helping you master customer insight leadership

Awards & trends for Research 2015

NASA Television 2009 Philo T. Farnsworth Primetime Emmy AwardEven though we are still fresh into a new year, it is around this time that we often see a spate of awards and pundits forecasting the key trends for the year. A few of these have caught my eye so I thought I’d share those I think add value. As there are developments in each of the technical disciplines which make up Holistic Customer Insight, it will be a review which covers a number of weeks. To start this week, let’s focus on the awards & trends for research in 2015.


The award I want to highlight is the DIVAs Europe award run by Infotools. What strikes me as important about these awards is the focus on best practice examples of storytelling and data visualisation in research reports. For that reason the examples of winners & strong contenders here should also be of interest beyond the research community – there are lessons that could be learnt by plenty of analytics professionals as well. Anyway, judge for yourself and if you’ve been delivering quality storytelling & visualisation to help your research make an impact, then consider entering. Here are the details: (more…)

EU VAT on digital but what about the data?

EuropaPeriodically successive governments impose new rules on businesses without sufficient consultation time to think through the implications or ensure most businesses know what to do.

The latest example of this is the new VAT rules applying to the sale of digital products across Europe, which now require the VAT rate of the country of the consumer to be applied irrespective of where the supplier is based. If this has passed you by, then you can find a useful summary of the changes in this Guardian article.


Do your products inculcate helpful habits?

HookedThanks to Jeffrey Slater of Nomacorc for sharing this great YouTube video of Nir Eyal from Stanford University presenting at The Next Web 2014 conference in USA. It is a brilliant exploration of how design can exploit behavioural psychology to the benefit of consumers (the users of products designed to promote habits that are better for their users).

Right from the start, the definition of habit as “a behaviour done with little or no conscious thought”, is clearly aligned to Kahnemann’s System 1.

Principles in this video like the ‘hook’ (an experience designed to connect a user’s problem with your solution with sufficient frequency to become a habit), all behaviours needing motivation + ability + trigger, the brain’s reward for anticipation (especially of the unknown) – these should all be trained as design principles for product marketers. But they are also relevant to Customer Insight work. Understanding what psychology can teach us about how our customers are actually experiencing our products is a Customer Insight priority.


Have you got the challenge of a New Job for the New Year?

First 90 DaysAs we return to work after the first weekend of the year, some of you may be facing the challenge of starting a new job, or at least a new or expanded role. Psychologically many people seem to prefer starting new life challenges like this at major milestones, like the turning of the year. Whether that is the case for you, or you’re in the equally challenging position of hiring a new starter, you know how vital it is to start well and make a positive impression.

Anxiety about this type of change has, of course, fuelled a whole industry of self-help books and management advice. Perhaps the most famous text on the subject is The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. Although this can feel like a demanding and relentless standard to meet, the structure provided does discipline you to: set goals; network with stakeholders effectively; listen to your team; and determine actions to be taken (rather than getting trapped in overly lengthy strategy analysis-paralysis). So, I would recommend it as the classic text on the subject.


Looking forward at this time of year

Russian icon of the Theophany (wikipedia)
Russian icon of the Theophany (wikipedia)

Well here we are on the fourth day of Christmas, so I hope those calling birds have arrived!

If you’re like me, right now you are probably feeling a mixture of awareness that the over-indulgence over recent days needs to end soon and excitement at the prospect of a fresh start in the New Year.

It can be a very peaceful and productive couple of days between the celebrations.


I don’t know about you, but traditionally this is a time when I tend to reflect on how I’m doing against my life priorities and consider setting goals. This year I’ve been nudged in that direction by a vodcast from Jeff Walker, a timely reminder of how we can spend this time productively:

As a trained executive coach, I fully endorse the power of goal setting. But I would also recommend taking that time out first to reflect on “why” you want to set that goal in particular roles within your life. A structured questioning session can help you do this, ideally using an appropriate coach for you, but this can be a useful practice by yourself.

The G.R.O.W. model is a well practiced simple framework for such a review, to help you set goals. Try these questions as an example on a role in your life:


Recruiting and retaining Analytical talent

Recruiting and RetainingThe well trailed difficulties in recruiting data scientists or other analytical roles, followed by the equivalent challenge in retaining them long enough to recoup your investment, have been likened to ‘talent wars’.

There are hotspots around the UK, but it seems all areas to some extent share this experience. London is perhaps the most challenging place to retain your talent, but there is more on the market (in amongst the charlatans & just plain deluded). In my own experience, it has been easier to recruit in South Wales & Bristol (the latter being particularly good for having a pool of analytical talent), whilst much harder in Bournemouth & Edinburgh for example. Several factors can improve your odds, including how you advertise, whether or not you use an agency and especially how clearly you explain the role.

Role description (more…)