Technology Continues to Transform Lives

insuranceThink about how far technology has come in the last 10 years or the last 5 years for that matter. Think about how many things you do differently because of technology. No longer do you have to look in the phone book for insurance agents and call them and give out your information over the phone only to wait a few days for them to get back to you with a quote. Now you can get online and fill out some information and get car insurance quotes from multiple companies with a click of a button all in a fifteen minute span. That’s how technology has changed our lives. (more…)


Do You Need Data Recovery Devices?

One of the many questions you may ask, whether it is a PC that is used at home, or one that you use for work purposes, is: Do You Need Data Recovery Devices? Although the answer might seem like no at first, and you think you can protect data through online service sites, and by saving data regularly on flash drives, but if you really want to be safe, then you may want to consider looking in to the data recovery devices. (more…)


How Jiffy Lube Uses Virtual Training Technology To Their Benefit

img src=”http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/jiffy-lube-logo.jpg” class=”alignleft” width=”300″ /Jiffy Lube, the well known brand specializing in vehicle maintenance has managed to leverage cutting edge technology in staff training and in so doing earned top ranking by the respected Training Magazine. Using a training module known as strongVirtual Instructor Led Training/strong (VILT) to deliver a href=”http://onlinecorporatetrainingprograms.com/jiffy-lube-university-online-training-program/”e-learning solutions/a at their Jiffy Lube University for workers employed in their franchises, the company offered several hundred thousand certification courses at a barely believable cost of 15 cents per course in 2013. It is apt illustration how appropriate technology can be used to cut down on costs and wastage which are inherent in other methods of value addition and service delivery.
h2Using Innovative Training as a Driver for Growth/h2
Since inception, this is a company which has placed plenty of emphasis on a href=”http://www.validator.ca/how-subway-uses-technology-to-streamline-training/”streamlining training/a for their employees. This philosophy is based on the belief that imparting the right kind of skills in their employees ultimately leads to higher quality of service delivered to customers. With high quality services, customers can enjoy even greater returns and this ultimately means growth for the brand as well as greater returns for everyone involved in the value chain.

The use of training to drive growth for the franchises is anchored on three key pillars:
ol
liTo equip workers with the right kind of skills and competences so they can deliver virtually worry free services to motorists who seek services from the company/li
liTo strengthen the brand appeal and therefore increase the franchises enjoined in the network/li
liGuarantee operational excellence for all customers. This approach has been so successful that current data indicates 90.6% of all customers served at the centers register unambiguous high levels of satisfaction at the quality of services offered./li
/ol
h2Deploying the Best Technology for Targeted Training Solutions/h2
By crafting one of the most innovative E-Learning modules in the services industry, this company has managed to offer a wide cross section of the company’s workers highly targeted training solutions at the best price. The training needs which were most pressing over the course of the last couple of years had to do with:
ul
liCommunication and sales of new specialty oil products/li
liSpecialized technical training for innovative products now offered by their Brakes and Services department/li
/ul
h2Breaking New Frontiers of Technology in Staff Training/h2
Jiffy Lube has incorporated innovative gaming simulation technology to create realistic, hands-on work based challenges for their franchisee staff. In these virtual garages, workers experience changes in roles with challenging service center roles. In this project they have teamed up with LIBRIX, a well known and established training and development agency, to develop an entertaining animated competition powered by LIBRIX’s cloud-based gaming engine and featuring racecar driver “emJiffy Jackson./em” Making use of animation and plenty of video footage to boot, the company has come up with an ingenious solution geared towards offering complete Customer Value Proposition pillar of their training roadmap.
h2Technology in Training for Low Cost Delivery without Compromising on Quality/h2
The technology driven training platform is focused on the philosophy that any subject which can be taught via the e-learning medium should be delivered so. Admittedly, the initial investment needed to put up the necessary e-learning infrastructure can be huge. However, in the long run, the approach will prove very cost effective. If there was need to demonstrate how this can be achieved, last year one of the trainers conducted a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_training”online VILT sessions/a three weeks each month and ended up saving well over $100,000 not to mention reaching 20% more trainees as a result.


Accounting Technology That Helps Control Costs

img src=”http://www.orangeballoonbookkeeping.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/xero-logo-150×150.jpg” class=”alignleft” width=”300″ /Times have been really tough for SMEs of late, there’s no getting away from that.

Global recession and the tightening of consumer belts have led to business owners having to look for new and inventive ways to stand out from the crowd, satisfy needs profitably and keep a lid on costs. I was speaking to a guy in the UK the other day who seems to have got this whole approach off to a tee. He started his small business before the recession bit and is now successfully running a medium-sized affair and appears to have all his ducks firmly in a row.

When I spoke to him about his journey, he admitted that it hadn’t been without its challenges, but for him, the key is listening to and staying close to your customers and keeping costs on a very tight rein. One of the main things he is really grateful for is the online accounting package he’s chosen. He told me that when he started out, he did everything on a shoestring, doing as much of the business administration that he could himself. He wound up almost burnt out and then ‘saw the light’ at a networking event when a guy from a firm of accountants was singing the praises of a href=”https://www.xero.com/uk/” target=”blank”Xero online accounting/a and a bookkeeping service that uses it to great effect called a href=”http://www.orangeballoonbookkeeping.co.uk/” target=”blank”Orange Balloon Bookkeeping/a.

Xero is only one of a range of a href=”http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/smallbusiness/article-2505128/Find-best-accounting-software-freelancers-small-businesses.html”cloud-based accounting packages/a that are available on the market but for the guy I was speaking to, this cool technology has literally changed his life. Here’s how he described it:

1. It looks good. A guy who’s not all that techy, he appreciates that the software looks great, works efficiently and saves him lots of time.
2. It works across all his devices which means he can send invoices, reconcile bank statements and even process expenses, no matter where he is and no matter what time of day he chooses to get his accounts in order.
3. It allows him an unlimited number of users without giving rise to extra fees or expenses. This means that his accountant and his wife who helps him out 2 days a week can access his files, no problem.
4. It has a customer support facility that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so whenever he needs help, it’s there.
5. It features an inbuilt expense management and approval process even across his mobile network.
6. It works with as many as 160 currencies, allowing him to work with live spot rates, so he doesn’t have to rework exchange rates at a later date.
7. It offers an impressive range of 150 add-on partners and over 1000 active apps, which is way more than the likes of Quickbooks that has only 32 add-on partners.
8. It has the capacity for his accountant to discuss accounts and make notes about transactions within the application.
9. His accountant loves it because makes her life way easier.
10. It has 99.9% uptime history and has never had a multi-day outage.

This system has really helped Tim control his costs and monitor his business performance. In the UK he’s now facing the workload caused by a new pensions system that will mean a whole new set of costs, but he’s got all that sorted with his accountant and is confident that all of them: he, his accountant, Xero and Orange Balloon Bookkeeping working in harmony will make the whole thing a walk in the park.


Apple changes the future, not with it.

Technology changes everything, constantly. 
It is simple really, if a business doesn't change with it, they die, fact. 

Businesses that change with technological advancements are always going to be good and healthy.
Businesses that create change, disrupt markets and 'make a dent in the universe' are always going to be GREAT and mega successful. 

Companies such as Google and more importantly for this articles subject – Apple.

Apple is a company that reinvented video editing

Apple's foray into video editing, for example, has been a very successful one. They entered the market with a product called Final Cut. It was a real game changer as before Final Cut, editors had to pay in excess of $20,000 for something that could do what Apple's Final Cut would do for $3000. 

Final Cut Pro in action

Over the following years Apple staked out a very large percentage of the overall video editing market and they did this through innovation. Final Cut had cutting edge changes to what was considered the 'norm' of the time and editors flocked to it. 

In 2010 Apple was losing market share to other editing platforms such as Adobe Premiere Pro and sales of their latest version Final Cut Pro 7 were in decline. The software was considered 'good' but no longer the revolution in editing it once was. Apple needed to re-revolutionise its video editing solution if if was ever going to see a return to growth in the market. What they came back with would surprise everyone and create a huge storm of controversy, praise and criticism, with healthy doses of each.

Introducing Final Cut Pro X (10).

FCPX unveiled at video editing conference

Initial critisms of Final Cut Pro were that it was missing crucial editing features such as Multi-cam, direct import capability, and importing of XML files from earlier FCP7 projects. The editing world was vastly divided, and the launch was considered a flop.

What was evident however, and this is very important in the context of new thinking and technologies, was that Apple would be looking to update the software weekly. In the past a piece of software like this would be updated every 18 months typically, so to say they would be updating every week or so was a massive shift. This has now become the norm for many software companies. They will now release every fix independently instead of waiting for there to be enough of them to warrant a large release. 
Apple had completely redesigned from the ground up. The graphical interface changed, keyboard shortcuts changed and even tools that did the same thing as they did in Final Cut Pro 7 were called different things, it was certaintly a revolution and many editors found themselves a long way out of their comfort zones. 

What happened over the coming 3 years from launch of FCPX in 2011 is interesting indeed. There has been a massive wave of people picking up the software and becoming ardent supporters. Steve Jobs from Apple was a massive fan of a famous Wayne Gretzky "I don't skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it's going to be". Apple and Steve Jobs did this very thing with FCPX. They made changes for the future, and while that made the initial response somewhat negative, once the video editing community 'caught up', the plan paid off in dividends.

Wayne Gretzky changing business

Final Cut Pro X is now supported by a massive natural ecosystem of plugins and video effects from individual companies (such as this) and editors that are utilising Apple's software. Without Apple carving a path through the video editing world with their revolutionary technology, their products and maybe even companies might not exist. The video editing world of filmmakers, wedding videographers, corporate videographers and hobbyists were forced into the future of editing. Many didn't want to go, though now I'm sure they are happier for it.

These paradigm shifts are also evident in other sectors too, from car manufacturing to personal phones and even dog grooming. One other market that is going through a massive shift due to technology is the medicinial market, but not how you may think. You see medicine has always been at the forefront of technology, due to there being so much money in it, but in the last 10 years a GP's job has been harder as a lot of patients have been using various websites online to "self diagnose". There are websites to help you solve anything, from itchy skin treatments (see here) to websites like web MD and even yourdiagnosis.com. All of these sites are "changing" the market, and not just reacting to it. 

Business and the greater world will never stop changing, so you can either sit still and be forgotten, change with the world and survive or be the driver of change and be remembered. Your choice.


How Hunting has Become a Booming Business

So today we are going to look how technology is shaping business by focusing on the outdoor industry. The outdoor industry is huge today! Specifically with hunting there are more gadgets than you can count. From scopes, high powered binoculars and game trail cameras like the ones found here www.gametrailcameraguide.com to monitors that alert you to animals that are approaching (like personal radar!) And with the hundreds of TV shows dedicated to hunting and outdoor events and thousands if not millions of YouTube videos showcasing new gear and techniques the great outdoors has become a great example how technology creates new business.

Just a short while ago these outdoor sports were something that was hard to make into a business. Each outdoorsmen had their own equipment that was more often than not passed down from generation to generation. Each hunter had knowledge about where the best spots to hunt in their area was. These things are hard to market because these are skills and traits that are learned and passed down, something that is not accessible to the public. With the introduction to modern technology however it became a lot easier for someone with little knowledge to become a competent outdoorsmen. This is not saying that hunting is an easy thing to do now that we have all of this high tech gear but rather it lowers the learning curve a bit. You will still have those who have been hunting all of their lives and who learned from their father and their father learned from their father and so on. You still need to be able to fire a weapon with proficiency. You still need the knowledge that has been stored with each hunter and their families for years to be successful. Now however you don’t need to have a father or a grandfather that are avid hunters. You can watch YouTube videos explaining on how to track game and how to properly fire a gun or a bow. You don’t have to wait generations to get a firearm passed down to you. Now all you need is the click of a button and you can have a gun shipped to your area! The rise of technology has not taken away from the art of hunting but rather has given those who are most knowledgeable about the outdoors a way to market themselves and make money off of the wisdom passed down to them.

What once started out as a pretty basic industry is now crawling with all sorts of high tech equipment to aid you to bag that big one this year. Before television and computers the hunting industry was primarily nonexistent. A lot of that is due to the fact that hunting was not so much a sport as it is now but rather a way of life and sustenance. If you couldn’t hunt, especially in more remote locations, you didn’t eat. Most commerce was focused on firearms and ammunition only because there wasn’t much else to it than that. Hunting was more laborious and difficult then. If you wanted to know what sort of animals were in your area you had to stake out a spot for hours on end watching and waiting. Even then you were restricted by viewing distance and clarity.
Now there are multiple ways to get around these difficulties. While it is true that a large portion of the hunting business is still in firearms and ammunition there is so much more to it now. Instead of sitting around for hours on end hoping to see what sort of potential game your land has to offer you can now set up a camera that will monitor whatever moves near it. You don’t even have to check it daily you can come back weekly or even bi-weekly to check and see what sort of activity is going on. And these cameras are not necessarily restricted by clear conditions either, some models are even equipped with night vision! No longer is the hunter restricted by the sight of their eyes. There are binoculars that are so powerful you can see animals clearly up to half a mile away and sometimes even further given the right conditions. Before you had to be ultra-aware of your surrounding s and if became lazy in your vigilance you risk being jumped by a bear or some other predator out there that might turn the hunter into the hunted. Now with these movement monitors you don’t have to ever worry about being snuck up on. And more importantly you might be able to more quickly locate that deer you have been after trying to sneak on by you.

Well this wraps up another post on how technology has changed the face of business. It might have been a little bit different from what we are used to seeing on here but I think it was a good example of how modern inventions created a market for things that were previously unable to be marketed.


Evolution Of Technology And Its Effects On Different Areas Of Business

The world of business never remains static. There isn’t a second where something isn’t evolving and being changed to increase profitability or just open new horizons. There is always something out there that is ‘better’ than what was available before. This is how the world of business works and will continue to work as time goes on. Technology has grown leaps and bounds over the past decade or so. It has completely changed the landscape with which business is done. Let’s take a look at how companies have evolved over the years in terms of technology and its use.

Product Development

Let’s begin with how products are developed. In the past, they might have been drawn out on boards and/or paper before being processed onto computers. Now, everything is done through the use of regularly updated software.

There is essentially no part of the product development process that does not involve the use of technology. This is continually becoming more and more apparent with the types of specialists coming into companies. They are all geared towards the technological side of the business more so than using paper and pen to do their work.

Advertising

This is one part that has been revolutionized with the advent of technology. There is still a lot of competition and that is never going to fade away, but the marketing world has been turned on its head.

Offline marketing is not the same anymore as a lot of the key work has to be done online. There are social media platforms (i.e. Twitter, FaceBook) that have to be catered to and then the Internet in general is a great place to advertise.

If there is one place that has truly been turned upside down because of technology, it has to be the world of advertising.

Globalization

This is another key component that has to be taken into consideration. Before, most of the work that was done for companies used to be completed at home and this was how things used to be done.

However, the quality control gap has been closing for years now. It has come to a point where there is essentially no difference between the work done in third world countries and first world countries. There is so much competition for business and outsourcing has become the cheaper and easier way to do things. This is only possible because of technology that enables the quick transferring of files and constant communication between all involved parties.

Home Party Businesses

For those who are running home party businesses, technology has definitely changed the way business is done. Setting up home parties has never been easier as everything is organized from the help of software and the computer in general.

It just does not get easier than this for those who want to help their business progress. Forget about sitting down and doing all of the work with paper, it just does not have to be done any more.

Home party businesses are constantly moving their operations online to get the most out of their time and money.

Self Employment Opportunities

What about those who want to work online and from home? It never used to be possible before unless the boss sent you home and said go work from there. This never really happened, but it was the dream for many who were sick and tired of having to travel to and from work again and again.

This was before when working from home was just not possible. Now, almost any job can be completed from home with ease.

For those who want to become writers, they can write from home. Those who want to run complete businesses online, they can do this as well. In fact, most of the regular businesses out and about are also moving online to reach more people. Everyone is online and all of the best businesses out there understand this and want to make sure they are getting a piece of the pie.

This is great news for those people who want to get a lot out of their talent and want to earn for themselves without helping others pocket money.

These are just some of the ways businesses have started to incorporate the use of technology. Any business that does not enjoy the use of technology will never be able to maximize their business and its potential.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business is being done, it is essential to have some type of technological presence on board to help things along. It is almost impossible to live without at least a computer to get things done for the business to flourish and move forward. Businesses that have not caught up have been left far behind.


Is Warehouse Technology The Secret To Amazon’s Success?

Started as an online bookstore, and soon diversifying to all products from A to Z. Today, Amazon is the largest online seller of merchandise in the world.

It has separate reatail websites for many different countries, including France, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Australia, India, China, Japan, Mexico, and others. Soon more Asian countries will be included.

Amazon has experienced phenomenal growth since its inception in 1994, and has solved logistical problems with merchandise that would have befuddled most other companies of similar size.

Amazon warehouses are huge, with miles of industrial storage systems storing hundreds of thousands of items, and of course there had to be a very sophisticated model of a system that would pick merchandise efficiently the very first time and get it sent to the correct address correctly, the first time.

Try keeping track of millions of individual orders from all over the world, and you get the idea of the enormity of the task.

There are four basic tasks that have to be accounted for in this process: Incoming goods have to be unpacked and inspected, items have to then be placed into storage and its location recorded, then when an order comes in, the item must be picked from its location and included in the order, and finally shipping the item.

Thus Amazon has a very technologically advanced computer system that does all of this. If you were to visit a typical Amazon warehouse, you would see a vast array of conveyor belts traveling every which way, in a seemingly random order, but with electronic sensors reading the bar codes on packages as they go by. The system then routes and reroutes items based upon their destinations for packaging and shipping.

This process goes on for 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and is a remarkable sight to see. A central computer is always recording the location of the items, and routes are mapped out for pickers who walk the aisles, constantly monitoring the items as they travel.

The pickers carry hand-held computers that communicate with the central computer. A picker may walk from 10 to 15 miles per day in order to keep up with things.

Therein lies the problem, because of the fast pace and the physically draining regimen that is required of warehouse employees. Warehouse employees are largely temps, that come from labor pools, and are told to expect 60 hour workweeks, under grueling conditions, with objective and goals that are nearly impossible to meet.

The turnover rate for employees at Amazon,with the median employee leaving after just one year, which is astounding compared to Walmart’s 3.3 years. The pay is very low, and the computerized demerit system keeps track of the most petty offensives.

Warehouse employees are give quotas of merchandise to be directed onto the desired locations by a set time, and woe be it unto you, if you just happen to get over-sized packages that get into a traffic jam or other such occurrences.

There is some relief with the recent purchase of KIVA systems, which is more robotic picking, but there is no doubt that the workload is very heavy, and contributes to the high turnover to a great degree.


The Gift Hampers Company Using Podcasting To Modernise Their Customer Relations

Small business retail used to be a whole lot simpler in the old days. You made your shop or your market stall and you located it in a place where lots of people frequented.

The basic premise was that where there are already a lot of people you can catch yourself some sales and you have a business.

Then in the last decades the rise of large corporations and out of town shopping malls put greater and greater pressure on small businesses. The customers were leaving the town centers being lured away by the bright, shiney malls.

As small retailers began to fight back they turned their attention to e-commerce. The internet has levelled the playing field and anyone could compete online… or so the story went.

But any small business trying to retail online soon finds that margins are incredibly tight and the old adage “it takes money to make money” never applied more.

Large retail giants such as amazon dominate online retail too. Pay-per-click traffic is expensive and SEO firms charge a fortune too.

While it’s quite easy to take your small retail store online you quickly find that you’ve located your store in the wilderness and nobody visits.

So what can a small business do? How can they compete. Well all is not lost there are some things small retailers can do to try to draw visitors to their neighbourhood without spending a fortune, but be warned the rules of the game have changed.

Case Study

UniqueGiftHampers.co.uk started as the side project of a small family business in the UK. Sales in their bricks and mortar store were declining as more and more people began shopping out of town. So the business created a website to try to gift baskets online.

The problem was that after 1 year nobody was coming to their website. So what did they do?

Well simply put they did the online equivalent of grabbing a megaphone and shouting until they began to attract attention.

By simply grabbing a usb microphone and following an easy guide, the firm started a podcast called The Art Of Gift Giving. It began as a monthly show and evolved into a weekly show covering lifestyle stories and how gifts build connections between people.

Apart from a small line in the intro mentioning that the show was “brought to you by uniquegifthampers.co.uk” the show deliberately never promoted their own gift baskets or products. Instead they have interviews and stories about love, life and gifting.

Guests come in from magazines, newspapers, businesses and colleges to talk about The Art of Gift Giving and the show far from being a cold advert is rather charming and heart warming.

Julie Stevens hosts the show and also works in the family business. She said, “To be truthful we started the show to draw attention to our business but it’s become much more than that. As a gift company we truly believe in the positive power of gifting. It’s not about spending money, it’s about showing you care. And The Art Of Gift Giving is our gift back the community. If it results in a sale then great but the podcast is free and given from us with love”.

Julie believes that more small businesses need to start to think like media outlets. It’s not enough to simply sit and wait for customers. You need to do something a little bit special and then customers will come to you.


Top 2014 Trends in the World of Technology and Ecommerce

Each year the tech savvy early adopters gather around their mobile and tablet devices to discuss the upcoming trends in the technology sector. This year we have witnessed a number of new movements affecting the market, particularly in the mobile sector. We have also noticed an increase in the amount of mobile and web applications being developed under the sharing economy, with companies like Lyft and Uber taking off. Along with the rise of an economy based on sharing, we are now noticing a drastic shift from the use of web applications to straight mobile applications. Though this has been evident for quite some time, it is becoming more apparent that people would prefer to browse and utilize the web through their mobile devices. With that being said, we have created a brief list of the top trends of the technology sector in the year of 2014.

Tech Births the Sharing Economy: Share with the Joneses, Don’t Keep Up

Though it is still in its early stages, the sharing economy is taking the world by storm with companies like Lyft and TechPayout becoming more mainstream. If you are unfamiliar, the sharing economy is based on crowd-sourced funds and services. It is about the power of the people, coming together as one to share resources they wish to retrieve or they wish to sell. For example, if you have any old electronics lying around, you can simply go to a site like this one. TechPayout allows you to sell a tablet or cell phone, giving you the ability to make money off your old products. This is a revolutionary new concept that is now dominating the market. It embodies the phrase: share with the joneses instead of keeping up. It is no longer a matter of investing into brand new products, when there is so many available by previous owners who no longer use a lot of the products they originally invested in.

Mobile Carrier Companies Adopt a More Friendly and People-Centric View of Business

According to leading industry professionals, mobile carrier companies will be adopting a more friendly and people-centric view of their business, by focusing more attention on the consumer’s needs. They are doing this by directing more energy towards customer sentiments which is ultimately resulting in a shift from the commonly held network-centric view of business towards a more customer-centric outlook. Mobile carriers believe they will be capable of optimizing focus and expenditures by spending more time understanding what customers want, need and most importantly, feel.

Cool New Services Will Be Arriving to the Market

The year of 2014 will also embody a vast array of new services for your mobile devices, and life in general, all of which will take form in web-based and mobile-based applications. There will also be changes in the rapid speed of services available, and LTE will soon be available for all cellphone networks on the market. This shift will result in the following: more automation, and more networked based through cross-platform connectivity. You will see more cars retaining the capability to connect to wireless devices, as well as other types of large mechanical devices, like your home.


Hairstyling Goes Digital

The effect of the internet, software applications and advances in technology on hairstyling salons and barbers has been astonishing. The changes in the business, from education to advertising to accounting, bear little similarity to what it was like in the industry just 15 or 20 years ago.

Cosmetology and Barber Schools

Today a would be stylist can watch YouTube videos on every aspect of hair care:

  • limatching the best style with a client’s features
  • licutting curly hair, straight hair, thinning hair, frizzy hair—all types of hair texture
  • lideciding on the best color and highlights for a client
  • lidetermining which tools to use. What’s the best flat iron for straightening long frizzy hair? Which hot air brush is going to give the most volume to straight hair?
  • limixing the colors
  • liapplying the colors
  • listraightening hair and curling hair
  • listyling hair for formal events
  • liusing best practices for health and sanitation in a styling salon

What YouTube can’t provide is actual hands-on experience. But recruits to styling programs come much better prepared the first day of class than they did in past decades. Most know the basics and are eager to test them out on real models.

Marketing the Local Salon and Barber Shop

The days of newspaper ads in the local daily and neighborhood throw away are almost gone. Modern shops use websites and social media to get the word out about their products and services.

It would be hard to find a shop without its own website, even if it is only a single page listing location, hours and services. Many have interactive appointment setting available, which makes it easy for client’s to sign up on the spur of the moment.

Shops can send out special seasonal coupons and promo codes for free or reduced price services via Twitter or their Facebook page. They can email their list with information about new stylists who have joined, additional services like massage being offered and discounts. Customers can sign up for text messages.

Ease of appointment setting

New apps let customers sign up for an appointment 24 hours a day on the salon website or through a mobile app. The salon manager simply checks her end of the scheduling app to see how many appointments are set for the day.

Using a smartphone, customers can let the shop know if they are stuck in traffic or need to reschedule. The salon owners can warn clients ahead of time if the stylist is running late. It offers convenience and reduces stress at both ends.

Influential beauty blogging

There are thousands of blogs devoted to beauty, makeup, haircare and looking your best. Among the topics covered are:

  • styling products like shampoos, conditioners, gels, sprays and help for thinning hair
  • appliances for drying hair, curling it and straightening it
  • salon services like massage and skin care
  • makeup methods and brands of makeup
  • the newest hairstyles worn by models, actresses and celebrities
  • the best salons in different cities

Marketing gurus for the hair styling and barber industry love these blogs. Reading them regularly, they can easily spot trends, find out what is causing consumers to spend money, and discover what they dislike about new products and services.

Accounting, automatically

New accounting software applications make it easy to keep track of all the variables. Each time a customer is rung up, the software automatically takes care of figuring out inventory, salary, commission, taxes and overhead. Shop owners say there is simply no comparison to the days of tediously entering the numbers by hand.

The new procedures are much more efficient and accurate. Several terminals in large salons can all be connected to the same central software. The data is handled without error and with little human input.

Do-It-Yourself Nail Design

Most salons offer manicures and pedicures. Many also have nail design services, a big money maker. The process has become even simpler because clients can now design their own acrylic nails.

Online apps let the customer upload a photo of the design she likes. The stylist checks it out and makes any necessary changes. She can then print it out, producing the design precisely in latex paint.

This has speeded up the process for nail artwork and simplified the work necessary on the part of the salon. Smaller shops can offer a far greater range of designs using the app and the printer.

Digital help to look your best

Other apps available that have revolutionized the way consumers shop for clothes and beauty supplies include:

  • wardrobe selectors—these apps let the shopper upload a variety of photos of herself in various situations. The software then uses them to locate clothes around the web for different occasions. It is programmed to find flattering outfits that fit the taste of the customer, all at the best possible price.
  • clothes designing programs—for people who like to sew, these applications have simplified and speeded up making clothes in attractive designs. The seamstress picks the piece of clothing from a catalog and a pattern is printed. In addition the sewer gets online help for cutting, stitching and detailing.
  • tie-making—one of the few ways that a man in a professional office setting can express himself is with his tie choices. The tie-making apps let him be as creative as he dares. A photo or piece of artwork is uploaded and transferred to fabric.

Though computers have put many laborers out of work, the electronic age has revolutionized the hairstyling and barber industry in a positive way. It is an exciting time for big and small shops, waiting to see what new technology is around the corner.


From producing leather to selling briefcases and wallets

Today we are going to look at a company from the US called Original Leather Goods. It was founded at the end of the 19th century by Sir Alex Cochrains. He was a real businessman that had the idea to start up his own company. He learned making leather from his father and he wanted to make it more industrial. A bigger scale would bring him more revenue, which he then could reinvest in bigger machines.

In the beginning he had 5 employees. They all had different tasks. One scraped the animal hide so it would be free of hairs, another one did the tanning itself and so on. They sold leather to the highest buyer and business was going well. But with the industrial revolution working without machines would be the end for them. The money they made was reinvested so the company could technically evolve.

As a consequence of this mechanization the company could grow. More leather was produced and the business was blooming. The finest leather was produced and it was made from different animals their skin. The animal hides came first from local places but with the globalization skins had to be imported from cheaper places so the company could still compete.

Slowly competition was becoming more and more fierce. Importing skins from cheaper countries was the way to go. As a leather manufacturer the next best thing they could do was to produce their own leather goods. They had the leather and they didn’t have the extra cost that they would charge to other companies buying leather from them to make their own goods. Because they could cut the middlemen when producing leather goods this was a big advantage for them. Their business bloomed and they made a lot of leather products such as wallets, couches and briefcases.

They sold a lot of leather products and this under their name “Original Leather Goods”. At the end of 20th century there was a new world appearing. The new digital world of the internet was going to change businesses. At that time people were not yet so digital savvy and the possibilities of the internet were still in the early phase.

But this didn’t hold them back to jump on this new digital market. They learned from the past that being early with new technological revolutions is important. So they launched their own website already many years ago. An online presence is important of course.

Later on e-commerce and webshops were becoming popular. Why sell their leather products through offline stores if they could again cut out the middle men and sell directly to consumers. They set up their own e-commerce store to buy their own products. But they also made an affiliate program so other website owners could let people buy their leather products. Other sites such as this one is selling their leather wallets. And another site selling their leather briefcase as this one is also helping their revenue.

To conclude we can say that from a basic small company that only produced leather they evolved to a company that also sells leather products, not only through offline stores, but also online and with a lot of other online venues participating in selling their leather goods such as wallets and briefcases.


How Some Lawn Mower Companies Have Embraced The ‘Electric’ Revolution

Tesla Motors is disrupting the automobile industry because they are focused on electric cars. Companies like GM and Ford are playing catch up in the electric car market, but it might be too late. As technology evolves it is inevitable that cars will make the switch from internal combustion engines to electricity via batteries for their power. And the same goes for other products that stereotypically require gasoline for power – think power equipment. In this post I’d like to explore some of the lawn mower companies that are innovating towards cordless electric power.

The first company is Black & Decker. They sell one of the most popular cordless electric mowers on the market. Black & Decker was founded in 1917 to manufacture what Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker had invented and patented: the portable electric drill. From there they grew and grew and grew some more. And then in 2010 they merged with The Stanley Group to become Stanley Black & Decker. Now they are a Fortune 500 company with double-digit billions of revenue. And that’s no surprise because they continue to set their eye on the future and are quick to evolve. Just like in the home garden care niche. If you look at their product page for home and garden you’ll see that they have a wide range of battery powered electric power equipment. They have been developing and innovating in the electric powered power tool niche since 1917 and continue to this day. It’s really great to see this in a company.

Greenworks is the private American brand of a Chinese manufacturing company called Globe Tools Co. They provide electric powered power equipment to the American market and compete on cost. As you can see in the top 8 lawn mowers for sale Greenworks has 2. So you can rest assured that even though they compete on cost they also provide value for that cost. They’re a great company to look at as an example of one that has evolved and innovated. They saw the future of power equipment was electric. They saw that battery technology was getting to the point where it was light enough and powerful enough to make portable electric power equipment feasible. They jumped into the market and are now a main player. They manufacture in China and then ship to the US for sale.

With both Black & Decker and Greenworks the technology came and then they evolved to use that technology. In this case it was the light enough and powerful enough lithium-ion batteries. Even 10 years ago you couldn’t have had a feasible battery powered lawn mower because it would have been too heavy and not be able to mow even a small lawn on one charge. It’s too bad that other lawn mower companies seem to have taken a different approach and continue to mainly focus on petrol powered mowers. I’m sure they have R&D departments working on it but they need to innovate faster as it may be hard to “unseat” the current dominant players in the niche.


An Evolution of Smart Watches

While some may say the Smartwatch started with the iPod nano, the trend has evolved into its own category of smart accessories.  Before the miracle Pebble manufactured via crowdfunding, and the entry of Samsung, different companies tried experimenting with the concept of Smartwatches. Let’s look at the this recent phenomena.

As early as 2001, IBM created a Linux-based watch called the WatchPad (the first brand to do so). This was an internet-enabled design running an open source operating system. The idea of Watchpad was to demonstrate Lenux’s accessibility “across all platforms,” and was the first of its kind. The device itself adorned a QVGA LCD screen, equipped with Bluetooth and an accelerometer – having a brief battery life of a few hours.
Unfortunately, the device was panned as a gimmick and was lost to the times, mostly due to the watch’s price of around $200.

The next year, in 2002, Fossil seemed to think IBM was on to something, as it released the Fossil Wrist PD. This device boasted a 190KB memory that could store 1,100 contacts or 350 memos. The idea of the this device would to create a wrist-worn product that could replace your PDA.

In 2006, Microsoft jumped into the game with Microsoft Spot. The Spot received information via FM radio signals that were available in around 100 US cities through a built in antenna. It was also able to auto-adjust time-zones, deliver important messages, and alert you to road closures in expected travel.

The Sony Ericsson MBW-150 is the first of the Smartwatch brand to pair its device via Bluetooth with a phone. The MBW-150 sported a single line OLED display and would vibrate, when receiving a call, displaying the name of the caller or their number. The watch would also notify when new text messages were received.

Samsung entered the race in 2009 with the Samsung S9110. This was the first of Smartwatch technology that also functioned as a phone. At the time of release the Samsung S9110 claimed the world’s thinnest Watchphone with a 1.75 touchscreen; the device also featured Bluetooth, email support, and MP3 playback.

Sony’s next step in the market was in 2012 with Sony Smartwatch. Sony’s device was effective in setting the trend for Smartwatches to act as an extension of your phone (this one, specifically, for Android.) The Sony Smartwatch features updates the claim 200 available apps, new watch faces, and allows you to read email, SMS and receive notifications from social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.

And of course, we have the phenomena that is the 2012 Pebble Smartwatch. The Pebble Smartwatch is certainly the most well-known Smartwatch and indeed the most exciting. Starting grassroots as a Kickstarter project, the set aim was to raise $100,000 – the end result was an astounding $10.3m; claiming Pebbles place as the Smartwatch to watch. The first factor that sets Pebble apart from its competitors is that is duel compatible with Android and Phone devices running OS 2.3 and up; it is, however, not compatible with Blackberry or Windows Phone. As well as receiving alerts from Social Media, it also alerts you with incoming calls, SMS, iMessage, and calendar. It’s no question why Pebble has cornered the market.


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