Tag Archive: markets


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Businesses existed before there were computers, fax machines, telephones and copiers, but few entrepreneurs these days would want to try to grow a company without the advantages modern information technology can bring.

Merely having access to the internet- with its myriad opportunities for finding customers, building brands, researching suppliers and communicating with employees and others – can easily justify updating the technology in your office. For many companies, having the appropriate office technology can mean the difference between a successful expansion and one that falls flat on its face.

Managing technology and taking advantage of the opportunities it provides can prove daunting-particularly for small-business owners who lack an extensive budget and a dedicated IT department.

After all, achieving success in this technology-dominant era is far more complicated than putting a personal computer and a printer on a desk. You now have to understand how to take advantage of an IT infrastructure, including a robust network, to compete more effectively. Ultimately, it’s as much about vision-and developing a viable strategy-as it is about actual computing.
Too often, companies jump from one system or application to another but never realize the full benefit of their technology. Without a defined strategy, they make poor buying decisions, adopt ineffective tools, and often experience a high level of frustration. Businesses that excel typically establish technology strategies that help them gain a competitive advantage through cost savings, process improvements, faster time to market, and improved quality and service levels. These firms often exceed the expectations of customers, business partners and employees.

Developing a Tech Strategy


The smartest companies embrace a process for evaluating their technology goals and requirements before implementation. Your first step is to conduct an IT/network audit to document the technologies you already have in place and how they match your goals. You’ll want to determine the strengths and shortcomings of your current systems and their relative importance to your business objectives. The audit should cover the following areas:

  • Your company’s business requirements paired with the corresponding technology hardware/software/services solutions that address them.
  • A timeline for investment and deployment, showing how the timeline tracks to the priorities in the overall company business plan.
  • A design for a robust network architecture, which should include a network map of where your company is today technically–and how you plan to build your network in an evolutionary way.
  • Metrics and ways to measure the success of the IT investments.

Technology is vital to your business, but that doesn’t mean you always have to have the latest, greatest piece of equipment or software. Here’s how to evaluate your current technology to see whether it’s time to upgrade:
Computers are most likely to need upgrading as a result of a software update. If you’ve recently begun using a new version of an important software package and your computers’ performance seems unsatisfactorily slow, it may be time to buy new hardware. Otherwise, you can-and probably should-make do with what you have. Don’t delay buying new computers just because the ones you have are only a few years old, though. During that span of time, performance of the models on the market typically doubles. Forcing customers and employees to wait on slow computers can cost you far more than a new system would.

Telephone systems should be upgraded quickly if a problem develops because they’re your lifeline to customers and suppliers. If customers complain about being kept on hold, about phones not ringing or calls not being answered, you may need to add lines, improve your answering system, or perhaps hire more telephone operators. If you expect your call volume to surge sharply-perhaps because of an upcoming new product launch or seasonal buying-you may want to upgrade your phone system before trouble starts, making sure you have enough time to implement a new system, train employees and work out all the bugs.

High-end copiers can cost more than a whole office full of computers. Today’s models are increasingly interchangeable with printers, thanks to the new generation of digital, network-ready copiers. Some late-model digital copiers will also scan documents and send faxes. But fancy features don’t mean you need one of these costly machines. Upgrade your copiers when you experience or foresee a significant increase in the volume of copies you produce. Adding extras such as automatic document feeders and staplers are nice but probably don’t justify an upgrade.

The great thing about the march of technology is not so much that the equipment keeps getting cheaper, it’s that it keeps getting better. And while you don’t want to be on the bleeding edge of technology adoption, one exception is when you absolutely need a specific technology that has been introduced very recently. Most new gadgets go through a steep price decline after an initial phase of high pricing. If you need something that’s currently the latest thing but you can live without it for a while, you can save significant amounts of money by waiting to purchase until several months after it debuts.

What About Upgrading?

Even when you can’t justify purchasing new equipment, that doesn’t mean your old tech has to languish. You can always improve your office computers by making upgrades–adding memory or purchasing external storage devices or faster processors. Many people would rather prolong the lives of their computers than get rid of them, and upgrading piece by piece can also eliminate the learning curve needed to adjust to a new machine. You’ll need to be somewhat tech-savvy to take care of these upgrades yourself–or have access to a tech savvy employee or friend.
Here are some of the most effective and least expensive items you may want to buy to bring your older computers back up to speed:

  • Hard Drives. One of the most important features of any computer is its ability to store large amounts of data. Many systems today come standard with 20 to 40 gigabytes (GB) of storage, but with the growing interest in digital music and digital video, even 40GB may not be enough.
  • Whether you need desktop drives to back up your primary hard drives or store your digital video files, or a portable large-capacity drive to carry a hefty business presentation, there are several solutions that may help meet your needs. Consumer hard drives, such as FireWire and FireWire/USB combo hard drives, offer anywhere from an extra 20GB to upwards of more than 300GB of storage capacity. Such external drives allow for quick transfer rates between systems and other drives. Most come with accessories and are easy to install, making the upgrade process quick and painless. And when you’re ready to invest in new computers for the office, you’ll always have the extra digital storage space on hand should you need it.
  • CD-ROM/R/RW and DVD-ROM/R/RW Drives. If you regularly use your computer’s original CD drive to install or run software, listen to music and so on, you’ve probably noticed that it isn’t as fast as it used to be. You’ll find that CD-R/RW and DVD-R/RW drives are a good option because they allow you to burn large amounts of data, making them an ideal storage solution.
  • Processor Upgrades and Accelerators.Perhaps you’re simply looking for a little more “zoom.” Processor upgrades and accelerators allow you to increase the overall performance of a computer by allowing it to process information faster. Accelerators do this by shifting operational functionality and providing additional cache memory, thereby freeing up the computer’s main processor so it can do its real job–running software applications. And with recently released processor upgrades available at great values that enable older computers to perform at faster clock speeds, anyone planning to replace office computers simply because “new ones are faster” should seriously reconsider.
  • Memory. While everything that’s already been mentioned can help increase the usability of your current computers, one of the most tried-and-true ways to improve performance is to simply install more random access memory (RAM). If your office is running applications that require large portions of system resources, upgrading the amount and/or type of memory can speed up those applications and allow you to run more programs with less strain on your hardware. And with memory prices currently near bargain-basement levels, upgrading a computer’s RAM is one of the most affordable options you have to prolong its life.

The bottom line is that even with computer prices dropping, the more you can do to upgrade your existing machines, the more money you’re going to save until you’re ready to purchase the new machines. In the long run, upgrading one piece at a time allows you to further extend the effective lives of your computers without cutting out chunks of your bottom line.

Purchasing New Technology

If you’ve absolutely decided that you need to do more than upgrade your current equipment and software, however, it’s important to answer a few questions when considering making a new technology purchase:

  • Can my business achieve an immediate gain from the technology?
  • What benefits are possible and how long will it take us to achieve success?
  • What resources are required to implement and manage the technology?
  • Does the hardware or application support a foundation for future growth?

Once you know what you really need, you can start shopping around. One of the most common tech products entrepreneurs consider purchasing is new software. But before you rush off to buy any new programs, keep in mind that you have several factors to consider other than just the capabilities and costs of the software. Your selections should be based on your company’s size, industry, internal organization, computing environment, technical expertise and, of course, the ever-important user interface. Even a great product can end up being a nuisance if it’s not intuitive to you as a user.
Before you go shopping, be sure to evaluate your company’s staple software. For each program, draw up a wish list of features or enhancements that would make using the package easier. Often, the solution may be as simple as an upgrade to the latest version available. Consider hiring an IT professional to examine your system and business needs and tell you whether you even need to upgrade. Getting an expert opinion can be a money-saving move for small-business owners who would prefer to spend time keeping up on the latest developments in their industries than on the latest in software.

Once you decide you need something new, try it before you buy it:

Check out software company websites for downloadable demos that can help you better gauge how easy their products are to use. If a demo version isn’t available, there’s usually a detailed online tour that gives you a lot more information than a paper brochure. And before you buy the package outright, check with the software company to see if it’s bundled with other software or equipment that you might be in the market to buy anyway. If you’re shopping for a new accounting package or other critical software, consider doing a “scripted demo,” where you enter your data and run through test scenarios specific to your business’s transactions. It may be time-consuming, but if you buy the wrong software, it will be more costly later.Take a good look at your business and pinpoint those activities that take more time than you’d like-the ones that make you mutter to yourself.

“There must be something out there that can do this quicker than I can.”

No doubt, there probably is. For that matter, think about those activities you never seem to have time to do. From tools for creating websites to time-billing software, new products could provide brilliant solutions to problems you haven’t yet resolved. Make sure, though, that the solutions are worth the money and time you’ll have to spend to implement them successfully.

A customer relationship management (CRM) solution can help you streamline customer service, simplify sales and marketing efforts, find new customers and generate more revenue from existing customers. You can record customer interactions with sales and customer service personnel and keep a centralized database with current customer information that everyone in your company can access. This will allow your entire organization to understand what each customer wants and needs and give you a 360-degree view of your business 24/7, which will help you keep customers happy and boost your bottom line.

Improving Your Network

While setting up a traditional wired network for your computers and peripherals is still a viable option, wireless networks are becoming faster, more affordable and easier to adopt than ever. Growing small businesses that have adopted a wireless solution are already reporting immediate paybacks in higher productivity, flexible application mobility and greater worker satisfaction.

A wireless infrastructure can make it easier to reconfigure your office space as your company grows and changes. Also, the total cost of a wireless local area network (LAN) is relatively inexpensive–it’s become very affordable in the past few years and prices are continuing to drop. And a wireless network can help you improve your productivity:
Multiple computers can share printers and a single broadband internet connection without the hassle of running cables through walls. You can access your customer database whether you’re in your office or meeting clients in a conference room. Employees in the stockroom can update your inventory database in real-time using wireless PDAs. When you take into account productivity gains, both inside the office and at public “hot spots,” going wireless is an obvious choice, especially when compared to the cost of running a Cat 5 network LAN cable throughout a building.

However, since wireless networks transmit data over radio waves, which can potentially be intercepted, it’s important to have a security strategy for your wireless network. An unprotected wireless network is like an unlocked door–and too many small businesses are leaving their doors wide open. Below are some steps small businesses can take to make their wireless connection more secure:

  • Change your device’s default password. Wireless access points/routers come with default passwords set by the factory. Once entered, the password gives you access to change the device’s settings. Hackers know these default passwords and can use them to access your wireless access point/router and change its settings, for instance, turning off security features. To prevent unauthorized access to your wireless network equipment, change the device’s password to something difficult to guess. This password should preferably be an alphanumeric combination longer than 10 characters.
  • Change the default SSID
  • A service set identifier (SSID) is the name used to identify your wireless network. Your wireless access point/router came with a default, preset SSID. Hackers often look specifically for these preset SSIDs when scanning for networks, because they’re considered easy targets. As soon as possible, change the default SSID to something unique and, for extra security, change it regularly.
  • Don’t broadcast the SSIDBy default, wireless access points/routers broadcast SSIDs, making it easy for legitimate users–as well as hackers–to find and join a wireless network. However, you can choose not to broadcast your network’s SSID. Devices such as wireless computers and PDAs that require access to the network can be configured to automatically connect to your network’s SSID, so they don’t need the SSID to be broadcast to hook up.
  • Keep your wireless hardware’s firmware updatedThe software that enables access points/routers to operate properly, called firmware, is frequently updated by the device manufacturer. Often, updates include enhanced security. Updated firmware is available for free downloading online. Check your device manufacturer’s website support area regularly to ensure you have the most current firmware version installed.
  • Enable MAC address filteringA media access control (MAC) address is a unique series of numbers and letters assigned to every network device. You can configure your wireless access point/router to only allow access to specified MAC addresses (such as the addresses of each wireless computer on your network). MAC address filtering makes it much more difficult for hackers to access your network. The downside: It’s also more difficult to give wireless network access to clients, partners or others visiting your offices or locations. But protecting your system may be worth it.
  • Set a wireless policyCreate a clear but simple wireless network usage policy for all your employees to follow. The policy should include guidelines on the use of passwords, personal devices, such as wireless PDAs, and public Wi-Fi hot spots.

Disposing of Old Tech

Old PCs don’t die, and they don’t fade away, either. The average PC will run almost forever, and the harmful chemicals inside it will survive in your local landfill for even longer. How many long-lived-but-obsolete computers is your company moving around among staffers? There’s definitely a point of diminishing returns in holding on to PCs past their prime, as well as hidden costs in just about any disposal method you choose. Recycling, selling them to employees or giving them to charity are all viable options, but they all have costs attached–many of which may surprise you. It’s a good idea to have an exit strategy for your old hardware–and it should be in place long before the intrinsic value of your PCs hits zero.

Complete depreciation is often here before you know it, but there’s good news in that respect: The average middle-of-the-road PC now has a useful life of about three years; a high-end desktop, about four years. But be careful: Nurse an old PC along for too long, and productivity suffers–for low-level staffers as well as managers. Worker efficiency declines along with equipment efficiency, so when software takes longer to load, screens take longer to redraw and incompatibilities start to occur, memory upgrades need to be deployed. Most old PCs have years of utility left in them–just not for you. There are tons of schools, community groups, senior homes and other needy institutions that would be happy to take them off your hands.

Unfortunately, donation is another of the more costly disposal options. By the time you get done with moving, temporarily storing, shipping, tax record-keeping, making contractual arrangements with the beneficiary, possible testing and repair, and, of course, facing the ever-present legal exposure, IDC figures it will cost you $344 for each PC donated.
And the legal exposure is real. You could get sued for donating a defective or virus-infected computer, or you may be asked to defend the tax deduction. On the upside, the infrastructure for charitable donations is well-advanced, making this option less time-consuming.

One popular option for PC disposal is selling them. IDC says your net out-of-pocket per PC is $272 if you can sell it to an employee for $100, and $119 if you sell it to a third-party broker for $200. (Remember, costs vary among disposal options and you’ll still need to scrub the machines of company information.) The good news is, the PC is gone. But in both cases, you have to sell the PC before its value reaches zero. And those three years for a mid-range PC and four years for a high-end box go by quickly. Of course, brands vary. You can look up the residual value of your PC in the Orion Computer Blue Book. You can purchase the latest version of the Blue Book with the most recent prices from the Orion Research website. You also can look up prices for individual PCs online at $3.99 per shot.

In general, a lot of PC disposal costs are realized in soft dollars, and a certain amount of those are fixed. IDC says it will cost companies at least $150 for every PC taken out of service. First, there’s the labor involved in physically removing a system and its network components, disconnecting peripherals and scrubbing the hard drive of software, passwords and sensitive company files. Then there’s the downtime for employees during the move. After that, your costs will vary depending on how you choose to dispose of the old PC and may include payment for things like testing and repair or, in many cases, contractual or other legal costs.

And don’t even think about tossing them in the trash. Old PCs have chlorinated and brominated substances, Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), heavy metals, gases, acids and plastic additives–and that’s just for starters. All those chemicals have incredibly long half-lives. You want your new house sitting on top of this stuff? Not to mention, the EPA will be all over you if you’re discovered throwing PCs in the trash.

Training


Buying new technology is usually just the beginning. If employees aren’t trained on how to use the new equipment, your business won’t get the full benefit of your investment. You can get employees trained in almost any technology, at any level and any subject. Even highly experienced users may need training to use the latest programming and networking tools.

Start your search for training by quizzing the company that sold you the technology. Many vendors have on-staff professional trainers who can come to your site to train employees on using new technologies. If not, they can probably refer you to a local firm that offers appropriate training. You can also look in the business Yellow Pages under “Training Programs” and “Training Consultants.” You can choose from various types of training: Classroom training with a live instructor can be done at your business or off-site, in the form of a short tutorial or continuing series of classroom lessons. Having an instructor on hand helps learners get questions answered.

If you can do without a live teacher, check out video-based training. Class starts when you insert a pre-recorded tape or DVD into a VCR or DVD player. Students take notes and follow along in workbooks, just like with live teachers. Video courses can be repeated any time and are low in cost. Computerized training can be delivered in a classroom with PCs, or via the web. Internet classes let students choose the time, place and pace of learning. Some are taught by an instructor who communicates over the internet. Students can mix, mingle and discuss lessons in online chat rooms.

Managing Your Technology Costs

Many business owners today tend to set their tech budgets without having done adequate research–and therefore have unrealistic expectations about how much technology really costs. In fact, many businesses don’t have a good understanding of the total cost of ownership of their technology. When making decisions about technology budgets, businesses should focus less on the technology itself and make decisions about how technology complements other areas of the business. Figure out what you need to do to run your business better, and then go find the tools to support it.
Steps you can take to lower technology cost include timely purchases, clever negotiation and internal controls can help businesses save megabucks. You can renegotiate existing contracts for services such as network support and consulting.

Telecom is especially ripe for bargains. You can start by setting bench marks for rates and auditing bills to ensure you’re not overpaying. And instead of buying all long-distance, local phone and other telecom services from one vendor, dual-source it.

You should also make sure you need whatever new technology you do buy. Inventory all PCs, printers and software. Look for opportunities to consolidate purchases, standardize configurations and root out duplication. Set up a system to keep doing it. Pick a team of people from IT and other departments, and meet with them regularly to discuss what they need and how to save on it.
Another way to save money on tech purchases is buying refurbished hardware. Many online manufacturers and retailers have sections of their websites devoted to clearance outlets. You may have to poke around the site to find them, but it’s worth checking into when you’re on a tight budget. Refurbished items are usually returns that have been looked over and checked for functionality. As with auctions, check to see if all documentation and software is included. Compare prices to what is normally charged to see if the savings is worthwhile. Often warranties are shortened. What might have originally come with a one-year warranty may only include a 90-day warranty when it’s sold as refurbished. If you’re comfortable with that, go ahead and save some money.

Looking online for deals is also a great way to save money on your tech budget. And bargain hunting over the Internet doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Web sites such as PriceGrabber.com, PriceSCAN.com and MySimon.comare hubs for price comparisons. They’re especially handy if you already know what you want and are just looking for the lowest price. Don’t be blinded by what seem to be incredible bargains. Always check into an online retailer’s reputation if you’re not already familiar with it. You probably know this already, but always use a credit card for your purchases in case you have to dispute charges later.
Another great resource for hardware is eBay. You can pick up a wide array of products-from extra cell phone batteries to monitors and ink cartridges-at prices that would make some retailers blush. But eBay is no utopia. You still have to check into the seller’s reputation. Also check to see if the product you’re buying is refurbished, if it comes with an original warranty or tech support, and if all documentation and pieces are included. Some entrepreneurs may decide that the savings are worth living without some or all of those things. It’s not good or bad, it’s just a matter of deciding what you feel comfortable with.

If you’re the type of person who likes to “handle the merchandise” before you buy, find a local retailer you can visit in person. Prices may be a little higher when you just walk into a store, but you also have the security of having a physical location to return the product to in case of a problem. The Sunday ads are a good place to compare prices, and you should keep an eye out for specials and rebates at your local stores.

Buy or Lease?

As quickly as technology becomes obsolete, it sometimes makes sense to rent instead of buy your next round of upgrades. You can rent or lease most kinds of office technology, including computers, printers, copiers and phone systems. Here’s how your options stack up:

Leasing


If you’re like many small businesses, you’re willing to lease costly technology that’s likely to become quickly outdated. Leasing lets you get higher-end, more costly gear while reducing upfront outlays. Monthly payments will also usually be lower than those for credit-purchased equipment. Maybe most important, however, you’re transferring the risk of obsolescence to somebody else. If that high-end PC is a clunker by lease’s end, just hand it back to the owner and get a new model. Check the terms of your lease carefully. Scrutinize your options for the end of the lease. You may be able to buy the equipment for a small additional fee if you want to.

The ability to have the latest equipment is leasing’s number-one perceived benefit and you’ll have predictable monthly expenses. With a lease, you have a pre-determined monthly line item, which can help you budget more effectively. Many small businesses struggle with cash flow and must keep their coffers as full as possible, and leasing means you won’t have to invest cash up front. Because leases rarely require a down payment, you can acquire new equipment without tapping much-needed funds.

The downside of leasing is that you’ll pay more in the long run. Ultimately, leasing is almost always more expensive than purchasing. For example, a $4,000 computer would cost a total of $5,760 if leased for three years at $160 per month, but only $4,000 (plus sales tax) if purchased outright.

And you’re obligated to keep paying even if you stop using the equipment. Depending on the lease terms, you may have to make payments for the entire lease period, even if you no longer need the equipment, which can happen if your business changes.

Buying


Buying your equipment costs more upfront. If you’re buying on an installment plan rather than paying cash, monthly payments are usually higher. It may be comforting to know you own your equipment rather than rent it, but you may find yourself with an out-of-date machine right as you put the last check in the mail. One of the benefits of buying is that it’s easier than leasing. Buying equipment is easy–you decide what you need, then go out and buy it. Taking out a lease, however, involves at least some paperwork, as leasing companies often ask for detailed, updated financial information. They may also ask how and where the leased equipment will be used. Also, lease terms can be complicated to negotiate. And if you don’t negotiate properly, you could end up paying more than you should or receive unfavorable terms.

When you purchase equipment, you call the shots regarding maintenance. Equipment leases often require you to maintain equipment according to the leasing company’s specifications, and that can get expensive. When you buy the equipment outright, you determine the maintenance schedule yourself. Buying equipment is also tax deductible. Section 179 of the IRS code lets you deduct the full cost of newly purchased assets, such as computer equipment, in the first year. With most leases favored by small businesses–called operating leases–you can only deduct the monthly payment.

The disadvantages of buying equipment is that the initial outlay may be too much. Your business may have to tie up lines of credit or cough up a hefty sum to acquire the equipment it needs. Those lines of credit and funds could be used elsewhere for marketing, advertising or other functions that can help grow your business.

And eventually, you’re stuck with outdated equipment. As mentioned earlier, computer technology becomes outdated quickly. A growing small business may need to refresh its technology in some areas every 18 months. That means you’re eventually stuck with outdated equipment that you must donate, sell or recycle.

Contingency Plan


You never know how much you depend on technology until you don’t have access to it anymore. If a disaster strikes, you may not only suffer direct losses of data and hardware, but indirect losses due to downtime. But with some foresight and planning, you can avoid sustained downtime–and lost profits.

First, create a broad, holistic plan to ensure business continuity, not just disaster recovery. This plan should involve every part of your business, such as processes, operations, assets, employees and so on. Your overall goal: to prevent business disruption–then minimize it if it does occur. To this end, you should:

  • Conduct an impact analysis. How much downtime, loss of productivity, loss of data, loss of revenues and so on can your company sustain? For how long?
  • Develop a plan for dealing with mission-critical (revenue-impacting, customer-facing) functions and business-critical (back office, supply chain, e-mail) functions under various disruptive scenarios. Determine which business technologies to employ.
  • Educate your workers about the plan before a crisis occurs.
  • From time to time, revisit the plan to make sure it remains practicable and viable.

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Latest News Section Involving Key Financial and Monetary Statistics

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All sorts of organisations use the vocabulary of strategy. Compare these extracts from the statements of communications giants Nokia and Kingston University, a public institution based in London with 200.000 students.

“Nokia’s vision and mission believes in communicating, sharing, and in the awesome potential in connecting the 2 billion who do with 4 bilion who don’t. Connecting is about helping people to feel close to what matters.”

If we focus on people, and use technology to help people, than growth will follow. In a world where everyone can be connected, Nokia takes a human approach to technology.
Nokia’s priority is to be the most proffered partner to operators , retailers and enterprises. A strategy where customers remain our top priority.

In line with this priorities, Nokia ‘s business portfolio strategy focusses on five areas, with each have long-term objectives: create winning devices; embrace customer Internet services; deliver enterprise solutions; build scale in networks, expand professional services.
There are three strategic assets that Nokia will invest in and prioritize:

1. Brand and design

2. Costumer engagement and fulfilment

3. Technology and architecture.

“Kingston University’s mission is to promote participation in higher education, which it regards as a democratic entitlement; to strive for excellence in learning,teaching and research, to realise the creative potential and fire the imagination of all its members.”

The vision is to be comprehensive and to create by present possibilities, with a grander and more aspirational vision of the future.
The University’s goals are to provide all students equal opportunities to:

🔹Realise their learning ambitions;

🔹Create authority in research and professional practice for the benefit of individuals, society and economy

🔹Develop collaborative links with providers and stakeholders within the region, nationally and internationally;

🔹Manage and develop its human, physical and financial resource to achieve the best possible academic value and value for money.

“Strategy is part of every day language of work.”

Strategy vocabulary therefore is used in many different contexts for many different purposes.


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Latest News for Strategy Business Developments

Decisive Entrepreneur

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An overview on one aspect that captures almost all the economic activities include a representation to a change. This clue distinctions of when and where supports all those interested wantings for the future development and innovation, in the activity of the products and the services desired for the necesary market.

You never know where you are going to find a good idea.

That may sound like a saying from a fortune cookie. But for Normal CEO, and founder, Nikki Kaufman, it’s a management style.

It’s also why the headquarters of her 3-D printed custom earphone company are open and transparent across departments. It’s a guiding principle on how to run a team.

I encourage new ideas all the time here at Normal. That’s one of the things that I really like about having everyone in one office.
She included this advices from the floor of her New York City retail location, which also serves as the company’s factory and corporate office along with an incredible pursuatiation for advocating content into the shared markets .
An idea can come from anywhere.”



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Latest News for Strategy Business Developments

Old Business Models

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Every industry is changing

There are no original ideas left. Sure, it’s kind of a cynical thought, but try and brainstorm a completely new concept, whether for a business, an advertising campaign or even a limerick, and you’ll start to think it’s true. It can sometimes be a stretch to come up with anything that hasn’t already been thought of.
It’s the reason someone once famously said there are only three original jokes and all the others have been derived from them. It’s why Hollywood remakes old movies. And the dearth of original ideas is why businesspeople sometimes pay other businesspeople to come up with a new concept for their own products or services.
Fortunately, if you’re an entrepreneur trying to come up with a new business model, you don’t have to be completely unique. For instance, you probably wouldn’t attempt to sell fingernail clippings in a bag, no matter how groundbreaking and unique the idea is. In fact, if you’re starting a business, you probably shouldn’t do something that’s never been done -after all, think of the learning curve your target market will have to tackle. But you would be well advised to take an old idea and make it new. That’s exactly what David Friedberg did. It was around 2001, Friedberg figures, when he was 20 years old and living across the road from a bicycle rental shop.
Every day that it rained, the bike shop was closed. “It became pretty noticeable,” recalls Friedberg, now 26 and already an ex-Google executive and the CEO of his own company, WeatherBill, in San Francisco. After watching the bicycle rental store owner get rained out day after day, Friedberg started noticing how many other companies- think golf courses and car washes- were taking a financial bath whenever it was wet outside.
“You don’t really think about it, but 70 percent of businesses are affected by the weather every year, across regions and industries,”
says Friedman.
“The weather affects so many different types of businesses, whether in negative or in positive ways, like taxi cabs in New York, which are often full in the cold.”
Friedman was a business product manager at Google when he had his “a-ha moment.” It occurred to him that he should start an insurance company- a very old idea- but gear it specifically toward companies that want to protect themselves from losing money on a rainy day -a new idea. It may not sound new. After all, insurance companies generally protect you if you’re hammered by a hurricane, slaughtered by a sandstorm or frozen under the tundra. But we’re talking about the car wash that doesn’t want to lose an entire day of income when there are five inches of rain.
That’s why Friedberg developed, with his “computer science friends,” an elaborate website where anyone can log on and buy a contract to protect themselves from unseasonable weather. The site is completely customizable and automated. A farmer, for instance, could receive money every time the temperature dips below 67 degrees in a particular month. Or if a ski resort has a week and a half of beautiful, balmy weather in January, the owner could automatically receive a check without having to report the weather.
“There is no claims process,”
Friedberg says proudly. Instead his company uses a third-party weather station, EarthStat, that independently confirms data and sends daily reports to WeatherBill, which then processes the checks and sends them out.

Modernizing the Wheel
Some business models only need to be slightly tweaked to appeal to the modern consumer. Want to update the traditional dentist office? Put it on wheels. While cleaning teeth is an industry almost as old as, well, teeth, putting an office in a van that can travel anywhere from giant corporate campuses to nursing homes is a much more recent concept. The rise of mobile dentist offices in the last few years shows that catering to people’s busy and complicated lives is a nearly surefire way to improve upon an old concept.
Then there’s the Pearson Ford Fuel Depot in San Diego, which has received a lot of attention for its one-of-a-kind gas station that offers a full range of clean-burning alternative fuels from ethanol to BioWillie, a type of biodiesel made from soybeans and promoted by singer Willie Nelson. Gas stations may be becoming synonymous with global warming, but by offering an alternative, this fueling station has managed to drum up publicity while serving an emerging niche market.
Capitalizing on consumers’ nostalgia is yet another potential approach. In true throwback fashion, State Street Barbers, located in Chicago and Boston, gives modern hair cuts to men in an environment decked out to look like a ritzy salon in the 1920s. Patrons are given a cold beverage when they walk in and can get a hot lather shave with a classic straight razor and hot towels.
In the end, it’s easier to be original and unique in an established industry like home selling or insurance when you have plenty of capital funding behind you; it’s another story if you’re running a fledgling startup in your parents’ basement, and you feel you have to take any client with a pulse and a wallet. But whether you’re a big fish in the ocean or a small one in the pond, the principles are always the same. If you’re going to tweak a formula,
“throw out the way things have been done before,”
advises Friedberg.
Manufacturers wants more to connect with their suppliers, their distributors, and ultimate their customers. In a consumer world there is an app for that, in the government world there is form for that and that is the technology that needs to be closed. Banks knows a lot about the customers and that information is spread to the full wings. The reason why most of the companies are not embracing the future faster, is because they continue to throw their capital to what they worked in the past and that’s what is keeping manufacturers up at night, is how to innovate quickly with agility, and deepen their relationships with their retailers, suppliers and consumers.
Figure out your end goal, and then forget about what all of the other people have done, and come up with a new way.



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The Latest News & Developments in Business Strategy Practise

Financial Goals

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In the new case of the industries you  should be proactive in helping achieving and creating your goals.

When you’re a start-up with few employees and few customers, it’s easy to stay on top of what customers want and what they’re getting. But as you add more customers and employees, you add links to the customer service chain. That creates the potential for growth and the potential for poor service along the way. That’s why creating a customer service policy and adhering to it is so important. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your clients receive excellent service every step of the way.

  1. Put your customer service policy in writing. These principles should come from you, but every employee should know what the rules are and be ready to live up to them. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as “the customer is always right” can lay the necessary groundwork, although you may want to get more detailed by saying, for instance, “any employee is empowered to grant a 10 percent discount to any dissatisfied customer at any time.”
  2. Establish support systems that give employees clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority. These systems will help you outservice any competitor by giving more to customers and anticipating problems before they arise.
  3. Develop a measurement of superb customer service. Don’t forget to reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout your company. Employees should see how good service relates to your profits and to their futures with the company.
  5. Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry. This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it.
  6. Share information with people on the front lines.Meet with your employees regularly to talk about improving service. Solicit ideas from employees-they are the ones who are dealing with customers most often.
  7. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness and competence. They love being treated as individuals and being referred to by name.

 

It has been about trust and it has been about getting there faster than anybody else,as we are driving innovation and bring ideas from other industries through our success.

 

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” 

 Howard Stevenson 

 

This is one of the first definitions of entrepreneurism.It perfectly captures the nature of entrepreneurship and highlights some key qualities that successful entrepreneursshare. Entrepreneurs are confident in their abilities and they are able to recognize opportunities where many others don’t see them.




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Outthink The Future

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| Identifying and Engaging |

One of the main reasons for this failure rate is that entrepreneurs don’t identify their target demographic correctly. Without clarifying your core customers, selling is ultimately a function of individual, heroic efforts in the field, not a scalable platform for growth.

The following four steps can reverse this downward trend:

 

Assemble and analyze customer data

Every firm should know how customer attributes link to core selling metrics, including profitability, cost of customer acquisition and customer-lifetime value. While this information is often scattered across multiple functions in a company, it’s worth pulling together to establish a common language of customer value across functions.

 

Get the field involved

People in frontline positions hold the best understanding of customer behavior as it relates to the seller’s cost implications and should be involved in reviewing the data gathered. What can they tell us about profitable or unprofitable customer attributes? What else might be driving customer acquisition costs in a segment? What are the implications for the organizational change?

 

Determine who actually generates cash

Implications from deeper understanding of your customers typically involve changes in how you measure sales effectiveness, performance reviews, incentives, product mix, channels and sometimes “addition by subtraction,” or the process of improving performance by not selling to certain types of customers. The costs of serving customers, for example, can vary dramatically for the seller. Some customers require more calls, some buy few large production-efficient order quantities and others may buy more in overall volume but with many just-in-time orders, impacting delivery and other cost-to-serve elements.

Sales people can be dogged optimists in their call patterns, often assuming that “there must be a pony in there somewhere.” Yet by knowing who the customers that generate cash really are, you’re able to clarify the value proposition embedded in a strategy and align resources accordingly.

 

Communicate your criteria

The breadth of potential changes means that communication is critical. Leaders must devote time and effort to discussing the rationale and what they mean for the business. In practice, most companies do not take customer selection seriously until things go sour. However, communicating customer criteria now can contribute to faster decision making and greater profit later.

The marketplace has no responsibility to inform you whether or not your sales people are barking up the wrong tree.

It’s your responsibility as an entrepreneur to think through and clarify your customer selection criteria. Done correctly, it can provide a scalable sales model, focus resources and establish an ongoing process for adapting your criteria in the face of inevitable market changes.


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NEWS & OVERVIEW DISCUSSIONS IN DIFFERENT MARKET INDUSTRIES

Accelerated processes

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Every step of complex inquiring

Achieve to order smarter to proactive customers, partner and distributor engagement, to be both together in global collaboration across experts anywhere.A point to the increase of profitability with faster CPO and higher margin for better solutions.

When you’re a start-up with few employees and few customers, it’s easy to stay on top of what customers want and what they’re getting.

But as you add more customers and employees, you add links to the customer service chain. That creates the potential for growth and the potential for poor service along the way. That’s why creating a customer service policy and adhering to it is so important.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your clients receive excellent service every step of the way.

  1. Put your customer service policy in writing. These principles should come from you, but every employee should know what the rules are and be ready to live up to them. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as “the customer is always right” can lay the necessary groundwork, although you may want to get more detailed by saying, for instance, “any employee is empowered to grant a 10 percent discount to any dissatisfied customer at any time.”
  2. Establish support systems that give employees clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority.These systems will help you outservice any competitor by giving more to customers and anticipating problems before they arise.
  3. Develop a measurement of superb customer service.Don’t forget to reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout your company. Employees should see how good service relates to your profits and to their futures with the company.
  5. Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry.This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it.
  6. Share information with people on the front lines.Meet with your employees regularly to talk about improving service. Solicit ideas from employees-they are the ones who are dealing with customers most often.
  7. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness and competence.They love being treated as individuals and being referred to by name.

 

Phrases That’ll Make Your Customers Happy


Principles of customer service are all very well, but you need to put those principles into action with everything you do and say. There are certain “magic words” customers want to hear from you and your staff. Make sure all your employees understand the importance of these key phrases:

  • “How can I help?”Customers want the opportunity to explain in detail what they want and need. Too often, business owners feel the desire or the obligation to guess what customers need rather than carefully listening first. By asking how you can help, you begin the dialogue on a positive note (you are “helping,” not “selling”). And by using an open-ended question, you invite discussion.
  • I can solve that problem.”Most customers, especially business-to-business customers, are looking to buy solutions. They appreciate direct answers in a language they can understand.
  • I don’t know, but I’ll find out.When confronted with a truly difficult question that requires research on your part, admit that you don’t know the answer. Few things ruin your credibility faster than trying to answer a question when you are unsure of all the facts. Savvy buyers may test you with a question they know you can’t answer and then just sit quietly while you struggle to fake an intelligent reply. An honest answer enhances your integrity.
  • I will take responsibility.”Tell your customer you realize it’s your responsibility to ensure a satisfactory outcome to the transaction. Assure the customer you know what he or she expects and will deliver the product or service at the agreed-upon price. There will be no unexpected changes or expenses required to solve the problem.
  • I will keep you updated.”Even if your business is a cash-and-carry operation, it probably requires scheduling and coordinating numerous events. Assure your customers they will be advised of the status of these events. The longer your lead time, the more important this is. The vendors customers trust the most are those that keep them apprised of the situation, whether the news is good or bad.
  • I will deliver on time.”A due date that has been agreed upon is a promise that must be kept. “Close” doesn’t count.
  • Monday means Monday.”The first week in July means the first week in July, even though it contains a national holiday. Your clients are waiting to hear you say “I deliver on time.” The supplier who consistently does so is a rarity and will be remembered.
  • It’ll be just what you ordered.”It will not be “similar to,” and it will not be “better than” what was ordered. It will be exactly what was ordered. Even if you believe a substitute would be in the client’s best interests, that’s a topic for discussion, not something you decide on your own. Your customer may not know (or be at liberty to explain) all the ramifications of the purchase.
  • The job will be complete.”Assure the customer there will be no waiting for a final piece or a last document. Never say you are finished “except for….”
  • “I appreciate your business.”This means more than a simple “Thanks for the order.” Genuine appreciation involves follow-up calls, offering to answer questions, making sure everything is performing satisfactorily, and ascertaining that the original problem has been solved.

Neglecting any of these steps conveys the impression that you were interested in the person only until the sale was made. This leaves the buyer feeling deceived and used, and creates ill will and negative advertising for your company. Sincerely proving you care about your customers leads to recommendations and repeat sales.

 

Never Let Your Customers Forget You


One important tool for generating repeat business is following up. Effective follow-up begins immediately after the sale when you call the customer to say “thank you” and find out if he or she is pleased with your product or service. Beyond this, there are several effective ways to follow up that ensure your business is always in the customer’s mind.

  • Let customers know what you are doing for them.This can be in the form of a newsletter mailed to existing customers, or it can be more informal, such as a phone call. Whatever method you use, the key is to dramatically point out to customers the excellent service you are giving them. If you never mention all the things you are doing for them, customers may not notice. You aren’t being cocky when you talk to customers about all the work you have done to please them. Just make a phone call and let them know they don’t have to worry because you handled the paperwork, called the attorney or double-checked on the shipment-one less thing they have to do.
  • Write old customers personal, handwritten notes frequently.I was just sitting at my desk and your name popped into my head. Are you still having a great time flying all over the country? Let me know if you need another set of luggage. I can stop by with our latest models any time.” Or if you run into an old customer at an event, follow up with a note: “It was great seeing you at the CDC Christmas party. I’ll call you early in the New Year to schedule a lunch.”
  • Keep it personal.Voice mail and e-mail make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch is often lost. If you’re having trouble getting through to someone whose problem requires that personal touch, leave a voice-mail message that you want to talk to the person directly or will stop by his or her office at a designated time.
  • Remember special occasions.Send regular customers birthday cards, anniversary cards, holiday cards…you name it. Gifts are excellent follow-up tools, too. You don’t have to spend a fortune to show you care; use your creativity to come up with interesting gift ideas that tie into your business, the customer’s business or his or her recent purchase.
  • Pass on information.If you read an article, see a new book, or hear about an organization a customer might be interested in, drop a note or make a quick call to let them know.
  • Consider follow-up calls as business development calls.When you talk to or visit old clients or customers, you’ll often find they have referrals to give you, which can lead to new business.

With all your existing customers can do for you, there’s simply no reason not to stay in regular contact with them. Use your imagination, and you’ll think of plenty of other ideas that can help you develop a lasting relationship.

 

Dealing With Unsatisfied Customers


Studies show that the vast majority of unsatisfied customers will never come right out and tell you they’re unsatisfied. They simply leave quietly, later telling everyone they know not to do business with you. So when a customer complains, don’t think of it as a nuisance-think of it as a golden opportunity to change that customer’s mind and retain his or her business.

Even the best product or service receives complaints now and then. Here’s how to handle them for positive results:

  • Let customers vent their feelings. Encourage them to get their frustrations out in the open.
  • Never argue with a customer.
  • Never tell a customer “You do not have a problem.” Those are fighting words.
  • Share your point of view as politely as you can.
  • Take responsibility for the problem. Don’t make excuses. If an employee was sick or a supplier let you down, that’s not the customer’s concern.
  • Immediately take action to remedy the situation. Promising a solution and then delaying it only makes matters worse.
  • Empower your front-line employees to be flexible in resolving complaints. Give employees some leeway in deciding when to bend the rules. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, make sure they have you or another manager handle the situation.

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The Latest News & Devolpments in Business Strategy Practise

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Infrastructure spending is often debated as a political issue, but the underlying economic case for investing in new roads shouldn’t be controversial.”

Thanks to traffic, American commuters spend an extra 6.9 billion hours in their cars every year, burning 3.1 billion gallons of gasoline as they idle. More importantly, 40,000 drivers die on highways annually, a toll that could be reduced through safer design. Thus, as investing in infrastructure could make the US safer and more productive, the need for new highways shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

Improving to Meet Growing Demands

The last major infrastructure spending bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was a stimulus measure designed to spur aggregate demand for labor and materials. Now that the economy has nearly recovered from the Great Recession, there isn’t as great a need for legislation to prop up the labor market. Instead, the next infrastructure bill should focus on increasing the supply of labor and goods available to businesses and consumers.

Improving the country’s transportation grid will likely increase the economy’s potential for future growth. When workers can’t commute rapidly from the suburbs into dense city centers, the nation’s most dynamic labor markets begin to stagnate. Similarly, if finished goods can’t be transported quickly to customers, shipping bottlenecks will impose drags on manufacturers.

With more people driving to work than ever before, the carrying capacity of the nation’s roads is increasingly coming under strain. Faster commutes will increase the supply of available labor—the less time people spend stuck in traffic, the more hours they’ll have available to work. The total cost of US highway congestion is estimated to top $160 billion annually, which will rise further as the population grows. Considering that the combined state and federal highway budget totals only $280 billion, there appears to be substantial potential returns on aggressive infrastructure investment.

Politics vs. Economics

While the economics of infrastructure investment are clear, the politics are more complicated. Since the beneficiaries of transportation projects are often far removed from the actual construction, almost all new highway investment is funded at the federal level. For example, relatively few people might visit west Texas, but all American consumers benefit from the goods that flow across the continent on the federally funded Interstate 10. Regional transit improvements provide the same diffuse impact—a Manhattanite may never cross the George Washington Bridge, but will still benefit from living in a labor market that draws talent across state lines.

Using the revenues from federal fuel taxes to fund new construction allows states to share the cost of projects that benefit the entire economy. However, it also makes highway funding vulnerable to the political gridlock that inevitably afflicts all federal spending measures.

The Highway Trust Fund has been depleted, and today’s insufficient outlays for construction already exceed revenues by $10 billion annually. Increased spending will require either raising fuel taxes or adding to the deficit, neither of which will likely be popular on Capitol Hill.

Supply-side economics may have fallen out of favor, but it’s still applicable for infrastructure spending. Borrowing to fund projects today that will increase the economy’s growth rate for decades to come makes sense. Deficit spending on infrastructure should be expected to pay for itself by increasing the tax base over time.

Technology’s Role

Technology promises to improve the efficiency of our existing transportation infrastructure, even if federal funding never materializes. “Smart” technology could improve the carrying capacity of our highways by coordinating signals to keep traffic flowing.

Optimization algorithms for public transit could deploy buses and trains more efficiently during rush hour, and improving communications technology is making telecommuting an option for more workers, reducing the number of commuters on the road. And unlike building physical infrastructure, technological projects will likely be adapted as public-private partnerships, financed by municipal or corporate bonds. As a result, gridlock in Washington may inspire creative solutions on the local level.”

Quality habits

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When you think of artificial intelligence (AI), you might think of dehumanizing interactions. Don’t confuse AI with primitive marketing automation.

Artificial Intelligence Drives Customer Experience, as AI expert and leading keynote speaker Christopher Penn, VP of Marketing Technology for SHIFT Communications says,

There are three levels of machine learning: AI where machines perform tasks normally performed by humans; machine learning.”

There are three levels of machine learning: AI where machines perform tasks normally performed by humans; machine learning.”

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Comercial Leaders

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A process that uses a sponsor, a voice to talk to, to burden to is a strategy operating a company growth and innovation, completely aligned with socialization.

Having a happy, healthy, engaged workforce goes far beyond providing free food, gym memberships and a ping-pong table. While those perks are sure to be appreciated by employees, they don’t do much in the way of motivating or retaining them.
What it really comes down to is the employee-employer relationship. New data released earlier this year by Virgin Pulse revealed exactly what employees need to love their job – and a large part of that is a good relationship with their employer. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the more than 1,000 full-time employees surveyed said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their focus or productivity at work, and 44 percent said it positively impacts their stress levels.

Considering nearly 50 percent of the 7,200 adults surveyed in a recent Gallup study left a job,

to get away from their manager,”

it’s time to reevaluate the employee-employer relationship.

Here is what makes for a good relationship between employers and their employees.

1. Open communication

The key to any good relationship is communication that goes both ways. Unfortunately, employees don’t feel like their bosses are really listening. A recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees by 15Five showed a mere 15 percent of employees are satisfied with the quality of workplace communication.

What’s more, that same study found that 81 percent of employees would rather join a company that values “open communication” than one that offers great perks.

To create a work environment that supports open communication, consider implementing a web-based feedback platform. According to the survey by 15Five, 70 percent of employees said they’d be more likely to share information with managers if they could enter comments into an online feedback system.

2. Guidance and support

A leader can’t lead without providing direction. To build a stronger relationship with employees, employers must provide them with the necessary guidance and support to achieve their work goals. Employers need to have an idea of what those goals are to do that.
Yet, the aforementioned Gallup study showed that only 12 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their manager helps them set work priorities, and only 13 percent agree that their manager helps them set performance goals.

Give employees the help they need. Meet with them regularly to discuss their goals for the quarter and set priorities. This will better align them with the goals of the company.

3. Opportunities and investments

Ideally, both parties bring something to, and get something out of, the relationship. For employers, the benefits of a good employee-employer relationship include a workforce that is highly engaged, productive and satisfied in their role within the organization. An effective and efficient workforce is good for business.

For employees, the advantages of the relationship should go beyond the paycheck and benefits package to include individualized training.
Send employees to professional development events or invite leaders within the industry to speak during a monthly lunch-and-learn. Just be sure to provide them with opportunities to grow and improve. After all, investing in employees ensures they’ll invest in the company.

4. Gratitude and appreciation

It’s in our nature to want to be praised for a job well done – a result of receiving “gold stars” during our schoolyard days, no doubt. It reassures, motivates and gives us the fuel we need to continue doing what we do well.

In fact, Globoforce and SHRM’s 2015 Employee Recognition Report showed 86 percent of the 823 HR professionals surveyed said values-based recognition increased employee happiness at work, so don’t hold back on the “thank you” notes and pats.

Employees will appreciate the recognition, and the employee-employer relationship will get a much-needed boost.

5. Interest in life outside of work

The employee-employer relationship should be professional, but that doesn’t mean employers shouldn’t take the time to get to know the person behind the work. Strive to treat employees as people, not just worker bees. The key is to take an interest in employees’ lives outside of work.

What are employees’ personal and professional goals? Where do they hope to be in five years? Do they have a family? What do they like to do once the workday is over?

Questions like these help employers to know their employees on a more personal level. That helps them make sense of individual employee actions and preferences, and forms a much stronger bond between employers and their employees.


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Infinite Map

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The dividend policy

A company will have a direct impact on the amount of retained earning available for investment. A company which consistently pays out a high proportion of distributable profits as dividends will not have much by way of retained earnings and so is likely to use a higher proportion of external finance when funding investment projects.

“Corporations with more diverse boards of directors are less prone to take risks and more likely to pay dividends to stockholders than firms whose boards are more homogenous.”

Firms need to take risks to run business. However, excessive risk taking may endanger their survival. Therefore, investors and regulators have broadened the board’s role to include corporate risk oversight, especially since the wake of the financial crisis in the late 2000s.

Most research on board diversity has focused only on gender diversity.
We used a broader-than-normal definition of diversity, encompassing gender, race, age, experience, tenure and expertise.

We looked at company records and employed five variables to measure risk: capital expenditures, research and development expenses, acquisition spending, the volatility of stock returns and the volatility of accounting returns.
The first three variables are direct measures of corporate risk as firms can adjust risk by directly altering their investment policies and spending. The last two variables measure corporate risk taking using the volatility of firms’ market and accounting performances.

“Firms with more diverse boards spend less on capital expenditure, R&D and acquisitions, and exhibit lower volatilities of stock returns than those with less diverse boards.”

Additional analysis showed that companies with more diverse boards were more likely to pay dividends and to pay a greater amount of dividend per share than corporations with less diverse boards. In general, risk-averse firms are more likely to avoid investment projects with uncertain outcomes and return cash to shareholders in the form of dividends.
Having this insight can help avoid costly cultural mistakes at both large corporations and small businesses. Studies showes that most corporate boards are relatively homogenous in gender and race – being mostly white and male. There was, however, considerably more diversity when we factored in characteristics such as age, experience, tenure and expertise.

Measuring diversity based only on gender misrepresents the actual diversity in corporate boardrooms.
On the one hand, diverse boards could reduce the level of corporate risk taking, discouraging innovative and risky projects.

On the other hand, if firm management is overly aggressive in its use of corporate funds for investing in risky projects, our results suggest that more diverse boards could perform better oversight of corporate risk taking than less diverse boards.
Rini Laksmana, associate professor of accounting at Kent State University, and Agus Harjoto, associate professor of finance at Pepperdine University, collaborated on the research for the project reviews.


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Latest News & Developments in Business Strategy Practice

Help Ecosystems

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Executive sponsorship

In order to change management to help the entire organisation uses marketing people alignment because timing is everything.

Corporate venture capital is picking up speed in the investment industry, as large companies start setting aside funds for external investment in fledgling companies or startups. Tech giants like Intel, Dell and AMD all have strong track records with their proprietary funds, and more companies like Microsoft and Salesforce are now entering the venture-fund game.

During the past four years more than 475 corporate venture funds have started, bringing the worldwide total to more than 1,100, according to Global Corporate Venturing. With this surge comes a lot of uncertainty.

 

How will corporate venture-capital players influence the funding ecosystem?

Entrepreneurs need to know when choosing between corporate and traditional venture-capital partnership. Large companies can be slow moving and bulky, making it tricky to come up with innovative products or services. That’s especially true for the pharmaceutical, technology and telecommunications industries where internal R&D usually means more hiring, higher capital expenditures and increased fixed operating costs, all without the guarantee of a return.

A corporate venture fund, however, provides an opportunity for innovation without paying high R&D costs or incurring too much risk. Corporate venture capital also lets large companies operate on a smaller scale, which lets them innovate faster, conduct research on disruptive technologies and pre-empt competitors. And it’s an efficient way for companies to explore potential acquisition targets.

Data from Crunchbase shows that about one-third of corporate venture-backed startups have been acquired, versus 10 percent of startups with funding only from private venture capital.

Corporations can use their venture arms to influence their industry’s ecosystem by identifying new markets and building up their existing businesses. According to a recent Volans report,

“Corporate venture capital accounted for 1,068 investment deals worth $19.6 billion last year.”

Since 5,753 venture-capital transactions worth $48.5 billion occurred in 2013, corporate ventures comprised nearly 20 percent of all deals and 40 percent of transaction value worldwide.

A traditional venture-capital firm raises money primarily from institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals, while corporate venture capital uses cash reserves from a parent company to fund new endeavors. This difference is significant because it means more external pressure is typically put on independent venture-capital firms to generate above-average returns.

Since corporate ventures are typically considered R&D alternatives, expenses are already built into the business structure. And separate revenue-generating businesses help offset any corporate venture-capital losses. That’s a safety net that traditional venture-capital firms don’t have. Corporate venture-capital efforts also have the advantage of involvement with startups at the early stages, when they can most benefit from access to a large, established customer base, credibility through brand association and a larger network of partner companies and advisors.

Corporate venture-capital efforts can make good co-investment partners with traditional venture capital firms because each brings different expertise to the table. Venture-capital firms have the drive and know-how to realize financial results while corporate-venture capital groups provide industry knowledge and a talent pool.

 

Given all these advantages, why isn’t a larger proportion of total deals in the venture-capital space taken up by corporate funds?

For one, independent venture-capital firms still hold a competitive advantage over their corporate counterparts due to their flexibility, speed and experience in helping companies succeed financially. Corporate venture-capital firms that benefit from high cash flows might be willing to spread out their investments over a few similar companies and take a back seat in terms of driving their growth, while a venture-capital firm is typically motivated to take a more focused and hands-on approach for its portfolio companies.

Corporations have been actively investing in venture capital since the mid-1960s, when the venture capital industry itself was just emerging. But as more corporations become involved, the emphasis on how to build the next generation of businesses could shift away from high valuations and quick exits to creating a nurturing environment for bigger and better ideas.


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Latest News & Developments in Business Strategy Practice

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The first big management idea to reach a mass audience it swept through corporate America in the early years of the 20th century and much management thinking since has been either a reaction to it or a development of it.

At the core of scientific management lie four principles:

Replace rule-of-thumb methods of doing work with ones based on scientific study of the tasks to be carried out.

Select and train individuals for specific tasks.

Give individuals clear instructions on what they have to do, then supervise them while they do it.

Divide work between managers and workers, so that the managers plan “scientifically” what is to be done, and the workers then do it.

Peter Drucker once wrote that:

Taylor was the first man in history who did not take work for granted, but looked at it and studied it. His approach to work is still the basic foundation”.

The trade union movement, however, always hated it. A union officer once said:

No tyrant or slave driver in the ecstasy of his most delirious dream ever sought to place upon abject slaves a condition more repugnant.

There is little space for Taylor’s ideas in today’s world of freewheeling teamwork. But the writings of people such as Michael Porter and Michael Hammer, with their emphasis on breaking business down into measurable (and controllable) activities, hold more than a faint echo of Taylor’s ideas.


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The Latest News & Developments in Business Strategy Practice

Entitlements

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As the holiday season approaches, you may be thinking about employee gifts. While everyone appreciates a holiday treat, Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009) says holiday gifts and bonuses are now considered an entitlement in many organizations rather than a reward for hard work. People bank on their holiday bonuses.

“They plan their vacations, their gift giving, some plan it right into their income in terms of paying their bills. So, there is no appreciation element in many cases. They’re not seeing it as the reward. They see it as a piece of their compensation,”

says Ventrice.

While Ventrice is clear that companies shouldn’t do away with the holiday bonus, she argues that true recognition is not given through a one-time bonus check. Here are four things to consider when deciding how to thank your employees.

1. Include a personal message

“We often overlook the strength of written praise,”

says Ventrice.

She gives the example of an employee who kept handwritten notes of praise for years, pulling them out when they needed a confidence boost.

When you take a little bit of extra effort to put it in writing, it pays you back many times over. People read that over and over again,”

she says.

Messages should include specifics about the employee’s work and what was appreciated. They can be included in employee’s bonus envelopes or made into a group experience, such as a message board handwritten notes highlighting at least one thing that you value about each employee.

2. Know your audience

Ventrice says it’s difficult to come up with best practices when it comes to employee gifts because rewards will mean different things to different groups. Understanding what will make your staff enthusiastic is the first step in determining appropriate rewards.

“Know your staff – who they are and what they’re going to value,”

says Ventrice.

While a white water rafting adventure may be the perfect team-building reward for a young, fun office, a formal dinner at a fancy restaurant may be more suitable for a serious work culture.

3. Offer non-monetary compensation

Ventrice surveyed over 200 employees from 98 companies to find out what rewards they valued the most.

Across all ages and cultures, time off was absolutely number one,”

she says.

Flex time given for a specific accomplishment in the form of a longer lunch hour or going home early is a great way to show appreciation for a job well done.
The study confirmed that the cost of recognition awards has only minimal impact on employee perception of appreciation. Fifty-seven percent reported that the most meaningful recognition was free.Other forms of recognition that scored high included opportunities to learn from senior staff or take a course that wasn’t offered to everyone, and being given challenging assignments.

“Programs run by managers who know what makes recognition meaningful and know how to provide it translate into higher engagement, retention, loyalty and productivity,”

says Ventrice.


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