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COVID-19 accelerating skills gap, raising employee expectations of their employers – IBM

71% of high performing companies surveyed report they are widely deploying a consistent HR technology architecture, compared to only 11% of others.

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As many business leaders look to close the skills gap and cultivate a sustainable workforce amid COVID-19, a new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) studyreveals less than 4 in 10 human resources (HR) executives surveyed report they have the skills needed to achieve their enterprise strategy.

Pre-pandemic IBM research in 2018 found as many as 120 million workers surveyed in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled because of AI and automation in the next three years. That challenge has only been exacerbated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – as many C-suite leaders accelerate digital transformation, they report inadequate skills is one of their biggest hurdles to progress.

Ongoing IBM consumer research also shows surveyed employees’ expectations for their employers have significantly changed during the COVID-19 pandemic but there’s a disconnect in how effective leaders and employees believe companies have been in addressing these gaps. 74% of executives surveyed believe their employers have been helping them learn the skills needed to work in a new way, compared to just 38% of employees surveyed, and 80% of executives surveyed said their company is supporting employees’ physical and emotional health, but only 46% of employees surveyed agreed.

“Today perhaps more than ever, organizations can either fail or thrive based on their ability to enable the agility and resiliency of their greatest competitive advantage – their people,” said Amy Wright, managing partner, IBM Talent & Transformation. “Business leaders should shift to meet new employee expectations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as holistic support for their well-being, development of new skills and a truly personalized employee experience even while working remotely. It’s imperative to bring forward a new era of HR – and those companies who were already on the path are better positioned to succeed amid disruption today and in the future.”

The new IBV study, “Accelerating the journey to HR 3.0,”conducted in partnership with global independent analyst Josh Bersin of the Josh Bersin Academy, includes insights from more than 1,500 global HR executives surveyed in 20 countries and 15 industries. Based on those insights, the study provides a roadmap for the journey to the next era of HR, with practical examples of how HR leaders at surveyed “high-performing companies” – meaning those that outpace all others in profitability, revenue growth and innovation – can reinvent their function to build a more sustainable workforce.

Additional highlights from the study include:

  • Nearly six in 10 high performing companies surveyed report using AI and analytics to make better decisions about their talent, such as skilling programs and compensation decisions. 41% are leveraging AI to identify skills they’ll need for the future, versus 8% of responding peers.
  • 65% of surveyed high performing companies are looking to AI to identify behavioral skills like growth mindset and creativity for building diverse adaptable teams, compared to 16% of peers.
  • More than two thirds of all respondents said agile practices are essential to the future of HR. However, less than half of HR units in participating organizations have capabilities in design thinking and agile practices.
  • 71% of high performing companies surveyed report they are widely deploying a consistent HR technology architecture, compared to only 11% of others.

“In order to gain long-term business alignment between leaders and employees, this moment requires  HR  to operate as a strategic advisor – a new role for many HR organizations,” said Josh Bersin, global independent analyst and dean of the Josh Bersin Academy.  “Many HR departments are looking to technology, such as the cloud and analytics, to support a more cohesive and self-service approach to traditional HR responsibilities.  Offering employee empowerment through holistic support can drive larger strategic change to the greater business.”  

Report findings suggest three core elements to promote lasting change

According to the report, surveyed HR executives from high-performing companies were eight times as likely as their surveyed peers to be driving disruption in their organizations. Among those companies, the following actions are a clear priority:

  • Accelerating the pace of continuous learning and feedback
  • Cultivating empathetic leadership to become a more health-oriented company and support employees’ holistic well-being
  • Reinventing their HR function and technology architecture to make more real-time data-driven decisions

Burger King Brazil is an example of a company who rapidly responded to new employee expectations and needs presented by this moment. Burger King Brazil worked with IBM to create a new virtual assistant based on IBM Watson Assistant, which helped during the pandemic to provide its workforce with self-service support and more transparent communications and connection to each other and company leadership. The solution supports its 16,000 employees, and on average responded to 1,100 questions per day in April alone.

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Xendit launches payment gateway services to individual business owners

When individual sellers integrate their business with Xendit, their customers can make direct payments via direct debit through Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and UnionBank of the Philippines (UBP), e-wallets such as GCash, GrabPay, and PayMaya, or Over-the-Counter via 7-Eleven and Cebuana Lhuillier. Meanwhile, sole proprietors, corporations, and partnerships can also process credit card payments.

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The ongoing pandemic has brought out the creative side of many Filipinos, who have found ways to supplement their incomes by selling various products or services on social media. Xendit is making it easier for individual business owners to settle payments with access to a world-class platform that makes billings simple, secure, and easy.

“The pandemic has seen a rise in individual sellers who utilize social media to sell their goods and services. The digital nature of transactions means payment methods need to adapt. We want to empower these rising contributors to the Philippine economy with a platform that handles payments for them while they focus on their business,” says Alyzza Acacio, Philippine SME Task Force Lead of Xendit Philippines.

When individual sellers integrate their business with Xendit, their customers can make direct payments via direct debit through Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and UnionBank of the Philippines (UBP), e-wallets such as GCash, GrabPay, and PayMaya, or Over-the-Counter via 7-Eleven and Cebuana Lhuillier. Meanwhile, sole proprietors, corporations, and partnerships can also process credit card payments.

Since Xendit handles payments on the individual seller’s behalf, entrepreneurs can focus on fulfilling orders and growing their business. They no longer need to coordinate with each customer for payments because transaction statuses are updated in real-time on the Xendit dashboard. 

Xendit’s mission is to make payments simple, so that even entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) unfamiliar who are not as technically savvy can integrate with the platform easily. Xendit is available in platforms such as Wix, Shopify, or WooCommerce. Those who rely solely on social media for business can generate payment links that customers can access. Sellers also have access to their transaction history on a centralized dashboard to monitor sales and payments.

“We need to continue to support the Filipino micro-entrepreneurs and small business owners to embrace the digital age; they have experienced the ease that online selling and marketing and smartphones have brought them closer to their customers. The next step is to help them grow their business by helping them manage day-to-day tasks in their enterprise and improve their financial literacy as they experience and use fintech products and platforms more and more,” says Ana Mijares, Senior Trainer for the Go Digital ASEAN initiative.

To welcome SMEs, Xendit is offering up to P1.6 million worth of waived transaction fees for new sign-ups. The platform is also waiving P1 million in fees for individual sellers.

Opening its platform to individual sellers is just one of Xendit’s many ways to empower SMEs using technology. Its Level Up accelerator program supports entrepreneurs through masterclasses and challenges that give them the tools and know-how to scale their businesses. The program also includes giving P3.5 million in free transactions for 1,000 startups for one year through its video challenge

Xendit is the simplest and most trusted name in digital transactions in the region. It powers SMEs as well as the Philippines’ largest enterprises. Xendit is committed to building a solid payment infrastructure for the country and the rest of Southeast Asia.

“We launched an SME task force at the beginning of the year to help create solutions for Filipino businesses that may have been affected by the pandemic. We hope to continue our support for Filipino MSMEs so they can grow their business and help the Philippine economy,” says Yang Yang Zhang, Managing Director of Xendit Philippines.

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Gender bias is real for women in family-owned businesses

A study examining gender bias and family-owned businesses found daughters were rarely encouraged nor received support to pursue entrepreneurship education while sons mostly did.

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A study examining gender bias and family-owned businesses found daughters were rarely encouraged nor received support to pursue entrepreneurship education while sons mostly did.

Professors James Combs, Peter Jaskiewicz, and Sabine Raul from the Telfer School of Management uncovered new insights about how gender bias – the preference of a gender over the other – affects the succession strategy in multi-generational family firms. Their findings are published in the Journal of Small Business Management.

When nurturing the next generation, entrepreneurial families often prepare their daughters and sons differently for their careers. The researchers noticed a common pattern in the stories shared by the next generation: Sons are often nurtured to become entrepreneurial, whether they are expected to take over the firm one day or to start a venture elsewhere. Daughters, however, receive little to no incentive to develop the leadership skills and entrepreneurial passion required to contribute to the family firm or start their own business.

In conversations with 26 children who were raised in 13 multi-generational family firms – some being centuries old – but not expected to work in the firm, the researchers found that:

  • Seven of the nine sons (78%), pursued entrepreneurial careers;
  • Only one among the 15 daughters (7%) gained an entrepreneurial education and engaged in entrepreneurship (7%);
  • Women were not encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship education, gain business experience, start a new venture;
  • Men rather than women received financial resources from the family to start their own business

“Even when these female non-successors have opportunities to acquire relevant knowledge and work to start a business, becoming entrepreneurial was still a challenging uphill battle,” says Jaskiewicz, who believes the data reveals women do not pursue entrepreneurship outside of the family because they lacked sufficient emotional and financial support from the family.

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Do customer loyalty programs really help sellers make money?

A non-tiered customer loyalty program’s reduction in attrition accounts for more than 80% of the program’s total lift or success. On the other hand, increased frequency accounts for less than 20% of the program’s lift or effectiveness.

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Customer loyalty programs have been around for decades and are used to help businesses, marketers and sellers build a sustainable relationship with their customers. But do they work? A recent study sought to find out and researchers learned that while yes, customer loyalty programs do work, perhaps not in ways most may assume.

There are two basic types of customer loyalty programs, tiered and non-tiered. Airlines and hotels often use tiered customer loyalty programs that increase rewards as program members reach higher thresholds of spending over time. Retailers and service industry businesses are more likely to offer non-tiered customer loyalty programs, in which members are rewarded with frequent, but not increasing rewards, such as “buy 10 get one free.”

This research investigated if those non-tiered customer loyalty programs actually do what they are designed to do.

The study to be published in the June issue of the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, “Can Non-tiered Customer Loyalty Programs Be Profitable?”, is authored by Arun Gopalakrishnan of Rice University, Zhenling Jiang of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and Yulia Nevskaya and Raphael Thomadsen of the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

The authors found that non-tiered customer loyalty programs increase customer value by almost 30% over a five-year time period. They discovered that the program’s effectiveness is not so much through increased spending per transaction or frequency of purchasing but rather through the reduction of attrition. In other words, the chief benefit is that the customer loyalty program reduces customer fall-off and turnover.

“We found that a non-tiered customer loyalty program’s reduction in attrition accounts for more than 80% of the program’s total lift or success,” said Thomadsen. “On the other hand, increased frequency accounts for less than 20% of the program’s lift or effectiveness.”

Jiang added, “One of the more interesting findings was that the impact of the loyalty program does not necessarily contribute to increased spending per transaction or increased frequency of transactions. Rather, the benefit to the business is creating more sustainable and lasting relationships with customers.”

To conduct their research, the authors worked with a company to collect data of more than 5,500 new customers who first started purchasing from that company in the same three-month period. This helped to ensure that the customers were comparable in terms of the amount of time they had to become acquainted with the selling firm. For the next 30 months, the researchers collected all subsequent transaction data from those consumers. During that period, a non-tiered customer loyalty program was introduced.

In the process, some of these new customers were automatically enrolled into the loyalty program. This helped researchers better gauge pre-program visit frequency and spending and then compare it to post-enrollment visit frequency and spending. “We were able to analyze the behaviors of consumers absent a customer loyalty program, and then after the rollout of the program,” said Nevskaya. “We evaluated frequency and actual spending amounts, and whether customers come back for repeat transactions.”

Gopalakrishnan summarized, “In the end, the primary value of a non-tiered customer loyalty program is not a means to increase frequency or spending. It’s a way to nurture a long-term and lasting relationship with the customer to reduce the defection of loyal customers over time. Non-tiered loyalty programs may provide psychological benefits that help cultivate such loyalty.”

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