Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Expand Your Reach with a Freelance Market Research Analyst

Friday, April 20th, 2018

As companies grow, they often reach a point where sales begin to plateau. They’ve captured all the interest they can with current offerings, with widespread adoption of core products and services. To achieve additional growth, they’ll need to look beyond current markets and expand into adjacent ones.

However, adjacent markets—whether geographic, demographic, or product-related—are by definition outside the company’s domain of expertise. And coupled with this challenge is the pressure to move fast. But entering a new market blindly can be disastrous. Of the fastest-growing companies from a group of 2,250 studied by Bain & Company, 72% pursued market adjacencies—but only one in four adjacency moves were successful.

In order to quickly and carefully assess how new opportunities will fit into the company’s broader portfolio and growth strategies, more and more executives are turning to freelance market landscape analysts. In fact, market landscape assessments were the most common project type (22%) that Business Talent Group clients requested help with in 2017.

Freelance market analysis consultants offer market-specific expertise without the hassle and expense of big consulting firms by providing:

  • Targeted, practical market advice
  • A cost-effective external perspective
  • In-depth evaluations of market attractiveness, competitive dynamics, and major trends

But while an increasing number of businesses are picking up the freelance model due to the many competitive benefits it offers, some still worry about bringing in an outsider to help with critical strategic initiatives such as market expansion. What they don’t realize is that targeted, strategic initiatives are exactly where freelancers excel—and where they deliver the best value to F1000 strategy executives and business unit leaders.

Dispelling myths about freelance consultants

Studies have shown that high-growth companies are the ones that focus on putting the right talent in place at the right time. Yet despite the maturation of the so-called gig economy, some companies are still hesitant to bring in freelancers to fill strategic roles. When it comes to freelance market analysis consultants, this is usually due to the persistence of one or more myths:

  • Myth #1: The consultant will impose a new methodology

    Every company has its own methodology for revenue growth. Once successful, few are eager to change things up. Independent consultants understand that, and most are comfortable working with in their client’s framework. If adjustments are necessary, they can often develop a substructure that is customized to the project without disrupting the business’ larger methodology.

  • Myth #2: The consultant won’t have access to adequate data

    Companies are sometimes concerned that independent consultants won’t have ready access to the right data, resulting in an incomplete—or worse, incorrect—market landscape assessment. The reality is that many freelance market researchers have partnerships with research firms that provide this critical information, and they can combine that with client data sources to perform a thorough analysis.

  • Myth #3: A permanent hire would be more cost-effective

    Though permanent hires are appropriate in many cases, the agility and targeted expertise offered by bringing in an outside consultant is particularly advantageous when it comes to market expansion. After all, it can take months to find and onboard a permanent hire, and in the meantime, markets are evolving and windows of opportunity are closing. Plus, if the candidate doesn’t work out, the cost amounts to much more than just their salary—particularly at the executive level.

On-demand access to market landscape analysts makes it easy to get the insights and strategy you need to keep growing. You can cherry-pick the talent you need and integrate them quickly and efficiently into your workflow. Low overhead is another perk, but the real benefit is the agility that freelance talent offers.

It’s likely why, according to Randstadt Sourceright’s Q4 2017 Talent Trends report, 61% of employers plan to replace up to 30% of their permanent positions with freelancers, gig workers, and independent consultants.

The added benefit of an outside perspective

In the rush to reach new markets, companies tend to believe that the next move needs to be a big one. Something transformative. Something bold. After all, those are the stories we love to hear about, aren’t they? Who wouldn’t want to launch the next Amazon Echo or Apple iPhone?

It’s exciting to consider the possibilities, but it’s also important to be wary of falling in love with the excitement and forgetting about the reality. For the vast majority of companies that succeed in market expansion, the next move isn’t all that drastic. It’s more of a shift—a move toward a nearby market that’s not far-removed from the company’s core business.

Extensive research has shown that the further away a company moves from its core competency, the less likely the odds of success. Once the excitement of a bold idea takes hold, however, it can be tough to steer stakeholders back toward reality. That’s when the outside perspective of a market research consultant can be particularly effective.

By methodically exploring and assessing the potential offered by all adjacencies, a consultant can help identify the most promising opportunities, not just the most popular. Most freelance consultants also have executive experience in your target market, giving them an even deeper—and more practical—understanding of the move you’re considering. And success is always exciting, regardless of whether it’s the result of a move that’s big and bold or modest and meaningful.

Achieving real growth with freelance market landscape consulting

Business Talent Group’s freelance market landscape analysts possess both consulting expertise as well as real-world experience as executives, which allows them to quickly identify and assess potential markets, then strategize and plan the path forward.

Here are three real-world examples of how our freelance market research consultants have helped companies uncover new opportunities, and how they can help you, too:

  1. Sizing a new category

    A multinational beverage company was eyeing a new category with a lot of buzz, but little clarity about global trends—or what success would look like. BTG’s experienced food and beverage
    strategist aggregated internal and external data to size the current market and formulate growth projections in each of the company’s core markets.

    Value: BTG’s consultants concluded that the company had a right to play in the space and helped the client make a build-or-buy assessment.

  2. Entering an adjacent space

    A financial services company needed to evaluate the feasibility of entering an adjacent space. Where were their strengths, and how could they be competitive across different geographies? BTG deployed an ex-McKinsey Engagement Manager, who had also served as VP of Strategy for a F500 financial services firm, to deliver insights on the company’s top two geographies.

    The consultant summarized key market sectors, assessed the competitive and regulatory landscape, and profiled major customer segments. He then built a model to estimate the overall
    size per market for a new entrant to the sector.

    Value: The analysis revealed attractive margins in the new space, prompting the client to build a strategic plan for capturing the opportunity’s full value.

  3. Understanding new buyers

    After launching a new patient-recovery product, a medical device manufacturer wanted to know if it could accelerate sales by working with healthcare payers and IDNs, rather than physicians. BTG assembled a team of two healthcare experts—including the former leader of McKinsey’s life sciences practice and a health economist with a strong network in the payer space.

    The BTG team interviewed payer representatives, refined value propositions, and provided a topline estimate of the opporunity’s magnitude.

    Value: After analyzing market attractiveness and reimbursement options, the consultants concluded that profit margins were too slim to proceed.

When you bring in on-demand talent to identify new markets and accelerate growth, you improve agility through greater flexibility and targeted expertise. You can also make smarter decisions by exploring opportunities before completely committing to them.

Need help identifying the best freelance market research analysts for your project? Business Talent Group can help.

Top 3 Business Problems – Consumer Goods

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Agility, innovation, and differentiation are the keys to success in consumer goods, where rapidly evolving markets have brought both opportunity and upheaval. Yet, too often, CPG companies find it difficult to mobilize the resources they need to move quickly.

Business Talent Group’s on-demand CPG consultants combine deep industry experience with expertise in domains like pricing, sales ops, and customer insights. They can help consumer goods companies assess new markets and opportunities, fill critical knowledge gaps, and plan and execute large-scale business transformations.

Here are a few examples.

ERP Redesign

erp redesign

The VP of strategy at one of a food and beverage giant’s best-loved brands had commissioned an enterprise resource planning (ERP) redesign. The goal of the redesign was to streamline a heavily customized system and simplify dozens of critical processes. Unfortunately, no-one on the team had the skills or capacity to go beyond the technical details and lead the work from a business process perspective. Looking for someone who could not just advise but execute, the company turned to Business Talent Group (BTG).

BTG’s consultant was a business process transformation expert who had trained at top consulting firms and led multiple ERP implementations at IBM’s SAP practice. Working with the client’s technical ERP lead, our consultant brought in best-practice insights, drove “As Is” business process documentation, and spearheaded early “To Be” design efforts. Then, after coordinating with executive stakeholders, he began the detailed and difficult work of standardizing and integrating master data into those plans.

Throughout the process, he was instrumental at spotting potential issues and roadblocks and develop plans to rectify them. By the time he was finished, the company had decided to roll out his designs to other business units across the enterprise, including leveraging a Center of Excellence he created for master data management.

S&OP Transformation

sales & operations planning

A F500 CPG company with 30+ global brands was ready for a substantial redesign of its Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) process. For the last update—which took place nearly a decade earlier—the company engaged a traditional consulting firm. This time, the CFO hoped to keep more of the process in house.

Both the CFO and the head of Supply Chain could identify the major challenges: rationalizing the number and type of demand forecasts and creating a tighter link to supply chain planning. But how would the team address these challenges and achieve buy-in across so many independently-minded brands?

Business Talent Group began by helping the client break the work into distinct phases. In the first phase, a tight, two-person team worked closely with senior leaders. The lead consultant of this phase was a former Booz Principal and Supply Chain Practice Leader. Supporting her was an expert operations improvement consultant. Together, the consultants worked with the client’s team to review S&OP reports and practices, introduce new KPI charts, and incorporate process disciplines. The team then redesigned the demand consensus process. Finally, they developed the high-level design for the new S&OP process.

This initial project lasted four months. As it moved towards the next phase, implementation, BTG augmented the team with project management support.

Optimizing the Manufacturing Footprint

optimizing manufacturing

A multinational beverage company had decided to close one of its manufacturing plants and move production to a lower-cost facility. Looking for a steady, neutral, and disciplined hand to create more detailed plans and execute the work, the head of the company’s project management office (PMO) turned to Business Talent Group (BTG).

Business Talent Group connected the client with a manufacturing operations expert who had trained at Deloitte and led operational improvement initiatives across multiple industries. Working with the PMO, the consultant created a detailed work plan that included 16 different workstreams. After visiting the company’s manufacturing facilities, however, he realized there was an opportunity to make operational improvements to the failing plant— and realize a higher long-term return. At the client’s request, he provided additional analysis to support senior management as they discussed the best way forward.

Ultimately, the client decided to keep the plant operational, and the work of BTG’s consultant shifted to providing project management and data support for the new business process optimization initiative.

Patient Engagement Strategies That Work for Life Science

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

If you work in Life Science, you’re probably familiar with the sobering statistics on nonadherence: between 20% and 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, and roughly 50% of chronic disease medications aren’t taken as prescribed. The problem is complicated and costly. But by developing a more consistent—and more human—approach to boosting patient engagement, life science companies can increase adherence, improve outcomes, and enhance the bottom line.

The heart of patient engagement is about deepening connections with brands. It’s about partnering with patients to help them better understand and manage their own health. It’s not a new concept, but the fast-changing healthcare landscape has heightened its importance. New technologies also promise to make patient engagement easier and more effective, which is doubtless why the market for engagement solutions is projected to reach more than $16 billion by 2020.

Identifying the right opportunities

The first step to boosting patient engagement is identifying where to start. In a portfolio of hundreds of brands, how can you uncover the most high-impact opportunities? One way is to quantify the relationship gap that exists between brands and their patients. Which therapies are patients seeking out when interest in a category grows? Starting with sites like Google Trends and SimilarWeb, identify patient engagement with individual brand websites and compare this to general search queries for a particular treatment area.

asthma copd patient engagement

In 2018 for example, I researched respiratory treatment engagement for three top-selling respiratory brands. I discovered that traffic to unbranded Asthma/COPD websites was down more than 10% over the past six months, whereas searches for Asthma and COPD information were actually the same or higher compared to the previous year. Also, the brands’ social media channels had a steady count of followers, but engagement on these platforms was incredibly low, at less than 0.003% per post.

respiratory patient engagement

The result: a strong opportunity for pharmaceutical manufacturers to deepen the connections between those brands, their patients, and healthcare providers. Search engines continue to be one of the top referrals of traffic to condition websites. So I advised the life science companies to invest in more top-performing and rising keywords in search engine and content marketing strategies—terms like ‘asthma allergy,’ ‘asthma guidelines,’ ‘aerosure for copd,’ and ‘icd 10 copd’—to strengthen the connection between their brands and the content patients and HCPs desire most. I also advised them to boost social media engagement by polling followers on the types of content they most wanted to see next.

Leveraging delivery networks

Most pharma companies use physician education programs to help cut through the network of intermediaries that sit between brands and their patients. In fact, 89% of U.S. companies surveyed by benchmarking firm Best Practices included healthcare provider (HCP) education among their top 10 patient engagement strategies. Yet the average patient spends between 13 and 24 minutes with his or her doctor.

How can you encourage delivery networks to devote at least a few of those minutes to helping patients understand the value of your therapies?

One of the most valuable tools is simply having—and sharing—detailed information about the patients to whom your therapies are prescribed. The better you understand what patients search for online, discuss on social media or in community groups, and so on, the better you can help healthcare providers understand and address their concerns.

The better you understand your patients, the more effectively you can help delivery networks understand and address their concerns.

Here are some other ways to encourage delivery networks to help boost patient engagement:

  • Make it easy for healthcare providers to get what they need. Healthcare providers are always looking for better ways to engage their patients with the limited time they have. Give them access to information that helps them do just that, and you’ll not only increase your credibility but make yourself a true partner in their practices.

    Ask your sales teams to provide a list of the top questions they receive from HCPs and use this to guide content strategies. Think about any relevant health data (i.e., activity, mindfulness, sleep, nutrition, etc.) that may be on patients’ phones and that could allow HCPs to personalize each visit. Can you make it easier for HCPs to download this data? You can also calculate the cost of non-compliance to each practice so HCPs better understand what’s at stake.

  • Make it easy for patients to get what they need from your brand. Delivery networks must trust you before they will refer their patients. So keep the patient journey in mind when organizing your content—and consider the perspectives of new patients, returning patients, and caregivers.

    Start by setting clear expectations for patients on what they can expect from your brand. Highlight a range of experiences from real patients, perhaps organized by desired outcomes; if possible, put side-effects in an easier-to-understand context (i.e., the likelihood of getting a headache is similar to the risk of a car crash in the U.S.). You can also partner with other content providers who are authorities in the condition to build links and cross-link with these communities.

    Finally, develop materials that facilitate communication between patients and HCPs. A discussion guide will give patients and caregivers an easy way to track symptoms and get more from each doctor visit. A starter list of relevant health technology applications can help broaden their understanding of the landscape.

  • Engage with patient communities. Each engagement is an opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the community’s experiences. Highlight patient and caregiver stories and celebrate their success. Sponsor community events that align with brand and patient values. And partner with nonprofit organizations to help them advance their missions by recognizing the brands’ contributions to the therapeutic area.

A quick word about post-discharge outreach, which has grown in popularity and been shown to reduce preventable hospital readmissions, among other benefits. HCPs tend to assume that these phone calls are best done by professionals, and may struggle to conduct them at scale. But often, patients just want a chance to feel heard. During an engagement at Pleio, for example, I helped develop telephonic engagement programs that relied on normal people to conduct patient outreach. They listened to patient experiences, answered common questions, and helped them get started right with their new prescription. If a patient had questions or concerns about their prescription, the caller could refer them back to their pharmacy for more information.

The outcome: These programs saw a 41% higher medication adherence rate (PDC) and at least one more script refill per person, per year.

Making direct connections

In an era of consumerized healthcare, the opportunity to address patients directly is more important—and more powerful—than ever. According to the Best Practices study, forming partnerships with patient advocacy groups and hosting educational portals are, respectively, the second and third most common patient engagement strategies used by life science companies.

However, evidence suggests that the industry still has a long way to go. A 2015 WEGO Health study on patient engagement found that a majority of the participants surveyed did not believe the industry works collaboratively with patients, and less than 10% felt the pharmaceutical industry understands and addresses their needs.

Less than 10% of patients felt the pharmaceutical industry understands and addresses their needs.

The good news? The number one patient suggestion for improving engagement was increasing direct contact. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Blend tech and touch. SMS offers an efficient and powerful way to keep in touch with patients. But it can also feel very impersonal. Make it more relevant to patients’ lives by incorporating context into your outreach.

    With the arc of your brand’s therapeutic area in mind, think about which communications would be more effective at specific times of day, or given specific weather conditions. Can you design an outreach program that feels responsive to what patients are likely to be feeling? How else can you help them along their way?

  • Integrate application technologies into your products. Bundling medication applications with prescriptions is another way to proactively ensure patient success.

    Humira, for example, built an application that helps patients track where they gave their last shot, monitor their symptoms, and set reminders for their next injections. The Dexcom Clarity application provides a platform for patients to share their blood glucose data directly with healthcare professionals, who can respond within the application with any treatment recommendations and engage with patients who are falling behind.

  • Look for opportunities to personalize. 41% of patients diagnosed with obesity feel they could manage their conditions more effectively if they had more targeted information on how to change their behavior. Don’t miss the opportunities technology affords to adapt your communications to what you know about your patients.

Overcoming internal barriers

A modern marketing approach puts the patient first and requires constant development and iteration. Of course, in any big company context, competing priorities can compromise even the smartest efforts. So it’s worth reviewing how a focus on patient engagement can make a big impact across the organization:

  • Faster market research. Brands can use real-time A/B testing to identify which messaging components work best at engaging patients and healthcare professionals. Pilots can run with multiple variances in copy, visual, and calls-to-action; the full media weight can be scheduled a few weeks later using the winning combination.
  • More efficient clinical recruiting. By creating more engaged patient populations, brands can gain permission from people who are more interested in learning about and participating in future clinical trials—thereby reducing the cost of your next patient trials.
  • Stronger media performance. Deeper patient understanding helps brands create more natural and authentic connections with patient communities. Think of the ROI you will see!
  • Streamlined marketing technology stack. By focusing on the patient and HCP experience, brands can select technology partners that deliver the marketing goals and business outcomes that count. From website visitor segmentation, personalized landing pages, more contextual media placements and future engagement efforts.
  • Better outcomes. Increasing the value of care is everyone’s responsibility. Focusing on patient and caregiver engagement allows brands to build relationships with healthcare providers and give sales teams what they’ve always wanted: insights that make it easier to grow their customers’ business.

The time to start is now

Technology has dramatically expanded the number of ways that life science brands can personalize the patient journey. Success, however, starts not with technology but by understanding patients’ needs, concerns, and motivations. Only then can companies craft the best engagement strategies and create more complete, empathetic, and personalized care for patients.

Greater patient engagement does more than just drive prescriptions—it also helps patients improve their health at lower cost. And that’s something all stakeholders in the healthcare equation can be happy about.

Behind the Buzzword: Digital Health

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Like many fast-moving, tech powered domains, digital health has gone by a number of different names throughout the years: eHealth, mobile health, health 2.0, and connected health, to name a few. Proponents promise nothing less than a revolution. Digital health, they say, can deliver more efficient, personalized, and accessible healthcare, at lower cost, with better outcomes.

So what is digital health? And, more importantly, what opportunities does it offer today’s health and life science companies?

In this edition of Business Talent Group’s Behind the Buzzword series, we examine both the promise and the hype.

What is digital health?

From Fitbits to smart pillows and Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to virtual doctors, examples of digital health are everywhere. They are united by the common goal of using technology to improve patient outcomes, reduce inefficiencies, and create useful, effective health services that weren’t possible before.

The technologies behind digital health include connected devices, sensors, and wearables that enable people to track, analyze, and act upon real-time information about their well-being.

They also include applications that facilitate the sharing of health information, whether between patients and their healthcare providers or among groups of patients who suffer from the same condition.

They include administrative systems that securely streamline the substantial amount of documentation that healthcare providers must execute. And they include data-driven systems that promise to empower insurers with insights that can help them make smarter decisions about managing care and costs.

What’s the potential?

According to Global Market Insights, the digital health market is expected to grow by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 26% over the next several years, topping $379 billion by 2024.

Healthcare payers and providers are excited by the prospect of delivering better care at lower cost and keeping up with the increased consumerization of healthcare.

Life Science companies see an opportunity to increase patient adherence, boost patient engagement, and add billions of dollars in incremental revenue.

And consumers are increasingly interested in technology-enabled health interventions, whether through telemedicine or self-monitoring.

Investment in the space has skyrocketed, as well.

What are the challenges?

By now, it’s clear that digital health presents a number of compelling opportunities. Unfortunately, large-scale success hasn’t always been easy to come by. There’s a lot of noise in the market. The array of stakeholders is difficult to understand, much less coordinate. Companies struggle to define and scope the most promising opportunities. They struggle to develop engaging digital health applications that are as effective in the real world as they are in the lab. And they have limited tools for assessing the value of their digital health investments.

Perhaps not surprisingly, some experts have begun to recommend a reset in expectations—and investment.

On the other hand, it’s become clear that the technologies behind digital health aren’t going anywhere. They will only become more pervasive, with greater adoption and utilization over time. So if health and life science companies want to stay relevant—and really capture the revenue enhancement possibilities—they must make an organization-wide commitment, aligning people, processes, and investments accordingly.

10 Ways Freelance Marketing Consultants Can Accelerate Business Growth

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Though there’s no one secret to business success, there is one challenge that every business faces during times of rapid growth: getting the right people on board. In marketing and sales, securing experienced leadership is particularly critical, as evolving trends and technology make it tough enough to keep up, let alone get ahead.

Some businesses spend months searching for a “unicorn,” a marketing and sales professional who can do it all. Others turn to their personal networks for a quick fix, hiring friends or family who possess tangential knowledge and might grow into the role.

Hiring a freelance marketing consultant or a freelance sales consultant is another potential path. At Business Talent Group, we find that companies turn to freelance marketing consultants when they need to tackle critical projects without the hassle and expense of big consulting firms. These consultants can help with projects like:

  • Market opportunity and growth evaluations
  • Strategy and planning
  • Project and program management

Of course, not all sales and marketing consulting solutions are the same—or right for the same situations.

It’s not about speed, it’s about agility

Often, there’s a specific impetus driving the need for strong sales and marketing leadership, whether it’s a product launch, the emergence of a new customer segment, persistent pricing concerns, or ineffective marketing and sales campaigns. But in the rush to address current concerns, businesses inadvertently create new ones.

Speed is important, yes. Especially if you’re running lean, as most growing businesses are. But to focus on speed is to think only for the short term. When you shift the focus to business agility, speed and cost-effectiveness follow naturally. An agile strategy is a long-term strategy, one that positions you for sustained business growth by making it easier to evolve along with the market. Agility is best achieved through a flexible hiring strategy that takes both current and future needs into account.

Rushing to hire the wrong people: all pain, no gain

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of a bad hire is equal to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. At the executive level, that number rises dramatically, because it includes more than just the sunk costs of recruiting and onboarding; it also includes the price you pay in reduced productivity and effectiveness, as well as potential damage to your reputation.

It takes a lot of time and resources to find that unicorn sales or marketing professional. And once you’ve found them, there’s a lengthy ramp-up period before they can really dig in. On the other hand, tapping your “shadow labor force”—the circle of associates who you hope could grow into the role with time—might reduce initial costs, but it comes with an even longer ramp-up time and, ultimately, the increased risk of failure.

Given these additional considerations, some analysts have estimated the total price of a bad executive hire to be anywhere between five to 15 times salary. This means that, on the low end, someone making $150k annually could potentially cost a business $750k if they don’t work out.

Plus, whether you wait to fill a permanent position or rely on your shadow labor force, the market could have already shifted by the time your new hire is fully onboarded, putting you behind in the market—and back at the drawing board.

On-demand knowledge is on-demand agility

The fastest growing companies focus on putting the right talent in place when they need it most. A study by McKinsey found that 51 percent of fast growers have ensured they have the right sales talent and capabilities in place for the future, compared with just 33 percent of slow growers.

Though still maturing, the so-called gig economy is already having a big impact in this regard. In fact, according to Randstadt Sourceright’s Q4 2017 Talent Trends report, 61% of employers plan to replace up to 30% of their permanent positions with freelancers, gig workers, and independent consultants. Many sectors are adopting the freelance business model due to the competitive benefits it offers:

  • Specific, targeted domain expertise
  • Flexibility to ramp up and down
  • Seasoned talent that’s willing to roll up their sleeves
  • Agility to evolve along with a rapidly changing market

Low overhead is another perk, especially for smaller projects, but the real benefit is the agility that freelance marketing and sales consultants offer. When you can’t wait months to fill permanent positions, on-demand access to extra capacity or subject-matter experts makes it easy to assemble the best team for the job. You can cherry-pick the talent you need and integrate them more quickly and efficiently into your workflow than, say, a 10-person team of consultants.

Sustaining growth with freelance marketing consulting

Business Talent Group’s freelance marketing and sales consultants possess both consulting expertise as well as sales and/or marketing operating experience, which allows them to quickly strategize, plan, and execute a broad range of initiatives.

Here are 10 real-world examples of how our on-demand sales and marketing consultants have helped companies grow quickly and sustainably, and how they can help you, too:

  1. Building an eCommerce business: BTG connected the digital group at a major pharmaceutical company with former McKinsey consultant to build its ecommerce business.
  2. Deepening connections with customers: A former Bain consultant and marketing leader at Intel helped a Fortune 100 retailer explore the potential of tapping into online communities and social media networks.
  3. Creating a digital strategy: A former Bain consultant with a strong Internet background created the digital strategy for a new Direct-to-Consumer business at a leading finance company, resulting in a highly profitable new business.
  4. Launching a new brand strategy: A marketing executive with experience at McKinsey, Bank of America, and GE helped a client’s internal marketing team launch a new brand strategy.
  5. Optimizing marketing spend: When a major broadcasting company wanted to capture and serve a newly identified demographic segment, BTG proposed a two-person hybrid team: The former president of marketing at a top entertainment company and an expert management consultant, formerly part of McKinsey’s global media practice. The low-six-figure, two-month project resulted in rapid adjustments that captured a rare opportunity and still-growing ROI.
  6. Creating a customer loyalty program: BTG connected a consumer media company with a marketing executive who had spent her career crafting loyalty programs. The resulting program launched on time and on budget and has subsequently been credited with helping to reverse the company’s unstable financial trajectory.
  7. Streamlining vendor relationships: A former J&J VP-level marketing executive helped a major gaming company streamline agency relationships.
  8. Redesigning digital marketing: A senior executive with 20+ years of creative experience at ROLL Corporation and E! worked with a leading entertainment company to redesign their digital marketing organization and initiate new ways to more directly communicate with the end user.
  9. Refining pharmaceutical lifecycle management strategies: A former Booz and Accenture consultant and life-cycle management expert with operating experience at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Becton Dickinson helped a global pharma giant’s research team analyze patient trends and market demand to identify new biomarkers for a mature drug.
  10. Piloting a new pricing model: BTG’s pricing specialist built and implemented an analytical dashboard for a Fortune 500 clothing retailer that was updating pricing models to incorporate consumer behavior across channels. After a successful two-month pilot, the team added more product categories and implemented the dashboard across its stores.

When you bring in on-demand talent to fill knowledge gaps and accelerate growth, you improve agility through greater transparency, accountability and flexibility. You can also make smarter decisions by exploring opportunities before completely committing to them.

For many businesses, this represents a significant shift in their hiring model, one that requires getting buy-in across the organization and adjusting procurement, HR and legal processes accordingly. We can help with that, too.

New eBook – How Life Science Can Win With Digital Health

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Digital health presents a compelling opportunity for life science companies, promising not just to increase patient adherence but boost engagement, improve outcomes, and add billions of dollars in incremental revenue over the next few years.

Yet to succeed in digital health, life science companies must overcome a number of challenges. What’s the best way to structure Beyond The Product teams and build a business case for scaling successful initiatives? How can life science companies uncover the most promising opportunities and calculate the ROI they deliver to the broader organizations?

In our latest eBook, Digital Health: Scaling Pharma X.0—written by digital health expert Karl Hess—we explore how life science companies can develop effective digital health operating models.

Download your copy now »

Filled with tips on what works and what doesn’t—and best practices from industry leaders—this eBook will help life science companies:

  • Establish a corporate structure and governance that makes it easy to pilot new initiatives
  • Focus on the most promising areas for generating incremental revenue
  • Drive wider-scale adoption of successful experiments
  • Build sustainable, value-adding digital health services

Preparing for a Successful Business Transformation

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

These days—thanks to the pace of technological and market-driven disruptions—transformation has become the norm, not the exception. Disruptions create stress on an organization’s capacity to adapt and thrive. They also leave it susceptible to competitors for whom agility is a core competency.

If you are trying to prepare for a successful business transformation, you will need to go beyond the details of the initiative and evaluate your broader corporate culture. In particular, you will need to build what I call transformational fitness: the ability to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing environment. Does your company have the right mindset and capabilities? Are its structure and decision-making processes optimized for speed and agility?

Transformational fitness helps organizations quickly assess a change, adapt to it, and leverage it to deliver greater business value. To build transformational fitness, companies must combine a clear view and understanding of external disruptors—market trends, technology, government regulations, talent availability and generational differences—with a focus on culture, leadership, technology adoption, and organizational design.

Here is what you will need to do to prepare your company for a successful business transformation:

1. Understand external disruptors

Allocate both human and technology resources to evaluate the external forces that are poised to reshape your market. Some organizations find it efficient to outsource this type of work, while others keep it in-house or leverage a combination of both types of resources. Either way, your goal is daunting… it is to gain a detailed understanding of what lies ahead, as well as what is happening both around and in your organization. But it is also critical. Corporate history is littered with examples of organizations whose leadership minimized disruptive threats when they appeared, only to fall prey to them later.

Remember, being a bigger ship does not necessarily mean that you will weather the storm better. It does mean that it will take you more effort to change course, while smaller and more agile organizations ride the waves created by the storm as well as the waves created by your ship.

2. Build an agile culture

Think about the internal achievements that are rewarded by your culture. Do you have a culture that memorializes past accomplishments or one that rewards the creation of new products, services, and process improvements? To build an agile culture, you need to do more than include it in your corporate values statement. Instead, you should make sure that your incentive systems, recognition and reward programs, learning and development opportunities, and promotion practices are organized around making it happen.

Your aim is not to “move fast and break things.” But you do need a strong process for identifying and reinvesting learnings—both from successful and failed endeavors. This will help your organization build internal intellectual property and agility.

3. Cultivate internal leaders

Leadership is as critical to culture as it is to transformation success. Every organization is unique, but all must cultivate leaders who are flexible thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and open to new ideas. They must also be keenly aware of how change impacts different parts of the company—and skilled at engaging and bringing people along with them.

4. Keep an eye on technology

What impact will technology have on the sustainable growth of your company? Answering this question is critical to your ability to navigate future disruption.

When you assess the risk that a new technology poses, consider not just the immediate costs and benefits to your organization, but what new sources of competition it might create. Cable providers did not initially view the “amateur” content on streaming services as a threat to scripted programming. Yet the ability these services eventually gave consumers to pay just for what they want to watch has prompted record numbers of people to “cut the cord” on their cable subscriptions.

5. Create dynamic team structures

Organizational design is moving away from its theoretical origins (i.e., the structures, systems, and processes that are designed and implemented to deliver certain outcomes). Instead, it is evolving into a more socially driven concept, where open communication processes generate ideas, stimulate innovation, and provide transparency in small teams across functions and with stakeholders. This, in turn, has created a need for more fluid business structures, dynamic skills to work within those structures, and new systems and processes to develop and reward the talent.

Because these five factors are both changing and interdependent, the need for transformational fitness is greater than ever before. It takes agile leadership to be vigilant about upcoming changes and how they will impact current plans. It also takes organizational agility to adapt to updated plans—and find ways to implement them.

Transformational fitness is something that does not always come easily to big, legacy organizations. If your organization is struggling, you may find it is more effective to work with external experts who can help your leadership design and build a culture that actively identifies, assesses, and addresses the need for change. Then, just with other fitness programs, you will need to periodically assess its effectiveness and update your fitness program accordingly.

Three Ways to Drive Operational Efficiencies

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

It can be tempting for operations executives to focus on the challenges that are unique to their businesses: why their processes and customers are different, for example, or what technical challenges set them apart. But lessons from one industry often apply to another. They can spur new, creative solutions to problems—solutions that might not occur to people who aren’t deeply versed in a variety of different domains.

I’m an exec with experience across CPG, financial services, digital media, and SaaS, and I’ve found one of my greatest strengths has been the ability to see commonalities among operations across these businesses. Those insights have helped me to drive outsize results, and they can help you too.

Here are three tips for optimizing operations in just about any industry or company size:

1. Get data—then go beyond it

By now, we all understand the importance of making data-driven decisions. Still, it’s easy to make excuses when the numbers aren’t readily at hand, or when they have to be collated from a bunch of different sources.

It’s equally important to cultivate the ability to use your data to understand key drivers. Structure status meetings around reviewing the numbers—but go beyond surface-level questions like, “Is the customer happy?” or “Can you get them to increase their order size this month?” Especially with junior team members, the answers to these yes/no questions will be binary, and they won’t be all that revealing. To really understand the drivers behind your data, ask open-ended questions about specific points. Start questions with “why” and “how.” Ask questions, formulate hypotheses, test them, take findings, and adjust hypotheses.

You’ll also need to make sure you’re asking these questions in the right environment. What’s the culture of the team meeting? Is it an open, trusting space where people can admit they need help? If it’s not, then transfer these questions to one-on-ones or small group settings with a trusted leader.

2. Keep a close eye on roles and responsibilities

In fast-paced environments—whether it’s an established business that needs to reinvent itself or a new business looking to scale—business teams often find that their roles and responsibilities are nebulous. Core roles may once have been well-defined, but shift and stretch as the team grows. Sometimes an executive mandates what seems like a small, necessary change that feels enormous to the team. As long as teams are up to the challenge and have the resources they to succeed, these sorts of changes aren’t a problem. But when executives don’t recognize a team’s unease with what they’re being asked to do, they may see a negative impact on results.

The solution is to take a step back and think deeply about the structure of your team. If you’ve built a trusting relationship with them, you’ll find it illuminating to initiate a frank discussion about how they feel. You may find you need to make tweaks based on individual skills or interests. You may identify a skills gap that requires additional training or coaching. You may find that existing team members are not right for their responsibility, in which case you’ll have to determine whether that responsibility should lie elsewhere or if you need additional headcount to get the right talent. You might even conclude that the new responsibility isn’t necessary.

But you’ll never reach the right conclusions unless you’ve dug beneath the surface to identify what’s really going on.

3. Quantify the qualitative

Analyzing feedback is a crucial way to improve sales and service. Qualitative feedback is often easiest to come by, and it can be eye-opening. However, it’s important to understand an issue’s prevalence before taking major action to address it. For large sales and customer service teams, designing systems for capturing qualitative feedback that are well-aligned with day-to-day activities can be a game-changer. Many such systems are clunky and create “extra work” for sales and Client Service reps.

But by taking the time to understand your team’s daily activities, you can minimize how intrusive the data collection is—and increase both usage and utility. If your sales reps create contracts on one platform, then have to enter the same information into a CRM, you might think about integrating the two platforms. Chances are, you’ll recoup the expense of implementing the change by saving time that your reps can allocate to other value-added activities. And you’ll increase the accuracy of the data, since there will be fewer opportunities for crucial details to be entered incorrectly.

An automated deal desk can also help capture valuable data without slowing down your broader sales process. I recently helped a SaaS company implement a workflow where, instead of using email to initiate deal desk proceedings, sales reps simply checked a box in Salesforce that triggered notifications to the deal desk team. Each notification included key information—already entered by the rep into the CRM over the course of the sales cycle—and allowed deal desk members to take timely action. And the data collected within the CRM, across both reps and deal desk employees, helped the ops team analyze, troubleshoot, and improve.

These are a few ways to decrease the amount of non-revenue generating work that your employees have to do, while improving data collection and reporting accuracy and accelerating business decisions. Continuous CRM data generation can help ops teams better identify broader trends, insights, and issues—and increase its ability to drive results.

Will Robots Take YOUR Job?

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

By now, it’s long been clear that the future of work will include an assist from our robot friends. More ominously, according to a new report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), 1.4 million US jobs will be disrupted by technology and other factors between now and 2026.

So will robots take your job? The disruptions are expected to affect both highly specialized and highly generalist roles, from administrative and clerical to sales and finance related jobs. The people who will do best are those who have “hybrid” skills like collaboration and critical thinking, as well as deeper expertise in specific areas.

Unsurprisingly, most executives are apprehensive about the changes. The Conference Board’s C-Suite Challenge 2018 discovered that creating new business models because of disruptive technologies is among the top concerns of today’s CEOs. That’s also true for the rest of the C-Suite, including CHROs and CFOs.

Moving into new roles

The good news, according to WEF research, is that 95% of the workers most at risk would find good-quality, higher wage work if they had adequate reskilling. At-risk workers who retrain for two years could receive an average annual salary increase of $15,000—and companies would be able to find talent for jobs that might otherwise go unfilled. That’s good news for C-suite executives, whose top concern, per the Conference Board report, was attracting and retaining the right talent.

“The only limiting factor on a world of opportunities for people is the willingness of leaders to make investments in re-skilling that will bridge workers onto new jobs. This report shows that this investment has very high returns for businesses as well as economies—and ensures that workers find a purpose in their lives,” commented Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF.

Gig work: The other big force for disruption

The second major trend that’s poised to shape the future of work is the rise of the gig economy. Fewer than half of CHROs surveyed by the Conference Board believe their workforces in the next three to five years will be comprised predominantly of traditional, full-time employees. Instead, companies will rely on highly skilled freelance knowledge workers and other on-demand resources. In fact, nearly 80% of CHROs foresee greater use of contingent non-traditional employees.

Why? Because companies, like people, need to stay agile to succeed in tomorrow’s competitive markets, and freelance workers are one of the most effective ways to do so.

Top 3 Business Problems – Technology

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

From acquisitions to project management, agility is everything in tech. Yet, too often, a company’s ability to innovate is constrained by drawn-out hiring processes, competition for top talent, and rapidly evolving markets.

Business Talent Group’s on-demand technology consultants combine deep industry experience with expertise in domains like pricing, sales ops, and customer insights. They can help technology teams assess new opportunities, fill critical knowledge gaps, and mobilize for large-scale transformations and integrations.

Here are a few examples.

Innovation Best Practices

innovation best practices

To meet ambitious growth objectives, strategy executives at a global technology giant had concluded that the company needed to go beyond its core business and develop new engines for growth. At the same time, they understood that competitors were also aggressively searching for their next billion-dollar businesses. Given the team’s extensive investments in growth beyond the core, they decided to benchmark their approach against competitor approaches and get a better view of innovation best practices.

Business Talent Group put together an expert four-person team. It was led by one of the nation’s top innovation experts—formerly a Senior Partner at Innosight, the boutique consultancy founded by Clay Christensen—and supported by experienced growth specialists and analysts. Relying on extensive prior experience and a range of academic and industry sources, the team analyzed how other tech companies approach adjacent growth markets. Then, the consultants worked to synthesize relevant patterns, evaluate successes and failures, and quantify the contribution of various types of new ventures in that overall growth.

Our consultants organized their findings around the most common pain points that emerged from the work—for example, the difficulty of reconciling innovation best practices with existing corporate goals and attitudes—and presented to senior stakeholders in a tightly structured workshop. Then, they moved on to the second phase of the project: helping the client evaluate which adjacent opportunities were most closely aligned with current strategies.

Tracking Competitive Intel

tracking competitive intel

The strategy team at an F500 tech giant was growing overwhelmed by the increasingly complex task of keeping tabs on relevant developments in the competitive landscape. Looking for a cost-effective, targeted way to help executives across the company get the information they needed, they turned to Business Talent Group.

Business Talent Group delivered an independent technology product specialist who could help the team monitor industry sources, summarize important findings and developments, and track activities on key competitors. He also worked with the team to synthesize his findings into easy-to-understand presentation slides that analyzed competitive trends and compared and contrasted competitors’ approaches. Finally, he provided on-demand support on the more detailed competitor update reports that the team developed for senior stakeholders.

Expertise in a New Market

new market expert

The head of strategy at a F100 tech giant saw an opportunity to take a core product into new areas within the 3D printing market. Before finalizing plans, however, she wanted to get a more detailed understanding of the dynamics of two new markets. Who were the key players and what were their go-to-market strategies? How did distribution channels function and what role did various participants play? What were typical channel margins? And were there any potential alliances they could forge to maximize their chances of success?

Business Talent Group connected the client with two independent business development executives who had both worked extensively in the target market. Over the course of a two-day workshop, they helped the client understand the competitive landscape, refine value propositions and market positioning, and hone plans.

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