Big data is still big news. The likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft, with its acquisition of LinkedIn, are undertaking digital land grabs to hoover up large quantities of data, be it medical or social, to feed their need for information. With these companies building millions of data points to nourish their machine-learning algorithms, what does big data now mean for the rest of us?
When Google launched in the late nineties, it was a simple search engine designed to make the internet easier to navigate. In 2016, Google is unapologetically an ad platform, with the Adwords pay-per-click (PPC) service generating a whopping 97% of its $73 billion sales in 2015.
For many businesses, PPC is an addiction; their sole means of generating web referrals, because they’ve turned off all other marketing activities.
It’s a risky game to play. While PPC is certainly making Google a lot of money, it doesn’t work well for all businesses. Cost-per-click may be as low as £0.04 in some areas, but the highest ranking keywords – those which attract the highest number of searches and clicks – can command fees in excess of £35. So, while PPC definitely can work for some, it can be an ineffective, expensive drain on resources for others.
Which leads to the question, when should a business adopt PPC, and when should they leave it well alone?
72% of CEOs indicated that the inability to attract and retain employees with key skills threatens their growth prospects, according to PwC's 2016 global survey of CEOs. In response, as many as 41% of CEOs are revising their work culture and behaviours in an effort to engage more closely with the people their businesses need to remain relevant and competitive.
A critical factor in improving the working environment is trust. Employees and employers need to confidently rely on each other to produce results. Where there are high levels of trust, employees are more committed to the company and are more likely to recommend it to other potential candidates through peer review sites such as Glassdoor.co.uk.
James Wilkinson, chief executive officer of Zuto, formally Car Loan 4U, co-founded the online car loans business in 2006. Five years later, it was a resounding success, with turnover of £1.7m a year, but Wilkinson felt he needed to be more strategic to accelerate the business’s progress. It was at this moment that he decided to join Vistage, the peer group mentoring and coaching organisation that brings business leaders together to share and resolve common problems and challenges.
Managing an SME is exciting. Any business owner knows that the process involves ups and downs, but whatever stage you've reached, with good judgement and a little luck, you'll hopefully reach a point where you’ve got an established a foothold in the market.
Executives who have a bold strategic business plan perform better than their more timid counterparts, according to McKinsey.
When tackling strategy, it helps to aim for a continuous cycle of improvement, with execution of goals at the core.
But before you get to work on a strategic business plan, you need to know how you personally approach strategy.
Take our quick quiz, and answer honestly, to find out what type of strategic planner you are.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” according to a quote attributed to management guru Peter Drucker. Your organisation’s strategy is easy to define and can be changed with the stroke of a pen, but your culture? That’s made up of thousands, sometimes millions, of decisions, attitudes, messages and relationships. But if culture is so important and so hard to define, how do you set about changing it?
In 2006, the BBC decided to move a host of major departments, including Children’s TV, Breakfast News, Dragons’ Den and Match of the Day, to a brand new base in Salford. The move cost hundreds of millions of pounds and saw nearly a thousand staff relocate from London. BBC North promised staff a better working culture. I was part of the team that had to deliver it, and here are my observations.
Over the coming months, we’ll be inviting you to download a series of eGuides that will cover the big subjects that SME owners and directors need a good grasp of. That includes harder-edged topics like finance and planning, along with the softer, but equally important areas, such as business culture and wellbeing.
At the same time, we’ll be running weekly posts on our blogs with insightful discussions on hot business topics interspersed with videos, interactive quizzes and infographics.
Don’t miss out on the power of staff engagement.
Ask a business leader what managing people means to them and they’ll undoubtedly use words like payroll, employment legislation and record keeping. Some will tell you stories of how they couldn’t do what the business needed because of the threat (perceived or otherwise) of being taken to Employment Tribunal.
Many will tell you that their employees are the business’s greatest asset but very few will be able to tell you about the activities they take to ensure their people are engaged and motivated. This is shocking when research shows that 86% of employees are either not engaged or worse, actively disengaged.