The Lead: Hootsuite Raised $50m, Crypotcurrencies Take a Hit, Automating Recruitment

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

Hootsuite Raised $50 Million in Growth Capital

Since social networking services like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter present more straightforward opportunities to track and quantify viewers (over channels like print and outdoor ads), social media has quickly become the fastest-growing type of marketing spend. The social media management company Hootsuite has about 16 million businesses as customers and just raised $50 million in growth capital from CIBC Innovation Banking. Hootsuite says that some of its new funding will be used to increase its partnerships and integrations as it competes with other social media management companies like Sprinklr and Falcon.io.

Our View: As complexity and volatility seep through every part of today’s business environment, companies must leverage their employees now more than ever to remain competitive. A focus on a growth culture versus a performance-obsessed one helps employees reach, maintain, and even expand their performance capacity. It may seem like a subtle shift, but focusing on growth versus performance permits a culture where failing fast is encouraged. Employees will be less overwhelmed and fearful, and they will achieve better results. Further Reading

Cryptocurrencies Take a Big Hit

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that aren’t typically backed by an official banking system, and last week they took a bit hit and lost tens of billions of dollars. Since cryptocurrencies are sold on unregulated markets, fraud and money laundering are big concerns with them, and Google has said it’s going to stop posting cryptocurrency ads later this year.

Our View: Business leaders can learn a lot from the cryptocurrencies craze. Like other bubbles before it, getting swept up in the hype without sufficient rigor isn’t likely to end well. While it is important to always be learning and adapting to technological and market changes, it’s also crucial to focus on your strengths, your business, and your industry. Further Reading

Automation in the Recruitment Industry

According to Bullhorn’s 2018 UK recruitment Trends report, 29% of firms rank automating and accelerating recruitment and placement processes as a top three challenge for 2018. Automation in the recruitment industry has not yet reached its full potential, and there are many untapped opportunities to automate basic administrative activities like prospecting and sourcing candidates, replying to applicants, and data entry to CRM systems. Automating these tasks can free up time for recruiters to focus on more strategic and profit-oriented work.

Our View: Staying abreast of and clearly communicating the opportunities and threats that automation presents to your employees will help them embrace change and help ensure they are well equipped to adapt to it. The chess grandmaster and former world champion who lost a chess match to Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer, Garry Kasparov says “machines that replace physical labor have allowed us to focus more on what makes us human: our minds. Intelligent machines will continue that process, taking over the more menial aspects of cognition and elevating our mental lives toward creativity, curiosity, beauty and joy. These are what truly make us human, not any particular activity or skill like swinging a hammer—or even playing chess.” Further Reading

Thinking (Versus Typing) Commands to Your Computer

A New York City-based startup CTRL-Labs is working on physical sensors that can decode a human brain’s commands and send them to a computer. The concept of a brain-machine interface involves decoding messages from motor neurons, directly decoding the nerve to break through to a new kind of interaction between humans and machines. The details of this technology are unclear as CTRL-Labs is working to seek intellectual property protection before disclosing everything.

Our View: Collaborations are successful when the end product is greater than the sum of its parts. To stay competitive in today’s business environment, people must collaborate cross-functionally, across organizations, platforms, and industries, and increasingly, people must collaborate with machines. The strategy report Reworking the Revolution: Are you ready to compete as intelligent technology meets human ingenuity to create the future workforce? estimates that if businesses invest in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top performing companies, they could boost revenues by 38% by 2022 and raise employment levels by 10%. Further Reading

Amazon Might Provide a Pickup Service for Whole Foods and Other Stores

In a job posting (that was later deleted) in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Amazon requested a finance manager who would be tasked with building up a business from scratch. The description also said that job would require the employee to lead “the Whole Foods delivery and pick-up service on the ultra-fast Prime Now app and enable our Prime customers to shop from a set of marquee third-party retailers.” If Amazon does develop a pickup service that uses Whole Foods as a pickup spot for a wide variety of things from third-party retailers, it would continue to make Whole Foods more accessible to people who might otherwise shop at less expensive and more convenient grocery stores.

Our View: Discovery-driven growth begins with a concrete and unambiguous growth strategy that senior leaders back. The next step is allocating resources and focusing attention on the opportunities that are worth pursing (and also understanding and clearly specifying those that are not worth going after.) Each project assumption must be tested against a series of checkpoints. Finally, discovery-driven plans create a culture that acts on evidence and learning, and these types of plans work best for growth initiatives that involve more than a “medium” level of uncertainty. Further Reading

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