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Business Networking

Business Networking:

The way of developing business strategies is changing day by day. Business Networking is an effective and low cost marketing method that has been used vastly in past decade to develop sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

The term Business Networking is far different from Computer networking. Where computer network connects several devices, Business Networking connects people, organizations or entities. Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be very difficult to engage with using conventional advertising methods.

In 21st century, with the help of new transportation and communication technology, the market span grew and consequently led to specialization of the industrial economy. And it also becomes important to build contact with other enterprises, also from foreign countries. Business networking is a way for you to make the maxim, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” work for you. Management is also using it as a tool to increase efficiency.

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Source: Robbins, Judge & Campbell. 13th edition, 2010.

Business networking in the new economy can be seen as the coordination of process within and across companies. More precisely, it is the management of IT-enabled relationships between internal and external business partners.

Some essential tips:

At first, we have to consider that all sorts of professional people outside of the business community can also be very helpful networking contacts. For example, scientists, lecturers, educators, councilors, etc. Here are some tips for effective business networking. These tips can be applied to any sort of business networking- face-to-face, organized events, business social networking websites, etc.

  • Have a plan: Your plan and goal should be specific, like, when and why you are intending to create a contact.
  • Be professional: Greet and say goodbye correctly. Dress up and attitudes are also need to be professional.
  • Stay in touch: Even is your aim has been reached after creating contact with some persons, never end your connection with them. Because you may need them again or they might need you.
  • Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
  • Help Others: Always prioritize helping and giving to others ahead of taking and receiving for yourself.
  • Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.
  • Acknowledge them in your social media. Discuss their work, congratulate their accomplishments, and keep them in your discussions.
  • Schedule a time in your calendar to think about and research each contact.
  • Build trust and reputation. Building trust is essential for growing a strong business network. Lack of trust prevents successful business networking.
  • Life balance: A healthy balance in your life – of work, pleasure, business, social, etc – promotes and gives off a feeling of well-being, which is helpful for networking in many ways.

Like a computer network, business network of contacts needs to be created before it can help anyone in the network. So, create the network first, and then you will get the benefits of it.

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Reduce Paper Use

Paper is an important element in our daily life. We use paper for study, for official works, to keep data, to send written document etc. But, use of paper is declining day by day. Professionals also noticed that change already.

We are looking forward to a near paperless world where we won’t want magazines, students won’t need to carry textbooks, and paper forms will be redundant. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said, “We are right on the verge of something that could become mainstream. We are the people who have been saying this for a decade, but now we’re finally saying it’s near.” And, now-a-days, we are vastly using internet, emails, e-newspaper, tablet computers, book readers; and we are becoming the part of this vision.

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Every year, thousand tons of woods are using to produce papers. That affects our environment very negatively. Reducing paper use reduces green house gas. Another thing is papers are not recycled properly. Paper increases dirt as well. When we burn it, it produces a huge amount of carbon dioxide. And, a large amount of waters are wasted to produce papers. Papers are counted as one of the biggest components of solid waste in landfills.

In contrast, paperless works are easy, time consuming, swift, cost effective, and environment friendly. People are getting interested more in paperless works. They are using book readers instead of carrying books every time. Many Exams are now computer based.

So, technology is taking the part of paper right now. We can adapt to these changes which would be, of course, very positive for us and our environment. For example, reducing paper use saves money. Here is another example of that.

Here are some tips to reduce paper use.

  • Use email instead of post or sending any paper document.
  • Don’t print email messages unless you really need to.
  • Write “Don’t print this email unless you really need to” at the bottom of all email to discourage others to print.
  • Print a paper in both side.
  • Reuse whatever you can.
  • Consider cloth towels instead of paper napkins.
  • Try to take note in your phone or computer.

Finally, what we have to do now is, reuse papers if possible, recycle them, and reduce environment pollution.

 

 

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Hotel Marketing Trends 2013

For this final post, I am zooming out of my former hotel marketing via mobile topic and now give a more complete view on new marketing trends for the hotel industry. They still include approaching potential customers via their smart phones so feel free to read my post about mobile hotel apps and whether they are necessary.

OTAs – Online Travel Agencies

OTAs

Currently, as holiday season is approaching, TV spots are full of OTAs and the likes of Expedia, Trivago, and Kayak and every platform is claiming to have the best price. So, as a hotel, you want to be listed among these websites in order to be found.. right?
That’s at least what VLM Leonardo, a technology leader in online visual content management with prestigious clients like Best Western, Marriott, and Hilton Hotels, strongly advises you to do. They emphasize that 20% of bookings are made through Online Travel Agencies and insist that you should create a stand out profile on these platforms because only focusing on your own site would according to them makes you miss 1/5 of potential business. On the other hand, Robert Rauch, who is the president of a market research company that manages two Hiltons in San Diego and who is also called the “hotel guru”, states that Amercian hotels spend $2.7 billion on OTAs which illustrates that hotels should be looking at ways to increase direct booking from their own websites. However, the marketing agency wihp supports the view that more customers can be reached with these travel websites by arguing that the regular search is replaced by meta-search and travellers are not satisfied with generalized search anymore but want to be provided with an overview. Nevertheless, the trend seems to be going away from OTAs and Rauch is joined by the award-winning Hotel Managers Group who admits that hotels that are listed in hotel sites benefit and bookings are increased but explains that due to the price comparison, mainly rooms at the low end of the price scale are booked and the travel sites usually charge a fee for each booking. Kritika Signh, from Internet Monguls with clients like the Radisson Blue and Lemon Tree, adds that it is thus imporant to have a well functioning online booking system on your own website. But how to get the customers to your very own online presence?

Social Media and Content Marketing
facebook-twitter-pinterest-instagram

Google is like advertising at a store. Facebook is like advertising at a party.” – Business Insider

Content Marketing is THE new trend and the suggested way to get away from travel and tourism websites, but what is it about? The answer is rather simple, providing content in the web and on social media. Does it disagree with the quote? No, because you do not place ads in the likes of Facebook but create a profile yourself to present your hotel to the world (which is also for free at the beginning, but keep in mind that someone must take care about the profiles quite frequently).

Facebook is not really new but already established and a good way to get started. VFM provides us with some convincing facts, that 29% of travellers start their research on Facebook, 48% change plans after seeing reviews, more than the half of the bookers share their travel destination and 3/4 post vacation photos. But they are also warning that you should only post value content and not spam your followers because then many will unlike you. That might be a little unusual for advertisement as you want to confront your potential customers very often to stay in mind, but Facebook users usually scroll through their feed more carefully and will pay attention to interesting posts. On the contrary, as whip remarks correctly, you need to have something to say because otherwise it is rather pointless. According to them, Facebook is not for everyone and especially small businesses should put the emphasis on being locally visible (for example in Google maps and qype). The mag Entrepreneur agrees and warns businesses of the “shiny object syndrome” and declares that just because something is innovative, it doesn’t mean that it’s helpful. They provide 5 questions to help you deciding if Social Media fits your goals and are also convinced that you sometimes have to stay regional (and most digital platforms are not). MPK Systems is specialized in SaaS but also puts it quite drastically, saying that “you do not need to engage [in social media] at all” and make sure the marketing tools you choose fit your business. One self-explanatory example I found was hotelcluster which hails content marketing but they only have 61 likes on Facebook themselves (and, let’s face is, at least half of it is probably from employees and friends). Robert Rauch is disagreeing in a second article and suggests that online profiles boosts the search ranking and points out the advantage of personalized customer service. Melià Hotels take that to another level by opening a “Social Suite” that is designed by their Facebook fans and they are a role model for customer service by answering every single comment (also negative ones) on their wall in an enthusiastic and polite way. They also guarantee the best price on their weibsite and give you a dicount if you find a cheapter offer elsewhere – that is a way to fight the OTAs. On top of that, loyal customers are rewarded with free stays.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od3CEQRrXpU]

New social media would be Pinterest and Instagram. These platforms only focus on pictures. Entrepreneur claims that “people use Pinterest for inspiration on fashion, dinner ideas and home decorations” while Rauch uses the term “lifestyle messages”. And travel is lifestyle! I know that both tools are not very popular in Germany yet, but already 6 of my Facebook friends like Mr. & Mrs. Goodlife (over 70,000 likes in total) and currently, they only post pictures of designer apartments, pools and the sea. The Canadian chain “ALT hotels” held a photo contest via Instagram in order to create a collective work of art designed specifically for the ALT Hotel Toronto Pearson.

Ernst & Young is a company that also gives advisory services and has clients like Amazon, Coca Cola, Google, et al. They do credit online marketing, for example for restoring confidence in New Orleans after Katrina, but also advise to do non-traditional (do they consider Twitter and Facebook already as traditional?) “Guerilla Marketing” with flash mobs, scavenger hunts and public stunts. They believe that these tools are cost effective and memorable. You should also be flexible and make to most of recent events, as did the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, who invested $200,000 and got a huge response. The campaign made use of “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” and  “Keep calm and carry on Harry” (I do pity him, but it’s funny tough!) which also got over 7,000 Facebook likes.

Asia

chinese tourists
To include a wider range than just technology related trends, I am finally also providing you with a cultural trend. And no, the trend is not to go on vacations in Asia (instead of bothering with your own marketing) but to attract more Asian tourists. Rauch claims that China has about 100 billion leisure tourists and quotes Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott Hotel & Resorts, who believes that the Discover America Campaign will stimulate new demand. So if the U.S. get their typical market share, 10 million visitors from China will stimulate the hotel industry. The Hotel Manager Group suggests that hotels should make an effort to make visitors from other cultures feel more at home and highlights the fact that foreign visitors usually stay longer and spend more during their vacations abroad. However, according to MPK, there is a potential weakening of travel & tourism growth in parts of Asia in 2013. But it is important to consider that in developing countries (also including Brazil and India) there is a growing living standard and hence also growing demand in the travel industry. Additionally, the tourism market in already developed countries is more mature and not likely to increase significantly and there is no big need to adapt cultural differences in the Western World, so focusing on new markets seems to be worth trying.

The main focus of this post lies on the travel industry in the U.S.

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Predictive Analytics – Which Side Outweighs?

Introduction to predictive analytics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjznLJcgSFI

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Going deeper into the topic of predictive analytics and trying to find more opinions and angles on the matter, I started the research where I left off last week, with the negative side to data mining…


Critical Approach to Predictive Analytics

Eric Siegel informs us that predictive analytics can be very sensitive when they are made about private matters of a customer’s or employee’s data and can even stand in conflict with civil liberties, as illustrated in this interview . It is no surprise that complaints about invasion of privacy and civil liberties become louder, while predictive analytics is a booming practice taking hold across many industries. Computers predicting our most likely behavior, determining if a person should stay in prison or valuating which employee is most likely to quit his/ her job. To support this statement, we can see in another article that unconventional use of predictive analytics and big data is a very frequent matter and is being used on a large scale, which makes peoples personal, business and online lives a part of business platforms. Interesting and informative blogs on predictive analytics and data mining by Will Dwinnell, which examine the matter critically, can be found here. Inevitably, during my research, I stumble back to the positive side of predictive analytics, which leads me to…

How Important is Big Data?

We evaluate another side of predictive analytics, where positive outcomes may be that police patrols are becoming more effective, as well as the reduction of fraud or improvement of health care. Businesses have to survive in a very competitive market and data mining helps to improve decision making and the efficiency of a firm. It may help with the launching of a global product in record time, not by building a new factory, but by building a social network, or the American presidential campaign not relying on opinion polling but on predictions. For government entities, companies, agencies or non-profit organizations, data will be the basis of competitive advantage. Virginia Rometty, of IBM, states that “data will be the next natural resource” and that it goes along with three principles, which are “1. Change how you make decisions, 2. Change how you in fact create value and 3. Change how you deliver value”. Going from link to link, researching, I come to…

The Technical Side


Yan Krupnik emphasizes that predictive analytics should be built specifically to every business, to consider all its influencing factors and how they relate and affect each other. This would give the most accurate prediction results possible.

Leading me to a more technical approach on data mining, it is of a great importance that the creators of predictive models, data scientists and the final users keep in mind, what they are analyzing and what to do with the valuations. It is of interest to all of the parties that an understanding of the decisions, which are intended to be changed or improved, stays in the focus as well as what the model is being used for in the end. In reality there are so many variables to consider, how can they all be calculated in one model?!

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Conclusion


Reading more and more about this topic, I can see that data mining leads to a huge amount of important information, often on private individuals, and has to be treated as such.
The further my research goes, the more I find information and opinions about the negative side of predictive analytics and data mining, but equally a lot about the positive side. It is stressed by the necessity which data mining has in our modern society, where predicting human behavior provides an advantage in every field it is used. Coming to a final conclusion on which side outweighs the other, positive or negative, seems still impossible to me, even after reading and researching so much about it. I lean towards being in favor of data mining because no real harm is caused by predictive analytics but a lot can be prevented. Still, I cannot really answer my final question and end this post openly…


Which Side Do You Think Outweighs?

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Data mining

Surveillance requests

Last week I reported on the burning issue of today – data mining by the largest US companies Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Two weeks ago these companies all called on the government to allow them to publish more details about the nature and number of requests for information they receive. So according to The New York Times the companies had received thousands of  requests from federal, state and local authorities for customer data between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013. Nevertheless, they denied giving any personal information of their customers in response to the requests.

Connections between companies and spy agencies.

Although facts provided by the New York Times later the same week speak to the contrary and support the guesses of the international community and Americans, that convergence between Silicon Valley and the N.S.A. does exist and the data mining is rising. For axample, Chief security officer of Facebook who left the company in 2010 later joined the National Security Agency. Silicon Valley is great source of information for the spy agency: it operates great amounts of private data and has the most sophisticated software available to analyze it. The article argues that in order to get access to the latest software technology and to take advantage of large volumes of data, United States intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Facebook former chief security officer Mr. Kelly.

Is data mining only a current issue or it should be examined as a long-term phenomenon?

Although the topic is so much discussed only in the last couple of months, it seems to be be there for about six years already. The N.S.A.’s internet-based surveillance program PRISM was founded in 2007.The Guardian claims, PRISM began with data from Microsoft in 2007. The program began collecting data from Yahoo in 2008 and from Google, Facebook and the message system PalTalk in 2009, followed by YouTube, Skype and Apple. However, most of those companies now deny any knowledge that a programm like PRISM exists.

What information is being collected?

U.S. officials have acknowledged collecting domestic telephone records containing the time and date of calls and telephone numbers involved, as well as rough location information.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with NSA activities, claimed that the agency has also collected credit card records, without clarifying if it is continuing or was a one-time effort.

However, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reassured Americans saying that the telephone records go into a database, where they can’t be accessed unless a judge gives the go-ahead in a national-security investigation.      

Are these action legal?                                                                                                                                                                     

It is a highly controversial topic if these actions of the US Government can be considered legal. The senators wrote “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows”.


 

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Autonomous Vehicles – Brief Summary

General Information

Driverless cars are also called autonomous -, robotic – or self-driving cars/vehicles.
To guarantee independance of this car there are several sensors or integrated maps.

Surprisingly, the first idea of driverless cars already came up in the 1930s and since then, this dream was always just 20 years away.

Pro – & Contra Argumentation

There are, as always, two sides of the same coin.
Whereas Wayne Cunningham is in favour of driverless cars Antuan Goodwin is against.
Cunningham mentions arguments like

less accidents, no moving violations, transportation for the elderly, car valet is parking itself, productive use of time and always having a designated driver.

But, as mostly, there are always some negative points of the matter.
Therefore, in contrast to that, Goodwin supports his opinion by saying that

When things go wrong, they could go very wrong, Self-driving cars will still have to deal with humans in nonautonomous cars, Autonomy may actually increase congestion, Privacy potentially goes out of the window, Who’s at fault when something goes wrong?, Does driving really need to get more boring?

This man, Newt Gingrich, offers a lot of discussions on his Twitter-Account.

Examples of market leaders

As many other car manufacturers, Ford is developing the technology necessary for completely autonomous cars.
But Ford engineers claim that the car industry has already developed all the technology needed for these vehicles.
The reason why we just cannot buy them right now is that all the sensors etc. are very expensive as Jim McBride, a Ford Research and Innovation technical expert confirms:

There is no technology barrier from going where we are now to the autonomous car. There are affordability issues, but the big barrier to overcome is customer acceptance.

In Addition, AutoNews informs that Honda, Nissan and the University of Michigan are of the same opinion.
But isn’t that a very important aspect of our modern world and especially economics?

Another firm, Audi, produces prototypes of completely robotic vehicles.
Even if this is a well established firm on the car market, this prototype is not as good as thge one from google.
Nevertheless, Audi has a higher chance of “appearing on a production level” soon.

Market Introduction

Experts agree: Your next car will be smarter than you

But I think: Can the creature really be more intelligent than their creator?

Nevertheless, there is some discord with regards to the timeframe in which these clever vehicles will appear.
According to the New York Times and their report about the “Autonomously Driven Future” transportation experts agree on the statement that

self-driving cars are coming, sooner than later
and the era of the autonomous vehicle may be nigh.

Nevertheless, there are still others like Ian Riches of the research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics who think that:

We’re not going to find ourselves driving in an autonomous car tomorrow

states “The Register” offering “independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest in the IT industry.”
Apart from all forecasts, one cannot forget that the future is not predictable even if we have the best data as a help.

Will they first hit China?

As the Car Connection suggests, autonomous cars might propably be first purchasable in China.
They justify this thesis by stating that China is “better fit for self-driving vehicles” because of it’s ” rapidly growing auto market” an less ” legal obstacles” than in the USA.
The question that has to be considered is whether China has the financial means to introduce the car.

A blind man – flexibility is no longer a challenge

Regardless of being legally blind (nearly 95% of his vision is gone), Steve Mahan sat in a driver’s seat of a car driving itself with the help of technology.
But see for yourself:

He himself commented this incident by saying

Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and flexibility to go the places I both want to go and need to go, when I need to do those things.

Nevertheless, what is more expensive: Buying such a difficult and costly technology or hiring a driver ?

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The Future of Collaborative Consumption

Collaborative consumption – our future?

For my final post I am exploring the future of "Collaborative Consumption", because I would like to find out if it is possible to implement this in our world in order to answer the question if people have to focus on this concept because it will be of significance to them prospectively.

In my research I found out that there are three main categories that promote the collaborative consumption: Technology, Economy and Society

In the following I am going to explore what supports and what harms these driving forces.

Technology

The technology sector shows innovative development that encourages sharing.

Sohin Shah supports the idea that consumer behavior changed due to economic development in – among others – increasing demand for social networking and online platforms. It is obvious that networking encourages sharing, because it facilitates communication and connection.

However Chris Maag analyses that the development of the sharing economy is connected to the development of trust in the internet as well. He claims that if trust in the internet and thereby in the platforms/networks does not increase, the development of collaborative consumption will be harmed extensively.

Maag’s argumentation is reasonable due to the fact that there are for instance a lot of people who suffer from techno-phobia and who are consequently more likely to not consider sharing online. Thus, a huge part of the economy would be inaccessible for them.

Society

In the society there are also drivers for collaborative consumption.

For once there is a demand for sustainability.

Some see sharing, with its mantra that “access trumps ownership”, as a post-crisis antidote to materialism and overconsumption. The Economist: All Eyes on the Sharing Economy

Nevertheless The Economist promotes that new rules have to be established, because the existing ones are only adapted to the existing economy. However the new market-model requires laws for consumer protection etc. as well.

Besides people are searching for communities, they have the desire to belong to something. Collaborative consumption enables them to satisfy their want.

In contrary to that Neal Gorenflo claims that as collaborative consumption gets more spread people might loose the interest in it, because you will face a lack of social experiences made which captured the attention of many people in the first place.

Generally the desire to get something you do not have is stronger than the interest you loose in something because it is no longer a special thing but mainstream. Therefore the disinterest might not influence people that much.

Economy

Economic aspects promote collaborative consumption as well.

Marc Suster points out that current situations like unemployment in Spain, Greece and other countries affected by the financial crisis call for a change of consumer behavior.

In my mind there is no doubt this a lifetime trend. […] necessity is the mother of all invention.

Kelly Mc Cartney even claims that “with the sharing economy gaining more and more steam, major corporations can either hop on board or get run right over…” whereby he promotes a recently published report from the Alimeter Group.

On the other side of this argumentation one observes strong opponents to this attitude.
Milo Yiannopoulos might be the biggest public opponent of the sharing economy. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of "The Kernel" and holds the opinion that collaborative consumption contradicts the "human nature, entrepreneurship, free-market capitalism and even common sense". He entitles the concept to be an ideology.

Conclusion

So what does this tell us? People’s opinions are different and everyone has a profound argumentation. If the collaborative consumption will last finally, nobody knows for sure. However it is a matter of fact that due to the global development a change of consumer behavior is made an thus there will have to be a change in economic behavior accordingly.