Archive for October, 2005

Will you be losing your employees?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

Yahoo! HotJobs just completed a survey about employment plans with 1000 currently employed U.S. workers. Forty percent plan to look for a new job in the next year; 21% are already doing so. Among those who plan to change, most (96%) are after money–better pay or benefits. Other motivating factors:

– 44% felt there was no “potential for career growth” in their current positions

– Almost a fifth (18 percent) found their commute objectionable

– A quarter (25 percent) felt their employers did not value their work

– 29% wanted to work for a company with a “higher morale”

Statistics like these support the case that many U.S. employers have a long way to go in learning how to attract and retain good employees. Without making any value judgment on how “good” these employees are, it’s fair to say that if an employee isn’t performing because s/he isn’t right for the job you hired him/her for, your hiring process or people need work. If these unhappy people are, in fact, doing good work, then the low morale, and the sense of not being valued are serious signs that internal communication systems need tuning–and/or that managers need better training.

So many employees seeing a lack of growth opportunities could indicate their own lack of vision–but most likely it shows that you are not investing the time to imagine how to better use the experience and skills of your best employees.

How many good employees will you lose this year?

In the press of business…

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

Sending your voice out at frequent intervals in the form of regular business blog entries is–I’ll say it again–one of the most powerful public relations/marketing tools in your arsenal. It ranks right up there with newsletters as a prime way to keep in touch with customers and prospects, keep them engaged with your company, and keep them informed of new developments–products, services, angles–in your offerings that might benefit them.

When the press of business prevents you from writing yourself–or perhaps you know you won’t ever have time to write yourself–you are well advised to appoint or hire a person who has proven abilities to identify what your customers care about and write in a strong voice on relevant topics.

Tip: Don’t abandon your blog for any length of time without advising your readers–preferably before you have to stop posting. That’s just part of being a trusted resource–for that is exactly what a good business blog helps identify you as.

A new industry is born–and ethics cries a warning

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

“Nano particles — possibly the asbestos of the 21st century.” So says a speaker at the NanoWeek events taking place in Cleveland this week.

You’ll find them milling around the meeting rooms of the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Cleveland: NASA advisors on exploration systems (read: space missions), managers and nanotechnologists from Boeing and Ford, PhDs from universities like Cornell, New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Case Western Reserve, and so on. And they’re all talking about the newest industry to hit the revenue stream dream–nanotechnology.

“Must learn how to engineer them safely.” “What coatings can we create and how safe will they be?” “Nano-cosmetics are being submitted to a national toxicology project.”

The truth is, no one has yet discovered whether all the nano-enhanced tubes and fibers we’re creating are safe. Forty milllion dollars is being invested in R&D for safety by the goverment, and the rep from PPG says some research is being done at industry levels. But that’s a drop in the bucket.

“Nano” is about new physics and chemistry. In a nanostructure, every atom is close to a surface, which dramatically changes the propepties of the material. Back 50 years ago, a typical computer used 19,000 vacuum tubes, which all had to be changed constantly. In in 2002 the world changed with the introduction of the pentium chip–which held 55 million transistors.

Now we have nano. The results? Greater information capabilities, smaller things, new engineered materials will come from this new science. They’ll have increased functionality and autonomy–which means they’ll be able to do things on their own. Comments from speakers: “

Hard to predict long term effects. Lots of potential, but we’re just learning how to manipulate. Hard to translate nanoeffects into macro world–sometimes it just doesn’t work.”

“Totally different scale of sophistication in nano compared to regular integrated circuits. Higher performance at lower cost, integration of different material systems (on silicone). “Will strain software and integration capabilities. We’ll see emergent behavior from ‘swarms’ of autonomous devices (intelligence), difficult integration into operations. The Internet is a swarm of autonomous devices–lots of connectivity that we then had to figure out what to do with it.”

Moore’s law says that we experience a 2X increase in capability every 2-3 years. Speakers at NanoWeek said they think this will continue for the foreseeble future, but one day, with the as-yet-to-be-imagined capabilities of nanotech, that equation will end.

God help our great grandchildren. They’ll have to learn at the speed of light–and battle the long-term effects of what unethical, unregulated use of nanopower could be unleashing on our world starting now.

More here.

Blog for books

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

Yes, blogging for business is a smart thing to do. At BlogforBusiness we’ve been among a small group crying in the wilderness about this for several years now. So here’s a new idea.

If you’re an author, you know that most publishing companies require you to do most of your own promotion. What better way than to start a blog about your topic? Just as with b-to-b, in your blog you demonstrate that you are an expert in the topic you’re written about. You regularly add fresh material to the blog that invites people to return–people who are interested in your subject, are potential buyers for your book, and are promising prospects for your consulting services.

Let’s see. You’re building your prospect list (of course, you invite them to sign up for your web feed); you’re keeping in touch; you’re continually creating value (by the excellence of your blog post content); and you have continuing opportunities to prove your expertise and offer your book for sale. Can you think of any other way you can do all that at once?

Congratulations to Marc Miller on his blog about his book, Selling Is Dead. Read more at Barbara Payne’s Capitalist Cleveland blog.

As we were just saying…

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

Well, while Yahoo separates itself from others with its blog-search capability (see earlier post), it’s now decided to play nice and partner with fellow-giant Microsoft–of course, the point here is to try to win market share from current-winner AOL in the instant messaging/VoIP world–Instant messaging rivals join forces.

Well, I guess if you have a chance to dominate a market, trying to be exclusive is one approach. But it’ll be nice to see the IMs talking to each other so real people can communicate without signing up for twelve different systems.

And I predict they won’t have a lot of trouble topping AOL on this one.

Yahoo touting exclusivity in blog search

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? Who, among those who know anything about them, associates blogs with anything but openness and sharing information (and of course, in the personal ones, sometimes a lot of blather). First Google introduces “blogsearch” which searches only blogs–this seems okay. It just means that you know that whatever you’re looking at doesn’t pretend to be “mainstream.” Now, Yahoo is introducing search exclusively within its Yahoo MyYahoo RSS directory (currently about 750,000 strong).

I don’t know about you, but this depresses me a little bit. Even though I’m in the marketing business and I know that it’s sometimes smart to set yourself apart and generate a feeling of exclusivity, in the realm of blogs it just doesn’t make sense. The whole point of blogs is that they are “of the people.”

Putting gates on yours simply promulgates that old horror of the human condition: “us versus them.”

Treo software a royal mess

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

A couple of months ago, I kept ranting repeatedly about the frustration of being unable to use my new Treo 650 as it was intended to be used. Just search for “Treo” in the search box and you’ll see a few of the posts.

Anyway, the other day someone sent me a link that says how three owners of Palm’s Treo 600 and 650 hybrid phone/PDAs have filed a lawsuit claiming the devices are inherently defective and are trying to get an injunction to bar their sale. They claim a host of problems, such as the quality of phone calls and the stability of software on device (can you hear us, Palm?). Plaintiffs believe that the problems are due to Palm and not Treo.

I’m in agreement. The software of my Treo has again failed. Can no longer even beam documents between PDAs. Can’t get the keyboard function to stay on. If it weren’t for the ability to get my email, I’d be standing at the Verizon counter demanding to put my name on the list of plaintiffs.

If things get any worse, I’ll be there anyway.

Give people what they want–and lots of it

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

Yes, the lesson from the CEO of Hardee’s hamburger chain is that you can’t win by trying to please everybody–and you’ll really spin your wheels if you try to educate people (think of how many entrepreneurs with new concepts have died on the vine trying to do that). CEO Pudzer decided to go against the trend and embrace fat in the fast-food store’s menu.

CEO Pudzer came up with 5 rules to describe what he did to turn Hardees’ around (says this Business 2.0 article).

    • Face the heat: get into the kitchen
    • Cut away money-losing operations
    • Make your core product a contrarian one (theirs: the artery-busting Thickburger)
    • Charge a premium–and serve

I’m attracted by the simplicity of this list. That “contrarian” edict matches up with the old maxims: find a niche and exploit it…specialize and thrive.

How many of us in the not-giant corporation area have really tried this? It’s hard to let go of other opportunities if they present themselves, especially when you’re new in business. But the longer you’re around, the more easily you can separate yourself from what you’re doing and re-evaluate.

So if you like brain games, do some homework tonight. Look at your own business and try to apply this list. Never know what surprises could emerge–and maybe show you a way, like Hardee’s, to raise both your revenue and your profitability.

Business owners: find out what nano can mean to you

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

NanoWeek is kicking off in Cleveland, Ohio, this month–and the NanoAppSummit is October 17 to 19 at the downtown Wyndham Hotel. Today the promoters announced that interested parties can attend educational seminars about nanotechnology, the hottest new science this side of stem cells. Here’s the curriculum:

• Nanotechnology 101- What You Need to Know
Case Western Reserve University
• Nanofabrication techniques
Pennsylvania State University
• Nano-Characterization Tools and Techniques
FEI Corporation
• NanoMaterials and Nanopolymer Basics
University of Akron
• Ethical Considerations in Nanotechnology
Office of Naval Research & Kent State University
• NanoPhotonics Applications
Ohio State University and the Center for Multifunctional NanoMaterials and Devices (CMPND)
• Measurement Considerations in Nanoscale Systems
Keithley Instruments

Nanotech University is designed for business executives, research and development leaders, product and marketing specialists, and venture capitalists interested in investing in nanotechnology start-up and portfolio companies. Read more and register here.

The Nano-App Summit takes place during NANO Week–review other activities here.

Telework on the rise

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

Working from home used to be the privilege of independent consultants, book writers living on advances, and the few who worked for enlightened companies (like many software companies, who were among the first to truly “get it” that keeping workers happy makes them exponentially more productive–and leads to more innovative thinking). Nowadays, supported and encouraged by the clean-air movement folks, more companies are experimenting with the telework idea.

Remember when colleges and universities realized they had no choice but to create distance learning (or they’d seriously hurt their enrollment numbers)? Well now, a few people are, in fact, making a business out of developing a telework best- practices library and using it to consult with business owners who have the vision to see that a telework program can benefit them as much as it does the employees.

Read what’s going on in Atlanta here.