Black Ops again, strategy and Mother’s Day

I was given this photo by a ‘source’, as they used to say in The Street of Shame. Words really do fail me, they really do. What on earth was he thinking! I mean Keith really looks like he is taking advice from this man. Would you take advice from a man who hasn’t learnt to eat and needs to swaddle in napkins to avoid fouling himself?


It has also been brought to my attention that the Cacti Botherer has taken himself to Amsterdam this weekend to gaze at, not Van Gogh’s but Cacti. (I believe people commonly use the Van Gogh Museum as an excuse when asked what they did in Amsterdam over the weekend ) Yes it is the bi-annual Cacti Lovers Association Meeting in Amsterdam. I look forward to him coming back into the office on Monday with the wild tales of new Cacti he has touched and his crazy friends who have hunted down some spectacular new varieties of green prickly thing. Mind you the madness is spreading. I have it on good authority that a member of the Dev Ops team did an impersonation of a cacti the other day. He shall of course remain nameless save to say that he is from Glasgow and is folically challenged. Christmas day charades at his house must be something else. 

There was a wider leadership meeting for Tesco Bank this week with the focus on strategy. The real focus of the day was on Digital and some of the highlights for me were…

Benny talked about the need for us to us be transparent, simple and provide value to Tesco customers. He also pointed out that since the change of control 5 years ago the % of customers buying online from Tesco Bank has gone up from 62 to 86%. He also warned us about complacency, citing the debacle that is The Co-Op. 

Iain spoke of the need for us to be simple, honest and human to counter the general perception that banks are cold. He also pointed out that all banks are investing heavily in Digital, given that 70% of customers have Smart Phones and 30% have tablets. He also urged us to collaborate more to align the limited resources of the bank. 

Teresa pointed out that the bank has gone from ~200 to ~4500 people in 5 years, a phenomenal rate of growth. She also urged us collaborate and build a network beyond our own function and even into group. Digital was also for her an opportunity for us to make a business that makes it as simple as possible for customers to deal with. 

David spoke of impressive growth since the change of control. With a 70% increase in customer accounts, 76% increase in customer lending and a 97% increase in customer deposits. He also spoke of the strong synergies between Club Card and Tesco Bank products with 66% of savings account customers and 82% of credit card customers also having a Club Card. He also spoke about providing customers convenience, giving them reason to trust us, providing rewards that are worthwhile and that digital will fundamentally change the customer experience. 

Karl was disappointingly low on the swear word count but he redeemed himself during Q&A when he told Angela Jamieson that she was fired after she asked a question! He also spoke about the need to embrace the aggregator channel, narrow the new business/renewal pricing gap, broaden the range of underwriting partners and offer the best prices to Tesco customers. He was also very keen on embracing responsive websites, reducing paper cost, providing a more personalised service and cited our online servicing pilot. 

Peter very succinctly gave us his priorities for 2014/15 as Digital, analytics, PCA, budget and Risk 123. He has also been doing his Digital research, quoting a McKinsey study in the FT which cited one of the biggest opportunities in the digital space being how to better manage internal processes. They quoted a business which increased profit by 40% by adopting Digital methods, with 2/3rds of this being attributable to better internal processing. I personally think the opportunity at Tesco Bank is higher than this! 

With the closing speech Benny provided the following quote. It is attributed to Marshall McLuhan but there is some dispute about this. Anyway I like it and think it really represents the opportunity we may have….

We don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish.
I don’t know who discovered water, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.
The fish will be the last to discover water.

He also, you will be pleased to know, informed us that whilst he didn’t know the exact number we would be getting a ‘good bonus’ this year.


Ivan Zero Defects corner….

Another thought on how this business has a lot of work to do to move towards that so called “digital” business I saw printed on many CIO town hall slides,  will we see the same in another couple of weeks! I ask myself what has changed? I still see many of the old school working practices from the left hand graphic (big up front analysis / siloed teams / project management based on Microsoft project, critical paths, fixed scope / big bang test phases before delivery)  Can you move mountains?

Andrew Littlejohns is doing some learning in his free time and its not about IT. Looks really interesting, have a look, also another source of online education.

Markos let me know that Stripe is testing supporting BitCoin. Here is the hacker news link on the story

and here is a slightly more glossy article on the same subject

Some really interesting news in from David McConchie. Just under 50% of traffic to UK Groceries ( which is from memory 47% of the UK Grocery market) is from non PC devices. See graphic below, the decline is stark. It’s a good job we are a Java shop.  


I did a little more research on Marshall McLuhan and found a couple of other quotes I really liked. This one  he wrote in 1985 and is remarkably prescient. 

The tribalizing power of the new electronic media, the way in which they return to us to the unified fields of the old oral cultures, to tribal cohesion and pre-individualist patterns of thought, is little understood. Tribalism is the sense of the deep bond of family, the closed society as the norm of community.

And this one he wrote in 1964. You can replace electric with Digital and it can still apply, or does it? 

In the electric age, when our central nervous system is technologically extended to involve us in the whole of mankind and to incorporate the whole of mankind in us, we necessarily participate, in depth, in the consequences of our every action. It is no longer possible to adopt the aloof and dissociated role of the literate Westerner. 

Web scale SQL. Google and Facebook get together to modernise databases. Are they doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or are they doing this to strike a blow to a competitor whose CEO likes yachts? 

Mesh networking. iOS7 brought us this interesting feature and Google are working on it to. If I earned money from provided a network I would be little worried about this….

Louise was told the other day that our daughter Sophia is doing really well at school. I would questions this, if this article is to be believed, because being 6 she is still not as clever as a crow!

Have a great weekend and don’t forget it is Mother’s Day on Sunday or you won’t have a particularly good Sunday evening if you happen to be romantically attached to a mother. 

(Correction. In last weeks entry I wrote about the President of Turkey banning Twitter, it was in fact the Prime Minister. The President actually tweeted his support for Twitter) 


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