Dave Majumdar Security, Asia Part of the reason: to take on America, if needed. China is radically restructuring its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by cutting the number of Corps level commands by a quarter. The move—which seems to primarily impact the PLA’s ground forces—is designed to transform the Chinese military into a much more agile force that can cope with the demands of modern warfare. However, the cuts are in part to deal with corruption within the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party and the PLA. “The axing of the 16th and 47th army groups is a decision made by Xi to further clean up all the pernicious influence left by Guo and Xu, paving the way for Xi to assign his men amid the ongoing leadership reshuffle ahead of the party’s congress in autumn,” a source told the South China Morning Post, also known as SCMP. According to the newspaper, as many as 200,000 troops would be impacted, however some of those soldiers might be shifted over to the PLA’s Rocket Force, Navy or the Air Force. Some soldiers, however, might also be converted into Marines or Airborne troops. “The units affected in the cutbacks include the 20th and 27th army corps in the Central Theatre Command, the 14th Army Corps in the Southern Command, the 16th Army Corps in the north and the 47th in the west,” writes SCMP’s Minnie Chan. Overall, as part of a series of reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes to reduce the PLA’s personnel strength by some 300,000 troops—mostly from non-combat specialties. However, according to the SCMP, Xi’s reforms have run into stiff resistance in Beijing. PLA veterans are particularly concerned about unpaid pensions and have been actively demonstrating against the government. “Recent massive demonstrations and protests staged by veterans in Beijing over unpaid pensions and other benefit demands have put the central leadership under great pressure,” a source told the newspaper. “Security for this year’s two annual sessions [of the legislature in Beijing] was so tight because the authorities were scared that some rabid veterans might infiltrate the conference hall to do something like demonstrate, as many of them are well trained.” Read full article
Douglas Macgregor Security, Middle East More money without new leadership won’t fix the Army. When U.S. forces begin the destruction of the Islamic State, it will defend its territory—its so-called caliphate—and “hold ground.” Without air and missile defenses, or rocket artillery and mobile armored forces with accurate, devastating firepower, “holding ground” is the only option. U.S. air and ground forces with token “allied and partner” participation will methodically grind Islamic State fighters out of existence. “Holding ground” will be a death sentence for ISIS. However, the destruction of ISIS belongs to the past; battles between the U.S. armed forces and insurgent enemies without armies, air forces or air defenses. Future battle will be different. Recent events in eastern Ukraine, Mesopotamia and the western Pacific suggest the potential for conflicts in regions where major wars incubated in the past. When and how these wars will break out is difficult to predict, but the trend lines suggesting how they will be fought are visible now. In a future conflict with nation-state opponents, U.S. command, control and communications, particularly space-based capabilities, will be disrupted. Theater ballistic missiles and self-navigating long-range cruise missiles will strike ports, airfields, refineries, desalination plants and food-storage facilities vital to U.S. forces. The skies over the battlefield will be crowded with loitering munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles. These agile cruise missiles are designed to engage beyond line-of-sight ground targets. With proximity-fused, high-explosive warheads, these systems will remain airborne for hours, whether day or night. Equipped with high-resolution electro-optical and infrared cameras, enemy operators will locate, surveil and guide the drones to targets on the ground—U.S. ground forces. Read full article
James Davenport, Matt Hipple Security, The Navy needs the LCS to accept the mantle of the destroyer’s legacy. The destroyer was borne out of a singular need: counter the asymmetrical threat posed to the ships of the line by the motor torpedo and the agile boats craft that launched them. The utility of the destroyer was quickly recognized. Once in service, commanders began retrofitting these fast, lightly armored ships to address emergent missions. This legacy of flexibility, focus, and countering the asymmetrical threat are the legacy of destroyers. This is the legacy inherited by the crews of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), and a legacy, despite challenges, the U.S. Navy must secure for its strategic well-being. The invention of the motor torpedo challenged the naval order. Prior to the advent of the motor torpedo, ships of the line reigned supreme with hull-cracking firepower. The motor torpedo upset that naval order, at least when the battleships had to operate close to the shore. The motor torpedo offered small, agile craft the ability to sink battleships, a capability totally disproportionate to their displacement. The response to this asymmetrical threat was the development of the Torpedo Boat Destroyer, later shortened to “destroyer.” A bantamweight ship, the destroyer was lightly armed and armored when compared to ships of the line to achieve higher speeds. Destroyers were optimized to screen the battleships from torpedo boats. It didn’t take long to realize destroyers, with their speed and agility could also launch motor torpedoes, making the destroyer lethal against all types of surface ships. Read full article
Last time we checked the crossover grudge match had turned into an all-out brawl. Here are a few reasons why the Nissan Rogue wants to kick everyone's ass.
What makes marketing creative? Is it more imagination or innovation? Is a creative marketer more artist or entrepreneur? Historically, the term “marketing creative” has been associated with the words and pictures that go into ad campaigns. But marketing, like other corporate functions, has become more complex and rigorous. Marketers need to master data analytics, customer experience, and product design. Do these changing roles require a new way of thinking about creativity in marketing? To explore this question, we interviewed senior marketing executives across dozens of top brands. We asked them for examples of creativity in marketing that go beyond ad campaigns and deliver tangible value to the business. Their stories — and the five wider trends they reflect — help illustrate what it means to be a creative marketer today. 1. Create with the customer, not just for the customer Everyone likes to talk about being “customer-centric.” But too often this means taking better aim with targeted campaigns. Customers today are not just consumers; they are also creators, developing content and ideas — and encountering challenges — right along with you. Creativity in marketing requires working with customers right from the start to weave their experiences with your efforts to expand your company’s reach. For example, Intuit’s marketing team spends time with self-employed people in their homes and offices to immerse themselves in the customer’s world. Through this research, they identified a pain point of tracking vehicle gas mileage. Based on these marketing insights, Intuit created a new feature within its app that combines location data, Google maps, and the user’s calendar to automatically track mileage and simplify year-end tax planning. Brocade, a data and network solutions provider, created a “customer first” program by identifying their top 200 customers, who account for 80% of their sales. They worked with these customers to understand their sources of satisfaction and identify areas of strengths and weakness. Brocade then worked with sales teams to create and deliver customized packages outlining what Brocade heard is working or not working, and what they would do about those findings. Later, Brocade followed up with these customers to report on progress against these objectives. The results? Brocade’s Net Promoter Score went from 50 (already a best in class score) to 62 (one of the highest B2B scores on record) within 18 months. 2. Invest in the end-to-end experience Every marketer believes the customer experience is important. But most marketers only focus on the parts of that experience under their direct control. Creative marketers take a broader view and pay attention to the entire customer experience from end to end. This includes the product, the buying process, the ability to provide support, and customer relationships over time. That takes time and resources – and it also requires bringing creative thinking to unfamiliar problems. Kaiser Permanente believes that as health care becomes more consumer-oriented, the digital experience becomes a key differentiator. The marketing team instituted a welcome program to help improve the experience for new plan members. Members are guided on how to register for an online member portal, which provides access to email your doctor, refill prescriptions, make appointments, and more. The welcome program required coordination with many areas of the business. As a result of this program, about 60% of new members register within the first six months. These members are 2.6 times more likely to stay with Kaiser Permanente two years later. Like many retailers, Macy’s has traditionally spent 85% of its marketing budget on driving sales. Each outbound communication is measured individually for immediate ROI. However, recently they began to take a more holistic approach, focusing on lifetime value and their most profitable segment, the “fashionable spender.” This group looks across the business to gather behind-the-scenes information on the runway, newest clothing lines, and aspirational fashion content. The metrics also changed. Macy’s started evaluating engagement per customer across time and platform instead of per marketing message per day. The results? In the last year, customers in the top decile segment increased digital engagement by 15%, cross shopping by 11% and sales by 8%. 3. Turn everyone into an advocate In a fragmented media and social landscape, marketers can no longer reach their goals for awareness and reputation just through paid media and PR. People are the new channel. The way to amplify impact is by inspiring creativity in others. Treat everyone as an extension of your marketing team: employees, partners, and even customers. Plum Organics gives each employee business cards with coupons attached. While shopping, all employees are encouraged to observe consumers shopping the baby category. When appropriate, they ask a few questions about shoppers’ baby food preferences and share business cards with coupons for free products as a gesture of appreciation. For Equinix, surveys revealed that a third of employees were not confident explaining its company story. The company introduced an internal ambassador program for its more than 6,000 employees. This program gives employees across all disciplines and levels tools to educate them on the company, its culture, products and services, and how they solve its customer’s needs. More than 20% of employees took the training online or in workshops in the first few months of the program, and employee submissions to its sales lead and job candidate referral programs were up 43% and 19% respectively. Old Navy has traditionally dedicated their media budget to TV, particularly around back to school. However, over the past few years, they’ve focused on digital content to engage kids around positive life experiences and giving back. Through this approach, the 2016 #MySquadContest led to 32,000 kids sharing their “squads” of friends for a chance to win an epic day with their favorite influencer, creating 3 million video views, a 60% increase in social conversation about @OldNavy, and a 600% increased likelihood of recommending Old Navy to a friend (versus those that viewed TV ads only). In addition, the program led to record breaking donations for their partner, The Boys & Girls Club. 4. Bring creativity to measurement The measurability of digital engagement means we can now know exactly what’s working and not working. This gives marketing an opportunity to measure and manage itself in new ways. In the past, marketing measured success by sticking to budgets and winning creative awards. Today, the ability to measure data and adjust strategies in real-time enables marketing to prove its value to the business in entirely new ways. Cisco has created a real-time, online dashboard where the entire marketing organization can look at performance. The leadership team conducts a weekly evaluation to assess, “Is what we’re doing working?” This analysis can be done across different digital initiatives, geographies, channels, or even individual pieces of content. The result is an ability to quickly adjust and re-allocate resources. Zscaler, a cloud-based security platform for businesses, created a Value Management Office. The Office helps each client define, quantify, and track their unique business goals associated with Zscaler implementation. Zscaler and their clients hold each other accountable to specific, measurable, time-based results. OpenTable recently launched a companion app just for restaurants to make better use of the data they’ve been collecting through their reservation system. Restauranteurs can now get a handle on their business right from their smartphone, allowing them to easily answer questions like “How did your last shift perform?” The app can tell them if they are running light on bookings, and soon they’ll be able to activate marketing campaigns to increase same day reservations. More than 50% of restaurant customers on OpenTable’s cloud-based service are already using the app, visiting an average of 9 times a day, 7 days a week. 5. Think like a startup In the past, marketers needed to be effective managers, setting goals well in advance and then working within budget to achieve those goals. Today, creative marketers need to operate more like entrepreneurs, continuously adjusting to sustain “product/market fit.” The start-up Checkr represents a trend we are seeing more of in the Bay Area in particular. Marketers are adopting the business practices of entrepreneurs such as lean startup and agile development. For its background check solution, Checkr wasn’t getting the results it wanted from traditional sales and marketing tactics as it expanded into new market segments. They realized they had to think beyond marketing as promoting an existing product. Adopting an agile method of customer testing and rapid iteration, they worked with engineering to rethink the product and bring a “minimum viable product” to market for these new buyers. As a result of this integrated, agile approach, the company easily hit some early 2017 revenue targets with conversion rates that are four times what is traditionally seen in the industry. The changes happening in consumer behavior, technology, and media are redefining the nature of creativity in marketing. The measure of marketing success isn’t the input, whether that’s the quality of a piece of content or a campaign, but rather the value of the output, whether that’s revenue, loyalty, or advocacy. Marketers of the past thought like artists, managers, and promoters. Today’s marketers need to push themselves to think more like innovators and entrepreneurs — creating enterprise value by engaging the whole organization, looking out for the entire customer experience, using data to make decisions, and measuring effectiveness based on business results.
Some internal audits are becoming Agile
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Adhere to the agile manifesto to improve efficiency in your organization.
Film tells how Bert Trautmann, who played in Cup final with broken neck, overcame Nazi pastAs a piece of fiction, a film about a former Nazi paratrooper who becomes a hero of English football might struggle to convince audiences. But the true story of Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann has inspired a major movie that begins shooting this summer.One of the finest goalkeepers ever, admired for his acrobatic athleticism and agility, Trautmann helped to take his team to victory in the 1956 FA Cup final. He famously continued to play after he broke his neck in the last 17 minutes. Continue reading...
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The new agile workforce is a good thing for women. Discover why you can't afford to miss out.