Reflection Time > The Journey Of A Lifetime

As I sit here in the lounge awaiting my fight back to the US… for the 10th time in the past two plus year, I am enjoying the time to reflect on this journey.

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In the past two years I have gone form working for one of the most stable companies in the world to seeing one start-up crash and burn in a very expensive thud and a second go from riches to rags to riches again. The lessons I have learned about how to set up a business are countless. The sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do tomorrow to inch towards success are countless. But I would not have traded this for anything. Its been the chance to really live my life to the fullest.

From training analysts to work in outsourcing to consulting with outsourcing companies to being an outsourcing company ourselves, DMAI’s journey and mine are closely entwined. I started with 1 employee who shared my passion and vision as we trained close to 200 people in the use of analytics. And that soon grew to a half dozen analysts on staff and from there to 16 and from there to 30+ and by the end of April we should be over 40. Add to that the hundreds of students I have spoken to about analyst careers and I have directly be involved in empowering and inspiring close to 1000 people in the past two years. That’s living the dream.

As with just about any start up story, our successes have come with great cost. Not everyone who started with us is here to enjoy the current success. Lots of money was spent. Lots of opportunities were missed. Lots of dreams did not catch fire as we had hoped. But now, as I reflect on our success and my own personal growth on this journey… I can honestly say… it was all worth it in the end.

What Are The 5 Key Personality Traits Of Your Online Self?

I’m sitting here listening a presentation with my good friend and key business partner about his keys to a successful online presence.

Makes me think about what are my 5 key personality traits.

• intelligent
• passionate
• inspiring
• empowering
• analytical

What are your 5 traits?

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No Matter How Much Training We Do, Will It Ever Be Enough?

http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2014/03/13/poverty-is-stubborn-foe-in-philippines/

I came across this recent blog post from the Wall Street Journal and it matches a lot of my own observations about the economic realities of the Philippines. Having spent most of the past 2+ years here in the Philippines I have seen my own perceptions of the country’s amazing economic growth evolve from one of unbridled enthusiasm to one of more moderate expectations.

Just to go back a few years, I was at Wells Fargo and heavily involved in both remittances to the Philippines and outsourcing to the Philippines. I saw a lot of data about all time high remittance inflows at the same time we saw a huge shift as the Philippines passed India to become the call center capital of the world. Coupled with my visits to the Philippines, it seemed to be a perfect time to come here and set up a business.

So I came here, set up the business, started doing training and have been able to help quite a few Filipinos find there way towards analytics focused jobs. I’ve also been able to employ many as well. However, as time has gone by, I have also seen that my efforts (as well as so many well-meaning others) come up short in really making a difference. If you add up all the OFWs and all the BPO Employees that are driving more spending and more growth, its still not enough to move the Philippines out of the grasp of massive and disabling poverty.

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As the article points out, training is a key missing effort that despite many best efforts is still falling short. The talent gap between the job requirements and the available workers keeps growing faster then all the training and shifts in education can keep pace with.

When I read articles like this, I find myself wishing I could do more and I will keep doing as much as I can, but to be honest I have started to feel that people like me are just too few and far between to really make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I still love what I do and am passionate to keep doing it… but I am a little less spirited and a little more cautious now then I was at the start of this journey.

I guess that’s my new found wisdom talking…

Five Trends I Shared With A Class Of Future Analysts

Just wanted to share my perspective on what I see as being five trends that future analysts here in the Philippines can jump on to help them get ahead of the competition as they look for their first job.

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1. Finding Unstructured Data on the Internet
Most Data is Unstructured, meaning it’s not easily accessible and stored in an internal database. This goes against the conventional approach to analytics where you write a query to pull data from a big data warehouse and dump it into an analytics tool. For most analysts, trying to find unstructured data and then capture it and use it in decision-making is not easy.

2. Self Service Business Intelligence Tools
Business intelligence (BI) refers to computer-based techniques used in identifying, extracting, and analyzing business data, such as sales revenue, market opportunity or product performance. Self-service ones are easy to learn, sit on a desktop and have more power to do great analytics then a team of 10 IT Engineers did 5 years ago. My favorite BI tool is Tableau. Check it our at http://www.tableausoftware.com

3. Competitor Intelligence
Per Wikipedia, competitive intelligence is the action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors and any aspect of the environment needed to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions for an organization.Every successful business conducts competitor intelligence and uses this process in various ways. Some examples for a fast food chain might include:
> Pricing
> Product and Service Offerings
> Targeted Demographic Marketing
> Marketing Promotions
> Location Renovations and Expansions

4. Data Visualization
The main goal of data visualization is to communicate information clearly and effectively through graphical means. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A good pie chart is worth 10,000 rows of data stored in a database. I often say what separates a good analyst form a great analysts, is the ability to easily communicate their findings in a way that makes it easy to exercise good decision-making.

5. Business Dashboards
Wikipedia’s definition of a business dashboard: “An easy to read, often single page, real-time user interface, showing a graphical presentation of the current status (snapshot) and historical trends of an organization’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to enable instantaneous and informed decisions to be made at a glance.” That’s a mouthful, but if you are able to deliver all of these items in a single view, you are worth your weight in gold to an analytics savvy organization.

To learn more about analytics, DMAI and careers as an analyst in the Philippines, follow this blog and you will keep yourself on the cutting edge of all things analytics!

Convergys eyes 6,000 new hires this year… But From Where?

A recent ABS-CBN headline touts how one of the biggest BPOs in the Philippines is planning to increase their staff by about 15%. And they are not alone, in the past few months I have seen a lot of the bigger players (including IBM and Google) make public announcements about staffing up here in the Philippines. But a lot of people are asking where will they come from?

Based on research being produced and/or complied by IBPAP, we are seeing a widening of the talent gap between the number of seats available and the number of quality candidates to fulfill them. The Philippines is about to graduate hundreds of thousands of college students, yet so few of them will be ready to step right into a call center job. The government has made huge strides in partnering with the industry leader and higher education to create courses that will help fuel the demand, but its not nearly enough.

And to make things even more interesting, we are seeing a lot of mergers between bigger players (Convergys just acquired Stream) as they try to consolidate to offer more services to bigger clients abroad. So the big fish are eating well. However, the same cannot be said for a lot of the smaller BPOs.. most set up by Filipinos with the idea of capitalizing on the call center boom. But they are for the most part struggling as they either can’t find accounts or enough staff to fill the client requirements. The competition has never been more fierce when it comes to finding good people.

So where does that leave the industry? Is the pool big enough to supply the big fish like Convergys with 6K more employees? 2014, will be an important year in the evolution of the BPO industry in the Philippines.

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As for DMAI? We continue to grow quickly as we have a mostly work from home team that is almost completely made up of former call center agents who have walked away from higher pay for better work life balance. Is this the wave of the future? I think so!

How To Build A Competitive Landscape for Your Marketing Strategy

In preparation for my talk next week at CSB, I wanted to share with you one of the simplest parts of a well-rounded analytics solution.. which is to take account for the competition. I talk about this a lot because it’s often one of the most overlooked.

So, lets say we work for an events management company and we are going to set up a training workshop on business analytics. We need to provide our marketing team with some data to help them in their efforts. To help ensure the program will be a success, there are several data points about the competition we can source to see how we stack up in comparison.

First let us look at pricing. How much are we going to charge for the workshop? We need to make money, so first of all we need to account for expenses and determine an ideal profit margin and then set a target ticket price. That’s simple. However are there other workshops out there that offer similar content for a lower price? Or can we raise our ticket price to be more in line with the market?

To get the data we need to survey the marketplace and gather the intel and put in a simple excel file just to see where our desired price points compares. It may take a few hours of calls, web searches and online inquires, but it all pretty much public data and easy to get.

Second, we can look at format. How long is our workshop? How many speakers? Will there be a panel of experts? We can gather these data points at the same time we capture pricing data, so let’s just add a few more columns to the excel file. This way we can see with some certainty about the number of competitors we have and how our workshop will measure up.

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To give a different type of dimension to our landscape, let’s look at reputation. So let’s add one more set up columns to capture year established, number of public training offerings a month and number of cities/provinces used. And then add a final column for general notes. The idea here is we are going to add analysis to how credible a competitor they are. We can see who has been around awhile and who is new to the game, who has a narrow scope and who is everywhere. This way we look at more than just raw numbers.

SO, you take your spreadsheet, you fill it out and then you add a row for our own company and then we can see where we rank in each of the categories (columns). It’s not a 100% scientific, but it will give us a good idea of where we stand in the grand scheme of analytics training options out there.

Based on this analysis we can help the marketing team by showing our relative value to attendees as compared to other options. We can distinguish what it is about our format that gives us an edge. And we can advise marketing on what parts of our credibility we want to promote.

For example, a tagline marketing can use based on our data could be something like Join DMAI, the Philippines most well established name in Analytics, for an innovative approach analytics training next month at a very affordable price.

There you go! 🙂