Green Engineering Enters The Foam Technologies Industry

In countries around the world, environmental concern is at an all-time high. Consumers are asking for earth-friendly products in every industry, from automotive, to home goods, to personal products, and much more. Manufacturers are responding to the demand by investing billions of dollars in the development of high-quality and cost-effective green solutions. In the foam technologies industry, a new product called bio-content material has been developed.

Foam technologies are incorporated in more products than the average consumer realizes. For example, nearly all types of public transportation depend on the work done by this industry, with the seats on subways, buses, and trains being built in foam factories. Hospital and medical facilities purchase custom-made mattresses, seating, pillows, and other specialized products. Office supply companies depend on the industry for ergonomically designed chairs, cushions, and more. These are a just a few of the many products that can now be created using greener foam technologies.

Thanks to significant research, product development, and testing, these greener materials perform better and provide an even greater value than older options available in the marketplace. They have an improved compression set and a good feel that mimics traditional materials. Their increased UV resistance is a major bonus for those applications in which the material is consistently exposed to the sun, such as boat and outdoor seating.

Bio-content material comes in many different varieties. It is available in both 3.0 pound and 4.0 weight. Manufacturers are also creating visco-elastic, rigid, and integral skin-molded systems to ensure it can be used in many different applications. With an increased demand, these greener materials are becoming more and more affordable. In many cases, pricing rivals that of traditional options.

Manufacturers aren’t just incorporating green thinking into their product line, but also into their day-to-day operations. Using water-based adhesives and mold release agents is another way they’re improving environmental responsibility in the plant. Scrap materials are recycled to avoid the accumulation of long-term landfill waste.

Choosing green technology can give businesses an added competitive advantage. Consumers want to be environmentally responsible with their purchasing habits. They are actively looking to buy products that are environmentally friendly, and, until recently, this was difficult to accomplish with foam technologies. Now, products with bio-foam can be advertised as being earth-friendly, a claim that draws attention and can lead to increased sales. When used in collaboration with other eco-minded products, such as recycled materials and renewable resources, it can become a strong message in the brand’s marketing strategy.

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Customer Service in the Information Technology Industry

When we talk about achieving success in the information technology industry, we usually concentrate on advanced solutions, pricing, and marketing of services or products. What we’ve found is that very important parameters are usually omitted: customer service, client-business relationship, and long-term satisfaction.

While helping many clients with their promotional and advertising needs, we clearly see the tendency to concentrate business efforts on sales and marketing. Unfortunately, in many cases the ROI of marketing campaigns remains low and is rarely correctly calculated due to the complicated nature of the campaigns and inability to monitor results of advertising. It seems as if advertising is the right solution to build a client base and grow your business. The motto here is: “If everybody does it, why shouldn’t I?”

However, there are many studies that argue with this approach. The belief is that focusing on service departments is much more cost effective. When your customers are satisfied, that means repeat business and more referrals. The problem is that building and maintaining high quality service department is not a cheap endeavor. The main question becomes: What is the right ratio between the funds spent on advertising and customer service?

The answer is not that simple. You need to keep your company competitive and constantly growing. My business sense tells me that the focus should be 70% on customer service and 30% on advertising, but of course, the numbers should be carefully applied to every specific case. I think a startup should be more aggressive from a marketing point of view, but once the critical mass of clients is achieved, the focus has to be switched more to customer service and building ongoing relationships with clients.

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Recruiting the Best in the IT and Technology Industry

If you need to recruit and retain the best IT and technology employees with the most up to date skills then using a specialist IT recruitment consultant might just be the answer.

Every company needs to be making the most of emerging technology and online platforms to enhance their business, but if you don’t know your widgets from your website it will pay dividends to get an expert on board.

In the fast-moving technology industry it is essential that the workforce you recruit are the keenest, brightest computer whizzes out there and are at the cutting edge of new technology. They need to not only be proficient with the bewildering amount of technology that is already out there but able to spot market trends and emerging products that will place your business at the forefront of your industry.

IT recruitment consultants have the in depth knowledge of the development language, products, approaches and methods needed to successfully identify, assess, interview and ultimately recruit the best candidates.

Their databases give you access to thousands of potential employees at all levels, from graduate trainees to senior directors, to help enable you to recruit the right person for your business. Most recruitment consultants will also carry out an initial filter of applications so you only interview the most suitable candidates for the role you are recruiting for.

More than likely they will save you the expense of recruitment advertising by head hunting the right person for the job, particularly for senior positions. Either way, employing the services of an IT recruitment consultant at an early stage of the process will help you devise a recruitment campaign that will attract the best candidates and make use of the increasing number of online platforms to promote those opportunities. They will help you test and evaluate a candidate’s experience and portfolio against industry standards and ensure that you are not being ‘blinded by science’.

The majority of managers or personnel departments simply don’t have the technical knowledge to ask the right questions. However you will be trusting these employees with extensive and valuable information about your business so you need to ensure that the people you recruit are proficient, trustworthy, reliable and understand the legal regulations you need to comply with.

Using a recruitment consultant may cost you more money initially than recruiting in-house but getting the right person for the job will save you thousands in the future.

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The Reality Gap Part 6: The Technology Industry

No industrial sector right now is flying as high as technology. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google are climbing the ranks as the biggest businesses in the world. No strangers to innovation, these companies have found some very fascinating ways to project a certain image, style, and status to the public. Today, nothing is more revered or coveted by consumers than the newest piece of gadgetry or technology. But it is immensely important to keep in mind that these companies aren’t as much out to make functional and fantastic products as they are to sell them.

The most widely recognized example of the gap between actual product quality and perceived quality right now is Apple’s new tablet, the iPad. Termed a “magical device” by the company itself, the iPad has been sold in record-shattering quantities across the globe in the past few months. But, when asked where this technology is manufactured, most iPad owners probably couldn’t tell you. In fact, they’ve been so overwhelmed by its “coolness” that they probably haven’t even given it a thought. The reality is that they are made in China, along with most other modern pieces of technology. This, of course, is not to say that the iPad isn’t a highly advanced, high-quality device, as it most certainly is. But the image that Apple’s marketing team and CEO Steve Jobs have given it doesn’t completely match the product itself.

Another facet in the technology industry’s use of image and the reality gap is the concept of “latest and greatest”. Though a given product may suit a consumer’s needs well, they are easily convinced that a given company’s newest device will suit their needs even better. It is another example of masterful image creation because it taps into the old American idea of “keeping up with the Joneses”. That is, the consumer feels a need to have whatever is newest in order to achieve a sense of self-efficacy and status. The technology industry knows this adage well, and takes advantage of it. To see how, look no further than how often companies like Microsoft come out with new software. The differences between MS Word 2003 and 2010, for example, are largely minimal except for looks and design. But the consumer, whenever he or she sees that a new version of a certain software is coming out, feels compelled to buy it. The actual differences between the older product and the newer one may be minuscule. But by creating an image of the “newest and best”, technology companies tap into the consumer’s innate desire to have the most advanced products.

Perhaps no industry is more adept at taking advantage of the reality gap than technology. It is arguably one of the biggest reasons for the sector’s immense success over the past few decades. Honestly, it can’t be argued that their products have revolutionized society. But consumers should certainly be aware of the hype and largely false image that technology industries create so effectively. By staying sharp, one can separate the true beneficial qualities of technology companies’ products from consumerist ideals and conjecture.

About the Writer
Over the last 30 years I have worked with over 50 organisations, such as British Telecom (Global Telecoms), Inmarsat (Global satellite operator), Ciena Corporation (Global optical networking manufacturer), Bovis (Global Construction), John Laign (International Construction and Facilites ), NSPCC (a National Children’s Charity) to name a few.

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Hiring on the Rise Within The Technology Industry

Not only is hiring in the technology industry on the rise in general, but also the methods that companies are using to bring in the top technology talent across the country. It makes sense that companies would need to use cutting-edge technology to find those technology savvy job candidates: the use of cloud computing, web 2.0 and recruitment software programs are becoming commonplace to discover and land the top echelon of tech job applicants.

Cloud computing may be a marketing buzz word nowadays, however, the actual technology has a strong foundation that can lead to easier and more efficient hiring pathways within technology companies. Recruiting and applicant tracking technology that utilizes software ‘in the cloud’ is more easily accessible by a company’s hiring managers and recruiters from wherever they are. In addition, cloud computing technology is secure: applicant and candidate data that is stored in the cloud is protected from getting accidentally deleted or destroyed like on traditional servers housed within a company headquarters.

Although large tech companies are known to have ‘war-chests’ of capital used to launch new products as well as helm hiring initiatives, the past few years of economic recession have seen these companies exercise an unprecedented level of restraint in spending. In the final quarter of 2010 and the start of 2011, however, these large tech companies are beginning to open their funding pathways again to prepare for a new generation of incoming technology stars.

The uptick in hiring within the tech industry bodes well for technology heavy areas like Silicon Valley in the Bay Area, which is known as a breeding grown for both tiny internet startups as well as tech behemoths like Google and Facebook. As the economy normalizes, large web companies are likely to start more heavily competition for the best engineers on the market. Utilizing cutting edge recruitment software to land applicants will likely be one of many strategies that Silicon Valley tech companies utilize.

An unprecedented amount of college and post college graduates are entering the workforce with degrees in engineering and programming that will be invaluable to tech companies around the world. In the end, the future success and competitiveness of these companies will depend on the young recruits they hire within the next decade. These are the individuals that will slowly move up the ranks and end up in decision-making positions within these companies, essentially deciding the fate of them.

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Project Risk Management and Assurance

Why do so many organisations embark on high-risk projects without demanding robust project assurance?

Projects fail for many reasons. Recent global studies indicate that inadequate risk management is a common cause.

Successful project managers aim to resolve high levels of exposure before they occur, via systematic risk management processes.

Many projects are inherently exposed to myriad risks and are often significant in scale, complexity and ambition. Delivering large-scale projects can often be adversely impacted by a bias towards being over-optimistic.

Imperfect, insufficient or inadequate data increases exposure that often results in over-estimating benefits and under-estimating costs.

Managing macro and micro-level events related to achieving project deliverables, whilst balancing the needs of many stakeholders, has become increasingly important.

Assessing risks at both portfolio and work-stream levels helps increase confidence that risks are understood.

Projects are often prioritised relevant to their levels of perceived exposure and one has its own risk profile.

Project Risk Management

Project risk management focuses on identifying, analysing and responding to project events.

It should be designed to systematically identify and manage levels of uncertainty and potential threats to delivering project objectives successfully.

Risk management processes should be iterative throughout a project’s life-cycle and embedded in project management planning and activities. Smaller projects often require minor work and periodic monitoring.

Complex projects need formalised processes to analyse, manage and report risks.

Good reporting relies on clear descriptions of all exposure, their impact on the projects, and potential costs for mitigation and inaction.

This helps ensure project personnel understand the potential impact risks may have on projects’ success and have prepared strategies to minimise negative consequences.

Problems occur when there is limited visibility of risks at project and portfolio levels or approaches to risk-management are ad-hoc and inconsistent.

Further problems can arise when risks are identified but recorded at a very high level accompanied by highly subjective risk ratings, rather than being the result of more substantive risk assessment.

When these problems arise, an organisation would benefit from clearer, more formal and wide-spread processes for capturing and monitoring risks.

Project and Portfolio Risk Assessments

Project and portfolio risk assessments should be undertaken to understand their risk profiles and associated threats in achieving business objectives.

Assessments should identify the action plans to address the risks identified and allocate executive responsibility to manage them. Additional risk assessments should be carried out on selected projects (perhaps by prioritising them by value or complexity).

Risk management processes should be on-going and monitored throughout a project’s life-cycle.

Regular risk reports would provide Project Sponsors, Senior Responsible Officers and Steering Groups with better visibility of projects’ risk profiles.

Whether you’re responsible for overseeing or managing a project, robust project assurance will help you address the risks that threaten its success.

Mark Gwilliam FCCA CA is the founder and Director of Business Advisory Services.

From humble beginnings, the firm has grown from strength to strength.

It has matured from a small accounting and tax services practice to one that helps small business owners, entrepreneurs and executives navigate complex challenges; including strategy, risk management and internal audit, managing shared-service centres and operations.

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