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How to Succeed in Self-Service BI

How to Succeed in Self-Service BI

Business Intelligence, along with Business Analytics and Big Data, is one of the terms often associated with decision-making processes in organisations.  However, there is little discussion around the importance of what skills decision makers in your organisation need to use the technology efficiently.  In recent years, the development of user-friendly tools for BI processes, Self-Service BI are increasing. Self-Service BI is an approach to BI where anyone in an organisation can collect and organise data for analysis without the assistance of data specialists. As a result of this, many businesses have invested in comprehensive storage and information processing tools. However, many are beginning to find that they are not able to realise the gains of these investments as they were expecting, may often due to underestimating the difficulties of introducing these systems into the current processes and transforming existing knowledge into actual actions and decisions.  In a worst-case scenario, if left unplanned, Self Service BI can sabotage your successful BI deployment by cutting mass user adoption, impairing query performance, failing to reduce report backlogs, and increasing confusion over the “single truth”. To prevent this from happening, here are our top three tips for ensuring the right implementation of SSBI in your company: UNDERSTAND YOUR USERS’ NEEDS There are three major user areas for analytics tools: strategic, tactical and operational. The strategic users make few, but important decisions. The tactical users make many decisions during a week and need updated information daily. Operational users are often closest to the customer, and this group needs data in its own applications in order to carry out a large number of requests and transactions.  Understanding the different needs of each group is necessary to know what information should be available at each given frequency to help scale the BI solution.  HARNESS THE POWER OF ADVANCED USERS To ensure a successful BI deployment, utilising advanced users is key. Self-service BI is not a one-size fits all approach. Casual users usually don’t have the time to learn the tool and will often reach out to ‘Power Users’ to create what they need. Hence, these users can become the go-to resource for creating ad-hoc views of data. Power Users are the ideal advocates for your business’ self-service BI implementation and should be able to help spur user adoption.  UPGRADE INTERNAL COMPETENCIES  Our final tip for a successful implementation is to communicate the new tool thoroughly to the users.  It is highly unlikely that employees who have not been involved in the actual development project will immediately understand what the tool should be used for, who needs it, and what it should replace. By upgrading internal competencies, you can avoid becoming dependent on external assistance. Establishing a cross-organizational BI competence centre of 5-10 members, who meet regularly to share their experiences will help drives and prioritise future use of the tool. The added benefit of a successful implementation is that it will generate new ideas from users for how the organisation can use data to make better decisions. If you have the skillset to implement Business Intelligence solutions, we may have a role for you.  Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in contact with our team. 

The Mummy Problem

The Mummy Problem

As a manager of a recruitment business, I am often called into meetings with organisations to discuss the challenge of attracting a diverse workforce. The expectation of us as an agency being to ensure we are doing as much as we can to create a diverse shortlist. What strikes me about this is that as a supplier, we will be rewarded for sourcing candidates for these roles, so it is firmly in our interest to make sure we send the best candidate, no matter what sex, nationality or age. Also, positive discrimination (Affirmative action in the USA) is not legally acceptable in the UK, and therefore asking agencies to present diverse shortlists will potentially lead to more discrimination, rather than less. Equally, I think that looking at the supply of candidates to solve the diversity problem is potentially looking in the wrong direction, and instead companies need to look at some of the things that they do, that prevent them from attracting a diverse pool of candidates. There is a common trend in the meetings I attend. We work in a technical market where entry is dominated by men and where many clients struggle to attract women into management and senior management roles, and this is where I think that organisations are causing their own issues – namely the “Mummy problem”. First and foremost, let me clear up any potential for accusations of sexist generalisations – the problem should be considered a “parent problem” rather than a “mummy problem”, but the challenge does seem to disproportionately impact the female workforce more than their male counterparts, so please forgive my use of this phrase. The parent trapThe following example highlights exactly what I mean: Chatting to a friend recently, she asked me for some advice. She was in the advanced stages of an interview process and liked the company. She has one child and was thinking of a second in the future. She had asked the organisation in question to send through their benefits package and had been sent it, but it didn’t include the parental leave policy. Her concern was that if she went back to the company to ask for this then she would immediately damage her candidacy, so she wanted to see if there was a way she could find out what their policy was without asking. My advice was simple – ask them for it. If they’re not willing to share it with you or it does damage your chances of securing the role, then you don’t want to work for them anyway. In this situation, the company in question sent it through to her, and all ended well with a job offer and a new role, but that’s not the issue at hand – the problem is her perception in the first place. How many other female candidates withdraw from processes because they haven’t wanted to ask for a maternity policy? The lack of information available on these policies without asking directly for it seems very poor. Had my friend not had the confidence to ask, the company would have missed out on someone they clearly wanted to hire based on her misconception. Transparency is keyAs far as I can see, the issue isn’t exclusively with externally advertising the policies. In researching this piece, I spoke to a client within a FTSE 50 company. She shared with me that she had been looking to leave that business to secure a role with better maternity benefits as the published policy suggested that she would only be entitled to statutory maternity pay and she was worried that if she asked anyone internally if this was the case, she would then be looked at differently. It was only when she had found a potential role and approached a friend in their HR team about a question on notice period that she had an off-the-record conversation about the fact she was looking and was made aware of the fact that she was actually on an enhanced maternity package. She stayed in the business. So we find ourselves in a situation where (some) female candidates don’t want to ask the question, and female employees don’t either. Either way, this should serve as a wakeup call for many organisations that they clearly must do more to communicate parental leave policies. In my eyes, if these two examples are indicative of the norm, then the solution for companies is simple – it all comes down to communication… Knowledge is powerDetail your parental leave policy in your benefits package. Almost all the packages we see from organisations have a thorough breakdown of all potential benefits, however barely any has any detail regarding parental leave. Companies, of course, want to hire people who will spend many years in the business, but in my eyes, they’re simply not doing enough to show what that would involve. As a new father, I know just how important these conversations of maternity and paternity leave are when considering children, so companies need to consider this when selling roles to potential hires. One thing I have reflected on when writing this – is there a reason for companies to be secretive on parental leave policy? Is there a fear of other organisations learning these benefits? Is the fear that employees will feel hard done by at a junior level when their policy is not enhanced? I haven’t been able to pinpoint the answer, and whilst I have asked a number of people about this, and can’t find a conclusive theme, I would appreciate people’s thoughts.

HARNHAM SPONSOR MEASURECAMP

HARNHAM SPONSOR MEASURECAMP

Harnham – Measurecamp Sponsors 2015 - LondonBy Oscar Rousseau, Recruitment ConsultantWe do our upmost to make work fun. Evidence of this is our continued support of important events in the Data & Analytics industry like Measure Camp – the UK’s largest Web Analytics conference.  In March 2015 our Digital analytics team once again attended – and sponsored - the London conference which was attended by some of the biggest names in web analytics including British Airways and Webtrends. Here, we networked with our existing candidates and had the opportunity to develop new relationships with those whom we had not yet worked with. The conference also provided a great chance to promote our Data & Analytics Salary Guide, buy some drinks for our candidates and gain valuable industry insight. One thought that dominated the conference was this:  how is the media affecting web analytics?  There is a perception within the media that constant data monitoring and user tracking is negative. But, obviously, Web Analysts have their own take on this; their job is to optimise and personalise websites by gaining as much information as possible.The question is a tricky one to answer, but one thing is certain: our reputation is growing. Since our second stint at Measure Camp we’ve helped candidates find great jobs and clients find even better candidates.See all our tweets and photos at https://twitter.com/Analytics_Sam

Real Time Pricing - Coming to a store near you

Real Time Pricing - Coming to a store near you

Real-time pricing: coming to a store near you.Personal shopping is on the brink of taking on a whole new meaning. The advancement of mobile technology and the information held on individuals' shopping histories means product prices could soon adapt as shoppers walk up and down their supermarket aisle.Gone are the days of retailers only being able to actively manage the price of a small number of products once a week. Algorithmic pricing and real-time competitive pricing data allows the changing of product prices on the fly.Amazon is at the forefront of such "real-time pricing" initiatives, which have traditionally been the preserve of online-only retailers.However, brick-and-mortar retailers in the US are showing their UK counterparts the limitless possibilities when it comes to dynamic pricing.Independent consumer electronics retailer Abt Electronics pipes competitive pricing data gathered by Dynamite Data into its point-of-sale systems to allow staff to negotiate prices at the point-of-sale, according to Dynamite Data chief executive Diana Schulz.Meanwhile, another one of Dynamite Data’s unnamed clients uses electronic shelf labels and re-prices every product in their stores each morning based on the prices of its rivals.The ability to change prices dynamically is not simply the preserve of all-powerful brands such as Walmart or Target either.Schulz explained that her company has "seen these types of technologies in both large and mid-sized retailers" despite the "investment in technology and competitive data that is typically needed".Commercial sensitivitiesBack in the UK things are not quite as close to a Minority Report-style personalized shopping experience.Even online-only specialists Shop Direct and Ocado claim they do not engage in real-time pricing, while those that do heavily use real-time data to adapt their prices such as the airline brands are reluctant to discuss the issues.EasyJet declined to comment when contacted because of commercial sensitivities around discussing pricing-related issues.Grocers Tesco, Asda and  Sainsbury’s have all claimed they do not engage in real-time pricing, with the latter two both citing the logistical difficulties in aligning such a strategy across their physical stores and online presence.A Sainsbury’s spokesman claims real-time pricing would result in "chaos", while an Asda spokeswoman saying such a strategy would be a "nightmare".Yet, despite such a negative perspective from UK brands, experts are confident real-time pricing will arrive on these shores sooner or later.Simon Spyer, a partner of VCCP data arm Conduit who began his career working on the Sainsbury's Nectar business, believes the UK will begin to see "more and more" of matching rivals’ prices dynamically, particularly in the grocery and electrical sectors.He explained that real-time pricing is likely to affect "anything where the product is largely commoditized" and in instances where the only way retailers can differentiate that product is by "being really keen on price".Electronic labelsAs it stands the major barrier for implementing "real-time pricing" in-store is changing the prices to match the online price, a hurdle that could be removed by the electronic shelf labels being pioneered in the US.Schemes like Tesco Price Promise and Asda Price Guarantee already use real-time data to 'price match'In the UK various retailers have dipped their toes into the water when it comes to electronic shelf-labeling including a Nisa Local store in Shrewsbury that launched a trial in August last year to carry out automatic pricing and timed promotional updates, alongside QR codes and meal deals.Tesco has also experimented with electronic labeling on various occasions with trials in 2006 and 2008, but the retail giant has yet to combine real-time pricing with its electronic labels.Spyer claims "the capability is definitely there both online and offline – it is whether there is a business rationale for investing in it".However, with major UK supermarkets lacking a pressing reason to implement real-time pricing, that investment may be slow in arriving, argues Kaye Coleman, the founder of price consultancy Ripe Strategic.Coleman explains: "The supermarkets already do price matching – it is not so sophisticated but price matching is already happening".Schemes including the Tesco Price Promise, the Asda Price Guarantee and the Sainsbury’s Brand Match currently use real-time data to "price match" by offering money off the next shop.A cynic could argue the supermarkets should knock money off at the till rather than relying on customers to redeem their vouchers at the next shop, but such an action could hit the companies' bottom line.Mobile sophisticationThe growing sophistication of mobile marketing is also likely to revolutionize the way brands approach their price matching."If you can come up with a value proposition where I check-in [on my mobile] when I walk through the store for the first time and that presents me with a personalized experience based on my purchase history then I could see the benefit for a customer and a retailer," said Spyer.The trick for retailers is persuading customers to adopt such behavior, but the offer of being delivered ever-changing personalized price offers and messages in-store is a compelling proposition.Personalization is already a priority for retailers. Sainsbury’s uses anonymized shopping data gathered from the Nectar card to personalize offers.The levels of personalization offered by Sainsbury’s are increasingly complex. If a female customer buys folic acid they will be sent promotions on other pregnancy-related supplements during the pregnancy period and offers on nappies further down the line.UK retailers are sure to keep a close eye on developments over the Atlantic, with Schulz claiming she knows of clients that are piloting technologies that enable in-store personalized discounts.The challenges on the high-street mean there will inevitably be more casualties, but real-time pricing does not have to be the sole preserve of online-only retailers.Innovative ways of manipulating real-time data could be the shot in the arm the high-street retail industry so desperately needs.This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.ukClick here for the article on the web.

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