A Framework for “Best Practice”

NOT LONG AGO I WAS ASKED to prepare a “Best Practices” document for a retail solutions company. The task stimulated a round of research, investigation and deep thinking.

Best Practice is a term we invoke fairly often in the retail consumer products industry. Industry associations devote considerable resources to identifying them. Consulting firms convene their best subject matter experts to define and explain them. (Sometimes they invent them outright.) Sales organizations, especially, like to invoke them as evidence of the superiority of their solutions.

But is there consensus on the real meaning of best practice? Well I read up on what some of the experts had to say and added some original thinking of my own. Here’s what I came up with:

Best Practices are the reusable practices of the organization that have been shown to be successful in their respective functions. To make them repeatable and consistent, they are defined by the organization and institutionalized in various ways, often enabled by technology systems. Best Practices may deliver great value in driving customer experience, workflow efficiencies, speed, accuracy, reduced re-work, cost control, operational insights, business improvement and other benefits.

While specific Best Practices may vary across different organizations and industries, some tend to rise consistently to the top. Those worthy of the adjective “best” tend to reflect five key traits: They are Designed, Conscious, Measurable, Realistic, and Customer-Focused.

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NGA Dispatch: Cyber Security Imposes Vexing Challenges

Leon Panetta at NGA“THERE IS PROBABLY NO ISSUE more important today than cyber security,” said Peter Larkin, President and CEO of the National Grocers Association, in his remarks at the opening session of the annual NGA Show in Las Vegas, this week.

True to his word, the event’s educational program included three breakout sessions and one general session devoted to various facets of cyber security – from safeguarding POS and mobile payments; to protecting proprietary customer data; to defending the enterprise against malicious attacks; to whether insurance can offer useful protection.

Keynote speaker Leon Panetta, the former Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA, said in response to an audience question that he could foresee the possibility of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” assault on American institutions and infrastructure. The siege is already well under way: The CIA was turning back some 100,000 cyber-attacks per day during his tenure from 2009-2011, he said. The pace has certainly accelerated since that time.

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Eye-Opening Short Film on Food Security

THOSE OF US who live close to the Nogales port of entry (about 90 miles south of Tucson) are at least dimly aware of the colossal flow of fresh produce that crosses the border from Mexico every day. The food helps sustain us, but there is also an appalling amount wasted that could improve the lives of people in need.

Today I became aware of a short documentary film that explores several facets of this reality. The film-makers did such a fine job that they were honored with a Short Film Challenge award from the Sundance Institute.

Watch 'Man in the Maze' on Vimeo
I learned about this remarkable piece of story-telling from a great article on Tucson.com by Kathleen Allen. She did solid job of collecting relevant links and comments about the film.

Although not addressed directly in the film or article, I think part of the challenge may relate to long and costly delays at the border crossing. I wrote about this issue here in a 2009 Tirade, “Watching the Wheels.”

© Copyright 2015 James Tenser

Contactless Payments — What’s Taking So Long?

Mywallet in PolandIT’S BEEN A HALF-DECADE since I first got religion about the potential for “contactless payments” using NFC-enabled wallets in mobile phones. A very bright entrepreneur brought the concept to my attention and asked me to help advise his new firm. I agreed and got myself launched up the learning curve.

Most readers probably know that NFC (near-field communications) is a form of wireless radio that works only across a few centimeters. It’s perfect for enabling a mobile phone to communicate securely with a point of sale terminal. If the phone has an NFC chip and wallet app installed, a tap can function as a substitute for a card-swipe to enable payments and even frequent-shopper redemptions in a few milliseconds.

Mobile wallets are gaining traction throughout the developed world. The image reproduced here documents Eurobank’s version in Poland. Here in the U.S. we observe a slower pace of development, although the recent launch of Apple Pay seems to have kicked up the interest. Then again, yesterday’s disclosure of a data breech affecting the competing CurrentC service from Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) has a lot of heads shaking.

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