Reinventing business models with Big Data Analytics

From a business perspective, the purpose of Big Data Analytics is ultimately to improve competitiveness and impact by making better business decisions that can be acted upon. Such decisions are backed by relevant and reliable facts collected from a variety of sources, providing insights based on trends and patterns which the human brain would never have found, in turn enabling a predictive approach to decision-making.

Every single industry is impacted by Big Data Analytics as digital transformation accelerates. Individual companies and public organisations are trying to make sense of all the changes, determining which are opportunities and which are threats to their activities.

As entire industries reinvent themselves, taking advantage of data-driven business models, we decided at BSL to zoom in on a few sectors and invite guest speakers to help us understand the business challenges each faces as well as how Big Data Analytics is helping them find a path to resolution, sometimes by reframing the challenge.

  • As Public Healthcare seeks to improve our quality-adjusted life-years, Big Data Analytics help direct the right care to the right person at the right time. Treating illnesses earlier, sometimes even preventing them, positively impacts society and the economy. Kevin Dean, Managing Director of Smart Health Science Limited and former Director of the Genomics England Project, shared with us how Big Data Analytics is used to accelerate our medical understanding and decisions, thus improving lives and saving costs. One of the main challenges with these often decade-long projects is to balance what is viable with what is affordable – in other words, to prevent costs getting out of hand without steering away from the end goal. Finding immediate applications for the technology is a good way to improve affordability.
  • The Financial Services sector uses Big Data Analytics extensively to inform better investment decisions and to improve their client experience. Who better than the world’s largest asset management company to talk to us about Big Data? David Wright, BlackRock’s EMEA Head of Product Strategy for their Scientific Active Equity (SAE) Group, shared how self-learning algorithms are driving 1,000+ investment decisions daily for parts of BlackRock’s portfolio. To be able to do that, the algorithms analyse over 4,000 brokerage reports a day as well as transcripts of earnings calls, correlated with external data sources ranging from satellite imagery to consumer sentiment based on online search behaviour. Constructing better economic indicators whilst de-risking investments is the main goal.
  • A fascinating talk with Anne Mellano, co-founder of the Swiss startup BestMile, gave us insights into what Public Transportation will look like tomorrow. BestMile offer the world’s first Cloud platform for the operation and optimization of autonomous vehicle fleets. She shared with us today’s main public transportation challenge, which is that users need to adapt to what is offered, no personalisation is possible. Also, no matter how good the historical data, public transportation will always be planned based on past trends (pick-up locations, routes, timetables, capacity, etc.). BestMile are reframing the challenge by imagining an urban public transportation model which adapts to individual user needs through real-time routing and capacity management based on big data analytics feeds from various sources, including user devices such as smartphones. Sharing the mode of transportation will also help solve our urban congestion and pollution challenges.
  • With urban migration leading to >60% of the world’s population living in cities by 2050 (UN report), and with cities representing only about 2% of our available landmass, there are many challenges to be addressed urgently. Health, safety, movement, jobs, construction, education, entertainment and the list goes on. Nicola Villa, Global Leader of Digital Platforms for Government at IBM, shared with us the concept of the Cognitive City. A city where the Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are successfully addressing the various urban challenges and enabling us to shift from smart city to smart citizens. We are all co-responsible for the quality of life we aspire to in our cities around the world.

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  • Whatever the industry, tomorrow’s talent needs to be more agile, curious and collaborative than has been required in the past where the focus was more on hard skills. So, to wrap up our Big Data Analytics course, we invited an expert in Human Resources to share with us the role that technology is playing in redefining that industry. Paul Jacquin, Managing Partner of Randstad’s Innovation Fund, explained how recruiters are changing their approach to sourcing, screening and selecting the right talent. Increasingly, online tools based on self-learning algorithms are testing candidates, managing the hiring process and finding the best match with employers. Sometimes, it’s even the other way around with several employers bidding for the right candidate. Often we are victims of unconscious bias which leads to people hiring people like themselves. Also, the traditional application process of sending unsolicited CVs can be highly frustrating for candidates. And for employees, the cost of hiring the wrong person is very high. Big Data Analytics addresses all these issues, helping reduce the hiring timeline and the associated costs whilst finding the best candidate match.

Getting our BSL students ready for this changing digital world is paramount for their success and their ability to contribute to our collective future. This requires a sound understanding of the use and implications of Big Data Analytics. As one of the leaders at BlackRock says: “All employees are responsible for being students of technology”. That responsibility starts even before becoming an employee.

Author: Anja Langer Jacquin,
Professor at BSL

Giving Sales the position it deserves

Going into Sales used to be the career choice of people who weren’t particularly good at anything else. The view was, that you could always make enough of a living from finding people who could be convinced to buy whatever you had to sell them. Someone even less smart than you…

Over the years, being a salesman gained a bad reputation, becoming associated with images of aggressiveness and dishonesty. A 2011 survey of more than 9,000 people from around the world (What Do You Do At Work? survey, Daniel Pink) showed that the first words which come to people’s minds when being asked about Sales are ”pushy”, annoying”, ”sleazy” and ”yuck”! 

Yet the days are long gone where salesmen rang our doorbells with a suitcase full of products to sell. The level of sophistication required to successfully sell products and services has risen exponentially with the avenue of digital (Internet, mobile, social media, analytics). Today, a sale is so much more than a transaction, it has become an experience for the buyer who looks for emotional triggers well beyond the traditional rational reasons. In our world of abundance, we have so many choices that we seek personal fulfillment in addition to simply satisfying a need. In fact, we often end up buying things we don’t even need. And the things we buy are often based on recommendations from people we’ve never met.

Today’s sales person must be incredibly versatile to navigate this complexity: be a subject matter expert, display focused business acumen and – probably most importantly – demonstrate strong emotional intelligence. They have to be masters at building genuine relationships whilst still delivering on the financial returns required by their employer. In fact, no sales means no revenue means no company. Everything else is context at the end of the day.

As our BBA students in the Sales and Key Account Management course reflected on the future of selling in a recent assignment, there was consensus that the role will only become more complicated in the coming years and decades. The human touch is being lost from the sales process, with many buyers preferring to make decisions and manage processes themselves (just consider how we prefer self-check-in or online purchases).  How to compensate for the absence of contact, knowing that buyers are looking for an experience? Companies as they gain better insights into their customers through tailored analytics will evolve to employ artificial intelligence in the sales process as well as advanced technologies such as virtual reality and drones.

We’re in for an interesting and turbulent ride as business models are turned upside down (consider the fate of everything from travel agents to the music industry to the banking sector). Those responsible for ensuring that products and services are sold and that revenue comes through the door, will need to be highly adaptable and attentive to market shifts. We need business-savvy young people who are well prepared for delivering value to customers and to companies, whichever way is the right one. That preparation starts at Business School Lausanne.

Author: Anja Langer Jacquin, BSL Professor

Zara: It is time to detox!

The problem
Let’s talk about clothing. It is something essential, isn’t it? You could hate fashion and you would still need to buy and wear clothes. Who has not ever bought a piece of clothing from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Zara, H&M, Gap or Primark? Do you know that those clothes you have bought could contain toxic substances?

Indeed, yes, they might contain toxic substances. Substances that are thrown into the rivers close to the factories. The low prices that we usually pay for these clothes have an extra human cost paid by local citizens of the countries on where factories are settled. These chemicals are used to color clothes and have a huge impact on the environment and health through the whole supply chain. This happens because the chemicals are disposed into the rivers near the factories, but also when we buy and wash them, as the water used by the washing machine will drain polluted water to the environment.

The solution
Greenpeace was concerned with what it was happening with these chemicals and they launched a campaign called ‘Detox’ in 2011.

The first step was to do scientific research in order to be able to prove that they were right. They took small pieces of clothing from different brands from all over the world and analysed them in laboratories where they found out what different chemicals were inside these textiles.

Once they had the evidences, they started to put social pressure on the brands to join ‘Detox’.

If companies accepted to join the initiative to detox, several conditions had be fulfilled in order to become a detox leader:

  • They should have removed all the hazardous substances by 2020
  • Three fundamental principles should be followed:
    • Prevention and precaution: Taking precautionary action towards the elimination of dangerous chemicals.
    • Right to know: Total transparency between the brands and the consumers. Consumers have the right to know about the chemicals let off into their waterways.
    • Elimination: Eliminating those toxic substances and admitting that there are no environmentally safe levels for hazardous substances.

What happened with Zara?
Well, Zara was one of the first companies that Greenpeace started to attack. Why?

Zara belongs to the Inditex group, the biggest textile group in the world, and the usual strategy that Greenpeace adopts is to attack to the biggest prey, the one that can cause the biggest social impact. As soon as this prey is captured, the rest of the preys will tend to follow the biggest one. This is why Zara was the chosen as the first target of the campaign. Once Zara was convinced to join the Detox campaign, the rest of the brands were easier to convince.

How did they convince Zara to detox?
The only needed nine days of public pressure. Flash mobs, dressed in a very special way, made performances in front of the main boutiques of Zara all around the world. Social networks, bloggers and fashion lovers helped to increase public awareness about toxics in cloths.

Greenpeace also put a video clip on the topic in the social networks. This video imitates the style of a manga movie – a smart way to communicate to the young target group of Fast Fashion.

 

More brands involved in this campaign
After Zara accepted to detox, more brands started to join this campaign and others just did not want to follow this environmentally friendly change. This is why Greenpeace designed a special website in order to inform the consumer if the brands where they buy their clothes are detoxing or not.

Greenpeace distinguishes between three kinds of brands: detox leaders, green washers and detox losers. The first ones are the brands who are detoxing, the second ones are the brands that said they would detox but they are actually not doing anything and finally the third group is for the brands that have denied the propositions given by Greenpeace.

But, we can all be part of this, we can all chose to detox and buy clothes from the companies that take care of our environment and our health. It is also in our hands.

LET’S HELP THE WORLD, LETS DETOX!

Author: Miguel González López M.I.B. Student

Demographic segmentation is OUT as consumers are increasingly moving targets

It’s time to rethink your preconceived ideas about using demographics as segmentation tool of your customers.

Imagine the following: The number of Twitter users is growing fast among those aged 55 to 64. More women play video games than men, and there are more gamers aged over 44 than under 18. In August 2014 , the Mandarin Oriental luxury hotel group launched “Selfie in Paris”: A guided tour of the French capital’s best selfie spots in a private chauffeured car.

The above are three seemingly disparate reflections in the mirrored labyrinth that is the 21st century consumerism. But they are all related to each other by a single, profound shift. That is, the diminishing meaningfulness of the traditional demographic clusters thinking – gender, age, class, location, relationship status and more – that have informed the innovation thinking of marketers for decades. Today, those professionals must come to understand a new world in which traditional demographic segments are losing their meaning and applicability. Welcome to the age of post-demographic consumerism.
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TEDXZurichWomen 2015 – Momentum

The first TEDXZurichWomen took place in Zurich on the 29th May, 2015 – a big occasion. BSL had a dynamic presence in the event which was wonderful.  BSL people, Shaun McMillan, Vaia Sarlikioti, Gina Fiore, Karim Abib and yours truly, Mary Mayenfisch were all there.  We contributed in the areas of sponsoring, logistics and media, and the day to day running of the event with the rest of a very dedicated TED team.

Almost 200 people attended, coming from all backgrounds, interests and sectors.  Momentum was the theme- taking flight, gaining altitude and reaching destination were the routes taken by the varied group of speakers.
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Making an Impact as Creative Leaders – Business School Lausanne 20th May, 2015

ElaineHeartfelt thanks to Elaine France, Founder of Women who move Mountains, for helping convene an amazing group of women to Business School Lausanne yesterday.   Elaine has a dream; she wants to help women to develop their resilience, their creative and innovation skills. Why? Because she truly believes (and so do I) that women can move mountains.
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People need to dream

Chris Cordey, CEO of Futuratinow.com and Associate Professor at Business School Lausanne, organized a very interesting Sustainable Luxury Forum in Geneva last week. The title of the forum set the scene – Luxury in a VUCA World: How to Address Soaring Inequalities, Scarcities and Complexities?  A VUCA world needs to be explained – it means a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In short, the world we live in today. Continue reading

Action Calls against Prejudices and Labels against Women as Powerful Competitive Brand Positioning

More and more brands discover the power of taking positions for a cause as strategic brand positioning statement. After Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign  (watch the video here) and its Self-Esteem Fund, a CSR consequence of it, Vitoria’s Secret’s “Love My Body Campaign”, and HNS (Healthy is the New Skinny) that promotes “women with real curves”, it’s now P&G’s cosmetics brand PANTENE that launched a “Be Strong and Shine” campaign to raise awareness of wrong labels against women, particularly in Philippines:


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Developing a Marketing Strategy in Complex Circumstances

As a Professor who comes from an operational transportation and marketing background, I try to ensure that my students get as close as possible to a real business environment while they study with me.

Earlier this year BSL’s MSc Global Marketing students had the opportunity to work with IATA, the International Air Transport Association, on an assignment to produce marketing strategy ideas for the air cargo industry in the Suisse Romande region (French-speaking part of Switzerland). Continue reading

Cryonics at Swiss Luxury Clinic?

In the course of Marketing Planning and Business development, given by Professor Christopher H. Cordey, 22 students worked on a not too fictitious case study related to the eventual emergence of cryonics services in a Swiss Luxury Clinic. Continue reading