Nov 292014
 
detail_355_FESWatch_SkinChange03-2

A story from the Wall Street Journal describes how Sony have crowfunded their FES watch project, a smartwatch with an electronic paper wrist strap.

Sony’s decision to crowdfund new projects is fascinating, not least because it gives researchers and entreprenuerial employees the opportunity to commercialise projects at little cost or risk to the company but also as a powerful way to judge the market demand for an idea.

The FES watch campaign is good example how companies, big and small, can use crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. As we see more creative applications of the two concepts we may well see some radically new management methods and business models arise.

Nov 242014
 
compass-and-mapping

What it comes maps, trust is everything. If you’re uncertain about what a map tells you then it’s pretty close to useless.

Gizmodo has an interesting story of how tourism and residents clash underneath the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles with the resultant changes to Google Maps and Garmin GPS systems.

It’s surprising that Google, Garmin and other mapping services have agreed to create misleading maps as this devalues the trust in their services.

That’s their business choice though, although in the long term this going to deeply hurt trust in their maps.

Nov 152014
 
sales methods are changing in an era of cloud computing and social media

“We need to stop the drift in politics and economics,” says Irish economist David McWilliams.

McWilliams is talking about Ireland and asking where the nation goes for the next two decades as European agricultural support programs wind up and Irish tax advantages erode.

That conversation though is one that every economy, every nation and every community needs to be having in the face of a rapidly changing world.

Assuming that what’s working, or muddling along, today will be successful tomorrow is a brave belief.

Oct 052014
 
old payphones in desrepair

As smartphones have become common, the humble phone box has become a quaint reminder of a previous era. A series of initiatives around the world to use phone boxes to WiFi points may be giving them another lease of life.

For telecommunications companies around the world what to do with thousands of barely used but high maintenance phone boxes has become a pressing question, particularly in markets where licenses require operators to maintain them as part of their service obligations.

A solution may be found in municipal WiFi as cities have found one of the barriers to rolling out networks is where to locate base stations. In Barcelona one of the solutions has been to create hotspots in bus shelters.

The idea of using payphones as hotspots first appeared in the Yorkshire town of Leeds followed by a municipal network in New York and now Australia as the incumbent telco Telstra announced plans to rollout wireless broadband across the country.

In the UK, the Leeds based service includes charging stations in the kiosks with the services based upon advertising. It’s notable the UK service is a private startup while the US experiment is a municipal initiative and the Australian service is an extension of the existing telco network.

It may be that other revenue generators may be to provide electric vehicle charging, secure storage and perhaps neighbourhood collection points for delivery services. The model certainly needs tweaking.

How the utility of kiosks providing WiFi and these other neighbourhood services work will depend upon many factors; the economics may require governments or community groups to provide the services. It certainly is a business model in development.

For now though it seems the remaining payphone kiosks are safe from being abandoned.

Sep 272014
 
Employees in Starbucks Amsterdam store

Earlier this week I was asked what tools small business could use to increase employee engagement.

My reply was a simple one; start a company blog and let staff contribute to it. Letting workers tell stories of why they enjoy their work not only gives them a feeling of being recognised as part of the team but also shows the human face of the business.

That latter part is an important point as too many small businesses try to sound like Exxon-Mobil when they present their company face when in actual fact most customers are after the human touch.

It’s a simple thing, but showing your business’ human face is not only good for staff morale but also good as a marketing tool as well.