Author: admin

blockchain

What is a blockchain, and why is it growing in popularity?

Last year, Ripple Labs, creator of the virtual currency XRP, was fined $0.7 million (~£540,000) by the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for violating regulations concerning money laundering. Some observers cite this as the moment cryptocurrencies shaved off their startup hipster beards, put on a tie, and went mainstream. Being fined by a regulator means that you’re part of the financial services industry at last. Given that the first and most famous cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was launched back in 2009, it has taken the wider industry a relatively long time to warm to it. But now suddenly everyone is talking about Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology as a disruptor of potentially massive proportions: Sweden is trialling a new land registry that uses a blockchain, dozens of startups spanning numerous sectors are poking around at possible uses, and importantly policy makers such as the European Parliament have voted in favour of a more hands-off approach towards blockchain tech regulation. So, what’s the connection between Bitcoins and blockchains? And why the renewed interest in the latter? It's kinda like a database A blockchain is a ledger of records arranged in data batches called blocks that use cryptographic validation to link themselves together. Put simply, each block references and identifies the previous block by a hashing function, forming an unbroken chain, hence the name. Put like this, a blockchain just sounds like a kind of database with built-in validation—which it is. However, the clever bit is that the ledger is not stored in a master location or managed by any particular body. Instead, it is said to be distributed, existing on multiple computers at the same time in such a way that anybody with an interest can maintain a copy of it. Better still, the block validation system ensures that nobody can tamper with the records. Rather, old transactions are preserved forever and new transactions are added to the ledger irreversibly. Anyone on the network can check the ledger and see the same transaction history as everyone else. Effectively a blockchain is a kind of independent, transparent, and permanent database coexisting in multiple locations and shared by a community. This is why it’s...

authentic marketing

The Uncertainty Advantage

In 2008, at the height of the global recession, Hyundai Motor Company, like all other auto companies, was reeling from the sharp drop-off in vehicle sales. Fearful of losing their jobs and dismayed by the sudden plunge in the value of their homes, consumers were in no mood to consider big-ticket purchases that would take years to pay off. Most auto companies took on a defensive mind-set, reacting to the economic crisis by curtailing production and reducing future growth plans; some even filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Hyundai, however, had a different idea. After a probing analysis of what was motivating potential customers and what was holding them back, the automaker’s management team came up with a program called Hyundai Assurance, which had a simple, compelling pitch: Buy a car from us and if you lose your job, we will buy it back with no negative effects on your credit score. Within weeks of developing the idea, Hyundai had an ad ready to broadcast during an NFL championship game — and with that, the program took off. With a singular bit of creativity, Hyundai had demonstrated to potential customers that it had enough confidence, in spite of the uncertain economy, to offer consumers a hedge against hazard. Rather than succumbing to the recession, said John Krafcik, former Hyundai Motor America chief and currently CEO of Google’s self-driving car program, Hyundai “leaned into market anxiety.” Hyundai was able to navigate this difficult period because it confronted risk in a unique way. Rather than merely managing the risk of losing business in a downturn by reducing inventory, idling production lines, and laying off workers, the automaker designed a sales strategy that took direct aim at the volatility that risk produces. We call this strategy the uncertainty advantage. It’s an approach in which corporate leaders leverage disruptive change by making targeted, bold moves toward new market opportunities. Many companies confront risk with a tactical framework based on mitigating and managing the potential consequences (as in the common expression of passivity, “We’ll manage”), but that approach might build bigger protective walls without guarding against the greatest risks...

growth strategy

Turn a Growth Bump into a Boon

After Kate Middleton was photographed in a pair of nude high-heeled shoes, the Marks & Spencer look-alikes flew off the shelves, making them one of the company’s best-selling products of all time. And when a video clip of Barack Obama singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” went viral, sales of the song skyrocketed. In the social media era, when news spreads quickly and opinions change with the swipe of the finger, all it takes is the right product review or celebrity association to generate the kind of coveted buzz that can boost sales. (Similarly, a high-profile pan can gain traction quickly and damage a brand.) Yet this phenomenon presents a conflict for marketing departments at established companies. Marketers are under constant pressure to increase revenue. But there’s only so much sales growth that big-name firms can squeeze out of a brand — at a certain point, spending more on advertising becomes a case of diminishing returns, or at best defending one’s turf. This makes the rare and unexpected sales bumps some of the best opportunities for marketers to lock in benefits for their brand, according to a new study. But there’s a problem. What companies need to do to take full advantage of these positive vibes — namely, be vigilant, flexible, and opportunistic — stands in direct contrast with the long-standing conventional marketing wisdom that effectively promotes rigidity and prizes a strict adherence to budgets based on long-term industry projections. Marketers already know that for brands in mature markets, sales growth is not a gradual or consistent phenomenon. It tends to evolve in short spurts followed by longer phases of stagnation. Of course, some spurts are predictable. The toy industry knows it’s going to see a surge in holiday sales, so a great deal of its marketing is targeted for the end of the year, in harmony with the traditional framework. But the other type of spurt — the one that catches firms off guard — is triggered by an occurrence outside the company’s control, and makes consumers rethink their opinion of a product. It’s the rare opportunity marketers should learn to train their...

millennial workplace

Want To Inspire A Millennial Driven Workplace, Let Them Travel

The lack of employee engagement is a real issue in today’s workforce. Smart companies are finding unique ways to drive engagement and reinforce culture. In three short years millennials will make up 51% of the workforce. Millennials have different expectations about the world of work, and their workplace. And by 2025, the group will make up 75% of the workforce. Millennials want a sense of purpose in their work. They crave autonomy, flexibility, transparency, and empowerment. They also value time away from the office. As their numbers grow, the culture they create will permeate the everyday office. Thinking Differently When faced with the challenge of attracting millennial talent in the budding tech city of Indianapolis, social media research firm Fizziology came up with a novel solution called FYI. The program, created by founders Ben and Jen Handley, lets each employee travel through “Find Your Inspiration – FYI” trips. Every employee at Fizziology receives a yearly stipend to take a non-meeting trip anywhere in the world. The catch? The chosen locale should be somewhere that will "inspire" them. FYI taps into a different type of travel. It’s different than travel for conferences or client meetings. Employees pitch the founders on where they’d like to go to work remotely. According to founder Jen Handley, “They have to sell it in – the why and the how.” Employees typically travel alone and stay at AirBnB’s instead of hotels. They tend to work from community co-work locations. It allows them to experience the local culture and escape the regular day to day. Embracing Wanderlust The company is tapping into concept of wanderlust. According to Merriam-Webster, wanderlust is defined as the strong longing for or impulse toward wandering. The interest in experiential travel among millennials is real. Author Robert Louis Stevenson speaks to the concept in his book Travels with a Donkey, "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." Fizziology’s understand this as 85 percent of their staff is under the age of 30. The first year of the program, domestic destinations like Boulder, New Orleans, and Portland were...

valentines spending

Valentine’s Day Celebrants Spending Less

People lavish attention on their loved ones on Valentine's Day. But they are spending less in 2017. Valentine's Day will contribute $18.2 billion to the economy, according to the National Retail Federation. That's lower than the record $19.7 billion spent in 2016. It's also less than the $18.9 billion spent in 2015, and the $18.6 billion spent in 2013. It's more than the $17.4 billion spent in 2014. That's not good news for the economy. Consumer spending drives almost 70 percent of economic growth, as measured by gross domestic product. That's crucial this year because business spending has been declining. The latest GDP report shows that the strong dollar has hurt exporters, most of whom are manufacturers. That means the consumer must spend more to keep America's economic engine running. For more, see Components of GDP. Why Is Spending Down? The number of people who celebrate Valentines' Day have been falling since 2007. Only 54 percent celebrate the holiday, fewer than the 54.8 percent who celebrated it in 2016. That number has been declining since the record of 63 percent in 2007. That's because the number of older people in the population is rising. They are less likely to celebrate Valentine's Day. Younger people, who still try to impress potential mates, participate more than older, more settled folks. Nearly two-thirds of those between 25-34 celebrate the holiday, and 60 percent of those between 18-24. Less than half of those between 55-64 celebrate, and only 44.7 percent of those 65 and older. They are also spending less. Those who celebrate Valentine's Day spend $136.57 each. That's down from the $146.84 each spent in 2016 and the $142.31 spent in 2015. That reflects the trend toward greater U.S. income inequality since 2000. Those who derive income from stocks, bonds, and other investments have prospered more than wage-earners. Also, well-paid manufacturing jobs have gone to low-cost countries like China. Firms replaced workers with robots in other jobs. Top 5 Valentine's Day Purchases More people shop for less expensive gifts, proving the adage that it's the thought that counts. Here are the top five gifts and the percent who buy them: Purchase Candy 50% Greeting Cards...