Madano Analysis – Budget 2021 and Build Back Better, the plan for growth

Madano Analysis – Budget 2021 and Build Back Better, the plan for growth

Alongside a Budget that focused heavily on the immediate actions required to return to growth and respond to the economic impacts of Covid-19, the Government published Build Back Better, its plan for growth, a new economic strategy for the post-Brexit, post-pandemic world with technology, net zero and innovation at its heart.  

Autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review will still be significant in putting this to work longer term, but Build Back Better makes clear that today’s Budget, and recent announcements such as the £800m ARIA and the Green Industrial Revolution, are part of a bigger picture for the Government. Its three pillars are infrastructure, skills and innovation. New strategies expected over the next year, such as a Hydrogen Strategy, Innovation Strategy, a Transport Decarbonisation Strategy, and Digital Strategy, will all connect back to Build Back Better. 

It aims to build a connecting economic narrative for the future of the UK, with leadership in science and innovation, and the transition to net zero, all creating transformative changes in productivity and quality of life in regions across the country.  

Our highlights included: 

  • The new Future Fund: Breakthrough, a £375m public-private fund to invest in promising, R&D-intensive companies ready to scale up with equity rounds of over £20m, showing Government’s seriousness about a greater appetite for risk and supporting companies directly. 
  • The launch of the new National Infrastructure Bank, expected to deliver £12bn in public and sector project investment from Spring onwards and drive forward new net zero projects. 
  • Freeports, eight new economic zones spread across nearly every region, with special regulatory, development and taxation rules to incentivise high-tech investment. 
  • Several commitments on green finance, including a change to the Bank of England’s remit to include environmental sustainability, and new green savings products and bonds. 

Levelling up remains a key focus. Alongside freeports, the location of the new National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds and the Treasury’s new Darlington hub make that abundantly clear. 

Undoubtedly, the focus today will be on measures taken by the Chancellor to safeguard the economy as the UK travels on the roadmap towards the end of COVID-19 restrictions. But today’s Build Back Better plan demonstrates that when the Conservatives go to the electorate at the end of this Parliament, they will be expecting to do so having established a more productive economy that leads in innovative industries, and is making strides towards a lower carbon energy system.

Can Technology Drive Resource Efficiency in the Post-COVID Era?

Can Technology Drive Resource Efficiency in the Post-COVID Era?

Despite the new landscape of the current COVID-19 pandemic, a silver lining has emerged to soothe the anxiety and loss that our society has experienced. The slowdown of our economy has led to benefits for our air quality, with some UK cities seeing a 60% reduction in air pollution. Environmental change will no doubt be a focal point in the coming months.

To maintain this trend, we will have to look to technological solutions to increase consumers’ resource efficiency and reduce their environmental footprint as we return to a ‘new normal’.

The subject of waste is currently being addressed by the Government’s Environment Bill. The Bill was re-tabled after the 2019 General Election and is currently receiving parliamentary scrutiny. A major component of the last Government’s Waste and Resources Strategy is the establishment of a UK Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which is a novel consumer waste return and recycling system that could be a game-changer for our country’s efforts to create a circular economy and reduce our environmental impact

A DRS is a system that rewards consumers to return and recycle drinks packaging and other containers by placing a monetary deposit upon purchase and returning these monies to the consumer when the packaging is returned. A UK scheme could incentivise consumers to independently return their waste and demonstrate the inherent value of recyclable materials, such as plastic, glass and aluminum, and ensure that waste is recovered and fed through a closed, circular loop to ensure maximum use.

Existing schemes in Europe have transformed recycling rates for example Lithuania (92%), Germany (96%), and Norway (97%) now see recycling rates for packaging above 90%. In contrast, the UK’s kerbside collection system returns and recycles a meagre 45% of our packaging (2018) and this is on the slide.

A recent impact assessment on the effectiveness of a UK DRS, conducted by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, found that our return and recycling rate could skyrocket to 85%. Many of the European schemes noted above were established in the last century. A well-thought out, digitalised UK DRS is an opportunity to establish a green circular economy.

A digital UK DRS requires the full implementation of technologies that already exist or are in the pipeline. For example, advanced reverse vending machines (ARVMs), produced by the likes of Tomra, Envipco and Diebold Nixdorf, are located in supermarkets and shopping centres and provide a point of return for consumers to recycle their packaging. ARVMs collect, scan, count and mechanically prepare recyclable containers for processing, while repaying consumers’ deposits into their debit accounts or banking apps.

Given that each returned container will contain consumer data (purchase, usage, product lifecycle), an integrated DRS can provide a treasure trove of information to store operators, drinks producers, logistics firms and policymakers. A high deposit amount would likely encourage footfall in stores and, in the process, deliver crucial data on consumption and usage to support retail and industry’s extended producer responsibility obligations that are also mandated in the Environment Bill.

Already, supermarkets rely on loyalty apps to map consumer habits and an official DRS app or an existing supermarket app could feed purchase and other data into the scheme’s database and further encourage consumers to recycle through a consumer gamification model.

There are often pitfalls that impact smaller actors in the market when technological innovations are introduced. For example, local shops have noted that ARVMs are too large for their stores and take up valuable space. A UK DRS will certainly have more issues attached to it, such as it cannibalising the revenues acquired by local authorities’ kerbside collection schemes, but it offers a solution to drive recycling rates and enhance data-driven marketing, logistics and environmental audit systems.

Once the DRS is established, we can expect 36,000 reverse vending machines to be gradually rolled out across the UK and many of these will be ARVMs. Given the valuable data produced and ease at which deposits can be refunded to consumers by the latter, deploying ARVMs should be the preferred option for retail, industry and government.

Innovation in waste recycling and reduction should be embraced now, if we are to maximize the environmental gains attained during this uncertain and difficult period and ensure our economy becomes fully circular.

Written by James Watson, Energy and Environment.

Madano’s Energy & Environment practice advises clients across the recycling technology and waste management sector, to find out how our specialists could support your business understand the impacts and opportunities of the Environment Bill please contact – [email protected].

What digital marketing metrics should you measure? Part one: KPIs for long-term social media marketing success

What digital marketing metrics should you measure? Part one: KPIs for long-term social media marketing success

What are the digital marketing metrics you should be measuring? In this two-part series, we begin by reviewing social media metrics.

At Davos this year, the great and the good of business turned their attention to escaping short termism – through initiatives such as considering employees to be equally important stakeholders as shareholders.

This made me think about how we, as communicators and marketers, measure our campaigns and how troublingly short term the focus has become. Digital marketing covers so much from social media, community management, PPC, SEO, email marketing and more. So, at a time when Facebook is tinkering with its algorithms, and users are getting smarter with their data, what digital marketing metrics should you measure?

Innumerable campaigns have followed the narrowest interpretation of “performance marketing” to focus only on communications that clearly move the needle on last-click attribution. Sell, sell, sell!

What if that simply amounts to grabbing low hanging fruit while irreversibly damaging future harvests. Ok, that’s a horribly mixed metaphor! But if you are securing a sale from 1% of your audience, isn’t there still a chance that your approach is turning off the remaining 99%? This should make communicators value some metrics that have previously been disregarded as “vanity” metrics or not amounting to tangible results.

Let’s start with social media.

1) Follower growth

It seems obvious but you should definitely be tracking follower growth. If sales increase due to your approach, but follower growth plateaus or declines, that is not a recipe for long-term success. Whether you’re tracking daily, weekly, monthly or annually, the closer you look into the data, the more you get out of it. Are you seeing faster growth around the holidays or Black Friday when you are pushing results-driven campaigns? Or is it in quieter periods when you’re seeking to engage around the brand?

Perhaps when you Tweet about a specific topic such as “what digital marketing metrics should you measure”, do you see more digital marketeers follow you? This will inform what content you post and when.

2) Engagement

The engagement rate shows how many and how often people are engaging with your content. Conventional wisdom has been to see these as vanity metrics and focus in on where the sale is made. Even for a quick boost in sales, don’t cannibalise your audience and simply post content which the majority of people aren’t engaging with from an organic standpoint. And don’t disregard one underperforming post, either from a sales or engagement standpoint. Monitor this type of content over time and at scale and see if any trends appear before changing tact.

3) Reach

Reach is all about unique views. It’s important to maximise the number of unique users who see your content. You can post your Instagram story to one person every day but it’s not going to necessarily expand your customer base. If you help grow your following, then you can help grow your reach.

4) Impressions

A CMO may say (they often do), I don’t care if social media content hit one million views in March, no one bought a product. Clearly there is always pressure for sales here and now. But our jobs as digital marketeers is to create multiple touchpoints with users, so they feel empowered and informed to buy your product or service (now, or in six months!).

If we want to get into theory, remind your CMO of The Marketing Rule of Seven – potential customers need to see an ad around seven times or more before they buy.

Of course, there’s also the saturation point, which can also be exacerbated by purely focusing on the single most effective tactic from a sales or lead gen perspective. You need variety and to be in front of a large audience with interesting content. It is too often forgotten that impressions matter for the top of the funnel.

5) Clicks of All Kinds

Finally, clicks remain crucial for social. With the emergence of social commerce and click-to-buy options, it has led to a myopic focus on the clicks-to-conversions equation. Yes, this is critical to ensure that you are not driving hoards of people who will never do business with you. However, all types of clicks deserve attention, not just the “last-click” that leads to a sale. If a user finds their way to your site and spends 15 minutes looking around without jumping on a call-to-action, that is still valuable. They are absorbing your story. This click-through may well be sealing the foundations of a life-long relationship with a valued customer.

So take a look at the full picture, and stop speed-dating!

Make sure you follow Madano on Twitter and LinkedIn for more digital marketing tips. We’ll be posting key performance indicators for websites soon.

Madano are experts in digital marketing for long-term success. If you want to have a call, get in touch today and we’ll set it up.

International Women’s Day 2020 – The Women Who Inspire Us

International Women’s Day 2020 – The Women Who Inspire Us

Sunday 8 March was International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s campaign theme was #EachforEqual, promoting the message that we can all actively choose to “challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.” With this in mind, members from each of our practices have highlighted inspirational women from different backgrounds and fields that have made huge impacts to our world as we know it.

Margaret Calver – Kat Dominiak (Creative)

Kat Dominiak

Female designers have had a huge impact throughout the history of design and their works are engrained in our everyday lives. It isn’t a surprise that historically the male-dominated graphic design industry hasn’t always had the best reputation for gender equality. However, female designers have played an important role in establishing graphic design as we know it today.

Did you know Margaret Calver’s work has helped to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the UK? Her very simple and easy to understand graphic language is on every single road sign and signpost across the entire country. She helps you get safely to work, school or home. Margaret is a typographer and graphic designer mainly known for her collaborative work with Jock Kinnir on the design of Britain’s roads – she’s a creative icon that had a huge impact on the design industry.

“With talent, dedication, and creativity in spades, women are – and always have been – killing it in graphic design.” – Rebecca Gross

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw – Elisha Raut (Insights)

Elisha Raut

You might have heard of the term intersectionality somewhere in the stratosphere. Maybe it’s because you’re engaged in critical race theory, or because you once eavesdropped on a pretentious and overly jargonated conversation at a LEON (just me?), or perhaps somewhere in between. In a reductive nutshell, it’s the idea that a person’s lived experience is contingent upon several overlapping axes of their identity, and it’s a foundational concept that was developed approximately 30 years ago by lawyer, professor, philosopher, and theorist, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.

While the inception of the term was mostly within the context of legal advocacy, where discrimination regarding sex and discrimination regarding race were treated as mutually exclusive entities, it has now pervaded many areas of academic and everyday discourse.

While Crenshaw’s past achievements could span novels, she remains consistently active in educating the masses, not just through academic avenues, but also as a public speaker. Many of her highly engaging and thought-provoking talks are available on YouTube.

Although the term intersectionality has entered the everyday vocabulary of many people who may be characterised as, and sorry in advance for using this term, “woke”, it has also faced criticism from the anti-woke crowd. This is the main reason her continual educational efforts are still invaluable: in the information age, we can (fortunately and unfortunately) still believe whatever we want, whether it is justifiable and evidenced, or not.

Rosalind Franklin – George Mitchell (Healthcare)

George Mitchell

Science is supposed to be paving the way for the future and yet, when it comes to gender equality, it is stuck in the past. At present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and they continue to be overlooked and undervalued in a male-dominated field. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Rosalind Franklin, a chemist and x-ray crystallographer who, in May 1952, captured an image that would quite literally change the DNA of biological and healthcare research.

Franklin’s seemingly uninspiring and blurry ‘Photo 51’ would lead Watson and Crick to discover the DNA double helix, for which they won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Since then, we have sequenced our genome, increased our understanding of genetic disease and even learned how to edit our DNA.

Franklin died in April 1958 from ovarian cancer, possibly caused by exposure to the very x-rays which led to her discovery, something for which she was not recognised until the years following her death. With the Nobel Committee still unwilling to award posthumous prizes, Franklin remains one of the greatest unsung heroes in the history of biology and healthcare research.

Admiral Grace HopperBen Gascoyne (Technology) Ben Gascoyne

While the typical tech sector stereotype is male-led, you should know that some of its earliest and most influential innovators were talented and inspirational women.

That includes Grace Hopper, an American mathematician who began her career in computer science as World War 2 began. Working with the very first computers throughout the 1950s, she pioneered the development of programming languages that were based on natural languages, such as English, instead of abstract mathematical symbols.

That may seem obvious now, but was met with resistance at the time. Delivering her vision for computing made programming more accessible for everyone who followed her and paved the way for the tech giants you know today, like Microsoft and Apple.

Somehow, alongside a hugely successful career in computing, Grace Hopper found the time to rise to the rank of Admiral in the US Naval Reserve. Admiral Hopper passed away in 1992, but today, social enterprises such as the fantastic Stemettes are making sure that girls across the UK can follow in her footsteps and are inspired and empowered to take up STEM careers, including in the tech sector.

Mary Prince – Hoda Awad (Energy and Environment)

Hoda Awad

Mary Prince was a courageous woman who helped to change Britain as we know it. She was an enslaved woman who campaigned in the 1800s for abolition.

In 1829, Mary was the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament, arguing for her human right to freedom. She was also the first black woman to write and publish an autobiography, which was a key part of the abolitionist campaign in Britain. It was during that very same year that her peers in the abolitionist movement introduced a bill proposing that any slaves must be freed.

Mary was an inspiring woman who invented political activism almost 100 years before other more well-known movements began to gain traction, such as the Suffragettes.

With modern society becoming increasingly competitive and divided, it is more important than ever that we champion and communicate the achievements of women. We have a shared responsibility to remove barriers and create opportunities so that, regardless of gender, anyone can fulfil their potential. By working together towards gender equality and providing women and girls around the world with heroes and role models, we can inspire the next generation and create an environment from which we can all benefit.

International women's day
GDPR for AI? The EU’s new AI Strategy and the tech challenges to come for the UK

GDPR for AI? The EU’s new AI Strategy and the tech challenges to come for the UK

This week, the European Commission published its strategy and white paper for Artificial Intelligence. It is a significant step for the new Commission, who promised to deliver this within its first 100 days.

The European Union was behind the curve in setting the direction of travel for the development of the consumer internet and the use of user data, which was shaped by the US and now owned by dominant giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

The EU’s GDPR regime, which went live in 2018, used the size and prosperity of the European market to finally move the dial on privacy, data and web standards. Subsequently, Facebook’s growth has stalled, while Google is ending the use of cookies to track individual browsing data. But it came too late to help a European tech titan to emerge – a sore spot and a strategic weakness for the world’s largest single market.

The rise of ambitious, well-funded Chinese tech businesses like Tencent and Huawei have only worsened the EU’s tech envy and strategic headache.

The EU’s new AI Strategy aims to capture the early mover advantage and shape how AI technology progresses. It strikes an optimistic tone about AI’s potential – in tackling climate change, improving healthcare and transforming mobility – while proposing rules and principles that make the datasets that AI development relies on as open and non-intrusive as possible. The strategy aims to build public trust and oversight for AI, but crucially for the EU, it also supports “full single markets, where companies of all sizes can compete on equal terms”, as the influential Vice-Commissioner Margrethe Vestager put it.

By laying down those rules, the EU hopes to encourage the tech sector to practice European principles and values for AI development, and attract and support the next generation of tech giants to base themselves in Europe.

The UK has now left the European Union. Once the Transition Period ends at the start of 2021, the UK Government has pledged to establish a new regulatory and taxation regime to make Britain a global leader in technology innovation, including AI. Alongside this, Boris Johnson has pledged a huge uplift in research and innovation spending. Put together, Johnson hopes to lure tech giants to Britain and foster British leadership in the sector.

Through the work of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, a world’s first policy unit for AI and machine learning, and research bodies like the Ada Lovelace Institute, the UK has given itself a head start.

However, the EU’s new AI Strategy makes clear how difficult it will be for the UK to operate in the gaps between three economic superpowers – the EU, the US and China. The UK may want to offer divergence from the EU to empower innovators, but will tech businesses ignore the rules and principles of the enormous European market next door when taking products to market?

This challenge brings home how important it will be for the UK’s innovative tech businesses to tell the Government what they need, and for Government to listen. As the EU gets serious about making tech progress, responsive and creative policymaking from Government and pro-active industry engagement will be needed to generate room for meaningful difference in technology standards and development for the UK in the years to come.

Let’s Talk International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Let’s Talk International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Written by George Mitchell, Programme Executive

Take a moment to think about what a scientist looks like to you. The picture I have in my mind is an individual wearing the trademark lab coat and safety spectacles. While trying to decide whether he looks more like Walter White or Emmett Brown, I am struck by the fact that my scientist is undoubtedly a man. Despite the most influential scientists I worked with at university being women, I cannot shake the stereotypical image I was immediately drawn to. I believe this is an unfortunate reflection of a field in which women continue to be overlooked and underrepresented.

Science is supposed to be paving the way for the future and yet, when it comes to gender equality, it is stuck in the past. At present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and with a lack of role models and equality in the field, only 30% of women choose to study STEM subjects at university.

Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and, to mark the occasion, I would like to highlight three incredible scientists who made ground-breaking discoveries in the world of science and healthcare.

Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958)

Rosalind Franklin was a chemist and x-ray crystallographer who, in May 1952, captured an image that would quite literally change the DNA of biological and healthcare research. The seemingly uninspiring and blurry ‘Photo 51’ would lead Watson and Crick to discover the DNA double helix, for which they won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Since then, we have sequenced our genome, increased our understanding of genetic disease and even learned how to edit our DNA.

Franklin died in April 1958 from ovarian cancer, possibly caused by exposure to the very x-rays which led to her discovery, something for which she was not recognised until the years following her death. With the Nobel Committee still unwilling to award posthumous prizes, Franklin remains one of the greatest unsung heroes in the history of biology and healthcare research.

Tu Youyou (1930 – Present)

During the Vietnam War, malaria claimed the lives of more Vietnamese soldiers than the war itself. Tu Youyou is a pharmaceutical chemist who, in 1969, was appointed the leader of the ‘Project 523’ research group, tasked with finding a cure for malaria. In 1972, after turning to traditional Chinese medicine for a cure, Tu discovered that sweet wormwood had been used 1,500 years before to treat symptoms of malaria.

Tu had discovered the antimalarial medication, artemisinin, which is still used to treat malaria today. Her discovery saves 100,000 lives in Africa every year and has saved an estimated 3 million lives this century alone. However, Tu was not acknowledged for her discovery until 2007 and she would become the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize in 2015, 43 years after her lifesaving work.

Jennifer Doudna (1964 – Present)

60 years after Rosalind Franklin captured Photo 51, American biochemist Jennifer Doudna discovered CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, argued to be the most significant discovery in the history of biology.

Doudna’s breakthrough has opened the gates to a new era of healthcare research, with endless possibilities and implications, one of which could be finding cures for genetic disease. In recognition of this monumental achievement, she was a runner-up for Time ‘Person of the Year’ in 2016, missing out to a certain President, Donald Trump.

These three scientists achieved their healthcare breakthroughs in a male dominated field, without role models or recognition. The current landscape is unfortunately not as balanced as it should be, and we need to better communicate the achievements of women in science and healthcare to inspire the next generation and possibly, the next great discovery.