Zeit·geist = spirit, essence of a particular time

A collection of food-for-thought posts and articles on technology, business, leadership and management. 

The Sales Cycle Inside Out #toomuchtimeonplanes

sales cycle

The full picture behind a handshake, the universal expression of a successful transaction, a sale, has many similarities with other processes in physics, like the behavior of sub-atomic particles in a fusion process where atoms combine at the expense of energy to achieve a 'desired' new stable form. In a short-sighted view, a sale, is just a transactional consequence of the collision between a problem and its potential solution. Beyond the solution, it's about 'the job to be done', as analyst Horace Dediu many times refers to.

Problems belong to buyers, who are perpetually in active seek of solutions, in a dance surrounded of sellers.


In between problems and solutions, where they meet, there is, in 'firewalling' words, a DMZ area, the conflict zone. In the corporate world, this DMZ area is delimited by finance, business operations, business affairs and legal on one side, Brand & corporate marketing, channel marketing, Product Marketing, Technical support and PR on the other.

Picture yourself driving the Challenger spacecraft re-entering atmosphere. You can feel the heat below your feet, that burning side of the spaceship will be what we call sales in any company. This fringe, always in friction, is where I work, at the beginning of the end of problems, where the job needs to be done.

Problems and solutions belong to 'The What' of the story. The bigger picture becomes visible if we ask about 'The Why'. Why does a problem exist?, answers are not always evident.

Majority of the times, particularly in the tech word, and as a consequence asymmetric competition, it becomes necessary to reverse engineer everything from the visible impact in the market.

Smartphone sales, as an example, may illustrate this. A smartphone is actually a piece of hardware whose purpose is to materialize an interconnected multimedia experience for human beings (although we see also cats, dogs and other animals staring at screens). The problem to solve here, is to deliver intelligibly a stream of content&services to an UI, the solution (or the tool if you will) is a smartphone.

In this case, the problem belongs to different stakeholders in the value chain. Content and service providers want to reach end users, that's their problem. They ultimately rely on carrier networks to convey their products. Carriers, owners of networks, also want to reach end users and their problem is to make sure end users have something in their hands with a screen as big as reasonable to deliver their megabytes of data. But… why?.

Problem owners or buyers, carriers, content developers, service providers, share the same motivation, they want to monetize their products or services, that's why. In other words, they want to deliver something on to a recipient (at a cost) to obtain a benefit (at a profit), the delta between cost and profit speaks to the importance of the problem and fuels the determination to resolve it.

In our example, the solution is simple, go and buy an smartphone. In our story, those with bigger profits at a stake will be keener to dance with smartphone vendors, rules are simple, everyone will fight to maximize profit or reduce cost in the value chain but always within the limits to secure the new, aspirational stage, is not jeopardized. i

It's a sum-zero game in which everybody wins one way or another. We, users, enjoy our connected life in our never-leave-more-than-a-meter away smartphones, while carriers, content and service providers make commercial profits. It's all about the transfer of value and the transactions in between.

But, this is not over, no single solution can ever, never, serve entirely to solve the problem it is intended for. There will be always gaps. Gaps need to be filled in by means of innovation in products and services, ultimately serving better end users, us, for a richer and happier experience.

Is there a limit to this?.  I guess the answer is yes, if we, at some point of time, connect ourselves to an on demand endorphins delivery system.

But, this is a standalone topic on its own…

@efernandez    from the series #toomuchtimeonplanes


FELOG Foro de Expertos Logisticos

Se hace en Caleruega, cerca del monasterio del mismo nombre, en Burgos, de donde es mi madre. Me invitó Antonio Mansilla, director de operaciones de Kelloggs, que es un auténtico experto en Supply Chain, manufacturing y operaciones, podéis ver su blog aquí. Es el foro de expertos en logística, operaciones, supply chain e IT de las principales empresas de nuestro pais. Son aquellos que hacen posible que comida, bebida, productos de consumo, medicamentos y otros bienes imprescindibles, lleguen hasta las tiendas, retailers y grandes superficies de nuestra geografia.

Participan pesos pesados como Kelloggs, Avon, Pfizer, Unilever, Alcampo, Dia, Cortefiel, entre muchos otros, seleccionados bajo escrutinio de Jose Luis Galiana, alma mater y organizador.

El formato de interaccion en este evento es muy especial, y mucho mas enriquecedor de lo normal, ya que esta basado en un intercambio de opiniones, informacion y criterios en total confidencialidad, lo que permite aprender mucho y muy rapido de los demas.

Mis notas y conclusiones:

1. La tendencia mas importante en logistica y supply chain es la "multi-partner collaboration" refiriendose tanto a information sharing de todos los agentes de la cadena como a resources sharing, transport y warehousing.

2. La regulacion local tiene un impacto tremendo, por ejemplo, la nueva ley de modulos para autonomos cambiara los economics del transporte subcontratado.

3. Tecnologia: (para esto me llamaron). Hay dos partes, el efecto en IT y procesos internos, fundamentalmente asociados a movilizacion, digitalizacion y eficiencia de tareas (BI, qlikview por ejemplo, o el uso de RFID y QR para tagging) y por otro lado los cambios en comportamientos del consumidor (la generacion de demanda y su señalizacion), la imparable entrada de smartphones, apps, redes sociales, pago por movil, que cambian por completo que y como se compra en tienda.

Hablamos de early disruptions en supply chain, como estos:

Bring Buddy: red social para paquetería donde se paga y cobra por movil, pionera en Alemania y participada por DHL. (Crowdsourcing deliveries)

ZipCar: red social y servicio de car sharing

Zaarly: redsocial de servicios on demand, donde tu los solicitas marcando el precio que estas dispuesto a pagar.

Fiverr: idem que Zaarly,  oferta y demanda de servicios pero siempre cobrando/pagando 5 dolares.

Hablamos de los cambios en el proceso de compra del consumidor y como afecta al retail:

Yelp: red social de recomendacion de puntos de venta

Groupon: descuentos para compra

Mobile wallet, paypal, QR tagging, NFC, ISIS, etc, etc.

Un gran foro, sobre todo por el grado de confianza, interacción y diálogo constructivo entre sus miembros. Gran trabajo y mérito de Jose Luis Galiana.

FlashForward: watching your children now is a sneak peek into the future.

A strange sense of urgency drove me to write this post, aware it's going to be emotionally biased, a consequence of deep understanding of what the future will bring, similarly to what happened in the TV series FlashForward, theorizing about the impact on humans if suddenly, we all, could see and live 2 minutes (and 17 secs) of our future ahead. What would you do differently now if you were to know what's going to happen? Think about it for a second, wouldn't it be stressful?


In the wireless industry, my industry, there is so much to do, and so little time...(funny clip here). When I met Miles Flint last week in UK, I found myself talking for more than half an hour just to update him on the current status. Change is the only permanent thing in my industry, and truth to be told, in the last three months, many things changed in my markets (Spain, Portugal & Mediterranean) reshaping the scenario.

In parallel, seems to be it starts to be easier for me to meet with other executives in airplanes or in transit, at airports, than back at my home country, in Spain.  Same morning, prior to my meeting with Miles, I found myself sitting in the plane discussing (actually arguing) with Miguel Milano, EMEA president at salesforce.com, about BlackBerry and what BlackBerry is about vs Apple (he is a confessed Apple fan since the 80ies).

I met Miguel at Club Malaga Valley, a tech initiative in the south of Spain. Miguel and I are members and supporters, formerly VP at Oracle at that time, Miguel is definitively, someone with an opinion.

Same exact points were raised in both discussions, summarizing now for convenience:

1. Myths:

No matter how tough facts or figures are, both Miguel and Miles struggle to believe canalys gave RIM #1 smartphone spot last year in Spain, or GfK reporting 54% of smartphone prepay (1 out of every 2 smartphones sold in prepay) is BlackBerry. Definitively, US media influence is too strong at this side of the pond, if I want to fight it, I'll need to do it from the right side.

2. BlackBerry story:

I explained both where RIM stands strong and differentiates, following the internet paradigm, is all about production vs consumption (of content), active vs reactive, doers vs watchers, upload vs download. BlackBerry is simply better for content production: tweeting, facebooking, wordpressing (blogging: actually Forrester reports 42% of professional journalists using BlackBerry). An end to end approach: easier and better input mechanisms (keyboard) combined with close integration of apps and OS powered by the most efficient cloud messaging service.

Action point: we, RIM, are not properly marketing these facts, and we definitively should.


3. The future (as per this post title... I've seen it):

This is it, future is all about everything around us connected to the internet (Internet of Things) delivering data back and forth into the cloud, massive data (Big Data), and proliferation of new services and apps (Cloud Computing) that will deliver mobile experiences for us, humans (post PC era) in new devices, namely smartphones, tablets and the evolution of those.

As an example (same I used with Miles and Miguel): your smartphone will be able to monitor in real time your heartbeat (among other things like basic emotions and other biometrics), these data will be send over wirelessly to the cloud where an array of different cloud services will take intelligent decisions (without human intervention) based on different criteria, for instance, if your heartbeat drops suddenly from 80 to 40 beats/min, and your facebook age is above 55, weight more than 85 Kg with no Endomondo records of physical activity in last 2 years, then.... you probably have a heart attack and need assistance, therefore, and based on your GPS location, the closest medical service will be called to action.

This is one of the thousands of different services and use scenarios our smartphones will need to handle in the future, to make this a reality we need a strong post-PC wireless hardware and RTOS (Real Time Operating System), trully multitasking, interconnected to a powerful infrastructure (cloud) to handle any of those many different scenarios even simultaneously, including real time data, decisions and actions while doing everything else we already demand today from our devices (did I say multitasking?, I should have said extreme-multitasking). It's not by coincidence QNX, early version of BlackBerry 10 OS was just designed for that.

Finally I was able to capture Miles' and Miguel's attention.... although couldn't 'convert' them yet.

Miguel is today and will remain an Apple fan till we release a BB10 tempting experience in the 2nd half this year, however his 14 years old teenager is a BlackBerry evangelist, and, although Miguel struggles to understand why, this is a backdoor to change his perceptions and turn him back, which is something I am confident we will.

I guess the point is, if your own children, who will rule the world after us, have a preference for a different technology, watching them now is sort of a sneak peek into the future, isn't it?

We can predict the future, it is just a question of computing power.

"...Future can be seen? Come on!, this is just another headline purposely made up to draw attention on ads or something else" Yes, it is, and I carefully selected the words in this tweet before posting it to trigger that sort of rejection, and, as I predicted... It happened.

Therefore, based on this simple logic, future can be predicted to a certain extent, although with many limitations, but, it is a fact.

My brain could predict reactions from my twitter audience to that original statement, however, because of my own brain computing power limitations, I cound't predict who of my 2700+ followers would be the first to deny and reply my tweet.

Being said that, it's just a question of thorough analysis of my followers, their profile, interests and activity, that I could come up with an statistical prediction of who could have responded back first. With more computing power I could tweet, predict reactions and estimate who would reply and even what he or she would say.

Haven't you ever been in a situation with your other half or an old friend knowing exactly what she or he was going to say, think or do?.

Similarly, in the wireless industry for instance, we very much apply a 'reverse engineering' management approach both to competitors and other parties, tracking down actual offers, prices, market shares, and extrapolating the top-down objectives of those companies which, in turn, help predict market behaviour and leads to a fact based sales forecast.

The more data you have, and the more you analyze and compute, the better forecast accuracy.

So, more data (Big Data) +  more computing power (Moore's Law) =  better accuracy in future predictions, and this is exactly the point.

The web, internet, cloud or whatever you may want to call it is growing exponentially in terms of available digital data (big data), storage, infrastructure, and intelligence (interconnected apps and services) all converging in our personal portable communication devices (smartphones), and all of these glued together will give us increasing and pervasive computing power, with nearly infinite data points to help us predict the future.

If we extrapolate and apply this rationale to physics, considering it is all about matter, and matter components down to individual atoms, moving around forming our past, present, and future [*forget about time, it is just an illusion we humans build up as part of our limited perceptions to understand matter behavior] then, if we only could have sufficient computer power, we could probabilistically build all potential future scenarios of matter formation and determine statistically the most likely ones, based on historical patterns, carefully reverse engineered.

I need to work in that super-cloud-machinery, but first, I'll make sure we all get our hands on a smartphone ;-)

#SmartEmpathyPhone Empatía en movilidad

Impresionante video conceptual acerca del futuro ya cercano, y las redes sociales empáticas. La idea es sencilla, combinar sensores biométricos capaces de medir ciertas emociones humanas con las comunicaciones a través de redes sociales, leyendo nuestras reacciones a tweets, facebook posts o news feeds. Importante el detalle en el interface de resaltar el cambio de emociones (previous status vs currrent/new emotional status). Fijaros en el histórico gráfico de emociones, dentro de tus contactos, puedes ver en que momentos de las comunicaciones sociales ha habido más alegría o nerviosismo, asociado a la interacción social.

En dos palabras, impresionante.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XI687YFvNk&w=420&h=315]