The Most Attractive Employers For Business Students Around The World
A report released this week provides a global outlook on which opportunities are most appealing to business students the world over, with banks and professional services providers faring particularly well.
By Kathryn Dill

Sixty Percent Of Business Travellers Do Not See Hotel Brand Standards Being Met

According to a recent study of business travelers by Deloitte, the majority of business travelers surveyed feel experiences at hotels operating under the same brand name differ depending on location, with six in 10 (60 percent) noting that facilities and service quality vary widely.

The study goes on to also conclude that a generation gap may define hotel preferences and that travelers prioritize amenities and efficiencies.

READ FULL report from Deloitte >>

photo credit: Some rights reserved by citizenM hotels

Latest Game Theory: Mixing Work and Play


Companies are trying to bring more play to the workday.

Striving to make everyday business tasks more engaging, a growing number of firms, including International Business Machines Corp. and consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., are incorporating elements of videogames into the workplace.

They’re deploying reward and competitive tactics commonly found in the gaming world to make tasks such as management training, data entry and brainstorming seem less like work. Employees receive points or badges for completing jobs or meeting time limits for assignments, for example. Companies also may use leaderboards, which let players view one another’s scores, to encourage friendly competition and motivate performance, experts say.

This “gamification” of the workplace, or “enterprise gamification” in tech-industry parlance, is a fast-growing business. Companies have used digital games for a number of years to help market products to consumers and build brand loyalty. What’s emerging is using games to motivate their own employees.

Tech-industry research firm Gartner estimates that by 2014, some 70% of large companies will use the techniques for at least one business process. Market researcher M2 Research estimates revenue from gamification software, consulting and marketing will reach $938 million by 2014 from less than $100 million this year.

Some companies build their own games in-house. Others rely on outside firms such as San Jose, Calif.-based Bunchball Inc. and Menlo Park, Calif.-based Badgeville Inc. to “gamify” various business processes including employee training.

Business software company SAP AG employs a variety of games, including one modeled after a golf game that assigns sales leads and environmental challenges that award points for tasks like carpooling, says Mario Herger, senior innovation strategist, at SAP in Palo Alto, Calif.

SAP even turned its gamification efforts into a game, holding a series of “Gamification Cups” to generate ideas for turning various business processes into games. One recent winner turned the traditionally boring process of invoicing into a competition.

“The reason why gamification is so hot is that most people’s jobs are really freaking boring,” says Gabe Zichermann, organizer of the “Gamification Summit” conference held last month in New York.

LiveOps Inc., which runs virtual call centers, uses gaming to help improve the performance of its 20,000 call agents—independent contractors located all over the U.S. Starting last year, the company began awarding agents with virtual badges and points for tasks such as keeping calls brief and closing sales. Leaderboards allow the agents to compare their achievements to others.

Since the gamification system was implemented, some agents have reduced call time by 15%, and sales have improved by between 8% and 12% among certain sales agents, says Sanjay Mathur, vice president of product management at LiveOps, Santa Clara, Calif.

KPMG, consultants, and the Core Services Review

I think this is a good time to reflect on the role of consultants in politics.

The City Council of Toronto will meet tomorrow, where it will be presented with the final report of the KPMG Core Services Review and the User Fees Policy Review. The Council will almost certainly reject most of the recommendations, and delay the task of filling the current budget deficit to another meeting down the line. 

The federal government, meanwhile, has retained Deloitte for exactly the same job as KPMG - except applied to all of Canada - for the much publicized sum of $90 000 a day, or $19.8 million.

Then there are the much less well-known contracts, such as the KPMG’s water and wastewater rate studies with the city of Sudbury, Deloitte’s Spectator Stadium financial analysis for St. Catharines, C.N. Watson’s water system financial plans for a whole host of small communities… and so on and so forth.

So should governments listen to them?

Generally, governments hire consultants for two reasons (which are similar to why private sector companies hire consultants):

  1. They don’t have the technical expertiese to do something
  2. They need a scape-goat to carry through difficult decisions

The first reason is relatively straightforward, sometimes governments/companies just do not have the people that know how to do certain things, and they can’t afford to hire them on a full-time basis. This is usually because some things only need to be done once in a while, and it’s not worth it to have someone on staff just to put that person to work every few months. So in these cases governments hire specialists to do certain tasks.

It’s kind of like calling in the exterminators when your house is invested with ants, and you don’t know how to get rid of ants.

The second reason arises not because the government does not know what to do, or how to do it, but because the task to be done is very unpleasant and the government does not want to be blamed for doing it. So in these cases governments hire consultants that gives them political cover. For example, if the KPMG makes an unpopular suggestion, like hiking transit fares, the City of Toronto can say ‘well, the consultants told us we should do this…’ all the while knowing that that’s what it wanted to do in the first place, before hiring the consultants.

This is kind of like hiring a maid to clean your house, and then throw out all of your kids’ old, broken, but beloved toys and saying that the maid did it.

That being said, it’s very difficult to tell when governments really need outside expertiese to do something they have no capacity for doing, or when they just need a scape-goat. In the case of the City of Toronto, for example, City Hall probably did need outside expertiese to figure out proposals to balance the budget, but it probably also needed KPMG as a cover to carry through difficult decisions to slow down program funding and hike fees.

Are either of these bad reasons to hire consultants? Not necessarily. Can governments use consultants badly? Absolutely. I want to make this proposal: most of the controversy and the harm that come with consultant-government deals come from how governments use them, not a consultant’s business model per se.

If a government acts wisely and with the interests of its constituents in mind in its dealings with consultants, consultants are just one more set of tools to do things. They let governments do things they normally can’t and they offer an outside view on how governments work that can be illuminating. But if a government uses a consultant to push through its own agenda despite popular opposition, it will alienate its constituents, and in turn poison the consultants’ reputation as well.


:        Hey bro, you been working hard?

:        That I have, and you know what that means

:         It means you can party hard

:        Exactly.  We work hard, and we party hard.

:        Hey bro’s, you guys look like you’re partying pretty hard, I hope you’ve been working hard.

:        We have been.  As the only way to party hard, is to work hard, and we work hard.

:        That explains how hard you are partying.

:        The proportion of our work that has been done hard is now reflected in the hardness of our partying

:        Hey bro’s, I think I’m going to have to leave this hard partying tonight

:        Did you not work hard?

:        I worked hard.  But not to the extent of that which this party is now hard.

:        I understand brah, last week I was partying hard to the max when I realised I had gone beyond the limit of that work which I had done hard.  I had to sit down and have a cup of tea.

:         How about you party hard now and then make up for the excess hard partying with more working hard?

:        You could credit a party hard liability account to be met with a later debit of working hard!

:        That’s some stone cold accounting journals you just did there bro.

:         You know what that means?

:        It means he worked hard.

:        And as a result.

:        He must party hard.

:        As whilst we do work hard, we in turn, then, by a process of ebb and flow older than time itself, must party hard.

:        We’re also accountants.


Deloitte resigns as auditors of China gold firm

“The company is disappointed that Deloitte has decided to resign at this time but respects its decision,” the firm said.Deloitte’s resignation is the latest in a string of auditor resignations that have hit overseas Chinese stocks, sending investors running. Earlier this week Ernst & Young LLP resigned as auditors for Singapore-listed Sky China Petroleum Services Ltd .Chinese firms listed in Hong Kong, the U.S. and Singapore have come under increasing global scrutiny due to a series of accounting scandals.Real Gold said Deloitte was of the view the firm did not comply with certain listing rules when it issued its 2010 consolidated financial statements by failing to disclose material subsequent events involving related parties.The miner added that Deloitte did not want continuing reliance to be placed upon its audit report which was included as part of Real Gold’s 2010 annual report.


Learning about Deloitte’s Yammer (social networking platform) and social capital. This is how organizations need to work.


How is collective action re-shaping society and transforming the production process? Industry leaders explain how they’re developing new models for making, distributing and monetizing work.”

Arts Conference in Luxembourg

We’re delighted to to be a sponsor of the annual Deloitte Art & Finance Conference in picturesque Luxembourg. Happening on September 18 this year, the conference takes place in a different major cultural city annually. Covering a range of topics, from the Tax aspects of the Luxembourg Freeport to the transformation of the global art market, we’re excited to be in attendance again this year. 

The Consulting Contagion

You don’t need a team, an office or a company to start marketing your products and ideas right now. You’re in front of a machine that will do most of that for you at a ludicrously low cost. Do it yourself. 

That’s no revelation. Starting a .com is the gold rush of the 21st century: everyone wants in. But why do less than 1% of small businesses get funding, and why do most fail completely? 

I’ve got an idea and I think it applies to businesses of any size that are in growth or transformation. 

Contracting work out or hiring consultants for management, advertising, or your website’s design - is a very bad habit to break. 

Human Capital & Validated Learning

The tradeoff for any hired consulting is foregone institutional memory and human capital. Many projects that you’d contract out could be created internally with a moderate budget and a little dedication to training or self-development, using free tools at sites like the Khan Academy

Even an experiment is a product. 


Developing a personality for your brand should be organic. If you hire an ad agency, how will it ever actually be your brand? What will you learn for when you you’re working on your next brand? Look at what Netflix and Hulu are doing

Cut and Paste Services

This September, we learned that the Canadian government will pay consulting giant Deloitte $90,000 a day until 2014 for financial advice. They’re getting played, but you don’t have to. 

Paying pros to do something for you can certainly be worth it. But they don’t know you, you’re another client that they could do without if they’re busy enough. And they near-certainly are. What’s the likelihood that you’ll be getting template service? 


Navistar clubs former auditor in legal filing, seeks $500 million from Deloitte

“Deloitte lied to Navistar and, on information and belief, to Deloitte’s other audit clients, as to the competency of its audit and accounting services,” Navistar said in the complaint.

Stinging language, aimed at the prominent audit firm. And that’s not the half of it:

Navistar, based in Warrenville, claimed in a complaint filed in Illinois state court in Chicago that Deloitte LLP had committed inferior work from 2002 to 2005 that forced the company to restate its financial reports during this period…

In 2010, Navistar had settled an investigation conducted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in relation several shortcomings across its internal controls.

The SEC identified fifteen material weaknesses from 2005 to 2006 in Navistar, which it attributed to the firms “failure to dedicate sufficient resources to those controls.”

With the latest legal filing against their former auditor, Navistar is seeking $500 million in damages.

More here.

Lynn Barnes: Ameren Missouri

From the St. Louis Business Journal…

When it comes to company mergers, Lynn Barnes has seen her fair share. She started with Touche right after graduation from Milliken University in Decatur, Ill. During her 11 years there, the accounting firm merged with Deloitte in 1989.

She left the firm and worked a little more than a year for McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing in 1997. She came to Ameren UE 14 years ago, which now operates as Ameren Missouri.

The shuffling of companies, and change in general, fits her outlook. “I am not satisfied with the status quo,” she says.

Barnes became vice president of business planning at Ameren three years ago; she has been controller since 2007. With the help of her team of about 50 employees, she coordinates planning efforts and develops strategies, including identifying obstacles, for where to take the state’s largest utility in the next five to 10 years.

Barnes is a licensed CPA in both Missouri and Illinois and leverages those skills to perform the other major part of her job, analyzing and share information with key leaders in the company on a $1.5 billion operating and capital investments budget. She says her role is to hold people accountable for their “piece of the pie.”

Barnes is one of only three female officers at Ameren, but being in a male-dominated industry never bothered her much. Her advice to other women is to not let it get under their skin. “I tell people not to take it personally,” she says. “I have never had that get to me. I think we have all gotten politically sensitive. I try to blend in to some extent, but we need to be more outspoken.”

As a counterbalance, Barnes participates in nonprofit organizations that tend to be led by women. These organizations allow her to learn from other women leaders. One particular organization, the St. Louis Forum, is comprised of all female executives and professionals.

The organizations she participates in also connect with her on a personal level. Her father died of heart disease, so she serves on the regional board of directors for the American Heart Association.

Tracy Brazelton, executive director of AHA, says Barnes was crucial in developing a marketing analysis for the organization. She stepped forward to organize a subcommittee and created a plan of action for the board of directors to implement in the fall. Brazelton says Barnes’ efficiency is almost superhuman at times.

“What she accomplishes in 24 hours would certainly take a mere mortal between 48 and 72 hours to complete,” she says. “I’m amazed at what she gets done in a day.”

Barnes has been married to her husband, Jerry, for 18 years. They have two sons, Andrew, 14, and Eric, 11. She says she’s fortunate to have two healthy boys but knows other children are not so lucky. As a result, she is involved with the Ronald McDonald House and sits on the board at St. Monica School.

Barnes aims for a successful work-life balance and has devised a few tricks for achieving it. She attends as many Boy Scout meetings and cheers at as many sporting events as possible, even if that means shortening a workday or rescheduling a meeting.

She doesn’t check her BlackBerry on the weekend and has created two calendars, one that lists all her family events and another on her phone for work-related activities.

But she does accept the fact she can’t do it all. “I think part of it is saying ‘no,’” she says. “Do I make it to every baseball game? Probably not.”

She tries to set an example for others at work. “I demonstrate by leaving,” Barnes says. “I talk about my family so (my employees) know I have one.”

Deloitte on The Future of IT

If we only look at small pivots, we will only get small effects — Bill Briggs

I was sent an advance copy of Tech Trends 2015 by Deloitte Consulting, and found it compelling reading, especially with regard to the future of IT. The theme in this, the sixth annual report, is the fusion of business and IT.

I got a chance to talk with one of the report’s authors, Bill Briggs, Deloitte’s CTO. I last spoke with him about wearables in the enterprise (see Bill Briggs, CTO of Deloitte, on wearables in the enterprise) in July, where I characterized him this way:

Bill’s been with Deloitte for over 16 years, during which time he has taken onmany roles, including launching Deloitte Digital, a mix of ‘ creative, strategy, user experience, and engineering talent, and technology services to help clients harness disruptive digital technologies to redesign “business as usual” — to engage differently with customers, change how work gets done, and rethink the very core of their markets’. He seemed like my kind of human.

I focused our discussion on two elements of the report. First, CIO as chief integration officer, by Khalid Kark and Peter Vanderslice, and what I view as the other side of the same coin, The IT worker of the future, by Catherine Bannister, Judy Pennington and John Stefanchik.

One of the themes raised by Kark and Vanderslice is the need for CIOs to ‘reimagine their own roles to focus less on technology and more on business strategy’. Briggs elaborated on the CIO as ‘chief integration officer’, especially in light of the increasing commoditization of IT. He pointed out that many analysts — including me — believe that ‘when CIOs are solely oriented on cost containment, they are losing’.

In our day, Briggs argues, the weapons and skills of the IT hero are big data, analytics, cloud, and mobile, as well as an deep orientation toward business outcomes, and the capability to get others to believe in a potential tomorrow.

Briggs likened the need to drive digital transformation to the Hero’s Journey, as laid out by Joseph Campbell in the The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This is the lore of the archetypal hero who accepts on the trials of the heroic, struggles mightily, and succeeds, and then returns to where he started, but transformed.

In our day, Briggs argues, the weapons and skills of the IT hero are big data, analytics, cloud, and mobile, as well as an deep orientation toward business outcomes, and the capability to get others to believe in a potential tomorrow.

Bannister, Pennington, and Stefanchik make a persuasive argument that the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) orientation of today’s IT worker need to be amplified into STEAM, by adding arts skillsets — liberal arts and design thinking — to the mix.

I have been pushing the idea of behavioral psychology and cultural anthropology in the workplace for years. It is one of the foundational ideas behind the Socialogy series I’ve been writing for the past several years, for example. Matching those with design and the futures thinking latent in science fiction, can lead to big breakthroughs.

One very obvious tension in the near future is the inherent conflict between agile and traditional development: where is the edge? Briggs zoomed in on that conflict, saying there will be ‘lots of shotgun weddings before we see happy families’.

As Briggs put it, ‘If we only look at small pivots, we will only get small effects’, but when you reach farther, you can do more. One very obvious tension in the near future is the inherent conflict between agile and traditional development: where is the edge? Briggs zoomed in on that conflict, saying there will be ‘lots of shotgun weddings before we see happy families’.

So, IT leaders need to deal with the serious challenges how to bring in the DNA needed for this sort of organization, based on those skills. And we are starting at a time of immense and growing demand for STEM skills, today, and STEAM skills in the out years.

This fusion of business and IT going to be a tall order, and will require heroism by all involved.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.