Money for Training

I believe that not only is there a correlation between how well people are trainingtrained to do their job and their productivity but also their ability to be innovative and creative is affected as well. After all how can you be innovative or creative if you are bogged down in just trying to get the job done? As a group Canadian companies are known for their lack of effort in training their employees. Something that I never did quite understand. I’ve heard the excuses in our often tight labour market – why would I train my employees for my competition? But that is just short-sighted. Here is something that might help. I went to a presentation recently on the Canada-Alberta Job Grant and it sounds like this program might be worth exploring. As I understand it the government will reimburse companies for 2/3 of their training costs. There are limitations and conditions of course but on the surface this looks like it might be something to check out. For more information check out the website Canada Alberta Job Grant.

It’s All About Technology

future cityIt has been a while since I have posted anything but lately I am feeling more inspired. It could have something to do with my new role as the Client Services Consultant at the Centre For Research & Innovation (CRI). If you have a moment check out my latest blogs on the CRI Moving Innovation Forward blog site or follow me on Twitter.
This time of year everyone is making their top ten lists and when I came across this one I just had to share. Ten ways the world changed in 2014 and it’s all about technology. This post from Techcrunch.com was fascinating. Can you imagine learning about history as you are actually immersed in it? That is just one of the things virtual reality can do for us and virtual reality is just one of the things that made the top ten.

Companies are catching up and using the data to serve the people instead of the people searching for what they want. If you need a good example of this look no further than Amazon. I don’t know about you but I get regular suggestions from Amazon about what I might like and it astounds me how well they can predict that. Just imagine your next hotel stay where your every desire is taken care of before you even arrive.

It isn’t just about the smart phone either as soon other smart devices will become common place and not just watches and glasses. As much as this stuff may scare you it is worth mentioning that people are definitely becoming more mindful of what they pay attention to, which only means to me that integrity in all things is as important as it ever was.

3D – The Next Wave of the future

We have just finished producing a short video (less than 7 minutes) on 3D printing; what it is, what it’s used for and the fact3D Print that we have one at our local college that industry can access (View it here). I touched on this subject once before in my December 11th blog post ‘How much is Digital Technology changing the way we live? I continue to be amazed by this stuff and according to a recent article I found on Entrepreneur.com this could just be the beginning. Apparently Skype is working on 3D Video calling. That would be like having a digital body sit in on your meetings for you while you sit at your computer at a different location anywhere in the world.
While this technology may be a few years away and right now it looks like its straight out of Hollywood, director David Cameron, who made the 3-D hit Avatar, says a takeover of 3-D displays is inevitable because “that’s how we see the world.”
I believe how we learn from the world is changing too. We are really becoming a ‘learn on demand’ society. With You Tube as we need to know something we look it up and learn the how often so we can do it right then. With that in mind we are producing a couple of other 7 minute video’s to help you learn about digital technology. When they are completed I will let you know.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

What Does Social Media Achieve for Your Company?

socialmediaDoes it gain exposure, directly interact with your customers or promote specific products and services? That is just one question this article from Entrepreneur.com asks. The article ’10 Questions to Ask When Creating a Social-Media Marketing Plan’ goes on to say it is important to clearly identify why you are using the social media and once you understand your customers goals, link the two. For example try using your social media to help solve your customer problems. That approach works no matter whether your customers are another business or a consumer.

The article also gives advice on which social media platform to use – it’s different depending on who your customer is. For example you might want to use LinkedIn if you are marketing to businesses or Facebook for marketing directly to consumers. It also suggests what types of content work better on what social media platforms. I think it is also critical to measure the success of your social media campaign. After all it takes a fair amount of time to do social media and you really want to make sure you are getting some bang for your buck.

Which social media platform you use might also depend on where you are located. If you are in Western Canada we have a tendency to use Facebook far more than Twitter. This is true for other things as well. I don’t know of too many people in our area that use eBay but wow do we ever use Kijiji.

If you don’t have a social media presence yet I highly recommend you have a look at these 10 questions before you get started. I really like the advice to start with a blog and a presence on just one social network. It’s important to only bite off what you can handle, as I suggested in last week’s post ‘Digital Technology Myths’ social media done well is very time intensive requiring dedication and commitment to developing fresh content and keeping up with conversations.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology Myths

I came across this article on Entrepreneur.com about 9 common myths around digital technology. 118mythsSome of them I have wondered about like; should you let your phone battery drain completely before recharging? (It depends on the type of battery.) Or does more bars on your cell phone really mean more service? (Not really.) And what about pulling out that USB drive without following the proper procedure? (That depends too.) A good article and I learned something new.

One more myth I would like to debunk; Social Media is free. I don’t know about you but my time is valuable and as Nellie Akalp put it in her article called ‘The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners’ Social media is free like a puppy. It may not cost much to bring a puppy home from the SPCA but from day one there is endless training, toys, and treats. Now that’s a good analogy. Social media done well is very time intensive requiring dedication and commitment to developing fresh content and keeping up with conversations. Nothing free about that.

If you ever thought you didn’t spend enough time on social media and wanted to take on SEO (search engine optimization) for your business here is an article and Infographic on Google’s 200 search ranking factors. Domain, page level, and site level factors, along with links and user interaction all contribute to the ranking. While keywords are obviously still important but there seems to be a whole lot more to consider these days.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

The Need for Automation

gears-300x300I was just reading the latest Industry Week magazine (digital version of course) and the article on robots caught my attention. The quote from Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotics Industries Association started me thinking. Jeff stated that “If you are not automating, you’re not producing the best-quality products out there, you’re not meeting customer demand fast enough, you’re going to go out of business.”  Now robots have really come along way and while they may or may not have an application in your business automation certainly does. With the labour skills shortage we are experiencing in this region automating as many processes as possible can be one solution and you don’t need robots to do this. Computers can automate many processes from the receipts at a restaurant (we still have handwritten receipts being given out at one restaurant in our city) to automatic time calculations for invoicing customers.  You can even outsource the automation, payroll is a good example.

So if you are not tech savvy then how do you incorporate this digital technology into your business? Maybe I should have started my blogs with this advice but sometimes people need to be convinced they need the stuff before they will buy in. This article I came across offers some good advice including; start with understanding the problem you are trying to solve as well as your end goals for your business and how to get your employees on board.  It also recommends you act now and that you can’t afford to put your head in the sand.

If you are interested in hearing more from me this week I did a guest post on the Moving Innovation Forward Blog. Check out ‘Innovating Innovation?

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Do Social Media Ads Work?

According to this recent poll by Ipsos OTX social media advertising is finally making headway with 35% of worldwide internet likeusers saying they made a purchase as a result of seeing an ad on social media. It isn’t as simple as it sounds though because where people were located made a difference – for instance 69% of the people polled in Brazil and 61% in Mexico made a purchase but only 13% of Canadians. Other factors that also made a difference included age, level of education and income. I think as we Canadians become more comfortable with social media for business we too will be influenced by social media advertising.

I just read the latest article on IT Business, ‘Four Tech Trends to Watch in the Next Decade’. This article is based on a report by the IT research firm Gartner Inc. Apparently every year Gartner releases a ‘hype cycle’ graphic on emerging technologies. What I found really interesting was their claim that new technologies typically go through 5 stages, which they identify and explain in the article.  We are not talking about specific products here but ideas, concepts and trends related to the technology that develops into specific products. The report suggests one disruptive idea that we should be prepared for is ‘Social TV’ and while no one is really sure how this one will play out I suspect allowing viewer interaction with the content could be really intriguing.

If I could take anything away from reading these two reports it would be the warning that the IT Business article ends with; Companies need to constantly evolve their strategies if they expect to stay relevant and successful. Good advice!

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Mobile Cash

mobile-paymentsBDC just put out a newsletter that referred to an article called ‘Technology to Help Entrepreneurs Boost their Cash Flow’. It’s a good article, originally posted back in February 2011 but still relevant.  While the article recommends technology to help businesses become more productive it also cautions owners not to buy technology for the sake of technology. It’s important to train staff on how to run the technology or the investment doesn’t work.

That same article refers to using mobile payments as a cash flow tool. The only thing that surprises me there is that mobile payments haven’t caught on quicker.  According to a study regarding technology in the Hospitality Industry, the University of Denver in conjunction with the University of Nevada suggest that by 2015 only 53% of restaurants and 39% of hotels plan to offer mobile payment. I travel a little bit and waiting in line at a hotel the next morning to pay my bill is not one of my favorite experiences. If you are looking to provide a better experience for your customers and to better manage your cash flow maybe it’s time you looked into mobile payment.

Looking at interactive digital signage? That same university study ranked interactive digital signage high in both business impact and customer engagement for restaurants and hotels.  If you are interested in exploring that option let me know as there is a company in our region that specializes in digital signage.

In closing today I just can’t resist sharing this post by Fred Kofman called ‘Cut Your Meeting Time by 90%’. Fred suggests that the only goal for a meeting is ‘to decide and commit’. While other things naturally have to occur during meetings if there is no decision or commitment to follow through the meeting was probably a waste of time. A great article.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Are Better Processes an Answer to the Labour Shortage?

It’s been a while since I did a post but yesterday I was asked to do an interview improvewith one of our local media organizations regarding our current labour shortage in this region. The interview conversation caused me to re look at where we are with regards to productivity in our area. I was asked to provide advice for employers about what they could do if they were experiencing the labour crunch. My response was to get better at their processes, to train their employees so they were really good at what they did and to make sure they were only doing the right things – things that their customers saw value in. The interviewers reaction gave me that AHA moment when she responded by saying ‘no really, what can you tell employers that will help them find more staff?’. I actually repeated myself only this time with a little more explanation to help her connect those dots.

That interview got me thinking maybe the media isn’t the only ones that feels the solution to our labour situation is to throw more people at it – even if you can’t find them. Maybe we need to look at helping people understand the connection between productivity and the labour shortage especially employers. Unfortunately I suspect we are too busy working in our business (and making money in spite of ourselves) to have a look at how we could do things differently. And perhaps we don’t understand that productivity is NOT about doing more with less; it’s about doing it better so you don’t need as much.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Do Your Spreadsheets have Errors?

ssAccording to the research a good number of Canadian businesses use spreadsheets as a way to keep track of expenses instead of or in addition to accounting software. I love spreadsheets but it didn’t surprise me one bit when I came across this article on Market Watch that suggests 88% of spreadsheets have errors. Some of these error ridden data sheets are used as fairly significant decision-making tools; like the Harvard Economics Study that overstated the impact that debt burdens have on nation’s economic growth. Interesting…made me want to double-check all of my spreadsheets for accuracy.

Are you in the retail business? How is digital technology affecting you? A Canadian report from ThirdOcean highlights some really cool retail trends that should be paid attention to. Have you heard of augmented reality? This is the kind of technology that lets you try on clothes to see what they would look like on you – without really trying them on. Or another example; seeing what a Lego set will look like finished just by holding up the box to a scanner. Digital technology is even affecting what we buy through online reviews. 69% of people believe reviews help them in deciding whether or not to make a purchase and 23% of people take their cell phone shopping with them to source those reviews right while they are in the store.

Does your company use Customer Relations Management (CRM) software? I just came across this report that compares the top 40 CRM software’s on a number of different fronts including whether the software is suitable for small or medium size business or hosted on premises or in the cloud. The report also gives the cost of the software, current users and some highlights for each one. A very comprehensive report (123 pages) that I encourage you to download if you are considering going this route.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive and how to use digital technology to do that please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/