Three ways to buy an established online business

By: Doug Winter August 14, 2017


This year will be known as the year enterprises became artificially intelligent. Research by Gartner suggests that interest in new big data investments has peaked. The question has changed from “how do we get data?” to “what do we do with it?” Forrester found that enterprises plan on increasing investment in artificial intelligence (AI) by 300 percent in 2017. One area of major AI investments will be sales. Customer analytics are one of the largest data sources for enterprises, and Salesforce already made a big splash earlier this month by releasing Einstein, their AI assistant designed to help sales teams uncover insights that will help close deals and identify upsell opportunities. But how exactly will sales be upended by AI? I see three main areas:

  1. Process optimization. According to CSO Insights, 43 percent of enterprise sales reps miss quota. The main reason? Lack of efficient, organized sales processes. AI will make huge inroads in regards to optimizing the sales process, beginning with the onboarding of new reps, which currently takes upwards of six to 10 months to reach full productivity. Based on observing the actions of high-performing reps, AI will provide a blueprint to new reps, offering guidance in terms of how often reach out to a prospect and what collateral to send them to be most effective in closing deals. This “autocoach” functionality will mitigate the time in which new reps operate at a loss because they are acting in a statistically similar way as high-performing reps. Content and meeting preparation processes are also primed for AI, particularly through natural language processing (NLP). For example, client-facing collateral in regulated industries, like financial services, is often required to include correct disclosures, a manual process usually delegated to reps. NLP can automate this process through keyword scanning, and as sales compliance remains a hot button issue in financial services, expect to see AI play a major role. NLP will also improve how sales reps prepare for meetings by bringing context front-and-center. By leveraging data accrued from past meetings across the sales organizations, sales reps will know what pieces of content — and even what order of slides — will work best for the particular combination of buyers in the room during a presentation. Which brings me to my next point …
  1. Personalization. Eighty percent of B2B sales organizations find personalized interactions to be most effective with buyers. Unfortunately, Forrester has found that 78 percent of buyers say salespeople come to meetings with irrelevant or incorrect materials. AI opens up a new world of personalization in sales conversations. One important instance will be in lead scoring. Right now, lead scoring essentially involves qualifying leads by fairly large, non-specific buckets based on previous interactions and subjective human input. With AI processing data from the entire marketing, sales and UX technology stacks, lead scoring will become exponentially more granular, where sales reps are handed personalized blueprints on how to approach each lead as an individual. From there, AI will also usher in dramatic changes to the content used by sales reps. Integrating data coming from the Internet of Things opens up particularly intriguing cases. Today this data primarily assists product monitoring, but it’s not hard to see a situation in which, say, Boeing, through the digital monitoring of their own commercial machine parts, reaches out to American Airlines with a personalized product brochure — automatically personalized with the right logos and pertinent case studies for the individual buyer — on new turbines the moment there are indications that it may be time for a new one within their fleet.
  1. The elimination of mundane sales tasks. Popular calendar and scheduling tools are, frankly, a giant pain for everyone involved. Our sales team of 60 schedules about 3,600 meetings per month. If each meeting takes 10 minutes of sending calendar invites back and forth and including new attendees, the result is 600 hours per month wasted scheduling meetings. We’re already seeing a crop of new tools that leverage AI to help with scheduling meetings., for example, automates the email back and forth for the sales rep. Another manually intensive area of sales is note taking. Required for proper follow-up, note taking can also distract the rep from giving his or her full attention to the buyer. is claiming to solve this problem via NLP. By dialing into the service before a call, will record the context of the meeting and provide it back to the seller automatically.


Bringing it all together

While the tactical changes promised by AI will no doubt change the day-to-day of sales reps, its true benefit lies in the feedback loop. Big data investments have allowed data to be collected from all areas of the customer experience, from first touch to the monitoring of products they end up using. AI will be able to pinpoint and predict areas of strength and weaknesses in the experience of each new lead that comes through, improving the entire sales and marketing process intelligently and automatically.

Seven tips to clinch that promotion at work

By: Avery Blank June 09, 2017



Are you up for a promotion, and it’s a crowded field? In situations where there are many people vying for that one opportunity, the human instinct is to see it as a competition, the survival of the fittest. It’s not. It is not about competition. Don’t try to act like bosses you have encountered who rule with an iron fist and knock others out of the way for the role. Stop focusing on getting the title, and start thinking about making an impact. Focus on being a leader who makes an impact. Here are seven ways to make a leadership impact and get your promotion:

  1. Be physically present at work.

Flexible and remote work is great, but it is difficult to find a substitute as equally impactful as face time in the office. You do not have to be in the office all the time. When you are able, be in the office a few days a week or at least a few hours each day. Use video conferencing when you can. Know the familiar saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Don’t let that be you. Use your presence to make an impact.

  1. Listen.

Ask questions, and listen. Ask your colleagues how things are going and where they need help. Gather feedback. When you establish yourself as a listener, you will become known for making inclusive, educated decisions. When your colleagues see that you listen to them, they will recognize they are a valuable piece of the equation. When you make people feel valued, they will want you to be in a position to lead.

  1. Have lunch with your colleagues.

Don’t underestimate downtime. With downtime, there is more freedom and opportunity to connect with people. Don’t eat at your desk. Don’t eat by yourself in the cafeteria. Ask teammates to go to lunch with you, or pull up a chair at a table once you have gotten your lunch. This is not the time to put a wedge between you and others. Social opportunities are times to bridge the divide, connect with people on a human level and make an impact.

  1. Teach teammates.

Leaders empower others with the tools to accomplish goals. Share your knowledge, whether that is in a workshop setting or teaching a colleague one-on-one at their desk. Be a giver. The knowledge you impart helps the organization succeed and everyone there to succeed.

  1. Inspire people.
    It is a great feeling when someone tells you, “Thanks. I’m going to try that.” Or “I’m going to look into that after speaking with you.” Great leaders have the ability to inspire. If your teammate is discouraged about the mistake he made, help him to look at the bigger picture. Encourage your colleagues to try something new. Some people feel that providing emotional support in competitive environments is risky business. Too often, people try to be a “boss” by exerting dominance and using scare tactics. Emotional support in the workplace is critical to the cohesiveness and success of the organization. Leaders have the ability to provide the support necessary to run a successful organization. Leaders light a fire in you, not under you.
  1. Give credit to others.

Life and work is not a zero sum game. A successful teammate does not make you look unsuccessful, so don’t be afraid to highlight other’s achievements. Tell your manager that your partner helped the team meet the grant application deadline. Let your manager know that the intern did great background research that helped you to woo a new client. Shining the light on others is part of being a leader. Leaders want others to look good. When others look good, it makes you look good. Everyone wins.

  1. Take a smart risk.

Playing it safe is not always the answer. Great companies want their employees to think innovatively. When you are up when they see an opportunity that will benefit the organization. “Bosses” are temporary. Leaders are forever. With a focus on impact, leaders transcend titles and positions. When you focus on a greater goal, others will recognize you are ready to advance.

One of our best 2016 theses was on hedge fund replicators in South Africa by David Boers

By: Boers, David



The purpose of this paper was to explore the passive replication of hedge fund returns as an alternative means of investment. Current popular techniques have generally shown poor out-of-sample performance. This research aimed at creating an equity factor model through the use of the “style engine” created in Muller and Ward (2013). The sample hedge funds were used to create both single period and multi period rolling window portfolios of styles. The model was able to portray the investment styles of the selected samples and imitated the in-sample performance well. However, many of the out-of-sample clones showed severe under performance and suffered systematic breaks.

Another one of our best theses for 2016 was investment strategies for OECD and B RICS currencies

By: Blomeyer, Gregg



In this paper a graphical time-series approach was used to analyse style-based investment strategies for currencies. The styles investigated included momentum, volatility and value, and particular focus was given to understanding whether differences exist in the results between the currencies of developed versus emerging countries. The results showed that differences between emerging and developed currencies were statistically significant for each of the styles studied and that the classification of countries’ currencies, as either developed or emerging, was therefore necessary in analyses. Momentum was confirmed to exist in currencies, with a reversion to the mean in the long-term; optimal returns were achieved with the least momentum (quintile five) currencies, using a 10-month look-back period (formation period), three-month look-to period and a two-month holding period. Volatility as a style started out as a particularly good trading strategy, but the results show that the style has been traded-out from around the time of the global financial crisis in 2007 to 2008. Returns from the value style have persisted, with the greatest returns achieved with those currencies most under-valued according to the Big Mac index. The relative strength of the base currency used in the analysis, in this case the U.S. dollar, was found to have a significant impact on the success of the various style-based investment strategies.