Psychology of Change Management: Resistance, Failure, Behavior, Irrational Side… Improving Odds for Success…

Change management is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. ~ John F. Kennedy

Most business change management programs fail, but the odds of success can be greatly improved by taking into account– counter intuitive insights about how employees interpret their environment and choose to act, say ‘Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller’. In the book ‘Leading Change’ (classic work in change management) by John Kotter reveals that only 30% of change management programs succeed.

Since the book’s release, literally thousands of books and journal articles have been published on the topic, and courses dedicated to managing change are now part of many major MBA programs. Yet in 2008, a McKinsey survey of 3,199 executives around the world found, as Kotter did, that only one change transformation in three succeeds. Other studies over the past ten years reveal remarkably similar results.

In the article ‘The Psychology of Change Management’ by ‘Emily Lawson and Colin Price’ they provide a holistic perspective, which suggests that four basic conditions are necessary before employees will change their behavior: a) compelling story, b) role modeling, c) reinforcing mechanisms, d) capability building.  According to ‘Aiken and Keller’; this prescription is well grounded in psychology and is entirely rational. One of its merits is its intuitive appeal; many managers feel that, once revealed, it’s simply good ‘common sense’. And this, ‘Aiken and Keller’ say is precisely where things go wrong:

The prescription is right, but rational managers who attempt to put these four conditions in place by applying ‘common sense’, typically; waste time and energy, create messages that miss the mark, and experience frustrating and unintended consequences from their efforts to influence change management. Why? Because when managers implement the prescription, they disregard certain– sometimes irrational– but predictable elements of human nature…

In the article Why Change Management Fails in Organizations by Ray Williams writes: Leaders must understand and apply the knowledge of behavioral psychology to manage organizational change successfully. In the past, efforts at organizational change have systematically failed because they have neglected the reality that change doesn’t happen without individual people changing their– thinking, beliefs, and behavior.

In the article by ‘Emily Lawson and Colin Price’ they argue that change management success, in large organizations, depend on groups and individuals changing the way they function… In effect, management must alter the mind-sets of their employees– no easy task.  Aubrey C. Daniels, world authority on management and human performance, says another reason why organizations are fundamentally flawed from a behavioral perspective is that they were designed by people– those with financial expertise– who have only one purpose in mind, to make money.

He says– ‘when change management programs are designed without an understanding of human behavior; results can be destructive.’ For example, there is a mountain of research to show that employees are not primarily motivated by financial rewards, over long-term, yet we continue to use it as a management motivational strategy.

An article by ‘Rock and Schwartz’ states: “The traditional command-and-control style of change management doesn’t lead to permanent changes in behavior. The more you try to convince people that you’re right and they’re wrong, the more they push back. The way to get past objections is to help people come to their own resolution.”

Dr. Robert Cooper writing in ‘Strategy and Leadership Journal’, points out that we actually have three brains–the ‘one in our head’, the ‘one in our gut’ and the ‘one in our heart’. He claims that the highest reasoning involves three brains working together… All this information is great, but what does it all mean? It means that: Conventional change management tactics in organizations are based more on animal training than on human psychology…

Leaders promise bonuses and promotions (the carrot) for those who go along with the changes, and punish those (the stick) who don’t with less important jobs or even job loss. This kind of managerial behavior flies in the face of evidence that shows that people’s primary motivation, in workplace, is neither; money or advancement, but rather personal interest in their jobs, good work environment, and a fulfilling relationships with their boss and colleagues…

In the article The Irrational Side of Change Management by Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller write: In our research working with companies attempting change management, we identified nine insights into how human nature gets in the way of successfully applying the four conditions (i.e., Lawson and Price) required for behavioral change.

Conventional change management thinking extols the virtues of; creating a compelling change story, communicating it to employees, and following it up with ongoing communications and involvement. This is good advice, but in practice there are three pitfalls to achieving the desired impact:

  1. What motivates you doesn’t motivate most of your employees.
  2. You’re better off letting them write their own story.
  3. It takes a story with both + and – to create real energy.

The fact is human beings consistently think they are better than they are– a phenomenon referred to in psychology as a self-serving bias:

  1. Leaders believe mistakenly that they already ‘are the change’.
  2. Influence leaders– aren’t a panacea for making change happen.

Conventional change management practice emphasizes the importance of reinforcing and embedding desired changes into; structures, processes, systems, target setting, incentives. We agree. To be effective, however, the mechanisms must take into account that people don’t always behave rationally:

  1. Money is the most expensive way to motivate people.
  2. The process and the outcome have got to be fair.

Change management literature emphasizes the importance of building the skills and talent needed for desired change. Though hard to argue with, in practice there are two insights that demand attention in order to succeed:

  1. Employees are what they– think, feel, and believe in.
  2. Good intentions aren’t enough.

In the article Improving Your Odds of Success in Driving Change by Art Petty writes: In their article, the authors ‘Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller’ offer some interesting insights and ideas that they describe as counter-intuitive but potentially helpful for improving the odds of success for change management initiatives.  On a depressing but not surprising note, in their article, ‘Aiken and Keller’ cite a 2008 study of over 3,000 executives that found that one-in-three change management initiatives fail. 

These low success rates have been well documented by John Kotter, as well as other researchers in the field of change management. The ‘Aiken and Keller’ article cites the 4 basic conditions (i.e., Lawson and Price) necessary for change according to theories in psychology of change management, and their thoughts on how these 4 conditions are applied, namely:

The prescription is right, but rational managers who attempt to put the four conditions in place by applying ‘common sense’, typically; waste time and energy, create messages that miss the mark, and experience frustrating and unintended consequences from their efforts to influence change.” The authors go on to share nine insights into their application of the 4 conditions that explain why change initiatives might fail and how to improve the odds. My interest is with two of their insights related to the ‘compelling story’ condition for change; here are my comments:

  • First: What motivates you doesn’t motivate most of your employees’. While we tend to focus on telling stories about ‘what has changed’ and ‘why we have to change’, or ‘what we want to accomplish’, research shows that people respond best to stories that address five forms of impact: society, customer, company, environment, ‘me-personal’
  • Second: ‘You’re better off letting them write own story’. Executives and leaders go to great lengths to tell change management stories.  They call special meetings, conduct town halls, webinars, blog posts and often walk away feeling like they’ve      done the job.  They’ve spoken, the message is clear and everyone must agree or they’ll single them out as resistors.  The authors suggest that while stories about the need to changes (i.e., told in ways that address the five forms of impact) have to get out there: I suggest that we would be better off by listening more and telling less.

While there is much more in the ‘Aiken and Keller’ article, than I am highlighting here, just the lessons from the first two points alone are compelling… The bottom-line: Like so many things in leadership and management, there are no silver bullets for success. A lot of really smart people try to drive change in business, and fail. 

Those that succeed seem to know that change is intensely personal and that their role is to create an environment where the need for change can be processed and where individuals can take control of defining the terms of change.  While it seems that just when the leader thinks that he/she should be hands-on, is precisely the time when he/she should step back and let go.

Even the most credible of leaders have to step up their game when it comes to talking about and promoting change on their teams and in their organizations.  According to Art Petty; you can trust that a good number of people in the organization have developed a case of cynicism on talk of change emanating from the higher-ups. They’ve consumed too many ‘flavor of the month’ programs and developed heartburn when the programs died in mid-stream.

They’ve watched leaders come and go, and they no longer hear the siren call or pay much attention to the slogans and signs. Can you blame them? If they wait a few minutes, this too shall pass, and in spite of their positive view, people are conditioned to wait until the noise dies down and the focus turns back to getting the work done. For some leaders, the institutionalized and individual resistance to change is extremely frustrating and vexing.

One leader offered; “I’m told that I’m credible, people have responded well to my leadership, I don’t pump sunshine or doom and gloom, yet people are dragging their feet on this new program. I know that doing new things can be frightening, but why aren’t people more excited and supportive?”

Change is inevitable and intuitively, we all know and accept this reality. However, don’t discount the challenges that you will face in gaining support for your message on the need to change. You’ve had ample time to process on it, but when your team members hear it for the first time, it’s either noise or interesting, but not tangible. The only way through the resistance is straight ahead. Your honesty and authenticity are truly important. Your willingness to engage in dialogue and your humility in asking for input and help are priceless…

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed! ~ Peter Senge

Business Cyber Snooping, Spying, Eavesdropping… When Does Internet-Email Snooping, Spying… Go Too Far…

It’s pretty rare for companies to have a snooping, spying… policy; although these days, it’s getting more common ~ David R. Ellis

Snooping, in a security context, is unauthorized access to another person’s or company’s data. The practice is similar to eavesdropping but is not necessarily limited to gaining access to data during its transmission. Snooping can include; casual observance of an email that appears on another’s computer screen or watching what someone else is keying.

More sophisticated snooping uses software programs to remotely monitor activity on a computer or network device, e.g., malicious hackers or keyloggers that monitor keystrokes, capture passwords and login information, and intercept emails and other private data transmissions and communications. Corporations sometimes snoop on employees, mostly legitimately, to monitor use of business computers and track Internet usage; governments may snoop on individuals to collect information and avert crime and terrorism.

Although snooping has a negative connotation, in general in computer technology, snooping can refer to computer programs that perform a monitoring function. An interesting example of snooping, whether it was intentional or not, was the Google ‘Street View’ cars snooping incident; where, in addition to snapping photos of the houses and roadways, the Google car secretly harvested many– emails, photographs, and other personal data from WiFi networks…

In the U.S. there is a proposed new law, the ‘Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011’; this law basically allows the government and private companies to communicate about cyber-security threat information. It allows intelligence communities to share threat details with private companies, and encourages companies to do the same. More to the point, the information shared would be exempted from public disclosure.

Not surprisingly, civil liberties groups are up in arms, and as ‘Andrew Couts’ writes; the big problem with the legislation is trust. It demands that we trust the government and big business not to do the wrong thing. The fact remains that critical portions of the bill, e.g., vague definition of cyber threat and national security, far-reaching exceptions to existing laws, and toothless protections for privacy– all require trust that the federal government and corporations will not violate the people rights. This is a worrying trend we’re seeing around the world.

In Britain, there are similar moves with proposed legislation that allows the government to monitor every email, text message and phone call flowing throughout the country. Under the British law, Internet service providers (ISPs) would be forced to install hardware that would give law enforcement real-time, and on-demand access to every internet user’s IP address, email address books, when and to whom emails are sent and how frequently– as well as, the same type of data for phone calls and text messages… One senior UK coalition source said: There is going to be a big battle between those in favor of security and those in favor of liberty.

In the article In the Cyber Snooping: How Online Spying Permeates the Workplace by Cindy Krischer Goodman writes:  Everything we do online is out there for the world to see… Are you a cyber snooper? Do you think we all need to be? As social media explodes and information comes to us in the palm of our hand, we can’t resist using what we glean from the Web to gain a leg-up in business.

We now have the ability to go online to see who got the job we wanted, whether a co-worker spent the weekend golfing with the boss or what new marketing gimmick our competitor might be offering. ‘People should be aware of what’s happening in their companies and their industries,’ said Vanessa McGovern, independent consultant. ‘It makes good business sense.

Today, more people on social media sites share information about their lives through status updates, location check-ins and résumé changes’. Overall, more than 66% Internet users participate on social network sites, as of February 2012, up from 46%, in 2009. Vigilant monitoring of online activity led one advertising agency owner to discover her largest client was talking to a competitor.

Another small business owner said– she noticed a client whose business she wanted– regularly checked into a particular restaurant, on Foursquare. So, she invited the client out to lunch, at that restaurant, casually mentioning it was her own favorite dining spot. Many companies see social networks as mere distractions for their employees, but there are those who recognize the tremendous opportunity they represent as a research tool.

With employers, bosses and competitors– snooping, spying… on each other, how do workers and employers adapt and keep private what they don’t want public? Is it even possible anymore? Five years ago, this was not possible, but now it’s a huge business competitive advantage. Or, is it just snooping…

In the article Social Snooping for Business Opportunities by Kaleidico writes: Twitter, and ask one simple question: What are you doing? This simple question, and the increasingly intertwined network of social connections have sparked a revolution. Everyone is trying to figure out how to leverage millions of users, hundreds of applications, and an increasingly social ethos on the Web.

But, the challenge is even greater for use in business strategy: It’s not just Twitter– also, Google Profiles, Google Reader, Facebook, Linkedin, FriendFeed, Yelp, Blogs… At the most basic level the social graph (generic term for the social network) is system of nodes connected by relationships and communications. The nodes are people, relationships, and communications that are observable to determine relevance to business objectives– e.g., getting more sales… Let’s take a closer look:

1. Monitoring Social Chatter: Let’s return to the most basic and common social question asked by all of these new social networks: ‘What are you doing?‘ This simple question elicits responses like:

  • “Tasked with first email campaign, I’m nervous”
  • “What is the best place to book travel?”
  • “Need a new pair of running shoes…suggestions?”
  • “My Internet is down again. I’ve had it with Company B!”

All these responses are potential sales or customer service leads. Are you catching them? Are you engaging them?

2. Identifying the Nodes: Monitoring the social chatter is just one part of the equation. The Internet is still shrouded in pseudonyms and aliases. This is where most social networking processes go into a time-consuming search for hunches. Ironically, most of the answers to whom these people are, and how to connect to them are in their social profiles. Chances are they are promoting something and want to be found. You just need to follow the thread to their contact information, i.e., do a little snooping.  Each of these profiles, given relevant conversations, is a potential prospect. Are you getting them identified, and into your sales pipeline?

3. Leveraging Connections: One of the most powerful laws of networks is their tendency to clump into hubs and communities. This ultimately means the more nodes you collect and/or ‘connect with’ the more likely you are to be one step away from a referral– the gold standard of sales leads.  This information is typically a little trickier, but the practice of connecting to friends is adding information to the social graph each day. Harvesting this information and putting it into context can give you multiple channels into a prospective client. The opportunities flow from a multitude of search engines and social networks into your ‘sales funnel’. The result is an endless flow of potential business opportunities in the sales process… all it takes is a little snooping…

According to Nolo.com: If you want privacy, don’t count on emails. Emails may feel like a private, one-to-one conversation safe from prying eyes but emails, on the contrary, are not secure and private: In fact, email messages can be intercepted and read anywhere in their transit, or reconstructed and read off of backup devices, where the emails can be stored for an extended period of time.

If you’re sending emails at work, the boss can legally monitor them, and if the company becomes involved in a lawsuit, the adversary has the legal right to review them. If you send emails from home, anonymous hackers can intercept them, and if you are suspected of a crime, law enforcement officials with a warrant can seize all your electronic mail.

Even Internet service provider (ISP) may legally be able to scrutinize your emails. What all this means is simply: Unless you take affirmative steps to protect your messages, don’t count on emails as confidential method of transmitting information. In many companies, new employees may be asked to sign and acknowledge some form of employer email policy.

The policy will probably inform you that emails are for business purposes, that computer systems at work are property of employer, that emails may be monitored, and that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the use of emails. A written statement like this, signed by an employee, creates a contract upon which an employer can rely, if they want to snoop.

Even if there is no signed agreement or written policy, an employer can still peek into emails (or your desk for that matter) — assuming, as is usually the case, that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy as to the contents. In the end, emails’ speed and convenience outweighs its non-private nature for most every day discussions. But think of emails like; postcards, not letters– where messages are open to everyone’s snooping eye, along the way.

Computer enabled snooping, spying... has increased the scope and abilities of companies, governments and private interests that wish to obtain sensitive personal and business information. The ever-increasing number of reports of criminal and unethical incidents on the Internet– compromise of sensitive personal data,  stolen credit- and debit-card data, theft of businesses’ IP,  accessing proprietary business information…– suggest that cyber snooping, spying… is having a serious economic impact on consumers and businesses.

While it’s difficult to estimate size of the problem, the consequences of cyber snooping, spying… is enormous.  These are real threats to all global nations– it’s war for competitive information. We all must face what is described as an evolving array of Internet threats, which include; unethical business practices, corrupt employees, criminal groups, hackers, sinister nations…

According to Justin Basini; ‘Your Internet browser is a fantastic way for people to know your interests; your mobile phone is the best way for people to track your movements; and your social networks gives a complete view of your personal connections.

Initiatives like ‘privacy by design’ encourage businesses, organizations, and governments to view people not as ‘users’ but ‘data owners’, but the reality is that the collection of data about people largely goes on without transparency and without much control.

Regulators both in Europe and the U.S. are battling to establish consumer rights over information, but they are under intense fire from the vested interests of companies who know that their value is intrinsically linked to the data they hold on people.

Therefore, the public must reconcile a key question– Is Internet cyber snooping, spying… a threat to the public’s civil liberties, or is cyber snooping, spying… necessary to keep those liberties safe? Where is the balance?

The Surging– Apps Economy…Culture, Innovation: Growth Engine for Mobile Devices– Smartphones, Browsers, Social Networks…

The apps economy is a game-changer… transforms, augments… traditional business models… places more importance on mobile as a channel to drive business revenue growth…

‘Apps’ are short for ‘applications’, which is another name for computer software programs. Normally, when people talk about ‘apps’ they are almost always referring to programs that run on mobile devices, including; smartphones, tablets… Apps are the enablers that make your phone, tablet… do almost anything that the programmers can imagine, within the technical limitations of the device.

It’s estimated that there are more than 1.5 million ‘apps’ across various mobile devices, including; iPhones, Android, Windows,  Blackberry, Nokia, and other smaller platforms; and there have been more than 50 billion downloads of apps.  In addition, it seems like every week somebody has a new study describing the size of the apps economy.

‘World Mobile Applications Market’ reported in January 2011 that the mobile apps economy will grow from $6.8 billion in 2011 to $25 billion over the next four years. That same month, ‘Gizmag.com’ reported that ‘Gartner’ estimated apps revenue at $29.5 billion, in 2013.

A month earlier, IDC estimated $35 billion in worldwide apps revenue by 2014. Whatever number you want to use, it’s big. ‘This is a pretty remarkable tech-adoption story, if you consider that there was no ‘apps culture’ until just a few years ago’, said Roger Entner at Nielsen. Every metric we capture shows a widening embrace of all kinds of apps by a growing global population. An apps culture is clearly emerging among mobile device users; particularly, among men and young adults’, said Kristen Purcell, Pew Research.

Although still in their infancy; mobile devices have become the hub of personal, work and social lives, providing the means for many diverse activities; ranging from– games to booking flights, hotels… to moving money. Combined together, a mobile device with selection of apps can add real value to user’s experience.

According to Marcus Golby; app-based services offer the ultimate solution for customers who demand mobile accessibility. Over the last few years; the thinking behind apps development has changed, dramatically. Companies are getting smarter, realizing that apps are not just a passing fad or simple branding exercise, but a key strategy for the delivery of services and meeting the needs of mobile device users…

In the article Full Steam Ahead for the Apps Economy by Eric Openshaw writes: Not so long ago, the apps economy was easy to dismiss as passing fad. How times have changed. Now a significant driver of value generation in the ‘open mobile’ era, the development and proliferation of mobile software applications, or simply ‘apps’, has rapidly blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry of its own.

Recent insight from ‘Deloitte’s 2012 Open Mobile Survey’ identifies the rise of the– mobile apps store, developer mindshare, and expansion of mobile brand strategies as the key issues for apps based growth. Agile incumbents and new entrants alike are leveraging each of these elements to sustain competitiveness, but certain challenges remain to navigate a sustainable revenue path. To begin with, the choice of platform can impact innovation potential.

Just look at the impact Google’s open-source platform and apps store has had in the developer community, where it’s viewed as a long-term winner in consumer markets. Deloitte’s survey respondents tend to agree– 85% believe an open, rather than closed platform is more likely to dominate mobile in next few years. Although Apple, the dominant force in the apps economy, has been very successful with their tightly controlled iOS platform…

Apple has more or less single-handedly defined the category with more than 600,000 apps now available in their apps store.  Thus, think carefully about platform strategy when trying to attract the right app developers to secure and collaborate the coveted ‘developer mindshare’. Understanding where the revenue will likely reside is also critical if using apps as a brand amplifier. Monetization begins with ‘developer mindshare’ and developers generally prefer old-fashioned pay-per-download compensation.

Other revenue alternatives include; mobile advertising and ‘freemium’ apps where user’s download for free, but pay for subsequent upgrades. According to ‘Deloitte 2012 Open Mobile Survey’; the most lucrative apps categories in short-term, are; gaming, social media, networking, entertainment, and navigation… For enterprise apps; customer relationship management (CRM), productivity tools… hold the most potential value. Knowing where the revenue will reside is important for those using apps as a brand amplifier…

In the article Apps Economy by John Kennedy writes: The arrival of apps economy brings a huge opportunity to generate economic growth by writing software for mobile devices, e.g., smartphones, browsers, social networks…  Since the ‘App Store’ launched in 2008, more than 700,000 apps have been published and downloaded more than 10 billion times, spurring thousands of new businesses. With the launch of ‘Windows Phone’ and the launch of ‘Windows 8’ with a whole slew of apps, Microsoft has ambitious plans for a world where ordinary people get their apps on demand.

Late last year, Steve Ballmer summed up apps economy opportunity: “There’s never been a better time to have software development as a core skill. The developer community is multiplying from the hardcore developers that may be 10 million people to more than 100 million people around the planet writing apps, and the chance to do more and profit economically is growing. Some 350 million Windows devices will be sold this year.”

Facebook has had apps, at its core, since 2007 and with the launch of ‘Timeline’ and a slew of mobile apps is a key player in the apps economy.  Facebook wants its new ‘App Centre’ to drive the distribution of apps from desktop to various smartphone platforms, including; iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

According to Charles Dowd at Facebook; their ‘App Centre’ will have a strong focus on mobile and driving a huge amount of traffic to smartphones and mobile apps… Dowd says, ‘our 500 million mobile user-base will be a big powerhouse for driving more success stories for small apps firms’. One of the biggest game changers, in browser space, is the evolution of ‘HTML5’ which will, no doubt, make the mobile web’s impact even greater; providing developers greater flexibility for creating apps…

In the study The App Economy by Dr. Michael Mandel writes:  The incredibly rapid rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media, and the applications (apps) that run on them, is perhaps the biggest economic and technological phenomenon today. Almost a million apps have been created for iPhone, iPad and Android, alone. Greatly augmenting the usefulness of these mobile devices, such as; play games, track your workouts, write music…

There is plethora of apps to choose, many of them free. On an economic level, each app represents jobs– programmers, user interface designers, marketers, managers, support staff… But how many? Our analysis shows that the apps economy now is responsible for roughly 466,000 jobs in the U.S.; up from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced.

The top metro area for apps economy jobs, according to our research, is New York City and its surrounding suburban counties, although San Francisco and San Jose together, greatly exceed New York. While California tops the list of apps economy states, states, such as; Georgia, Florida, and Illinois get their share, as well. In fact, more than two-thirds of apps economy’s employment is outside of California and New York.

Our results also suggest that the apps economy is still growing at a rapid clip, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It must be noted, of course, that the apps economy is only a few years old and extremely fluid and changes in the location and number of apps related jobs are likely to shift greatly…

In the article Why Mobile Apps Economy Will Keep Growing Quickly by Kevin C. Tofel writes: Increasing reliance on smartphones will only continue as consumers see mobile apps as the key to help ‘pocket-able’ computers become more central to everyday life. A report from a PwC survey shows that more than half of the surveyed– 3,282 smartphone owners use their smartphones for three activities each day, namely; basic communication, accessing news-weather-sports, and social network usage.

And over the next few years, more than 40% of those surveyed expect their activities to increase across 14 other areas, such as; travel, healthcare, management… thanks to apps. That’s good news for developers and handset makers alike. Hardware makers of smartphones know that consumers will keep looking to improved devices with more features and performance; especially, as they cycle through mobile service contracts and replaces old handsets.

For programmers, it validates the mobile apps economy, even as the industry debates the value of– platform specific software as compared to increasing functionality through ‘HTML5′ and the mobile browser. Two key aspects in the apps-versus-web debate is– simplicity and a broader range of functionality. Respondents to PwC survey agree: There are more and more apps. There’s an app for everything… it makes everything easier and quicker… the only reason to ever use a browser is to– Google stuff.

One key area that PwC expects to see growth is mobile ‘storefront’ apps; and that’s due to increase in consumer’s comfort with online purchases from  smartphones... Given consumer preferences for single-purpose, focused apps, there’s no reason to think that predictions of 44 billion mobile apps downloaded by 2016 won’t hit the mark. In fact, given the increasing user reliance on mobile devices and improving mobile broadband networks, 44 billion downloads is looking conservative…

The apps economy is growth engine for mobile devices– smartphones, tablets, laptops… data shows that mobile apps usage has overtaken web browsing for the first time in the U.S. The average apps user is spending an incredible– 81 minutes/day playing around with them, 47% use their apps to play games, while 32% use social networking apps…  Retail apps are also on the rise– meaning you can pretty much plan your life through apps on your mobile device. But, how sustainable are the apps… 

According to ‘Anindya Datta’ says; ‘Apps come and go. We are constantly deleting them. That’s why the number of downloads is a very poor measure of an app’s popularity. Datta notes– 80% to 90% of apps are eventually deleted. That is why apps that are kept by 30% of those who download them are considered to be ‘sticky’ apps. Mobile device users are continually changing and experimenting with different apps: Each month, 10 apps on the ‘top-50 apps list’ are new, and of the 1 million apps available for users from the top-4 mobile platforms, only 10% of them are discovered, and much smaller percentage are actually used…

According to Peggy Albright; various research studies underscore the need to focus apps’ development on the creation of an engaging user experience, and that will keep customers coming back again, again.

Techniques used to cultivate customer engagement will vary depending on the type of app and business model, but there’s plenty of room for innovation in this area…

Apps are the ‘smarts’ in smartphones, and without apps– smartphones are just phones…

Untethered Executives– Mobile, Accessible, Connected– Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops..: Age of Business Mobility…

Mobile devices reflect a major shift in the way business executives and professionals work… An overwhelming 83% of those surveyed would give up their morning cup of coffee before parting with smartphone…

Mobile communications– in the form of smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other Internet-enabled devices– are fundamentally altering the way business executives communicate, interact with information. These devices don’t simply untether executives from the office, but provide a way to access– essential work related content irrespective of location or circumstance.

Much has been written about how smartphones and other mobile devices are changing the way people communicate, but little has been done to understand what the implications of this shift has on the executive suite. Are executives willing to use their smartphones for business purposes beyond email? Is information they access via mobile devices being used to help drive business decisions?

Do different generations of executives treat mobility differently, and are some more willing– to blur the lines between business and personal communications devices? To gain a better understanding of how executives approach mobility; ‘Forbes Insights’, in association with Google, surveyed more than 300 executives at large U.S. companies (more than $500 million in annual revenues).

The goal of the survey was not to find out how companies are approaching mobility, but rather to gain a clearer picture of how the executives themselves are using– mobile devices, laptops, tablets-ipads… to gather and filter the business information they need for their jobs. Also, in addition to the survey; one-on-one interviews were conducted with nine senior level executives at these large businesses to gain deeper, first-hand insights into how they’re tackling business information.

This study serves as a mobile-focused follow-up to 2009’s ‘The Rise of the Digital C-Suite’, a study published by ‘Forbes Insights’ (also in association with Google) that found that how executives use the Internet for business frequently depends on– age and work experience of executives. Generational differences also help define how executives are using mobile devices in their information gathering mix.

While it may not have a categorical impact on device ownership, it does help determine how they are using the devices to gather information, or for that matter, whether or not the device drives the information gathering task. Key findings in the study:

  • Smartphones are second only to laptops in executives arsenal of devices: While 87% of executives use a laptop, 82% indicated they have a smartphone.
  • Many executives utilize a full array of devices for business purposes: On average, respondents had 3.46 devices each; CEOs (4.21 devices), CFOs (4.22 devices).
  • Most executives still think of their computers as their most important device: More than eight in ten use their laptop (45%) or desktop (37%) computer most frequently for business. A sizable minority– 12%, use a smartphone most often.
  • More than half of senior executives agreed that their mobile device is now their primary communications tool: Among executives under age 40, 73% see their mobile device as more critical to communications than their landline.
  • All signs point to a mobile future: 45% of senior corporate executives said they believe a smartphone or Web-enabled tablet will be their primary device  for business related use within three years.

In the article 4 Critical Steps to Defend Your Mobile Gadgets” by dsbiz writes: Business people have become highly dependent on mobile devices that keep them– connected, efficient, flexible and independent no matter where they are. In other words, we are addicted to our mobile gadgets that link us to the business world.

To stay nimble and ahead of the game, we must be able to respond to any request (e.g., call, email, social media post, text message…), research anything (e.g., customer background, solutions to problems…), and stay current on what’s happening in our field of influence (e.g., breaking news, tweets…) even when we are out of the office.

But the same gadgets that give us a distinct competitive advantage, if left unprotected, can give data thieves and unethical competitors a huge and unfair criminal advantage. The solution, of course, is to proactively protect your mobile office, whether it’s– digital, physical, or both. To protect yourself and your company from becoming victims of mobile data theft, start with the following:

  • Make sure that employees aren’t installing data hijacking apps on their smartphones and tablets thinking that they are harmless games.
  • Implement basic mobile security on all mobile devices, including; secure passwords, remote tracking and wiping, auto-lock, auto-wipe and call-in account protection.
  • Only utilize protected Wi-Fi connections to access the Web. Free hotspots are constantly monitored by data sniffers looking to piggyback into your corporate website.
  • Don’t ignore non-digital data theft risks like client files left in cars, hotel rooms, and off-site offices. The tendency to over-focus on digital threats leaves your physical flank (e.g., documents, files, paper trash…) exposed.

In an article in ‘The Economist’ writes:  Smartphones are the best excuse yet devised for procrastination. Smartphones make it easier for managers to change their minds at last moment: for example, to e-mail a minion at 11 pm to tell him he must fly to Pittsburgh tomorrow. The dratted devices also make it easier for managers in one time zone to spoil evenings of managers in another.

Employees find it ever harder to distinguish between ‘on-time’ and ‘off-time’ and indeed between ‘real work’ and ‘make-work’. Executives are lumbered with two overlapping workdays; a formal one full of meetings, and an informal one spent trying to keep up with the torrent of e-mails and messages. None of this is good for business people’s marriages or mental health. It may be bad for business, too. What can be done to keep smartphones in their place?

How can we reap benefits of connectivity without becoming its slaves? One solution is digital dieting. According to Leslie Perlow, she argues that for most people the only way to break the 24/7 habit is to act collectively rather than individually. She tells the story of how the Boston Consulting Group learned to manage hyper-connectivity better. The firm introduced rules about when people were expected to be offline, and encouraged them to work together to make this possible. Many macho consultants mocked the exercise, at first– surely only wimps switch off their smartphones…

But, eventually, the practice encouraged people to work more productively while reducing burnout… ‘Ofcom’, Britain’s telecommunications regulator, says; a startling 60% of young adults, who use smartphones, describe themselves ‘highly addicted’ to their devices… and, so do 37% of older adults. In fact, the faster smartphones become and the more alluring are the apps that are devised for them, the stronger the addiction will grow. But ultimately, it’s up to companies to outsmart smartphones and insist that everyone turn them off from time-to-time…

The “2012 ICT Market Review & Forecast (MR&F) Report” by Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) says; smartphones, tablets and the cloud– will drive ‘U.S. network infrastructure spending’ to $300 Billion, by 2015. Findings from the report focus on the impact of the growth of; smartphones, tablets, cloud-related services, and video streaming. These devices and services are driving dramatic traffic and demanding increased network infrastructure investment.

TIA’s President Grant Seiffert said; The rapid advance of smartphones, cloud services and video is placing an enormous demand on the network. These devices and services are essential for consumers and have become critical for businesses. Companies that support both wired and wireless networks are expected to spend nearly 41% more in next four years than in the previous four years… Key facts in the report include:

  • U.S. spending on wireless and wired network infrastructure will grow to $296 billion, by 2015.
  • Spending on U.S. IT-based cloud computing will be the fastest-growing category.
  • In 2013 consumers will spend $108 billion on wireless data and $91.5 billion on wireless voice.
  • Telecom spending in U.S. will top $1.1 trillion, in 2012.
  • International telecom spending will reach $3.6 trillion, in 2012 (not including U.S.).
  • Combined telecom spending will top $4.7 trillion, in 2012, and will surpass $5 trillion, in 2013.

The ‘office’ doesn’t always mean– four walls, desk, chair… For many businesses the office can mean– car, factory floor, coffee shop, customer’s conference room…

According to David Day; the mobile workforce has been greatly aided by advancement in technology. Businesses are adopting to– smartphones, laptops, tablets, WiFi, and other mobile tools at incredible rates. A survey found that 96% of business respondents use wireless technology. Nearly two-thirds said they couldn’t survive– or, it would be a major challenge to survive, without wireless technology. Increasingly, wireless is being used by a mobile workforce: 40% of businesses report all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technology, to work away from the office.

Overall there’s been a 66% jump over past two years. Mobile technology provides solutions in many different areas for throughout a company, from– sales and marketing to human resources to production… ‘Mobility can impact every aspect of business in positive ways’, said Pierre Bardeau. While this technology is gaining ground; the people who are actually using it might surprise you: It’s not just Gen-Y; but also, Gen-X who have adopted technology at a rate of 65% higher than other generational groups.

A report by ‘Technaisle’ estimated that the fastest growing segment is small business. According to John French; Small business have a competitive advantage over larger business as they use mobile technology to leverage flexibility and adaptability. They can make more informed and quicker decisions to meet specific needs of their customers. But, in addition to the potential for deploying mobile technology in their own businesses, companies must also be prepared to meet increasing demands from their– customers’ mobile capabilities, and design websites and services that are user-friendly for mobile devices.

The power, capabilities, and mobility of a full range of business focus mobile smart devices continue to evolve and grow. This innovative technology and support services will provide executives with a future of unprecedented connectivity, accessibility, and flexibility… Senior executives will be able to engage work from; where-ever they are (anywhere),  when-ever they need it (anytime), with who-ever they want(anyone), and have unprecedented functionality…

Our lives and jobs are so enmeshed with this technology that it makes it difficulty to balance the boundaries between personal and work, especially with the intense pressure from organizations to be ‘always on’ and ‘immediately responsive’ to calls and emails outside of normal working hours…

Corporate Leadership for Women is On Slipping Slope: Disappointing Statistics, but Positive Outlook…

I never pay attention to age or gender. There are just too many other more important things to consider in leadership ~Martha Stewart

It’s clear that the world of business is being transformed by women. But, in the gender makeup of U.S. Fortune 500 corporation, women corporate leadership has barely changed over the last 7 years. While there is a slight upward trend in the number of women in corporate leadership, the overall figures are still very low. However, there’s a bright side: 

According to the Second Annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report;  It’s estimated that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing nearly 7.7 million people. The growth of women-owned firms is very impressive; numbers–up 54%, employment–up 9%, revenues–up 58%, and over past 15 years the growth of women-owned business exceeds growth rates of all but the largest, publicly traded firms.

A report from U.S. Department of Labor noted– women outnumber men in mid-level occupations; e.g., financial managers; human resource managers; medical & health services managers; accountant & real estate; and social community service managers… So, although women have made substantial progress at middle management level, at the top leadership level the statistics are still quite depressing. In 2010, only 2.4% of U.S. Fortune 500 chief executives were female.

In FTSE 500, the statistics are even worse– only 1.8% of firms are led by women. Women’s access to ‘board of director’ seats is also troubling, particularly in U.S. and UK. In FTSE 100, 12.5% of directors are women, a tiny improvement on the 12.2%, in 2009 and 11.7%, in 2008. Then, what of the future?

According to ‘Ginka Toegel’; despite disappointing statistics, there are many reasons to be positive, for example; women managers, now, better understand that there are certain expectations related to corporate leadership and they are developing their skills accordingly… In next few years there should be a dramatic change, for the better, for women in corporate leadership.

In the articleWomen in Senior Management: Still not Enough by Grant Thornton writes: The past 12 months have seen women take the lead in some of toughest economic and political environments, for example: ‘Christine Lagarde’ became the first female to head the International Monetary Fund (IMF), ‘Angela Merkel’, German Chancellor, has emerged as the key figure in the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and ‘Maria das Gracas Foster’ has taken over ‘Petrobras’, becoming the first woman to run one of the world’s top five oil companies.

Women also head governments in countries, such as; Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Thailand. Some key findings in the International Business Report (IBR) for women are:

  • Women hold one in five senior management roles globally, very similar to the level observed in 2004.
  • Businesses in Russia, followed by Botswana, the Philippines and Thailand have the most women in senior management; those in Germany, India and Japan the least.
  • Less than one in ten businesses has a female CEO, with women largely employed in finance and human resources (HR) roles.
  • Many economies, especially in Europe, are choosing to implement quotas on the number of women on corporation’s ‘board of directors’.
  • No clear correlation was found between; flexible work place practices or female economic activity, and the proportion of women in senior management or leadership positions.

The IBR survey, which encompasses both listed and privately held businesses, barely offers a brighter picture of female involvement in senior management, globally. It indicates that 21% of senior management roles globally are held by women, a figure which–despite much talk–  has barely changed since 2004 (19%). The U.S. has shown very little progress since 2004, with the proportion of women in senior management actually falling to 17%, in 2011, down from 20%, in 2004.

North of the border, in Canadian businesses, one in four senior management roles are held by women. In Latin America, the picture is fairly mixed with more than one in four senior management roles held by women in Brazil and Peru (both 27%), ahead of Chile (21%), Argentina (20%) and Mexico (18%). Globally, 34% of businesses have no women in senior management, roughly the same as the 2009 figure (35%).

However, this is largely driven by businesses in mature markets; 40% of those in the G7 have no women in senior management, compared to just 18% in the BRIC economies. Similarly, businesses in Europe (38%) and North America (30%) are behind their peers in ASEAN (20%) and APAC (exclude Japan, 19%) on this measure.

Why women in leadership positions really matters? Approximately one in every two people on the planet is female, yet the latest IBR finds that women hold barely more than one in every five senior management or leadership roles. A growing body of research suggests that such imbalance in corporate leadership can be detrimental to business growth prospects.

Research has shown that stronger stock market growth is more likely to occur where there are higher proportions of women on senior management teams. Another study found that businesses with greater proportion of women on ‘board of directors’ outperformed rivals, in terms of; returns on invested capital (66% higher), returns on equity (53% higher) and sales (42% higher).

The positive influence of women is thought to extend into strategy and management. For example, mixed gender ‘board of directors’ are thought to show better attention to; audit, risk oversight and control… Further, a recent study by University of Leeds, UK, found that having at least one female board member reduced that business’s chances of folding by 20%, and having more than one reduced the odds even further.

In the article Gender and Leadership by Nanette Fondas writes:  Several studies have shown that people perceive successful managers to have the characteristics typically associated with men; though the actual qualities successful managers possess are a combination of masculine (e.g., forcefulness, self-confidence, task orientation, initiative) and feminine (e.g., concern for people, feelings, and relationships) traits.

An obvious consequence of this is that a man is more likely to be selected for a leadership position than is a woman of equal qualification. Interestingly, women who do ascend, to leadership, do not behave significantly differently from men in the same kinds of positions.

According to Gary N. Powell’s comprehensive study, ‘Women and Men in Management’, women tend to employ a more democratic, participative style while men tend to take a more autocratic, directive approach. Some scholars argue that women’s tendency to negotiate, mediate, facilitate, and communicate is the more effective leadership style than men’s emphasis on power and control.

The other main question of concern is whether leadership position is implicitly a gendered concept. Organizations profess themselves to be gender-neutral, for example, with their practice of filling an abstract job with a person who possesses the requisite qualifications. But when job description for a leadership position is defined– ostensibly gender-neutral job, then, it’s not…

In the article What’s Next for the Corporate Woman? by Claudia H. Deutsch writes:  Not long ago, Rennie Roberts was rummaging through stack of books she had accumulated over years. She picked out a dusty copy of  ‘Games Mother Never Taught You’ by Betty L. Harragan’s (1976), which gave women, who were hoping to move up the managerial ladder, tips– on such concerns as; how to dress, when to drink with colleagues, how to handle intraoffice relationships…

It brought back a host of bittersweet memories: ”It was fun to remember how we used to worry about such things as; managing our inner feelings and our outer image,” said Ms. Roberts. ”Well, we’ve dealt with all that. There’s been an enormous change in U.S. business culture in the last 10 years, one that accepts a variety of personal expressions,” she said. ”There’s a recognition, in corporations, that the facts cannot be rolled back; that women, like it or not, are in the work force to stay”.

Yes, but in what capacity? As clones of successful men? As separate but equal colleagues? Or as submissive, albeit talented, employees? What, at this stage, do corporations owe women in management, in terms of helping them fit into corporate cultures that are still dominated by men? Not easy questions to answer…

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play them better than anyone else. ~Albert Einstein

DOES ‘STUPID’ EXIST IN CORPORATE AMERICA? If you’ve started out in life born stupid, don’t fret. Even if you’re an ignoramus, you can still wind up in a cushy management position some place in corporate America. Just think of all the lackluster bosses and department heads who’ve manipulated their way up the corporate ladder riding an insidious elevator to the top-level. To reach such authoritative heights they had to sacrifice their integrity.

But isn’t such a disparaging act considered the backbone of business theatrics? Granted, many incompetent men and women would never have made it without nepotistic noodling, political skulduggery, hanky-panky, or precision brown-nosing techniques. Play your cards right and there’s an executive assignment waiting for your inadequate leadership. If you are a bona fide dunderhead, a conniving opportunist with no scruples who doesn’t mind getting your nose a little dirty, you’re a perfect candidate for a management position somewhere in the workplace. Congratulations you schmuck! ~Boots LeBaron

Whether there are innately female leadership styles… is not really the right question. It’s more important to ask why there has been so little attention paid to women leaders over the years, and why styles of leading more often exhibited by women are particularly useful at this critical moment in history. ~Charlotte Bunch

Seismic Shift in Selling– Traditional Selling is Dead: Top Sales Gurus Say– Ditch Order Taker Who Adds No Value…

The new age of selling is identifying and understanding customer needs and creating solutions that deliver– satisfaction to the customers, profits to the producers, and benefits for the stakeholders.

There is a seismic shift in selling: We’re never going back, so it’s time to adapt and forge a new path to selling for your business. The way we sell and the way we do business in the 21st Century is proving to be a very different proposition from the traditions established in the 20th Century. Selling now requires a different philosophy and approach. Traditional selling is dead– confront the facts; the world has changed and we must– adapt or perish.

We are seeing the beginning of a massive restructure of transactional sales forces as customers go online; and ditch the ‘order taker’ who adds no value. Smart sales leaders know that this sacred cow is not long for this world, and has already begun planning for a major transition into the blended world of– online and strategic selling.

These leaders are choosing to invest in sales forces that educate customers on how to run a better business and achieve better results. The future of selling requires changes to keep pace with generational and cultural shifts, and the need to confront the facts or else risk becoming irrelevant.

According to the ‘Synergy Group’; the customer is king and the very center of the sales process. Best practice selling is not something we do ‘to’ customers; we cannot make their decisions for them, we can only influence their decision-making. So, what does this all mean for the modern salesperson? 

It means; that the modern sales organization must undergo a significant shift in mindset; acknowledging and accepting that selling is no longer a monologue between an informed salesperson and an uninformed customer, and the ability to effectively create customers, rather than simply finding them.

In the article Sales Trends for 2012 by Sue Barrett writes: Many of us need to rethink how we do business, how we sell and buy, how we live our lives and how we engage with the world. Economic conditions are expected to remain volatile in the foreseeable future with new challenges.

Today’s business and sales leaders will need to examine their go-to market strategies and sales force structures, as well as, demonstrate courageous leadership as they navigate these unchartered waters. For example:

  • A Seismic Shift in the Way We Sell:  If you were looking for things to settle down and a return to the good old days of selling… think again. There are now very few absolutes – everything is subject to evolution and reinvention. It’s no longer just about doing deals, or about developing strong relationships that go beyond great products, great service and great design. Today business is more about questions than answers; more about thinking than action; more about people than capital. It’s about getting your house in a new order because the world changes yet again and we need to change with it.
  • Intuitive Customer Centric CRM: CRM moves away from being a contacts database and pipeline/forecast management tool to becoming the system that places customers at the core of a company’s operation. This means integrating marketing, sales, service and support to provide a single view of the customer as they move through the engagement life-cycle. CRM must have a simple, intuitive interface easily configured for integration to finance and legacy systems and presenting a single source of the truth concerning customers. Your CRM must also easily embed social media to aggregate all content concerning a customer…
  • Make Coaching ‘The’ Priority: Regular and effective sales coaching does make a dramatic and positive difference to sales people and their sales results. Smart sales leaders make the time to invest in sales managers, making sure they are properly trained, coached and well equipped to be sales coaches. Leaders need to make sure their sales managers can get time in the field, and time offline to develop their sales people and coach them to sales success…
  • Move over Fragmentation and Segmentation: Sales teams need to be more targeted in their sales planning and prospecting efforts– no more scatter gun approach. Marketing teams must stop producing catch-all marketing materials that ignore buyer preferences and attitudes… Leaders must start looking at their strategy’s evaluation measures and start measuring marketing and sales teams on those same measures. A distinct shift in attention from an internal company ‘me’ focus to an external buyer and seller ‘we’ focus, or expect to perish.
  • The Polarization of Selling & Buying: A sales-driven organization must focus on helping the buyer successfully navigate and complete their journey. In the modern world, buyers’ needs are polarizing between completing simple transactions and navigating complex arrangements. In the former, the sales journey must be supported by systems and processes that make the transaction as quick and as efficient as possible. In the latter, organization’s need highly skilled people as the primary points of contact engaging in a proactive consultative approach to selling. Sales and business leaders must make brave decisions about how they structure their sales efforts, if they are to thrive and prosper.
  • Field Sales Team Transition: We are seeing the beginning of a massive restructure of transactional sales forces as customers go ‘online’, and ditch the ‘order taker’ who adds no value. Smart sales leaders know that this sacred cow is not long for this world and has already begun planning for a major transition into the blended world of– online and strategic selling. These leaders are choosing to invest in sales forces that educate customers on how to run a better business and achieve better results.
  • Educate and Facilitate: Smart sales leaders must develop their sales teams to be educators and facilitators, not product sales people. Providing a whole new skill set,  including; patience, listening, creative problem solving and dealing with ambiguity and complexity. Customers will come to value the new and improved sales approach because the customer, not the product, is the heart of the sale. As a result, the customer becomes confident that the sales person will help them make right decisions, moving forward.
  • It’s not ‘What’ but ‘Why’ & ‘How’: With customers better educated, techno-savvy and better connected than ever before, the need to articulate ‘why’ you do what you do, and ‘how’ you do what you do, is critical for differentiating your business… The ‘why’ and ‘how’ you make a difference– is front and center in the customer’s minds.
  • Buyers in the Driver’s Seat: Empowered and informed by the Internet and influenced  by their peers, customers have come to expect control of their buying experiences. If you are accustomed to selling products and walking away, your business will be forced to prove, ‘how’ you add real value. So don’t for a minute take customers for granted, or patronize them, or treat them like idiots, or you will hear about it via Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels where your reputation will be hung out to dry. There’s a whole new respect for transparency and buying power: Ignore this  growing force– at your peril….

In the article “Emerging Sales Trends in the New Economy by Drew J. Stevens writes:  The world’s challenges are changing the essentials of selling. Over the course of nearly three decades, a dramatic shift from domestic customer bases to a multinational one has taken place. Thus, it’s vital for all selling professionals to think globally and act locally. Selling professionals must gain a better understanding of business etiquette, linguistics, mannerisms, and culture– enabling them to overcome barriers and gain better insight into customer issues.

The emergence of smarter technology– the Internet and spontaneity of information access– has morphed into knowledge. In today’s selling world ‘knowledge & content’ is king. Today’s selling professional requires a wealth of knowledge and better insight into the customer’s world, to remain competitive. Using knowledge to help the customer become more competitive; as well as, providing provocative insight that adds value to the customer’s proposition. This new era of selling requires professionals to be strategic in their account management and account planning, rather than simply selling products and services…

Change is essential to meet today’s challenges– and change is hard. The alternative, however, is even harder– it’s obsolescence and failure. According to Paul Sparks; change remains the single greatest challenge in the business environment… this is especially true for the function of selling. The last ten years, in particular, have seen the sales role come under great pressure as the tide of change alters; how we sell, and how we manage sales teams…

According to Cynthia Clark writes: There’s the mobile shift: Smart phones have revolutionized the sales experience. Geographical boundaries are virtually eliminated and today’s customers are able to– not only access information about products and services, but they can make a purchase, on-the-go, with relative ease.

According to the  ‘eMarketer’ estimates; m-commerce in the U. S. was $6.7 billion in 2011, a noteworthy 91.4% increase over 2010. In 2012 mobile sales are expected to reach $11.6 billion. While the impact of smart phones and tablets on the sales process has already been substantial, it’s only the beginning. “We’ve just scratched the surface with smart phones. They’re going to be the stars of the show for the next few years,” says Emmet Keeffe.

We know social media sells: Today’s social-savvy customer is increasingly going ‘online’ to research what other people are saying about a particular product or service that their interested in purchasing. Many times the customer’s decision is influenced by online reviews and recommendations by people they don’t know; without ever reading what the company has to say about their own product.

This seismic shift has put buyers in the driver’s seat; organizations have recognized that unless they leverage social media to their advantage, it may deal them a death-blow. Then, there is the online customer: A report by Forrester stated that online sales in U.S. grew 12.6% in 2010, reaching $176.2 billion and predicted 10% compound annual growth rate until 2015. This means that companies need to be as ‘Web’ savvy as the consumers they are trying to attract.

Finally, there’s the mass extinction of sales reps who sell on features and benefits: The role of the sales rep is shifting from ‘transactional’ reps who present information, to ‘challenger’ reps who teach customers how to improve their businesses. Differentiation on features and benefits no longer works. This is no longer a game of ‘what’ you sell; it’s truly a game of ‘how’ you sell… and insights that you deliver with that sales experience…

Sales is a process, the process of building a relationship and turning a skeptic into a believer and making a stranger your friend. The elite, modern salesperson has the ability to challenge the customer– to think differently, to consider new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Supreme Court has Spoken; Health Care Reform (Obamacare) is Law– Impact on Businesses: Costs, Jobs, Compliance… Opt-in or Opt-out…

I support health care for people. I want people well taken care of. But I also want health care that we can afford as a country. I have people and friends closing down their businesses because of Obamacare. ~Donald Trump

The Supreme Court has spoken– it’s law: This ruling on ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ (Obamacare) has evoked a myriad of responses from across the U.S.– from the far right to the far left, from small businesses to giant corporations, from pundits to the person on the street.

Those who oppose the, now, law are concerned that it gives the Federal government too much control over personal health care decisions and benefits, forcing a ‘complex one-size-fits-all health care system’ onto the states. Those who are in favor of the Act want lower health care costs, overall, by making it affordable for more people… it also means more people will pay more taxes… the taxes are both ‘progressive’  (aimed  at rich people) and ‘regressive’ (aimed at the middle class and poor people)…

Even though the Supreme Court has made the big decision; clearly, lots remain to be sorted out. One question that arises is the way businesses and, especially, insurance companies, should conduct themselves under the new plan. Under the new law, citizens will be required to carry health care insurance (or face penalty tax ), and health care insurance companies will be required to sell policies to all comers, regardless of pre-existing health conditions.

While the debate has focused primarily on proper role of government, this new law clearly has significant implications for private companies. With regard to health care insurance companies, the distinction between private and public is far from ironclad. How should these companies conduct themselves when they play a role in delivering public-mandated insurance?

Should they continue to think of themselves entirely as private, profit-seeking entities? Or should they– like industrial firms in times of war– take-up public values? Of course, health care insurance companies are private corporations, and they are guided by seeking profits for shareholders. So the question the health care insurance companies face, at least in principle, is whether they should conduct themselves like private or public entities. The answer is not clear. The coming years are sure to see significant changes in the health care industry and, especially, insurance companies that support it…

In the articleWhat Does Obamacare Mean for Business?” by Dean Barber writes:  Businesses of all size are going to have to figure out just how to comply with a very complex and not well understood law– ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act’ (Obamacare). While some see the specter of higher costs, others are excited at the prospect of a wider insured pool that spurs increased demand for health care services and even a lowering of costs. Critics contend that consumers will spend less on other goods and services in reaction to new costs, while proponents argue they’ll spend more as their out-of-pocket medical costs fall.

Job growth may be curbed by new costs, or helped as higher proportion of the population flows into the health care system. The fact of the matter is that we just don’t know yet. Taking partisan politics out of it for just a moment, if that is possible, the reality is one of uncertainty, at least for now. We do know that by January 2014, employers will have to come up a plan that complies with the law, or opt-out and pay a penalty tax.

Companies with 50 workers or more will be required to offer health care insurance to their workers or pay a penalty-tax. Faced with the prospect of higher costs to comply with the law, they just might choose to stop offering coverage altogether, if they decide the penalties are cheaper than administrative costs of running a broader plan. Some people are convinced that the landmark health care law will make lives of business people harder with this additional tax, which was what the Supreme Court called it.  

However, tax credits contained in the law could help millions of small businesses obtain health care coverage for their workers, if they don’t already offer it, or lower the cost of coverage, if they do. Yet a recent Wall Street Journal/Vistage International poll shows that 66% of small-business CEOs doesn’t know about credits, and another 24% think their business doesn’t qualify.

Excessive regulation has become the biggest concern of business owners, which probably is a primary reason why most view the expansive and perplexing new health care law with a jaundiced eye and as just another layer of local, state and federal regulations that choke their businesses. So what does the new law really mean? How will this all play out? Will this be good or bad for business? There are plenty of theories floating about, but the fact is, we really don’t know yet…

In the article Here’s How Much The Obamacare Penalty-Tax Will Cost by Henry Blodget writes:  The good news is that, for most people and businesses, the ‘penalty tax’ for those who choose not to buy health care insurance will cost a lot less than the health care insurance.

As with everything tax-related, there’s no simple answer to: How much is the penalty tax? To provide some clarification, here are key points, from ‘FactCheck.org’:

  • The penalty/tax will be phased in from 2014 to 2016.
  • The minimum penalty/tax in 2016 will be $695 per person and up to 3-times that per family. After 2016, these amounts will increase at the rate of inflation.
  • The minimum penalty/tax per person will start at $95 in 2014 (and then increase through 2016)
  • No family will ever pay more than 3X the per-person penalty, regardless of how many people are in the family.
  • The $695 per-person penalty is only for those who make between $9,500 and ~$37,000 per year. If you make less than ~$9.500, you’re exempt. If you make more than ~$37,000, your penalty is calculated by a formula…
  • The penalty is 2.5% of any household income above the level at which you are required to file a tax return. That level is currently $9,500 per person and $19,000 per couple. The penalty on any income above that is 2.5%. So the penalty can get expensive quickly if you make a lot of money.
  • However, the penalty can never be more than the cost of a ‘bronze’ health insurance plan purchased through one of the state ‘exchanges’ that will be created as part of Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these policies will cost $4,500-$5,000 per person and $12,000-$12,500 per family in 2016, with the costs rising thereafter.

What are health exchanges, under the new law? Health exchanges are new organizations that will be set up to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. They will offer choice of different health care plans, certifying plans that participate and providing information to help consumers better understand their options.

Beginning in 2014, Exchanges will serve primarily individuals buying insurance on their own and small businesses with up to 100 employees, though states can choose to include larger employers in future. States are expected to establish Exchanges–which can be government agency or a non-profit organization–with the federal government stepping in, if a state does not set them up. States can create multiple Exchanges, so long as only one serves each geographic area, and can work together to form regional Exchanges. The federal government will offer technical assistance to help states set up Exchanges

In the article “Businesses Bemoaned Obamacare Uncertainty” by Suzy Khimm writes:  In general, hurdles on business are hurdles of the unknown, and uncertainty undermines the ability of businesses to plan for the future, and to make informed decisions on growth and hiring. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, do businesses feel any better– and do they expect the economy to pick up accordingly? It depends on who you talk to.

According to Jim Paulsen, investment officer, believes that there’s an economic upside to the ruling– and that the new certainty outweighs the potential downside. Whatever you think about the bill– good and bad– the fact that we kept it and now we know the ‘rules of the road’ going forward, and I think it’s ‘good’ for the economy. Business can now start making decisions, making adjustments and planning… That is, the ‘bad’ of this legislation I think is better than the ’uncertainty’ created by whether it would be thrown out, or not.

But not everyone believes that the Court’s ruling has provided significant clarity. There’s still lingering confusion over the intricacies of the law. According to Bob Jensenius; It’s a large [law]… people are still trying to see what’s in it.

The high court has spoken; companies must now treat the law as business reality. In January 2014, employers will either pony-up a plan that fulfill the legal requirements or opt-out. In large companies, there is probably not so much to do. Most already offer a wide range of benefits through their existing health care plans. In a survey of America’s largest firms, it suggested that employers may drop health care coverage for their workers, once they do the math and see how much they can save.

Under the law, large employers can save serious money by dropping coverage. Among 71 firms responding, the estimated savings come to $28.6 billion, in 2014 alone, and $422.4 billion through 2023. This is despite the law’s penalty tax of $2,000 per full-time employee paid by companies that decide not to pay for coverage. The net savings per dropped employee would be $4,821, on an after-tax basis, in 2014. The companies were not asked what they intend to do, but their financial incentives are clear. The new survey also jibes with other research suggesting that many firms would shift their covered workers to tax-subsidized insurance exchanges.

A 2011 McKinsey & Co. survey said 30% of employers ‘definitely or probably’ would end coverage. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which initially played down the potential shift to the exchanges, said in March that– up to 20 million could be dropped by employer health care plans. The shift would be a mixed bag for workers. Those higher on income scale with generous employer paid health care plans might have to settle for an inferior product on the exchanges with no subsidy. Lower income workers with mediocre health care plans might come out ahead, with better coverage and their premiums covered. In all cases, burden of the new subsidies would fall on taxpayers. So, much uncertainty  still remains…

Critics fret that consumers will spend less on other goods and services in response to the new costs, but others argue the opposite… Some say, job growth may be slowed by this new expense and other say it will be helped, as a higher proportion of the population goes into health care.

What is clear: The health care reform law (Obamacare) is a reality, and every business leader must; confront it, plan for it, and implement it– and, either opt-in or opt-out…