Last post of the year

Year end is coming. I would like to take the occasion to write my last post of the year. 2015 represented a complicated year for me, due to many reasons related to my family and my job. Sad events, my mother and my mother in law passed away. Happy events like my daughter’s birth.

Dealing with a start-up company in a very tough market is not easy. I had to manage sales worldwide with different problems coming from limited staff, brand awareness, strong and sometimes unfair competition. It took some time but at the end we reached a good customer base that could assure us acceptable revenue for 2016.

I must say that 2015 was a very challenging year. I had to manage different issues trying to avoid being overwhelmed and, above all, oblige myself to focus and keep stress at a certain level. Sometimes I did it well, sometimes not. What I can say is that in those situations where I was so tired and disconsolate, I could recover very fast because my values in which I strongly believe, helped me a lot. Family, obstinacy and dedication to work.

I had to put priority many times and I did it sometimes with ratio, sometimes helped by my instinct, advised by my wife who I endlessly thank for her nearness and love. Without her I couldn’t do what I did.

2015 gave me my 50. A very important birthday isn’t it? A very important achievement too. You are feeling wiser and due to your experience you can argue with a different approach. You are feeling stronger and in some occasions you act like you didn’t before. It seems that your subconscious is telling you that now you don’t have nothing to loose, so if sometimes you must tell your opinion in a very strong way and make people understand that they are a fucking assholes you do it!

It happened to me and you can’t believe how good you are feeling after.

Now I have to think about 2016 and my goals to be reached that are quite important and demanding. Both for my family and my job. I don’t want to spend some words on that because it makes no sense. I have clear ideas in my mind. Not so many but few, quite studied and of course absolutely reachable.

2016 will be a very good year, I’m pretty sure. Of course much will depend on me, something from other events and the help of God.

I would like to wish you all the best for 2016, looking forward to hearing from you very soon.

Ercole

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La ricerca continua del successo attraverso l’innovazione.

Alla vigilia di un evento sulle telecomunicazioni dove presenterò il portfolio attuale e futuro di Youncta, mi sembra opportuno fare alcune considerazioni frutto del lavoro svolto fino ad oggi per indirizzare il nostro mercato di competenza.

hand pushing innovation button on a touch screen interfaceLa ricerca continua del successo attraverso l’innovazione sembra un tema banale, più volte discusso in diverse occasioni, trito e ritrito, ma allo stesso tempo sottolinea il fatto che un’azienda non può fare affidamento su un portfolio prodotti che rimanga immutato per anni. Un’azienda che vuole rimanere nel mercato a lungo ed essere vincente deve per forza innovare.

E fino a qui tutti d’accordo.

Ma allora permettetemi di sottolineare due punti che considero importati:

Primo: innovazione si, ma non solo sui prodotti. Dobbiamo considerare che anche i servizi che questi prodotti offrono, devono per forza essere innovativi. Se parliamo dei prodotti di Youncta, i ponti radio, dobbiamo pensare che oltre ad uno sforzo di R&D per rendere i prodotti competitivi sotto vari aspetti che variano dalle funzionalità alla facilità di installazione e controllo dei sistemi, questi ponti radio dovranno offrire diversi servizi e soprattutto permettere ai nostri clienti di crearne dei propri. L’approccio all’innovazione, in questo caso, sembra senza dubbio rivoluzionario. Rivoluzionario perché stiamo cambiando la percezione che si aveva fino ad oggi del ponte radio, proiettandola in un’altra dimensione che si avvicina al mondo del Cloud ed alle applicazioni personalizzate che si trovano nei vari e-shop.

image-07-fullIn Youncta ci siamo resi conto che un cavallo vincente per avere successo nel mercato é quello di rendere i nostri prodotti molto più interessanti di altri grazie alla possibilità di renderli personalizzabili. I nostri clienti in futuro saranno in grado di progettarsi le loro applicazioni ed integrarle nei nostri sistemi come oggi si fa con i cellulari dopo aver comprato le applicazioni online. Nel caso in cui risulti difficile per il cliente la realizzazione di una particolare applicazione, la potrà sempre comprare nel sito Online di Youncta o direttamente farla progettare da noi.

Secondo: Innovazione anche nelle strategie di marketing e vendita.

Innovare in questo campo richiede particolare attenzione alle esigenze dei propri clienti e si collega ovviamente al portfolio prodotti. La strategia di vendita che Youncta ha adottato e adotterà negli anni futuri ha come base il valore che i propri prodotti possono fornire e risponde alla seguente domanda: come posso offrire ai miei clienti soluzioni vantaggiose che facciano risparmiare e diano la possibilità di guadagno in diversi settori di mercato? E ancora. Come posso offrire soluzioni “a prova di futuro” che possano permettere ai nostri clienti un investimento duraturo?

Le attività di marketing e vendita, che partiranno questa settimana durante l’evento accennato poc’anzi, sottolineeranno come i prodotti attuali e di nuova generazione potranno fornire soluzioni uniche che permetteranno risparmi nelle operazioni di installazione e collaudo e di assistenza tecnica, di supervisione di rete e monitoraggio dei sistemi installati. Oltre al notevole risparmio nelle cosiddette Operations, verrà evidenziata l’importanza del software di apparato che da qualche tempo ha guadagnato un peso notevole nel design dei nuovi sistemi di telecomunicazioni.

Grazie al software i clieY-SDSnti di Youncta potranno contare su un portfolio di servizi e funzionalità definite e una totale flessibilità legata ad ulteriori servizi e funzionalità che potranno essere progettati dagli stessi clienti secondo le proprie necessità utilizzando applicazioni personalizzate. Questi servizi e funzionalità potranno essere offerti anche agli utenti delle diverse reti in cui verranno installati i ponti radio Youncta generando ricavi per gli operatori. Tutto ciò potrà essere fatto per diversi anni grazie all’utilizzo di un layer Java multi-lingua su un OS Linux che potrà essere aggiornato e migliorato continuamente.

In conclusione Youncta ha deciso di investire nell’innovazione di prodotti che fino a poco tempo fa venivano considerati un semplice elemento di rete adibito al trasporto dell’informazione, il ponte radio. La sfida é quella di far passare questi sistemi a un livello di “intelligenza” superiore che permetterà di integrare i ponti radio Youncta nelle reti di prossima generazione con un ruolo totalmente diverso rispetto al passato.

Status quo is more dangerous than unknown

Nice sentence, really nice sentence that reflects a very actual situation experienced with some companies. After years fighting against a complicated market I can firmly state that one of the most critical attitute of many managers and their staff is to fight against the change and defending old rules and processes with all their efforts.

It is quite common inside companies that have to speed up their change that many people are absolutely contrary to follow new management and consequently new rules and processes. This is a matter of fact.
Is quite easy to avoid new challenges while thinking that things are going properly and there is no need to spend time, resources and money in activities that apparently (for those people) don’t drive you anywhere.

Is the most critical and hard to eliminate evil inside an organization. Those who hold this “conservative and strategy blindness” views are more likely to be closed-minded, conformist and resistant to change.

I have been experiencing this situation many times in big and small companies, there is no20131123-122732.jpg difference. This kind of attitude persists in every place where you see worsened or really bad business results.

The only way to overcome this situation when you enter in a company with such problem, for my point of view, is to work closely to managers and “convince them” that the only way to make things going better is to change accordingly to the market requests, showing clearly and if necessary rudely their business results and their trend and the way to make the situation change.
It’s not an easy job because you are new and for existing staff you are not so trustable. Nothing personal but everybody is thinking that you never could understand their company and the relative business dinamics.
Then you should adopt the bottom up approach in addition to the top down in order to spread as much as possible the new philosophy that must be followed in the company.
It will take time, often too much time compared to the slot you have for showing results to owners, partners or investors but this is how we need to proceed.

In parallel to this process we can call “awareness and acceptance of the reality” you should deeply analize the organization and key employees to see how changes must be applyed.

One point I considered really important and reminds me last article I posted some months ago, is that who is responsible to this transformation program must maintain key people informed motivated and engaged. Everybody must be aware that changes in the company are effective and business trends are improving or at least are not getting worst.

Second point that is quite critical and is an argument that nowadays is one of the most discussed is workforce reduction that unfortunately is a process quite often unavoidable. I don’t want to go deeply into discussion because is very complicated and must be treated with the help of and expert HR manager, but also in this case informaton is the key. All the relevant parts, syndicates, managers and social organisms must be kept updated on the evolution of the company justifying as much as possible and with the help of concrete information why some decisions have been taken and the expected results.

Hope that this few words can help some friends or colleagues involved like me in this hard situation, hoping that in a near future we could discuss about better and more relaxing arguments.

 

Success is coming if employees are engaged, aligned, and motivated to win.

Some days ago I was reading an article from a well known management magazine and I stopped thinking about a sentence I think is the essence of success in business: if you want to be really successful you must have employees engaged, aligned, and motivated to win. That’s the real truth!
I agree 100%.

During my experience in company restructuring, dealing with projec20130618-235240.jpgts less or more complicated, if you can’t count on employees who can feel part of the process, constantly up to date with your guidelines and motivated to reach your goals in a win-win approach, for sure you’ll not be able to be successful and you’ll absolutely feel to be a looser.

That’ sad but, believe me, if you are experiencing like me a deep process of company reshaping with a strong change management environment and you see employees not to be in such a mood, you should completely agree with me.

A leader must check everyday if his first line management and relative staff are following him straight to his objectives with dedication, proactivity, focus and motivation.
If this doesn’t occur he must setup meetings where he must spend some time to review the situation with his organisation, try to understand problems and, above all, involve people to make them be part of the game.

If necessary he should meet people separately but always with the aim to make them feel important and establish the most clear and open dialog.
Even the “less considered” employee can give important contributions.

Today business is becoming more and more complex and to be successful against competitors, gaining market share where many companies once very powerful, more powerful than your company, have lost, is really difficult.

With the right team of people, technically prepared and motivated to win, for sure will not be easy but the probability to reach successfully the goal will tremendously increase.
What I’m realising today is a tremendous lack of people able to stay with you and fight into the market. The actual downturn environment, constantly affecting behaviours doesn’t help.

I meet many people coming from different companies and the attitude is alway the same: depression, negative thinking, absolutely not motivated and more.
And I’m not talking about low level and not skilled people, not at all!
This is a huge problem in many organisations, sometimes not easy to solve and strictly depending on the management that quite often and unfortunately is affected as well.

I’m more and more convinced that this is an issue we are going to leave with for a long time. The remedy is obvious, managers must be able to make a deep change in their attitude, promoting all those actions made to improve or promote engagement, alignment and motivation.

And this must be done even if the same managers must put their trouble behind and hide worries. Without the right team, you’ll go not so far away.

Dear readers,
Hope this short talk will be of interest. My advice is to do all the best you can to make your people delighted to work with you.

You’ll be a winner, your team will be a winning one and your customers unbelievably happy.

Sviluppo vendite e time to market

Una caratteristica del mio blog è il fatto di pubblicare articoli in diverse lingue a seconda della situazione, del paese in cui mi trovo o di altri motivi che influiscono anche inconsciamente. Oggi ho scelto di scrivere nella mia lingua natale perché quello che vorrei condividere è frutto di un’anaTime to Marketlisi che ho fatto sulle piccole e medie imprese italiane.

Dato per scontato che la situazione del mercato é alquanto complessa e viviamo situazioni tra loro contrastanti e che alternano momenti che fanno sperare a una ripresa e altri che ci spingono a pensare al peggio, analizzando le mia attività di sviluppo business ed internazionalizzazione presso diverse aziende sono arrivato alla conclusione che nella maggior parte dei casi la decisione di contrattare i miei servizi e di affrontare quindi un nuovo mercato o sviluppare l’esistente arriva assolutamente troppo tardi.

Per diversi motivi: paura di investire, incertezza sui risultati futuri legati a una nuova strategia di vendita, mentalità antiquata e totale avversione per l’innovazione, paura di sbagliare, controllo sommario sulla situazione finanziaria aziendale che può pregiudicare i rapporti commerciali con partner o collaboratori. Potrei continuare ad elencare decine di altri motivi ma preferisco andare oltre e riprendere il filo del discorso.

Moltissime aziende italiane hanno aspettato mesi, per non dire anni, prima di affidarsi a dei professionisti per rilanciarsi sul mercato, questo ha causato irrimediabilmente la perdita di quella finestra temporale utile a presentate in modo opportuno i propri prodotti o servizi.

Il problema fondamentale é che queste aziende in difficoltà ti chiamano solo quanto si rendono conto che la situazione é insostenibile e che devono fare qualcosa con la massima celerità. Ma qual’è il grosso problema? Semplicemente che si pretende di trovare una soluzione immediata grazie alla quale l’immagine aziendale migliora, i clienti aumentano insieme al fatturato e l’azienda come per incanto ricomincia a riprendersi.

Purtroppo questo in generale non accade mai e devo ammettere che nell’ambiente delle piccole e medie imprese é praticamente sconosciuto il concetto di time to market e tutto il processo legato al suo coretto raggiungimento. Molti imprenditori pensano di avere a disposizione i prodotti più belli e competitivi del mondo e pensano che solo per quello non ci sia bisogno di complicate azioni di marketing e comunicazione. Quando si prova a spiegare che ci vogliono dei “tempi tecnici” per entrare nel mercato ed avere successo, ti viene risposto che ti pagano apposta per ridurre i tempi ed attraverso i tuoi contatti riuscire a vendere rapidamente.

Altri seguono i tuoi consigli ed il processo di preparazione per l’indirizzamento dei settori di mercato selezionati. Poi perdono secoli a fornirti gli elementi necessari affinché questo avvenga nei tempi stabiliti. Si deve sollecitare più volte  la documentazione di prodotto e che ti vengano forniti i fattori differenziatori che potrebbero fare la differenza nel mercato. Una volta decisi i clienti potenziali, anche qui si ritarda nel fissare riunioni con conseguente prolungamento delle tempistiche commerciali.

E’ chiaro che non tutto dipende dal tuo cliente, spesso c’é altro che ritarda le operazioni. Per esempio nelle piccole aziende la tua interfaccia commerciale deve svolgere altre mille attività e non riesce a seguirti puntualmente, oppure non é sempre facile fissare riunioni nei tempi richiesti. In conclusione,  é proprio per questi motivi  che  i tempi si allungano e non si riesce ad essere effettivi.

Nella mia attività ho avuto modo di trovarmi decine di volte in queste situazioni. Alcune volte sono riuscito a risolverle, altre purtroppo no. Ho avuto casi in cui l’attività di vendita e sviluppo mercato é durata più di tre anni con dei risultati accettabili, e altri in cui la collaborazione si é limitata a pochi mesi senza poter concludere nulla.

Devo ammettere che questa é l’immagine attuale del mercato che sto affrontando in Italia. Si parla molto di rilanciare le piccole e medie imprese, di internazionalizzazione ma purtroppo vedo che risulta estremamente difficile avere successo se non si riesce a cambiare la mentalità di tanti imprenditori. Anche da parte del Governo ci vorrebbero delle azioni importanti che mirino a informare di più chi é intenzionato a partire con un progetto di “ri-ingenierizzazione” della propria azienda. E soprattutto devono essere estremamente semplificati i processi per accedere ai vari fondi, per la preparazione dei bandi e la selezione dei vincitori. Mi risulta incredibile che esistano dei processi che durino persino due anni. Come si fa ad essere presenti con efficacia nel mercato?

Siete convinti che  “time to market” può essere considerato un problema generalizzato che coinvolge tutti e che questo causa un incredibile stallo della nostra economia?

Are talented people retained by companies?

Some days ago I had a nice conversation about talented people and how they are treated by companies. After more than an hour talking about different experiences, I realized that in many cases these precious elements are not retained inside an organization and neither treated properly. Too often they are “obliged” to leave or even fired.

During my career I have faced many situations in which really valid people haven’t been considered in a proper way, myself included, and assigned to different tasks, 99% of the cases below their possibilities. The reasons why this happened were and still are many, I’ll try to synthesize them in the most effective way. Let’s see four examples.

retainLet’s talk about company restructuring, I’ve been involved in many of them. People are “mapped” in their positions and treated as numbers. Once the board decide the shape of the new company they start to move or cut people. Unfortunately almost never there is time enough and prepared HR able to select the right people for the right place and finally the results are really poor. I think many friends of mine know what I mean. Again, one of the worst enemies in this situation is time. Organizations must be reshaped in a very short time and this of course doesn’t help.

Another example is related to companies where the management and sometimes the board too, don’t want to be “menaced” by skilled people. It seems a joke but unfortunately is not. It is really depressing  to see that managers who could be really supported by those people, think that they could loose their position because of them. One of the most important thing I’ve learned during some management courses was the importance to have skilled people in your team and the fact that you can ascend most rapidly in your career thanks to that.  A strong, prepared and skilled team is a key to success.

Lack of meritocracy is finally the third reason. This is a general issue that you can find also in the previous examples, is part of the problem. Quite often people really prepared are not considered because they are not “supported” by someone with power inside the organization or again, HR is not able to identify them or evaluating them properly.  This situation causes a big loss of skilled people and who remains in the company works less because under-motivated.

“Old Fashioned management”. Be careful I’m not saying “old” management. I’m absolutely convinced that is a matter of mindset. I met people really older that me but more “up to date” on technology and innovation! Many times we meet people that it seems they are leaving like 15 years ago. Totally indifferent to what is asking the market, firmly convinced that they are gurus on his own competencies and you must accept what they tell you. This, as a matter of fact, is a huge problem and a big obstacle if you would like to be competitive in the market.  Strongly affects skilled people willing to give they full support for busting business and make organizations successful.

So, I think the previous points can arise good discussions and hopefully some readers of mine could also share some comments on that. To be honest there are many other reasons that influence negatively the life of talented people into an organization but I think the ones I mentioned represent a good part of them.

In order to reach a conclusion I must say that lack of meritocracy and poor retention rate is for me a characteristic quite present in Europe and for my experience in Italy and Spain is quite common.  I have been working inside many organizations and I must say that some elements concurring into bad performance are quite always related to what I just described before.

I really do hope that in the future companies could pay more attention on retaining their best employees. There are many ways to do it: developing expectations and make people think that they are REALLY part of the organization.

Talented people represent the highest value for companies and absolutely the best way to be present and successful in the future.

Doing busines fighting against uncertainty

Just back from my last business trip, I take a moment to meditate a bit on what is going to happen in next months. Which customers will continue cooperation with my company and which of them will unfortunately finish it.

uncertaintyWe are still experiencing tough times. Economic downturn is still “alive and kicking” and an element still affecting the day by day activities is uncertainty.

After founding two companies since 2009 I can say that the most unpleasant element which is always present everywhere is what I just mentioned. While we are fighting to maintain customers and do our best to expand their business, many times is hard to take strategic and managerial decisions because we are not able to retrieve all the elements we need.

First of all, and this is the most important one, because affects our balance-sheet is payments. Today many companies are working in a so called “limit situation” that means, you are the last of a chain of payments.

If your customer doesn’t receive money you are not paid or you are paid with delay. Another reason could be represented by the fact that you are considered as low priority because you are a consultant. Customers prefer to pay their employees first and then you. Again we are talking about delays. In this case I recommend avoiding dealing with customers paying you with too much delay. It’s better to look for new customers paying you less but regularly.

Anyway there are many other elements that influence this status of uncertainty like unclear sales strategy, management not properly willing to take decisions which may be very important for the future development of the company, products roadmaps not really established and respected, bad product performance and so on.

Having to deal everyday with this kind of “not so motivating” environment is quite expensive in terms of efforts and of course proper motivation. The unique way to fight against this is work at the highest level of quality and deliver a best in class service even when is not easy at all. This is the differentiator you must always show to everybody.

Today you are obliged mainly to live our business in this way and, above all, if you want that your company survive for the followings years, you are obliged to increase as much as possible your customer portfolio using a tactic I use to call “tireless”.

For doing this work up to 16 hours per day, trying to maximize my presence in social networks, maintaining up to date my company’s documentation for marketing and going to selected events where you can meet potential customers.

In this way, even I know is really hard, I can assure you that my business is going quite well and customer base is increasing, permitting me to be quite satisfied and happy to look at the future with a positive feeling.

You can ask why we should do this. The reason is quite simple. Customers acting in the way I described before are often unable to face the market in the proper way and sooner or later they will face serious problems. I experienced many cases where companies even closed forever. If you work with such kind of customers is quite sure that unfortunately you are going to lose them.

The market today is requesting high performance (see my previous post), good corporate image, best in class products and services. Competitors are so strong that you can win them only demonstrating that you are really better than them and, as you can see, is not always so easy.

La revista emprendedores habla de EdEr International Solutions. The magazine Emprendedores speaks about EdEr International Solutions.

Emprendedores, la revista mas popular de España sobre negocio, nuevas tendencias empresariales e innovación, en el numero de febrero dedica unas palabras al trabajo de EdEr International Solutions en la sección “Emprendedores con ingenio”. Para mi es un motivo de orgullo y una pequeña señal que el trabajo que mi socio y yo llevamos desarrollando desde hace años es reconocido y apreciado. Esta es la mejor manera de empezar el 2013, un acontecimiento que nos da mucho animo y fuerza para seguir adelante y alcanzar nuestros objetivos estratégicos.

Emprendedores, the most popular Spanish magazine of business, new entrepreneur tendencies and innovation, inthe February edition dedicates some words to EdEr International Solutions in the section “Emprendedores con ingenio”, “Entrepreneurs with Wit” . For me it is a source of pride and a small sign that the work my partner and I have been developing since years is recognized and appreciated. This is the best way to start 2013, an event that gives us much encouragement and strength to move forward and achieve our strategic objectives.

http://www.ederinternational.com

http://www.emprendedores.es/ideas_de_negocio/eder_international

Think Local, work global

Once again I would like to discuss, new business tendencies and above all rules I apply with my customers. Some days ago I was watching TV and suddenly I heard this sentence, “Think local and work global “.  This sentence could have different meanings; I try to tell you what I’m thinking about.

From my point of view, I think that actually is really important for many companies trying to local-globalwiden their market abroad. Italy for example has many companies mainly SMEs with a huge knowhow and an innovative product portfolio.

Unfortunately they are able only to move locally, they hire locally, design locally, as a matter of fact they do everything locally. Today new global markets oblige to widen strategies to new international markets. Local markets are getting smaller and smaller.

For this reason entrepreneurs must address new international markets, working global but preparing themselves and think about new strategies locally.  Locally we have a huge potential but it must be managed, morphed, adapted and above all customized to make these companies successful.

I’m experiencing different industrial environments and I can say that there is a fundamental problem in those companies.

A lot of managers and executives aren’t able to prepare their staff properly because they don’t think too much about how to face global markets before starting operations. I mean that a lot of preparatory activities are missing: market assessment, products potential or key differentiators, selection of international partners etc, etc…

It seems impossible but is like that!

Again “think local and work global” sounds so important, that I want to stress it again and again.

2012 was a really though year and 2013 at least the first months will be complicated as well.

A lot of SMEs must improve themselves as quick as possible in order to be competitive, managers should “think” how to involve personnel to find the way to increase revenues, towards a continue analysis and improvement of processes.

At the end of the day think that “globalize” business doesn’t always mean externalized activities and production abroad in the so called “chip manpower countries”. My recommendation is to focus on quality and think that coordination and steering must always be local, paying attention to international activities but maintaining control in your Country.

Is a way to assure that your brand, style or recognized services is well protected and supervised.