Archive for the ‘Carol Ann Morgan’ Category
Business-to-business market research and business intelligence agency, B2B International, was voted one of the top six research agencies in the country in the ‘Best Agency with a turnover of under £20m’ category at the Market Research Agency (MRS) Awards.
At the MRS awards evening in London on 10th December, B2B International was judged one of the top six agencies on many levels: strong financial performance, brand strength, client retention, global expansion, diversification into consumer research, good employee progression, and innovation and thought leadership.
Results posted earlier this year by B2B International for 2011 saw revenue breaking the £4m ($6.3m) barrier and profit increasing by 17.5% from £580,000 to £700,000 EBITDA. Since its formation in 1998, the company has continued its record of growing its revenue and making a profit for 14 consecutive years. The agency has opened offices in North America and China, and recently launched a consumer arm, Deep See, for a complete b2b2c research solution.
Nick Hague, MD of B2B International, said: “With a record number of entries, it is a great honour to have been shortlisted in the MRS’ prestigious ‘best agency under £20m’ award, and a wonderful recognition of how the company has grown, diversified, and won new work this past year. We pride ourselves on maximizing return on investment for clients, especially in such a harsh business environment”.
A couple of weeks ago, B2B International Director Carol-Ann Morgan took part in a roundtable event in London hosted by Marketing magazine. ‘Greater Insights 2012’ invited some of the UK’s foremost market researchers to lead a discussion on what’s hot and what’s not in the market research industry at the present time.
This week, a report on the day’s debate has appeared in the magazine. Amongst other things, the attendees discussed their shifting roles and the ways in which the industry can help organisations unlock the secrets of their clients and consumers.
A strategic research project commissioned by Medirest, the specialist healthcare division of Compass Group PLC, and undertaken by business-to-business market research specialist B2B International, reveals critical issues facing hospital boards
In Spring 2012, Board Directors in publicly funded hospitals across four European markets (UK, France, Germany and Italy) were interviewed about the issues they are facing, influences on delivering healthcare and the services that support this, and attitudes towards outsourcing of support services.
The main challenge is the current economic conditions and the expectance of this prevailing for some years into the future. The need for greater creativity from health boards was highlighted to enable the delivery of healthcare that meets the needs of the population, in the context of political influence. Outsourcing of services, particularly non medical and administrative services, despite some concerns, is felt to be increasing and carries with it significant advantages.
Key challenges impacting on healthcare strategy and delivery
Political changes across Europe have created challenges in relation to healthcare reform – changes in government and political unrest were mentioned specifically in the UK, France and Italy. Legislation affecting healthcare organisation, and the targets set by governments, were driving the agenda, but respondents felt they were a distraction from the key issues facing healthcare.
The overwhelming economic challenge is the current financial situation across Europe – a view expressed by respondents in all four countries. Issues relate to reducing budgets, the requirement to provide more services with less resource, and reduced investment in public healthcare.
The cost of equipment and drugs for new treatments at a time when finance is not easily available is a key concern, particularly in relation to competitive forces. The growth of larger hospital groups may be the result of a need for greater collaboration to provide the full range of services required of a modern health service.
Reduced budgets have also halted many modernisation programmes, many of which were felt to be critical to deliver the treatments of modern day medicine. The need to be up-to-date and at the cutting edge of medicine is seen as a challenge in the current mood of austerity.
Many social factors were felt to be impacting on healthcare. Increasing demand for healthcare provision coupled with public attitudes towards healthcare were of major concern. Some felt that public attitudes may need to change in relation to the level of provision which can be administered, and alternative models of healthcare may need to be considered in the future.
The ageing population and the need to provide care models which take account of this, coupled with more complex multiple pathologies, are particular challenges. Additionally, the increased incidence of particular health problems associated with lifestyle was noted, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Recruiting skilled workers is a challenge, especially in Germany. The economic position, the need to make cuts, and pay freezes have compounded this problem, making the healthcare professions seem less attractive.
Significant technological changes have occurred and continue to, including developments in treatments and in information provision. Respondents feel co-ordinated systems which give access to information both about patients and about activity are needed. Getting a system which can deliver what is required, is accessible, and works with other systems, was seen as one of the biggest challenges.
The research found diverse usage patterns of outsourcing. Non-medical housekeeping services were most likely to be outsourced, i.e. catering, laundry and cleaning, while rental of space for retail opportunities is seen as an opportunity for income generation. Medical services were less likely to be considered for outsourcing, though in some areas elements of this are being undertaken, e.g. lab services.
Advantages of outsourcing are seen as allowing innovation and creativity, such that service quality, cost and support can be determined in the contract. Outsourcing means that the supplier takes responsibility for delivery of the service and the staff, allowing the Board to concentrate on medical issues. It also enables income generation opportunities and could protect the service from further cuts, due to having contracts.
Respondents did raise concerns about outsourcing, fearing loss of control and poorer quality of the service, and possibly higher costs. Other problems surrounded in-house staff attitudes, security and the position of the Unions, plus the perception that some suppliers may not understand the issues facing healthcare.
Meeting the challenges
The study found that tough decisions are being made by healthcare boards to meet these challenges, decisions which often question the current model of healthcare delivery. Approaches include;
• Looking overseas towards other healthcare models
• Identifying alternative methods of generating income
• Co-operation and partnership with neighbouring hospitals
• Creation of “super hospitals”
• Public and private sector collaboration
• Outsourcing of services – mainly non-medical, but also some medical services
For more information about this survey, please contact B2B International Director, Carol-Ann Morgan
In a special Business Surgery, Carol-Ann Morgan discusses why Greg Smiths letter published in the New York Times (“Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs” – NY Times – 14.3.12 ) should serve as a warning shot across the boughs for any company which considers its customers or clients only in revenue generation terms.
A simple fact that is easy to forget amid the pressures of business success; but forget this at your peril.
Some key facts which provide ample justification for a customer centric business approach:
Customer centricity tends to fall in and out of fashion, but it is now most definitely “in”. Customer Experience Management is, in fact, the new buzz phrase. Savvy companies are delving further into the customer experience; placing it at the heart of all they do. With this there has been a flourish of tools, techniques, processes and people who are there to offer their services.
Bernd Schmitt’s book “Customer Experience Management: A Revolutionary Approach to Connecting with your Customers” makes a very interesting read indeed, from the perspective of a professional and as a customer myself. The stages he takes you through cause you to examine your own customer experiences from the on-going relationships, eg with banks and utility companies to the regular, occasional or “one off” retail experiences with the likes of Tesco, John Lewis and Hobbs.
Schmitt, essentially advocates a paradigm shift from the traditional functional – transactional approaches to marketing (citing Kotler’s work), towards one which takes account of the “experience” of being a customer, from cradle to grave (however long that might be). He argues a need to take the customer seriously; to recognise customers as assets of a business, without whom the company would not exist and worthy of boardroom consideration and respect.
Schmitt’s 5 steps towards Customer Experience Management:
Greg Smith states clearly the linkage between the values of the firm, where it positions the customer and the degree of engagement he feels with it.
Companies embarking on a journey of Customer Experience Management need to understand that it has to be a cultural shift across the organisation. It needs to be led by example, from the top, engaging employees in the movement to place the customer at the heart of how the company goes about its business.
In this week’s Thursday Night Insight, Carol-Ann Morgan assesses what is now driving buying decisions
I simply cannot make up my mind! Do I want to move house or not? I have been looking around now for more years than I care to count, but it appears there is a forcefield around my house stopping me from moving. I have been through all the logical processes; compiling lists of the pros and the cons of moving, the things I will miss about where I am and the things I will gain by going elsewhere, identifying the benefits versus the costs of making the shift etc etc. Still status quo! I simply cannot make the decision, and the prevailing economic circumstances over the past 3 years have not helped. The media has taken on the role of my superego; tapping me on the shoulder, reminding of the uncertainty of the future, and the potential risks.
Decision making is not an exact science, though many have tried to unravel the rationale behind it. Indeed, decision science is a discipline on its own. And yet, when faced with making decisions of mini or magnitude, it all appears very personal, linked to the emotions and attitude towards risk.
However, we cannot ignore the current conditions and cultural influences on decision making. In the current economically challenged times, there is a permanent under/overtone of prudence. It is apparent at a high political level, at business practice level and at a personal level. It is pervasive, and, to me, feels as though it is impacting on everyone, regardless of their economic need for it to do so. Governments, businesses and individuals are tightening their belts.
In more affluent times, we think less of cost, possibly attaching a higher value to those aspects of our purchases which are not associated so closely with “hard” product – we value the “nice to have’s”, the “delight” factors, the things that say something about us, or make life easier/better for us. Could it be that in difficult or uncertain times, we feel the need to wear the hair shirt, simply to remind us that we do not know what is around the corner; a fear that we may not always be able to afford the fabric conditioner? Buying decisions at these times, therefore, appear to answer to the practical, rather to than the pleasure. Freud might have said that the ego and superego are holding the balance of power over the id.
Changing consumer attitudes towards cost impacts on buying practices right down the supply chain. With this shift, there is an imperative for suppliers and organisations to understand what is driving buying decisions now, from buyers of the end product down to buyers of raw materials. It is important to know what the key driving factors are, how these have changed, where priorities lie, how customers are reacting to current conditions, and how they are planning for a healthy recovery. Old priorities can no longer be assumed. The supplier that has up-to-date understanding about its customers and its markets is better placed to meet needs now, and in the coming years.
You might ask what this has to do with my own decision about the house move; well, no doubt my situation will rumble on until times pick up and I run out of excuses for my indecision. Either that or there emerges a winner in the battle between my id, ego and superego!