The agility of newcomers


Gloablisation's offspringNo, this is actually not a post directly about Web Analytics, as this can be considered more widely, so please accept my apologies for that.
This is a post about 3 different sources of information that sprung onto me during and after the Emetrics Summit and I’ve decided to tie together.
The tieying together decision stems from a The Economist article I read this morning under the sun, next to René, as we are finally enjoying some days of relaxing. Well, it actually turned into hours as we are both behind our laptops again and the sun is setting slow but surely over Brussels.

My initial reflexion stems from sales of web analytics licenses, the name of the game for my sales counterparts who have the priviledge, well some of them, to work for web analytics vendors. As these people are usually driven by quarterly sales, they often rejoice about sales of large bundles of licences. To be quite fair, so did I during the first year of my little Web Analytics business unit and quickly found out that this might actually not be the right way to go… Luckily for me, in my second year of professional Web Analytics, licenses didn’t actually mean that much as the services part heavily took over. After all, it’s what you do with it that counts, not the tool in itself as so many of us have been crying out for some time now.

So, I had this very weird feeling about larger corporations being able to afford the Omniture’s, WebTrends’, WSS’s of this world but I couldn’t really get my mind to convince myself that they were actually making good use of the advantages that had fallen upon those people responsible for Web Analytics within larger corporations. Responsible being the key point here.
Luckily – yes, again, I consider myself to be a rather lucky person – Google Analytics came to my rescue. I didn’t really see it at first, I must admit, and this weird little Indian guy at last years’ Emetrics Summit in London, seemed to be pointing towards that very same soft spot. This strange feeling that something was not right in the kingdom of Danemark.

In any case, I remain convinced today that selling large bundles of licences for a nice figure – including quarterly bonusses – is very far from assuring success in Web Analytics. This stems from a bunch of issues large companies face today and when I stumbled upon the following phrase this morning in The Economist, I decided I couldn’t have said it better so here goes:
The newcomers have some big advantages over the old firms. They are unencumbered by the accumulated legacies of their rivals. Infosys rightly sees itself as more agile than IBM, because when it makes a decision it does not have to weigh the opinions of thousands of highly paid careerists in Armonk, New York.” Touché!So, you need flexibility and responsibility to get things done, not an easy task.
My initial thought was also to state that once companies start to grow, they inevitably fall into this pit of responsibility clutter and technological lock down due to legacy systems. Unfortunately, I don’t come over very well with CIO/CTO’s partially because I’m a woman – thank you again for taking note of this issue, also in Belgium! – and partically because their job is a darn complicated one. No one likes them as they always look like show stoppers and we always blame them for when things don’t work. So, my full threaded empathy to all of you doing this ungrateful job.

And this is actually where the story beings: with a McKinsey Quarterly article about … Private Banking in India.
The content of the article strook me first because I’ve been seing and hearing a lot about people originally from India lately. I tend to follow these kinds of tracks as I don’t believe in coincidences.
Second, I actually have no idea what private Banking in India actually means!
I see the macro growth figures, like anyone I suppose; the evolution of technology, the hype of outsourcing (at OX2 we tested that out in the early stages), documentaries on BBC World about how it is to live in India and bladibla but Private Banking in India strikes a total, utter blank, to be quite sincere.

So, I started reading and linking the information I was reading about to other actors of Private Banking I do know about, closer to home such a Deutsche Bank, Société Generale, ING, Petercam, Fortis, ABN-Amro, bladibla. Yeah, yeah, it’s all about the customer relationship, personal relationships officers, … Who cares? Apparently, my rich friends don’t make use of these over priced services. Funny world we live in! One my even question if I actually believe in Private Banking and such segmentations but this is not the reason for this post so I’ll just leave that sleeping dog lie still for the moment.

The article describes the bank’s – Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) -journey and the CEO’s, K. V. Kamath, technology’s role in it.
It did strike me as odd when the article begins with the importance of technology, borrowing from Silicon Valley, to serve customers but also to “…exploring ways to serve the “unbanked,” the lowest-income groups, which constitute much of the emerging market’s population.” Hum, micro-credit again?
But how did they actually manage to remain innovative, Leo Puri’s Quarterly asks. I couldn’t help but smile at the assertion that this CEO does not allow silos to grow as these tend to get set in stone, the next step being locked into a mainframe set of mind. Ah, that does ring a lot of AS400 banking bells – yes, It’s Easter 😉 –

But who is responsible for technology @ ICICI? And this is my favorite part:
I am. It’s my neck on the line. If the technology fails, it’s my fault; if it succeeds, then good for the organization.”. And this is a CEO! How’s that for responsibility?
So, how do they do it? Well, technology is embedded in every business, and the head of the business runs the technology. Wow, I mean, yes, thank you!
More specifically, they created a small group—fewer than a dozen people, average age 28—that reports to the CEO. They aren’t bureaucrats; they don’t have any decision-making authority. But any critical plan in technology, whether it’s hardware or software, is put to them.

As a final note for the Belgian market, I would like to point to an article in References (a weekly publication) about 2 weeks ago called J’
This article described the agility of new, emerging banks on the Belgian market, compared to the more “established” ones in this country. Funnily enough, 2 Dutch banks were quoted in this article.
Personally, I’m rather convinced that the Keytrades, Binkbank & Rabobanks of this market seem to take banking to a new marketing level, taking full advantage of Internet banking and allowing their technology to evolve rapidly. After all, I was hired in 2001 by a major world bank to engage into Web Analytics, little did I know they actually had no website! At this day and age, they still use log files…

Hey, showing me I’m wrong is no better proof of evolution. As we say in French, “Il n’y a que les cons qui ne changent pas d’avis.”
Anyone up for the challenge?


2 Responses to “The agility of newcomers”

  1. Avinash Kaushik Says:


    This is a very nice post, thanks for writing it. I am reminded of Seth Godin’s book “Small is the new big”, overall his thought is very much along the lines of what you have expressed here.

    Thanks again,

    PS: Sorry for the delay, too much travel! 🙂

  2. Pioneering Web Analytics (Emetrics Düsseldorf) « Blog Says:

    […] The challenge mainly relied in the fact that international companies are not organised to work together. That’s where the bicycles started to show up: you have to peddle hard and together, working as a team. A sprinter does not hold the same responsibilities as team members trying to push their team leader across the finish line. In the light of non aligned strategies across countries, pan European companies tend to follow different strategies ranging from DIY to zeppelins that gobble up a lot of euros, are highly inflammable and need to be rebuilt each year. Pioneer saw this differently and more specifically in the light of small & effective ways of spending those euros sensibly. Like climbing up a curved road zigzagging through, assuring that onward movement, brought by your team of climbers and sprinters. And indeed, as Avinash would say, small is beautiful […]

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