Category Archives: News articles

Articles appearing in print or online media.

St. Patrick’s Day cookies, anyone?

How cute is this St. Patrick’s Day greeting from my former co-journalist, Liz Coe, and me? Six years ago we were working at the Loudoun Times as the education and business reporters. I miss those days. (I baked green cookies today, in case you were wondering). Happy Luck of the Irish to you all!

Liz and Hannah
Six years ago, I was the Business Reporter and Liz was the Education Reporter at the LoudounTimes.com

Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe*:

Ingredients for the cake:

1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Ingredients for the topping:

8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat the over to 350 F, and butter and line a 9 inch springform pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter — in spoons or slices — and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner’s sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted confectioners’ sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Makes about 12 slices

*From “Feast” by Nigella Lawson.

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Tips to avoid the #Millennial meltdown

Oh, Millennials, what are we going to do with you? Everyone wants to #reach you, to #engage you and to get you to spend your #money. Why, oh why, won’t you just tell us what we can do for you? Oh, what’s that you say? You mean you have been telling us this whole time? Huh ….

Tips to avoid the Millennial meltdown

Open your ears, the Millennials are talking, says Melvin Greer, Senior Fellow at Lockheed Martin and author of “21st Century Leadership.” A majority of Millennials — 59 percent — turn to their trusted network of friends and family as the primary influencers when making a purchase.

Millennials don’t just use products and services; they are the products and services they use. The generation associates a part of themselves with thCCW Millennials THUMBNAILeir preferred brands and is hyperaware of how a brand not only meets their service needs, but also their personal needs. Because they have such
high expectations for hyper-personalization, they therefore require mass-customized experiences.

Millennials are digital natives accustomed to having any kind of information available to them at any time. Instead of worrying about meeting these high expectations, consider using their knowledge and ideas: ask them what they want and they’ll give you the exact products and service ideas they want to buy
from you. It could be as easy as that.

If you’re wondering why you should jump through hoops for the youngest purchasing generation it’s because once you’ve got ‘em, they’ll be yours
forever.

Tips to avoid the Millennial meltdown

Trust in brands and institutions are waning across the generation. They are well-trained in sniffing out inauthenticity and need to believe that a company has integrity to follow through with what they say. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important to be aware that Millennials are at the top of this reciprocal ecosystem. They will represent almost half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. They will also represent about $1.4 trillion in spend – about one third of all retail sales projected for that year.

You may see them as one small fish, but collectively, they are all sharks in a large network that wields the power to create or kill your company, Greer says.

Millennials are a viral group that can lead to large-scale changes in the future of consumer behavior. You’ll be taking the reigns alongside them if you find the sweet spot at the center of mass customization, authenticity and technology.

Retail’s much-needed secret weapon …

In a crowded, competitive market, predictive analytics is emerging as a secret weapon to gain insight from data.

If you’re looking to become an indispensable partner in driving profit through world-class insights and analytics, you must harness the data to identify and understand market trends. Only then can the strategy to monitor the risk landscape be defined. That’s when you’ll be able to reduce losses and remain competitive.

The yellow brickPredictive Analytics The Secret Weapon Infographic road to the Gold Standard.

Data within retail is still not being fully leveraged as a determination of real behavior. Instead, it’s stuck in the days of providing summations of customer preferences. You can find new ways to engage your customers by bringing insights and analytics in-house.

This is a case study of the route taken by ConAgra, as presented by Chris Ciccarello, Senior Director of Customer Analytics at the previous Shopping Experience Transformation event.

Start with building data capabilities.

ConAgra put its minds to identifying the analytical possibilities by:

  • Identifying affinities for cross-promotion and shelving
  • Evaluating store layout and assortment
  • Reviewing store and customer segmentation
  • Predicting shopping behavior
  • Collecting shopper dynamics for testing
  • Segmenting and targeting shopper offers

Gather the community.

Hire the people with existing expertise. They should ideally possess:

  • A mix of IT and business knowledge
  • Business analyst experience
  • Experience with transaction-level data
  • Ability to create data visualizations
  • Are an enthusiast of data and technology

Key questions for IT:

  • Does IT have a strategy to handle Big Data?
  • Are they a partner or a profit center?
  • Are they flexible with different approaches?

Key questions to answer for IT:

  • How big are the datasets?
  • How long do they need to be stored?
  • What are the query speed requirements?
  • What tools are needed to analyze the data?
  • What security is required?

Cluster stores for layouts/assortments.

Geography should not play a role in store clustering because store proximity doesn’t necessarily equate to the similar shopper behavior. Tips:

  1. Group stores together that have similar shopper buying patterns
  2. Create assortments, space and flow to match the products that are most important to the store’s shoppers
  3. Allows the stores to have a common feel but also be tailored to the community
  4. Reduce Out of Stocks and excess inventory
  5. Customize Signage and messaging to capture the shopper’s needs

Press the launch, then sit back and watch the analytical platforms.

Finding the pot of gold.

  • Returned distribution after delist
  • Kept private brand business despite lower comp bids
  • Won new private brand category bid
  • Saved items from getting downsized
  • New insights on trade promotion behavior
  • Understanding coupon redemption

New big data sets + the right people and systems + analytical execution = retailers’ boosted volume and profit + more satisfied shoppers.

The CX Edge: Customers are King

Nearly 90 percent of CMOs report that building trusted customer relationships is a significant focus of their departments’ strategic and competitive vision for 2016, according to a recent Forbes study.

Building trusted customer relationships is a significant focus for many strategic and competitive visions this year. This is why the latest data and analytics technologies was at the top of almost every discussion at the CX Impact event in New Orleans, as attendees learned the tools to build credibility and long-term relationships with customers. This CXImpact Report, that summarizes what it takes to make your CX strategy next level, shows you how.

‘Taste the Feeling’ of Coca-Cola’s love for data

Coca-Cola may be known for bringing people together, but this wasn’t always the case. Its cross-functional operations were once very decentralized, but after implementing its shared service center using a centralized SaaS model, everything changed. Karla Younger, VP of HR Services, and her team have found the recipe for success – the data reveals the support function’s history and projects its future need.

“When we created shared services we lifted and shifted those operations into our model. So we didn’t necessarily transform before we moved it in,” says Karla Younger, the Vice President of HR Services for Coca-Cola refreshments.

Karla Younger THUMBNAIL
Karla on Coca-Cola was first published on HRSSOutsourcing.com

Now, thanks to a centralized SaaS model, Karla and her team have the recipe for Shared Services Success by having a look at just what’s happening in the support they provide. After collecting this intelligence, the data reveals the history of the support function and projects future need. The foundation of the transformation is really about merging all the data together to become more and more integrated. Only after integration is achieved can senior executives become fully aware of all the touchpoints. The final, fully-baked result is the emergence of a better functional picture based off of the interweaving data points.

 

“In the SaaS model you can do it a lot faster. It’s more agile, so you can start to build configurations, review it, tweak it and continue in that iterative cycle … we’ve been doing that with new technologies we’ve been putting in place and it’s much faster than we saw other like-ERP type of technologies in the past,” she says.

In the future, Coca-Cola wants to amp up automation for a faster turn around on employees’ more complex inquiries. Mobile apps will play a key role in delivering this information in a quicker and more effective way. Of course, the way to meet this constant evolution of technology, and continue the center’s reputation for groundbreaking innovation, is by mining for talent within the employees themselves.

“We have found individuals within our organization who have skills that we’re not necessarily using. So, we’ve been really focusing on providing some stretch opportunities, developing individuals, being able to flex them around as we have other initiatives and projects going on, and that’s worked really well over the last few years,” she says.

My interview with Karla was conducted at the HRSSO event in Orlando. 

“The Joy of Pepsi-Cola” is found in its global model

It’s not always a joy when you’re undergoing a global transformation in an organization like PepsiCo. As if it’s not hard enough to drive a new agenda with global processes, you must also make an effort to properly sort through all of the pushes and pulls to remain locally relevant. This is no easy feat when you’re driving the change in a company that’s larger than some small countries.

Even if your company doesn’t have 260,000+ employees across 84 countries, you still need to be of two minds when implementing a global shared services strategy. What does this mean? We asked Shakti Jauhar, PepsiCo’s Global HR Operations and Shared Services, to explain.

Shakti HeadshotSimply put, you should think globally when the value is driven by consistency and standardization. Conversely, you should think locally when the value is driven by the needs and variations of specific markets, he says.

For example, motivations and rewards systems are different in different countries. These are initiatives that you don’t want to standardize across the globe. “It’s all about harmonization, and at the end, making sure that harmonization takes care of whatever the local regulatory environment is and the local needs are,” Shakti says.

Tomorrow’s successful Shared Services models will sink or swim on the backs of your HR professionals’ ability to be adaptive, agile and analytical. They will only be able to do so if you throw them the lifejacket of standardization. Demonstrate the high-level need for change management, communication and engagement to the executives on your team. Meanwhile, you’ll also need to listen to the positive and negative experiences of the locally-based teams to make sure you’re taking a constant pulse of the changes. Their feedback will provide you with the data you need in order to make timely and effective adjustments.

The amount of knowledge and data that will continue to stream in to centers across the world will require analytical abilities that have perhaps never been seen before. Thankfully, technology will step in to help carry this burden. The ideal center has a three-layered approach to technology, according to Shakti. It’s built on a very simplistic technology infrastructure that supports any given cloud-based application platform, which allows the organization to maintain the technology as it moves and changes. On top of it all of this is all of the devices.

Now is the time to set up a support structure for those processes that lend themselves to self-service, whether it’s employee management or HR, so that the affected business teams are free to leverage technology instead of the old process. Although technology ends up playing a large role, transformation is not about technology, it is about process. It’s about being able to leverage the information, and the data, to be able to help the business goal, he says.

“So, if I have that three-layer infrastructure, I can then plug and play all the new startup innovations that come in, plug them in, leverage them, use them, be more efficient, plug it out, and put in a new one if I need to,” he says. “At the end of the day, we need to be agile in order to get to that point where we can start to really leverage what is coming to us from an innovation perspective, from all these startups that we think about and we talk about all the time.”

This is a summary of an interview with Shakti Jauhar from the HR Shared Services event.

Four pro tips on media partner outreach

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: Media partners are not the media. They can be, but are not exclusively. There is a greater network of publications, associations, groups, LinkedIn members, etc., who also have a vested interest in the topic you’re writing on.

If I conduct an interview or create an infographic that has value, why shouldn’t it be of value to others, too? I’ve identified my media partners before I even create the content because there’s really no point in content if it isn’t being seen.

It’s a no-brainer that external partnerships with media partners are integral to promotion. What’s more is that the result could be that you’re PUBLISHED!!! Or, you go viral.

infographic-outreach

Pro Tips:

1. Email individually. You can bcc, but I prefer to send people the same email individually because I am personally very good at sniffing out mass emails when they hit my inbox: and then I straight up ignore them. There are usually no more than 20 media partners per topic, so if you copy and paste the same message into separate emails it doesn’t take too long. I just sent this same message to 9 media partners in 7 minutes. Easy.

2. Make the subject line clear. I use the subject line and the first sentence to state immediately that this is content that I am giving them. Again, to abate the spam issue, I want them to know right away that this will benefit them, then I go into how.

3. Conversational. That goes without saying – I’m a human, they’re a human. I’m just a human who has created content that I am proud of and I would like another human to post it to their website and social media. This usually works out because most media partners are looking for free content whenever they can get their greasy fingers on it.

4. Find the media partners. Search out the appropriate media partner companies first and then go to their website to find the appropriate contact. The job titles are usually editorial/pr/communications/media related.

Bonus tip:

Follow-up. No deaf ears accepted. I plan to follow up with those who haven’t responded within the next week. I will not be ignored.