Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2012

Making the bed is definitely a daily chore for many of us. However, this task may become redundant in the future, for purchasers of OHEA’s “smart bed”.

Spanish company OHEA; have created a bed that literally makes itself. The video below previews the smart bed:

As you can see from the video the smart bed is very streamlined and simple and looks like a piece of Ikea furniture.

How it works

The bed is equipped with a device that triggers 3 seconds after an occupant has gotten out of bed. In just 50 seconds the side arms of the bed open up and a roller bed making mechanism is activated. To avoid the annoyance of having your bed remade every time you get up during the night, the device can also be set manually, to only make the bed when a “go” button is pressed on a remote control. For safety purposes the device will not function while any pressure is applied.

Target audience

The target audience for this product is ultimately any one looking to save a few minutes a day by eliminating this chore. However, the user that can benefit most from this technology is anyone who for health reasons cannot easily bend and make their bed.

Smart bed options

The smart bed is currently available in 5 different sizes. At this point in time the smart bed is not compatible with regular bedding. Each smart bed comes with two sets of smart bed compatible bedding.  The company anticipates having a broader variety of bedding options in the future. Certainly at this time the bed is very simple and given its lack of multiple pillows and blankets, it looks like the simplest kind of bed to make manually. As the technology progresses, this is inevitably likely to change.

The smart bed’s U.S. release date and pricing has not yet been announced. However, the company is accepting queries on their website, where you can also learn more about this innovative product that could revamp your morning routine. 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Recently on an outing with friends, our group split up into two groups for a short period of time. Not long after we tried to arrange by cell phone to meet for dinner at a restaurant one of the groups had found. Unfortunately, trying to give directions when neither group knew the area well enough to know exactly where they were, in relation to the other group’s location, was challenging even for a group of MBA students. After a lot of time wasted wandering around we were all reunited, only to find out our two original locations had originally only been a block or two apart. Yes, seriously! If only we had, had Mapfia, it wouldn’t have been so complicated.

Mapfia is a smart phone application that enables its users to share their real-time locations on a map. In the case given above instead of calling and describing our locations, we could have used the Mapfia app to see one another’s locations on a grid, to get real-time directions instantaneously. Indeed, Mapfia was even created in order to eradicate situations like the one I described above. Mapfia was founded by a team of engineers, who frustrated with giving directions on the phone, set out to make navigation and location sharing simple and secure. The video below shows how the technology works:

Mapfia could also come in useful for business people. For example, realtors could use the application to help direct their clients to a house viewing.

While many location-sharing applications raise privacy concerns, this does not appear to be the case with Mapfia. For security purposes Mapfia users only share location information for the duration of the phone call. Once one party hangs up the phone the other no longer has access to their real-time location.

I think the Mapfia application has great potential, but what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Read Full Post »


In this blog I’ve written extensively about organization and industry change. I recently read a paper in the McKinsey Quarterly entitled “Developing better change leaders” and wanted to share 4 tips, I learned from this paper and other research on leading transformational change.

  1. Collaborate: Collaboration across departmental and hierarchical boundaries can help organizations to achieve transformational change. The key to getting employees to buy into change is dialogue not dictation. Through dialogue, employees’ concerns can be addressed and ideally eliminated, so they can start to learn how the proposed change will be better. As people become more open, the organization becomes more transparent and trust is fostered, enabling collective solution building and idea sharing to occur.
  2. Map out the change process: While some adaptability will be necessary, by having the change process mapped out and communicating it, expectations can be shaped of what will happen, what could happen and when it may happen.
  3. Find the courage to be honest when having difficult conversations: When addressing the negative impacts change will bring such as layoffs, be honest with employees as soon as it is feasibly possible to do so. Work with employees who will face layoffs to help them find new jobs either within the company or with another company. Provide training, mentoring and support to empathetically engage with the displaced employees.
  4. Use your experience to train and mentor others: Leaders who have experience in transformational change can play a pivotal role in training and advising lower level managers. Such leaders can share their experiences of what worked well and not so well in previous change initiatives. They can then help subordinates to develop the skills necessary to move the organization forward.

While different companies will have different change situations, the above tips offer some generalized guidance. But what do you think? Feel free to add your own tips on leading transformational change in the comments section below.

Read Full Post »

The title of this blog post may at first glance confuse you, as Burberry is a luxury fashion brand, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have a digital innovation focus. Indeed, traditionally many luxury businesses have put technology on the back burner out of fears of diluting their brand exclusivity. But Burberry is different.

When Angela Ahrendts became CEO of Burberry in 2006 she began reinventing the company’s brand image and operations. She also redefined the company’s target audience and identified an opportunity existed to increase sales among high-net-worth global younger consumers.

Ahrendt’s vision is to:

“Create a company where anyone who wanted to touch the brand could have access to it.”

In order to make this vision a reality and to reach younger consumers many of whom are digital citizens, a digital platform was needed.

By using social media platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, accompanied with SAP application technology and with help from salesforce.com; Ahrendts has begun to transform Burberry into a social enterprise.

Here are some of the components of Burberry’s digital strategy:

An interactive website: Burberry have created an interactive website that entices its visitors to return. On the Burberry website you can watch fashion shows and see artistic creative videos displaying the latest collections. Customers can even order many of the fashions displayed in the videos. There is also an acoustic section on the site that exhibits music videos from previously unknown British singers and groups all wearing Burberry clothing, further promoting the brand.

Salesforce.com: Burberry has incorporated the Salesforce.com Chatter platform to use internally as a portal to enhance communications throughout their operations. When Burberry’s sales teams noticed larger male customers were unhappy with the fit of one of the suit styles, the Chatter enabled them to immediately bring this information to the design team to make adjustments. The company also uses the Salesforce.com Radian6 product to track and analyze what people are saying about them on social media.

Twitter: Burberry holds “Tweet-Walks” bringing images of models wearing their new collection minutes before their models hit the runway.

Facebook: Burberry did an exclusive Facebook fan only sample giveaway during the pre-launch of the Burberry Body perfume.

SAP: Burberry partnered with SAP to develop an application to provide greater customer service. The application will enable sales associates globally to pull up a customer’s information including their transaction history of all past Burberry purchases made anywhere in the world and their Burberry social media activity.

I think Burberry’s digital innovation strategy will continue to be successful for the company as its focuses on creating a wow experience to greater engage their consumers that goes beyond using digital strategy to increase sales. What do you think of Burberry’s digital innovation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Read Full Post »

On June 19, 2012 it was announced that US pharmacy Walgreens, had acquired a 45% share in European pharmacy, health and wellness corporation Alliance Boots, for $6.7 billion. The deal marks Walgreen’s biggest deal ever, which also gives the corporation the option of purchasing the remaining 55% share after 3 years.

I was interested to hear of this acquisition as I am familiar with both companies. Since I moved to the U.S. there has been a Walgreens in many of the areas I have lived in. Similarly, growing up in the UK almost every British high street had a Boots and I remember frequently shopping at this retailer/pharmacy. Alliance Boots, was formed in a 2006 merger of European wholesale and retail pharmacy group Alliance UniChem (founded in 1997) and British high street pharmacist and retailer Boots (founded in 1849).

Walgreen’s acquisition offers the following possible synergies:

Economies of scale: analysts suggest that there will be a perceived $1 billion in cost savings by 2016, if pharmaceuticals are successfully merged.

Gain greater leverage over pharmaceutical companies: by building a larger global chain, Walgreens will acquire greater negotiating leverage over its pharmaceutical and beauty consumer product suppliers. This could potentially enable Walgreens to purchase drugs and other products for lower prices to increase their profit margins.

New product offerings: Boots has numerous strong own brand lines, which have the potential to do well for Walgreens. These lines include Botanics (skin care and make up), Soltan (sun block) and No. 7 (make up). Indeed, several of these lines are currently sold on a limited scale at some CVS and Target stores. Following the acquisition it is expected that these deals will be discontinued as Walgreens seek to exclusively introduce these brands into their stores.

Become a global player: executive chairman of Alliance Boots, Stefano Pessina acknowledges the transformational power of this deal:

“I have always believed that our industry needed a global player and I have really worked for that for the last 10 years, and at the end to have the possibility to really make this dream true, it’s really fantastic for me. I have done many deals in my life, and some transformational deals, at least transformational at the time. I have to say that all the deals I have done are really very small if compared to this deal.”

Once the deal is complete the company will operate over 11,000 drugstores in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

This video further sums up the deal:

Time will tell how successful this deal will be. However, questions are already being asked regarding whether Walgreens paid too much for Alliance Boots and if using some of their shares for the purchase was wise. Reflecting these concerns, on Tuesday the day after the deal was made Walgreen’s stocks fell 5.9% to hit its lowest point since September, 2010. However, Walgreen’s executives appear unsurprised by this:

“We knew that it could be an initial roller coaster ride and a few days for the market to digest. But, we’ve done ample homework and the deal will change the game.”

I think Walgreens is a risk seeker, which I like. Walgreens has had a number of struggles the past year with falling sales and the Express Scripts scenario, so this deal could either be a disastrous distraction or a big success. But what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Read Full Post »

I first found out about Greg Blencoe’s book The Supermanager when I stumbled across some of his blog posts.  I enjoyed the posts and connected with him on Twitter.  He subsequently visited my blog and over the last few months he has been a great supporter and shared many of my posts.  I was thrilled when he offered to send me a copy of his book to review, as in honesty given my enjoyment of his blog posts, I would have in time purchased the book anyway.

Greg was previously CEO of Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc. an alternative energy start-up company and also published the Hydrogen Car Revolution blog.  In his book The Supermanager, Greg shares seven principles of great management told in a conversational tone through a short story.  The story begins by introducing Andrew, a management program trainee in the Electronics industry, about to embark on the daunting task of managing 6-8 people.  Just prior to beginning his new management role, Andrew is having lunch at a fast food restaurant, where he is surprised to see happy, motivated, efficient and engaged employees.  Upon his return visit he receives a similar experience and approaches the restaurant manager Leo to learn more about effective management.

Over seven subsequent meetings Leo shares the following 7 management principles with Andrew:

1. Surround yourself with high-quality employees

As a manager your employees play a big role in determining your success, so it is important to hire great people. 

2. Train employees well

Put yourself in the new employees position, thoroughly explain the job, encourage questions and guide the employees in the right direction.

3. Communicate the end result you want, then empower employees to achieve it

Manage the result over the process, pick your battles and confront unproductive behavior.

4. Lead by example

As a manager your actions set the standard for your employees to follow. 

5. Listen to employees

Have an open door policy: be available, open and receptive in order to uncover problems and obtain employee suggestions.

6. Praise good work

Positively reinforce good performance by all employees to increase the likelihood that such actions will be repeated. 

7. Manage each employee differently

Take a customized approach to management that acknowledges that different employees have different needs, abilities and are motivated by different things.

While many of these principles are common sense, as Greg acknowledges in his book and as I know from my experience they are unfortunately not necessarily common practice in many organizations.  What I loved about this book is its accessibility. While balancing moving states, working a full-time job, grad school and job searching delayed me getting around to reading this book, when I finally did, I found it to be a quick read at only 97 pages long.  I would definitely recommend this book to organizations that are looking for a book to give to new managers that provides a great overview of effective management.  Often I have seen companies give their managers huge management texts hundreds of pages long.  Such books are daunting to many overwhelmed new managers who may not know where to start. By contrast, The Supermanager is a far more time efficient read and a lot more approachable for managers in any industry.

In addition to the seven principles, this book also demonstrates the importance of having the courage to approach people you wish to emulate.  I have heard entrepreneurs such as Laura Zander from Jimmy Beans Wool speak on the importance of approaching people in your industry in order to learn from them. Similarly in the case of this book new manager Andrew saw Leo a manager in an unrelated industry doing a great job and sought to learn from him.

The Supermanager is a simple but effective short text, for the manager who is serious about becoming a great manager.  I would encourage you to check out this book, which is available for purchase on Amazon.

Read Full Post »

A week ago I moved to Reno, NV and am now 15 – 20 minutes walking distance from downtown’s river walk district.  I am already enjoying being able to walk to restaurants, a movie theater and other nearby entertainment options, as this is what I was used to growing up in Europe.  According to a recent issue of BusinessWeek for the first time in twenty years there is a US nationwide trend of cities growing faster than suburbs.  Many people are choosing to move into cities, a reversal of the 1960’s urban exodus.  One company looking to take advantage of this trend is big box retailer Target, who are experimenting with smaller stores in city centers.

Target has traditionally focused on suburban communities to drive revenue growth.  However, shifting demographics and the current economy has led to smaller revenue growth.  Indeed, before the recession hit Target added 22 new stores on average each quarter, a figure that has fallen over time, as evident by only one new store being added in the first quarter of 2011.  Target hope to drive revenue growth through exploring a smaller city center store concept and by embarking on international expansion into Canada.  The company’s goal behind these endeavors is to increase revenue by 40%, to $100 billion by 2017.

Target’s smaller store concept has been named  “CityTarget.”  The stores will be about two-thirds of the size of a regular Target box store at most; some may even be smaller.  Target Executive Vice President John Griffith, believes many city dwellers currently traipse to their suburban locations to take advantage of their low price designer lines:

“It’s like we’ve been dating long distance…  Now we’re going to be right in their backyard.”

A preview of the Chicago CityTarget one month prior to opening

The new CityTarget stores will have a redesigned layout to appeal to city dwellers.  Product selection will also be different, there will be smaller packaged goods options to target customers shopping without cars, a fresh foods section and some product lines such as outdoor furniture will not be available.

The first CityTarget store will open in Chicago in late July, with other planned locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle expected to open later in the year.  The company hopes to create a “cooler” version of a Target store that is differentiated from department stores.  Target are pursuing a slow growth model for the concept, with less than ten stores planned for the next year.

I believe the CityTarget concept has the potential to be a success, as it’s an affordable store with appealing products, but what do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: