A new start

Eight months passed from the day of the acquisition, and ten months from the time I’ve started my adventure as one of the marketing leaders of the integration team.

It was one of my best professional choices. Ever.

Few weeks ago I accepted a new position as Vice President for a newly created division within the Global Marketing function, leading the IT Business: Data Centres, Home & Business Networks, Secure Power Systems. A new start. After 20 years in the software and industrial automation businesses.

The story is simple.

I had a great position before the acquisition, a very respected reputation, the region I managed has always been considered a centre of marketing excellence. Nevertheless, I decided to start one more time and challenge myself again, volunteering and accepting the position of integration Marcom leader, representing the acquired company.

Advantage was clear, in my mind: new challenges and immediate visibility about processes and professional opportunities. That’s how my inner nature works: I need to know what happens. In advance. I have to be involved with early processes. It was October 2013, a time plenty of uncertainties. For me: a time plenty of opportunities.

So I volunteered for the Marketing & Marcom domains. Contacted HR and gave my total availability. I was selected to lead Marcom, globally. I had a counterpart, assigned from the acquiring company. She became soon a good friend and a great coach, driving me across the labyrinths of the new combined organisation (160,000 employees, +34B Euro turnover, unquestioned leader in Energy, Automation, Facility segments). It was October 2013, as I said, three months before the formal acquisition.

The acquisition was announced in mid January 2014. Today, after 10 months, I am still leading the Marcom domain. My job as integration leader will be over in a couple of months.

And then the new opportunity came.

Summarising, in difficult times, what I strongly suggest is to challenge yourself again. And again. And again. Do your best to gain visibility, and find the way be one step ahead vs. the rest of the organisation.

Even if this will force you to start one more time and to challenge all things you have build in many years of hard work.

In my case, it was worth a new career opportunity.

Uber and the sharing economy

Because of my personal and professional habits I have been exposed to the sharing economy and its services, since the beginning. I have been using Uber in London, Paris and Milan; I have been watched airbnb, I have investigated other apps and services (the new parking apps).

Uber, my first experience and attempt to understand more. I am still using the service and I have been watching the protests raised all over the globe, so close to me, in Milan, Paris, now London in a few days, against the new service. Change always brings pain, and Uber represents change. And it’s not just Uber: there is a new plethora of smart-phone apps that will bring  a driver to your door in a few minutes. All tentative of resistances from old European super-regulated lobbies – taxies are just the most visible example – won’t change their fate. As Archie Bland commented, on his article on the Independent few days ago:

Uber argument that the regulation of most taxi markets is based on a model that smartphones have made irrelevant, seems credible. And it’s hard to escape the feeling that whatever bumps may be in the road, Uber is an idea that has fundamentally changed things, and that sooner or later, the black cab as we know it will be extinct.

It’s would be smarter, at this stage, to fight and compete on the same ground instead of preparing to fight useless battles.

Uber could be killed so easily from a so massive quantity of cabbies in London and taxis in Paris and Milan, re-adapting and using its same technology weapon, and making advantage of a better presence in the territory and a competitive price. But taxi drivers have chosen to fight using old tactics and weapons: strikes and protests. They are not focusing on customer satisfaction and benefits. They are instead putting all efforts in a desperate defence of their old (even if regulated by local laws) privileges.

At the very end, I am aware about Uber’s premium price but I am too aware about his tremendous efficiency. And I make my choice based on two main criteria: the ubiquitous use of credit cards, and the easy-to-use app with its stylish info-maps.

Only one cab over 6-7 (I’m personally making this statistic) accepts credit cards in London. Some of them state to accept cards and then apparently discover that the machine doesn’t work, once at destination. Same situation in Milan, where at least radio-taxis are starting to be equipped with card machines – emails and apps still represent the future.

It’s not just Uber. Still Mr. Bland on the subject:

They all (sharing services, my note) propose to remove the middle man, but even that’s sort of old hat: eBay and the like have been doing it for years. What’s new is the promise to exploit spare capacity with a structure that means that anyone can be a business (…). This is happening; it’s unstoppable. I guess the sharing economy, or a version of it, became inevitable from the moment that Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone.

Milano Design Week is coming. Day100 too.

The break is over. Two more days in Milan. Then back to Airworld. Paris first. Then London and Hannover. Back to Milan during Milano Design Week (I Saloni, @iSaloniOfficial), the world’s most important design fair, and it’s outdoor exhibition (Fuorisalone, @Fuorisalone) that will fill shops, streets and entire areas of the town with design exhibitions (photogallery from my old blog).

On the job front, we are close to Day 100 of the integration. Which is nothing more than an internal milestone to release communications and assets. Like the one below.

Brands

Two great days of meetings here in NY. Met our CMO and first class marketing partners. This is becoming very exciting.

Yesterday I had a dinner with a bunch of marketers and designers; had a chat with a designer who spent 11 yrs. in Microsoft and gave a lot of funny anecdotes on Steve Ballmer and the MS leadership. He’s currently working for the agency that has just redesigned the site of Corriere della Sera.

I also met the team who ten years ago created the fresh GE Ecomagination campaign. Same company refreshed McDonald’s, Samsung and Unicredit brands. So cool.

Try working from the café this week

Interesting collection of some of the best marketing promotions making advantage of the current Tube strike in London (last week, 2 days; and 2 days planned this week, but I am learning that Transport of London has just called the strike back).

Interesting to see, but not really a surprise, twitter and social are preferred channels for these real-time promotions, with few exceptions.

Humour is  broadly used across all campaigns. And so is sales discount, which is a good lever and works particularly well in situations like this.