Open your eyes – your AI is biased

Computations have no ethical subroutine. And understanding bias in AI is an important eye opener. Building an AI-facilitated future without properly understanding the algorithms behind the conclusions and actions is leading us to into unexpected pitfalls.

We are all very excited about machine learning and AIs. We see them as the ultimate way of automating daily life from driverless cars to personal health and medical diagnostics. But garbage in = garbage out. And to eliminate the garbage we need to be able to identify it. Long after our little helper has started working.

The main reason we need to watch out is that AI algorithms are not necessarily retraceable and retrackable. Not even the programmer understands it fully once the machine starts accumulating and filtering data. Despite its ability to learn it can only conclude based on the original assumptions built into the underlying algorithms.

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Looking for the ultimate answer

Whenever we rely on algorithms to make decisions – or at least recommendations – it is because we seek a simple answer to a complex question.

If the collection of big data for data driven decision making is used to create simple answers to complex questions, the complexity is solved through algorithms that in effect filter and collate based on what the human programmer considered applicable. And it concerns us more than you would expect. I recently read that the AI concept is being used within the US judicial system: Judges rely on the AI’s suggestion on whether an inmate should be granted parole based on assumptions of future behavior of set individual after release. In isolation this would seem like a statistically viable method, as there will be vast amount of available data to substantiate the conclusion.

But if the original algorithms input by a human were in fact influenced by bias such as race, name, gender, age etc., are the conclusions any better than the answer 42?

When Douglas Adams in his science-fiction Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series introduced Deep Thought, the biggest  computer ever built in the history of men and mice, the builders asked for the answer – and added that they wanted it to be nice and simple. So after millions of years Deep Thought concluded that the answer to life the universe and everything was 42. But by now, this insight was useless because nobody really understood the question.

If we see AI and machine learning as the ultimate answer to complex scenarios, then we must be able to go back to the original question in order to be able to process the answer. Not just to understand but to analyse and apply what the computer is missing – the ethical subroutine.

What will the AI choose in a no-win scenario?

One of the hot topics in the current discussion around self driving cars is whether the AI would make proper ethical decisions in a no-win scenario. Should it risk the life of the passenger by veering off the street and over a cliff to avoid running over another individual in in the street? The decision would be entirely based on the original algorithms which overtime have become inscrutable even for the engineers themselves.

Of course, this is a simplified example. An AI, as opposed to a human behind the wheel, would be able to process more details regarding the potential outcome of either option. What would the statistical probability of successfully avoiding hitting the person on the street be when taking into account elements such as speed, space available without going over the cliff, the chance of the person acknowledging the danger and moving out-of-the-way in time before the collision etc.

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(Image from Nvidia Marketing Material)

But the self preservation instinct of a human being behind the wheel would most likely lead to the obvious conclusion: Hitting the person is preferable to dying by plunging over the cliff! Would the original programmer not have input exactly this type of bias?

What I believe Douglas Adams was getting at with the magic number 42 was that there is no simple answer to complex questions. If as indicated above the AI is victim to its own programming when making complex decisions or recommendations, then as a tool we must make it as transparent and thereby manageable as any tool developed by humans since the invention of the wheel.

MIT Technology Review addressed this in detail in the article published by Will Knight in April 2017  The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI 

No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.”

willKnightHe goes on to explain that while mathematical models are being used to make life changing decisions such as who gets parole, who gets a loan in the bank, or who gets hired for a job, it remains possible to understand the reasoning. But when it comes to what Knight calls Deep Learning or machine learning, the complexity increases and the continuosly evolving program eventually becomes impossible to backtrack even for the engineer who built it.

Despite the inscrutable nature of the mechanisms that lead to the decisions made by the AI, we are all too happy to plunge in with our eyes closed.

Later the same year another MIT Technology Review article explores the results of a study of the algorithms behind COMPAS (Inspecting Algorithms for Bias ) COMPAS is a risk assessment software which is being used to forecast which criminals are most likely to reoffend.

Without going into detail – I highly recommend you read the article – the conclusion was that there was a clear bias towards blacks. The conclusions later turned out to be incorrect assumptions: Blacks were expected to more frequently reoffend, but in reality did not. And vice versa for the white released prisoners.

The author of the article, German journalist Matthias Spielkamp, is one of the founders of the non-profit AlgorithmWatch which has taken up the mission to watch and explain the effects of algorithmic decision making processes on human behaviour and to point out ethical conflicts.

Spielkamp

Mattias Spielkamp, Founder of AlgorithmWatch

The proverbial top of the iceberg

Even strong advocates of applying artifical intelligence/cognitive intelligence and machine-learning (deep learning) to everyday life applications, such as IBM with its Watson project, are aware of this threat and use strong words such as mitigation to explain how this potential outcome of widespread use of the technology can be handled better.

In a very recent article published February 2018 entitled  Mitigating Bias in AI models , Ruchir Purri, Chief Architect and IBM Fellow, IBM Watson and Cloud Platform stresses that “AI systems are only as effective as the data they are trained on. Bad training data can lead to higher error rates and biased decision making, even when the underlying model is sound… Continually striving to identify and mitigate bias is absolutely essential to building trust and ensuring that these transformative technologies will have a net positive impact on society.”

IBM is undertaking a long range of measures to minimize bias but this is only addressing the top of the iceberg. The real challenge is that we are increasingly dehumanizing complex decisions by relying on algorithms that are too clever for their own good.

Actually – all of this isn’t exactly news.

More than 20 years ago, human bias was already identifed as an important aspect of computer programming

“As early as 1996, Batya Friedman and Helen Nissenbaum developed a typology of bias in computer systems that described the various ways human bias can be built into machine processes: “Bias can enter a [computer] system either through the explicit and conscious efforts of individuals or institutions, or implicitly and unconsciously, even in spite of the best of intentions”.  (Source:  Ethics and Algorithmic Processes for decision making and decision support )

The Swedish Model – Or The Importance of being “Lagom”

Lagom is the ticket to successful integration in Sweden

Where else in the world can friend and foe in business and politics exchange their views in an inclusive, open and collaborative setting where everyone equally gets their say, and audiences engage and contribute – and criticise. Disciplined. Cilivized. Respectful. – Getting together on an island to debate everything from ethics to politics. This was Almedalen Week July 2016

Who gets to lead? Whoever shouts the loudest?

Watching the rallies from the US presidential elections always makes me wonder what happened to politics being the voice of the people. There really isn’t much room for debate or separate opinions. It is all about who shouts the loudest, who creates the best TV broadcast friendly setting with American flags, banners or sound bites on signs lifted high by a religiously enchanted audience. They all agree at a rally. Of course they do – they are handpicked to do so, I assume. And the sound bites are carefully crafted, and really not anybody’s opinion. I learned that from the documentary The War Room  on Bill Clinton’s election campaign.

ST. LOUIS, UNITED STATES: Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. St. Louis was the last stop on the Clinton-Gore campaign's bus tour. The crowd was estimated at 40,000. (Photo credit should read TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. (Photo TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Feministisk Initiativ

Gudrun Schyman, leader of the Swedish Feminist Party, at a meeting in Almedalen rebuking the speech given by Prime Minister Löfven earlier – with facts, arguments and civility (Photo by the author)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Almedalen on the Swedish island of Gotland, at this annual gathering of everybody who is anybody (and a few nobodies like me) in Swedish society, it appears we all agree despite disagreeing strongly.

It’s just that nobody is shouting. If you do, your message simply won’t be respected. You can say things with emphasis, you can criticize, you can argue, you can disagree. But you let your opponent finish their sentence, you do not raise your voice or shout insults. Everybody is allowed to be there. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. They are not your mortal enemy, they are just different.

It’s called diversity. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s just lagom.

There is no translation for the word lagom – it is a state of mind, a way to view life and human interactions. And relationships. And the weather. What is lagom?

Picture1An urban myth claims that the amount of mead in a viking drinking cup being passed around a group of warriors must be “lagom” – as in be enough for the entire team. “Lag” means team in Swedish. Pass it around the entire team for everyone to have a sip.

 

 

Raised to be lagom

The Swedish Board of School Education  states that in 2015, 94% of all children aged 4-5 attended municipal kindergarden/daycare. If you dive deeper, you realize that an impressive 88.4% of all children living in Sweden with immigrant parents attended these kindergardens. And they are all brought up with the concept of lagom as a way of life and human interaction. This is integration at it’s best.

On a lighter note, here’s a nice review of the differences between a Swedish boyfriend brought up along those principles, and what you could experience with others.

And it’s not a new phenomenon – it’s an integral part of the Swedish welfare state where the decade long focus on gender equality in the home and in the workplace has meant that generations of Swedes today setting the tone and the agenda in business, politics and academia were brought up to be lagom. Brought up to be considerate, attentive and inclusive.

It’s not that easy to be lagom

I am an immigrant myself, coming from Germany, then Denmark and now Sweden. And these are three entirely different cultures in terms of human interaction and behaviour. I will never really be part of this tribe; my values may be to be both considerate, attentive and inclusive – but I am certainly not lagom.

It’s an acquired trait, you restrain yourself from voicing disagreement, you avoid standing out in confrontative situations and you must not take the last cookie on the platter. I can do neither.

But I often meet immigrants and children of immigrants who are mastering the skill and have become part of the tribe in a way I may never be. Amazingly enough, being lagom also meant that when I joined Refugees Welcome Stockholm at Almedalen last week to quietly, orderly walk around in my pink vest, I was stopped by locals and organisations and thanked for our efforts.

Our purpose there was not to shout – it was to remind politicians, opinion makers and media of the fact that these people need help, not rejection.Karin

Karin, a police volonteer from the hectic days of autumn 2015 at the Stockholm Central Train Station stopped me in my pink vest to thank Refugees Welcome Stockholm for continuing our efforts

 

 

 

 

Rosa Stationen – A Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration project

35,000 people came to the Almedalen Week this year in July. That is as many people as Refugees Welcome Stockholm (RWS) received and assisted during the influx of refugees in the autumn months of 2015.

In the autumn and winter of 2015, local Stockholmers, passers by, volonteers from help organisations, young and old rallied at the Stockholm Central Train station to help these people not just with the bare necessities of life but into a new and meaningful existence. It takes a lot more than food, shelter and clothing.

Read more about some of their fates here:  When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.

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RWS created Rosa Stationen  a meeting place, where the volunteers who were persevering at the train station, continue their involvement by exemplifying and teaching refugees how a Swede respects and values you and your opinion.

It’s not really a survival technique for refugees – being lagom

Sometimes it is difficult to convey to these people, because the trauma and the fact that they survived their perilous journeys and made it this far, is not because they were lagom in anything.

It’s more likely that they had to be fierce, persistent, loud. It is very plausible that these qualities, which ensured their survival, are also the ones who can obstruct a successful integration. A Swede brought up on these ideals has difficulties interacting with and understanding behaviour as “un-lagom” as this. Being “un-lagom” myself, I can relate.

The focus of the newly arrived is on finding jobs to learn the “Swedish Way” which is so much more than learning the language. It will be a long journey for them, but many of the volunteers at RWS have made similar journeys themselves, as children or more recently as young adults.

And they are the most successful, most warmhearted, most outstanding human beings I have ever met. Despite being just lagom.

  • If you would like to learn more about the Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration activities, take a look at the Refugees Welcome Stockholm Website , follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group
  • The next big project is #GeBarnenAndrum (Create a Safe Haven for the children). You can volunteer or support the effort with a donation

It is through the children we ensure the future and they are the ones who need a safe haven the most.

 

 

 

Success is about balancing data, art and poetry

Some people – including many marketers – think data is dull and boring. I don’t. Data has poetry when you know how to look. To let it speak to you is  pure art; it will help you develop a successful datadriven strategy.

Nonsense

 

For a while now I have been struggling with definitions and perspectives on the enigma of datadriven marketing. There are so many different skills involved – and so many departmental functions that hold a stake. To understand the confusion, you might like to read my previous post What is Datadriven Marketing Even the dictionaries, let alone the stakeholdes themselves, are struggling with the term. From a marketing perspective, however, there is a clear purpose:

Datadriven marketing means capturing and analyzing data from the abundance of available transactions and interactions between you, your company and your market – and turning them into meaningful conversations that engage your audience.

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Click here for more of these excellent cartoons.

 

Datadriven marketing is pretty straightforward

“This is what works: being clear about a Call to Action, knowing your audience, crafting content that’s got a story to it, measuring and analysing results and adjusting based on the data.” (Jim Rosenberg, Chief Communications Officer at Accion)

There are some key words in this statement which have evolved into separate – and rather hyped – marketing disciplines:

  • Know your audience – the hype word here is personalisation
  • Content with storytelling – the hype word is Content is King
  • Measuring and analysing results – the hype word is Business Intelligence

What perplexes me is that each of these components seem to be addressed separately depending on what is the hottest trend on the various expert forums and conferences aimed at marketers. Add the #InternetOfThings to the mix and it gets even more disassociated from the real business purpose of marketing.

Getting personal

What if marketers listened to their data before they applied it to a mailing list with names, company size and job title? Personal contact information provided over completed online forms tends to be incorrect, flimsy and incomplete. Often it is  contaminated in the mailing application by duplicates and record matching, and the risk of antagonizing the recipient is real.

Personalisation should not be about getting the name and job title right, it should be about getting personal to the extent that the timing, the message and the format is relevant to the person receiving the communication.

Get aligned – or perish

What if marketers worked their way backwards from the business objectives to the content that was needed and embraced by the sales organisation to achieve them?

Studies show that despite “Content is King”, many sales teams do not fully utilize these carefully drafted assets:

Only 9 percent of content created in enterprise marketing departments is viewed more than five times by the sales department, according to Docurated’s latest State of Sales Enablement report.

Apart from an apparent lack of strategy around content creation, marketing and sales teams are not communicating and appear to be creating content in silos. Read more here.

How to turn metrics and analyses into actionable insights

The good news is that organizations are collecting and creating more data, but they also have better analytics tools and techniques available. The bad news is that there can be too much of a good thing. Paul Blasé from PriceWaterhouseCoopers explains it like this:

“For example, they (…the senior management…) can debate, ‘well why did the market grow at this rate when I assumed [it would grow] at this rate; or why did this competitor gain share versus me, when I assumed the opposite would happen because I dropped my price? It’s about combining the intuition and the experience with the science of data analytics together to help an executive team make better decisions, and that’s where we’re seeing traction.”

The challenge is to allow the poetry to enter the discussion – expressed by Blasé as combining intuition with experience. Because what characterises these questions is that executives tend to address historical data with lagging indicators and based on KPIs and other metrics they defined not from insights they need, but from data that is available to them within the scope of the reporting and analytics tools that they currently use.

The Harvard Business Review conducted an interesting study among graduates who were in positions where the focus was on researching competitive intelligence. And concluded that only half of the companies actually use the competitive intelligence that they collect.

Why? Because when decisions are made, he or she who shouts the loudest, normally defines the game. So if data is collected and interpreted only to reconfirm an assumption or justify a strategy already defined, or if the actual data provides insights that are countering the loudest shouter, management may end up making some very bad decisions. But you can turn it around – if you listen and understand what the data tells you, successful decisions will help your business and your career. One of the examples from the Harvard Business Review study is from a pharmaceutical company that used the data to make business related decisions:

A common theme across industries was the smart reallocation of resources. One analyst told us that their company had stopped development on a project that was consuming lots of local resources after the analysis indicated it wouldn’t be effective. They then re-applied those resources to an area with true growth potential — that area is now starting to take off. In a different company, an analysis led to the cancellation of an extremely high-risk R&D program. (Benjamin Gilad, Leonard M. Fuld, Harvard Business Review Jan 28, 2016)

Read more about why organizations struggle to get data cultures right in this article by David Weldon from Information Management.

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From chaos to order

In the second half of this video  the SBI (Sales Benchmark Index) Revenue Growth Maturity Model defines the evolutionary flow from data strategy chaos to order:

  1. Chaos – the organisation has a corporate data strategy but it is not translated into a functional direction.
  2. Defined – there is both a corporate and functional strategy, but they are not implemented.
  3. Implemented – now, the strategies for both corporate and functions are implemented but remain separate entities and not aligned.
  4. Managed – now we have aligned the strategies to run the organisation with a defined goal and actionable insights
  5. Predictable – aligned both internally within the organisation and including and integrating external data sources from the market.

According to SBI, 51% of US companies are still at level 1 – in a chaotic environment where strategy is neither communicated nor aligned with the business.

That is the pitfall that digital marketers must avoid – the disalignment of business objectives and marketing strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.

Because these stories must be told. Again and again.

Making Sense of Technology

This blog is about digital disruption.  A disruption  is a major disturbance, something that changes your plans or interrupts some event or process.

Right now, our comfortable reality is being disrupted – brutally, dramatically. This blog entry is not what I normally write about, but it is important. Here are some destinies from Stockholm Central Station.

My respect for the personal integrity of these refugees arriving to train stations across Europe, struggling to find a way to continue their journey, stopped me from bringing out the camera despite those countless moments that would have been powerful images.

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They say, a picture can say more than a thousand words.

I have no pictures for this story, so I will paint them with my words.

Picture No. 1

Remarkably, hundreds of refugees pass us during our day at the station, but nearly the only littering/garbage left behind are some cigarette stubs, probably…

View original post 1,200 more words

When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.

This blog is about digital disruption.  A disruption  is a major disturbance, something that changes your plans or interrupts some event or process.

Right now, our comfortable reality is being disrupted – brutally, dramatically. This blog entry is not what I normally write about, but it is important. Here are some destinies from Stockholm Central Station.

My respect for the personal integrity of these refugees arriving to train stations across Europe, struggling to find a way to continue their journey, stopped me from bringing out the camera despite those countless moments that would have been powerful images.

IMG_0318

They say, a picture can say more than a thousand words.

I have no pictures for this story, so I will paint them with my words.

Picture No. 1

Remarkably, hundreds of refugees pass us during our day at the station, but nearly the only littering/garbage left behind are some cigarette stubs, probably from the local people as they light up leaving the station rushing towards their lives.

The transport coordinators (and I, one of the drivers) are standing with our fluorescent vests next to a lamp pole outside Stockholm Central Station. There is a box behind us with some notes and pens. A little girl – 5-6 years old – points at the box. We smile. She walks up to it and looks to us for confirmation, then drops the peel of the pineapple slice she had received in the food tent into the box. She has been brought up to understand that she is our guest, and she does not want to litter.

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Picture No. 2

A determined red haired volunteer muscles her way through the crowds to our lamp post. She wants help for her group, the people she had welcomed on the platform as she could speak their native tongue. There is a boy, with one eye blinded, protruding slightly. A father, 2 more children, a mother, an uncle. The boy’s eye hurts terribly, the redhead wants to find a doctor. We ask her to go to the Red Cross station.

– “No, they said they don’t have a doctor – they said I should ask you, the people with the vests”. We, the volunteers, can organize a car to the hospital but the redhead throws her arms in the air: “They have no time, they finally got train tickets to the North and the train leaves in 3 hours”.

So I take off my vest and go into action mode: “I will take them, I will explain the urgency and get him back in time. I have had my 1-on-1’s with hospitals before.” She explains, they discuss, the mother cries, and the father and uncle take my hand. Please. Yes. The boy looks at me and smiles with his good eye.

This is Sweden. At the hospital we get speeded through. The receptionist calls a friend who works in administration, he speaks Arabic. Their story unfolds as he explains to the doctor what has happened:

Abu Bakr – 10 years old, from Bagdad. His home was bombed, his eye damaged by splintering glass. In Irak, they had tried to treat him, but the medicine they carried had been contaminated. On the fragile rubber boat – in the Mediterranean – when they tried to start the outboard engine, he got an elbow thrust into the eye, and gasoline as well. That’s when it got really bad. Only in Sweden did they find the courage to ask for help. During their exodus they were afraid they might be detained.

The doctor investigates, prepares the prescriptions to take on their onwards journey and sends us to the local pharmacy. I had not really donated money yet, and I do not mind paying for the medication to last the boy for 2 months. With my credit card ready, the pharmacist says: “He is a refugee with no home and no formal identity papers. Regardless of the real price, all the medication is 50 Kroner.” That’s less than 10 Dollars. This is Sweden – and I will pay my taxes with enthusiasm now and in the future.

Abu Bakr is smiling with his good eye. And he takes 1 Kroner (1.2 cents) out of his pocket and puts it on the desk for the doctor. He wants to pay for himself.

Picture No. 3

The Red Cross teams inside the train station are overwhelmed. A group of people with crying/screaming children crowd the interpreter and a few RC volunteers. They have no onwards ticket, they have no place to stay, their children are hungry. And a little boy runs around with his pacifier in his mouth, and one arm hanging limply in an odd angle from his petite frame. The transport coordinator asks me – You are good with hospitals, can you take the boy to the ER?

Zain is 3 years old. His sister Rawan is 4. Their father is alone, there is no mother and I do not know what happened to her. I also do not ask. Upon boarding the train in Vienna the little boy tripped and fractured his shoulder. He is so small, I would have taken him for 8-10 months, had it not been for his knowing eyes. They asked for help in Vienna, but they said not to worry, no need for X-ray, just board the train.

The local café offers the children food – the father insists on paying. He wants them to eat before we leave, because who knows when they will next get some food. I cannot explain, I am helpless without speaking Arabic. He pulls out a 5 EURO note to give the café, they refuse. He points at the Money Exchange office, wants me to watch the children. He wants to pay. I offer to exchange his money – and he gets a good rate. I give him 500 Swedish Kroner, t’s the only banknote in my purse, and he ceremoniously hands over his 5 EURO note.

At the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Stockholm, we wait. The nurse is certain it is broken, but timing is bad – it’s shift change hour and the doctors are in conference. The father had traveled with a group, but he is now afraid that his little family will be left behind. It will be hard for him with two very small children, and nobody to help him watch them. He already looks like he has not slept in a week. And he is badly malnourished. While we wait, the waiting room fills with other children – a small 2 year old waddles over and starts to play with little Zain. Zain is confused, then smiles and responds. They exchange books, move furniture and show each other the little box of juice they were given. Look what I have – I have one too.

The transport coordinator calls me from the station – the other group will leave on the train at 5 pm without Zain, Rawan and their father. They finally secured tickets and they have to look out for themselves. But I feel safe – this is Sweden. The father will not have to stand guard tonight over his few posessions and his little children with no mother. The volunteers at the Red Cross shelter will make sure he gets a good night’s sleep.

Before I hand them back to the Red Cross, I buy pacifiers for each of the children. They only had one each, and each time they dropped it the father had panicked. The little girl – Rawan – chooses two pretty little pink ones, and proudly shows them to all the Red Cross volunteers. As I leave, Zain has fallen asleep on his father’s shoulder wrapped in my jacket. I leave it. I ask the interpreter to say these words to him for good bye: “Thank you – it was an honour for me to be allowed to help you today.” The father nods, he holds my hand, but his grip is weak. He has no response. His too tired to form any words. And he is alone.

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Where is everybody – where’s my ROI? Tips and Tricks to attract the right audience at your event

If you read my previous blog entry, you may still be looking for the best way to find the golden audience that makes you best friends with the sales teams. Here are some suggestions I have collected over the years:

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Plan with the end in mind

  • Don’t just set a date, build a 3-touch-strategy together with your stakeholders (the sales teams in most cases).
  • The theme and message has to promote and strengthen the conversations that your sales teams are having with their target prospects. Don’t push some new message or vision down their throats if this is not what their targets are interested in.
  • Be flexible – if the conversation has moved over the 8-10 weeks of planning before the event, make sure to have alternatives ready to add to the speaker list.

Email marketing – and other channels

  • Don’t publish it all at once, when you start the invite process – build an engagement staircase with at least 3 touches.
  • Expand your email campaign with social media engagement through dedicated, branded Linkedin groups, with a short, recognizable and easy to remember hashtag to use across channels before, during and after the event.
  • Another great tip is to prepare your tweets and posts so that your colleagues across the company can share without sounding like a marketing machine.
  • Make it personal, local, fun – whatever their preference is.

For your email campaign – here are the three touches I would recommend:

Image 1

Launch the idea of an event and pre-announce the date. Get the theme out there to gauge interest from your target audience. If you have a star speaker name, don’t let the cat out of the sack just yet. Have a call-to-action button for “sign me up” or “tell me more” – and make sure there is a response on the second one.

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First real invite – allowing people to sign up based on an agenda with topics and speakers that are “glocal” – have a global vision but either are local or have local recognition. Always have a button “sign me up” and “tell me more” to encourage a dialogue.

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Now let the cat out of the sack. Make a big boom invite only promoting date, theme, agenda and your star.

Less is more – let people click through if they want to deep dive into agenda or speaker profiles etc. That way you can capture who is interested so that your sales teams can follow up with personal emails or telephone calls.

Still not there? Time to call the cavallery

And if all fails – if you have not met your quality registration target – go the extra mile – engage with your sales teams, show them the gap between their expectation on the attending audience and their sales target accounts.

Give them a cheat sheet with talking points about the event.  Remember, you know everything about how great it will be – but they probably don’t event know the speakers or content in detail yet. Get them excited, build a dashboard or some other gamification element to let them compete with each other (and make sure there is a decent prize for the winner, so get that on the budget from the very beginning).

Help them help you succeed.

Successful disruption in a digital age

While you are still struggling to wrap your head around the buzz of Big Data and trying to develop a digital strategy for your business, here’s news for you: It’s not the hype of Big Data, or digitalization, or social media that characterizes those who are on today’s winning team. It’s not about digital strategies – it’s strategy in a digital age:

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This was the most retweeted phrase of the entire session, delivered by McKinsey speakers at the Salesforce Speed of Change city tours across the Nordic capitals.

When you evaluate the steps needed to win in today’s fast changing markets and business environments, it becomes clear that your company must focus on what you are really providing. Not what you think you are selling, but what your customers need to fulfill a basic need. Regardless of whether you are in B2B, in B2C or a government or non profit organization, take it one step further and you can learn from the winners of the past.

Remember the Maslow pyramid of basic human needs? Try to match them against the game changing technologies we see today, and you will see that the main driver behind change is not technology itself but what it can do for you.

Slide1

The privileged among us are catered for at the bottom of the pyramid. That’s when  “social” takes over.

The success formula behind all social networks is not that they deliver an app to your mobile device. As Martha Bennett from Forrester suggested during the Speed of Change Nordic City Tour: “You sell the outcome not the device or the service”.  Social networks have changed the way we do business, the way we connect in our professional and private lives, and the way machines and devices are connecting simply because they use data to fulfill the needs at the top of the pyramid. Through the mining of this data technology – by making your data speak –  vendors and disrupters in the digital world  provide a sense of belonging, help us to gain respect for our achievements and put ourselves at the centre. Which – by the way – is why we manage to survive from the moment we are born and make the first fierce cryout for food and comfort.

There are many examples of industry or market disrupters but despite being disruptive in their day, they do not necessarily survive and thrive, as competitors catch up and technology evolves to create new patterns of behaviour in business processes. If you look at the companies that have changed an industry, such as how media is consumed or how basic grocery goods and services are delivered, they successfully disrupted because they catered to a basic human need.

So what is your strategy in a digital age? Disrupt, reinvent, adapt – or be disrupted.** It’s as simple, or complicated, as that.

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