Monthly Archives: September 2012

The want for Renewable Energy

Let’s hope this groundswell for wanting renewable energy creates the pressure for governments and power utilities to help give access for renewable energy generators to meet this need.

 

85% of Global Consumers Want More Renewable Energy

September 19, 2012 By Adam Johnston

Two recent studies commissioned by Vestas show there is a strong appetite for renewable energy across the globe.

According to the Global Consumer Wind Energy Study put out by TNS Gallup, which gauges consumer tastes on energy, 85% of global respondents want more renewable energy in the market.

Image Credit: Power In Nature via Shutterstock

The survey also noted 49% of those surveyed would be willing to pay more for renewable energy, while 45% believed climate change is one of the big three challenges facing the globe .

Other responses included that 62% of those asked would buy products from companies who use wind energy, while 74% of consumers would feel more positive if companies used wind as its primary source of energy.

“The evidence presented by the surveys is extremely encouraging, clearly showing that consumers are demanding more renewable energy in the grid and are showing a willingness to pay a premium price for products made with renewable energy,” said Vestas Group Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Corporate Relations Morten Albaek, in statement.

The survey was done in 20 countries with 24,000 respondents taking part.

Meanwhile, the Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX) written by Bloomberg New Energy Finance looks at what companies are doing voluntarily for renewable energy production.

Their results found global investments are advancing in new renewable energy capacity ($237 billion), more than fossil fuels ($223 billion).

Adding on top of that, businesses are showing a firm commitment to on-site renewable energy generation, including responsibility for 40% of 2011 renewable energy purchased, the index noted.

CREX is also an analyst tool used by various groups including, non-government organizations, consumers and policy makers, the release said.

While consumers play a vital role in supporting renewable energy, corporations, according to Vestas, can play a big role in supplying the world energy needs without ramping up global carbon emissions.

“The trend of private companies investing in renewable energy is very positive,” said Albaek.

“We have already seen many companies such as IKEA purchasing wind turbines as part of a commitment to get all of its energy from renewable sources, and recently Aviva, the UK’s largest insurance group invested in a wind power plant in Spain as they wanted a low risk, strong yield investment.”

“The findings of the CREX report show corporations are taking an active role in purchasing their own renewable energy directly. However the pace of growth in companies’ use of renewable energy will depend on the level of political and regulatory support, and on further progress in the cost-competitiveness of these technologies,” Michael Liebreich, Chief Executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Source: Vestas

 

The future of Australia in an Asian Century

As a country, Australia has been blessed being able to be able to survive the harsh global economic conditions partly due to its substantial mineral exports to China and India. However, the bigger picture now is how the country can further maximise its capability to need the emergence of Asia as its future source for its economic growth.  Just consider the opportunity of the 100 million market present in the Philippines and how much more Australian trade and investment to the country should not be defined only in the mining industry. Think people. Think food. Think BPOs. Think education. Think technology. Let’s hope the state visit of President Aquino can open doors to this further awareness.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Asian focus is vital for economy’s future, says Carr

By Phillip Coorey
Published: September 25, 2012

The Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, has had to deliver a major speech on behalf of Julia Gillard in New York last night after the Prime Minister fell ill.

The speech  was designed as a pitch to foreign investors to see the Australian economy as being about much more than just mining.

There were no immediate details on Ms Gillard’s condition.

Senator Carr described the prosperity generated from the mining boom as ‘‘low hanging fruit’’ as he warned today Australia must become Asia-literate and Asia-capable if it is to sustain the economy well into the future.

In a speech in New York to the Asia Society and the Economic Club, Senator Carr also impressed upon investors that the economy today is less reliant on mining than generally thought.

At the same time, he will stress the importance of ongoing Chinese demand for minerals and declare ‘‘Australia’s mining boom has long to run’’.

But to prosper over the longer term, Senator Carr will say the nation needs to be able to think beyond the boom and cater to the rising Asian middle-classes. To do so, ‘‘we’ll need to know Asia’’.

‘‘We’ll need Asia literate policies and Asia-capable people,’’ he said.

Senator Carr said more important than China’s growth rate next year is ‘‘what the basket of consumer goods and services will be for middle-class Asian consumers later this Century’’.

‘‘The most challenging risk to Australia, and to countries like Australia, isn’t China growing more slowly than we predict in 2013,’’ he said.

‘‘The most challenging risk is if we can’t make and sell the things that Chinese and Indian and Indonesian and Thai consumers are buying in 2033.’’

‘‘Growth for us requires enormous sophistication. We’ve picked the low-hanging fruit, we need to be smart to find our future.’’

Senator Carr’s speech is a prelude to the imminent release domestically of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper which will contain several recommendations to ‘‘lift the Asia capabilities’’ of the government and the people, including a stronger focus on education and learning Asian languages.

But Senator Carr’s speech also looked to spruik the Australian economy to the international investment community an impress upon it that the economy is about more than just mineral prices.

Senator Carr stressed that as important as mining has been and will continue to be, the economy now is more resilient than most in the world due to other factors.

‘‘Australia’s economy today is less reliant on our natural resources and our mining boom than you might believe,’’ he will say.

Australia has a strong services sector and over the next four years, ‘‘we expect three times as many new jobs to be created in health care, social assistance, education and training as will be created in mining’’.

Senator Carr said mining is an important part of a bigger picture and he will seek to ease investor fears over commodity prices by calling for perspective. He said iron ore may be forecast to drop from US$126 a tonne this year to US$101 next year but, 10 years ago, ‘‘we got around US$20 per tonne’’.

It is similar with coal and Senator Carr said ‘‘pretty good examples of where the wide view gives you a very different impression from the close-up’’.

‘‘Clearly we’d prefer prices to stay higher for longer and the easing in prices squeezes profits, meaning slower revenue growth for government and hard decisions in the expenditure side,’’ he said.

‘‘But, clearly, if you’d offered us today’s price 10 years ago, we’d gave grabbed them with both hands.

‘‘And if you offered any country Australia’s fiscal position, they’d grab it with both hands too.’’

This is the third successive overseas trip which has not gone to plan for the Prime Minister. She came home early from the Cook Islands when five soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and she left APEC after only one day when her father died.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/asian-focus-is-vital-for-economys-future-says-carr-20120924-26hi4.html

The benefits of an efficient financial system

If this report is true, the ability to get the root cause on the excess liquidity in the monetary circulation is one of the benefits of an efficient Australian financial system.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

The grey economy: how retirees rort the pension

Peter Martin
Published: September 25, 2012

ELDERLY Australians committing welfare fraud on a massive scale are behind the extraordinarily high number of $100 notes in circulation, a former senior Reserve Bank official says.

Yesterday the Herald revealed there are now 10 $100 notes in circulation for each Australian, far more than the more commonly seen $20 notes.

One popular explanation is that they are used for illegal transactions as part of the cash economy, something the former Reserve official, Peter Mair, rejects as a “furphy”.

In a letter to the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, dated July 4, Mr Mair laid the blame squarely on elderly people wanting to get the pension and hiding their income in cash to ensure they qualified for the means-tested benefit.

“The bank is basically facilitating a tax avoidance scheme by issuing high denomination notes,” he told theHerald. “They are not needed for day-to-day transaction purposes, or even as reasonable stores of value.”

His best guess is the average pensioner couple could hold up to $50,000 in undeclared $50 and $100 notes to get access to the pension.

Mr Mair said that in 1996 when the green plastic $100 note replaced the grey paper note, the Martin Place headquarters of the Reserve received regular visits from retirees wanting to withdraw large quantities of the new notes. He said the commercial banks had sent them to the Reserve because they did not have enough $100 notes on hand.

Mr Mair said the return for an Australian close to getting the pension who held $10,000 in cash, rather than declaring it, was “enormous”.

“If putting it under the bed or in a cupboard means you qualify for the pensioner card, you get discounted council rates, discounted car registration, discounted phone rental – in percentage terms the return is enormous,” he said.

Mr Mair used comparisons of the holdings of large-denomination currency in Australia and New Zealand to back his argument. “In broad terms the average value of notes held by New Zealanders is about one third of the $2000 held by Australians – almost all of which by value is in the $50 and $100 denominations,” he wrote in his letter.

“An obvious explanation for the difference is means test-free age pensions in New Zealand.”

His letter to the governor proposes phasing out the $100 and $50 denominations.

“Cards and the internet have delivered a body blow to high-denomination bank notes. They are redundant,” he said. “There is no longer any point in issuing them except to facilitate tax dodging. The authorities would announce that from, say, June 2015 every $100 and $50 note could be redeemed but no new notes would be issued. After June 2017 every note could only be redeemed at an annual discount of 10 per cent. It would mean that after two years, each $100 note could only be redeemed for $80, and so on.”

The letter acknowledges the proposal would be contentious and says it should not be done “in any way precipitously”, but as payments become more electronic it will become inevitable.

“What would remain in circulation are coins and a modestly expanded issue of currency notes in the $10 and $20 denominations. There is every reason to expect that a national currency issue of this character would soon be adequate.”

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-grey-economy-how-retirees-rort-the-pension-20120924-26hku.html

 

The value of a Startup Incubators

With the recent establishment of 2 incubators, one led by Globe/ Ayala Group and another by PLDT/ Metro Pacific, their availability to Philippine entrepreneurs will be a substantial boost in enterprise creation in the country.

From OpenForum.com

Startup Incubators: An Elite Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs

Samantha Cortez, Recent Posts

June 11, 2012

Read Susan Sobbott’s recap of OPEN’s series on women entrepreneurs shaping the future of business, and join the conversation on Twitter.

About 543,000 new businesses were created each month in 2011, according to the Kauffman Foundation. And some of those got their start in an incubator.

Startup incubators help emerging companies grow by providing them with necessary resources and initial funding to expand their ideas. In exchange for funding, they typically keep a small percentage of the company. Over the course of a few months, incubators work with startups to create a blueprint for their companies to present to investors at the end of the program. These blueprints usually result in investments. Among some of the more famous companies that got their start in an incubator: AirBnB and Dropbox.

Funding for Existing Companies

Startups seeking early-stage funding aren’t the only companies encouraged to apply. Even companies that are already formed and have limited funding can still utilize the program to amplify their brand.

Mike Onghai, founder of AppAddictive, left a comfortable hedge fund to spend a summer with Philadelphia-based DreamIt Ventures, one of the top 10 incubators in the U.S, according to Forbes. When he arrived at DreamIt, he already had a user base of 50 million people but used the incubator program to transform his consumer-based model into a business-to-business model. AppAddictive is a social and mobile application platform geared towards publishing and advertising that allows businesses to publish apps without coding. Onghai recentlyacquired $1.2 million in seed funding for the company’s drag-and-drop tools for Facebook.

“I had managed a hedge fund and I had bootstrapped two ventures before, but I had never raised money from outside investors for my own startup before,” Onghai says. “I wish there were incubators around when I started my first ventures; I could have avoided a lot of mistakes.”

Social Support

In addition to getting money for your company, the talented connections available at incubators provide invaluable support. The best incubators remain in touch with their startups even after their term has finished. Consider it like having an entire faculty and board of advisors to yourself. They work with you through your projects and most, like DreamIt Ventures, provide legal, accounting, and administrative help.

An incubator also accelerates the development process. During roughly 10 weeks, participants focus solely on the projects at hand and are provided with space and resources.

On Demo Day companies get the opportunity to display what they’ve been doing in front of a room of investors, creating an auction environment. The majority of Onghai’s funding was the result of his demonstration at DreamIt Ventures.

Learning by Doing

Aside from formal mentoring, the peers you’ll be working alongside at startup incubators can provide just as much support. Incubators have a tough selection process, often sifting through thousands of applications. “I was the senior in my group,” says Onghai, “so a lot of people turned to me for advice.”

Incubators are arguably more beneficial than business schools. “I dropped out of a paid-scholarship MBA program to start my online venture,” says Onghai. “Hands-on experience cannot be replaced by lectures and classes. You can get video lectures online these days. I follow the quote, ‘When I hear, I forget. When I read, I remember. When I do, I understand.'”

Is Vietnam a serious threat to Philippines for BPOs

Reading this article one assumes Vietnam can on the basis of cost can replace the Philippines as a BPO supplier. However, it does not take into account the cultural mindset and the fluency of speaking English as the key success  factors for the Philippines achieving no 1 ranking as a BPO supplier in the voice category even beating India.

From IT.Wire.com

Vietnam gains traction as ‘lower cost’ alternative for offshore, outsourcing services

Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the Asia Pacific region in recent years, with an annual GDP rate of between seven and eight and a half percent, and strong growth in its contact centre industry establishing the country as a credible low cost alternative destination for offshore and outsourced services.

In its latest report on the Vietnamese market, research firm Frost & Sullivan notes that hiring IT professionals in Vietnam is 30 to 50 percent less expensive compared to other outsourcing countries like India and the Philippines.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s Research Associate, ICT Practice, Dao Thi Minh Thao, studies  have  showed  that  Vietnam  with a strong workforce of more than 15,000 IT engineers of software outsourcing alone, and its low labour cost, is an  “undeniable  advantage  that  drives international companies to this new ideal outsourcing destination.”

And, with customer service becoming a key focus in Asia  Pacific,  Thao says that Vietnam is improving customer relationships for the purpose of greater loyalty, brand recall and profitability, with basic  applications like Automatic Call Distributor (ACD),  Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and Call Monitoring (CM) still leading the trends in the Vietnam contact centre market.

“ACD  is  the  biggest  contributor  that  accounts  for  almost 40% of all applications  and  is  still  growing at a fast rate as majority of contact centres’ primary  purpose  is  to  support  incoming  voice  calls.  It is forecasted that in 2018, ACD will reach the saturated status of 31.7% from 37.3% in 2011 and start to slow down. The same will happen to other current major applications like CTI and IVR.”

Frost & Sullivan reports that BFSI and Telco are the largest contributing verticals and are likely to remain so due to an ever- increasing customer base and an adequate supply of  capital  to invest in new technologies and solutions.

According to Thao, the customer-intensive industries of BFSI and Telco are characterised by large deployments of centres with 200 seats and above, and she says this size band will grow in  prominence as these two industry verticals are likely to dominate revenue contribution.

“Most contact centre projects in Vietnam are deployed by banks, financial institutions and Telco service providers.  These sectors require a high level of customer care. Large seat numbers are needed to always be available to serve customers.”

Thao also says that “currently the less than 50 seats contact centres compromises of  only  more  than  2%,” adding that “over time, the market is expected to see a higher growth  of  less  than  50  seats  and 51-200 seat horizontals based on the increasing  demand from  the  SMB  segment as well as more integrated, cost-effective solutions provided.”

And, Thao observes that although the language barrier is an “obvious drawback, almost 80 percent of the workforce is comprised of young, enthusiastic college graduates with science degrees that are always keen to learn,” and that Vietnam is “propelling their way up in the IT outsourcing industry.”

“For further growth and success, companies should look forward to more efficient contact centre application adoption to align these trends for the future.  Emerging global vendors in providing suitable solutions also need to offer more customised solutions and effective marketing activities at more affordable prices.”

Australia is the largest market for BPO services

For Philippine based BPOs consider expanding in Australia which is considered the largest and most developed market in the Asia Pacific region. At the same time, those willing to get in early into greenfield markets should consider the other countries in the region. I wonder if the Philippines is considered in this group as a market instead as a supplier.

From IT.Wire.com

Asia Pacific BPO market ‘underdeveloped, underexploited’

With Australia and New Zealand the exception, the Asia Pacific business process outsourcing (BPO) market is reportedly still underdeveloped and underexploited compared with other markets or regions, with the APAC market for BPO on pace to deliver $6.45 billion in revenues by the end of this year.

Australia remained the largest market for BPO services in Asia Pacific in 2011, with a market size of more than $4.5 billion – over 3.5 times larger than India at US$1.26 billion – and the second-largest consumer of BPO services.

And, in its latest report, Gartner says the fastest-growing BPO markets within the Asia Pacific region will continue to be China and India, with the total APAC market – excluding Japan – forecast to reach US$9.5 billion in 2016, up from $5.9 billion last year.

According to Gartner’s research director, T.J. Singh, the Asia Pacific BPO market is still “relatively underdeveloped and underexploited, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand, when compared with other markets or regions.”

“The Asia Pacific region continues to present service providers with lucrative high-growth and profitable markets that are still relatively underdeveloped and untapped. Even during these trying economic times — the US and European economic malaise — buyers in Asia Pacific are still grappling with issues such as revenue growth, market share gains, scalability, quality of service and better cost management.

“Some negative impacts may surface as BPO grows across the region, including higher wage inflation and attrition, as demand for talent in the domestic market competes with offshore demand from the US and Europe.”

According to Singh, the Asia Pacific market presents opportunities to BPO service providers that are willing to invest in the region, with key drivers for BPO buyers being “scalability, quality, best-of-breed process and technology infusion, and improved service levels.”

However, he stresses that cost continues to be a consideration in all deals. “Asia Pacific is an immature market for BPO services. No one provider dominates every type of BPO service, and very few BPO providers can successfully demonstrate true regional or Pan Asia Pacific BPO capabilities for multiple processes.”

With the fastest-growing BPO markets within Asia Pacific continuing to be led by China and India, and Singh also says that vertical industry, banking and financial services, communications, government (both local and federal), technology, retail, and travel and transportation continue to be the largest consumers of BPO services in the region.

“The BPO service market in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, consists of a wide range of local, regional and multinational (including India-based) service providers. Although the market is dominated by global and India-based service providers, there are also a number of fast-growing regional and niche BPO service providers,” Singh said.

Singh defines the BPO market as consisting of four segments – that break down into many distinct sub markets – including:
•    Customer management (sales, marketing and customer care)

•    Enterprise services (HR, finance and accounting [F&A], operations and payment services

•    Vertical services (vertical-industry-focused processes, such as mortgage services and credit card services for the banking sector, claims processing for insurance, and billing services for telecommunications) and,

•    Supply management services (logistics, procurement and warehousing

What is a Temporary layoff employee

In Australia, temp, casual and contract work are just the many other options to gainful employment outside the traditional full time arrangements we are familiar with.  It is said the flexibility of working conditions in Australia has been one of the success factors responsible for the country’s  sustained economic growth for the past 21 years running. There should be a similar flexibility in working conditions in the Philippines that would allow an employer the ability of hiring employees according to the seasonality of his business needs. Of course, this should not be an excuse to exploit employees similar to the current practice of local employers deliberately churning their employees every 6 months to avoid giving them permanent status.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

The challenges of pension management in the Philippines

Unlike in Australia where one’s pension fund (called Superannuation locally) is managed by employee’s choice, in the Philippines this choice is limited either to the GSIS if you work for the government or the SSS if you work in the private sector. But since both are government agencies, its ability to manage its funds for its members is always subject to political influences. Maybe another option to managing them efficiently is privatizing them similar to the Superannuation practices in Australia where the only political influence is setting the required employer contribution (currently at 9% of the employee’s salary).

Web design trends for Start-ups

If you are a start-up, one of the essentials you need to have is an online presence to market your business not only locally but globally. To do this effectively, consider the following trends that would help benefit your business do this effectively.

From Start-upSmart.com

IT

Five web design trends that every start-up should heed

By Oliver Milman
Monday, 30 July 2012

feature-web-design-thumbWhen Melbourne-based web business RedBubble decided it was time for a revamp of its site, the process wasn’t a quick and easy one.

 

The business, which acts as an online marketplace for artistic creations, spent 18 months rethinking its strategy from top to bottom before deciding upon a new look.

 

RedBubble’s approach may seem time consuming, but it’s indicative of a trend that no start-up can ignore, even if doesn’t consider the internet to be its primary channel.

 

The days of being able to simply slap your brand online and hope for the sales to start flowing in are long gone. Small businesses not only have to get themselves online – which is still a struggle for many Australian SMEs – but closely follow what consumers are reacting well to, or get left behind.

 

“Businesses tend to think about functionality first, but beyond that you need to have some sort of emotional connection with your customers,” says Martin Hosking, CEO of RedBubble. “That’s been the case since the first automobiles came along and is the case now.”

 

Facebook is a functional, but people connect to it, so goes Groupon – it’s very clear what it is, how people can get value from it. They focus on making the experience good.”

 

So how do you get this kind of engagement with customers? Adam Franklin, head of digital agency BlueWire Media, says that the best sites are moving towards a simplicity in look and feel that start-ups would do well to ape.

 

“Around 75% of people look for information when they go to sites, so sites that have a simple path towards the information they need do well, as do sites with blogs,” he explains.

 

“If customers can make a purchase decision on the first visit, that’s great, but usually they need education. Therefore, the best sites do that first step of education very well – they are clear as to what they are and who they are for, they have resources such as eBooks, market reports and other downloads. They don’t bombard people with options.”

 

We asked Hosking and Franklin to pick out the key trends currently taking hold in the web design industry. Here are their essential lessons.

 

 

1. Clutter is going

 

site1

 

Many of the best websites out there continue to contain lots of information, but they don’t feel the need to throw all of it at potential customers at once.

 

Where once the desire to display as many links, flashing buttons and graphics at users was in vogue, the trend is now to offer a more stripped back, minimal experience.

 

“Important buttons are getting bigger while the clutter is going,” Franklin says. “The best sites are very clear about the one thing they do and what they want you to do. They have an obvious call to action and have a good understanding who their buyers are.”

 

“Don’t think that the second action of a web user after seeing your site is to pick up the phone to get more details from you. The second action is to go to your competitor to see how you compare to them.”

 

Consumers are doing all of their own research and are making buying decisions without even talking to businesses. Therefore, you need to provide the information they are looking for and avoid all other distractions.”

 

 

2. There’s a rethink on branding

 

Your website is a great way to build your brand and, with some decent SEO activity, you can turn it into your best marketing tool.

 

But don’t overestimate the power of branding in the mind of customers. They are searching for the best product or service for them – in a web cluttered with options, the provider is almost secondary.

 

Hosking says that RedBubble recognised this trend by making its brand less obvious, most notably to shrinking its logo to a mere ‘RB’.

 

“Most traditional retailers want to put their brand on everything, but the new commerce model requires you to almost put it in the background,” he explains.

 

“That’s why sites that focus on content, such as Pinterest, are doing well. You’ve got to recognise who or what is really creating the value here – is it your massive logo or is it the product the customer wants to buy?”

 

site1

“This feeds through to having your content shared by people online. Facebook asks me to be a fan of NAB – why the hell would I want to be a fan of my bank? Similarly, we realise it’s not really about RedBubble, it’s about the t-shirt or piece of art people are interested in.”

 

“Have a clear story about who you are but put what you offer to the forefront. That’s what customers are interested in.”

 

3. That said, it’s not just a sales channel

 

site1

Once you fully understand who your customers are, you can tailor your offering to them. But don’t just think that your site should be a one-way selling machine.

 

Long-term sales growth is driven by genuine engagement with consumers, rather than just throwing offers at them. This spans the design, social media and content aspects of your website.

 

“Most Australian sites still focus on a narrow functionality, in a very debranded way,” says Hosking.

 

“You need to get a designer in early, along with your business brain, to think through the brand and how you’ll be speaking to people.”

 

“The design needs to convey who you are and who you’re talking to. You have to deliver on your brand promise, whatever that is. It shouldn’t really be lowest price – you need to offer more than that. Target can offer kids’ T-shirts for $4 – that’s not us, and it shouldn’t be most start-ups.”

 

Offer something of value to users beyond your product or service. Consider embedding competitions, games or calculators into your site.

 

Encourage them to interact with you via social media and try to grasp what interests and excites them. Even if it doesn’t directly lead to a sale, tapping into this will do wonders for your long-term image.

 

Also, think about your packaging – RedBubble’s redesign allows it to easily get ‘RB’ onto its packaging, an important branding exercise for online-only brands that don’t have the same amount of customer touch points as physical retailers.

 

 

4. The time and money involved is increasing

 

The main advantage of launching a web-only business is the cost – stripped of the overheads of premises, fixtures and fittings and equipment, online start-ups can run a very efficient model.

 

However, as selling via the internet becomes ingrained within businesses and rises in popularity among consumers, the costs are beginning to rise.

 

In order to stand out from an increasingly cluttered field, you will need a striking design, easy user experience and a secure payment platform that doesn’t fall over or get hacked into on a regular basis.

 

All of these things cost money. If you baulk at the cost, you should ask yourself how important the web is to your business and whether you’d invest a large amount in another area of your operations that’s of equal value.

 

Hosking says that in addition to the 18 months taken to overhaul RedBubble, he also spent $200,000 on market research and design, which doesn’t include development costs.

 

“It’s a big outlay for a small company like ours,” he admits. “But that’s what we had to pay to really show what the brand meant to customers and how customers use us. I can’t put a figure on what the return will be, you can’t easily quantify that.”

 

“But we want to be a global brand for those that aspire to creative individualism. In Australia, brands such as Billabong and Quiksilver have done that in the past and we want to be in that category. And that takes investment.”

 

 

5. Good ideas are spanning different industries

 

site4

The best way to find out what works and what doesn’t is, of course, to take a wander through the internet yourself.

 

What you should find is that cutting edge design and great useability isn’t confined to a niche of cool consumer-facing brands – online excellence is filtering down to businesses of all shapes and sizes, across a range of sectors.

 

Asked for standout sites for start-ups to reference, Franklin picks out US marketing software firm HubSpot, saying: “The homepage is very clear, they have lots of information online but in a big, clear font. It’s clear what they are and they do a good job of building trust by offering a free trial of their software.”

 

Franklin’s other choice is Sydney accountant Kelly & Partners: “It delivers something you maybe wouldn’t expect from an accountancy firm. It has a blog which allows you to get to know the company and it has a range of free tools available via the homepage. It also makes it clear how you can interact with the brand.”

 

Hosking picks out design site Fab.com and fashion hub Gilt as eCommerce sites that have got it right.

 

“Both are clean, clear and have a clear segment of the audience they can talk to,” he says. “They are brave about their content by offering a richer visual experience. They are making a conscious effort to be more beautiful.”

Consider Solar Thermal energy generation

Now with the Feed-In-Tariffs for Renewable Energy in place in the Philippines, let’s hope there will be investors willing to put-up Solar Thermal generators in the country.

From Blog.cleantechies.com

Solar Thermal: More Efficient, Less Talked About

EnergyRefuge.comPublished on Date October 13th, 2011 by EnergyRefuge.com

In most countries solar power is often perceived as synonymous with solar photovoltaic (PV), the classic rooftop panels that convert sunlight to electricity through solar cells. But that could be a misconception, says Environmental Protection, since solar thermal, which gets less attention than PV, actually is more efficient.

Solar thermal is cheaper and more efficient, EP points out. “PV converts 12 per cent of energy into usable electricity at a cost of 25 to 35 cents per kilowatt hour. Solar thermal, which includes solar air and solar water … offers 55 per cent efficiency at 12 to 15 cents per kilowatt hour, and solar air delivers 80 percent at 3 to 9 cents per kilowatt hour”.

If that’s the case, why does PV get more airplay than thermal? Enerconcept Technologies president Christian Vachon says it’s because PV gets most subsidies. “Governments should stop thinking that solar is expensive and needs to be heavily subsidized in order to be sustainable. With PV, we’re putting all our eggs in the longest possible payback basket. Our leaders should instead focus on an energy policy that promotes the lowest-cost energy technology”, he told EP.

Solar thermal electricity can be produced on a large scale as well. Spain recently became home to the world’s first 24/7 solar thermal plant near Seville in the south of the country and it’s expected to produce 110 GW/h per year.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

%d bloggers like this: