Blog Archives

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/

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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/

Growing the North Digitally

Last week I didn’t post because I attended the Growing the North Conference. The conference was excellent and a great value but I couldn’t help thinkingmain-pic there was some room to get better with the digital technology that was being used. It didn’t start out that way though. The first presenter was John Scott the President & CEO of Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. John used cloud based software called Prezi , now that is an awesome way to lead the audience on a visual journey.
I strongly encourage everyone who does presentations to adopt this very entertaining and visual approach. The second best way to do a presentation in my mind is a Pecha Kucha style PowerPoint. Daniel Pink has a good example of this which is not only a Pecha Kucha but also gives some background and rules on how to use this format. I have asked all presenters at our Digital Technology Learning Forum to use this Pecha Kucha format to not only impart knowledge and information on digital technology but to entertain as well.

Another highlight of the conference was the technology panel, although their presentations could have used some Prezi or Pecha Kucha influence there is some great work being done in our area and in the province of Alberta using digital technology. Making decisions with real data in real-time is something 96% of Canadian companies say is important but unfortunately only half of those companies have that ability. Unmanned vehicle systems, geomatics and even the innovative software that allows the capture of that data in real-time for making those decisions, is being developed right in our own back yard. All the more reason to be aware of what digital technology can do for you and your business.

Don’t forget to attend our Digital Technology Learning Forum. To be held at Centre 2000 March 20, 2013. We are hosting the experts as they use digital technology to help explain social media, SEO, social commerce, mobile applications, databases, and 3D printers. 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/

Are you thinking of selling online?

After my suggestion last week that businesses need to explore the idea of e-commerce e_commerce_manI thought it was only appropriate for me to do a little research around that. First off it’s important to have a website and I came across this article ‘10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Webmaster’, which I thought was quite comprehensive. What I liked about the article was it suggested to ask for examples of the Web designers work and also ask for a list of current and past customers. After that suggestions like; who will own the website, and asking questions about copyright and security issues make this article a good one for everyone with a website to read.

Did you know there are many e-commerce solutions out there including some that are Canadian based? This article ‘Small businesses offered easy e-commerce options’ on itbusiness.ca offers a couple of solutions for those that are serious about having online sales. Shopify helps businesses create independent e-commerce sites and take orders online. ShopLocket on the other hand is an e-commerce component to which sellers can direct potential buyers from their Web sites, blogs, or Facebook pages. ShopLocket is free until you sell something while Shopify has a monthly fee that starts out as low as $29.00 per month.

Still confused by it all? Why not attend our Digital Technology Learning Forum? To be held at Centre 2000 March 20, 2013. We are hosting the experts as they use digital technology to help explain social media, SEO, social commerce, mobile applications, databases, and 3D printers. Look for more information in the upcoming blogs.

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/

How Much Time do You Spend Online?

Canada onlineIs anyone out there that is looking for more statistics to convince people this digital age is here to stay, grow and prosper? I love statistics as you may have noticed. I just came across the CCRA’s (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) 2013 Fact Book. This little gem contains some interesting information like – there are now over 240 billion domains online and the .ca is one of the fastest growing domains worldwide. Did you know Canadians spend an average of 45 hours per month online? That is almost double the global average. Also interesting to note we are at the back of the pack when it comes to broadband speed and price even though in 2010 the internet economy was at 3.4% of GDP.

Well the holiday season is over and according to itBusiness.ca and the MasterCard SpendingPulse Report Canadians spent $2.8 Billion online in December 2012. That’s an increase of 26% over December 2011. What I find interesting is that more and more Canadians are moving from researching online and then buying in stores to outright shopping online. One more reason businesses need to explore the idea of e-commerce.

Finally today I would like to leave you with this article on Social and Digital Tech Trends. Just more ammunition for those of us trying to convince others that as Courtney Sheldon Hunt puts it ‘the Digital Era is not coming, and it’s not just getting started. It’s HERE’.

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/

Digital Technology for Marketing & Accounting

Yellow-PagesDoes Digital Technology play a role in your Marketing Strategy? I can’t remember the last time I used the phone book to find a local business. Between my smart phone and my PC at home I Google what I am looking for,  so if your business isn’t on the internet chances are excellent I will NOT find it. I also look to Google for information about businesses that are recommended to me. While word of mouth starts this process it is the internet that sells it.  IBM did a study this year (2012) that indicates that within five years social media will be the number two way to engage with customers (after face-to-face personal interaction). All this points to the fact that you need to use digital technology in your marketing strategy. To that end I recently came across some advice from the BDC.  This article give 8 tips on how to market your business locally on the internet including Google Places and Facebook (remember the IBM study).

What if you could view your accounting data online from your phone? Suddenly you can know whether a client has paid you or instantly bill them all while you are at their place of business. Well Quick Books now has an app for that as explained in this recent article on itbusiness.ca. Now that would be using digital technology to make you more productive. What I found scary though was that according to a survey conducted on behalf of Intuit Canada (makers of QuickBooks) less than half of the Canadian small & medium businesses that responded actually used financial management software. No wonder the Canadian government is encouraging the adoption of digital technology to increase productivity.

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/

Productivity Apps and Other Tools

In an effort to keep track of the latest in digital technology for businesses I regularly receive newsletters and download free e-books. HubSpot is a type of marketing software and while I don’t use the software I really appreciate the resources they send. Past e-books have included ‘How to use Twitter for Business’ and the most recent is an e-book on 20 Marketing Trend and Predictions for 2013.

apple-iphone-apps-32Another great site for resources is Melinda Emerson’s Small Biz Lady site. I came across her blog on the 10 Best Productivity Apps for Small Business Owners. It is a good article and while at the moment I only use DropBox and Evernote I have every intention of checking out a few more of these.

After reading that blog post I explored Melinda Emerson’s Small Biz Lady site and I found several tidbits worth sharing. From posts on Google+ (another one of those social media connectors) to the New Rules of Small Business Marketing, and even a post discussing a Mobile App for your business.

The small business landscape is changing at such an exponential rate it is hard to keep up and you really have to be purposeful in order to be productive. Perhaps some of these articles will help.

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 How To Tools

examples of digital technologyI have been doing some research on the internet trying to understand this whole ‘digital technology’ thing. I truly believe digital technology can make you more productive so now I am out to prove it.

I am not someone who tries to keep up with the latest and greatest technology. To me simpler is better and the more complex something is the less productive I become. When I first started writing this blog it was important to me that anything I shared needed to be useful, practical and fairly simple, something that I would use or that would work for me. That hasn’t changed. So this quest that I am embarking on won’t be any different.

There are a number of Digital Technology blogs out there. Ones that explore the latest in technology offering their reviews and tips on the newest stuff, ones that report news on digital technology like the New York Times Blog, but the best one I have come across for our purpose is called ‘Digital Inspiration’. Digital Inspiration seems to be written for the average person who uses the internet, which is awesome as I certainly am not looking for information geared to technology buffs. According to the site their purpose is to help you take maximum advantage of the software tools and web technologies at your disposal so that you spend more time doing things you really love. Now that sounds like a plug for digital technology improving productivity if I ever heard one.  I found some pretty cool how-to guides on the site http://www.labnol.org/tag/guide/  (over 200 of them) and they seem to be fairly easy to follow. That might be a good place for someone to start if they are looking to get more productive with digital technology. Here is hoping you find some value in my explorations.

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 for Productivity

Do you ever wonder how much more productive you would be if you were able to use digital technology appropriately? And what exactly does that look like? On occasion I have tried to use digital technology to help with a new project or approach only to find my productivity went out the window. After that it’s hard to convince anyone they should adopt something new to get more productive.

At some point though technology becomes so common place that you have to wonder at those that don’t adopt it. We have a restaurant in town that has a few outlets. Their food is good and they do good business but at all the locations the servers still write-up the bills by hand on sticky notes. The line up at the till is often long as the servers add up the hand written notes on a calculator and heaven help the patron if they need a real receipt. Now that is one of the best examples that I can think of for using technology to be more productive.

In my last post I talked about having the proper tools but sometimes that may not be enough. The tools alone won’t do it; you need to know how to use the tools. Here’s the conundrum – who’s got time for that?  In the next few posts I plan on exploring productivity through the lens of digital technology and how you make that work. Here is hoping it may be easier than I think.

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/.