Twitter Study: The value of influencers

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Some weeks ago in this post, we have tried to define an undefined social media species: Influencers. The feedback was very positive and many companies are still trying to find the secret sauce how to use and leverage the value of influencers for their brands and their sales funnel.

Now, a recent study by Twitter gives further evidence of the value of influencers, and on how they help positioning brands and in which way they might might upload the sales funnel. The first part of the study was meant to figure out amoung more than 300 users how they responded toward brand influencers.

The study conducted by Annalect, a data analytics company, in corporation with Twitter shows that almost 40% of the responding people stated to have purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on a social platform like Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. And another 40% stated that they are following brands on Twitter.

But influencers are not only valuable in terms of sales performance. They also make people share products they are using themselves. Almost one in five (20%) respondents claimed that they shared something they saw from an influencer. Amoung Millennials even one in three said they follow a social media influencer on Twitter or Vine.

The study comes like an extension of two former studies from Nielsen and Lithium making clear that Millennials trust different people in different ways. Interestingly enough, this study also states that influencers rival friends in trust building. Just 7% of respondents rely more on recommendations from friends (56%) than from influencers (49%).

„This is telling us is that you don’t have to be a mass media star or a household name to be influential and actually drive people to buy stuff.“ Jeffrey Graham, Vice President of Market Research and Insights, Twitter

The Twitter-owned talent agency Niche revealed that the pool of influencers available to brands has grown from 6,000 to over 25,000 in a year. Honestly, we would say there os probably more depending on what you value: reach or relevance.

Twitter_Infographic_Influencer_2016

Spot On!
The smartphone has become the modern sales acceleration technology. Social influencers put trendy or interesting products on their sites or streams while walking down the street or by getting them from brands for free, and people following them would purchase those products. Have you not experienced this yourself?

The only thing we wonder is, how much would brands pay influencers to write about their product and share a picture of the product via their social media accounts? The numbers we know from influencers vary but maybe there is someone in the market who might want to share some insights.

Study: Millennials don’t want brands to stalk them

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Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

The vision of social networks was to create a better exchange between people – whether near or far. But where is consumers, there’s also brands trying to reach out with advertising to them on any available platform. A recent study now shows that Millennials are not really happy with the social advertising activities.

According to the study of Harris Poll (conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies), that addressed more than 2,300 consumers of all generations, more than half of all digital natives (56%) report to cut back or stop the use of social media platforms entirely.

Even more, 75% of the responding Millenials stated that they feel stalked by brands on social platforms. The reason: The eager way brands do target them in their news feed with the ambition to build trust and loyalty with their customers or consumers via social media platforms in the U.S.

So, what does this mean for brands? Do brands have to live according to a transformed version of the former cold call prevention: „Don’t stalk us, we follow you!“? The study suggests that direct targeting on social platforms via advertising might result in losing customers. It would be more effective to engage and to be present on the channels they use frequently. And also if brands might be tempted to leverage the huge purchasing power coming from the modern generations (Millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the population), brands need to be careful not to waste the potential of social media and really meet their personal expectations. How challenging this might be in the end…

„The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.“ Rob Tarkoff, President&CEO, Lithium Technologies.

But how can brands build trust, the study also asked? A question that is also raised in a bi-annual study from Nielsen and might be evaluated in comparison with those results. Obviously, online is their general source of information but their trust in online exceeds that of former generations by far.

Lithium Online Trust 2016

While in the Nielsen study, personal „recommendations from people I know“ are leading, Lithium sees „online sites with product reviews“ as the highest form of online trust creation. That websites are definitely not „dead“ can be seen that both studies see websites kind of in the second place. And, whereas Lithium sees „communities of like-minded people“ in the third place (just think about what their main product was…), Nielsen sees editorial content still a very important source.

In terms of service, the Lithium study shows that Millennials contact brands online (79%) and expect a response back within the same day – almost 10% more than Baby Boomers. So, if brands do not actively monitor and engage with the younger generations online, their brand loyalty might go down soon. The best way to interact with Millennials is described in a quote the study also delivers…

„I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.“ Mallory Benham, Graduate Student (23)

So, what are your learning on targeting Millennials and Gen Z via ads on social media?

Report: IoT 2020 – Big expectations and cost savings

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Credit: © sdecoret – Fotolia.com

Credit: © sdecoret – Fotolia.com

Just recently, we summarized the findings of Goldman Sachs‘ on the Internet-of-Things (IoT) report, and what they think where IoT might lead us to in the future.

Now, another report from Schneider Electric called „IoT 2020 Business Report“ delivers some new findings on how large organisations will leverage Internet of Things technologies as a serious business tool by 2020. Their study is based on feedback by 3,000 business leaders from twelve countries.

According to their global survey, 75% of respondents were optimistic about the opportunities IoT presents this year. Almost every second out of three (63%) companies use IoT to improve their customer experience and analyze customer behaviour in 2016. They hope to solve problems faster, achieve better customer service and customer satisfaction ranking.

Furthermore, cost savings in automation seem to be high on the agenda, above all building (63%) and industrial automation (62%). As results showed the improvements in automation technologies almost half of the companies (42%) say they want to implement IoT-enabled building automation systems within the next two years.

The key driver for IoT is mobile for two out of three companies (67%). Thus, they plan to implement IoT via mobile applications this year, and 32% even in the next six months. Again, cost savings of up to 59% is the major driver for IoT implementation.

The confidence is the value of knowledge gathering and sharing already exists inside most companies surveyed. 81% feel that the data and/or information generated by the IoT is being shared effectively throughout the organisation. Fears are lower than expected. Only 41% of respondents connect cybersecurity threats with IoT business challenges.

„We’re past the point of questioning whether IoT will deliver value. Businesses now need to make informed decisions to position themselves to maximise IoT’s value in their organisation.“ Dr. Prith Banerjee, Chief Technology Officer, Schneider Electric

However, Schneider Electric does not only publish numbers of their study but also provides the following predictions that business leaders might take into consideration.

1. The next wave of digital transformation.
IoT will bring operational technology (OT) and IT together while fueling a mobile and digitally enabled workforce: As more companies both expand and deepen their digitisation programmes enterprise-wide, IoT will increasingly take centre stage. This new wave of transformation will be enabled by more affordable “connected” sensors, embedded intelligence and control, faster and more ubiquitous communications networks, cloud infrastructure, and advanced data-analytics capabilities.

2. Insightful data.
IoT will translate previously untapped data into insights that enable enterprises to take the customer experience to the next level: When thinking about the value proposition of IoT, most businesses point to efficiency and cost savings as the key benefits. Yet access to data – including previously untapped data – and the ability to translate it into actionable insights, the hallmark of IoT, will deliver greater customer-service transformation and new opportunities to build brand/service loyalty and satisfaction.

3. Premise-to-cloud confidence.
The IoT will promote an open, interoperable and hybrid computing approach, and it will foster industry and government collaboration on global architecture standards that address cybersecurity concerns: While cloud-based IoT solutions will grow in popularity, no single computing architecture will monopolise their delivery. IoT instead will flourish across systems, both at the edge and on premise, as part of private cloud or public cloud offerings. Making IoT available across heterogeneous computing environments will help end users adopt IoT solutions in the way that best suits their security and mission-critical needs while also offering entities with legacy technology infrastructures a logical and manageable path forward, allowing them to transform over time.

4. Innovations that leapfrog existing infrastructure.
IoT will function as a source of innovation, business model disruption and economic growth for businesses, governments and emerging economies: Just as the Industrial Revolution, birth of the Internet and mobile revolution have driven advancement, innovation and prosperity, so will IoT. Businesses and cities alike will deliver new IoT-enabled services; new business models will emerge; and, in particular emerging economies will have a significant opportunity to quickly leverage IoT without the constraint of legacy infrastructure, essentially leapfrogging old ways. In fact, McKinsey forecasts that 40 percent of the worldwide market for IoT solutions will be generated by developing countries.

5. A better planet.
IoT solutions will be leveraged to address major societal and environmental issues: IoT will help countries and their economies respond to the biggest challenges facing our planet, including global warming, water scarcity and pollution. In fact, survey respondents identified improved resource utilisation as the number one benefit of IoT to society as a whole. In concert with the private sector, local and national governments will embrace IoT to accelerate and optimise current initiatives to curtail greenhouse gas emissions in accord with the breakthrough COP21 climate agreement, whereby 196 countries pledged to keep global warming under the threshold of two degrees celsius.

Spot On!
The Internet of Things has been seen as the main revolution from a technology perspective. The hype seems to be at an all-time high. Real business value is not only saving money though. Customer service improvements, better process optimization and smarter work and life opportunities will have big potential to bring IoT business value to enterprises in the future.

What is your experience on the value of IoT for your business?

Social Selling is a Team Sport

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Credit: © vege – Fotolia.com

Credit: © vege – Fotolia.com

On the surface, social selling seems like an initiative reserved exclusively for the sales team. And while, yes, social selling is typically championed by a Chief Revenue Officer or VP of Sales, it integrates best into a business with organization-wide support.

Social selling is a team sport
The sales team impacts all departments of an organization, including client success, product and IT. But arguably the place where sales – and social selling – has the greatest influence is on the marketing team. And vice versa.

According to Sirius Decisions, 58% of marketing and sales teams say they are seriously misaligned. Some of the repercussions of a sales-marketing duo with no alignment? Lost leads, bad content and blind decision-making.

Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page to ensure efforts aren’t going to waste (and feelings aren’t getting hurt). To be successful, sales and marketing must focus on 3 key aspects of a strong social selling initiative:

Content
A crucial aspect of social selling is the sales professional’s ability to provide valuable content – articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more – to prospects in their network. Misaligned marketing departments can spend time and resources creating content for sales, but it is useless if the content doesn’t meet the needs of the prospect or if sales can’t even find it.

How do you fix it? By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales and marketing can together determine what types of content fit best for prospects at different levels of the funnel. Then, marketing can curate a database of content that is easily accessible and relevant for salespeople to use throughout their process.

Process
Implementing a well-run social selling program provides the sales organization a predictive, guided approach to everyday sales. In an environment where nearly 60% of the B2B buying process is done by the prospect before they ever speak to sales, reps need guidance on how, when, and where to connect on social networks. Marketing and sales need to understand and agree on their buyer persona so marketing can provide the resources that will guide sales to success.

How do you fix it? For social selling to become part of a sales professional’s everyday process, it must be easy for them to identify the best way to engage with prospects online. Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the ways in which their buyers navigate the buying process. This enables marketing to develop relevant campaigns and channels for sales to leverage in their social selling practices, resulting in the most important aspect of all…

Leads
Too often, misaligned sales and marketing teams hurt themselves and end up doing more work when they let good leads slip through the cracks. Whether it’s marketing campaigns missing the mark on the right buyer, or sales failing to follow up on solid marketing leads, it’s a lose-lose situation.

How do you fix it? First and foremost, clearly define what each team will commit to accomplishing in order to support each other. As the saying goes: Build the social selling process, and the leads will come. When marketing provides sales the resources and tools to become problem-solving thought leaders in their networks, everyone wins.

„Never leave Social media to marketing alone. Marketing spreads the brand and product messages. Sales plants conversations, seeds solutions and harvests on needs.“ (Martin Meyer-Gossner on Social Selling)

This is a guest blog post by PeopleLinx CEO Kevin O’Nell. PeopleLinx helps B2B enterprise sales teams activate socialselling with individualized guidance.

The value of (online) influencers: An attempt to define an undefined digital species

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They blog from the first row at catwalks. They share cool design gadgets on Instagram. They strike a pose with a selfie in front of 5-star hotels on Pinterest. And, they record „Let’s plays“ for Youtube while testing the latest computer games. The one thing they have in common? They are online influencers. A digital species that challenges and changes the marketing world of models, testimonials and the publishing industry.

According to an annual Nielsen study, it is a common knowledge that people trust most in recommendations of people they know. In the past, marketers put models or celebrities in this „recommendation seat“. It was meant to address two benefits: Brands intended to grasp some of the consumers’ attention by trying to hitch-hike on the wave of VIP awareness and public relevance. And, they used the reach of magazines and the trust those public voices had for the people.

Nielsen Study Trust 2015

It seems to me that the tables are turning now, and marketers have to rethink their brand extension strategy.

1. Models – the personalization dilemma
When using models, brands couldn’t tell exactly which audience they were addressing. It was a marketers’ and model agent’s best guess which model fits which brand. However, a model does not have a transparent target-group. They are just faces without any open address books or lead list.

Social influencers are their own agents. Their content markets their personality, their personality defines their content, their reach expresses their quality. They have got fans, followers, and friends that everybody (not only when following them) can see. A clear defined and dynamic target-group that is commited to them and engages with them on a regular basis. What they say gets read. What they state is trusted. In fact, their consumer opinion becomes one of the most trusted sources that people believe in – more than traditional ads of any kind.

Just imagine the influence on purchase intent, when an influencer is posting online to a large audience of friends and fans. Social influencers are perceived of their active and growing audiences as „more real“ than models, somehow even as „friends“.

But also the traditional model business is affected by the upcoming influencer trend: Previously interchangeable and relatively anonymous faces are now increasingly becoming personal brands thanks to their personalized Instagram and Snapchat channels and/or (mostly fashion- and beauty related) blogposts. Consequently, numerous models with significant reach are also acting as influencers to their audiences.

2. Testimonials – the authenticity dilemma
Testimonials need to match brand authenticity and follow the brand message in order to become valuable for marketers. Serious investment in dollars does not allow a testimonial’s mistake. Contracts are long-term and include testimonial involvement not only in all brand campaigns but also in personal PR and marketing engagement during the contracting period.

Money counts for testimonials – as much as monetary rewards do for online influencers. This is definitely true for the fashion and beauty industry, states the „Fashion & Beauty Monitor“ report in partnership with Econsultancy named „The Rise of Influencers„. However, three out of five surveyed influencers believe that the „relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise „is essential when collaborating with marketers. Influencers are very well aware of their personality as brand that has to be secured and consequently, they do not sell everything just because they are asked to. Of course, this in return means a certain loss of control for marketers when working with powerful influencers. Just to state an example, years ago, I offered MINI a cool opportunity to collaborate with me. I fear the idea never reached the BMW four-cylinder tower – perhaps for fear of losing brand control?

Think about it: How authentic can testimonials be that are selected by brands as of their popularity in sports, fashion and lifestyle? Testimonials sell their media value. On the contrary, engagement with influencers can only work when brands do not act too commercial with them and meet their personal authenticity. Social influencers are personal brands; authentic brands that companies can collaborate with.

3. Publishers – the relevance dilemma
When content from influencers gets more attention (and is trusted more) than content from advertising, relevance becomes a critical tipping point. For years, marketers and PR experts were convinced that „serious“ traditional publishers are more relevant to readers than bloggers or any other form of social media active people. Thus, they invested serious dollars in brand building activities with the publishing industry. Today, these very media houses are approaching influencers to increase their declining media value.

A recent study by Collective Bias shows that content from influencers is viewed for more than 2 minutes (which is 7 times longer than the digital display ad average with a view time of just 19.2 seconds). Plus the relevance of someone’s personal opinion -whether rating, recommendation or review- has become of high value for consumers. Now if content from an influencer is relevant and perceived as being „authentic“ , publishing is facing serious competition in the future.

However, relevance needs to meet relevance both ways. Just putting brand messages into the mouth of online influencers won’t accelerate a brand’s value. In order to become relevant to an influencer and his or her audience, a brand needs to be „love-brand“ in a social influencer’s mind. If not, the influencer will be perceived (and probably also act) like a traditional publishing product without a media-kit.

Solving the dilemma – budget and advertising strategy
The world of testimonials, models and publishing is changing with the rise of influencers.
More and more companies and brands start working with social influencers. I personally doubt that they will completely replace models, testimonials and publishing houses, but the future will tell. However, the world of recommendations will be redefined by a new species.

Nielsen Study Recommendation 2015

According to a recent #BrandofMe study, brands invested 1 Bio. USD in 2015 in influencer programs on Instagram only. Influencers earn between 500 and 10.000 USD per Instagram photo or Youtube video – obviously depending on their media reach. Which means that some influencers get paid as much as some publishers for their ad space. A lot of budget that moves away from traditional brand building worlds.

The question is what values more to brands in terms of business impact: tradition or progression. But that question can only be answered when brands understand the power that online influencers can have on and in the sharing economy.

Marketing Campaigns Examples for Gambling Websites

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Gambling is a competitive industry just like any other and as with other industries advertising campaigns can be the key to a site’s success. There are many different incentives used by those in this sector to entice in new players and make themselves stand out.
One of the most prolific deals that gambling sites extend to their public is a bonus, whether it’s totally free or comes with a deposit. These work particularly well as it is seen by many as an equivalent to free money to use however they please and works as an excellent incentive.

Roulette

Another way that sites can get players in the door is by creating a theme that’s on trend. This could be anything from a movie to a character and online casino sites that will be opened in 2016 or those that already exist are using this to its full advantage. This tactic taps into an existing fan base and combines recreational gaming with a concept that players already know they enjoy. Branded slot games are a growing trend because of this, as players see a movie that they enjoy reincarnated and can’t wait to take it for a spin. This also helps the site seem more personable and friendly, especially if they use a mascot.

Being social with players gives another boost to the ranks of a casino. As we all know social media is an excellent way for brands to reach out and be seen by a wider audience. The use of incentives by online casinos also helps when using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they can boost posts that offer the best deals.

Typepad

Television advertisement is a medium that never grows old and many gambling sites now rely on creating an eye-catching advert. This can be a little trickier than advertising online however as there are governing bodies that must review these adverts.

Gambling Kid

The need to drive traffic to a site is felt by every business on the internet and these are just a few ways that gambling sites manage this flow. They still rely on basic advertising principles but they are tailored to the market.

Five components of digital marketing operations (Infographic)

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According to some infographic from McKinsey&Company successful digital marketing can boost their marketing effectiveness by 15-25% if they use the following five components of marketing operations. So, if your company wants to beat the competition, you better follow the advice to implement these five important components.

Here is just some remarks from our consulting business to why those topics might be of relevance to your digital strategy…

1. Customer Insights
Many companies still have not yet implemented a real web analytics or a social media monitoring tool in order to understand the inner and outer impact of consumer demands and reactions.

2. Customer Experience
Market research and product marketing often pretends to know what needs to be build, produced or offered. However, reality shows that often consumer expectations and company opportunities lack the match. Often companies lack the alignment with sales and marketing.

3. KPIs and Measurement
Understanding what makes consumers, companies and decision makers purchase a product or service is aiming for predictive analysis and forecasting when focusing on ROI. Still, KPIs need to be realistic and often lacks the knowledge of what technology is capable of.

4. Marketing Technology Infrastructure
The real bottleneck of digital marketing these days. As of the big marketing technology landscape and a grown intern technology infrastructure, technology decisions are very often a shot in the dark.

5. Process & Governance
Generating real benefit from technology is depending on the right people who get the appropriate training und understanding for the tools‘ capabilities. And as people are often not used to those modern tools and how to use them, they want a (brand) governance (and compliance frameworks) which keeps them in their seats.

McKinsey-DMO-Infographic

How to become a top (social) seller (Infographic)

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To decide strategically on social selling is not a question, if it is going to stay in the future, rather than how and why to use it. If your sales people and your brand wants to step out of the circle of those „We are not there yet!“ industries, then the following infographic from LinkedIn might deliver the right inspiration on how to leverage social selling tools in order to amplify your brands messaging and your company’s outreach. If you start today, it will demonstrate your thought leadership and brand advocacy of your employees if you set up the processes right with the aim to build loyalty and generate more leads than your competition.

So, if you want to become a top (social) seller, check out this infographic. Consider the options and make sure you use the advice given from today on.

LinkedIn-8-steps-to-become-a-top-seller-infographic

Study: Trust is king – How, when and where consumers buy online

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Fair enough, it is only a US-based insight among some 2,000 online and mobile shoppers in July 2015. However, the message could be taken to any other market I guess these days…

The main factor for consumers to make a purchase decision, is trust. This is the finding from Amazon which conducted a study with Pymnts.com in order to understand, where consumers start their buying journey, why consumers buy from one site and leave the other one without making any purchase. Furthermore, the study states that price or ease of delivery are not the main features driving purchase decisions.

The US consumer needs trust in a site (23%) so that they purchase from some retailer. Oterh features that came in th next places were tailored promotions or rewards (16%), a good experience in the past (14%) or products being available in an acceptable time frame (13%).

Interestingly enough, other tactics like good shipping considerations (11%), preferred method of payment (8%), ease of use (6%), a site that recognizes me (4%), being a preferred customer (3%), being able to check out as a guest (1%) and store billing and shipping info (1%) came in much later in the ranking.

Pymnts 2015 - Why they buy

„You need a strategy that is about more than being present,“ he said. „You need a strategy that is about being present where your customers are because if you are not, then you are not being customer centric. There’s no such thing as a relationship without trust.“ (Patrick Gauthier, VP, Amazon Payments)

So, where does the consumer journey start? The study also found that almost every second out of three respondents (64%) start by searching for a product on a marketplace, followed by their favourite brand websites (48%), search engines (40%) and social media (29%).

Pymnts 2015 - Where they buy

„The ultimate digital destinations are driven by trust – trust that the sites have what they want to buy, trust that they will be given a fair price, trust that their goods will be delivered to them in a time frame that is relevant.“ Karen Webster, CEO, MPD

Just check your own habits and experience. What would you say makes you buy something from an online shop? We look forward to your comments…

Study: Without strategy there is no digital transformation.

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Many companies find that their people, processes and products lack digital maturiy, digital capabilities and digital innovation. Now, a recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital finds that most employees (and not only GenY!) are not happy how their companies understand and leverage digital transformation. They want to work for the digitally mature management teams and leaders.

The report called „Strategy, Not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation“ surveyed over 4,800 business executives across 27 industries and 129 countries. The main finding is that the opportunity to digitally transform and to turn a business into a digital business depends largely on a digital strategy enabled by leaders who understand to create a culture that is open to change and reinvent an organization.

The study also makes clear that digital maturity of brands is based on the talents that companies can safe and hire these days. Over 75% of the digital mature companies agree or strongly agree that their organizations provide the necessary skills to capitalize on digital trends. Against those stand the immature companies where only 15% say that their organizations have a clear and coherent digital strategy.

Companies that are not yet digitally developed and advanced tend to focus on operations and what technology can do for them in an operational, tactical way. However, digitally advanced companies leverage their products always evaluating the digital transformation view in their strategic approch.

Interestingly enough, the study proves the agile way of doing bsiness and inventing products in the future. Those compannies that are igitally maturing organizations are more open to taking risks than the laggards. Over 50% of those laggards fear the risk as a major shortcoming. Embracing failure as a „prerequisite of success“ seems to become the new standard if companies want o be innovative and fast in driving digital transformation.

Not surprisingly, the maturing organizations are nearly twice as likely as less digitally mature entities to have a single person or group leading digital transformation process. The fluency of these leading digital companies is highly appreciated by employees – but it is not based on technology. Translating the capabilities of technology into value creation is much more challenging for companies but delivering the value that digital transformation needs. And leaders seem to (90%) understand the technology according to their employees.

Spot on!
The main message of the study for us was that leaders (70%) encourage their employees to innovate with digital technologies. Now, the study does not tell the readers how the managers are empowering their employees, in which way they provide motivation or technological ways to do so (which as we know ist he masterclass that most managers have not visited yet), and how much they have succeeded with their approach. In the last years, we have learned that most companies are exactly on that spot blank. Defining the ambition, delivering creative concepts, leveraging the sustainability of the concept, and finding the right processes was often the biggest effort in our projects for companies.

Please also find the infographic to the findings attached…
MIT SMR infographic_Wireframe_v7LTR

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