What you can learn from the Nordics on Digital Transformation

Henrik Pahlsson is a friend and Business Partner who lives in Gothenburg. He and his team at Avensia work with large food distributors, food manufacturers and luxury retailers to help them digitize their business. All are joint customers of my company Riversand and them in Norway and Sweden.

I recorded a chat with him as the companies in the Nordics are usually very fast and agile adopting new innovations.

WTF Data Chat 2: MDM programs cost millions and never end. True or false?

WTF? Is this an appropriate word in a headline, you may ask. I think discussing what’s the future (wtf) is more important than anything else 😜. And in Europe this joke is accepted.

I am discussing in this video series with Michael Weiss – who brings tremendous experience working with marquee brands such as Festo, Puma, Sportscheck and many others – what really matters in the digital business era, based on data.

Watch the video and feel free to leave your comments and views. We are looking at business needs, the MVP approach, commitment of stakeholders  and how to learn setting priorities to make your MDM program successful.


WTF Data Chat: Does a CEO have to worry about technology?

WTF? Is this appropriate, you may ask. I think discussing what’s the future (wtf) is more important than anything else 😜.

I am discussing in this video series with Michael Weiss what really matters in the digital business era, based on data.

Our chapter 1 addresses the question: should a CxO or CEO worry about technology? Let me know your view after watching the video.

What every company can learn about disruption from this watch maker

I admit, I am always on the hunt for styles. This company has impressed me by changing the game in the high class luxury watch segment. Clearly the issue for men is, that not everybody can afford a Rolex, Tudor, Omega or similar classic Swiss made watches. Christopher Ward started to change this game.

What are they doing different?

1. Hired talent from luxury brands

2. Removed the retail channel

3. Selling purely online

4. Using same materials as the Swiss born luxury competitors

5. No marketing with celebrities

Finally their concept is to simplify the business to reduce costs. This makes it possible to achieve their vision: putting luxury watches in the reach of everybody.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not glorifying Chris Ward. One curiosity is that they won my awareness by a print commercial on a airline magazine, but they claim to be an online player. Could their marketing budget be spend more efficiently in online targeting?

Would you be willing to buy from them, assuming their quality promise is true? Or will you continue stick to brands you know, like Rolex? I think classic, conservative Rolex customers will not take this step, but a new generation of people who are open for change, disruption and new thinking will give it a chance.

If I compare it to my software market I work in for almost two decades… there will always be clients who only will trust the market leader by Gartner to secure their careers. But their will also be brave disrupters, who want to change the game.

Imagine you could have both: the experience of many Rolex makers, in a new consumption model, simple with a better TCO….

PS: my two favorites on Instagram

Out now: My Q4 Column from Produktkulturmagazin

Everybody has a lot on their plates in the last quarter. Which is why I will not be beating around the bush at the end of the year, but getting down to brass tacks, as those without southern German dialects commonly say. And non-southern German for us southerners begins north of Frankfurt. If this offends you because you are one of these people, then I apologise profusely. You are missing out. Sitting in my accented Swabian glass house, I probably shouldn’t be throwing stones. Which is why I am writing here and not producing a podcast. A podcast? Dear Produktkulturmagazin, wouldn’t that be an idea for quickly capturing content and packaging it for easy consumption?

But back to language for the time being. Whenever I say my English is better than my German, the initial reaction of laughter is quickly followed by the question of whether it is as good as that of politician Günther Oettinger. I grin, simultaneously concealing my fury, and admit that I prefer to record my podcast in English rather than in German.

Dear reader, just be happy that I am writing to you here and not speaking to you in my Swabian dialect. The fourth quarter is the most important one of the year for software companies, often delivering in excess of 40 per cent of annual sales. Sometimes, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a matter of life and death. Yes, often it’s about your job, your career, your family, your home, your ego.

Today however, it is all about what really counts – which I would like to explain to you using three examples. I don’t claim to have invented all this, but it helps me, and maybe you as well, just as a refresher.

Please check out my full column in English or German from “Produktkulturmagazin” below:



My Xmas Style Wishlist

I thought I leave the best for last and try to help inspire some people, looking for Xmas gifts for their husbands, boyfriends, dads or any men.

With those brands new are never wrong. Where to find it?

Zwiesel 1872 – Hommage Comète tumbler or go for the Bond whiskey tumbler: https://www.davidshuttle.com/cumbria-crystal-grasmere-double-old-fashioned-tumbler/

Canada Goose gloves ARTIC DOWN https://www.canadagoose.com/de/de/arctic-down-handschuhe-fur-herren-5159M.html?cgid=shop-mens-gloves#start=1&cgid=shop-mens-gloves

New Lucky Luke issue: (German titles): ein Cowboy in Paris, das gelobte Land, meine Onkel die Daltons, Menü blaue Bohnen, Auf eigene Faust

Signet ring: https://www.trendhim.de/schwarzer-titus-ring-p.html

Dark turtle neck from Suitsupply https://eu.suitsupply.com/de/turtlenecks/navy-turtleneck/

Balr, https://www.balr.com/de/product/brand-t-shirt-black-on-black

Dsquared2 https://www.yoox.com/de/12225187/item

Hunter Boots Balmoral https://www.hunterboots.com/de/de_de/herren-tall-wellingtons/die-neuen-balmoral-verstellbaren-herren-gummistiefel-mit-3-mm-neoprenfutter/schwarz/2126

Dad Sneakers https://www.gq-magazin.de/mode-stil/modetrends/90er-jahre-sneakers-trend

My 4 Takeaways from Riversand Connections Europe 18

Almost 100 customers, partners and influencers participated in Riversand Connections 18, our first Europe-wide community event.

Among hundreds of events I attended or helped creat in almost 20 years in the data driven market, this was the most important to me. Why? Here are my top 4 learnings:

Digital transformation drives new higher values

Measuring KPIs and business outcomes will always be important. But I learned two new aspects of the higher impact of Riversand: 

In context if a MDM project kickoff a person mentioned that she had a health situation which needs certain medication and it’s not released in market due to the time it takes to get the product released to distributors and consumers . If they reduce the time to market they can impact people’s life and evens save some. She personally had a very emotional goal tied to this project success. I heard about wet eyes in the room when she mentioned this. 

Another one: Carrefour is selling a milk where the price is defined by the consumer. By consumers who want to pay a fair price to ensure that farmers get a fair share of the value for their work. The brand C’est qui le patron makes this product selling at 0,99€ while usual market price would be 0,65€, but consumers see new sustainable value in it.

Great customer base who is keen to learn from each other 

Aside from a record Q3, Riversand has a great customer base across European counties and industries. This week we learned from Johan Ekegren (Orkla, Norway) that almost half of their revenue depends on the Riversand platform and it is growing.

Lars Beeckmann Head of International Marketing at tesa (Germany) explained that they put people first and human centered design to understand and optimize processes of product introduction. Sébastien Royon from Saint Gobain (France) shared his best practices of how to manage huge complexity in building materials and global MDM rollouts, based on quick measurable wins.

Many people came to me with nice feedback on the Riversand Community, such as:

Jasmin Quellmann, International PIM Manager at Beiersdorf said „I am really enjoying the deep learning from peers and their best practices.“

Phil Carelin from Kingfisher stated “It was a very well run, informative and engaging session.” 

Riversand has great partners across Europe

Within one year we have onboarded more implementation partners across all key regions in Europe. I was happy to see dedicated MDM experts from companies such as Avensia, Advellence, Comma Group, TCS, Infosys, PwC, Infosys, Parsionate and Yellowground to attend, along with complementary solutions such as Productsup, Inbetween, Loadbee and Priint Group. Watch out for new announcements to come shortly.

Disruption in the digital business era requires new tech

A common theme which was discussed was that if you want to win in the world of tomorrow, and you focus on disruptive business models, this also requires a new approach in data management. New ways of user experience, data processing and data storage are the new normal. Also cloud is not longer just an option, it is the new standard.


Values are probably the most important human factors which bring and tie us together. Being part of such a community where respect, appreciation, commitment and passion are essential, just feels fantastic.