Daily Archives: January 27, 2012

Telecommuting: 1 in 5 do it

Telecommuting  is an old work approach whose potentials have yet to be popular but may one option for stress driven jobs. The jury is still out on whether the cost benefit of doing this really is on the plus side.

About one in five workers worldwide telecommute: poll

Photo
From Reuters
Tuesday 24 January  2012

By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) – About one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day, according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.

Telecommuting is particularly popular in India where more than half of workers were most likely to be toiling from home, followed by 34 percent in Indonesia, 30 percent in Mexico and slightly less in Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.

But the job option is the least popular in Hungary, Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Canada, where less than 10 percent of people work from home.

“It is really a story about the emerging markets and I am not sure if that is because the West is about to pick up the trend. They are definitely still skeptical,” said Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs, which conducted the survey.

“But they see a lot of advantages. Europe and North America agree that telecommuting is a great way to retain women. It provides less stress because of less commuting and provides a better work-life balance,” she added in an interview.

PRODUCTIVITY, ISOLATION, CHANCES OF PROMOTION

Telecommuting refers to employees who work remotely from their office, communicating by email, phone or online chats, either daily or occasionally.

Advances in technology and communications have enabled people to work effectively and efficiently without being constantly at their desks in the company office.

It is a trend that has grown and one which looks like it will continue with 34 percent of connected workers saying they would be very likely to telecommute on a full-time basis if they could.

More than half of people in Russia, South Africa and Argentina said they would work remotely often if given the opportunity, while employees in Japan, Sweden, Great Britain, Australia and Canada were the least enthusiastic about telecommuting.

Twenty one percent of connected people globally said it wasn’t a possibility for them because their job requires them to be in the workplace all the time.

Most people, 65 percent, around the globe thought telecommuters were productive because the flexibility enabled them to have more control over their work life.

“If gives you the opportunity to work when you are most productive,” Gottfried explained. “You are working when you know

you are best able to get the work done.”

Despite the obvious benefits of telecommuting, 62 percent of people said they found it socially isolating and half thought that the daily lack of face-to-face contact could harm their chances of a promotion.

And 53 percent believe working from home can increase family conflict because of the blurred boundaries between work and private time.

Concerns about the impact on family were strong in India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Residents in Saudi Arabia and Turkey were also most likely to worry about the impact working from home would have on chances for promotion.

Ipsos questioned 11,383 people in online poll in 24 countries including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Paul Casciato)

Where the real benefits of Apple come from

We are appear to be enjoying the benefits of Steve Jobs‘ lastest invention of the Iphone. Life appears never to have been better. And Apple believes to have the same attitude as well having over US$100 billion in cash based on latest financial reports. What we don’t know is the huge human costs involved to produce their products. The little we know of it does not sound beneficial. Begs the questions whether we should be enjoying the benefits of their products if we had a choice.

Report: Apple Still Ignoring Labor Abuses in Favor of Profits

January 26, 2012

A day after Apple recorded its best quarter ever, a report from The New York Times has questioned – again – whether Apple’s products are manufactured under safe and humane conditions.

The report notes that the questions surrounding Apple’s manufacturing practices are not exclusive to the company, noting that Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and others all used Taiwan or Chinese original design manufacturers, or ODMS, to manufacture their products under the OEM‘s brand. But Apple’s culture of secrecy, the report says, makes it difficult to truly know under what conditions its products are made.

Apple declined to comment to the Times.

The report is the second report by the Times on the so-called “iEconomy” of Taiwan, with a focus on the relationship between Apple and one of its largest suppliers, Foxconn. A previous report looked at Foxconn specifically, just days after the company’s chief executiveapologized for comments that were interpreted to mean that he compared his workers to animals. A rash of suicides plagued Foxconn in 2010, but suicide threats have persisted until this year.

The story uses Lai Xiaodong, a Foxconn employee, as the anchor, noting that his death in May 2011 had been caused by the improper ventilation of aluminum dust, a problem, one observer noted, that had been solved a century ago.

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners, as quoted by the Times.

The problem, as the Times reports again and again, is that Apple’s goal of reducing or eliminating inhumane working conditions bumps up against Apple’s profit motive. Apple’s public audits of its suppliers, a practice that it largely pioneered, continue to turn up labor violations.

“If you see the same pattern of problems, year after year, that means the company’s ignoring the issue rather than solving it,” one Apple supplier told the paper. “Noncompliance is tolerated, as long as the suppliers promise to try harder next time. If we meant business, core violations would disappear.”

 

Reality checklist for Start-ups

I consider myself an idea developer and often times I get carried away from the great ideas I have seen thinking the next phase of making money out of it is a walk in the park. Here is some tips on having a reality check whether that start-up to do it is better off to be a start-down.

Beware of start-up hockey stick expectations

From StartUp Smart

By Marc Peskett
Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I meet with a lot of innovators from all walks of life.

 

The thing that strikes me the most about them is that they typically have one thing in common – they all think that their idea will be a great commercial success.

 

They believe their customers will love their product, pay good money to get it and their business will take off in a hockey stick trajectory.

 

Based on these beliefs and assumptions, the innovator sets up a company. They then develop a glossy business plan and proceed to spend a lot of their own money, as well as funds obtained from investors, in order to commercialise their innovation.

 

After spending a heap of start-up capital, they launch their product and eagerly await the moment when the cash will roll in.

 

What happens next is that a few early adopters pick up the product and start to use it.

 

But the early adopters are only a small percentage of the total market. Overall demand remains low and customer take-up is only a fraction of what the innovator originally assumed.

 

The price early adopters are willing to pay is also a lot less than originally assumed, too.

 

In fact, no one really wants the product and it turns out the grand market opportunity just isn’t there.

 

The business now has valuable information about the market and the real opportunities, but by this stage, there’s no money left to invest in reconfiguring the product into something that customers really want.

 

I know the picture I’ve just painted isn’t the sorry tale of every innovation idea, but it’s an all too common story I’ve heard time and again from start-up entrepreneurs.

 

To avoid treading the same path of many failed innovators before you, you must use a discovery based planning process to identify the right product and market fit, before betting all your funds on a single strategy.

 

There are three key steps to discovery based planning:

 

1. Identify your assumptions

 

The first step in a discovery planning process is to identify the “leap of faith” assumptions that you’re making. (This is a phrase coined by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, recommended reading for all start-ups).

 

These “leap of faith” assumptions are generally about market size, market share, customer needs, pricing and how fast your business will grow.

 

Writing these assumptions down will help you focus and clarify your thinking about them.

 

If you’re struggling to identify your assumptions, reflect on your financial projections and the assumptions you needed to make in order to set those projections.

 

2. Test your assumptions

 

Once you have identified your assumptions, develop a plan to test and validate each of them. Build a scale model or prototype and invite potential customers to try it.

 

Gather their feedback on the usefulness of the product and what they perceive its value to be.

 

Find out who your economic buyers are. These are the people that will actually spend money to buy what you’re selling.

 

There’s a big difference between users who will try something for free and buyers actually willing to pay for the privilege.

 

Talk to the economic buyers and get a feel for their pricing expectations and limits. The discovery process is not just about identifying product features that customers want.

 

It’s also about identifying who the real customers are and how to capture them, the value proposition, the best way to market the product and where the growth opportunities are.

 

3. Use the feedback

 

Use the feedback and information gathered to assess whether the leap of faith assumptions you have made are still valid. Most times they won’t be.

 

By knowing which assumptions are incorrect, you can adjust your expectations and strategy before your funding runs out.

 

It could take several iterations of the test and validation process before you can confidently proceed further.

 

But when you do, you’ll be surer of the outcome and can enjoy a better return on investment as a result.

 

The information you gather from this discovery based process will be essential if you want to develop a successful, scalable and profitable business model.

 

Be warned though, the process may also tell you that you don’t have a viable business model. Prepare yourself for this potential outcome and consider it a blessing in disguise.

 

It’s better to fail fast, adjust and adapt, than to exhaust all your resources proceeding down a fruitless development path.

 

Marc Peskett is a director of MPR Group a Melbourne based business that provides finance lending, grants advisory and capital raising services as well as business advisory, tax, outsourced accounting, and wealth management to fast growing small to medium enterprises.  MPR Group is a member of the Proactive Accountants Network.

 

Apple’s IOS vs Google’s Android

The battle for which apps has emerged among developers. And not only between IOS vs Android but also now from Blackberry’s OS and MS Windows. Now if a developer can do one that runs on all four.

App developers prefer Android over Apple: Survey

From Startup Smart

By Michelle Hammond
Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A new survey reveals Google’s Android operating system has replaced Apple’s iOS in terms of its importance to developers in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

The survey, conducted by technology analyst firm Ovum, was aimed at finding out how changes in the device market have altered app developers’ preferences when selecting platforms to use.

 

Ovum interviewed more than 100 developers globally, asking them which platform they preferred, comparing the answers to last year’s survey.

 

Both the Android and Apple’s iOS still form the core of developer support, the survey said, but there is increasing interest from developers in Blackberry OS and Microsoft’s Windows phone.

 

Adam Leach, head of devices and platforms at Ovum, says a smartphone platform’s success is dictated not only by consumers but a “healthy economy” of applications delivered by developers.

 

“Therefore, it is important for all players in the smartphone ecosystem to understand the choices developers are making today, and the downstream impact of those choices,” Leach says.

 

An earlier report by Ovum reveals the Asia-Pacific smartphone market will double its size by 2016 to hit shipments of 200 million.

 

According to Ovum, Android will drive the growth and will emerge as the dominant platform, dramatically outperforming Apple with a massive 20% lead on market share.

 

“We will see dramatic shifts in dominance for smartphone software platforms, with Android storming into the lead,” Leach said in the report.

 

One Australian developer who launched on the Android platform first is Native Tongue, which makes apps to teach people new languages via video games.

 

“The Android version was launched in early November and the iPhone version was launched last week,” Native Tongue developer Matthew Ho says.

 

“We launched an MVP first on Android, iterated, released new product features, tested, analysed the states and learnt a lot from that experience.”

 

“There’s a lot of benefits for launching first on Android because of the easier approval process and ability to test immediately.”

 

According to Ovum, the trends in this year’s survey mirror changes in the wider smartphone market.

 

Developers have been quick to respond to the exit of once-important smartphone platforms such as Windows Mobile, Symbian and WebOS, and have embraced the potential of newer platforms.

 

The research also shows a move away from traditional cross-platform mobile application approaches such as Java, Flash and WAP.

 

Instead, developers are focusing their efforts on web-based standards, such as HTML5, which appear to be the preferred approach to building cross-platform applications.

 

But despite the increasing use of cross-platform approaches, most developers are still using vendor-specific distribution channels, such as Android Market, to deploy applications.

 

Ovum explains that this is seen as the best way for developers to reach the largest possible audience for their applications.

Let the Apps go free

With Steve Jobs IPhone, doing business to a consumer market has never been greater with the use of apps. The problem now is how to cover your costs when most of the apps are given free of charge.

Marketers warned customers less willing to pay for online content, apps

From StartUp Smart
Friday, 27 January 2012
By Patrick Stafford

Marketers and small businesses have been warned in a new KPMG report that consumers are no longer as willing as they once were to purchase online content, including apps, as free alternatives become more popular.

The timing coincides with several media industry businesses beginning to role out their own paywall models to transition into digital media.

“It’s certainly going to be a tough gig,” says KPMG national managing partner of digital economy, Malcolm Alder. “People have gotten used to things being free over a long period of time.”

The Consumers and Convergence report, which questioned respondents across the world – including 300 Australians – found the proportion of users willing to pay for content was dropping.

More than 90% of respondents said they did not currently pay to access website content, and of those who did, music and games were most popular, with 41% and 30% respectively.

But the real shock comes in the falling proportion of consumers willing to pay. Asked whether users would be willing to pay for content they had once received for free, only 1% said they would – falling from 11% when the previous report was filed 15 months ago. Seventy-nine per cent said they would not – up from 78% in the last report.

Alder says the report shows marketers now have to react to the way consumers are using content: free of charge, or extremely cheap.

“If you’re charging for content now, including apps, you have to be just better than everyone else, or introduce a more subtle way for introducing payment.”

Such a method has appeared in the apps sector, even though the survey indicates a majority of users download free apps. A significant 60% said they don’t pay for apps – up from 25% in 2010 – while 27% said they paid for between 1-25% of their apps.

Many companies now sell apps as a complement to their main business, often giving them away for free.

However, many developers are finding they’ve been able to garner success by giving away free apps, and then selling content within the apps themselves. Alder says it’s this type of marketing that needs to be transferred to other elements of businesses.

“The first time I saw a paywall on a UK site I used to visit, and it wasn’t a regular site I visited, but occasionally, I just clicked away and didn’t go back.

“You’ve got to have a subtle way of introducing payment.”

The finding comes even though the report shows Australians are extremely adept at online services, with 63% of respondents saying they spend more than one hour each day browsing, and 34% saying they do so for accessing news and other information.

Almost 70% said they spend up to an hour on banking and personal finance, and 53% said they do so for shopping.

Alder says it’s this realisation that will make businesses realise how they can market effectively.

“I think the ‘freemium’ business model, where you give a certain amount of content away for free, and then having users pay for the higher quality stuff – that can work.

“While the raw numbers would suggest the situation is bleak, I don’t think that. Marketers are just going to have to be smart about how they distribute digital content.”

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