Posts in Category: waffle

? Data is King! – #1 Uber – 2- 3 min read ?

Data is King is a new mini series I am writing about the best data driven companies – These companies operationalise data throughout every aspect of their organisation, whereas, most organisations use data as a retrospective grading system to figure out performance and decisions with yesterdays data tomorrow. 

Data is King!

You may have heard or read folk talking about how ‘Data is the new oil’ or bigging up big data (pun intended), but, is data being king really a new thing? I don’t think so.

Take a look at any success story you can think of whether it be sporting or business, data is always there.

Look at Team GB’s tremendous cycling success, marginal gains is all about the data!

Look at Amazon’s rise in the 2000’s, upsells, reviews and relevance – data, data, data!

In today’s top companies data is more important than traditional assets. Take Facebook, the world’s biggest media company that creates no content, Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer, yet carries no inventory, AirBNB the world’s largest accommodation provider, yet owns no real-estate and who could forget everyone’s favourite largest taxi company that owns no cabs – Uber!

Sticking with Uber for a bit they truly are the data kings. Let’s break it down a little:

? Right Place, Right Time – Uber advises drivers when and where to go to maximise their revenue and enhance the likelihood of being near a passenger pickup. This process isn’t driven by some lad or lassie in a cramped office staring at a map with pins on it – it’s driven by data. Live, insightful, real-time data!

? Data Defines Delivery – From the second you open Uber the data is firing it’s way to your eyeballs. How long till you get picked up? how much will it cost? what rating does your driver have? what car is she in? An old fashioned dispatcher probably can’t give you that information even if you ask, not to mention they can only handle one request at a time.

? Supply and Demand – Uber drivers have access to real-time data telling them the best times to work. Data decides when surge pricing kicks in.

✨ Reviews and Ratings – The rating you give to your Uber driver goes much further than just to give feedback about their performance. It’s commonly understood that the most frequent/loyal customers are matched with higher rated drivers when possible. It’s also suggested that if your average rating as a driver falls below 4.4 the driver risks ‘deactivation’ meaning they won’t be able to access Uber’s passenger base. Yikes! ?

? Data Driven Marketing – Did you know that on Monday’s when you are in your London office that 67% of the time you call an Uber? No?.. Uber does. Imagine what kinds of cool campaigns you can do with that data (of course, this campaign has a higher success rate if the day is Sunday and it’s 2am and you’re stumbling out of a night club, but that’s not relevant to you, right?).

How about if you are in an unusual location, perhaps near an obscure train station imagine what cool acquisition campaigns you can do with that data!

These are just 5 angles of how Uber are leveraging data to surpass their peers and provide a personalised and frictionless experience to their passengers and drivers. They are just the angles that are public knowledge and Uber are only just getting started!

Data is king ?.

Blockchain to the Future – Where we are going we don’t need GDPR!

Imagine a future where organizations pay you for information about yourself. Where instead of Google selling the data they glean from scanning your emails to brands, the brands instead, pay you. This is the not so distant future promised by decentralization and the blockchain.

In fact, the whole idea of brands sending unsolicited emails, ads or selling an individual’s data into a third party pot will blow the minds of future generations and we will seem really daft when we try to explain how we tolerated all of the sleazy, intrusive marketing that we receive.

The blockchain in a decentralized world will give individuals control over who has access to their personal data. Subsequently, the strategies of marketing teams will be turned on their head. No data no detail.

You may be thinking that this sounds a little like what GDPR aims to do, and, at this level of detail you’d be right. However, there are fundamental differences; GDPR relies on organizations complying with the consent requirements of consumers, the blockchain revolutionizes technology as we know it, and, put simply the organizations will never get the data if the individual doesn’t share it.

Both GDPR and blockchain/decentralization present the same challenge to marketers – you are going to have to work for the opportunity to obtain data that you previously took for granted.

As your competitors up their game, you’ll have to as well. It will no longer be acceptable to not leverage the customer data your customers have given you. I’m talking about those poorly executed retargeting campaigns, impersonal emails and oblivious approach to cross-device interaction.

Another big difference between the future on blockchain and GDPR is that organizations will not be able to incentivize individuals to give consent where as with blockchain it’s likely that individuals will be credited for sharing their data.

If you think the idea of being credited for participating in activities that we currently do for free is a little far fetched then check out, a social network where users get credited in Steem* for posting, commenting and upvoting, or check out where users get credited in Bitcoin for answering emails.

What ever way you look at the future and how prevalent you think blockchains and decentralization will become, one fact remains: the cost of entry for marketers to sit at the same table as consumers is going up rapidly. If you are not putting serious thought into how you can use customer data to ensure your customers have frictionless and relevant experiences at every touch point then you risk being locked out for good…!


If this short post has piqued your interested then I highly recommend a free eBook my friend Jeremy Epstein has written called The CMO Blockchain Primer.

*Steem is a Cryptocurrency. Currently, 1 Steem is worth 0.00048259 Bitcoin or about £1/$1.30.

GDPR of Thrones

[Warning: Contains mild spoilers]

Game of Thrones is a television drama set around a fantasy world of 7 Kingdoms.

The storyline revolves around a number of families (houses) who claim a right to the throne and the wars, allegiances and betrayals they face in their battle to reign supreme.

Recently a new threat has arisen from an old enemy, The White Walkers, these frozen zombie like beings are moving south from the frozen north and are only able to do so as ‘winter is coming’.

Not only does the White Walker army consist of thousands upon thousands of zombie soldiers they can only be destroyed with weapons made from either Dragon Glass or Valyrian Steel, both of which are scarce resources.

However, despite the impending threat of The White Walkers from the north the houses all react differently. For instance House Stark is fully devoted to the cause of preparing for the White Walkers. Where as House Targaryen are focused on a wider set of goals such as voyaging to new shores and House of Lannister are putting absolutely none of their resources towards preparing for the White Walkers. It’s not that they don’t fear their impending doom, it’s just that they are caught up in other ‘projects’ so they can’t focus.

[Tedious GDPR Link Klaxon

3 reasons why we should STOP referring to people as millennials [3 min read]

I am SO glad I am a millennial.

When I first realised I met the criteria for entrance into the much lauded millennial club I felt a small sense of joy. As a thirty one year old guy I’ve recently had to deal with the reality that I am no longer one of the young crowd. Finding out I was a millennial meant I could cling onto my youth by association to this generation of selfie obsessed, entitled, young’uns!

However, that’s not the main reason why I’m glad that I am a millennial. That reason is because it allows me to speak from a position of experience in regards to what daftness it is to refer to a cohort that represents around of quarter of the population as a single demographic, the ‘Millennials’.

Don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t supposed to be a public flogging of those that use the term. Sometimes, the term is just an easy way of describing modern users/customers. But, it shouldn’t be used as boldly as it is.

Here’s 3 reasons why it’s not cool to use the term millennial:

1) There’s a lotta millennials yo’

10 Reasons Why you need a UDH.. Not a DMP

Hi, I’m Andy. I’m a 42 year old single, married female fast food enthusiast who is both affluent and not. I am aged 30-35 and live in London. I live in Cambridgeshire and I’m a retired male. I recently bought a DVD.

Sorry, am I not making sense? I was just introducing myself to you using the data in Oracle Bluekai. It’s a fun game where you can pretend to be someone you’re not, try it yourself – check your own profile here. (note: use your laptop as this site uses 3rd party cookies collected on your device to generate the report.)

It’s not a Bluekai thing, it’s a DMP thang’. In brief, DMPs use nondeterministic processes to pull together a likely profile of you so that marketers can target you (and people like you) in their advertising campaigns.

Don’t get me wrong, a DMP in the right scenario is definitely going to provide an ROI, but, it’s not the best bang for your buck when it comes to data related marketing technology, not by a long way.

Without a shadow of doubt that position is taken by the UDH (Universal Data Hub).

What is a Universal Data Hub?

A UDH takes data in from ALL sources – online,offline, mobile, IoT – if the data is available the UDH will suck it in. All data is then stitched together using a patented stitching process. The UDH uses a set of deterministic Visitor IDs that you can choose (e.g. Email Address, CRM ID, Mobile #, facebook ID, etc.) to give you a view of that customer’s entire data set. Next a UDH will share audience data with channels and technologies creating a thriving real-time, unified ecosystem.

What is the difference between a DMP and a UDH? at a high level a DMP is more for third party data and a UDH is for first party data.

Right… But, what is the difference between data types? My colleague and friend Matt Pilgrim gives the best analogy to explain the differences between first, second and third party data. He says “If I were to give you my business card then I have shared with you my first party data. If you then give my card to a someone you partner with then it has become second party data. However, if you leave it on the table and someone else picks it up that’s third party data – the person picking it up has no idea where it came from, there is no audit trail of where it’s come from or gone.

The differences aren’t just about the types of data. Here are 10 Reasons Why your business needs a UDH, not a DMP!

1) Sayonara Silos

follower experiment

I’m conducting an experiment where I am following the recent followers of Twitter users who have a very high follow/follower count.

My hypothesis is that a large percentage of those that follow back to high follower/following accounts do so just to boost their follower numbers and don’t care for the content or opportunity to interact.

To prove this point I have setup a Twitter account for my dog ‘Tyzer‘. He doesn’t really tweet much except for the odd selfie and woof.

Lets see how long it takes to get some followers!

Don’t waste your energy going against Amazon..

An interesting debate started this morning on Twitter between Dealer group heads David Langdown (XPD) and Steve Harrop (OFDA). Steve was pressing that the industry should stand up against Amazon and their tax avoidance tactics.

Whilst there is no doubting that Amazon have a ‘creative’ approach to how they pay tax which allows them to pay less, it is not why Amazon are successful. The key to Amazon’s success is in their customer experience. Don’t get me wrong, good pricing is no doubt a part of that, but a company the size of Amazon could and would still be successful even if they paid higher tax than UK SME’s.

Ask yourself what the last thing you bought on Amazon was. Then ask why you bought it from Amazon? Was it because they came up first on the search engine? or emailed you about it? or because you know you always find great stuff on Amazon?… When you went to checkout the last item you bought did you pause and check the web for a better price? I doubt you did. The reason you’re buying from Amazon is because you know you get what you want when you want it how you want it.

The conversation I presume stemmed from the concern that Amazon who have a wide range of Office Products for sale on their platform are a major threat to office products dealers. That is a fair concern and one that should be clear for anyone to see. What is not seen as clearly by dealers is why they are a threat. A majority of comments I hear from inside the industry suggest that Amazon is a threat because they are selling at a low cost.

Amazon occupy the first 2 organic search results for '5 Star Lever Arch File' on Google.

Amazon occupy the first 2 organic search results for ‘5 Star Lever Arch File’ on Google.


Clicking through on the first result shows the product being sold by a dealer called 'Fuzion' who's web site is here:

Clicking through on the first result shows the product being sold by a dealer called ‘Fuzion’. Any dealer can sell on Amazon if they make the effort.

“So what should dealers do? Stand by and let Amazon take over?” No of course not. Dealers should embrace Amazon the very same way that the book industry has.

If you look back 10-15 years ago the book industry was going through the same pains the office products industry currently is. Amazon was the big bad wolf that was coming to eat their lunch. They tried (and failed) to stand up against Amazon and those that exhausted their energy doing so are no longer around to tell the tale (Borders).

There's a close analogy between the actions taken by Meg Ryan in the comedy "You've Got Mail" where Meg Ryan's independent book store comes under threat by Tom Hank's 'Fox & Sons' giant book shop.

There’s a close analogy between the actions taken by Meg Ryan in the comedy “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan’s independent book store comes under threat by Tom Hank’s ‘Fox & Sons’ giant book shop.

Today Amazon has a thriving book industry within its platform. Independent book sellers have a platform to sell books online that ensure traffic directly to them. They just have to get 2 things right: Price and the Service. Amazon does the rest.

My opinion is that the office products industry should save their energy going up against Amazon and use it to improve the industries approach to Amazon. For a start lets empower the industry to ensure their product data is of a calibre worthy of Amazons criteria. Then lets create a need for a software provider to create a platform for dealers to manage their Amazon business. Outside of the office products industry there are hundreds of these platforms. So who’s going to make the step to bring one in?

Zero Success – How Coke’s new Coke Zero campaign backfired thanks to social media

Coca Cola, who need no introduction, have been running a tv advertising campaign to boost awareness of the ‘Great Coke Taste’ of their Coke Zero product.

The advert shows a food and beverage assistant at a cinema pouring drinks of Coke Zero and covering up the Coke Zero cup with a Coca Cola cup fooling the buyers into thinking they’ve got normal Coca Cola, when in fact they have Coke Zero. The ad then cuts to the cinema where the assistant comes back on screen to inform the audience that they are actually drinking Coke Zero and not Coca Cola.

The idea of the ad is to make people believe that Coke Zero is indistinguishable in taste to Coca Cola only it has zero calories.

However, this morning it has backfired due to a hashtag that appears to have been started by comedian Al Murray of ‘#CokeKnob’. Al and several other tweeters have taken displeasure to the advert and as a result are causing some publicity for Coke Zero that Coca Cola probably hadn’t anticipated.

There seems to be two main issues here:

1) People that bought Coca Cola and were served Coke Zero have been miss sold to. I know it’s obviously a staged tv advert but I think that is what gets on peoples nerves that Coca Cola is perhaps suggesting that they’re daft enough to believe it’s real.

2) Apparently some people can be allergic to the contents of Coke Zero and not Coca Cola so this sets a dangerous precedent that it’s ok to swap someones drink to test whether they notice.

On the surface this looks like a bit of a Coke’up (see what I did there?) by Coca Cola. But as is often the case with these things it could turn out that Coca Cola aren’t that bothered, as the saying goes ‘all publicity is good publicity’.

It’s all going off on Twitter. Below are a few select tweets that made me chuckle. You can see the rest here:





Why it’s daft to base decisions on headline statistics..

Two part post on why you should look deeper into data than just the headlines.

Part 1:

The tech industry has been kicking up a fuss about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer demanding that Yahoo employees who previously worked from home report into the office.

I’m not going to pretend I can offer any more insightful debate on why this is a good or a bad move by Mayer because frankly people with far more knowledge of Yahoo have definitely covered it. But, one thing that stands out for me is that apparently Mayer based her decision on how hard the tele-commuting employees were working on data from how often they were logging into Yahoo’s VPN. To base a decision on such high level data as that is in my opinion foolish.

My personal experience is that I work from home and there could be entire days that go by where I don’t log into my work’s internal system. It doesn’t mean I’m not working, it means I’m working on something that doesn’t require me to login.

If you aren’t getting the right results from your staff who are working from home it doesn’t mean you have a bad model it means you have bad people. There’s a difference.

As an employer you limit employing people who can commute easily to an office then you limit the pool in which you can hire talent. If you as an employee limit where you work to an easily commutable distance then you limit the type of company you can work for.

If Meyer had looked at the deeper analytics I am sure she would have found the problem lay with individuals and not the work from home model.

Part 2:

As with all things in tech what’s hot usually transcends into the mainstream, especially with business. Mobile & Social have been hot for years now and they are definitely hot topics in business now too.

That said I’ve lost count of the amount of businesses that have approached me requesting a mobile app for transacting purchases of their products to their customers. These business owners have been fed a diet of mobile buzz words at conferences and have come to the conclusion that they need a mobile app.

It’s important for me to point out at this time that I am not stating that businesses who sell products online shouldn’t be investing in mobile, or at least thinking about it. What I am saying is that these business owners always seem to use one headline statistic to base their decision and that is simply the percentage of World Wide Web traffic that is now made up from mobile devices. The percentage of course is always changing depending on how you compile the statistics but generally it always seems to be at least one 3rd of internet traffic is currently from a mobile device.

So as a owner of a business selling products online of course you are right to want to invest in a mobile app right? Not necessarily. What you should do is firstly base your decision on your own statistics of how many people are viewing your site on a mobile device. If it is as high as the other statistics you read or higher then you are right to consider an app but the big statistic you really need to be looking at is the conversion rate from mobile users of how many people actually buy your products on a mobile app.

If you’re a giant in eCommerce then of course mobile app development is for you. But if selling online is just a part of your business then you should really research whether it is currently a worthy investment carefully. Creating a mobile app will not only require heavy investment of resources to maintain it also. If it isn’t being utilised it’s a waste of resource and money.

I’d recommend checking deeper into your analytics, spot if your customers are buying on their mobile devices. Further still contact your customers and find out if they would use your mobile app.

A provider of software within the industry I work in launched a mobile app platform. The headline statistics they used were based on mobile traffic and not conversions. In the case of this software company they haven’t even perfected their main product let alone their eCommerce product. So to waste resources on an untested channel seems daft.

That’s why the statistics matter!

I’m massively proud of my big bro!

My big brother Roland and his wife Kate bought a beautiful home in the East Yorkshire countryside last year called Saltmarshe Hall. It is a grand house set within beautiful gardens with a tennis court and swimming pool.

As well as living at the house it also to be a business for my sister in law Kate who has 2 young girls and a little boy who is only weeks away from being born. The business is to be for corporate events and weddings.

They hosted their first event on the 23rd a Masquerade Ball in aid of the charity Headway. I attended with my wife Katie and had a superb time.

Here are some photos of the event:

my wife Katie and I

my wife Katie and I

Left to right: Me, Mum, Katie, Roland

Left to right: Me, Mum, Katie, Roland

My brother James and I

My brother James and I

Me, Katie and Roland

Me, Katie and Roland

My Mum and I

My Mum and I

Outside the Hall

Outside the Hall

It turned out to be an absolute fantastic evening and loads of money was raised for charity. I am so incredibly proud of my big bro and sis in law for pulling it off 🙂