"An extraordinary thinker and strategist" "Great knowledge and a wealth of experience" "Informative and entertaining as always" "Captivating!" "Very relevant information" "10 out of 7 actually!" "In my over 20 years in the Analytics and Information Management space I believe Alan is the best and most complete practitioner I have worked with" "Surprisingly entertaining..." "Extremely eloquent, knowledgeable and great at joining the topics and themes between presentations" "Informative, dynamic and engaging" "I'd work with Alan even if I didn't enjoy it so much." "The quintessential information and data management practitioner – passionate, evangelistic, experienced, intelligent, and knowledgeable" "The best knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed problem solver I have ever worked with" "His passion and depth of knowledge in Information Management Strategy and Governance is infectious" "Feed him your most critical strategic challenges. They are his breakfast." "A rare gem - a pleasure to work with."

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Why we’re all in “Sales”

Who is responsible for sales in your organisation?

“It’s the Sales Team.” “No, the Customer Service Group”. “Isn’t it Marketing?” “I know! I know this one! It’s the staff in the Retail outlets, right?!”

I’d offer (somewhat glibly perhaps) that a suitable answer is "we're all in sales, all the time". Certainly, that expresses a certain mind-set for developing positive customer relationships, engaging with new ideas and having a willingness to open up to new opportunities. I would encourage everyone to aspire to build an attitude of “we’re all in sales” into their work practices, regardless of whether or not their formal role or job description includes “sales”.

However, maybe it isn't too helpful at a practical level, especially for folks who might not have much sales experience, or who aren’t naturally blessed with an outgoing persona. So here are a few simple thoughts on what “we’re all in sales” really means to me.

Selling is typically a team activity. Across the team, you need to identify who will play which roles; the Introducer, the Commercial Lead, the Subject Matter Expert etc. (If you're a solo operator, you've got to get good at playing all the roles!) I tend to never put a job title on my business cards - this allows me the freedom to be a chameleon and present myself to the client in whatever capacity is most helpful.  

When the customer asks “who are you?”, then your mental response aught to be “who do you want me to be?” (Though you might not actually say it out loud to the customer!) Don't be untruthful, though - you'll get found out very quickly. Honesty and integrity will get you a lot, lot further than snake-oil.

It is also my view that selling products (and indeed information) is actually very similar to selling services. You'll be most successful if you show that you can really understand the client's needs and offer a genuine solution. Selling on the basis of product features (or how good your team's skills are, if you're in services) is the best way to lose in the long run.

And please - don't sell on features! The worst thing you can do is try to tell the customer why your "thing" (or service, or resources, or whatever) is better than everyone else's.  

You might also find my Blog article fromMay 2012 of interest, which discusses the tests that I apply to make sure that your messaging is hitting the mark.

Oh! One more thing - learn to tell stories! (But maybe that's another story - and a likely topic for another blog post sometime…)

Happy selling!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Information Management Quote of the week 27/04/14

The alchemists in their search for gold discovered many other things of greater value.”
(Arthur Schopenhauer)

See also:

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Data Quality is Boring!

Is this the kind of response you get when you mention to people that you work in Data Quality?!

Let’s be honest here. Data Quality is good and worthy, but it can be a pretty dull affair at times. Information Management is something that “just happens”, and folks would rather not know the ins-and-outs of how the monthly Management Pack gets created.

Yet I’ll bet that they’ll be right on your case when the numbers are “wrong”.


So here’s an idea. The next time you want to engage someone in a discussion about data quality, don’t start by discussing data quality. Don’t mention the processes of profiling, validating or cleansing data. Don’t talk about integration, storage or reporting. And don’t even think about metadata, lineage or auditability. Yaaaaaaaaawn!!!!

Instead of concentrating on telling people about the practitioner processes (which of course are vital, and fascinating no doubt if you happen to be a practitioner), think about engaging in a manner that is relevant to the business community, using language and examples that are business-oriented. Make it fun!

Once you’ve got the discussion flowing in terms of the impacts, challenges and inhibitors that get in the way of successful business operations, then you can start to drill into the underlying data issues and their root causes. More often than not, a data quality issue is symptomatic of a business process failure rather than being an end in itself. By fixing the process problem, the business user gains a benefit, and the data in enhanced as a by-product. Everyone wins (and you didn’t even have to mention the dreaded DQ phrase!)

Data Quality is a human thing – that’s why its hard. As practitioners, we need to be communicators. Lead the thinking, identify the impact and deliver the value.

Now, that’s interesting!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Rory Sutherland - lessons from an Ad Man.

On a number of occasions recently, I've had cause to refer colleagues and friends to the highly entertaining and thought-provoking TED Talks of Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman at Ogilvy and Mather marketing agency.

I don't want to steal Rory' thunder, except to say that he has some fascinating ideas about the benefits of lateral thinking and development of psychological solutions to real-world problems. His ideas are particularly applicable in areas where there is limited budget, significant architectural or technical constraints or general resistance to change.

In the world of Information Management and Data Governance, I think these translate into questions such as:

* How do we influence people's behaviour more to achieve better information-enabled outcomes?
* Can we shift focus to business outcomes, not technical outputs?
* Do we really need to build another solution, or can we just make better use of current capabilities?

There are three videos, all well worth watching in full:

Do you agree with Rory? Are there areas where this type of thinking could be of value within your organisation? Are we spending too much time "doing" and not enough time "thinking"?

I'd love to hear some of your stories.