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Catherine Barba: “We are Living in a World in Rupture”

“The world is changing faster than ever.” With this categorical phrase, Catherine Barba, Internet pioneer, entrepreneur and angel investor, talks about the world in which we find ourselves, a world that, in her opinion, “is in rupture or breaking down”.

In her opinion, the changes we are experiencing today force us to better understand the world around us to make the right decisions. The most traditional companies have to be aware that “all current revolutions can be represented in exponential curves,” she points out. And that is why within these organizations you need leaders and professionals who are able to adapt to new environments, to a new way of thinking, or a change in mentality. “We are used to thinking linearly and we can no longer do that,” says Barba.

Barba radiates enthusiasm describing the world we live in. “Today all technological innovations are possible: we can build houses in three hours thanks to 3D printing or we have autonomous cars,” she says. But, in addition, what is more important and historical is that at present several revolutions overlapping at the same time: artificial intelligence and robotics… There are so many changes at happening the same time and this makes it difficult, according to some comments, to be able to anticipate or predict the world of the future. Barba exemplifies this situation alluding to the incontestable fact that today companies with such great economic values did not exist ten years ago. In other words, they are companies that have not seen this exponential evolution, which were born with digital DNA.

Barba, also a member of the Renault Council, is very reluctant to talk about digital transformation. She is convinced that the adjective “digital” does not contribute anything. It does not make sense because we are facing processes of cultural and organizational changes in companies. Technology is a “driver,” it is a tool, but what is really relevant is the transformation of mentality that human teams have to develop, the leaders of these companies.

Referring to the challenges in the field of organizational transformation, Catherine Barba believes that one of the biggest challenges these companies will have is being able to attract talent, but not only capturing it, but more importantly retaining it. And look at the explanation in a crucial aspect: young people today want to work on their own or in companies such as Google or Facebook. It is increasingly difficult for traditional companies to attract this group. For this reason, that they have to adapt to new circumstances and the new language spoken by this current generation. This is where, in her opinion, the process of cultural transformation is embedded.

But, it goes much further in terms of challenges. For this entrepreneur, “thinking about the future” is key. “You can not think about today’s business, you have to think about tomorrow, about what the business will look like in the future,” she insists.

The formation of teams is key

Her journey through the United States for four years has served Barba to see that the so-called country of opportunities is not as advanced as it seems. Entrepreneurship in the United States is located in very specific places, according to reports. In recent years, she says “I have seen few companies that are prepared to face the process” of transformation, among other factors because the CEOs or company management do not have the necessary vision to lead it. This is a fundamental element for the cultural and organizational transformation of a company to come to fruition. As it is also fundamental to have a diverse board of directors. Diversity, not only of gender, is a central point to develop the sensitivity that will help face the necessary changes.

And another very important element is collaboration with the startup ecosystem. According to Barba, it is not only about talking to them, but about exchanging experiences and ideas, trying to take advantage of the best that these projects can offer and arriving later to enage with and invest in those companies.

Likewise, in order for a successful transformation process, the formation of the teams is essential. A training that, in the opinion of the investor, should focus on three pillars: digital culture, specifically focusing on new business models that are appearing in the market, the current meaning of the client (who is not only the person who buys a product or service) and entrepreneurial spirit.

Concluding our conversation, Barba emphasizes on the need to incorporate failure as an essential factor for any company or entrepreneur to advance and improve. Failure is not bad. It is quite the opposite. And it is something that has been incorporated into the process of change. A similar instance occurs with two values that are sometimes forgotten: humility and authenticity.

 


Bárbara Yuste
Directora of Digital Communication at Proa Comunicación

Spain, among the 10 Most Attractive Countries for Digital Talent

Spain is one of the ten most attractive countries to attract and retain digital talent, one of the most demanded professional groups in the world and, according to a new study by Boston Consulting Group and The Network, an international alliance of employment websites in the world in which Infoempleo is a member, also one of the professional groups most willing to relocate. More than two thirds of professionals specialized in the digital field are open to moving to a different country to progress in their careers, with the US being the main destination for digital experts worldwide and London, their favorite city. In addition, Spain is considered by these profiles as the eighth most attractive country to work, and Barcelona the fifth most popular city.

Jorge Guelbenzu, managing director of Infoempleo, says,”In Spain new employment opportunities are being generated in operational areas in which digital transformation is already a reality. However, there is a deficit of domestic professionals who have the specific skills and specialized training to develop and carry out these functions. That is why, on occasion, companies have to look for candidates abroad to fill certain vacancies and, in light of this information, it becomes clear that these professionals are look very keenly towards this country as a place to develop their careers.”

Pablo Claver, BCG partner in Spain responsible for the People and Organization team, emphasizes that “attracting digital talent directly influences the success of a country’s economy, and contributes significantly in positioning ourselves as one of the leaders in digital development. As how companies, governments and institutions can perform an analysis of the supply and demand of digital talent in their country (strategic workforce planning) to create geographical plans for their workforce and develop strategies to become a center for digital experts. The data shows that Spain has the potential to become a world leader in attracting digital talent, which is a competitive advantage.”

The Decoding Digital Talent report is based on a sample of 27,000 surveys conducted in 180 different countries to professionals with knowledge in areas such as programming and web development, mobile application development, artificial intelligence, robotics and engineering.

The report determines that 80% of digital experts have a university degree. In addition, contrary to popular belief, his main preference is to work for a large company, not for a startup. In addition, 68% are men, only 9% of these profiles are in the top management and 41% work in positions without management responsibilities.

Digital experts have skills in areas where demand is growing significantly and urgently, specifically in agile forms of work (18%) and in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) (14%).

67% of digital professionals are willing to move to advance their professional careers, but the interest varies greatly depending on the country. More than three quarters of the experts from India and Brazil would move for work reasons, while in countries like China, less than one in four would move for work. In comparison, if we take into consideration other professional groups beyond the digital domain, the percentage of those willing to relocate for work-related reasons is significantly lower, since only 55% would take the decision to change their location.

The willingness to change residence is high for digital experts from developing economies, 75% would move to have access to better opportunities to progress in their careers. “In analyzing the data, we also observed that in many parts of the world people with extensive digital knowledge are more interested in moving to a nearby country or a place where they already share the language or culture,” says Rainer Strack, BCG partner and co-author Of the report.

The USA and London, the most popular Country and City to Work Abroad

Besides the US and Germany, the other eight destinations chosen by the digital experts as the most attractive to work abroad are, in order of popularity, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Spain, Japan and Italy. However, among non-digital professionals, Spain is in sixth place as the most ideal countries to which they would relocate. The first five countries don’t vary as popular destinations worldwide for anyone interested in changing location, as detailed in Decoding Global Talent 2018.

With regards to cities, London is the prime city in the world for anyone who wants to relocate, as well as the main work destination for digital experts, whose next options in order of preference are New York, Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona. The study therefore determines that the attractiveness of some of the best ranked cities exceeds that of their countries among digital experts.

As the report highlights, digital experts value balance between personal life and opportunities for progress and professional development, as well as good relationships with colleagues and managers.

The Challenge for Countries and Recruiters: Attract and Retain Digital Experts

Digital experts capable of coding software or executing advanced AI data analysis are a valuable asset. Companies that need digital experts to lead or expand a company face very tough competition to retain the talent that possesses such skills. In addition to recruiting, companies can meet the needs of their digital experts by offering training or re-evaluation programs to train current employees in new digital knowledge.

In the same way, cities and countries must compete with other areas to recruit or retain digital experts that could be of vital importance for their economic development. The first step towards that effort is to carry out a strategic plan of the labor force for a country or area to trace the supply and demand of digital experts. Governments must also launch education programs and create a national or city “brand” to capture digital talent.

“How countries and companies adapt their strategies to the deficit of digital expertise will be crucial in the coming years,” says Pierre Antebi, director of The Network and co-author of the report. “Recruiters are already aware of the importance of finding and retaining digital talent, so much so that, beyond doing it in their own countries, they have also expanded their activities internationally. They must be more creative than ever and need information to make the relevant decisions. This report with the information it contains is especially dedicated to them. “

Does Artificial Intelligence Kill Jobs?

AI, robotics and automation in general have for decades severely affected society in general and the labor market in particular. In the near future, labor itself and the laborer will cease to be one of the more important productive forces that they are today. The time has come to consider what kind of future we want.

Technology destroys some jobs and creates others. So far both trends have been somewhat balanced. Many jobs of the past have disappeared while new ones have been created. The barcode boosted world trade, creating millions of new jobs. Others have disappeared, and to put out one of the innumerable examples there are, banking related jobs are rapidly dwindling.

The pace of job creation is not enough to counteract the destruction generated by automation. To think that we will have millions of technological jobs is delusional. When Facebook bought WhatsApp, this company had 50 employees. Can we create new jobs with such a model? The reality is that the annual hours worked in every country do not stop decreasing.

Technology is good and has helped create a better world, where by and large all indicators of societal well-being showing positive trends. Improvements have been made in overall health, life expectancy, education, crime and violence, global GDP, wealth, equality and democracy, putting forward some of the most relevant examples.

Work has ceased to be what it was. People want to work by the income they report, but very few are remunerated by such. Freeing millions of people from routine or painful jobs is good as long as economic conditions do not worsen. Millions of people live on subsidies and the universal basic income is an alternative that advances with strength.

Meanwhile, inequality is increasing: The owners of automation are getting richer and 1% of the world population has as many resources as the remaining 99%. This is unacceptable, both morally and economically.

If we don’t work in the future, what will we do with our lives? Some will have answers, but many won’t. It is essential to consider the new educational challenges. We cannot train our young people for a world that no longer exists. Being free requires effort and a plan. We cannot delay this any longer.


Antonio Orbe 
Technology Expert

 

The Challenges facing Sponsorship amid the Digital Transformation

Sponsorship, like the other Marketing-Mix tools, also faces some powerful challenges in the face of the digital transformation which we are immersed in.

Because of the great changes that we are experiencing in terms of how we communicate and stay informed about sporting events, sponsorship may be at a difficult crossroads, because, unlike in the past, calculating your ROI (Return on Investment) has become an enormously complex task.

Although a good sponsorship strategy requires it to affect all the strategic communication elements of the company, traditionally it was mainly supported as an alternative to conventional advertising.

“I’ll put my advertising on the shirt of a football team, a stadium or a racing car and I’ll be seen by more people than if I put an ad in the press or on TV.” This was the basic reasoning that was made when contemplating an investment in a sponsorship. All this has ceased to be valid, as it is well known that both through the written press and conventional television that today it is impossible to concentrate placement while garnering massive visibility as was achieved in the past.

At first, the appearance of digital media as well as social networks was conceivably going to give more reliable numbers thanks to technology.  But reality has become misleading, more well put than ever, because of the fraud that accompanies all the data in this environment, also because of artificial generators of ‘clicks’, bots, false followers, etc, etc, generating great confusion and skepticism about the real impact that sponsorship renders.

Because of this, it may seem that sponsorship has ceased to be as useful of a tool as it was in the past.  However, the reality is that a well managed sponsorship can be more effective than ever in enabling a company to communicate with its target audiences.

The digital change, therefore, permanently buries the formula of putting a logo on a platform and later waiting to see audience figures. But advertisers, forced by this drastic change of model in which we find ourselves in, can find within sponsorship the ideal environment and circumstances to accomplish one of the magic concepts of this era: Engagement. Get to the ‘heart’ instead of going for the ‘eyes’.

It’s true that the currently available technology allows you to reach your customers in digital advertising (at least those of the online environment) with unusual precision, but it’s also true that, simplifying it greatly, we’re speaking of tactical marketing, Not strategic marketing.

In this sense, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, geolocation, holograms, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. also allow sponsorship to provide an extension impossible to achieve in the past. This digital opportunity is applied to the world of sponsorship as an open door to establish emotional connections with the target audience to which the communication is directed.

Let’s think about just the interaction that occurs between traditional sports and e-sports, with tools such as virtual reality. The viewer is part of the experience, not only enjoying the experience as it happened as in the past, where the role of the viewer was passive.

If in the past one of the attractive features of a sponsorship versus conventional advertising was the possibility of offering unique experiences, experiences that money can not buy, with technological advances these possibilities are no longer confined to the physical/off-line environment, They can also be brought anywhere and anytime thanks to smartphones and other electronic devices.

The great challenge to overcome is the measuring this very impact, because if it’s complicated nowadays to analyze follow-up data, what about the difficulty of evaluating a sponsorship by measuring the satisfaction of current clients and the degree of attraction of potential clients? What about employee commitment, or how favorably investors or institutions view our company, or the sympathy with which our CSR is perceived by society?

I am a strong supporter of market research and surveys. This data can certainly be imperfect, but no less imperfect I think is are the data we take as television audience stats or  Google Analytics.

To give an example of these imperfections, of what use is it for us to have some data on reactions, likes and retweets on twitter if we have no way of knowing what happens on WhatsApp, the largest social network of all? Although being a private platform this isn’t taken into account.

WhatsApp groups are usually the platform where the greatest exchanges of files and comments related to sports take place, yet however it is as if it were nonexistent in terms of available data. A solution will come about in the end, but this example serves to remind us that we are barely in the early stages of change in this digital transformation in the world of sponsorship and of the immense field of possibilities that lie ahead.


 

Pablo de Villota
Director of Sports & Entertainment at Proa Comunicación

 

What do Corporate Banking Customers Want?

What are the current needs of corporate banking customers? To this day, they still demand managers who they can fully trust, along with products and services for their financing and transactional needs. Now, however, they desire even more. They want the relationship with their bank to be simpler and more direct, while also wanting to do more operations digitally.

The reinvention of the customer experience model has already advanced one step further in retail banking. Corporate banking, however, has lagged behind in this process. This is for several reasons, primarily the high complexity of clients and products alike and the low level of standardization in products and services. In addition, the cost of making mistakes can be very high, either from failing to comply with regulations or from the business impact of bad loans.

In this scenario, how should corporate banking address the need to reinvent its concept of relationship with its customers? It should focus more towards the customer experience aspect than towards its producto offering.  Moreover, does the corporate bank understand the real needs of the treasurer and financial manager, to develop the optimal customer experience for them?

In corporate banking, around 30 different customer experience models can be distinguished. Therefore, by applying the necessary changes to implement this range of new relationship models, changes are put into effect in both internal processes and systems.

When the corporate bank has a complete vision of what its customer experience model should be in the future, it will have to prioritize. Because it will have to decide which is the customer experience model that best adapts to the processes of digital transformation, and that can therefore count on the support of the entire organization.

Multidisciplinary tools

Introducing the new customer experience should be swift and agile, and should be executed through multidisciplinary teams and tools.  Both customer relationship managers as well as product, data and business intelligence specialists ought to be involved. Credit risk managers and analysts should also play a role, because this transformation is an activity based on internal processes related to the implementation of the new relationship model. In some of these processes, for example in onboarding (the receiving model for new customers), it is critical that the new model meets regulatory requirements.

To achieve sufficient visibility among different organizations regarding the new customer experience model, achieving tangible and rapid results is absolutely vital. Corporate banking firms, therefore, need to ensure that this new relationship model is configured as one its main pillars in the development of processes focused towards digital transformation.

Finally, if the corporate banking firms want to meet the challenge of providing a renewed customer experience, they take into account the opinions of a prior selection of their main clients. This is to ensure that, in the future, the entire customer base appreciates the advantages and the effectiveness of a new relationship model adopted by its preferred corporate bank.

Access the complete report by Boston Consulting Group

 

by Ole Bendik Heggtveit
Principal at the Boston Consulting Group y expert in digital corporate banking

Key Steps for the Banking Sector to Improve its Reputation

The latest scandals involving large banks picked up by the press – the illegal eavesdropping ordered by the previous BBVA chairman, the unsuccessful appointment of the Santander´s incoming CEO and the lawsuits filed by investors who have lost their money in Banco Popular shares or mandatory convertible bonds – portray how Spanish banks continue to be affected by serious reputational problems.

 

This is despite the fact that the three largest operators, Santander, BBVA and La Caixa, are among the top 10 ranked in best corporate reputation according to Merco, based on 38,000 interviews with the general population and stakeholders. Or maybe it´s simply that bank customers in Spain are much more loyal to their banks than customers in other countries, something exemplified by the fact that 86% of the distribution volume of investment funds originates from bank branches, according to Inverco.

 

This situation is worrisome, however, because banking is the mainstay of the economy, being the financier of consumption, real estate investments and general business activity both public and private. In Spain´s case, the largest banking operators have expanded widely to other regions such as Latin America, so that the effects of their reputational crises at home are transferred abroad.

 

Change the Business Model

After the financial crisis in 2008 there was a severe economic recession in Spain which lasted until 2013. In the wake of the crisis, the cycle transformed towards a growth phase in which we remain today. The banking system´s role in this improvement was fundamental, as the low interest rates, the abundant liquidity and the household saving rate due to deleveraging in the private sector boosted credit activity and with it the consumption.

 

The crisis had another consequence, namely a profound transformation of the banking business model. Banks had to adapt their revenue generation model to anticipate lower margins because of higher regulatory costs, greater amount required in technology investments and the emergence of competitors with much more efficient cost structures.

 

A report by the Boston Consulting Group noted that between 2009 and 2017, the global banking sector had to pay fines to regulators amounting to 320 billion dollars as a result of bad marketing practices. On the other hand, McKinsey estimated ​​the impact of Fintech competition on conventional banking to be in between 29% and 35% of revenues, due to both the loss of customers and the reduction of margins.

 

Transform Digitally

These factors explain the banking sector´s strong commitment towards digitalization. Such is a key tool with which they can improve customer experience, challenge competition from Fintech and raise the quality of service towards customers while reducing costs.

 

The digital transformation that the banking sector undertakes is also causing other changes to the financial ecosystem, as the importance of front-office processes in customer service models is progressively reduced due to commercial pressure and the high costs they reflect on the income statement.

 

Logically, this lower front-office effort means greater attention to the middle-office and back-office processes, which are the ones that need higher levels of automation and control in aspects such as risk management and cost reduction.

 

Communicate Novelties

The future of the sector is therefore to implement solutions that provide greater agility, flexibility and orientation towards customer satisfaction to create greater value. Accenture translates it as banking´s evolution towards the “commoditization” of some services, the aggregation of data and new models of transaction processing, based on distributed ledgers (blockchain) and databases.

 

In the case of Spanish banks, they have been pioneers and enthusiasts when it comes to implementing new transformative trends in business models. Therefore, banks need to communicate effectively their beneficial role as the engine of the economy and the impact of the major changes they´re implementing to adapt to the new age of digitalization, regulatory changes and increased competition.

 

Banks also needs to effectively communicate the cost-cutting procedures and customer experience enhancements they are carrying out, so that these efforts are positively received by the customer and thus by society as a whole.

 

Only in this way will it be possible to change the negative perception of banks across social groups and classes. Such is the perception that prevails whenever incidents occur related to banking malpractice, solvency problems or deficiencies in the commercialization of products, all of which affect banking recurrently.

 


Javier Ferrer
Proa Comunicación Consultant specializing in the investment realm