Smart cities: from fantasy to reality

There are a lot of disruptions in today’s world. On one hand, we can observe a huge increase in population and in resource consumption and waste. On the other, nobody can fail to notice all the technological advances. This evolution in technology is revolutionising everything we do, and even the way we live. A few years ago, the idea of a Smart City was a fantasy. But today, it is becoming a reality. Let’s discover the different aspects of this ‘futuristic’ city.

What is a smart city?

We have all heard about smartphones, smart appliances and many other smart devices. But what are smart cities exactly? Just like any smart device, these cities function on information and communication technologies. Indeed, they use power sensors, wireless networks, and web/mobile-based applications. Their purpose is to be as sustainable as possible, both economically and environmentally. In other words, a smart city uses advanced technology to offer its citizens energy-saving buildings and transport, in addition to a better waste and resource management. While managing natural resources in the best way possible, it provides them with higher standards of living.

smart city
High standards of life with low use of resources are now possible

Why do we need smart cities?

Logically, the development of an innovative concept is based on the creation of a need. There are various elements that contribute to the creation of smart cities. Among these, we find population, transport, water and global energy. There are an infinite number of studies showing that the world’s population is increasing, aging, and moving to urban areas. By 2025, it is predicted that there will Read more

How far can your Twitter bird chirp?

They say “word travels fast”, but today, it can travel the world in a few clicks. Have you ever wondered where your 140 characters on Twitter fly to? I recently re-activated my twitter account. I’ve been sharing and retweeting quite a lot of content with people from all around the world. Indeed, people from different origins follow my account now. Thus, making me curious to know where my followers come from. When I asked myself this question the other day, I decided to try different tools available online. These tools are as practical as scary. I decided to try and compare some of them. Let’s discover what different features they offer.


Mapmysocial is a tool that allows a social media user to map their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare followers. It gathers followers’ profile pictures and positions them on the world map. This map can be then shared on social media in 2D or 3D. The use of this application is totally free. There is no obligation to follow mapmysocial on any platform, or publish a promotional post. All you have to do is sign in on the platform, through the mapmysocial website. This authorizes the website to access some of your account’s information.

Twitter map my social


Personally, I found this second tool to be great. It allows Twitter users to map their followers – even to a city level-, to observe their followers’ trending topics, and explore keywords (hashtags). This is useful to analyze further the engagement and effectiveness of a digital activity on Twitter. It also helps Twitter users to Read more

B2B and social media: a love story

When it comes to social media, working in B2B with field experts might seem like a bit of a challenge. On the contrary, our view is that social media is particularly useful in B2B. Let’s find out why.

B2B marketing is about implicitly proving you are the best

Before going a step further, it is important to understand fully what B2B marketing is. Let’s sum it up in a few words: it’s not about saying one is the best, but more about proving it with the right skills. Basically, B2B Marketing brings together experts of a particular field, who express and share their opinions with others, and generate interest.  And following that, comes what is known as “lead generation”– or in other words: the beginning of the purchasing process per se.

Pinpointing 6 key success factors in B2B social media

1. B2B sales are based on ‘solution selling’ (as explained by Michael Bosworth). In B2B marketing, what matters the most is informing clients about problems before solving them. This consultative approach could not be mastered without the people who are au fait with the content they share (e.g. technology-related subjects). Experts who know all the details about a particular field are the only ones who are able to express their views correctly,

2. Who interacts with these experts? Mostly other experts who surf on social media (blogs in particular), seeking information and answers to their questions.B2B social media influence Buyers obtain credible answers to their questions after marketers dig in and share information about the problems they are experiencing,

3. B2B often attracts niche but faithful communities. They are usually very close to one another, and very passionate about their area of expertise. Social media is an important player (especially blogs) in that field. Comments and views can be posted online and are the basis for passionate exchanges between experts,

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Digital transformation: one size fits all does not apply

What do a butterfly and the emission of water vapour have in common? At first sight nothing, except that both are the results of a transformation, the latter of a certain quantity of water, the former of a caterpillar. Nobody would usually compare both, since the nature of these transformations, the context in which they take place, their initial conditions and their internal mechanisms are totally different. Yet, against all odds, this is typically the kind of confusion organisations make when dealing with their digital transformation.

digital transformation
What do a butterfly and the emission of water vapour have in common? At first sight nothing, except that both are the results of a transformation – not a digital one however

Digital transformation and change management

It’s time to give up on the assumption according to which technology, supported by what we pompously call “change management”, is supposed to drive transformation through the introduction of new practices. More often than not, “change management”, in that case, is a mere glorified mix of communication (more or less inspired) and training (more or less eye-opening). A living proof of this new era is the recent name change of the Enterprise 2.0 Summit, one of the most prominent conference in Europe, dedicated to digital enterprise transformation, into Digital Enterprise Summit. This change is the logical outcome of the growing awareness among organisers of the need to consider collaborative practices not as an end per se, but as a key element of digitalisation, a process involving business, processes, delivery, and even organisational structures.

Digital transformation is everybody’s business

Another important sign that shows that digital transformation is definitely everyone’s business, is the October 27th-28th 2015 HR Tech Congress. This conference was previously held in Amsterdam (this year it will be taking place in Paris) and is dedicated to digital transformation from a Human Resources point of view. This is a significant event. It also serves the purpose of demonstrating that HR departments, previously known to resist change, are now moving ahead. If you can’t beat them, join them. The event will most probably attract 4,000+ human resource managers and professionals.

At the same time, an increasing number of organisations are appointing, or have already appointed, a Chief Digital Officer. A new role which stresses the growing need to transform all business channels whose aim is to interact with customers. It is yet unclear, however, whether businesses are moving ahead because of the fact that their customers are hyper connected and putting pressure on them in order to modernise or because of an internal urge to rethink the way they work. Too often, businesses rush to apply off-the-shelf solutions, as if technology were making it useless to adapt to both industry and business context. Read more

B2B sales: The downfall

In this article, we discuss how different sectors such as banking and accounting were affected by the growth of digital transformation. We emphasise  the impact digital transformation has on sales. The B2B sale sector was considered to some extent protected from the transformation wave. But it somehow appears to be hit by this phenomenon too, in a big way. Actually, there are two sides to this story that are debatable. 

B2B sales impacted by digital transformation and Big Data

On the one hand, B2B sales is said to be resilient, since it is based on one-to-one contact and individual salesmanship. 10 years ago, famous author and researcher Bernard Cova told me that a B2B brand appears to be less important than a B2C brand. He believed then that the contact with the salesperson at the time of the purchase was a definite advantage, as opposed to B2C. What he meant by that is that it doesn’t matter if your brand changes or even disappears, as long as there’s someone to explain it to customers. In a way, what Bernard said is true. In fact, a small consulting firm like ours, is able to gain the trust of big accounts. It’s simply true because of our capabilities to explain and deliver services to clients in earnest, based on our expertise.

Ironically, buyers dislike salespeople, but they love to buy from them

Nevertheless, all that Bernard Cova told me 10 years ago is no longer entirely true anymore today. B2B sales is changing completely, in all types of markets (lower-end, mid-tier and high-end markets). Ironically, buyers dislike salespeople, but they love to buy from them.

B2B sale
B2B sales caught in a downward spiral

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Adblocking: a cat-and-mouse game built on trust

Adblocking is a hot topic these days. A never ending cat and mouse game between advertisers and consumers in which ingenious developers are constantly finding new ways of avoiding or trying to avoid advertising pressure. What Adblocking is showing us too is a lack of trust on the part of consumers. Who else but Doc Searls, one of the co-writers of the celebrated Cluetrain Manifesto was in better position to raise the subject? This is exactly what he did at our late September meeting in Prague*. Once more, consumer trust ranked high on the agenda.

“Adblocking is becoming a big deal and it’s even one of the biggest downloads and even more so in certain countries like Germany and Austria” Doc said in his introduction to the subject. “This has grown and grown and journalists are describing it as a War now”. Even better, Apple has made this decision to add adblocking in the IOS 9 SDK. You will then be able to block whatever you want. “Immediately after this change” Doc said, “Adblockers became the most popular apps on the store”. 

Doc Searls talking about Adblocking in front of the panel of ODR experts at the Prague September meeting organised by Youstice

Adblocking: Apple knows before consumers they really need it

“It’s very easy for the Press to describe this as an Apple vs Google feud” Doc added “but the point is somewhere else”. Doc’s argument is that Apple is making it easy for consumers, because “they know what the customers want even before they know themselves what they want”. Apple has indeed taught us to expect the unexpected, offer products we don’t need apparently, and then once the object has been created we suddenly realise we are craving for it.

One of the interesting things about the Adblock controversies is that it emphasises that our world works through advertising. “But online, the junk-mail world has taken over and this isn’t what we were expecting” Doc added. Things have gone out of control. The publishing world acts as if they didn’t understand what is happening. To them, this is how the world works and that’s that but “we, as consumers, we have never signed up for this”.

Why do we need trust in business?

Lea Whing has an interesting point to make on this. when Doc Searls mentions trust, what are we hearing? “Are we only interested in trust because this is what will trigger consumer purchase?” She asked wittily, “or is it because people need it? If so, what do customers really need?”

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Digital transformation: reinventing the Banking back-office (2)

Most banks invest heavily in digital transformation. As described in my previous article, they are strongly focused on customer experience. This in itself is a good thing. Banks globally invested $31billion in digital transformation. A third of that amount was dedicated to the development of mobile banking services. Nevertheless, the challenges of digital transformation within the banking sector only represent the tip of the iceberg. Retail banks can take advantage of potential opportunities beyond mere front office activities. The opportunities are linked to the dematerialisation of transactions, and the modernisation of their back-office processes and tools. Changing one’s retail network and omnichannel development only would be, in our eyes, a strategic mistake with regard to growth and competitiveness. Let us examine why the Banking back-office matters as much as front-office when it comes to digital transformation in this industry.

Modernising the Banking back-office inherited from the 70-80s

Still today, banks are still using an IT infrastructure that was deployed decades ago, in the 70-80s. Updating this complex system is very costly. However, replacing it without disturbing the flow of banking transactions is challenging. This is why most banks keep on using the same technological backbone. They only developed additional applications to provide their clients with improved user interfaces.

This, in our mind, isn’t a plausible medium/long term solution.

To begin with, it is increasingly difficult to fulfil the ever-growing customer requirements in terms of banking services’ availability, reactivity and fluidity. The obsolete technological infrastructure that banks are using is rapidly becoming a challenge. It presents an obstacle towards customer experience enhancement, despite all the efforts they are putting. Moreover, managing retail bank’s networks and developing the omnichannels are not enough to achieve reductions in their operating costs. Sooner or later, restructuring and adjusting back office processes will become mandatory. Currently, retail banks’ back office handle 300 to 800 different types of processes. These transactions are not really dematerialized, thus requiring a large number of employees. For instance, a simple mortgage loan process in the United States involves 35 manual interventions on average.  TD Bank, in the US claims that the annual paper consumption per contributor is of 10,000 papers. These examples highlight the lags regarding dematerialisation and automation.

digital transformation
Current state of the Banking back office according to Capgemini

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