The 12 'next big things’ that really matter to business and the global economy
Source: Marketing Magazine, 11 June, 2013
As 'next new thing’ fatigue reaches exhausting levels, driven by the hyping of almost any new advance in technology as such, new analysis by McKinsey Global Institute has sought to cut through the hype and identify the technologies that will really matter, assessing the impact they will have on life, business and the global economy by the year 2025. McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of McKinsey and Company, has highlighted 12 disruptive technologies as part of its ongoing remit to delve into the evolving global economy and promote understanding. As the authors point out, business leaders can’t wait until evolving technologies are having their full effects to determine which developments are truly big things. "They need to understand how the competitive advantages on which they have based strategy might erode or be enhanced a decade from now by emerging technologies," states the report, which was authored by James Manyika, Michael Chui, Jacques Bughin, Rochard Dobbs, Peter Bisson and Alex Marrs. But these aren’t just 12 novelties - the report assesses the potential reach and scope as well as the economic impact of the areas of technology, with each area required to meet certain criteria to be included on the list: the economic impact must be potentially disruptive, the technology must be rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs, it must have broad potential scope of impact, and have the potential to affect significant economic value. The final list of 12 was whittled down from more than 100. Here they are, in no particular order, starting with...
1. Mobile internet
The technology: Increasingly inexpensive mobile computing devices and internet connectivity.
• $1.7 trillion: global GDP related to the internet,
• $5 million versus $400: price of fastest supercomputer in 1975 versus modern iPhone equal in performance, and
• 4.3 billion: world population not yet connected to the internet.
"The mobile Internet also has applications across businesses and the public sector, enabling more efficient delivery of many services and creating opportunities to increase workforce productivity. In developing economies, the mobile Internet could bring billions of people into the connected world."
2. Automation of knowledge work
The technology: Smart software capable of performing knowledge work tasks involving unstructured commands and subtle judgements.
• 100x: increase in computing power from Deep Blue in 1997 to Watson in 2011,
• 230 million: conservative estimate of global knowledge workers (9% of workforce), and
• $9 trillion: employment costs for those workers (27% of global employment costs).
"Some computers can answer 'unstructured’ questions (ie. those posed in ordinary language, rather than precisely written as software queries), so employees or customers without specialised training can get information on their own. This opens up possibilities for sweeping change in how knowledge work is organised and performed. Sophisticated analytics tools can be used to augment the talents of highly-skilled employees, and as more knowledge worker tasks can be done by machine, it is also possible that some types of jobs could become fully automated."
3. Internet of things
The technology: Networks of sensors embedded in objects for data collection and monitoring, bringing them into the connected world.
• 80-90%: decrease in price of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors in last five years,
• one trillion: things that could be connected to the internet across manufacturing, healthcare and mining industries, and
• $36 trillion: operating costs of those industries.
"The internet of things allows businesses and public-sector organisations to manage assets, optimise performance, and create new business models. With remote monitoring, the Internet of Things also has great potential to improve the health of patients with chronic illnesses and attack a major cause of rising health-care costs."
4. Cloud technology
The technology: Using hardware and software resources delivered over a network or the internet, rather than stored locally in your computer. (Web-based email services like Gmail and Hotmail are fairly immediate examples of cloud services.)
• 3x: cost of owning a server versus renting in the cloud,
• 80%: North American institutions hosting or planning to host critical applications on the cloud, and
• $3 trillion: enterprise IT spend.
"IT resources (such as computation and storage) are made available on an as-needed basis - when extra capacity is needed it is seamlessly added, without requiring up-front investment in new hardware or programming. The cloud is enabling the explosive growth of internet-based services, from search to streaming media to offline storage of personal data (photos, books, music)." ... "The cloud can also improve the economics of IT for companies and governments, as well as provide greater flexibility and responsiveness. Finally, the cloud can enable entirely new business models, including all kinds of pay-as- you-go service models."
5. Advanced robotics
The technology: Robots with better and better senses, dexterity and intelligence used to automate tasks or help humans.
• 170%: growth in sales of industrial robots 2009-2011,
• 320 million: manufacturing workers (12% of global workforce), and
• $2-3 million: cost of the 250 million annual major surgeries.
"Advances could make it practical to substitute robots for human labor in more manufacturing tasks, as well as in a growing number of service jobs, such as cleaning and maintenance. This technology could also enable new types of surgical robots, robotic prosthetics, and 'exoskeleton’ braces that can help people with limited mobility to function more normally, helping to improve and extend lives."
6. Next-generation genomics
The technology: Quick, cheap gene sequencing, advanced data analytics and synthetic biology ('writing’ DNA).
• 100x: increase in land area of genetically-modified crops 1996-2012,
• 26 million: annual deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes, and
• $6.5 trillion: global healthcare costs.
"Next-generation genomics marries advances in the science of sequencing and modifying genetic material with the latest big data analytics capabilities. Today, a human genome can be sequenced in a few hours and for a few thousand dollars, a task that took 13 years and $2.7 billion to accomplish during the Human Genome Project." ... "The next step is synthetic biology—the ability to precisely customise organisms by 'writing’ DNA. These advances in the power and availability of genetic science could have profound impact on medicine, agriculture, and even the production of high-value substances such as biofuels - as well as speed up the process of drug discovery."
7. Autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles
The technology: Vehicles that can navigate and operate with little or no human involvement.
• 300,000: miles driven by Google’s autonomous cars with only one accident (which was caused by human error),
• one billion: cars and trucks globally, and
• $4 trillion: automobile industry revenues.
"Over the coming decade, low-cost, commercially available drones and submersibles could be used for a range of applications. Autonomous cars and trucks could enable a revolution in ground transportation - regulations and public acceptance permitting. Short of that, there is also substantial value in systems that assist drivers in steering, braking, and collision avoidance. The potential benefits of autonomous cars and trucks include increased safety, reduced CO2 emissions, more leisure or work time for motorists (with hands-off driving), and increased productivity in the trucking industry."
8. Energy storage
The technology: Systems and devices that store energy, including batteries.
• 40%: price decline for a lithium-ion battery pack in an electric vehicle since 2009,
• 1.2 billion: people without access to electricity (estimated at $100 billion value), and
• $2.5 trillion: revenue from global consumption of gasoline and diesel.
"Over the next decade, advances in energy storage technology could make electric vehicles cost competitive with vehicles based on internal-combustion engines. On the power grid, advanced battery storage systems can help with the integration of solar and wind power, improve quality by controlling frequency variations, handle peak loads, and reduce costs by enabling utilities to postpone infrastructure expansion. In developing economies, battery/solar systems have the potential to bring reliable power to places it has never reached."
9. 3D printing
The technology: Manufacturing techniques to create objects by printing layers based on digital models.
• 90%: lower price for a home 3D printer versus four years ago,
• eight billion: number of toys manufactured globally each year, and
• $11 trillion: global manufacturing GDP.
"With 3D printing, an idea can go directly from a 3D design file to a finished part or product, potentially skipping many traditional manufacturing steps. Importantly, 3D printing enables on-demand production, which has interesting implications for supply chains and for stocking spare parts - a major cost for manufacturers. 3D printing can also reduce the amount of material wasted in manufacturing and create objects that are difficult or impossible to produce with traditional techniques."
10. Advanced materials
The technology: Materials with superior functionality or characteristics, such as strength, weight or conductivity.
• $1000 versus $50: difference in price of one gram of nanotubes over 10 years (which have a 115 times better strength-to-weight ratio compared to steel),
• 7.6 million: tons of silicon consumed annually, globally, and
• $1.2 trillion: revenue from global semiconductor sales.
"At nanoscale (less than 100 nanometers), ordinary substances take on new properties - greater reactivity, unusual electrical properties, enormous strength per unit of weight - that can enable new types of medicine, super-slick coatings, stronger composites, and other improvements. Advanced nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes could drive particularly significant impact. For example, graphene and carbon nanotubes could help create new types of displays and super-efficient batteries and solar cells. Finally, pharmaceutical companies are already progressing in research to use nanoparticles for targeted drug treatments for diseases such as cancer."
11. Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery
The technology: Techniques that enable the economical extraction of unconventional oil and gas.
• 2x: increase in efficiency of US oil wells 2007-2011,
• $800 billion: revenue from global sales of natural gas, and
• $3.4 trillion: revenue from global sales of crude oil.
"The ability to extract so-called unconventional oil and gas reserves from shale rock formations is a technology revolution that has been gathering force for nearly four decades. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to reach oil and gas deposits that were known to exist in the United States and other places but that were not economically accessible by conventional drilling methods."
12. Renewable energy
The technology: Generation of electricity with reduced harmful environmental impact.
• 85%: lower price for a solar photovoltaic cell per watt since 2000,
• 13 billion tons: annual carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation (more than from all cars, trucks and planes), and
• $80 billion: value of global carbon market transactions.
"Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro-electric, and ocean wave hold the promise of an endless source of power without stripping resources, contributing to climate change, or worrying about competition for fossil fuels." ... "China, India, and other emerging economies have aggressive plans for solar and wind adoption that could enable further rapid economic growth while mitigating growing concerns about pollution."
The five essentials for building your App
Source: Anthony McGovern, 11 June, 2013
Based on his own recent first-hand experience, here Sydney-based graphic designer, photographer and small business owner Anthony McGovern explains five essentials you must know before developing an App for your business.
1. YOUR MARKET
Make sure you are offering an App with a difference, whether it is something completely new, or a better version of what is out there right now:
• Don't imitate; innovate!
• Make it an App people will want to use and share.
• Research the market to the right demographic.
2. THE NAME
The name is so important; I can't stress this enough. In securing the name for your App:
• Research to make sure it is not taken. This goes not just for iTunes or the App Store, but for Facebook and all social media outlets you plan to use, as well as domain names.
• If you are going global, I recommend the trademark process (Madrid Protocol at least, which covers you in 98 countries), but this can be expensive. Very much worth protecting your brand, though!
• Secure your name as soon as you can on iTunes by starting the upload process on iTunes. You can upload the binary within 120 days of this - if you are not confident your final binary will be ready in 120 days, don’t do this until you are.
Make sure your App is as intuitive as possible:
• Easy to navigate screen layouts.
• Functions to help make the App more productive.
• Keep it as simple as possible, too many bells and whistles makes the App too complicated.
• Keep focused on your core functions; don't try to cross over into other App territories.
4. GET THE RIGHT TEAM
You can't do it all on your own, and getting the right team will be a huge help:
• Find a company to produce the binary for you, a company you can trust with your idea and IP.
• Get the App designed by a professional. It needs to look slick and have the right functionality.
• Speak to you lawyer and accountants about what you need to do to protect your app and IP.
Your App might seem straightforward to you, but to someone who has never heard of it before?
• Test it during the build stage; your binary company will give you updates as it is built.
• Try every functionality combination you can think of to test it thoroughly.
• Do a soft launch where you get friends and family to start using it and get feedback.
• Feedback will help refine the app and make it a more streamlined experience for the user.
The Difference Between Managers and Leaders
It's time to face the music as a manager: You don’t always have all of the right answers. Your "it’s my way or the highway" approach to management isn’t going to encourage anyone to help you in your problem solving endeavors.
Managers and leaders are often referred to synonymously, but only leaders allow their employees to solve problems with their own insight. The truth of the matter is this: Every leader may not be a manager, but every manager should be a leader. It’s easy to see that leadership and management aren’t the same thing, but a manager who lacks effective leadership traits will drive a business into the ground faster than you can count to 10.
Change doesn’t happen overnight when it comes to transforming managers into leaders. It takes time and energy to improve the way you manage and utilize more leadership characteristics on a daily basis.
Here are some tips to help you make the necessary improvements:
1. Managers give answers, leaders ask questions. There’s nothing certain to turn your employees against you faster than shouting orders at them. Why not spare yourself the impending resentment and simply ask your employees this: "What would you do?" or "What do you think of this idea?" Allowing people to participate in the decision-making process will not only transform what could have been an order into something more easily swallowed--it also inspires creativity, motivation, and autonomy.
2. Managers criticize mistakes, leaders call attention to mistakes indirectly. It may seem more efficient to point out your employees’ mistakes directly, but this will only leave them feeling embarrassed and frustrated. You should really be giving them the chance to learn and grow from through your critiques. Instead, give your employees the chance to address their mistakes.
For example, say a project was sent to a client and you receive back a disgruntled message. Calmly ask your employee about the clients concern and whether they feel what was provided was on par. This will give them a chance to provide their input, while also improving for the future.
3. Managers forget to praise, leaders reward even the smallest improvement. Praise pays off when it comes to increasing the overall success of your company. Finding time to recognize your employees for even the smallest accomplishment will only increase their interest in what they do. If you’re interested in ensuring your employees take pride in all that they do, regular feedback and recognition is certain to do the trick. Everyone wants to be genuinely appreciated for their efforts.
4. Managers focus on the bad, leaders emphasize the good. This really comes down to seeing the cup half empty or half full. If you’re only willing to point out the flaws of a project or an employee, you’re not giving them much interest in learning or improving. Instead, create a sandwich effect. Start with some form of praise, follow with the criticism, and end with praise.
5. Managers want credit, leaders credit their teams. Managers who lack leadership abilities are always first to take credit. But effective leaders understand the importance of crediting their teams for the big wins. This pays off in the long run for creative a workplace with a more positive company culture and employees who are driven toward more successes as a team.
Management shouldn’t be approach through force, but rather through influence. Put these techniques in place to improve the way your employees perform.
What do you think? Do you ask questions instead of giving answers?
Do You Even Have a Pricing Strategy?
Too many companies set prices based on their own costs or on the prices of their competitors. Here's what you should be doing.
"Pricing receives scant attention in most companies," reports the MIT Sloan Management Review. The numbers:
"Fewer than 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a full-time function dedicated to pricing, according to data from the professional pricing society."
Moreover, McKinsey Company estimates that fewer than 15 percent of companies do systematic pricing research.
As article authors Andreas Hinterhuber and Stephan Liozu note, "This neglect is puzzling, as numerous studies have confirmed that pricing has a substantial and immediate effect on company profitability.... [In fact,] small variations in price can raise or lower profitability by as much as 20 percent or 50 percent."
So, what’s the answer? Focus on two areas: price setting and price getting.
Too many companies set prices based on their own costs or on the prices of their competitors. Those elements matter, but they ignore the most important factor: customer demand.
The solution? Something the authors call "customer value-based" pricing. "Instead of asking, 'How can we realize higher prices despite intense competition?' customer value-based pricing asks, 'How can we create additional customer value and increase customer willingness to pay, despite intense competition?'"
As for your ability to realize the prices you set, it’s often easier said than done, particularly when you sell through diverse channels and offer numerous packages and discounts. Not to mention salespeople’s tendency to tinker with pricing to close a deal.
The hypothetical comparison chart above offers a guide for bringing more rigor to bear on this critical (but often overlooked) aspect of company operations.
How robust are your monitoring and incentive systems, your controlling tools, your negotiation skills, and other key criteria? Take this quick quiz to find out.
The more often your answers skew toward "fully agree" the better.
Gen y: entitled or talented?
Source: The Age May 21, 2013
Whether you call it entrepreneurial flair or a restless spirit, many Generation Ys are planning on leaving their jobs to start their own show. This means if you employ younger people, research shows you're going to need to pull out all stops to keep their attention.
The Millennials and the Future of Work survey, commissioned by online workplace oDesk and Generation Y consulting firm Millennial Branding, interviewed more than 3000 freelance professionals worldwide about their attitude to work.
The research found that freedom and flexibility were the key motivators of the Generation Y workforce (defined as 19- to 30-year-olds); 92 per cent said they preferred freelance work so they could work wherever they liked, and 87 per cent said they wanted to work whenever they liked. More than half of the freelancers surveyed - many of them also in traditional 9-to-5 jobs - see themselves as entrepreneurs, and 72 per cent of those surveyed plan to leave their day jobs.
Adam Griffiths, 26, works full time as an engineer for a large company in Sydney and is also in the final stages of developing of his online business 1ad.com, which streamlines the process of writing and placing job advertisements.
Griffiths agrees with the survey findings that independence and the flexibility of choosing work hours are his primary motivations for creating a start-up. He hopes to leave his full-time job if 1ad.com takes off in the next year.
"Once I get $1000 profit a week, I will think about [leaving]. I always call my day job my back-up plan."
With experience both as an employee and an entrepreneur, Griffiths says he finds the traditional work structures frustrating.
"I'm sitting on both sides of the fence - I'm in a job which is as traditional as you can get and in the entrepreneurial and innovative space as lean as you can do it," he says.
"Looking at the hierarchies in my organisation, it just drives me crazy looking at the amounts of hoops you have to jump through and signatures you have to get up the tree."
Griffiths is looking forward to the change that will occur in traditional organisations as Generation X (31- to 48-year-olds) replace Baby Boomers in senior management roles.
"In big corporations things will really start to change. In my theory, everything in the world is technology-based now, whatever your company does. You might be in project management, but secondly you are a technology company. You really have to embrace technology if you want to be competitive."
Griffiths says if his start-up is a success, he will create a work culture that gives his employees and freelancers the type of flexibility he craves.
"I definitely would let them work from home a percentage of the time and I'd set up my business systems, which is critical, with metrics that allows you to track people's output, to assess whether they're doing work."
Peter James is a Baby Boomer and chairman at Ninefold, a provider of cloud-based virtual servers. He employs 35 full-time staff in its Sydney office and 90 per cent of them are Generation Y. He also employs about 12 freelancers around the world.
James says the best way to satisfy the restless spirit of Generation Y workers is to provide them with a workplace that has an entrepreneurial spirit.
"My aim is to give them not just a good work environment ... it's to give them really state-of-the-art creative work. As long as I can keep iterating and evolving the business I am able to attract good people," he says.
Although James describes his role managing Generation Ys as sometimes being like herding cats, he says he enjoys the vibrant attitude of this generation of employees.
"They're very honest people - they will speak their mind: they do that without fear or favour. That is refreshing as an employer. You have to be able to be prepared for that."
Other Generation Y attributes James lists are their resistance to layers of hierarchy, their need to contribute value, to be challenged and to have fun.
"Its about giving them an agile, innovative environment in which they can be individuals and participate in making a difference, not just time-servers. They don't just want to turn up and get paid," he says.
"We're a seven-by-24 business. I rely on these guys, if something goes wrong on a Saturday night with any customer activity, they're onto it. They have an ownership of the business in an emotional sense."
Many Ninefold employees are developing their own software applications in their own time and James encourages their initiative.
"That's something we're totally comfortable with because our customers are often like that as well."
When it comes to freelancers, James says specialist skills are what he seeks for this type of independent worker.
"You have to be a specialist these days. The world is becoming more and more professional with narrow, deep dive specialists - particularly in the tech world."
The Milliennials and the Future of Work survey found Generation Y see themselves as entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they run a business. Nine out of 10 respondents said an entrepreneur was about having an opportunity-seeking mindset, not necessarily about owning your own business. They described an entrepreneur as someone who was a "self-starter", "risk-taker", "visionary" and someone who "spots opportunity".
Founder of Millennial Branding, Dan Schawbel, says this attitude signals a major shift in the way people will manage their careers into the future.
"Entrepreneurship is now accessible to everyone regardless of age or occupation. You don't need to own a business to be an entrepreneur, but you do need the entrepreneurial spirit to be successful in business."
Understanding the rules for making employees redundant
Source: My Business Magazine May 13 2013
Terminating an employee for redundancy is just about unchallengeable, but there are a few simple steps that employers can take to avoid litigation following redundancies, explains workplace relations lawyer Sam Ingui.
As long as an employer can show that it no longer wants the job to be done, the decision to make an employee redundant is almost litigation proof. All the employer has to ensure is that the right severance payments are made and the worker is not replaced.
However, things are not always that straightforward. The Fair Work Act 2009 contains a few small traps for employers. The Act says that a genuine redundancy occurs if an employer no longer requires the person's job to be performed.
However, redundancy will be held not to be genuine if there is an award or enterprise agreement that says the employer has to consult about the redundancy and it would be reasonable for the employee to be redeployed within the employer's business
Employee challenges redundancy decision
Just how a business can fall foul of these obligations is illustrated in the decision of Fair Work Australia (FWA) in UES v Harvey. Due to financial pressures, hardware supplier UES made one of its three storepersons redundant and paid him his entitlements.
The storeperson, Mr Harvey, challenged the decision. His lawyer argued that the decision was announced without Mr Harvey's input and the business failed to consult him or show that it considered redeployment as it was obliged to do under the Act and the relevant award. The business responded by showing overwhelmingly that an operational and business case justified the redundancy.
FWA accepted that Mr Harvey's employment was genuinely being made redundant. However, the Commissioner said that legislative and award provisions are there for a reason and cannot simply be ignored.
FWA decided that the redundancy was genuine, but not fair. Mr Harvey should have been given an opportunity to have his say. Who knows - he may have been able to persuade the employer not to make him redundant. He was simply denied that opportunity. Mr Harvey was awarded a sum of $7,198.28 in lost wages and superannuation, based on an assumption that he would have continued working for a further period, albeit on reduced hours to cut costs.
Appeal confirms that employee dismissed unfairly
The business appealed and argued that a failure to consult did not necessarily or logically mean that the termination was unfair. The full bench decided that Mr Harvey had been unfairly dismissed, simply because he was not consulted before the termination. The circumstances and the business case justifying his selection for redundancy were considered relevant, but not the only factor.
The full bench unanimously agreed that the issue was not whether it was a genuine redundancy, as there were, "sound defensible and well founded reasons" justifying Mr Harvey's dismissal: he was not replaced by anyone and there was no reasonable possibility of redeployment to an alternative role.
Nevertheless, the FWA decided that the termination was unfair. On appeal, Mr Harvey was awarded $1,365 plus nine per cent superannuation on the basis that he may only have remained working there for a further two weeks - the time that the commission thought it would take UES to undertake its consultative obligations.
There are a few simple steps that employers can take to avoid litigation following redundancies. Even if there is a watertight business case to make an employee redundant, a consultative procedure needs to be considered. The good news is that this is straightforward and easy. A small number of documented short meetings would meet the legal requirements.
Employers also need to consider and document that there is no possibility of a redeployment, even part-time. As long as the employer has paid all entitlements, the decision to terminate should be beyond the realm of review for unfair dismissal.
Using Instagram as a business tool
The photo-sharing app Instagram, owned by Facebook, touts 100 million monthly active users in 2013 - spectacular reach. Yes, Instagram has its superficial side but the app for Android and iPhone still clearly possesses impressive marketing potential anchored in its mass popularity. Here's some intel on how to harness Instagram's visual might and make the app work like your virtual shop window; minimal tech know-how required.
1.Use your usual social media name
The Instagram name you choose should align with your Twitter handle and the one you use on other social media networks, says social media strategist Christopher Apaliski. That measured approach allows easier cross-posting and means your followers can find you on all platforms, Apaliski says. If you're mixing up names between social accounts, it's the equivalent of having a different business name for the same place. Consistency is key, he says.
2. Interact widely
Because Instagram is a social network, it's vital you use it gregariously, says Apaliski. This should go without saying but it's often overlooked, he says.>Tag and thank users for any comments they make. If they have something to tell you, don't just take it for granted. "Simple, friendly banter with the consumer goes a long way toward generating life-long customers," says Apaliski, adding that following other Instagram users is advisable, if they are legitimate. Shun spammers with names such as "getmorefollowers064798".
3. Show personality
Whether you display photos of staff, clients, products or general industry-slanted fodder, avoid generic, posed snaps lacking character.
If your business looks bland, nobody will follow it, says digital agency owner Michael Simonetti who describes Instagram as an edgy version of Pinterest. Both apps are like magazines that readers flip through to see the pictures, Simonetti says.
Success with Instagram hinges on arresting presentation, so he says ensure your photos are "very well styled, sexed-up or strange in some way to stand out". You might want to apply some of the app's atmospheric filters such as Sutro and Rise.
4. Splash the hashtags
Hashtags are keywords introduced by a hash (#) sign, which make you more findable. When using Instagram, think "hashtag, hashtag, hashtag", Simonetti says, and explains how to use them.
For starters, you need a hashtag of your company name. You also want to embed tags reflecting your line of trade. If you run a floristry, you could enlist "#floral", "#wedding", "#springtime", "#peonyroses", "#arrangement", "#seasonal", "#luckyinlove", even "#happybridezilla", Simonetti says.
Keep your Instagram hashtags specific because that means more chance of "engaging new loyalty".
5. Easy does it
Cut the hard sell. Avoid posting more than twice a day, or you run the risk of hogging your contacts' feeds, which will make you look self-centred.
Be subtle. Let your photos do the talking. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.
6. Measure engagement
As with any social media marketing tool, you need to track how people react to your posts.
The best way is to tap the intelligence of a specialised analysis app such as Nitrogram, which features a breezily readable blog. Or you could try numbers-rich Statigram or Simply Measured, which promises to show you which photos are working.
Alternatively, you could recruit the all-purpose mainstream measurement app, Google Analytics.
7. Follow the Instagram blog
The easiest way to keep up with Instagram is to study its blog, which presents "photo features, user spotlights, photo tips and news from Instagram HQ". Recent featured stories highlight how politicians connect with Instagram and how it supposedly made one user a better photographer.
The viral visual app reflects the web's increasingly image-driven, social slant. Either you are part of Instagram's digital dialogue or you aren't, says communications strategist Lisa Mabe.
"And you better believe many of your competitors are already there," Mabe says. Whether you manage a grocery shop or a hotel, Instagram offers a uniquely graphic way of giving consumers a behind-the-scenes peek at your business, she says.
So don't fixate on devising 140-character verbal marketing messages for Twitter. Instagram offers a hypnotic alternative to it and other social media giants - the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Workplace flexibility is alive and well. You've just got to find it
9 May 2013
THE world has changed. Work is no longer a place that you go to but a thing that you do.
Does that sound good to you? Well that’s the fresh approach that Stockland takes with their 'flexible working arrangement policy'.
Those four words have attracted a good deal of debate recently, with paid parental leave a red hot item on the election agenda and big name companies like Yahoo ditching their working from home policies in the name of greater efficiency for the bottom line.
But some Australian companies are bucking the trend. Telstra, Woolworths, Rio Tinto, Westpac and BHP Billiton among others, have all been nominated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WEGA) as companies willing to go the extra mile to accommodate their staff.
Stockland is no exception. The Australian property development company has an enviable array of working arrangements on offer to benefit all its employees. These include working part time, working from home, flexible working hours and an on-site childcare centre.
Crucially, Stockland’s flexible working policy also readily applies as much to working parents as employees with commitments outside of work.
"Two of our employees are singers and others coach sports teams, so our flexible arrangement allows them to build their lives around their job," said Stocklands diversity manager Julie Tanner.
Part-time work is the company’s most popular option, with 11 per cent of staff taking it up, closely followed by working from home on a casual basis.
But there is no 'one' or 'other'. Ms Tanner said employees can mix and match as they see fit, depending on what arrangement works best for them.
Woolworths' employees also take full advantage of the company's part- time working arrangements. According to a company spokesperson, the long store hours make it easier to accommodate various different working hours and arrangements.
In addition to six weeks paid maternity leave, all employees are given a two week return to work bonus. Woolworths is also currently trialling a work from home option for a number of office and store support staff that has the potential to be implemented on a permanent basis in the future
Trust is at the heart of this flexibility, in addition to ensuring your management team is 100 per cent on board. Ms Tanner said in many cases, senior management will understand the bottom line justifications for the flexibility policy options but people at the line manager level find it hard to put into practice.
In response, Stockland rolled out a management rollout program to educate their line management team on the pros and cons and how to balance the day-to-day requirements of the arrangements.
This is a vital element to the success of any flexible working arrangement policy and should be emulated by more businesses, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WEGA).
WEGA Media and Communications Manager Clare Buttner told news.com.au it’s essential that workplace flexibility is considered a management tool, not just doing people a favour.
And how about this? Encouraging women to return to work after maternity leave through flexible working arrangements makes economic sense. Lifting women’s workforce participation by 6% could see an increase in GDP to the tune of $25 billion.
"So it's not just about supporting mothers in Australia. It will also contribute to the heart of making Australian companies more productive and competitive," Ms Buttner said.
If your current employer does not currently offer flexible working arrangements there are several realistic options to put on the table.
The WGEA recommends teleworking, access to career breaks and leave as well as work that offers employees the opportunity to grow and learn.
"We need to encourage employers to see the career trajectory - you don’t just go up the ladder anymore, there is no ladder. You weave your way around," she said.
Isn't it about time our business practices and policies reflected that?
What would be your ideal working arrangement?
VECCI urges businesses to think more strategically about resource consumption
Source: VECCI 8 May 2013
Victorian small and medium-sized businesses are being urged to manage resource costs to combat price increases and price volatility.
According to the state’s peak business body VECCI, ABS analysis shows that for every dollar saved on energy and resources, more than 10 times as much revenue would be required to achieve the same bottom line contribution.
For small businesses, VECCI assessments showed an average cost saving of approximately $4,000 per annum in resources which would be the equivalent to making $40,000 in sales each year*.
"The potential benefit to a business’ bottom line is significant and savings are even greater among the medium-sized businesses we work with," says VECCI Sustainability Services Manager, Kate Elborough.
"Business confidence is fragile, and energy and material prices are on the rise. Our analysis reveals that business electricity prices alone have increased approximately 40 per cent in the last five years."
In response, VECCI has introduced a resource productivity briefing series to help businesses think about resource consumption more strategically.
"We've found that small businesses can save more than 10 per cent per annum in resource costs just by implementing simple resource efficiency actions, so imagine the impact on the bottom line if they go a step further," says Ms Elborough.
"It’s not just a case of switching light globes. Businesses need to understand how productively energy is being used by the business.
"Managing resource productivity is about measuring the energy and resource inputs to your business against the revenue outputs generated. If businesses do this they will always have a tool to monitor their productivity."
VECCI’s briefing series is currently running across the state until June, and will educate businesses on:
• Projected prices for electricity, gas, fuel, key materials and waste disposal
• Combating rising costs by identifying and implementing operational efficiencies
• Planning ahead for future price rises through business and cash-flow modelling
"The briefings aim to help businesses create a long-term business strategy that means price volatility doesn't threaten business viability," says Ms Elborough.
The resource productivity series is a part of VECCI’s Carbon Compass program, supported by the Australian Government. The series will provide an overview of current and future challenges for businesses, including utility cost increases and how they can be combated through reducing resource use.
The briefing series will be held at a range of locations across Victoria. To see when the briefings will be held in your location, visit VECCI briefings at www.vecci.org.au
Places are limited so businesses interested in attending should register by calling 03 8662 5490. Victorian businesses can also call the free Carbon Compass helpline for advice on energy efficiency measures they can implement in their business.
*Average savings based on VECCI audits of 95 Victorian businesses, 2012. Savings for your business may vary. 10% average profit margin sourced from latest ABS research, Summary of Industry Performance, 2000-2001.
Moving Employees From 'Have to’ to 'Want To’
Source talentmanagement.com 19 March 2013
It’s not uncommon for executives to believe that they have a positive work culture, yet in reality, most still have problems typical of a negative reinforcement management style. The misinformed executive typically arrives at this conclusion because company performance is good, they are profitable and employee complaints are few. It is unfortunate that negative reinforcement can produce those results, but it can. The reason is that negative reinforcement produces improvement in behaviour as people do more to avoid punishment. The punishment may be slight or significant. People will work hard to avoid termination, but they will also work hard to avoid the displeasure of the boss.
Take employee morale, for instance. Executives have been conditioned through history to think that competitive wages and good benefits produce high morale. If that were true, all financially successful organizations would have high morale. Of course they don’t. In fact, I’ve reported on this before: employee engagement numbers have changed little in the more than 20 years. A Towers Perrin Global Workforce study showed that only 22 percent of workers are engaged, while BlessingWhite’s survey found 31 percent. Furthermore, by their own admission less than half of employees say that they are "fully engaged." It is quite unusual to find a company where all employees enter the workplace rejoicing, "Thank goodness it’s Monday!"
Engagement is not determined by what you do; it is determined by what happens to you when you do it. Employee engagement is a leadership problem, period. You cannot improve engagement by having a one-day motivational training program or an engaging mission statement or vision. You can only improve it by changing how people are treated on an hour to hour basis. As Tom Odum of Shell Oil said many years ago, "It’s hard to celebrate when you have been beaten up on the way to the party."
Engagement requires policies, executive decisions and management behaviors that are focused on helping employees be successful. Respect their brains. Make them a vital part of determining how things are done, how problems are solved. After all, most executives have said at one time or another that their employees are their most valuable asset. How many of the following five signs typical of engaged employees do you see in your organization?
Volunteerism - Employees willingly lend a hand to co-workers, even when they aren’t asked.
Dedication - Employees typically complete jobs/projects ahead of schedule and aren’t clock watchers; they often show up early or even stay late.
Pride in accomplishments - Employees acknowledge the accomplishments of others and are pleased with their own success as well.
Initiative - Employees openly offer ideas and solutions for improvement, and anticipate needs.
Response to criticism/failure - Employees are open to feedback and make changes quickly.
As with most things in business, pure engagement is a leadership issue. It cannot be mandated; it must be done willingly. Leadership must be focused on creating a workplace where every employee advances the organizational mission every day. The mission of leaders should be to "create successful employees." It is only when the culture of a company is defined as a group of people working to create the best, cost-effective, quality product or service and where they all see the accomplishments driven by their behavior on a regular basis that you will have employees who come to work after the weekend saying, "Thank goodness it’s Monday!"
How to avoid penalty clauses in contracts
Source My Business 29 April 2013
After a recent court case underlined the importance of ensuring the reasonableness of commercial terms in contracts, here Special Counsel Victoria Hawkins explains what you need to be aware of to avoid penalty clauses in contracts.
If you are familiar with contracts, you will know that in the event of a breach, the non-breaching party may be entitled to claim as damages an amount that reflects their loss or damage. Where the contract sets out in advance the value of the damages entitlement, that amount must be a "genuine pre-estimate" of the loss that the non-breaching party will suffer if a breach occurs.
If, instead, the damages entitlement is totally out of proportion to the maximum loss that the non-breaching party could suffer, a court is likely to strike the clause down as a penalty and therefore invalid.
Contract terms which are unconscionable and amount to a penalty
This principle was discussed in the famous 100-year-old Clydebank Engineering case. Let's say you have a contract that says you agree to build a house for someone for $1 million within a year. The contract also says that if you don't build it within the year, you have to pay the other person $100 million. You don't build the house in time and so a breach of contract occurs. However, the $100 million payable under the contract is a penalty because the amount recoverable is totally out of proportion to the maximum loss that the other person will suffer for late performance. Any contractual obligation imposing an "unreasonable" detriment may be disputed. As a result of a recent High Court case, Andrews v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, there is the potential for a far wider range of contractual obligations to be struck down as a penalty. In particular, it was previously thought that it was only payments triggered by a breach of contract that are at risk of being struck down as a penalty. Now, any contractual obligation imposing an "unreasonable" detriment on a party to the contract may be the subject of dispute. What this means in practice is that standard terms in commercial contracts, involving payment obligations or other detriments, will need to be reviewed. So, for example, in the IT industry, agreements often include payments triggered by failures to achieve pre-agreed performance levels, such as time frames for responding to requests for assistance. Parties to these contracts should now review these clauses to ensure that the amounts payable for not meeting agreed service levels reflect the loss the customer may experience.
You need to review your contracts. It is now more important than ever that you review your commercial arrangements. Specifically, contractual requirements that have been put in place to "enforce" performance of other obligations should not lead to a non-performing party suffering a detriment that is greater than the amount to which the other party is reasonably entitled. Otherwise your contract may be open to challenge. This could prove to be commercially disruptive, particularly if the same contract has been entered into with many clients and forms part of your standard business practices. We recommend that in commercial dealings, you closely scrutinise any payments or other "detriments" (such as obligations to transfer property or forfeit proprietary interests) to assess whether they represent a genuine pre-estimate of the other party's damage. Commercial dealings that are likely to be impacted include:
- Service level agreements (such as those used in the IT industry, as discussed above).
- Performance payment mechanisms (used in public private partnerships and facilities management contracts).
- Fees applied to non-performance of obligations under leases and franchise agreements.
- Fees charged under utilities contracts and telecoms services contracts.
- Amounts payable under indemnities.
- Contractual restraints in construction contracts.
Victoria Hawkins is a Special Counsel in the litigation team at Colin Biggers & Paisley