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The Irregular Newsletter of Z/Yen Group Limited

Catch up with current projects, new ventures and see some very bad puns (Editor: bad metaphor) via Z/Yen's blog or the eagerly awaited newsletter.

To receive your copy electronically, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Unpredictable Turn of Events in Z/Yen’s Predictive Analytics

Ian Harris is a relatively rare sight on the speaker circuit.  Indeed, in the analytics world, we might describe one of his appearances as an anomaly, perhaps even an outlier.  But in the Civil Society sector; health, membership and charities, interest in Z/Yen’s predictive analytics work is growing fast and Ian is now spreading the word.

Earlier this month, Ian conducted a Charity Focus Roundtable at Baker Tilly.  The specific topics covered included:

  • improving donor/member income and retention;
  • reducing volumes of unsuccessful contacts;
  • predicting the effectiveness of grant making;
  • reducing errors in transaction processing. 

Ian’s main message is that predictive analytics is no longer the domain of only the largest most complex organisations, requiring proprietary software and serious data skills. To deliver that message, Ian debunked several myths about analytics and Big Data currently circulating. Powerful tools for analytics are now either free or bundled with ubiquitous software, such as Excel. These tools can be used by information analysts and data jockeys in organisations of any size, with just a little additional training.

The Baker Tilly event was peppered with interactive puzzles and paradoxes, borrowed from Z/Yen’s predictive analytics courses, to illustrate and illuminate the topics.

Z/Yen is now offering a range of coaching and training courses for those clients who want to utilise the skills of their own analysts to get more out of their information. Highly modular, the courses can be tailored to specific sector and/or specific client needs. So far, Z/Yen has deployed the courses in specific client settings, but watch this space, as we intend to launch some general appreciation courses for both senior executives and information analysts, to enable you to ask the right sorts of questions and understand the answers.

If you are interested in learning more about Z/Yen’s predictive analytics work, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  by e-mail or on (020) 7562 9562.

Security Forward Workshop & Dinner - 1 October 2014 – Z/Yen & Honourable Artillery Company

Security Forward, Risk and Intelligence Forum’s October meeting was held at Z/Yen's offices in the City of London. There was a record attendance and quite a few new faces around the table. The meeting started with a presentation from our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Col Crispin Black, who gave a presentation entitled "The Middle East: What Next?"

Crispin questioned the position of Putin and Russia with regard to the Middle East. He pointed out that movement towards democracy is not a natural progression.  He highlighted the need to engage Iran in the process of stabilising the region.  When seen from an historical perspective, the current borders are a recent imposition resulting from the Sykes/Picot recommendations on carving up the old Ottoman Empire and sharing it out between Britain and France.  Saudi Arabia has only been in existence since 1932.  'Islamic State' does not recognise these artificial borders and talks of Al Sham (Greater Syria) which means the whole of the Levant and Mesopotamia, as part of the Caliphate, harking back hundreds of years.  Perhaps we are reaping the results of that recent European legacy?  The map is not fixed.  As ever, Crispin’s presentation was challenging and stimulating and enjoyed by all.

After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our second speaker was Ben Fletcher, who was Deputy Director of Olympic Security.  Ben was a Member of the Olympic Security Board, who were collectively responsible for programme delivery of the thirty five related projects and management of the one billion pound budget.  He gave a fascinating talk entitled "Securing the Games: Planning, Delivery And Lessons From The UK’s Biggest-Ever Security Operation".  He described the sheer complexity of drawing together so many different Agencies and trying to co-ordinate all the different groups' inputs.   Folks wished they'd had far more time for Q&A with Ben.

We ended the day with a most enjoyable dinner at The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) Headquarters in the City, where Michael Mainelli is an ex officio member, and were fortunate to have one of our Founder Members as our dinner speaker.  Peter Fraser-Hopewell gave an excellent presentation entitled "The Challenge of Restructuring" which was most informative.  He raised the security implications and cultural challenges of cross border ownership of a strategically sensitive company undergoing restructuring.  We raised our glasses in celebration with a Desert Healer cocktail.

 Our next meeting is planned for Wednesday 21 January 2015.

Analyse These Bargains on Daytime Television

Years and years of working for Z/Yen should result in Z/Yen folk picking up some seriously useful life skills, such as an uncanny knack for spotting an opportunity to make a quick buck, e.g. by spotting a bargain. 

Marie Logan (a well-known Z/Yen alumna) and Linda Cook (even more well-known as Z/Yen’s Practice Manager) are appearing on the daytime television game show, Bargain Hunt, on Friday 22 August at 12.15 on BBC1. 

The show requires them to attempt to make profit buying knick-knacks at a retail market and then reselling them at auction.  Further, they must seek to make more money than another team of two intrepid bargain hunters.  By all accounts it was a fierce, no-holds-barred competition.   

Bargain Hunt

We cannot tell you how Linda and Marie got on, naturally, but we do highly recommend that you tune in to see how our highly-trained, analytical risk/reward managers in red got on against the gifted but ill-fated, non-specialists in blue.

Contrary to popular belief, most of us Z/Yen folk aren’t available to watch daytime television, so we’ll be setting our recorders.  Or, as Linda so helpfully puts it, “it will be on BBC iPlayer for a week, just in case you miss the show live.  After that we will probably be on repeat forever!”

Further, if you want any knick-knacks valued by a bargain hunter with plenty of recent relevant experience, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by e-mail or on (020) 7562 9562.

Price of Fish Paperback Launch

Mid September sees the paperback launch of The Price of Fish

: A New 

Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions, Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris's award-winning book. The book will be available through Amazon, other on-line outlets and all good bookshops.  It will possibly even be available at bad bookshops.  

There will be a modest launch event, followed by a Long Finance discussion, at the City Business Library on 17 September between 9:00 and 10:00.  Michael will be leading the proceedings and both authors will be present. The event will be a grand opportunity to pick up a signed copy of the paperback ahead of the hoards.  

Although the event is free, you need to book a place in order to attend and spaces are limited.  Please click the following link if you would like to book a place:

We hope to welcome many members of the Z/Yen community there.  

Security Forward Workshop and Dinner – 30 June 2014

Security Forward Risk and Intelligence Forum’s June meeting was very kindly hosted by Willis at their Lime Street headquarters.  Z/Yen aficionados will remember 350 people singing down in the Willis Building’s cellars along with Brian Eno about financial reform at the Long Finance Spring Conference on Enduring Value in 2010 -  Security Forward was more rarified, up in the impressive boardroom on the 22nd floor  with quite a good turnout from members.

The meeting started with a presentation from our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Col Crispin Black, “Is Demography Really Destiny?”  Crispin explored the political and security implications of the world’s growing population for Europe and the United States of America.  Crispin provided rather sobering facts and figures on population growth and pointed out that more people live in the area encompassing India, China and Indonesia than the rest of the world.  He looked at projected growth for the UK population and how various ethnic and religious groups would change demographically. He also looked at the growing influence of the Hispanic population in the USA for comparison.  His presentation explored the political realities of short-term demographic resistance and long-term accommodation to voting patterns.  As ever, Crispin’s presentation was challenging and stimulating and enjoyed by all present.

After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our second speaker was John Burbidge-King of Interchange Solutions. John is a corporate governance & integrity risk expert with significant cross cultural and senior international management experience at board and director levels. He is an ex Royal Marine officer and served with the Sultan’s Armed Forces in Oman.  The title of the talk was “Not In My Backyard” because so many of us choose to put corruption to the back of our minds as we do not believe it will happen to us.  The talk was based around four themes, namely (1) Definitions, Culture, and Crime; (2) Why corruption is a real and present danger to national security and government; (3) Impact on corporations - the train coming down the tunnel; (4) Solution - what solution - is there one?  John gave a wide-ranging and fascinating talk.  Given John’s expertise, we discussed the crisis in Ukraine at some length as well as the rise of ISIS, recently renamed the Islamic State, and their objective of building a new state which ignores internationally recognised borders. The question and answer session was lively and informative due to the variety of experts present.

Eddy Castles, the Managing Director for Willis, London and South East hosted us for dinner on the 22nd floor and entertained us in great style.  We had a panoramic view of south, east, and north London.  We were lucky to have Lt Colonel Simon West, a serving officer based at Shrivenham and working on long-term strategy, as our dinner speaker.   Simon is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers with Keith Holland.  He gave an informed and fascinating talk on gunfounding in the City, cleverly using the amazing view from the dining room on the 22nd floor to illustrate his talk.  It was a delight to hear of several centuries of gunfounding while gazing on the Tower of London, Billiter Street, and the Honourable Artillery Company, let alone staring directly at the Proof House.  A salutary reminder that defence is part-and-parcel of sound City boundaries.