Artificial Intelligence: U.S. Lags Behind in Educating Students – Study



April 25, 2018 –


The United States educational system gets a failing grade for not updating curricula and training for teachers to prepare America’s youth in artificial-intelligence skills.

America’s educators rank just ninth among all nations in terms of preparing students for the real world of automation, according to a study released by a research group associated with The Economist magazine.

The study is entitled, “THE AUTOMATION READINESS INDEX: WHO IS READY FOR THE COMING WAVE OF AUTOMATION?”

Needed skills

The report points out the demand for soft skills in critical thinking and science and technology skills will skyrocket. But America’s youth is not being prepared for automation.

With the rapid changes in technology, Americans will need to be flexible and constantly improving their skills. That will require a strong background in artificial-intelligence techniques, computational thinking and robotics.

Naturally, this doesn’t bode well for the future of the U.S. workforce nor for the careers of young people.

Better soft skills will be needed for solving problems that robots cannot. Additionally. it’s already generally accepted that America’s young people aren’t adequately learning science and technology skills.

The U.S. isn’t alone. Only a relatively few countries are updating their curricula and training for teachers.

“Very few countries are taking the bull by the horns when it comes to adapting education systems for the age of automation,” Saadia Zahidi, head of education, gender and employment for the World Economic Forum, says in the report.

“Those that are have long had a clear focus on human capital development. These are countries in northern Europe and the Nordic region, as well as Singapore,” she adds.

“No one has gotten to grips with the required strategic planning for educational change in this context, and there is a dire need for it,” says Rose Luckin, professor of learning-centred design at the University College London.

Misguided priorities

“America is overinvesting in traditional higher education – it spends a much higher share of GDP than do other countries but gets too little return on these resources,” says Peter Morici, Ph.D. “Employers report that 4 in 10 graduates lack the critical thinking skills necessary for entry-level professional work, and too often four years of college adds little to students’ analytical abilities,” he adds.

Dr. Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, and five-time winner of the MarketWatch best forecaster award. (See his economic forecasts here.)

He says higher education’s priorities are ill-advised.

“Universities are pouring millions in attractive amenities and big time sports. Students spend about one-third less time in class and studying than in the 1960s but have plenty of leisure to demonstrate against alleged micro aggression, sexism and racism of conservative professors and engage in social activism enabled by university presidents bent on molding intolerant liberals.”
-Dr. Morici

“Universities are pouring millions in attractive amenities and big time sports. Students spend about one-third less time in class and studying than in the 1960s but have plenty of leisure to demonstrate against alleged micro aggression, sexism and racism of conservative professors and engage in social activism enabled by university presidents bent on molding intolerant liberals,” he asserts.

Economist’s solutions

Dr. Morici advocates redirecting federal and state funding from higher education to encourage more innovative programs in apprenticeships.

“The Department of Labor certifies apprenticeship programs. Usually completed in well less than four years, those generally offer about $15 an hour while students take courses and get hands-on experience,” says the economist. “On completion, 87 percent of students are in positions that pay an average of $60,000 a year – for college graduates the average is about $50,000 and subtracting the above-mentioned skills-based majors, the college average is a lot less.”

He supports a jobs initiative by President Trump.

“About two-thirds of apprenticeships are in construction and manufacturing, but President Trump sees great opportunity in the service sector and has doubled the DOL budget for cultivating apprenticeships. Private actors like Wells Fargo, professional services firm Aon PLC and the National Restaurant Association are building out programs,” he says.

“In the tech sector, Course Report connects students to some 95 coding schools – those annually matriculate about 23,000 graduates through programs that last about 14 weeks, cost about $11,000 and place graduates in jobs with starting salaries averaging nearly $71,000,” Dr. Morici says.

“Through the online portal Coursera, Google offers an 8-to-12 month IT Support Professional Certificate program that connects graduates with employers like Bank of America, Walmart and GE Digital,” he adds.

“More formalized schools are emerging like Holberton School in San Francisco, which trains software and operations engineers in two years and the fees are 17 percent of students’ internship and first three years post-graduation earnings,” he points out.

Leading countries

Back to the automation readiness report – its “automation readiness” index in education policies indicates the leading countries include Canada, Estonia and the United Kingdom.

The leading nations have made artificial intelligence a priority and teachers have been well-trained for the demands of automation.

Some nations have begun experimentation on methods to fund lifelong learning.

For instance, Singapore grants its citizens $500 in lifelong learning accounts. The money is earmarked for training by training firms sponsored by the government.

Finally, we’ve heard a lot of discourse in America about artificial intelligence, automation and robotics. But comparatively very little has been accomplished.

The onus is on U.S. leaders in public policy, educators and businesses to implement education and training programs Americans can use.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant articles:

Future of the Workplace: Robots Making Business ‘Smarter’ — If there was ever a need for people to become expert in technology and learn senior-management skills, the time is now. Non-exempt, lower-level jobs are disappearing. New software “robots” in numerous industries are increasingly taking over and making business “smarter,” according to senior-level managers who responded to a survey.

Artificial Intelligence: How to Maximize Your ROI — You will maximize your return on investment in AI with these strategies.

Seattle Tech Recruiter Provides Career Advice, Makes Prediction — As tech companies watch the debate in Congress on visas, one fact remains: They still need skilled workers. Here are insights from a tech recruiter.

Unemployment Stems Partly from Inadequate Education, Skills — The economy is difficult. However, in this knowledge-technology era, millions of American workers would be employed, if they kept in mind two adages.

Solution to Cure Worker Skills Gaps, Underemployment — An innovative solution has been unveiled to solve a big economic conundrum. The solution is designed to create 25 million new jobs and help grow the economy by 4 percent.

“Artificial intelligence is growing up fast, as are robots whose facial expressions can elicit empathy and make your mirror neurons quiver.”

-Diane Ackerman


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Trend: 4 Choices to Relate with Millennial News Consumers



Good news if you’re concerned that Millennials are increasingly uninformed. And if you want to connect with Millennials, you might be happy to learn social media hasn’t totally replaced traditional news among 18-to-34-year-olds.

Trends show there are four types of Millennial news consumers, according to research into information use by Millennials.

This research has implications for branding. In marketing, the advertisers’ selection of the medium in which to advertise is the most important consideration – not the creative.

millennial imagerymajesticMillennials have grown up in the Digital Age, and for them the medium is the message. So, it’s important to choose the right mediums in which to advertise.

The study was conducted in 2015 by The Media Insight Project (www.mediainsight.org).  That’s a collaboration involving the American Press Institute, NORC at the University of Chicago, and The Associated Press.

Results indicate there are four Millennial groups – what the study calls the Unattached, the Explorers, the Distracted, and the Activists.

“This study identifies truly distinct characteristics that typify each group of news consumers and identifies challenges and opportunities for news publishers attempting to reach the Millennial audience,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center.

“Clearly they are not a single group,” adds Mr. Tompson.

The study’s key findings:

The Unattached: Younger, age 18-24, bump into news, rather than seeking it out. Most have not yet started families or established careers. They primarily go online for social or entertainment activities, and few follow current events. Most do not pay for news, but many still keep up generally with what is going on in the world and are open to differing opinions.

The Explorers: Younger, also age 18-24, actively seek out news and information; many demographic similarities to the Unattached, but slightly more men than women. They tend to follow a variety of current events and news-you-can-use topics. Many believe in the social and civic benefits of following news.

The Distracted: Older, age 25-34, many have families and are part of the middle class. They tend to not use news for civic or social purposes. They do not actively seek news out and tend to mainly follow lifestyle and news-you-can use topics with direct relevance to their daily lives.

The Activists: Older, age 25-34, actively seek out news and information. They tend to have already established families, careers, and a connection to their community. They are racially and ethnically diverse and experienced enough in the world to care about certain issues, and they have enough stability in life to spend energy on those issues. A majority of these Millennials personally pay for a digital or print news subscription.

In marketing, the advertisers’ selection of the medium in which to advertise is the most important consideration – not the creative.

“The study provides key insights as well as concrete recommendations for publishers wishing to reach Millennials,” says Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

“The opportunity lies in recognizing that the Millennial generation is as nuanced as any other and that content creators need to reach different types of Millennials in different ways, and reach them where they are already consuming information,” he concludes.

Resource links:

The American Press Institute

Founded in 1946, The American Press Institute (www.pressinstitute.org) conducts research, training, convenes thought leaders, and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century.

It’s an educational non-advocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the Newspaper Association of America.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (www.apnorc.org) taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world.

The Associated Press (www.ap.org) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, on any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP.

NORC (www.norc.org) at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration.

From the Coach’s Corner, related articles involving the news media:

Journalists Reveal How the Digital Age is Transforming Their News Coverage — The Digital Age has widespread implications for journalism, and how and why news is published. Just how much digital technology affects the distribution and consumption of news is revealed in the “Oriella Digital Journalism Study.”

Trusted News Organization Blasts Obama Administration over Continuing Censorship — One of the world’s most-trusted and largest news reporting services warned about censorship imposed by the Obama Administration. It was the organization’s second warning in 2014. Ignoring the public’s right to know is a serious accusation, especially from the Associated Press.

Yahoo Shows Good Management in Firing Biased News Manager — Yet another media controversy illustrates why millions of Americans are justified in their complaints about liberal news-media bias. True, Yahoo News showed common sense and assertive management by terminating its Washington bureau chief after he made a controversial comment in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Urgent Plea for the Media and Nation’s Leaders from a Wise Teenager — “Congratulations America! With the sequestration implemented, we finally cut spending! Right? Wrong! Unfortunately, the American public has just been deceived by politicians and the mainstream media.” -Charlie Kirk, a concerned teenager.

Got a New Strategic Partner? Try Joint Web Press Releases — Each of you can garner new prospects as you enhance your image with additional credibility and authoritativeness. You will with the right Internet buzz.

“The left controls academia, the culture, and the news media.”

-Monica Crowley


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Investor Risk: Almost 60% of IPOS Fail to Use GAAP



GAAP – an acronym for generally accepted accounting principles – is vital in financial reporting. But nearly 60 percent of companies fail to provide financials fully based on GAAP, according to a study by PwC US.

Entitled, How non-GAAP Measures Can Impact Your IPO, the report analyzes 400 initial public offerings (IPOs) from 2011 to 2013. The study shows at least one GAAP measure wasn’t included in 65 percent of the IPOs.

That one important non-GAAP (NGM) measure was EBITDA, the acronym for “estimated before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization” measures.

profits-618373_1280This is risky for investors who should be considering good financial reporting.

Good financial reporting enables investors to make astute financial decisions. Investors need to be able to assess the cash, timing and certainty of a company’s revenue.

“Management teams, investors, regulators and ratings agencies are keenly focused on NGMs and how they are being used by new equity issuers,” said Neil Dhar PwC’s U.S. Capital Markets leader in a press release.

“As companies prepare for an IPO, among the many choices they must make is how to utilize NGMs in their filings and in their communications with potential investors,” he said.

“NGMs provide meaningful insight into a company’s liquidity, cash flow, and operating performance and using the right NGMs can help new issuers highlight key facts and circumstances to positively position themselves to the investment community,” Mr. Dhar added.

The study’s key findings:

— Adjusted EBITDA NGMs appeared in 46 percent of reviewed filings.

— More than 70 percent included an adjustment for stock, share or other equity based compensation.

— Other common EBITDA adjustments related to impairment (33 percent), acquisition (20 percent), and restructuring & reorganization impacts (15 percent).

— Eighty percent of the filings included at least one unique adjustment, which ranged from management fees to accretion charges, to income or losses from discontinued operations.

Adjustments to EBITDA can be determined at the discretion of the company. It can vary significantly from organization to organization, impacting comparability between companies and industries.

The PwC report also showed how some industries have developed other common NGMs in addition to or as a replacement for Adjusted EBITDA, That includes asset management, banking and capital markets and in entertainment, media and communications.

After Adjusted EBITDA, other common NGMs in the financial statements analyzed included EBITDA (19 percent), adjusted net income (nine percent), free cash flow (four percent) and adjusted gross profits (four percent).

“Companies should be ready to enter the IPO markets while the window is open and having their financial reporting in order from the start is a key factor in the process,” warned Mike Gould, PwC’s U.S. Public Offerings leader.

“While NGMs are a key tool for companies planning to enter the public market, it is a complex process that must be thought through objectively to avoid potential missteps, unanticipated costs and delays in their offerings,” he added.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s related information on capital:

How Twitter Levels the Playing Field for Small Cap Companies – Good news for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who are known to kvetch that that their companies fall below the radar screen of Wall Street analysts and the media. It’s widely known that mainstream media coverage seems to favor large companies over small ones. But an academic study shows that Twitter can help such small cap companies gain market liquidity.

How to Attract an Angel Investor – Now that a UNH study indicates early stage financing by angel investors is more advantageous than venture capital money, what now? An angel investor offers seven tips.

What No One Tells You about Raising Investment Capital – Tepid economy or not, investment capital is indeed available. That’s true during all economic cycles, according to leading consultant Joey Tamer.

What Should You Divulge When Asking for Investment Capital? – If your startup is the next big thing, but you want venture capital, you can start smiling. Yes, financing has been difficult to obtain in recent years. But entrepreneurs wanting venture capital have reasons for at least a small celebration – the money is starting to flow again after the Great Recession took its toll.

In Retrospect, Was GM’s IPO Practical or Political? – A leading expert on initial public offerings, Francis Gaskins, is not wowed by General Motors’ IPO. That’s despite GM being profitable in 2010.

I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.

 -Warren Buffett


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Career Success Is Influenced by your Spouse’s Personality


Your spouse’s attitude has an indirect, powerful impact on whether you succeed in your career. That’s the conclusion from an important study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Our study shows that it is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too,” said Joshua Jackson, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study.

The 2014 study is the first to show how a spouse’s personality will impact your career.

Indeed, the study makes sense.

It reveals a husband or wife at home can influence the spouse’s career from promotions to salary increases.

“The experiences responsible for this association are not likely isolated events where the spouse convinces you to ask for a raise or promotion,” said Professor Jackson.

“Instead, a spouse’s personality influences many daily factors that sum up and accumulate across time to afford one the many actions necessary to receive a promotion or a raise,” he added.

The report’s results stem from a five-year study of nearly 5,000 married people ranging in age from 19 to 89, with both spouses working in about 75 percent of the sample.

Professor Jackson and co-author Brittany Solomon, a graduate student in psychology at Washington University, analyzed data on study participants.

They measured personality traits of spouses in five categories:

— Openness

— Extraversion

— Agreeableness

— Neuroticism

— Conscientiousness

Then, the researchers tracked the work performances and successes of the spouses.

Spouses who scored well on “conscientiousness” had an impact on whether the working spouse had a successful career. This was true whether both spouses worked outside the home. Of the five traits, you obviously don’t want a neurotic, controlling spouse.

This was true in three ways:

— First, through a process known as outsourcing, the working spouse may come to rely on his or her partner to handle more of the day-to-day household chores, such as paying bills, buying groceries and raising children.

— Workers also may be likely to emulate some of the good habits of their conscientious spouses, bringing traits such as diligence and reliability to bear on their own workplace challenges.

— Finally, having a spouse that keeps your personal life running smoothly may simply reduce stress and make it easier to maintain a productive work-life balance.

“This is another example where personality traits are found to predict broad outcomes like health status or occupational success, as in this study,” Professor Jackson said. “What is unique to this study is that your spouse’s personality has an influence on such important life experiences.”

The moral: Choose your spouse carefully. Make sure your potential partner is agreeable — not narcissistic — and has a conscientious personality.

From the Coach’s Corner, recommended reading:

Proof Positive: How Supportive Spouses Help in Work-Related Stress — First, it was the book, “The Millionaire Mind.” The book by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley revealed several traits of millionaires. One important statistic from his study of millionaires: They were successful largely thanks to a supportive spouse. Supportive spouses are vital for success, according to a 2012 study.

13 Tips on Coping with Change at Work – Conquer Your Fears — In this economy, it seems normal to fear losing your job. Plus, budget cuts, hiring freezes, revised job descriptions and getting a new boss can all be unnerving.

10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career — If job stress is slowing you down, you can jumpstart your career with these 10 reminders.

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche      


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




PR Is Nearly 90% More Valuable Than Content Marketing — Study



A Bill Gates’ quote is famous: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” Certainly, there’s validity for his philosophy. Even if you go to the competing Google News, you’ll typically find 50 million results for the key word, Microsoft.

Now we learn public relations is 88 percent more efficient than content marketing, according to a 2014 Nielsen study underwritten by inPowered.

Ostensibly, the study demonstrates the power of earned media as a center of influence. A positive news report is quite valuable for credibility to build trust.

“With so many companies spending so much money on content marketing, we wanted to clarify what kind of content is actually impacting consumers and helping them make their decisions,” said Peyman Nilforoush, co-founder and CEO of inPowered.

“This isn’t about disproving any particular type of content, it’s about identifying the most effective blend of content types to help effectively educate and inform consumers,” he added.

The study indicates the news media still has more credibility than branded content and maintains a strong influence on consumers.

Moreover, it means a greater return on the marketing investment in the consumers’ perceptions in the decision-making to buying cycle.

“It became clear throughout the study that, while exposure to each type of content did provide a lift across different categories, credible content from experts was the only content type that performed consistently across all stages of the purchase process,” said Tommy Cheng, vice president of Nielsen Content Innovation Solutions.

The study featured the responses of 900 consumers.

They were exposed to three types of content:

— Earned media (PR)

— Branded content (advertising)

— User-generated content (online consumer reviews)

“When it comes to determining which content to utilize to best educate consumers, it is not an either/or proposition,” said Mr. Nilforoush. “But by beginning with a solid foundation of trust built on trusted content from credible, third-party experts, all other content will have a greater impact.

Certainly, inPowered is credible as a PR-minded company, as I discovered after downloading the report.

Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail from the company:

“I’m Pirouz Nilforoush, Co-Founder and President of inPowered. I wanted to reach out and thank you for being one of the first to try inPowered and see if you needed any help getting started.”

True, it was a computer-generated response but it was a nice touch — a well conceived approach that a lot of companies should emulate.

It’s worth noting PR is valuable but that’s not to say content marketing is worthless. PR should be part of an integrated set of strategies to build trust with consumers.

That includes B2B and not just B2C. After all, 82 percent of B2B marketers prefer content-marketing strategies according to a study.

Either way, building trust is paramount.

From the Coach’s Corner, related PR tips:

For a Bounce in Revenue, Try Strategic Press Releases — Ever wonder why some companies are always in the news or how they succeed on the Internet? It’s a good bet they have a good PR consultant or have mastered the art of writing press releases. You can level the playing field with effective press releases.

How to Leverage the News Media to Brand Your Business — Social media is OK for promotion. But if you need blockbuster publicity, use best practices in marketing. Play a trump card — leverage the news media for public relations.

Inspiration from Raymond Loewy for the Best Business PR — A lady, sitting next to Raymond Loewy at dinner, struck up a conversation. “Why,” she asked “did you put two Xs in Exxon?” “Why ask?” he asked. “Because,” she said, “I couldn’t help noticing?” “Well’, he responded, “that’s the answer.”

How Some Companies Get Creative in Customer Service for Great PR — As you no doubt know, it’s increasingly competitive and costly to attract customers. It’s also a challenge to hang onto to customers while adding more for your business growth. Typically, consumers react favorably to marketing after receiving five positive messages.

Best Practices to Manage Your Global Brand, Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation.

“Failure is an option” 

-Matthew Schwartz

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





News crew photo courtesy of jdurham, www.hotodaisy.blogspot.com

Insights into How Twitter Users Can Forge Opinion



If you want to influence public opinion on Twitter, the trick is to get your message out early. Once your message is stabilized on the social medium, it’s too difficult for your competitors to overcome your lead according to research released in 2014.

The researchers’ conclusions show how marketers and politicians can achieve greater awareness to influence public opinion.

So how do the more than 240 million tweeters, who tweet some 500 messages each day, shape public opinion?

Beijing Jiaotong University Lecturer Fei Xiong and Professor Yun Liu say they’ve learned how it works. They contend that when a message is quickly published, it takes hold and begins to become dominant.

“By focusing on a network application, candidates or companies can analyze the characteristics and behavior patterns of their supporters and protesters to explore whether the measures they take can influence public opinion and which opinion may succeed,” said Mr. Xiong.

The researchers say opinions are thrust to the forefront by multiple tweets and retweets forming dominant pressure.

In a press release, the study shows when dominant opinions emerge, however, they tend not to achieve complete consensus.

Researcher Xiong said Twitter users who hold minority views are faced with overwhelming opposition aren’t likely to change their opinions.

“Once public opinion stabilizes, it’s difficult to change,” he added.

The study also revealed that Twitter users overall are more likely to work to change the opinions of others than to admit to changes of their own.

Caption: The public opinion for each topic fluctuates in the early stage, and then the dynamics is extremely slowed down after a short time. Ultimately, the public opinion evolves into an ordered state and one opinion predominates absolutely, but a state of complete consensus is difficult to reach. At first, one opinion takes a slight advantage, but this advantage gradually grows toward the initial majority opinion in the evolution process.

Credit: F.Xiong/BJTU


The researchers investigated how opinions evolve on Twitter by gathering about 6 million 140-character-or-less messages that were tweeted over a six-month period in the first half of 2011.

They ran these messages through computer algorithms that sorted them by topic (“iPhone 4” or “blackberry,” for instance), and they analyzed the underlying sentiments of the authors as they evolved over time.

The study was published in the journal Chaos, produced by AIP Publishing.

The article, “Opinion Formation on Social Media: An Empirical Approach” by Fei Xiong and Yun Liu in Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science (DOI: 10.1063/1.4866011) can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/ptbq7m4.

Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science is devoted to increasing the understanding of nonlinear phenomena and describing the manifestations in a manner comprehensible to researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines (see http://chaos.aip.org/).

From the Coach’s Corner, related content:

How Twitter Levels the Playing Field for Small Cap Companies — Good news for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who are known to kvetch that that their companies fall below the radar screen of Wall Street analysts and the media. It’s widely known that mainstream media coverage seems to favor large companies over small ones. It’s a valid concern.

UCLA Psychologists Tell What Triggers People to Share on Social Media — Buzz. Marketers, senior managers, business owners, and consultants crave it for revenue. Career-minded individuals engaged in self-promotion also want it. Another term for buzz is the “salesperson effect.” For the first time, we learn how ideas are spread, what messages go viral on social media, and how to predict it.

7 Tips to Tweet Your Way to a Great New Job – Seriously — If you play it smart, you can take advantage of the 500-million Twitter account-holders to get a new job or career. Sure, it’s a daunting task, but the potential for success is terrific. You can tweet to link up with the right people — just as well, if not better, than LinkedIn.

“Twitter is my bar. I sit at the counter and listen to the conversations, starting others, feeling the atmosphere.”

-Paulo Coelho


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of khunaspix at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Marketers: Instagram Beats Facebook, Twitter and Google+ — Study



Instagram is beating Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in brand engagement — making money for marketers.

That was first reported by two studies in 2013.

SumAll study 

Though marginal in brand-performance results, the SumAll study compared the data of 6,000 customers using social media.

U.S. companies enjoyed revenue increases of 1.5 to 3 percent thanks to Instagram. In the U.K., the increase was 3.6 percent.

“On this day, Instagram has been appointed supreme ruler of the social media universe,” said SumAll in its blog.

SimplyMeasured study

Another study, by SimplyMeasured, reveals more about Instagram’s ascent — a 350 percent increase in brand engagement among leading brands.

“There’s been less resistance to the addition than other networks have seen, suggesting that users are more comfortable with branded content when it’s visually appealing,” said SimplyMeasured’s study

SimplyMeasured’s key findings:

– Top brands post more than 50 times per month

–  Automotive, media and luxury industries make up 59 percent of total brand posts

– “Likes” account for 99 percent of Instagram engagements

– The top 10 brands receive 83 percent of all Instagram engagement

– Brands drive 26 percent more engagement via photos than videos

– 83 percent of Instagram posts by top brands include at least one hashtag

– Only 30 percent of top brand posts use filters

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related social media tips:

UCLA Psychologists Tell What Triggers People to Share on Social Media — For the first time, we learn how ideas are spread, what messages go viral on social media, and how to predict it. 

8 Tips to Optimize Sales with Social Media, But Beware of a Red FlagHow and why social media should be part of your marketing and human-resources recruiting mix. Here are eight tips, but they come with a caveat.  

‘Why Facebook Is Failing Marketers’ — Forrester Study — As a digital advertising option, hundreds of savvy marketers rank Facebook last in “business value” according to a critical Forrester Research study. 

Marketing – Why Visual Content Works on Facebook, but Hashtags Don’t — Ninety-eight percent of top brands have a Facebook fan page, but Facebook’s hashtags don’t enhance engagement with consumers. That’s one of two salient conclusions from an analysis of top-brand experiences from marketing on Facebook. 

How Twitter Levels the Playing Field for Small Cap Companies — Good news for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who are known to kvetch that that their companies fall below the radar screen of Wall Street analysts and the media. 

Passion is the gasoline of social media.

-Unknown author


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Customer Loyalty Issues — Lessons from Technology Companies



In B2B, many companies make the mistake of focusing on developing new business when they should focus more on customer retention programs. A case-in-point is the technology sector.

In its “2013 Customer Loyalty Survey,” ServiceSource (www.servicesource.com) reveals that technology vendors — hardware and software — are blowing revenue opportunities because they drop the ball in customer relationships.

entrepreneur-593358_1280ServiceSource polled 200 IT decision-makers about their relationship with hardware and software vendors.

Less than 18 percent of respondents were content with their IT providers.

Fifty-two percent indicated they would start shopping around.

Sixty-six percent said their relationships with vendors were “complicated” — meaning they were dissatisfied.

“It’s no wonder that customer churn is top of mind for every company,” said Christine Heckart, executive vice president of marketing, Strategy, people and systems at ServiceSource.

“As businesses focus more and more on recurring revenue, they can’t afford to win customers just once and expect fidelity for life,” she added. “They need to win them over and over again.”

Most IT departments feel neglected and ignored, with 57 percent of respondents only hearing from their vendors at renewal time, if at all, according to ServiceSource.

Other key findings:

– 52 percent of respondents received calls or emails from their vendors’ competitors at least once per month.

– 42 percent take sales calls from their vendors’ competitors at least once per quarter; 20 percent take them at least once per month.

– More than 25 percent of respondents participate in competitor webcasts every quarter, with 69 percent at least once a year.

– 49 percent have used competitive intelligence from a sales meeting to renegotiate a current contract.

– 65 percent of on-premise software respondents view SaaS as a potential suitor to replace existing systems.

– Of those with a preference, respondents were twice as satisfied with their hardware vendors as their software vendors, indicating that loyalty is harder to maintain as you move up the technology stack.

“As businesses focus more and more on recurring revenue, they can’t afford to win customers just once and expect fidelity for life. They need to win them over and over again.”

Ms. Heckart maintains the technology companies’ failure to be attentive to their customers costs them billions in potential revenue.

“This outdated approach results in businesses leaving significant revenue on the table,” she asserted.

“In fact, most companies make the majority of profits from the customers they’ve already won,” she added. “This is a major mindset shift and requires new thinking, tools, and focus.”

Amen.

From the Coach’s Corner, for better customer loyalty and revenue, here are valuable tips:

Strategies for Maximum Customer Loyalty, Profits — Customer retention is important for profits in good times and bad. Here are customer-retention tips, and social-networking tips from a B2B sales pro.

Energize Your Customer-Loyalty Program with 6 Steps — The quickest way for established businesses to optimize revenue is to have a stellar customer-loyalty program — there are six steps you can take for repeat sales and referrals. If you’re not a great steward of your current book of business, it’s futile to look for new customers. 

Internet Shoppers Demand 3 Cs – Customer Experience Study — Success in e-commerce is increasingly challenging for retailers that want to dominate in brand preference, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. That’s because consumers want more and more in the three Cs — channels, choices and convenience.

Why Companies Are High Maintenance to Customers (but Don’t Know It) — Businesses are losing more than they know because they inconvenience customers. Such negative customer perceptions result in lost opportunities in revenue growth, tarnished branding and smaller profit margins, according to a study.

Why Your Customers Stay or Leave – Insights from Study — Despite all the emphasis on speed in customer service, it’s not the salient factor in keeping customers happy. A study confirms that the power of emotion is most important, according to a January 2013 published report in QSRweb.com.

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

Peter Drucker


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Feeling Less Creative? You’re Not Alone – What to Do


Is it an epidemic? Creative professionals increasingly admit to a decline in their effectiveness and children’s creativity has also waned, according to two studies.

Nearly 50 percent of creative-pro respondents in the 2013 “Free the Creative” study by iStock say their creativity has stagnated. The image company says that’s the stunning conclusion from a survey of more than 400 professionals from art directors to graphic designers in the U.S. and U.K.

Children’s creativity has also plummeted according to education Professor Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William and Mary. After she analyzed kids’ scores from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking in 2012, Dr. Kim says it’s a crisis.

Watch Professor Kim’s video:

iStock study

iStock’s study shows the culprits are lack of funding, inspiration and time.

Three key takeaways:

– 60 percent claim to have had “great ideas” but not enough support or time.

– 70 percent want more “creative time”

– 63 percent lack time for “creative reflection and inspiration”

“Our research raises questions around the state of creativity today in industries vital to the global economy,” said Ellen Desmarais, general manager at iStock. “When you consider that global revenues last year in the advertising industry alone were nearly half a trillion dollars, declining creativity is cause for alarm and should prompt an industry-wide discussion.”

Locations for creativity:

  • 34 percent name their workplace as one of their top three locations for creativity
  • 34 percent – during their commute
  • 25 percent – the shower or bath
  • 22 percent – exercise

Seventy-one percent say new technologies have helped them in their work.

Most often mentioned hobbies: Fifty percent listed photography while 30 percent mentioned writing, drawing or painting.

Children’s creativity

The level of children’s creativity started to decline in the 1980s, according to Professor Kim.

Symptoms include declines in the following:

  • Energy
  • Communication
  • Humor
  • Imagination
  • Passion
  • Perceptivity
  • Inability to connect the dots
  • Synthesizing

Addictive behaviors kill creativity

The professor lists the children’s addictions that prevent creativity:

  • Drugs
  • E-mails
  • Facebook and other Web sites
  • Video games

If the decline in creativity began in the 1980s, the studies’ findings shouldn’t be a surprise for creative professionals or anyone else under 50 years old.

It won’t get any easier. You must learn to adapt. Lose the addictive behaviors.

If you’re suffering from a decline in creativity, get away from the computer. Get exercise. Take walks. Go for a drive. Learn to meditate. Pay more attention to family and friends. Find hobbies unrelated to your work. Look around for someone less fortunate to help. Start a gratitude list for what is working well in your life and career.

Finally, to strengthen your creativity muscles, work on keeping an open mind. Practice the “principle of contrary action.”

In all that you do, do things differently each time, for example grocery shopping: Take different routes to the store. Park in a different area of the store’s parking lot. Use alternate entrances to the store. Go down a different aisle each time.

Yes, you’ll start adjusting your attitude and keeping an open mind, which will help you especially in innovation and marketing.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s more  relevant information:

 7 Steps to Become Great at Thinking on Your Feet – Have you ever been at a loss for words? For example, when asked a question, have you been tongue tied in a sales presentation, while speaking at an event, in negotiations, during an interview or a staff meeting? 

Best Practices for New Women Entrepreneurs to Stay Focused – The keys for business women are to plan well, create the right balance, persevere and have the right support system. It isn’t commonly known, but women entrepreneurs inherently have stronger skills than men in key areas. 

Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing – It’s OK to be nervous before giving a speech or when you’re entering an important round of negotiations. Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another.  

Acting, Speaking Coach: How to Improve Communication with Others – Do you know when you marginalize others?   If you’re having communication problems with someone important in your career or life, chances are one or both of you will profit from tips in honest communication.  

Proof Positive: How Supportive Spouses Help in Work-Related Stress – First, it was the book, “The Millionaire Mind.” The book by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley revealed several traits of millionaires. One important statistic from his study of millionaires: They were successful largely thanks to a supportive spouse. 

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”
-Hans Selye


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




10 Strategies for Manufacturers to Increase Profits



Aug. 28, 2013 –


When it comes to revenue for capital-equipment manufacturers, the key pivotal factors are innovation and service levels.

It might be an obvious conclusion, but it’s confirmed by the IDC Manufacturing Insights’ 2013 white paper on the global capital equipment manufacturing industry.  

“There is little question that heavy equipment manufacturers, recognizing the trend of extended asset refresh cycles by the operators and owners of their products, are looking at services as a way to both bolster customer satisfaction and drive incremental high-gross-margin revenue,” said Simon Ellis, practice director for IDC manufacturing insights (www.idc.com).

“Indeed, not only will heavy equipment manufacturers invest in improving services delivery, but the balance in many companies will shift from ‘products and services’ to ‘products as service platforms,’” he added.

khunaspixID-100291538“Equipment manufacturers now realize that in order to have sustainable growth and reduced business risk, they must have a holistic service management and aftermarket strategy that is fully synchronized with manufacturing,” said Warren Smith, global industry director by software company Infor (www.infor.com). “No longer can manufacturing and after-sales service exist as islands, if customers are to receive the service and satisfaction they expect and demand.

“Manufacturers must incorporate service requirements right at the start of designing the product, as well as optimize the manufacturing and sales processes to ensure service excellence,” he explained. “The aftermarket is now the future growth market.”

He explained the trend.

“Integrating the ‘as-assembled configuration’ to the management of service parts and maintenance personnel, effective communication with field engineers, maintaining the ‘as-serviced’ status and accurate, timely billing for repairs are the new battleground for manufacturers,” he said.

“If a product is a platform for delivering services, then the technology that supports that product has to also support the services that follow,” Mr. Smith added. “The technology that helps increase the competitive edge in this new arena will need to be fast, agile and specialized for the equipment industry. It will need to span the entire lifecycle of the equipment, from manufacture to aftersales service, in one integrated solution.”

Key IDC Findings:

  1. Globally, just 12 percent of capital equipment manufacturers expect a substantial increase in revenue over the next three years. A further 30 percent expect some increase, with 30 percent predicting stasis and 27 percent forecasting a decrease.
  2. In EMEA, just 15 percent of respondents expect a substantial increase in sales volume over the next three years, compared to 9 percent in North America.
  3. Equipment service is set to be a vital tactic in countering the current market volatility and highly cyclical nature of new equipment sales.
  4. With 70 to 90 percent of the total lifetime cost of heavy equipment to be found in maintenance and repair, services offer not only high profit margins, but also predictable annual revenues that can protect against market volatility. In addition, a comprehensive aftermarket offering enables a deeper, continual relationship, increasing customer retention and loyalty.
  5. While cash-flow dominates the business concerns of 69 percent of equipment manufacturers globally, 67 percent of respondents are concerned about their ability to use service excellence as a competitive differentiator — the same level of concern as their ability to recruit, train and retain a skilled workforce.
  6. Regionally, the top business concern in North America is managing cash flow (75 percent), followed by the ability to deliver service as differentiator (62 percent) and recruiting and retaining talent (60 percent). By comparison, the top three business concerns in EMEA are recruiting and retaining talent (74 percent), the ability to deliver service as differentiator (73 percent) and managing cash flow (61 percent).
  7. A holistic service-orientated product strategy is seen as the most critical improvement to attain service excellence, ahead of workforce training. A lack of top management commitment is seen as the main barrier.
  8. Added-value services for existing products is favored over product service innovation, but equipment manufacturers remain hungry to develop growth by expanding into new markets and improving quality and reliability.
  9. Market leaders who adopt a service-centric strategy, combining information, training and qualified personnel will capitalize on a wealth of developing opportunities. Accelerated investment in service excellence and the evolution from “products & services” to “service-centric” to “products as service platforms” is also expected. The ultimate objective is a balanced portfolio of services and products that delivers both consistent revenue and growth.
  10. As part of this evolution, manufacturers will likely continue to invest in field service management, warehousing and inventory management, warranty and claims processing and procurement systems. This will be augmented by investment in mobile devices, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, cloud-based information storage and delivery and analytic applications.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related articles:

Why Manufacturing Jobs Are Beginning to Come Back to U.S. – Reshoring is underway. Forty percent of manufacturers have moved their operations back to America from China and India, according to an academic study sponsored by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. 

Why Kaizen Philosophy Works in Lean Principles for Business and Public SectorLean thinking has become imperative for business and government. Budgets are strained, but pressure continues to mount for better customer service. The bottom-line: Both the private and public sectors need to save time and money while providing exemplary service – with existing resources.

Best-Practice Lessons to Protect Your Supply Chain from Natural Disasters – As a manufacturer, you know the importance of protecting your supply chain for your company’s future. So you might be interested in an academic study — lessons from the earthquake that resulted in a tsunamis and nuclear catastrophe in Japan. 

“Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing… layout, processes, and procedures.”

-Tom Peters


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.