“Work faster little Jimmy, the World Cup is coming up!”

Besides my studies at the HWR I work partially in a sport store or more precisely, a Handball Store. Since the Handball world championship takes place in Spain these days our shop is booming. We are literally run over by enthusiastic fans who all were captured by the gigantic marketing machinery every big tournament brings along. In the beginning of January we got the newest collection of all handball brands such as Hummel, Select, Kempa or Adidas. MatchBalls, World cup shirts, shorts and shoes just launched for the upcoming championship.

It is super sweet to see all those little kids emulating and imitating their WM heroes or idols (Little kids is actually wrong, it´s a phenomenon to see how Dads become 12 again). The Question I heard most the last days wasn`t “Hey Mel, how are you?” but rather “Can you bring me the new Adipower stabil 10.0 in size 7.5?” or “Do you have the shoe that Nikola Karabatic is wearing?”

Our stores cash registers are ringing and so do the producer`s but what is so special about the marketing strategy that attracts so many fans and what is really behind all those expensive sport articles?

Tailor-made Commercial and Sponsorship

deutschland-tunesien-wm-514If you watch a match in the current world cup you can always see the new commercials for the new products at the electric banners on the sidelines. The German Car Company kfzteile.de /WM also tries to jump on the bandwagon by offering a 0.5% discount for every German Goal.

What´s really surprising for me is the fact that the advertisement does match to the current playing nationality. That means for German matches that there is always the DKB, intersport or mybet.de commercial. The highest German handball league hasn´t just a simple name like it is usual in soccer, like premier league or simply Bundesliga but it is titled after its biggest sponsor, the DKB Handball Bundesliga or former the Toyota Handball Bundesliga. This shows that handball is still in the shadows of its bigger brother “soccer” and is not popular enough to survive or compete with other nations without the help of big sponsors like DKB or Toyota.

A shoe in the course of time

Nevertheless, this doesn´t discourage the sport industry to come up with brand new products. Since I am always in contact with those articles I had the chance to notice some things: Let´s take shoes as an example. Their colors keep getting glarier, the design more futuristic than ever before and guess what? The shoe that looks closest to a spaceship always wins!

But unfortunately their quality wouldn´t help its wearers to reach the moon.  50 % plastic and poorly processed seams are not uncommon. But a shoe under a price level of 120 is. But what is the justification for such a high price? Obviously not the Quality aspect…

Brad Tuttle, journalist of business and personal finance for TIME puts it:

“Remember that more expensive does not always mean better. Take bamboo for example: it is cheaper than other exotic woods, but it is resistant to wear and very stylish.”

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/11/14/does-a-low-price-mean-good-value-or-bad-quality/#ixzz2Iq1izUWP

adidas-spezial-so492292-2-0133554806_neu-adidas-stabil-on-fire-handballschuhe-indoor- Here is an example of the “slightly” development of the same handballshoe model. I received a lot of customer complaints due to breaking plastic pieces in the front part of the spacy pair.

A little side note: My coach and my dad are still wearing the upper, blue shoe

The designs are changing but what about the production conditions?

Regaining Quality through transparency?

It is an open secret that cheap clothing chains like H&M or KiK employ adults and children in emerging countries for starvation wages in low quality mass fabrication. But the emphasize lies on cheap stores where you do not really expect high quality. And you can always check the red list which offers all brands that should be avoided.

But isn´t it even worse selling at a high price level and producing in a low-cost manner?

A research of the belgian consumer organization, Verbruikersunie, criticizes the blurry access to information about the prooduction processes and supply chains of the big firms like Adidas and Nike. The missing transparency makes it hard to evaluate their performance.

If one believes the social and sustainability report of Adidas you can read their promise to fabricate under fair and environmentally-friendly aspects. But reading further in this 54 page long report is worth it because it provides a list with their producing plants and their problems like wages far beyond the wage floor. But on the other hand, Adidas is positively mentioned on the German webpage aktiv-gegen-kinderarbeit.de for its initiative for security in the factories.

Market leader Nike is exposed to even more accusations regarding child labor  than Adidas. If you imagine a typical Nike employee, you expect a hip and trendy youngster but not an 8-year old, right? According to child-awareness.com, “Nike is one of the well-known major corporations and is worth four billion dollars. They have factories in China, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, where they employ people, including children for twelve-hour shifts and pay them as low sixteen cents an hour.” The newest revolts of workers in Indonesia were recognized by Nike`s global corporate communications director, Greg Rossiter and brushed aside with the promise:

“Nike takes these claims seriously and company representatives are investigating the claims,”

4437_86f1_525The “Just don´t do it”- campaign from UNICEF also clearly defines its opinion about Nike.

Nike vindicates those accusations with another statement on their website:

“Our greatest responsibility as a global company is to play a role in bringing about positive, systemic change for workers within our supply chain and in the industry. We’re looking end-to-end, from the first phase of our product creation process to the impacts of our decisions on the lives of workers in the factories that bring our product to life.”

Those are just examples of accusations against the sports industry. It just makes me sad when I compare the smiling and sparkling kids` eyes when they hold their brand new adipower stabil shoe from their idol in their hand with those wide-opened eyes of a starving kid who just stitched it. Is that the deal? One kid has to suffer for the other one´s happiness?

I already made my decision. As long as there is no clear transparency of those mass product firms like Adidas or Nike I will try to stick with handball brands like Hummel or Kempa, which are both well-known for their fair Business even if my shoes are no spaceships then.

ADDICTED TO DATA – the disease of our century

We are drowning in data. We want to experience more and more but know less and less…

Datenvolumen_Erde_Informationsflut_DatenflutA while ago I wrote a few paragraphs about this concern and complained about being always connected, available, online at daytime and at night while I´m sleeping. My smartphone constantly provides updates from my email account, my facebook page, sms and whatsapp. Additionally I have two apps that keep me up to date for special offers on ebay, amzon etc. Now I stumbled upon an article that treats exactly this issue that affects me so much…  Mark Hurst – an expert for user experience – argues that the new technologies are enslaving us.

He even compares this problem with the global ecological crisis. We can notice notice this crisis every day at the university. Sometimes professors have trouble reaching the students behind their computers, BlackBerrys, iPhone’s because they are constantly switching attention between the online- and offline world. Mark Hurst speaks also for protected thinking areas that can be helpful to recover. Every year we leave the city to go to some place nice to restore our energy our work force. But usually we don’t leave our digital devices at home. We also need vacation from being online.

The German news magazine ‘DER SPIEGEL’ also treated this topic and comes up with some interesting thoughts that I don’t want to keep back. The convenience is that the Internet simplifies our life a lot. We are able to shop, chat, book flights, read newspapers … from one spot. And this is also the great disadvantage – the oversupply of information. A web design blog I recently read even stated that information overload can cause poor decision making, lack of focus, lack of strategic thinking, a breakdown in social and team skills and even health problems. But almost anyone participating in our ‘modernized’ life style is exposed to tons of data. ‘DER SPIEGEL’ published an interesting research study that was done by the US consulting firm ‘RescueTime’ examined the browsing behavior of 40,000 employees. According to this study an average employee would check his email account 50 times a day, open an instant messenger program 77 times and browse 40 different websites.

‘Is GOOGLE making us silly?’

procrastination

The American author Nicolas Carr, a former student at the Harvard University and also member of the editorial board of advisors of the Encyclopædia Britannica, published this interesting article on this topic. It is worth reading it.

This really alarming article deals with the effect the excessive usage of the Internet does to our brains. It seems as we wanted to banish the nasty paper from our every day life and replace it with e-readers and other fancy touch devices or other computers but actually we banished thoughts and knowledge.  I notice that myself. I read less, sometimes it is really is hard to concentrate for a longer time or read several pages in a row. Browsing the Internet I don’t read – I try to skim some of the information that hits me and I jump from link to link because I just can’t let go and it is impossible to get to the final page researching one topic. We don’t have to think anymore because GOOGLE and Wikipedia are always at hand providing us with any answer without the need to use our brainpower.

And I also experienced the phenomenon of procrastination (which is a recognized mental disease by the way) by being constantly distracted or distracting myself doing this and that or any other bullshit with my smartphone/ computer wasting my time. Because there is constantly any kind of news on the screen, a new email a new article, a new video. According to Carr as human beings it is our nature to always gather and perceive as much information as we can. When we were cave men and cave women is was quite important to know all and everything, about the stuff that was going on around us. In order to survive we continuously had to check our environment for food and saber-tooth cats. But un the 21th century, where the amount of information is inconceivable, we get lost.

 We can just guess how our social interactions and information habits will look like in 50 years or more. But at least I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Even Nicolas Carr notices about himself: “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.“

Quote of the day:

„Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.”                                                

Robert Benchley

Starbucks: Version 2013

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Seeking Alpha, a website dealing with stock market news & financial analysis, reports that 2013 – without a doubt – is going to be the year of Starbucks. According to them, the financial ratios measuring financial success the previous year were among the highest in the coffee industry and is expected to keep increasing the upcoming year. This increase is based on various reasons: a decline in the price of coffee beans around the world, creating less expenses and greater profits; a new entry of Starbucks into the highly anticipated Vietnamese market; an estimated amount of 250 new branches are planned to be opened in China; and the VERSIMO, Starbuck’s new module of a home-used coffee machine – voted as one of the top investments of the year – will come out as well.

I would like to elaborate on the last reason mentioned for Starbuck’s expected success – the VERSIMO machine. Julian Baggini, a writer for the Aeon Magazine, has recently wrote a fascinating article explaining a change the restaurant industry is currently going through, changing the traditional, hand-crafted coffee served faithfully by the Barista to be produced by state of the art coffee machines. He describes a visit to one of the most famous restaurants in the UK, a gourmet Michelin-starred restaurant serving the coffee to his associates and him only by a press of a button using the Nespresso’s machine. In times when Michelin-starred restaurants feel comfortable serving machine prepared coffee, it’s just a matter of time until the whole industry will follow them through emphasizing the value of entering into the coffee machine market.

On the other hand, as reported on Starbucksgossip blog, the spinning success associated with Starbucks’s has not yet caught up with the VERSIMO. So far revenues are not high as expected to be. “Verismo’s launch borders on being too little too late to enter the single-cup market”, is how SeekingAlpha described the new machine. Lack of holiday promotions demonstrating how the machine operates, limited amount of coffee pods, an additional amount which is needed to be spent on the Starbuck’s special syrups all and an overall pricey purchase contribute to a general feeling among customers to go towards the main competitors: Nespresso and Vertigo.

However, as they continue and explain, the addiction to the Starbucks experience, customer loyalty and its strong brand together with the new App Starbucks launched several months ago, will make up for the recent slow sales of the Versimo. Perhaps with the right marketing tools, which Starbucks is so famous for together with the recent decrease in selling price will bring the Versimo to be an equal competitor in the home-used coffee machines.

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Enlightment is entering the virtual sphere

butterflyIn my last post I was writing about The transformative power of social media in the Middle East and how consumers turned to prosuments, beeing  both consumers as well as producers by organising protests with the help of social media platforms as well as producing and distributing information by filming, documenting and blogging about current events when official repporting was compromised.

In recent discussions of the Twitterrevolution, a controversial issue has been whether social media platforms are a revolutionary tool for social change promoting the digitalization of democracy for good or playing into the hands of regimes and opponents as it happend in Syria (see also my last post) .

Virtual Villages

On the one hand, one group of observers argues that despite the posibilities the internet offers to connect people, it eqaully seperates them. Enrico de Angelis who is pointing out the seperating forces at work in Syria, would certainly agree with Thomas J. Bittman. On his view, the world is getting more and more polarized as like-minded people tend to stick together and rebuild their villages in a virtual world, in an attempt to prove outsides to be wrong. In this attempt, tons of biased and subjective data is launched which is taken for real. He concludes that we need to train future generations in critical thinking skills. As one of the most prominent proponents of this view, he puts it, “ Idealists saw the Internet and the connectivity it created as the great melting pot of ideas. We could have different opinions, but reach a consensus; different views of facts, but bad data would be self-correcting. The absolute opposite has occurred, because people are using the Internet. We can connect with anyone, and discuss any idea – but we don’t. People seek out like-minded people, and become more and more radicalized in their views. We are still villagers, but unlike the village of old, we get to define our own village, and we tend to build villages full of people who are just like us. Different views of facts create entire worldviews based on falsehood, or spin. Bad data propagates, mutates and spreads like wildfire.”

The informed Society

On the other hand, another group of people has a much more positive view on the effects on society of the internet in general and social media platforms in particular. According to the Pirate Parties International, society is turning into a information society, meaning that they believe in the informed citizen . The informed citizen is basically what Bittmann is hoping for future generations: Well informed people with critical thinking skills that can distinginguish between right and wrong, true and false. The Pirate Parties go even so far that they believe that the time has come that citizens need less represantatives because through information and communication among each other they are finally well informed enough to take responsibility.

The number of prosuments keeps growing in 2013

In sum, then, while one group argues that the internet is dividing people, fostering polarization and lies, another believes in the human potential to seek out the truth and right through engaging in (online) discussions with others. Alex Howard, expert in the field of social media, digital journalism and collaborative technologies in companies predicts for 2013 “While the process of gathering and sharing news in a hyper-networked environment will only grow more messy as more people gain access to tools to publish around the world, this trend isn’t going backward. Despite the trend toward the “broadcast-ification of social media,” there are many more of us listening and sharing now than ever before. Expect journalism to be a more participatory experience in 2013.” (Read all of Howard’s predictions for 2013 here).  For example, even though Jake Levin is articulating his view that social media platforms develop into communication tools were one communicates actively to many who passivly consume his broadcast as it always has been in newpapers, radio and on TV. Howard himself points out the growing tendancy of  consumer participation in the creation of content. As he puts it:

 “Open source software and citizens acting as sensors have steadily been integrated into journalism over the past few years, most dramatically in the videos and pictures uploaded after the 2009 Iran election and during 2011′s Arab Spring. Citizen science looks like the next frontier. Safecast is combining open data collected by citizen science with academic, NGO and open government data (where available), and then making it widely available.”
Enlightment is entering the virtual sphere
Howard’s  understanding of citizen science certainly confirms the Pirate Party’s conception of the enlightened (wo)man. Of course those who agree with Bittmanns view on virtual villages might object that for instance the Pirate Party exactly is a virtual village where like-minded people connect to each other and reinforce each other views. In sum, then, I would argue that this debate is  a continuation of the Age of Enlightenment entering the digital sphere. Whether one interprets prosuments as a sign of enlightenment and self-determination or one shares a more sceptical view such as Levin in “The broadcast-ification of social media” and Bittmann in ” The consumerisation of truth” eventually drains down to two very basic philosophical attitudes; either one believes in the potential of the human mind or not.
In the next post I am going to examine Consumerization a bit closer. What does it mean in a business-related context and what effects does consumerisation have on business? And how does it all go together with the feedback economy….?

Mobilize? Bring your own Device!

Bye bye, corporate phone!

2011 was the first year where the sale of electronic devices like smartphones and tablets beat the number of PC´s sold. It is a byod (1)completely logic effect regarding to the improvements in functionality. Many of these devices now have functionality that is equal to the laptop or home computer of only a few years ago. In particular businesses benefit from mobile devices that provide access to email, calendars and business documents as well as the possibility of flexible working arrangements.

When I worked at Rohde&Schwarz International Operations the company provided it´s employees with all the required tools and equipment that they need to perform their jobs; this has been true for large organizations. But for smaller enterprises that do not have the money to provide their people with everything, the employees bring their own tools to work. And this strategy has a name: Bring Your Own Device Model or simply BOYD Model.

Advantages of BOYD

When employees bring their own devices, they can work more comfortably and the employer saves on hardware costs and maintenance while the data security issue is handled by the cloud application. Since Julia wrote about Cloud Computing in her last blog I don´t need to explain that term again. Cloud Computing’s role is one of security. Services like desktop hosting allow the entire desktop environment of your office pc to run on any device with a big enough screen and internet connectivity. Even if employees use their own devices for work, the employer is able to control which applications and what data are accessible and where, preventing it to be even saved locally, only on the cloud desktop environment.

The personal devices afford employees more freedom because they can work at home and at the office. Regarding to Peter Silva in his series on BYOD policies for SYS-CON Media using their preferred device makes employees happier and therefore more productive. He goes on to say that

“80% of Americans work an extra 30 hours a month on their own time with BYOD,”

citing research from Good Technology.

In the first moment all that sounds like a win-win situation for me. But…

BOYD – Bring your own disaster?

Let´s take a look at the other side of the coin. Bensonoff Kirill mentions the so-called, Blackberry addiction in his blog. It means that workers are permanently available and in touch with their work. The problems which are coming along with that were already dealt with in my former blog “The Manager you have called is temporary not available!”

PrivacyThe informtion law group cites the “creep-out factor”. It means that most employees are afraid of an invasion into their privacy. The computer they use for work will also be the same computer they surf the web or use to sign up into Facebook and Twitter. Employees are suspicious towards their company of being able to “spy” on them and have access to their personal passwords, websites and data.

Data SecurityThis is the biggest point which should be considered when implementing BYOD model. Refering to Gartner, letting employees use their own devices for work purposes can lead to pertinent company data being visible. The problem IT departements are encountering is trying to find the best method to allow users to access all data necessary while keeping that data safe and secure. Since BYOD is a relatively new concept for organizations, there isn’t a “best policy or practice” for organizational data security.  Organizations are beginning to establish guidelines and policies to better manage BYOD security, but determining which is best for the organization may lead to unexpected costs. According to Liam Keating, Intel’s IT country manager for China

“you encounter tricky scenarios where, let’s say, you have to confiscate a personal device, because it has been compromised and it needs to be examined forensically.”

Now, Intels workers need to sign an agreement about when they have had access to their e-mails, calendar etc.

Future of BOYD

We’ve all become dependent on connectivity and computation, turning us into tablet- and smartphone-toting cyborgs. How will this trend evolve in 2013? I got so much used to my mobile devices like my iPad or iPhone that I tried to open Mozilla Firefox by touching my work computer´s screen.

But experts are not unified if they are asked about their predictions for BOYD in 2013. Kenneth ‘Ken’ Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with over 15 years of experience who thinks that personal clouds such as Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive will curb the BOYD hype. His resumee is, that

“Personal cloud services are convenient, inexpensive, always available, and on the brink of destroying the entire BYOD movement.”

Others declare the BOYD trend as to be full in swing. The same opinion shares Cesare Garlati, vice president of mobile security at Trend Micro even if he considers potential pitfalls.  Garlati puts it:

“There’s no point trying to stop this drive towards BYOD. Consumerization is unstoppable and BYOD brings real business value but a lack of a strategic approach can create security risks, financial exposure and a management nightmare for IT departments.”

BOYD was voted among the Top-Tech-Trends 2012 a couple of times by different rankings such as carouselconnect , petri, or by the bigfatfinanceblog.

BYODIn my opinion this trend will become increasingly popular in 2013. More and more, particularly small and middle-class firms will adopt this model to safe money. And with an increasing number of freelancer due to outsourcing, Enterprise Mobility is essential for companies to correspond with their on-road-employees. But not every phone works on every network abroad so it´s useful that every worker has his/her own device. Another point might be the growing technical knowledge of the next generation. We are facing an unbelievable variety of mobile devices therefore every individual has his/her own preferences regarding their mobile friends. With the BOYD Model they won´t be forced to work with a provider or brand that they absolutely don’t like.

The chart on the left shows that 71 percent of employers already allow personal devices in the office. That´s a big percentage with increasing tendency!

2013 will give us the final answer, I am curious!

“We are about to develop an application!”

On a birthday-party of one of my old friends I had a great conversation with John about his latest project: He and his friends are about to develop an application that should help people to reach their personal goals. Very interesting, sounds great! But already on that evening I started to wonder if is profitable to develop an app and if you can really earn a lot of money in this business?

Smartphone_Penetration

Apple generates daily revenue of $250,000 to $300,000 only from apps!

To answer this question we have to look what experts of this field say. Lets check out the potential of the market: “According to Gartner, in 2011 global sales of apps accounted for $15 billion and is expected to reach 52 billion in 2015“ Kim May Cutlers, editor at techcrunch.com says that Apple generates daily revenue of $250,000 to $300,000 only from apps! CHECK! We defiantly have a lot of potential here!

 You may have another app that might be of interest to the customer.

But if we belief JOHN MANOOGIAN III, an editor on techcrunch.com there are only two safe ways to generate money with applications: “Users or Advertisers?“ If you bring your app into the app store you can either charge money or you can give away for free and make money with advertisement. Furthermore 30% of application revenues go to apple respectively to the shop provider. Even Gartner estimates that “more than 85% of downloads in stores are made of free applications“. While JOHN MANOOGIAN III beliefs that „The future of app monetization clearly lies in ad-supported model.“ John Solomon sees a possibility to generate money by selling the app: “They pay you a fixed fee, end of story. But it does make sense to keep them in your list and keep nurturing them. You may have another app that might be of interest to the customer.“

Most developers who are doing well earn from $1200 to $3900 per month

In fact Pravin, administrator at forums.esdes, states: “A survey in mid-2011 over the AppStore then showed that 370,000 existing apps were created by 78,000 developers. The maximum average earnings per application were no more of $ 27,000.“ The figures show that there is a huge competition. The developer economics report 2012 pointed out that About 35% of mobile developers cannot earn a living solely by developing apps According to the report, most developers who are doing well earn from $1200 to $3900 per month depending on the platform.

Top 5 Revenue

My own view is that, while it’s true that the field has a lot of potential the risk at least as high. Both ways, charging for the app or giving it away for free can be successful even if, in my opinion, the advertising model has a higher potential.
In the end the app market does not really differ from other industries: If you want to make millions you have to provide the best product and combine that with an excellent marketing strategy. I wish the very best to John and his friends to become successful!

Living in the clouds- new technology trends 2013

Following Mr. B’s Advice to have a look at the latest technology trends for 2013, I ended up on Daniel Burrus page.  He is CEO and founder of Burrus Research Associates and sees himself as Keynote Speaker, Business Strategist and Global Futurist.Talking about technology trends he mentions amongst others “Cloud Computing and Advanced Cloud Services”.

“(Cloud Computing and Advanced Cloud Services) will be increasingly embraced by business of all sizes, as this represents a major shift in how organizations obtain and maintain software, hardware, and computing capacity.”- Daniel Burru

Daniel Burru is not the only one, who sees Cloud Computing as the coming technology business trend. It-magazines like “Computerwoche”describe Cloud Computing as

“one of the current and most important trends in the Business IT”

What does Cloud Computing actually mean?

According to NIST (national institute of standards and technology), Cloud Computing is defined as the following:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.“

Cloud Computing

We all know clouds and their general advantages from private use. With help of iCloud or Google Drive we can easily store, manage and exchange our personal data like photos and music, either between our different mac products or from other computers.

What is the advantage of enterprise cloud computing?

Cloud Computing providers like IBM or amazon describe more flexibility, nearly unlimited scalability and lower costs as the main advantages of cloud computing.

Does cloud computing only have positive sides?

After various blogs and magazines: definitely not!

Spiegel online just warned in an article by Ole Reißmann of an observation of European businesses and private users through the U.S.

Susan Bard, a business writer and CEO of Cypress Technologies describes in her blog 5 disadvantages of Cloud Computing. Besides the security issues of data volume, she mentioned amongst other the reliability of your internet connection and the dependence of your cloud computing vendor as disadvantages.

If you want to know more about Cloud Computing and how it works in detail just click here for a German version and here for the English.

What do you think of Cloud Computing? Is it the future app to run your business?

Perspectives in the Chocolate Industry

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Current chocolate trends

Foodchannel recently posted new chocolate trends for 2012 which will be focused on more in 2013. To sum it up tastes move from traditional ones like milk chocolate with nuts to very individual tastes like “strawberry cheesecake” or “brownies”. Chocolate more and more tastes like a daily meal or a desert, or has the shape of the high heel that I wore yesterday. Also chocolate companies nowadays try to satisfy people who take care of health and would only eat something that fits into their diet. Chocolate with around 500 calories per bar seen as part of a healthy lifestyle? But the common excuse is that dark chocolate has less calories. It is known to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol, and has nearly 8 times the number of antioxidants as found in strawberries. Uff, in this way I propably don’t gain too much weight. Or is this maybe only a strategy to sell more of dark chocolate?

Companies more and more feel the pressure of meeting all modern needs also depending on seasons. During Christmas e.g. firms like Lindt offered special Christmas chocolate. But the rest which could not be sold can be find for half the price now in many supermarkets. Maybe there are just too many companies who offer nearly the same type of chocolate?

However, it’s not too late:

Chocolate industry analysis for 2013

Matt Sena, an expert of the industry, analyzed the chocolate industry for 2013.

The chocolate industry offers a wide variety of opportunities for the small business owner, weathers economic recession well and is growing despite increased health-consciousness and calorie counting. (Sena)

Fortunately people still buy chocolate, probably because even the deepest crisis does not stop people from loving chocolate. A recent study in Great Britain showed that 91% of females and 87% of males consume chocolate products. According to Sena the industry will even expand more. Being creative and innovative seems to be the challenge especially during the economic crisis.

Growth will be driven by population growth as well as expansion into new markets, product innovation and rising disposable income levels leading to greater purchasing of premium offerings. (Sena)

The focus goes more towards smaller businesses since they often offer better quality and a more unique chocolate than big companies which produce in huge factories. A small shop also offers special services like gift-wrapping for an individual requirement like a birthday or a business party.  Since in a time of globalization we now try to emphasize more on individuality. “I am the first person who tries this new fabulous taste” seems to be better than “I bought a chocolate bar that is sold 1000 times a day.” People spend less on very expensive issues like a costly journey but don’t want to give up the little ” affordable luxury” of the daily life. As already mentioned in my last post, the fair trade sector in chocolate business also increases since more people demand good labor conditions combined with premium chocolate and are willing to pay more but in this way supporting local farmers.

Also overseas countries increasingly take part of the chocolate hype which leads to greater export of special chocolates from Europe e.g. to China or India. This creates new E-Business possibilities to efficiently export abroad.

Future problems

Nevertheless, with 2013 also more problems will come along causing problems for the expanding chocolate industry:

Cocoa prices can be exceedingly variable as it is largely grown in developing nations with often unstable political situations. (Sena)

Cocoa farmers will not be able to meet coming chocolate demands. Scarcity of cocoa will rise chocolate prices for consumption in the next years. The question is: How much is still ok for my “affordably luxury”? How much is too much which lets my dream of buying premium chocolate recede into the distance? A recent post on investors.com states that there are already researchers developing genetically engineered cocoa trees to produce higher yields. Will this satisfy people who especially take care of good quality and fair production of chocolate?

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

 

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Everyone talks about it but yet everyone has a different approach to it. In order to clarify what leadership actually is I refer to John P. Kotter, Professor at the Harvard Business School. He states that Leadership differs from management. Leaders would have the visions, ideas about a company seeing the big picture. Managers on the other hand manage (obviously), organize and control the business and are in charge with administrative tasks. A leader is not better than a manager – a business needs both. In his book ‘A Force for Change’ he also concludes that a person cannot be leader and manager at once. There are tasks that require pure rational thinking in order to “get the stuff done” and there are situations that need real leadership in order to motivate people and get them on the right track.

Are leaders born or made?                                    

 After defining the terms I now want to dig deeper into the topic. Can leadership skills be developed or du people just have them? According to Kotter it is a common misbelieve that leaders are born. But not only Kotter but also Stanley McChrystal a former US General, a real leader – a commander-in-chief if you will thinks the same way:

„Leadership is not a gift or a talent. It’s a CHOICE”. Stanley McChrystal

Leadership can be learned and improved by continuous education in that field. Firms have to train their talents and constantly develop their skills in order to adapt to the quick changing business environment.

What does it take to be a (good) leader?

I really like what Christiane Amanpour has to say about this. For her a good leader has to be courageous and stand up for his convictions and beliefs. Leading also involves representing an example for subordinates. Leaders are inspirational and reliable, sincere and lead by example. It is not the post that makes people respect their boss – it is his character and his actions.

Paula BroadwellBut does it always have to be men who become managers or leaders? If we take a look on the statistics it still appears to be a men’s world. Women are often disregarded when it comes to fill responsibility-packed positions of management or leader positions.

At this point I’d like to bring up Paula Broadwell. She served in the US army and also in the US army reserve and she also worked as an anti-terror specialist in a taskforce of the FBI. One can say the really rocked this men’s world. All that she claims is equal treatment for both genders. There doesn’t have to be a quota for woman in business or in the army – just equal treatment (also payment).

She reckons that women who meet the standards, intellectual and physical, should have an equal chance.

Quote of the day:

If you are a leader, the people you have counted on will help you up. And if you are a leader the people who counted on you will need you on your feet.

Stanley McChrystal

Enterprise Mobility Solutions

When the first mobile phones were commercially introduced in the 1980s, they were only used in certain fixed locations outside the office, such as the car, on vacation or in emergency cases.

Today, it is almost impossible to find a business person who does not carry a mobile phone, moreover the phones have personal computer attributes like supporting email and web access.

Dynamic Business Environment

This expanded technology is giving firms a hard time controlling the company’s data and information as it is on nearly every EMSemployee’s mobile device. The main problem for today´s firms is to find the balance between keeping up with global distribution and securely managing the growing mobility. This is right where Enterprise Mobility Solutions come in. There are many providers such as AT&T, Vodafone or SAP that are offering platforms as a help for firms to better control its mobile devices. With todays movement to mobile and virtual workforces, proper communication tools are inevitable to simplify enterprise mobility. Enterprise Mobility Solutions mission is to bring progression to the mobile worker and also deliver key enrichment to the broader business process. User efficiency in business operations is the major factor for businesses that utilize industry-specific and customized applications. Enterprise Mobility solution providers comprehend the challenges and complexity involved in mobilizing employees and follow industry’s best practices to offer a strategic approach to mobility. The Enterprise Mobility Solutions can run on various mobile platforms including iPhones, iPads, Android, Symbian, BlackBerries and Windows.

“The debate is no longer around whether to enable a mobile workforce. It’s more about deciding which devices to support, who gets access to what, and how to develop the infrastructure that is needed to support these devices,” said Venu Reddy, Research Director, IDC India.

Tasks of an Enterprise Mobility Solution platform:

  • enforcing corporate security
  • complying with corporate policies
  • Strategic approach to mobility
  • Provides the complete visibility and constant enterprise access

More and more software firms try to jump on this bandwagon and offer mobile enterprise solutions. So does Wipro, the #1 leader in green electronics, which attracts it´s clients with solutions for various industries including health care, warehouse, retail, energy, natural resources, manufacturing, transportation and logistics.

Potential Pitfalls

This mobilization also presents inherent risks. In his blog “Device Advice”, written by chairman Spencer Green, he pointed out the security problem:

“Mobile technologies certainly raise different security challenges – wireless networks have different vulnerabilities than fixed networks, and mobile devices are more prone to loss and theft.”

Providing workers with sensitive data and apps running on a cloud-based infrastructure, anytime and anywhere, contains a high risk to lose those information to competitors. So, it is absolutely necessary to possess a good firewall.  Enterprise Mobility Solution providers also face the challenges of regaining control of their telecommunication cost, and manage mobile flexible working in the first place.

But how does a provider create the optimal customized application platform for its client?

First off, they are defining the enterprise`s mobile strategy with their client and trying to identify applications and systems that can be mobile enabled, the scope of mobilizing them and the business benefits that can be achieved. The next question is to clarify the mobile device strategy, which means to select the platform of choice for the Enterprise Mobility client. Last but not least, they must implement the mobile application, intergrating them smoothly with existing backend systems (exisiting corporate infrastructure systems that are used to run a company such as systems to manage orders, inventory and supply chains). Enabling backend features will be the most important challenge in the coming development of enterprise mobile applications according to Jose Rodriguez. If you want to read more about this topic check out his wonderful article “Democratizing Enterprise Mobility”!

Next week´s blog will introduce a new business model which seems to change companies operating methods, so stay tuned!