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2024 was an exceptional year for Bitcoin. After facing a tumultuous time during the end of the 1st quarter, the largest digital asset performed admirably to end its year on a new all-time high. The asset has continued its rapid growth into 2023 as well, currently valued at just under $38,000. With institutions becoming increasingly involved with the digital asset, Bitcoin is presently undergoing a price discovery similar to 2023. The only difference is that BTC is in a much better position in 2023 in terms of interest, on-chain fundamentals, and market sentiment.
With respect to Bitcoin’s future in 2023, Ben Caselin, Head of Research and Strategy at cryptocurrency exchange AAX, recently presented a research paper titled ‘Bitcoin in 2023’. It is a comprehensive paper categorized into three different sections describing Bitcoin from a perspective of an asset class, investable standpoint and future horizon. Structurally, it is a well-drafted research paper that is palatable to someone who is new to Bitcoin, but also to investors who are seeking to further understand the asset from a valuation perspective.
AMBCrypto recently sat down with Mr. Caselin and discussed various topics from his research paper. We explored various insights with respect to Bitcoin and its future in the larger financial landscape.
Good evening Ben! Thank you for your time for this interview. How are you?
Ben- Hello! I am good, nice to meet you. How are you doing?
I am doing good! Alright, let’s start off with one of the facts from your paper. Bitcoin’s first decade of emergence resulted in 9,000,000% ROIs in 10 years but it was widely led by high risk, skepticism, and FUD. What will be the major factors running Bitcoin’s growing valuation for the decade forward?
Ben- Yes, during the first 10-years of Bitcoin, there was a long period of stagnancy with Bitcoin. People knew about cryptocurrency but they were not paying too much attention. However, over the past 3-4 years, after the bull run in 2023, Bitcoin was pushed into this limelight when major publications and financial outlets were covering its price actions. Market analysts were trying to identify its intrinsic value and hence, there was a lot of criticism and FUD as you said. Now, 2023 changed public perception, and Bitcoin has finally completed its decade of emergence in its own right.
In terms of what is ahead, it is fair to state that we might be heading towards a decade of adoption. We have already witnessed Bitcoin being part of important discussions.
If we see Bitcoin being mentioned more and being understood in relation to monetary policies, when we see great political instability, if we see Bitcoin being part of that conversation, then those are signs of adoption. So in this decade of adoption, we should also see regulators open up more to Bitcoin, but we definitely should not be surprised if we also see clashes as well. The decade of adoption is not some smooth, beautiful process. Certain regulations would make it very difficult for exchanges to operate effectively. So, as a part of the Bitcoin community, we will have to deal with these challenges to stake a presence in global finance. Then, as Bitcoin gains force and more institutional investors integrate the asset into their strategies and outlook, then there’s no reason to believe that we can’t find a proper balance.
Well said. Alright, speaking about balance, there is a constant discussion in some Bitcoin communities that BTC should overhaul Fiat U.S dollar as the main mode of currency. While Bitcoin has performed admirably well whenever there has been some socio-economic turmoil, the fall of the US dollar might not happen anytime soon, how do you see Fiat and Bitcoin co-exist together in the future?
Ben- So, you know, this is a very interesting question. I think one way to look at it, is from a generational perspective. If you ask, let’s say someone who is a teenager, they might be very open to this idea and they don’t necessarily think of the wider impact and consequences. However, a veteran economist may find it ridiculous. Now, although maximalists might wish to see Bitcoin overtake the U.S dollar or Fiat, it doesn’t seem to be very realistic at this point in time. There are so many interests tied into the U.S dollar. Hence, if anything, we may see fiat being converted to central bank digital currencies, right? Like, there’s no reason that we cannot move into a kind of digital form of fiat. But central bank digital currencies are a fiat currency.
Bitcoin is more censorship-resistant, decentralized and then there are utility tokens and security tokens. So these, these are very different. Just because they share a similar technological architecture doesn’t mean that they’re the same. And so yes, they can coexist. I think the coming years is more about rebalancing. I think the whole world is rebalancing at the moment. The world is one giant portfolio and it’s re-balancing money, political power, everything. So, I think it’s really interesting to see that Bitcoin was part of the historical transformations we’ve seen in 2023.
Bitcoin’s volatility has been one of the most talked-about characteristics in recent years. In 2023, while the asset underwent strong uncertainty, it maintained lower volatility levels than some of the major stocks. From a purely market perspective, is volatility still important to describe the crux of Bitcoin?
Ben- When we talk about Bitcoin volatility, there are different opinions. Some love it and others like to criticize it. First of all, volatility was not intended to be part of Bitcoin’s identity, but over the past 10 years, or at least five or six years, it’s definitely become part of Bitcoin’s ethos. But at the same time, I think everybody understands that as an asset matures, such high volatility is not realistic. Let’s say if 2% of global wealth was locked in Bitcoin, it would not be possible to think of 30% price swings that would kind of upset everybody. So it’s very logical that over time, some of that volatility should decrease. From a payments perspective, that’s of course great. However, from a store of value perspective people say, it’s so volatile, you cannot store your, well, it depends on how long you want to store it for.
If you want to store it for five years, maybe volatility is really great, giving you plenty of buy-in opportunities. If you want a store your wealth for five minutes, maybe it’s really awful. I think Bitcoin is a great trainer of the mind and people that deal with Bitcoin, there’s a certain effect that it has on you as a person and how you deal with the volatility of life. Now things are changing. Others have come into the market, the institutions have come into the market and some don’t like that, then some do like that, but it’s a reality and it will impact volatility one way or another.
One major comparison following Bitcoin’s rise over the past few years is its similarities with Gold. While traditional economists and market analysts continue to trust Gold as a true inflation hedge, in terms of ROIs, Bitcoin has completely blown Gold out of the water in recent months. How would you define Bitcoin being a better inflation hedge against Gold?
Ben- So, there are two answers for this. One is actually more profound than the other one and lets me start with the other one. The other one is kind of technical and common. It goes that gold as a hedge against inflation and it has been around for thousands of years and it’s scarce. And then people will say Bitcoin is also scarce and it’s easier to keep track of and transact. All of that is fine.
The point is, and this is, I think the more important answer, if we agree that Bitcoin is just a very awesome technology that can offer the same type of scarcity as gold. So let’s just agree on that because it’s not that complex. The reality is it depends on what we agree on because yes, we can say gold is a great hedge. And the reason why it’s a great hedge is not because it’s yellow. It’s not because it’s hard and because you can melt it. And not even because it’s scarce, it’s just because over time, this has become the habit.
Now are in the process of agreeing that Bitcoin is a wonderful store of value and now gold is going to have to share the market. It’s simple, but also profound because it’s quite a big shift. Newer generations prefer Bitcoin now. Gold may carry the weight of history and tradition, but Bitcoin offers a vision for the future.
Liquidity is a key aspect of Bitcoin but according to recent data, it was revealed that 78% of Bitcoin in the current market is illiquid. Does that affect Bitcoin’s long-term affinity as an investable asset?
Ben- Now, it is important to note that the 78% coverage is only counting the coins that are currently in circulation. We know that a whole lot of Bitcoins are already lost and we should stop saying that there are 21 million Bitcoins. The 78% figure is an indication that people have some trust and confidence in the coin and that they want to hold it for the long-term. Investors are taking the asset off-exchange but again it is only a metric. It is a helpful metric to look at but there is nothing more to that and it does not affect Bitcoin’s long-term credentials as an investable asset.
Tomorrow, illiquidity may drop down to 72%, or 64%, or 10%, so these are just numbers, metrics. Additionally, Chainalysis, reported that much of the liquidity now that we see in the market is actually provided by long-term holders that have been holding on to Bitcoin for a long time and are now just selling some of it on the market because you know, why not? And so, that means that it’s also new investors coming into the market. It’s is a continuous cycle.
Alright! Now coming to the last question Ben. Predicting the price direction of Bitcoin is always extremely difficult. The paper suggested that maintaining current momentum would lead Bitcoin to breach $55,000 by end of Q1. Now, we have witnessed some corrections over the past few days, so without putting you on the spot, what kind of price range are you looking for Bitcoin by March 2023?
Ben- Haha, yes. It is very difficult to estimate Bitcoin’s price in the short-term and as you just said, it registered a massive crash recently. We are currently looking at a parabolic rise and we do not know if it is sustainable. So, Bitcoin’s price may depend on different sociological and economic factors. We should not see Bitcoin in seasonal terms like altcoin seasons and crypto winters, although they sound nice, and we should understand instead its position with respect to the state of the world and global markets.
Now, coming to predictions, our paper mentioned a moderate target of $55,000 by March 2023 and I feel it still holds. If support at $36,000 is held, Bitcoin may continue to build on its momentum but again, we continuously need to account for different factors. Over the long-term, we’re very bullish on Bitcoin, but Bitcoin is no stranger to 25% drops, and when we’re at $40,000 price levels, those spikes can be intimidating. Let’s see how everything pans out in 2023. Lots of things to worry about, but I don’t think Bitcoin is one of them.
For more information on the AAX exchange, please visit their official website.
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Yahoo Taps Ramakrishnan As Social Search Research Head
Yahoo has taken yet another major step to show how serious they are about their commitment to Social Search with the naming of academic database expert Raghu Ramakrishnan to head Yahoo’s research on their human assisted search projects.
Rueters reports that Ramakrishnan, Vice President and Yahoo research fellow in charge of defining the strategy behind Yahoo’s “social search” system, based on his expertise in databases, data-mining and privacy-preserving technologies.
More info from the Yahoo announcement; Ramakrishnan joins Yahoo! from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he served as a professor of computer science and a co-founder of the Data Mining Institute. Ramakrishnan will apply his experience in privacy, data mining and the online community systems he has developed over the course of his career to further ensure the high-quality, safe online experience trusted by hundreds of millions of Yahoo! users.
“We are proud and excited to have someone of Raghu’s academic caliber and entrepreneurial approach to help Yahoo! Research with our commitment to building the new science of the Internet,” said Usama Fayyad, chief data officer and senior vice president. “Raghu joins a rapidly growing assembly of the leading thinkers and scientists in key fields of this new emerging science who have chosen to join Yahoo! to deliver on this ambitious goal and to help build innovative products and services that are essential to consumers’ lives.”
Ramakrishnan co-founded and served as chairman and chief technology officer of QUIQ, a company that pioneered online question-answering communities as well as online collaborative customer support and knowledge management communities for companies like Business Objects, Compaq, and Sun. He is co-author of the widely-read text Database Management Systems (WCB/McGraw-Hill) and has published over 150 research papers throughout his career.
“Yahoo! fosters an open environment for innovation, engaging the top thinkers in data mining, microeconomics and other fields to shape the future of the Web,” said Ramakrishnan. “This is the perfect opportunity to apply my interests and experiences in social search and database management to help people connect to other people and to the information they need, making the Web a natural extension of their everyday communities.”
Ramakrishnan is the chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) and serves on the boards of the Very Large Data Base (VLDB) Endowment and ACM Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (SIGKDD). Ramakrishnan is a Fellow of the ACM, and recipient of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering, a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, and an ACM SIGMOD Contributions Award. He is an associate editor of ACM Transactions on Database Systems and was recently editor-in-chief of the Journal of Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery.
In the constantly changing business environment, companies are fast adapting to modern technologies like Cloud, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence to step up their game. And consequently, work environments have undergone a drastic change. Remote working has gradually gained prominence with cloud technology playing its designated role in spurring this particular trend. While it is easy to reap the benefits of flexibility these technologies bring in, it is highly complex to facilitate smooth business relationships through reliable and safe engagement models. Calsoft is a pioneer product engineering company providing IT solutions and engagement models that leverage innovative technologies. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Somenath Nag, VP, Marketing & Corporate Strategy, Calsoft.1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.
Incepted in 1998, Calsoft is a software product engineering company with over 1500 employees. Over the years, we have established ourselves as a premier product engineering company with a distinct focus on new emerging technologies. At Calsoft, we have developed a strong strategic focus on emerging technologies such as Cloud, IoT, AI/ML, and Analytics. We believe in creating long-term partnerships with our customers, and we understand that building innovative solutions requires in-depth knowledge, out-of-the-box thinking, and a holistic approach. We design engagement models based on the specific business requirements of our customers. This flexibility is highly valued by our customers.
In addition, we offer strong processes leading to better control, complete visibility, and better risk mitigation, apart from other benefits.2. With what mission and objectives, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
Calsoft was started with the vision of effectively using our skills and expertise to enable companies to achieve their dreams, by aligning our values to help others achieve greater success, with a customer-centric approach.
We, as an organization, are firm believers in the “technology-first” principle. Calsoft’s mission is to find new ways to solve our customers’ problems. We use our agility, technological innovation, and core engineering expertise to help our customers achieve their business goals. Our culture, our values, and our vision are all directed towards the goal of helping companies of all sizes adjust to changing market dynamics.3. How is Machine Learning (ML) shaping the IT/Big Data/Robotics industry today? How is it changing the role of CIOs and Leaders?
Among emerging technologies, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are seen as critical enablers for organizations. This is even more true in the current post-pandemic world. We live in a time when all organizations are digitizing their efforts, and we are witnessing a surge in the volume and complexity of data. The rapid adoption of digitization further ensured that data has to be moved to and stored in a centralized location. This had the effect of removing data silos and enabling systems to interact and come up with new insights.
ML Operations (MLOps), a sub-genre of Machine Learning, is now empowering the process of data automation, eradicating the need for human intervention. With the help of MLOps, CIOs now can shift their focus to enterprise governance and regulatory requirements.4. How are disruptive technologies like IoT/Big Data analytics/AI/Machine Learning/Cloud Computing impacting today’s innovation?
Let’s be honest – we cannot call them disruptive technologies anymore. They have been in existence for a significant amount of time. Rather, I would say with all the things going around, these technologies have witnessed a rapid adoption cycle.
Big Data Analytics is seen as a key element of today’s innovation ecosystem, as it enables organizations to see and manage data effectively and at scale. With digitization happening at a rapid scale, the volume of data being generated from multiple sources has greatly increased. Big Data Analytics can only do so much. To generate meaningful insights, AI/ML needs to be introduced into the mix, empowering organizations to develop innovative, data-driven business models.5. The Future of IoT/ Artificial Intelligence/ML/Cloud Computing in India
The Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed how people interact with technology, as well as how businesses and industries engage with, use, and apply modern technology in their daily utilities and functions. The synergy between AI and IoT further increases process efficiency from an operational perspective, while mitigating the risks associated with it.
Big Data Analytics is widely used to enhance customer experiences and business performance, by effectively analyzing the data stored in the cloud and data warehouses. Artificial Intelligence and Data Science techniques, particularly Machine/Deep Learning algorithms, are significantly improving some critical areas/services including customer segmentation, targeted marketing, personalized offerings, and recommendations, churn prediction, product development, predictive analytics, call drop analysis, fraud reduction, price optimization, network experience optimization, location-based services, and so on.6. Could you highlight your company’s recent innovations in the AI/ML/Analytics space?
As we mentioned, we consider ourselves a “technology-first” company, and we strive to stay at the forefront of technology innovation. Due to our strategic focus on the AI/ML/Analytics domains, we have empowered our customers using these technologies. For some of our established customers, we upgraded their tech stacks to monitor performance, analyze data, produce insights, and even perform predictive maintenance as needed. For others, we developed custom AI/ML frameworks, designed as per their requirements.7. Would you also like to give some more details about how Big Data Analytics/ML/AI/IoT is being used at? How has it been progressing?
The nature of the work we take up involves collaboration with our clients and working with proprietary technology. As a result, we are bound by Non-Disclosure Agreements, and cannot divulge any details.8. The industry is seeing the rising importance of Big Data Analytics and AI. How do you see these emerging technologies impact the business sector?
As we have mentioned, we expect that Big Data and AI will continue to play the role of critical enablers for a variety of industries. Consumer-centric industries will continue to leverage these technology stacks. Other industries like retail, supply chain, and manufacturing will be able to track and manage their inventory and assets more effectively. Also, healthcare industries are seeing use cases like remote monitoring, thanks to these technologies.
One other area where Big Data and AI are having a significant impact is the Telecom and Networking space, which foresees a massive rise in data that needs to be organized in a segregated manner. This can further enhance decision-making capabilities at different organizational levels. By combining that with Machine Learning capabilities, we can foresee the emergence of services like Intelligent Healing, Automated Network Design, Anomaly detection, and so on.
We can also use these technologies to innovate at scale, and the possibilities are endless. Calsoft, as an innovation leader, is excited for the future ahead.
Responsible AI is essential to gain more customer engagement through AI solutions
Artificial intelligence or AI solutions are dominating every possible industry to provide a seamless customer experience with the utmost protection. This, in turn, will help companies to gain customer engagement and drive revenue in the long run. Thus, the global AI market is expected to hit US$169,411.8 million in 2025 at a CAGR of 55.6% through digital transformation. Here is an exclusive interview with Christophe Bourguignat, CEO and Founder of1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.
Zelros is transforming insurance distribution with its award-winning AI solution by enabling a unique customer experience through hyper-personalized insurance recommendations across channels. This provides sales and marketing leaders with a proactive approach to transforming the insurance business into a trusted life partner. Results include increased loyalty while providing the protection the customers need as their risk category changes over their lifetime. The world’s largest insurance companies such as BPCE Group, Crédit Agricole, Groupama, MAIF, Matmut, Baloise Group, AssurOne, and Simpego trust Zelros to help them stay competitive, generate higher revenue, and maintain compliance with ethical AI programs. Today, Zelros operates in France, the United States, Canada, Germany, and Italy. Zelros has raised US$16M so far from European and Silicon Valley VCs and has been recognized as a leader in the AI-based Advanced Insurance Distribution category by Frost & Sullivan, ACORD.2. How is Machine Learning (ML) shaping the IT/big data/robotics industry today? How is it changing the role of CIOs and leaders?
AI/ML is helping shift leaders/CIOs to explore new revenue streams, reinvent the customer experience in a cost-efficient way, and to stay relevant. CIOs are in a strategic position to help drive the business forward in this Industry 4.0 era.3. Brief us about the proactive Founder/CEO of the company and his/her contributions to the company and the industry.
Christophe Bourguignat is the CEO and Founder of Zelros with sufficient contribution to the industry such a more responsible and fair use of technology with Responsible AI as well as transforming the customer experience with hyper-personalized recommendations across channels. He also has contributed to Zelros as a company by constantly paying attention to company diversity and equity index (currently in France, higher than the market average index) and inspiring a culture of humbleness, trust, innovation, and fun.4. What does your technology and business roadmap look like for the rest of the year?
On April 5th, 2023, Zelros will launch the next product release packed with new innovations. This enables Zelros to expand the value chain to insurance marketing teams with hyper-personalized audience segmentation. Moreover, the easy-to-use platform just got easier with a low-code admin console to accelerate time to value. Finally, insurance executives can gain smarter reporting on how their customers engage with them, using the AI-driven insights into their existing reporting solutions (Tableau, PowerBI, and many more). Overall, Zelros will continue to achieve its mission by enabling insurance players to offer a proactive and personalized experience to their customers, on any channel. Personalized insurance should be accessible to everyone and Zelros will enable insurers to do this and ensure that each individual’s life and needs are taken care of. The team is looking at this on a global scale. That is why it is bringing solutions to new markets. A journey that is full of new opportunities while pushing the Insurtech market forward.5. What is the reason that organizations are using IoT/analytics/big data/AI/ML/big data analytics?
The reason Zelros uses AI is to enable agent effectiveness and bring personalized recommendations across channels. AI is also used at Zelros for Responsible AI and Ethical AI, ensuring that recommendations are fair, explainable, and bias-free.6. How is your company helping customers deliver relevant business outcomes through the adoption of the company’s technology innovations?
Zelros helps insurers stay relevant by embracing a modern approach to recommending insurance products across their digital channels and agent channels. One can think of Netflix and Amazon recommendations, but better, Zelros provides the intelligent context and explainability and takes out any potential biases that may have sneaked into the algorithm. Thus, one can have recommendations that are hyper-personalized and bias-free.7. Where are we going from here?
Along with announcing its new Lockdown Mode feature this past summer, the company mentioned an upgraded bounty program, a donation to fund ethical security research, and more. Now Apple Security Research has officially launched with a dedicated website, blog, details on the bounty changes, applications open for the Research Device Programs, and more.
Apple launched the new security hub website led by two blog posts today.Apple Security Bounty changes
First up, Apple detailed the ways its security bounty program has been upgraded:
“In the past two and a half years since opening our program, we’re incredibly proud to have awarded researchers nearly $20 million in total payments, with an average payout of $40,000 in the Product category, and including 20 separate rewards over $100,000 for high-impact issues. To our knowledge, this makes Apple Security Bounty the fastest-growing bounty program in industry history.
During this time, our team has worked closely with researchers around the world, and we’ve learned about some things we can do better.
First, we’re responding much more quickly. At times we received many more submissions than we anticipated, so we’ve grown our team and worked hard to be able to complete an initial evaluation of nearly every report we receive within two weeks, and most within six days.
Next, we’re making it easier for researchers to report issues and communicate with our teams. Our Apple Security Research site includes a new way to send us research on the web and get real-time status updates. Just sign in with your Apple ID and follow the prompts to send us a detailed report. You can then track the progress of your report and communicate securely with Apple engineers as we investigate.”
“We’re also providing more transparency. Our site now includes detailed Apple Security Bounty information and evaluation criteria. Bounty categories include ranges and examples, so you can determine where you’d like to focus your research, and so you can anticipate whether your report qualifies for a particular reward. We’ve provided ranges for submissions that impact Apple services and infrastructure, as well as our products.”Security Research Device applications open
Another announcement shared on the new website is that the window for Apple Security Research Device applications is open:
“Starting today through November 30, 2023, we’re also accepting applications for the 2023 Apple Security Research Device Program. This program features an iPhone exclusively dedicated to security research, and can help you get started, go deeper, or improve the efficiency of your research work with iOS.”Security blog
Kicking off the first post of its new technical security blog, Apple shared about the “next generation of XNU memory safety: kalloc_type.”
“To inaugurate our security research blog, we present the first in a series of technical posts that delves into important memory safety upgrades in XNU, the kernel at the core of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Because nearly all popular user devices today rely on code written in programming languages like C and C++ that are considered “memory-unsafe,” meaning that they don’t provide strong guarantees which prevent certain classes of software bugs, improving memory safety is an important objective for engineering teams across the industry.”
Read the full post on Apple’s new security site.Open jobs in security at Apple
Additionally, Apple has a link to submit your resume and interest in security roles at the company.More
At the bottom of Apple’s new security website, there are a few additional resources for developers, a link to the Apple Platform Security Guide, and Apple Support.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.
Thinking like Sun Tzu to improve your strategic position
This is the second part to last week’s interpretation of how Sun Tzu’s Art of War can be applied to digital marketing.
Here I’ll cover three ways in which applying Sun Tzu’s Art of War can help develop your marketing or digital marketing strategy, starting with the 5 elements…The 5 Elements to defining your strategic position
Sun Tzu defines five key elements to help understand your position that make total sense when applied to marketing too. Your strategic position is never strong or weak… it is only strong or weak in relation to something or someone else.
Mission or the way: This is what unites all of the people in the Army (organisation) and the customer. It helps everybody to share the same goals and objectives, it allows everyone to ‘get real’, to feel that what has been set out is believable and not full of self-deceit. Is this clear and believed in your department or organisation, is everyone facing the same way, for the right reasons? More often than not, bigger organisations struggle here, they’re fragmented and it’s much harder to get clarity. Smaller organisations are more easily re-grouped, missions defined. Is this one reason why we often see large organisations losing out to small up-starts?
Ground or terrain: This is where the contest for such a position takes place and new grounds open up everyday, where your strengths beat that of the competition to serve your market. The ground (market) provides the prize you seek to win. It defines the game and the unique rules. Experts talk about disruptive innovation to create and open up new ground to compete on. Is this on your agenda?
Command or leadership: It’s all about you (and your management team) and the unique quality of character and leadership that are brought to your situation. It inevitably involves brand clarity from a marketing stand-point, particularly in brand ethics and brand values. Leadership is also the space where decision-making takes place, and where there’s creativity and personality.
Methods or management: This describes the tools, tactics, skills and techniques that are to be deployed, mastered and managed. Things that need to be done with other people in order you can win. Strategy is itself a system to understand, comprising of tools, techniques and tactics.
With a clear strategic position comes the ability and requirement to focus! Now you can now see the wood for the trees and you’re not trying to do everything.
With this in mind, one of the fundamental rules of Sun Tzu’s thinking on strategy is that you cannot create opportunities. Once understood, this realisation helps us stop trying to do what is impossible. You see that your opportunities can only be created by the competitive environment itself, and by learning to see them you also see that those opportunities are all around and constantly changing. We hear the “gap in the market” exclamation a lot, right? Doesn’t mean it’s relevant though.
Whilst having better information than others is always beneficial, better information is rarely required to make better decisions than the competition. All we need is better knowledge of what the key information is, tools to access it and a clearer focus on using it in relation to our goals, more than other people have.
Advancement - Listen – Aim – Move – Claim. Opportunities develop from the first two and progress through the last two. Listening identifies and Aiming prioritises these opportunities, identifying the smallest, easiest, and least costly moves that take you where you want to go. The Art of War is about the smaller unstoppable steps, these then compounding in larger leaps over time. Moving teaches you how to respond appropriately to the situations as they are. Claiming identifies the potential, control and the methods for making the best of a new position.
Speed matters - Making quick decisions is critical because fast, short moves are always more powerful than long, large moves. This is a big deal for Sun Tzu. Smaller, faster groups also make more progress than larger, slower groups. You create strategic leverage by putting a small amount of the right resources in the right position at the right time. Windows of opportunity often open for just a moment, you must see and react to them instantly.
Monitoring the environment - Situational strategy is about building the shape of a situation and the environment. As characteristics become clearer, you know the responses necessary. Without that awareness, you cannot see the plot much less know how to respond to it. In marketing this might be monitoring data from multiple sources, combining that with social listening and being plugged in to industry knowledge – all this enabling you to know that the terrain is changing or that a competitor has intentions that impact you.
Avoid competition where possible - An important aspect of situation response is the ability to avoid conflict. Since conflict is costly, you need to see the mistakes that lead up to conflict and avoid them. You develop the insight, looking for ways to make victory pay. Your success is much more certain when conflict is avoided. If you set up situations so that the elements are all in your favor, you discourage people from attacking you and make it much more likely that they will join you.
Success over the long-term doesn’t come from making perfect decisions about opportunities, but simply improving your decision-making.Sun Tzu’s rules for decision making with limited information
By way of more background, I was also intrigued by the logic in taking the right decision. Given that we know information is relatively limited, you’d think it would be more of a problem. I know most marketers feel that way, but not for Sun Tzu, this is just the natural chaotic environment. For him, control is simply calm moments, in what is an otherwise stormy and chaotic existence. Interesting stuff that feels relevant I’d say. Here’s what Tzu recommends that we ask ourselves:
Is a decision needed? If we have nothing much to gain or nothing much to lose, we should avoid acting on information at all no matter how interesting it is. Action is always costly and just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Does this decision really need to be made now?
Manage the cost risk in a decision. The value of a decision is only half the equation, does it have a cost if wrong? We make wrong decisions all the time because we don’t have perfect information about the future and those outcomes are invaluable learning tools. Is any decision based on this information safe for the business if the information is wrong?
Ignore information that doesn’t relate to the decision. Information not related to the 5 key elements (above) can be very interesting and quickly distracting – that doesn’t make it relevant. Trend information can be the worst for the this in marketing (“compared to this time last year…”). When information arises ask if this information were different, would it change my decision?
Weigh up the relative importance of information. In competition, everything is a comparison, this is core to Tzun’s teaching. All the remaining information affects our decision, but not all of it is equal in its impact. Which information is most influencing my decision?
Test information quality against our own knowledge. We are often interrupted and influenced by the worst and most inconsistent information simply because it seems to demand attention. This happens to a frightening extent today, check out all the info-graphics 🙂 So, Given all we know about the situation we’re in and its history, is this information likely to be true?
Inconsistent information is most likely wrong. Information can be wrong because somebody somewhere has an agenda, or maybe there’s technical or human error, poor team communication, misinterpreting of external events, or maybe things have changed since the information was originally gathered. How can this information be quickly verified?
Balance the cost of collecting more information against the value of quick action. Action might be the quickest and least costly way to get better information. Due to something then happening, a decision and then action is the only way to get more information. If reliable, relevant information can be gathered more quickly and easily without action then we should gather it, but decisions can always be avoided by using the excuse that more information must be gathered. Sounds familiar!? So is action the fastest and least expensive way to find out more?
Acting to learn more is usually best. Situations keep changing, and faster than ever. We can never gather enough information to always make the best decision because so much of what we need to know is unknowable. If action is the best decision, it is best to act now before the situation changes and we need to start again. Doh! So when thinking why wait? it should never be for more information!
We hope that our brief flirt with Sun Tzu’s strategic teaching has been useful? We’d love to know if it helped and entertained or hear how you applied Sun Tzu.
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