Jun 092024

AI, in general, is a hot topic everywhere. This site has discussed the nature of AI before and posted about the hype versus reality of it. Every passing day has made the promise and reality of AI more real, more rewarding and more ominous. The aforementioned AI article listed several vendors who had begun working on inserting artificial intelligence and its brain, machine learning, into sales and its various departments.

A recent quotation by Eric Yuan, chief executive of Zoom, the video conferencing company, was worth attention. He is suggesting that an AI version of us can attend meetings for us in five or six years. The implication is that a digital version of us could act for us and, moreover, would be as diligent, acceptable and effective as the person it represents. Yuan was careful to couch this as an augmentation technology as opposed to a replacement one. The scenario again was the utopian dream of having much more leisure and downtime. Yet, his thoughts, if taken to their logical conclusion, could make a reader imagine being replaced by the said system gradually. Moreover, what is stopping AI from creating multiple copies of us? AI could create dozens of me if it can duplicate me once.


Artisan, a company which bills itself as “Creating Highly Advanced Digital Workers … Using Cutting-Edge AI Technology,” is marketing itself as offering functional AI avatars replacement of salespeople, customer success, BDRs, recruiters, financiers, etc. with names like Ava, Liam, Noah, Olivia and others. Thought prospects are being bombarded by business development and sales now? Wait until a million Avas start getting in touch. In fact, among the features Artisan advertises per its artificial human replacements is “Sends 1000s of emails per month.” Buyers, decision-makers, V and C-levels take cover. Incoming! Pricing? From less than $1,000 (US) down to almost $100 per month. Do I get to talk to AI if I contact their sales department though?

Similarly, there is GoCust, which advertises itself as “Sales Teams Now Have Online Assistants.” It touts itself as a SFA, assistant, mapping and route optimizier, that gains cost and time advantages in order “to minimize the need for sales teams to constantly struggle with messaging, phone and email traffic…  develop solutions to increase the rate at which customer conversations are recorded as data… to offer sales managers the opportunity to proactively manage their teams.” And these companies are not alone.

All of this has become possible, in the meantime, because storage and computation costs have fallen drastically and are basically cheap.

In the meantime, according to a study by Zendesk, which itself has jumped wholeheartedly into the AI space ($50/user/month), management believes AI is beneficial and helpful. “Four in five (81%) employee experience leaders now see AI as essential in boosting workers’ ability to tackle complex tasks,” reports Zendesk.


At this point, a forecast of five or six years for these technologies to be operationalized and become part of the mainstream seems frankly… conservative.


Things that need to go away: Efficiency, effectiveness and productivity AI technology that never mentions the potential for creating layoffs and attrition. The discussion around these technologies needs to be brave and candid.

Jun 022024

Amazon, and its partner, Adastra offered a one day AI overview in Toronto recently. It was a hot topic that the presenters encapsulated well. Of course, they had an AWS bias and promoted Amazon’s services, but the context and implications were presented succinctly and clearly.

Below is a synopsis of the day’s presentations on Amazon’s Generative AI (Artificial Intelligence).

AWS (Amazon Web Services – the Cloud division of Amazon) Options:

1- Powered by Amazon’s Bedrock model

These are sitting on a host of services like Amazon Titan, Cohere, Meta’s Llama 3 and many more

AAS (as a service)/managed service and no overhead

2- Amazon SageMaker

Which is a ‘build your own’ platform


Amazon emphasises, however, that not one LLM fits all. It is important to assess your needs.

New Announcement: Amazon Q (an AI powered assistant)

Designed for business use cases | you can ask questions from it now

Use Cases: 

  • CX/EX: onboarding, KYC, Routing, etc.
  • Personalization: Forecast/advisory, recommend
  • Text Analytics: Extract information from internal and external sources e.g. in the old days we had OCR with rules on top
  • Predictive Analytics: Extract data
  • Fraud Detection: identity fraud, anomalies

These were expensive to build and expensive to maintain and therefore fickle until now.

With AI all of the features are baked into the model and therefore a lot less development is required

Additional New Use Cases in Amazon Q:

  • Improve CX and EX
  • Increase knowledge of workers – think how important this is. We are all in exactly this business whether Marketing, Sales, Compliance or Analysis, etc.
  • Product Innovation and Process Automation including
    • Data Extraction 
    • Natural Language Interfaces to Analytics
    • Personalized Content Generation

Amazon Q (Suite of Gen AI Services) Portfolio – “AI Powered Assistant” General Availability: 30.04.2024 (new!) of 3 flavours:

  1. Amazon Q in QuickSight (powered by Bedrock) can be considered a BI Service with AI Capabilities – structured data
  2. Amazon For Business – also unstructured data
  3. Amazon Q Developer – Assistance in writing code

Gen AI assistant for Accelerating software development and leveraging company data

These are being embedded in Amazon Services

Traditionally LLMs have been best for:

  • Broad World Information
  • Assisting Human Work (summarizing, teaching and Generalizing) as well as Offering knowledge, autonomous tasks and calculations

But Newly: Amazon Q in QuickSight: 

  • Ask questions in natural languages and ML models interpret user’s questions and generate images and reports. 
  • AI powered dashboard. 
  • On-demand answers. 
  • Can be extended to other Apps. 
  • AI assisted Story telling (tells you what is going on and provides documents and slides to present the data)

These are available in different apps including your custom apps – Pricing (in USD):

  • Amazon Q Business Lite $3/user/month
  • Amazon Q Business Pro $20/user/month
  • Developer Free Tier
  • Developer Pro Tier: $19/user/month
  • etc.

Benefit: Ask yourself what is the productivity gain? We can see up to 75% productivity gain.


The AWS approach to Generative AI: 

  • Enterprise Focus
  • Open Approach with both Proprietary and Open Source code
  • Cost And Power Optimized
  • Data Privacy and Security: Own Your Data/Access Control included/Permissions + Connectors to everything including Exchange/SFDC/Confluence/JIRA etc.
  • Based on the RAG Architecture

Generative AI and ML Considerations For Financial Services (because the day had a Financial Services bent nominally)       

  • Approach? Is a human in the loop and is it possible given the amount of data? Is the input and output from structured or unstructured data?
  • Governance And Compliance?
  • Legal & Privacy: Think output validation and Reporting especially when using 3rd Party models 
  • Monitor legal and regulatory scope consistently as the scene changes and proposals like SEC’s or European regulation become updated.


Things That Need To Go Away: The Only Name Tag For An Event To Be Missing Being Mine


Mar 272024
telling a success story

photograph Credit: Anna Shvets

When reading a book called 7L: The Seven Levels Of Communication by Rick Masters a series of seven steps to tell a “successful success story” caught my attention. A review of the book as a whole is here, but taking a specific excerpt from the book here is how the book suggests someone should tell a success story.


It is useful for anyone interested in interpersonal relationships, business in general or sales.

  1. What was the client’s name and specific situation?
  2. What would have happened if you were not involved? Consider the worst case scenario without you.
  3. How did you help solve the problem?
  4. Specifically, what was the result or outcome?
  5. What did the client say or do to let you know you did well for them? Was there a referral or a testimonial?
  6. Based on the above, it is time to ask for a specific and relevant referral. For example, a realtor can ask for the name of someone who may need his or her services.
  7. CTA: Ask the person(s) to take a specific action to make number 6 happen.


Things That Need To Go Away: Not Leveraging The Network And Contacts

Dec 052023

Photograph Credit: Markus Spiske

Did you know that email existed in the 1970s? I consider myself fairly tech-savvy and this was news to me. This post is not about email’s incept date however. It is about spam email. Like many nowadays, my primary email address is a Gmail one. Looking at my Inbox, my Gmail address has been with me for almost twenty years. Google, which runs Gmail, purchased an anti-spam company years ago and has kept its users’ Inboxes largely free of junk email a.k.a. Spam. Not so, with Hotmail, which was purchased by Microsoft more than two decades ago. Hotmail, which has evolved into Live.com and Outlook.com, still has a spam problem. It famously had an open directory of addresses in the early days. My Hotmail account, which is largely ignored, predates my Gmail account by a couple of years. Logging into it this morning, what were the top emails in my Inbox? The most recent one’s subject line read, “The..Best..Gifts..on..Oprah’s…Favorite…Things..List” followed by “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Savings! Get 16×20 Canvas Prints for $14.99.” Mind you, these were emails that Hotmail had not caught as spam despite all these years of my clicking that most useless of buttons, namely ‘Report Junk’ in the menu. Nevermind that someone out there managed to equate purported savings for a trinket with life and liberty!


The preamble grew long in order to give context and paint a picture, but when confronted with the aforementioned spam emails and coming across an article about the very first spam message (and subsequently finding another and more detailed one here) it got me thinking.

Why can’t we stop spam? Who are the people who perpetuate this menace (surely someone must be buying those Oprah favourite things to keep spammers in business) and what could be done about this menace, which at best is a waste of time and at worst could lead to phishing, ransomware, malware? Many spammers use our Inboxes to steal banking information, identities or to take down organizations. To do so they may even take over servers not belonging to them.

Photograph Credit: Diego PH

Then it occurred to me. The reason why, according to one online source, “60 billion spam emails are forecasted to be sent daily from 2019-2023,” is that it is almost free to send. Indeed, someone is buying into the spam messages, but sending spam emails by the millions is easy and low cost. Governments do not follow up or enforce anti-spam laws and perpetrators have no shame or care, but most of all it is done because it can be done so cheaply. The answer therefore has to be that email should not be free. Sending an email has to be analogous to sending a snail mail letter and has to cost something. Think about it. Any amount associated with sending an email would work.

Photograph Credit: Philipp Katzenberger

Let’s say we assign a cost of one cent to an email. This would be payable to the ISP or hosting provider or even the company that controls the gateway. Let’s say that I send 10 emails a week to friends and family. It would cost me 10 cents. Even if I send 100 personal emails a week a one dollar bill – or equivalent value in your part of the world – would not break the bank. At work, if 100 employees send 200 emails a week or even 1,000 emails a month the cost incurred would be $10 (1,000 * 0.01)/month/person, which the company would shoulder or reimburse. Surely, most people think of this amount as reasonable – especially to slay the scourge that is unwanted email.


Let’s go back to the world of spammers now. Remember that 60 billion daily spam count? Well, it would cost spammers $600 million a day. They would be out of business. Many spammers send out millions of emails weekly or daily. Could that be the end of that? Searching the net to see if anyone else had come up with a similar notion the first two pages were full of advice on how to handle spam, ironically including this one from Microsoft, but not much detail or discussion on making email cost-based. The idea has been thought of before as evidenced by this page. Still, and apparently, not enough


Things That Need To Go Away: Anyone Who Buys Something From A Spam Email

Oct 062023


Corporate Visions is a provider of corporate sales training. My team members, and I, participated in a two-day CVI training session last month. It was applicable and systematic. With that said, here are a few instructions from the course:

  • Executives’ business is their business and not your products. Talk in terms they care about.
  • The seller will get delegated down to who he or she sounds like. Sellers need to speak to something the person cares about personally. If not, they would delegate you to someone whose job it is to do that specific thing.
  • Be specific to your customers. We can save you $ a year based on this/that calculation, which itself is based on research you have done on them. This shows your competency and your compelling proposal.
  • Do the math and show them the numbers that are specific to line items they care about as proof of what you have just told them or asked them. “I saw your presentation and specific to you we can deliver ROE of/a market share of x%…”
  • Ask yourself whether what you are saying is what your competitor is probably also saying.
  • A lack of budget does not mean a budget cannot be made available if the problem is worth it and seller can create a buying vision. Get executives involved early on.
  • You don’t need a complete answer. You need to create the custom answer alongside the customer.
  • You need to know more about their business than about your products (elsewhere and outside of the training the salesperson needs to know enough to generate credibility).


CVI has done executive research and advises that the framework for a conversation is DIQ. This stands for Data, Insight and Question.

  1. Share Data related to an external factor e.g. a relevant research stat
  2. Share Insight e.g. problem or opportunity or risk they may not be aware of and
  3. Ask a Question that may be hypothetical, comparative or prioritization type that provokes a conversation and leads to your solution without directly ringing up your solution because customers care about their business not what you are pitching. For example, “A customer on one channel may be the same customer on another channel. In fact, research from ABC shows that is the case 20% of the time. Yet, you think the earlier customer has left your site. Why would you limit yourself to not following customers through unique IDs even if they are guests? How are you preparing for monetization in an omni-channel world?”

Things That Need To Go Away: Being generic, not citing $ or % regarding the customer and not personalizing for your customer.




Oct 022023

My team and I attended sales training by Corporate Visions recently. The pitch was that the training is backed by science and delivered by former C or V-level (persons with titles like CEO, CFO or CMO or vice-presidents) instructors. The instructors who deliver the training have personal experience holding upper management roles and are the type of folks sellers like to reach.

It was instructive.

The outline for selling to the c-suite:

Highlight External Factors: Sharing problems that are out of their control and unconsidered frames the conversation and establishes your expertise. This may include global changes, regulatory affairs, technology advancements and more.

Examples: 44% of customers leave after just one bad experience (improve your CX), new Asian competitors like XYZ are entering the market (compete in the ‘green’ material market and blunt them by re-gearing and retraining your team) or the forecast now is that the economy will crawl to 0.5% meaning… (save money by improving margin by 2% since saving 833 hours on… is saving on the payroll line items). Executives react with initiatives in order to change.

Identify Business Initiatives: Relate these to the company’s or executives initiatives that you have dug up or that you are prescribing to them based on their competitors known action items if you cannot find theirs.

Introduce Unconsidered Needs: Telling them something they have not thought of is more valuable than sharing something they know. This will make you less of a commodity. Be sure you are specific to them. Do they have an opportunity or an exposure or a risk or problem they did not know they have or did not fully appreciate? Even if they do not find your assessment an epiphany they may be introduced to a risk in their execution. Risk is theirs and cannot be passed on.

Provide A Solution: Tell them a story of how you have removed the problem or addressed the issue elsewhere. How will the future look like with your help? Again, be specific about how you can help and impact their business. Your value track: Outcome (what) + Impact ($).

Give Them The Financial Impact: Even though they are not being personally measured by ROI they do need financial justification. Look up, or assume based on their role, how they are compensated and measured and make it specific to them. It is much better to speak to their line item as opposed to generalities like ‘revenue ‘ or ‘profits.’ The financial metrics are comprised of ‘why I care?’ (which is emotional) followed by ‘why it makes sense’ (the logical side).

Two related notes:

  • Sellers should not be afraid of walking into the conversation with a perspective
  • It is alright that not every answer is bolted down and things are locked down. Things do change and that is part of the calculation.

The CVI training was useful and the insights relevant.


Things That Need To Go Away: Training that is too general to be followed and training that is not followed up on and practiced by the trainees.

Sep 142023

And you have AI. My friend Bhuvan and I were chatting last night and the conversation drifted to the topic of AI (Artificial Intelligence). Owing to several movies in the last few years, OpenAI and its already mainstream ChatGPT, and the general proliferation of the concept and technology the acronym has become a buzzword. We were remarking on the tech and its usefulness versus hype when Bhuvan joked that taking the ‘l’ out of my name may be a neat idea.

In all seriousness, we have all begun working with, or at least seen mentions of and read about, Artificial Intelligence recently. To be exact and lucid, AI is serious business with a serious utility (in more ways than one). Persons who do not learn to use it are falling behind. Companies that do not adopt it will be at a disadvantage.

With that said, at this moment in time, hype is overtaking both the utility and reality of the state of AI. Like any other concept, humanity tends to overdo everything. Everyone hires at the same time, fires at the same time, buys stock in tandem and sells at the same time. AI is not a FAD, but its idea is being abused today.

Artificial Intelligence came up because while travelling last week my home airport was displaying advertisements regarding AI. Then upon landing (and later returning) digital billboards advertising companies with ‘AI’ products were ubiquitous. Walking around San Francisco my eyes caught glimpses of an ‘AI’ dry cleaner and an ‘AI’ cafe. Being short on time, and probably cynical, I kept going, but should have otherwise taken a moment to step in and find out more. Perhaps folks are confusing AI with mere automation the same way the new name for the software industry seems to have become ‘SAAS.’ On the other hand, perhaps there was true AI at work at these businesses, although my doubt lingers.

What do you folks think?


Things That Need To Go Away: Confused taxonomy around hip technologies

From The Best Of Technology Times To The Not So Best Of Technology Times

 Articles  Comments Off on From The Best Of Technology Times To The Not So Best Of Technology Times
Aug 272023

When various stock markets entered a bear market in Q3, and into Q4, of 2022 technology companies that had grown even more rapidly in the previous two to three years than was normal were caught flatfooted. The need for technology to replace in-person interactions had propelled revenue growth. By virtue of their rapid rise and need for being intrepid these companies are also sensitive to interest rates and cost and availability of borrowing. The inevitable interest rate hikes in reaction to soaring inflation rates would trigger a drop in stock markets (as they make bank deposits and bonds more attractive) while slowing demand due to society opening up compounded the problem for the technology sector.

Technology companies had overhired and layoffs resulted and continue. Companies large and small began laying off employees (to avoid depression do not click here or here or here or here).

How companies with access to state of the art technology and sophisticated analysts and analytics did not see this coming is fodder for some head scratching.

Photograph Credit: Mohammed Hassan

Pivot To Interviewing

With people out of jobs and companies enacting hiring freezes the pool of job seekers swelled. In such a situation it is normal to drop one’s standards and become more flexible when applying no matter the type of job, nature of the company or income requirements. To work in order to feel valued, remain productive and put food on the table is natural.

With that said, jobseekers should always ask themselves if the job they are applying for is the right one. Is the company offering a fit? Do you feel happy or motivated to work on the company’s product? Are they in an industry that is, if not inspirational, at least something akin to interesting? Are their requirements in tune with what you are comfortable with? Does the salary, and entire package, work for you?

You have to know yourself before you get to know them. Take a little time.

An employer-employee relationship should begin with some requirements’ gathering, introspection and be a conversation before it is an interview.

The company is relying on you to be successful and you are going to spend more time with them than you would with your family.

Photograph Credit: Danymena88

Things That Need To Go Away: Interviewing at random everywhere

Jan 032023

Photograph Credit: Stephen Brown

A couple of posts here have discussed and expanded on curiosity, energy, working hard, courtesy and more as desirable traits for successful salespersons. One more has been gnawing at me since those posts and I have been reminded that, as people have heard me say, good salespeople disqualify as much as qualify. In other words, good salespeople know where to spend their time.


There is a proverb that goes like this:

The Way We Spend Our Time Defines Who We Are.

It is obviously true. It is also true that this resource is limited and, for us mere mortals, is precious.

It is crucial that salespeople spend time, spend time doing the right things and spend time understanding where they spend time. Yes, scrolling through TikTok or your Facebook feed is off (and moreover the future of civilization says ‘thank-you’).

Picture Credit: Mohamed Hassan

Good salespeople control their time, use it for productive endeavours and do not get sidetracked. Good salespeople are also the ones who admit when something unexpected has happened to sidetrack them and feel discomfort. The discomfort propels them to make up for the lost time and get back on track of consistency (of doing the right things and not doing the things that do not help with their goals and success).


Things That Need To Go Away: Not Automating Tasks That Can Be Automated, Not Knowing What Is Unproductive And Promptly Eliminating It And Above All Not Preparing For Effectiveness