Business Goals for 2019: Looking back over 2018 and forward

December is a great time for setting personal and business goals for next year. I’d hoped for some downtime at this time of year, but I’ve picked up a crucial data science project which needs to be delivered over Christmas so there isn’t much downtime. I’m also starting to write another book, which will be my fourth published book, and that will require focus. So I will be working every day except Christmas Day, and that includes weekends as usual.

As part of my MBA program, I’ve done lots of strategic analysis modelling for businesses, starting with the default SWOT and a PESTLE analysis through to different models: Porter, Business Canvas Model, SOAR, and so on. I am not going to share here. The reality is, with Brexit, it’s more difficult to plan. Markets, and businesses, do not like uncertainty. Businesses, like countries, benefit in the longer term from open trade. Increasingly, global competition will occur on a more level playing field but there has to be open access for that to occur. Brexit is a plan for the right by the right, and it is stopping the open access that we enjoyed previously.

For what it is worth, here is my take on Brexit: I believe that May’s Remainy Brexit plan will never get through Parliament because it pretty much keeps us in the Customs Union. This means that the People’s Vote option will become increasingly likely. We are no longer talking about the big red bus lie and we see the chaos. If there is another vote, I hope that we will stay in the EU as we are now.  So I am going to assume that all other things remain equal.

More than talking a good game

I was contacted me recently, by a former colleague who explained to me that someone had spoken to them about me. This ‘someone’ had told them that I was too small to deliver a project, that I didn’t know what I was talking about but I talked a ‘good game’, and that I would never deliver on time or on budget. The former colleague was so concerned about what they’d heard, that they invited me to lunch to explain the accusations which were stated behind my back. I was so horrified and fairly mystified; I had never worked with this individual and I didn’t really know them. I just asked for specific examples where I had just ‘talked a good game’ and not delivered on time or on budget, because I had no idea where they got their evidence from. It was all fairly alarming but of course the ‘someone’ hadn’t given any basis for their assertions at all.

In any case, the former colleague simply said that they would continue to work with me and they enjoyed working with me in the past; they had their own evidence to go on, and it is a mark of our good relationship that they talked to me about it at all. I was hugely relieved but I do wonder how often these tactics work, so I’ve decided to explain myself here and discuss this in terms of my goals.

So if you’re here because you’ve heard something similar, please let me know and we can have an honest discussion. I’ve got over twenty years as a Consultant, and I have postgraduate degrees plus industry experience in delivering Artificial Intelligence solutions. I’m writing my fourth book in Business Intelligence and I’ve edited another two. I have presented to five thousand people in the past month. So I do talk but I also deliver.

How was 2018 for you?

Data Relish Ltd was originally set up as Copper Blue Consulting, and was rebranded three years ago in order to make the offerings more clear. I have employed people in the past, and I had a business partner for a few years but that relationship is no longer in place. I do work for myself but note the following points:

Contracts and Partnerships

Current Status for 2018: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively. I have contracts in place with large partner organizations which allow me to scale; I have partnerships for 24 by 7 support, for example. Partnerships allow me access to sales, marketing and legal backup when I need it. Some of these partnerships are with Azure resellers and organizations, and I do not directly sell Azure so that my customers can benefit from the support that my partner organizations offer.

I am not releasing partner names here; I have a degree of concern, originating from the conversation with my customer, that there is a strong need for confidentiality on the basis that I’ve had the aforementioned stunt pulled on me. I am not giving any names away so that I inadvertently give detractors the opportunity to repeat their performance.

Customers

Current Status for 2018: 50% repeat customers with 50% new customers generated by word–of-mouth from previous customers

I am able to provide references on request from organizations of different sizes, verticals and global impact. Some of my customers are multi-billion turnover, right down to startups. I don’t make a huge effort to market myself because all of my work comes from word-of-mouth. Since I am so dependent on word-of-mouth marketing, it can mean I’m susceptible to stunts like the one mentioned above since I don’t have the flashy marketing that might give some people comfort. I have started to look more closely at marketing and I have set up a partnership with a small consulting firm to help me. It works well since they give me help, but I also pass on leads that I receive, and we have jointly delivered projects on occasion.

Business Community

Current Status for 2018: I started more business networking last year but it tailed off in February. Reason: I was not picking the right events well enough and I got disheartened.

I have started to attend Chamber of Commerce events again, and I met with David Gauke MP (Minister for Justice) and Richard Harrington MP (Minister of Business and Industry) this year. I am interested in learning from the local business leaders here in Hertfordshire, and also looking at ways that I can feed back into the business community. Networking is important and it builds trust. Additionally, being part of the local Chamber groups is offering the route of having our voices heard jointly in Government, and I was surprised to learn that our local MPs have regular and frequent meetings with Chamber representatives. Business is crucial to the success of society by keeping cashflow moving, providing jobs and stability and homes. I advise businesses strategically because I believe in putting the business back into business intelligence, and at the front-and-centre of artificial intelligence efforts.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Current Status for 2018: I got involved with DataKind. You know who you are and I love you all; you have brought such knowledge, fun and great company to my life and you shine your light far out. You cancel out the darkness where people behave as in the anecdote above. Thank you for your healing.

 

So what are my Goals?

Here is the list of goals for 2019:

Contracts and Partnerships

Goals for 2019: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively and I will continue to honour the trust that they have put in me.

In 2019, I do not intend to employ people now since it takes me away from doing things that I love. I may do so in 2020 but it is not the right thing for me at this time. I have previously lost sleep over making people redundant and I do not want that burden again. I work on projects, often, that are simply too big for me to run out and hire a whole team of people and it would be madness to try. How could I even support things like 24 hour support? These are big projects and I need help quickly. Customers need help with AI, BI and Data Science leadership. So it works well.

Customers

I have done extremely well this year and I am proud of my customer list. Through partnerships and on my own, I have punched well above my diminuitive size to have a customer list where my customers have billions and billions in turnover and it is a mind-boggling amount when I add up the turnover amount of all these customers combined.

I do help them to be even more successful and I do help them make technology choices as part of the vision and strategy that I help them to formulate and devise.

Goal: More repeat custom and generate new customers. 50%/50% split between regular customers and new customers is a good split, and it worked well for me this year. As I lead customers to success, they drop off my customer list because they don’t need me any more; but that’s what I want! Self-sufficient, satisfied customers who are enabled and empowered to move on, and who recommend me to their colleagues and community.

Business Community

I am going to set myself the target of attending more business events this year. I am currently researching the business events that have value, and the ones that do not offer value to me.

Goal: I intend to re-ignite my business networking in a more targeted way. I have been pleased to meet leaders that I can learn from, and i hope to contribute more.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Goal for 2019: More of the same. I get enormous richness from philanthropic efforts and I want to help people.

I wish you all the best for 2019! And don’t let anyone steal your pixie dust.

pixiedust

 

 

Speaking at Raona SharePoint Day on 2nd October in London

I’m speaking on Business Intelligence and SharePoint at the Raona SharePoint day on 2nd October. You can follow Raona on Twitter for news

With demos of Vodafone, Telefonica and Ecoembes, it will be good to see SharePoint in action. Sometimes people need examples so that they can see what to do with technology, and to spark ideas. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; technology is essentially a creative process, so why not take a look at what others have been trailblazing in the field.

If you’d like to register, here is the link and I hope to see you there.

Ledface Crowd Funding Initiative

I recently blogged about Collective Intelligence and its application to the SQL Server Community in particular. I mentioned one initiative by Ledface, who are trying to build an online community that will leverage cultural intelligence to answer questions from individuals. Ledface has a very specific goal: to enable people to tap into collective intelligence to answer everyday queries and problems. The Ledface team regard it as new kind of social network in which people interact with each other indirectly, sharing knowledge through Ledface. 
The Ledface team are relying on crowdfunding to get their efforts off the ground. I’ve put the link below. Please note, however, that I’m not officially associated with Ledface in any way, and if you do decide to crowdfund them, then that’s between you and the Ledface team.

Ledface interests me because its emphasis is on social networks to answer questions, rather than a straightforward Google search. It would be good if it is successful, and I wish the Ledface team the best of luck!

http://www.indiegogo.com/project/widget/30873