think again. On his new record, Gary Clark Jr. tees up a boatload of genres and makes all of them his own with stunning fluidity. Once the world hears it, there should be no disagreement. As the title track confirms, this land is Gary Clark Jr.’s.Listen to This Land in its entirety below:Gary Clark Jr. – This Land – Full AlbumIn support of This Land, Gary Clark Jr. is preparing to head out tour this spring and summer. Head over to his website to find out when you can catch him live.last_img read more

An inspiration to students

first_imgAs a black kid growing up in the South Bronx, Nuha Saho ’18 said he had no role models in science. “This shook my confidence and made me doubt my place as a scientist,” he said.In paying tribute to Professor of Astronomy Alyssa A. Goodman, the Harvard Foundation’s 2015 Scientist of the Year, Saho, now a student at Harvard, said he couldn’t help but be inspired by her.“This year we honor you for helping us realize that science can be incredibly cool, fun, and more importantly, can make a huge difference,” said Saho, one of the co-coordinators of a science conference that began with a March 27 luncheon in tribute to Goodman.“We honor you … because we believe that you have instilled the belief in your students that they can achieve anything possible,” said Saho.Co-coordinator Jasmine Chia ’18 noted that Goodman was “the second female full professor in the astronomy department [at Harvard] and the third full professor in the department’s entire history.”“Professor Goodman’s success is the story of a girl who wanted to be Jacques Cousteau but grew up and took her passion for exploring into an even greater frontier: space,” Chia said. “I’d just like to personally express my incredible respect for a woman who has taken on the incredible mission of mapping out the darkness of space and exploring the realm of the universe beyond our world, and more importantly, showing us that the world of science is accessible to all who are willing to put in the hard work and passion. There are no limits.”Goodman’s research and teaching interests span astronomy, data visualization, and online systems for research and education. In her astronomical pursuits, she and her research group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) study the dense gas between the stars. They are particularly interested in how interstellar gas arranges itself into new stars.Goodman co-founded the Initiative in Innovative Computing at Harvard and served as its director from 2005 to 2008. The initiative created a University-wide interdisciplinary center. More recently, Goodman organized a diverse group of researchers, librarians, and software developers into an ongoing effort known as Seamless Astronomy, which aims to develop, refine, and share tools that accelerate the pace of scientific research, especially in astronomy.The Scientist of the Year Award honors the recipient for her or his scientific achievements, and for promoting initiatives that serve to increase diversity in all areas of science, engineering, and mathematics.Goodman said she was lucky because, “My parents never thought it was weird to be a woman in science, so I never make a big deal of it.” In accepting the award, she gave “most of the credit” to them as they sat in the audience. And, she added with a chuckle, “to my sister, who said ‘Do I really have to listen to all those people say nice things about you?’”last_img read more

OCSE, Sodexo partner to reduce food waste

first_imgSaint Mary’s Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) and Sodexo, the Noble Family Dining Hall food services supplier, have formed a food recovery partnership to benefit the Center for the Homeless (CFH). The program provides food that the dining hall did not use to the CFH and eliminates the amount of food uneaten in the dining hall each week.Last year, senior Eleanor Jones, helped to initiate the Food Recovery Program at Saint Mary’s as a volunteer opportunity through Circle K. Now, Jones is one of the three student workers for the program. Director of OCSE Erika Buhring said turning volunteer efforts into paid positions for students solidifies this program will continue year after year in a strong manner.“Though volunteers are wonderful, it was a lot for one person to handle. Having three student [workers] will certainly assist in the work distribution,” Buhring said.“In addition, these students will be able to use cars from the college to transport the food.”Buhring said student workers will go to the dining hall to load up the food that Sodexo packaged and weighed for them, twice a week.The food is then taken and delivered to the CFH and distributed to the guests in need of assistance. The program is all about working together to provide food resources to those who need it in our local community, she said. Buhring said Barry Bowles, director of food services, was especially helpful in having Sodexo get food ready to transport to the CFH. “He made sure the company would be able to contribute the food, weigh it and package it properly,” she said. CFH volunteer coordinator and ’15 alumna Christin Kloski and her supervisor Peter Lombardo also helped to make arrangements for food delivery.Buhring said she has  worked with Bowles, Sodexo, Kloski and Lombardo before on other projects and it was a pleasure to work with them again on the Food Recovery Program.Buhring said one in six individuals is food insecure in this country, so this program attempts to combat those numbers.“I would like others at Saint Mary’s to know that their fellow Belles, local offices, agencies and organizations are working together to help to make a real difference in their community,” Buhring said.Jones said she and the two other student workers, junior Jade Johnson and first-year Sidnee Silveira, pick up the food from the dining hall and record the weight to keep track of the impact of the program.“The food is packaged for us to take, we weigh the amount, and I put the amount of food that we saved into the National Food Recovery Data-Base,” she said.“At the end of each semester, Food Recovery tells us the amount we saved and the amount the whole national program saved. The current national goal is 1.2 million pounds by May 2016. Currently, the total is 872,519 pounds of food recovered since 2011,” Jones said. “Since I have worked on this project since the beginning, I hold Food Recovery very close to my heart.“The reason I decided to collaborate with OCSE is because I knew the program was bigger than myself and that this was the most guaranteed way to make it sustainable.”Jones said she would like to see the program expand to an everyday recovery and for the program to find other ways to manage and conserve food waste. Tags: Center for the Homeless, food recovery program, OCSElast_img read more

Prionus Root Borers

first_imgA University of Georgia researcher is using two new traps and the beetle’s sex drive to trap and control the pest that damages the roots of pecan trees. Prionus root borers, the larval stage of the beetle, damages pecan tree roots by depriving trees of essential water nutrients. This makes them vulnerable to heavy winds. The larvae can also move through the soil and feed on an irrigation system if they encounter a pipe between pecan roots.Recent research, however, by University of Georgia entomologist Jim Dutcher may lead to successful control methods. Dutcher is partnering with industry cooperators to develop an integrated monitoring and control method.“(Root borers) have been a problem since I’ve been here and that has been more than 30 years,” said Dutcher, a UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences entomologist based in Tifton. “We really didn’t have many control options until now.” In 2006, the sex pheromone that the female beetles use to attract mates was discovered by scientists at the University of California-Davis. Field trials in Tifton and across the United States found that many species of the prionous root borer, including those that attack Georgia pecan trees, also are also attracted to the pheromone.Dutcher and numerous cooperating pecan growers in south Georgia are studying the use of beetle traps baited with the pheromone as a monitoring device and as a part of an integrated control method. Currently, a panel trap baited with a pheromone lure works well for male beetles. Female beetles are trapped with a generic pitfall trap baited with alpha-pinene.This year, a new trap will be used to attract males and female beetles. The new trap includes a pail to collect the beetles, wooden beetle guides to direct the beetles toward the pail, a pheromone lure wafting in the air to attract the male beetles, a set of plastic panels to stop beetles that fly to the lure and a plastic cover to keep the rain out. The top panels and cover of the trap are made by modifying a panel trap manufactured by Alpha Scents, Inc. Beetles crawl or fly towards the trap and fall helplessly into the pail. The inside of the trap is coated to prevent the beetles from crawling out.“New traps baited with pheromone will collect males and new traps baited with alpha-pinene will collect females,” Dutcher said.Numerous field trials in pecans and other crops conducted by entomologists across the U.S. have found that the pheromone-baited traps can attract beetles from as far as 800 feet away. In Georgia pecans, one trap will collect several hundred beetles per week during the peak emergence period in May and June.“The utility of the traps as a monitoring tool is a great improvement over the old light trap method that has been used for the past 30 years,” said Dutcher, who noted that the traps may also be effective as a part of an integrated beetle control method.Two possible methods are mating disruption where an orchard is inundated with pheromone and males cannot find mates, or mass trapping where male beetles are trapped over a large plot of acreage with a matrix of evenly spaced traps. Dutcher and his team of pecan growers are also testing chemical control methods where beetles are monitored with traps and the soil is treated to control the beetles before they lay eggs near the tree trunk and roots. Research is under way to incorporate the new trapping system into pecan pest management in Georgia pecans.Pecan orchards with high root borer infestations have been reported across south Georgia from Cordele to Leesburg and from Tifton to Waycross.last_img read more

Instagram Takeover: Cathy Anderson

first_imgThis month’s Instagram Takeover features North Carolina-based photographer Cathy Anderson. Having grown up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Cathy has been exploring and photographing the region for most of her life.Cathy scaling an outcropping in the Linville Gorge. Photo by Halley Burleson.“My dad raised me in a darkroom and my entire childhood was filled with adventures and memories of creating photographs with my him,” Cathy says. “I have had a camera in my hand since I was a kid and am largely self-taught, but have taken just a few classes here and there.”Her lifelong passion for creating beautiful images has spawned an impressive portfolio of inspiring landscape and outdoor adventure photos. One look at Cathy’s photos will have you planning your next outdoor adventure, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.You can keep up with Cathy adventures here, and stay tuned to our Instagram account all week as we share some her all-time  favorite images.A Q & A With CathyBRO: What is your current home base and where are you from originally?CA: I currently live in Morganton, NC and was born and raised in Mount Holly, NC.BRO: Outside of photography, what is your favorite outdoor activity?CA: Last year, I was introduced to the outdoor community and various extreme sports, gaining a ton of super supportive friends along the way.  That’s when I got back into rock climbing and backpacking for the first time since I was a teenager.  I also love exploring the Linville Gorge, ballroom dancing, and plan on getting my hang gliding pilot’s license and SCUBA certification this year. BRO: What is your favorite town in the Blue Ridge Mountains and why?CA: Cullowheeeeeeeee!  I’m a little partial because I graduated from the finest college in the land, however, it’s the most centralized town that packs a punch with outdoor exploration for all sports.BRO: If you could only choose one area in this region to hike, explore, and photograph for the rest of your life what would it be?  CA: That’s hard to pick just one!  I love Panthertown, Linville Gorge, and especially any of the slot canyons that are yet to be discovered.BRO: One piece of gear (minus your camera) you wouldn’t head into the woods without?  CA: My headlamp; it shows me where to go (sometimes I still get spooked in the dark!), let’s me light paint in the dark, and lets me do various other photography-related artistic thingies.last_img read more

5 keys of consumer-centric marketing

first_img 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Keith Brannan Keith Brannan is CMO for Kasasa, a provider of branded, community-powered banking products. For more information on Kasasa, visit, or visit them on Twitter @Kasasa, @KasasaNews, Facebook, … Web: Details At its core, customer-centric marketing is about creating satisfied customers and enhancing your brand. Traditional methods that once worked are becoming outdated, requiring us to keep up with technology and accommodate the impact it’s having on consumers and their journey.As you start down the necessary path to modernizing your marketing, keep these five key steps in mind:1. Understand your consumerTechnology has led to a rapid evolution in customer behavior. People used to choose their financial institution by convenient location, and their account by what was offered there. Now people go online to research products, which expands their choices and consideration set.And this change of behavior isn’t just in millennials. Older demographics are also changing their behavior. Think about grandmothers who open savings accounts for grandchildren. These highly educated, active, retired women with time, energy, and money to spend on grandkids are now turning to the internet first. The average grandmother researches online, “Facebooks” her friends for their opinions, develops a short list, and then goes to a bank website.1To continue to connect with consumers, our methods have to evolve as consumer behavior evolves. Today’s consumers – age 18 through 80 – are savvier, more informed, and shopping product first. Our differentiation can still be positive service and a strong community presence. But first we have to compete by offering innovative products consumers expect.2. Target effectively using dataConsumer control of the decision-making process is so high, without effective targeting your message is lost in the digital clutter. Identifying your ideal account holders through marketing segmentation and buyer personas allows you to deliver what they want in the right channels at the right time. Targeting lets you focus your communication.It takes time and resources to create comprehensive consumer insights – BancVue has spent over $4.3 million in consumer research – but this investment is invaluable. Using technology and research to target consumers ensures you don’t waste money connecting with the wrong people who aren’t interested.Data enables you to craft more effective advertising, reach the right consumers at critical moments, and engage them with the right message. The “one marketing message works for everyone” days are over. People are bombarded with advertising communication. A correctly targeted and tailored message cuts through the noise, making a lasting impression and personal connection.3. Engage across multiple channelsConsumers aren’t interacting in only one communication channel. Once you’ve targeted your ideal prospects, you need to ensure that your messaging is crisp and consistent across all touchpoints. Consumers have a limited digital attention span, so your marketing needs to be attention getting, clear, and prompt them to take the next step.Just as you wouldn’t have broken windows or peeling wallpaper in a branch, you need to put your best foot forward online. Your digital presence is competing with the megabanks, so it needs to be just as polished and visually appealing. Consumers expect more and quickly dismiss ads and websites with poor graphics or confusing UX.With new technology and an increased focus on digital, it’s easy to forget the importance of the in-branch experience. Though 88% of people go online first for research,2 75% of recent bank switchers opened their new account at a physical branch location.3Once consumers have chosen you for your product, they have perceptions about your brand that need to be fulfilled when they come in-branch. Community financial institutions are perceived to deliver positive service and to care about their account holders. Their in-branch experience will reinforce their feelings about your brand.4. Fulfill your brand promiseBranding is more than a logo or marketing materials. It begins with identifying what your brand represents and your benefit to your account holder. It takes deep introspection and research to really know your consumer and recognize the true benefits you deliver. Once you understand the promise your brand is making to consumers, think about how you deliver on this promise.Consumer experiences shape their perception of you, and your marketing interactions are a big part of the consumer experience. Align your company actions to connect emotionally, build trust and relationships, engage consumers and help them make informed decisions. Map out your interactions and advertising touches and determine if they are effectively delivering a positive experience.5. Measure results and change accordinglyTechnology has created useful tools to help you gather analytics and determine if your efforts were successful. The inherent trackability of digital marketing allows you to evaluate ROI and spend smarter in your next marketing efforts. Keeping track of metrics lets you continually revisit your consumer targeting and maximize your effectiveness. At BancVue, we use analytics to develop best practices and inform our communication channel choices. With better results measurement, you gain better understanding of your account holders and prospects, you stay on top of trends as consumers migrate between different digital channels, and you refine your message as you receive feedback.Effective modern marketing is constantly evolving to create a better consumer journey. It’s a complex challenge that requires a full-circle strategy encompassing innovative products, data and metrics, targeted world-class marketing materials, and experiences that exceed customer expectations. A tall order for sure; which is why we continually refine Kasasa with a multi-faceted approach to inspire and excite consumers. If we stand still and use a one-dimensional strategy, the consumer tunes us out and chooses a megabank. 1 Winters, Phil. Customer Impact Agenda. 20142“CA Web Stress Index”, 20093 AOL & Oliver Wyman, “Making the Switch: Checking Account Path to Purchase,” June 2014last_img read more

5 myths you shouldn’t believe about money

first_img 76SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Tyler Atwell Web: Details 1. “I don’t earn enough to save”No matter how much money you make, you should be saving. If you are not able to save, then you are living beyond your means. When you get a paycheck, pay bills, then yourself by putting it into savings. The rest will be your flexible spending money.2. “You have to be rich to invest”If you truly believe this, then what you are really saying is that you don’t know where to start. Anyone with any income can invest. It is one of the best ways to grow your wealth. There are a ton resources out there to help you start out as well as financial professionals who can help you create an investment plan.3. “Buying a home is better than renting”This isn’t exactly a myth, but it isn’t true for everyone. In some cases, owning a home can be a good investment but that depends on the potential owner and where they are in life. Renting is often a better option for those seeking both personal and financial flexibility. Those who are young or just starting out in a new career should stick to renting.4. “Two incomes are better than one”Having two sources of income sounds ideal but it often tempts people into spending more. If you live in a household that has two incomes and can live comfortable off of one, then put the other right into savings.5. “Those who have a lot of things are wealthy”Material wealth does not accurately reflect ones’ current financial status. You could head out right now, buy a house, a new car, a dozen suits and a new Rolex but that would be enough to put most people well into debt. Do not get caught up with material possessions, they may look like wealth, but they will feel like debt.last_img read more

Venture capitalist cuts City rent

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img