Here are some extracts from my recent work for two organisations (other clients prefer authorship to remain anonymous):
The most successful businesses are those that can lay their hands on accurate, insightful and relevant information quickly. This requires the support of information technology. Working together, humans and computers can substantially increase the availability of usable and actionable intelligence to their organisations. Not just within the credit management department, but to the company as a whole - the marketing and sales functions in particular.
The information silos of the past were inevitable, given the limited power of computers, networks and databases at the time. This resulted in information that was inconsistent between departments. While this was an acknowledged issue, the cost of maintaining internal accuracy was considered too high. Today's technology gives us the ability to maximise the value and accuracy of our working information, improving the efficiency of the company as a whole.
The credit management world is at a crossroads. Quite apart from legal and operational changes in the lending and borrowing activity among its customers, it faces multiple blizzards of data coming from internal and external sources. The smart credit manager needs to be able to discriminate what's important for the department's successful operation and to focus on the elements that maximise the short- and long-term value to the organisation.
The need for speed
It is no longer appropriate to rely on customer loyalty. With banks making borrowing more difficult and independent sources of finance being more costly, companies are keen to optimise their trading terms with their suppliers. Given the right terms and equivalent product quality, they will often switch to the first supplier to come in with a good deal. And these will be the suppliers whose credit departments are on the ball and responsive.
Ghosted blog post
For almost ten years, banks in particular have been reluctant to give business loans to SMEs, even those with great ideas, solid management and good prospects. And even if they do show interest, they present time-consuming and costly hurdles which work against the companies' natural tendency to move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities. The banks' aversion to risk is an interesting contrast to the small entrepreneurs' appetite for it.
Here's an example: Tangle Teezer, the designer and distributor of detangling hair brushes and associated products, turned over more than £28 million in the year to March 2016 - a somewhat different story to when its founder, Shaun Pulfrey, was rejected by the Dragons' Den business wizards in 2007. Their comments, such as "hair-brained" and "a horse brush" must ring rather hollow today.
He raised initial finance from remortgaging his home and, the ...
Many zombie companies - those that can only afford to pay the interest on their debt - would be the first to go to the wall in the event of a bank interest rate rise. And this, if you're not ready for it, will affect your own business. You'll not only find existing clients and suppliers going under, you'll also find others being caught in the zombie net.
As recently as February 4th, Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, stated his belief that, "the next move in rates is up." The main question is "when?" and he's not keen to answer that one, especially given the turmoil generated by things like the upcoming referendum and the plunging oil prices. But it will happen, sooner or later.
Low interest rates have enabled technically insolvent companies to continue trading while still meeting their obligations to banks, suppliers and customers, but most of them are essentially stagnating.
While the number of zombie...
...Many companies try, and fail, to secure public sector business simply because they don't understand what's expected of them. Similarly, public sector buyers often need help in finding and sourcing technology goods and services. In short, Advice Cloud helps all participants in procurement processes to work smarter. Unaided, about 50 percent
...Atos has ready access to many smaller specialist suppliers through its SME Harbour programme, which provides a simple, safe and transparent way for them to participate in serving Atos clients. A key focus is helping them to become suppliers to the public sector through the Government's G-Cloud procurement framework
...it decided to become a not-for-profit charity. Its customers operate in the public and third sectors, such as local government, education, health, central government and charities. Eduserv sees its role in helping these organisations make the best use of technology in order to serve their customers better and cost-effectively
...Yoti believes that techUK is going from strength to strength - it has programme managers that really know their turf, they have strong relationships with Government departments and they know how each sector ticks and the politics behind it. This kind of thing is beyond the reach of most SMEs.
Here are some mini-books that I wrote or co-authored:
THINGUIDE Cyber Security for Business
I teamed up with Neville Sankey and David Topping to produce pocket-sized plain English guides to technical topics for busy business professionals. CGI was our first client.
Cost Savings Through Resource Efficiency
I wrote this practical guide to green IT for The Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW) while a freelance programme manager at analyst firm Freeform Dynamics.
Green IT for Dummies
Sponsored by HP
My background in IT and environmental writing made me a natural choice to edit and co-author this guide for senior business people. As with the ICAEW mini-book, I produced it while consulting with Freeform Dynamics. This was in 2009, which probably explains why there are no links to it now.
The Science Museum Group (then called NMSI) asked me to prepare a briefing paper on a major sustainable development demonstration project called Creative Planet. I brought the planned project to life through an imaginary tour of the living quarters, workshops, farm, gardens, technology demonstrators, training rooms and educational facilities.
I was editor of these magazines (and consulting editor to several more):
When the editor of Lawtech magazine died unexpectedly, the publisher asked me to step in for a while. The magazine carried copy commissioned from industry experts who shared their valuable insights with legal professionals, rather than using it as an excuse to promote their own companies. I delivered three issues.
Blue and Green Tomorrow
Publisher Simon Leadbetter invited me to help create and launch Blue & Green Tomorrow, a paper which focused on ethical investments and sustainable living. As launch editor, I produced the first five printed issues, then the project moved online. You can find it at blueandgreentomorrow.com
After 14 years in IT, I grabbed the opportunity Felix Dennis offered me to relaunch the struggling Personal Computer World. I started as technical editor but quickly became editor. Our talented team created one of the strongest computing magazine brands in the UK. It ran for 29 years. I was closely involved for eleven of them.