New product innovation is vital for lots of organisations. Sometimes though the idea for a new product can come from unusual places.
VELCRO is a type of hook and loop fastener which we’ve all seen. It has that characteristic “rasping” sound when you pull it apart and will stick back together with the minimum of fuss. It’s commonly used in clothing and shoes to replace buttons, zips and laces.
So, who came up with the idea?
George de Mestral was a Swiss engineer and in 1941 he got the inspiration for VELCRO whilst out with his dog in the Alps.
He noticed that as his dog ran past Burdock plants, the burrs of the plant (a tiny seed covered in hundreds of microscopic ‘hooks’) would catch onto his dog’s fur.
That was his “eureka moment” and he spent the next 10 years investigating how he could get “hooks” like those found on the plant to engage with the “loops” found on materials.
The key thing was to be able to secure it together but then pull it apart (and then keep on repeating this without it breaking!)
Luckily, he had friends in the weaving industry who helped him work on prototypes and the end result was that in 1955 he filed his first patent for the hook and loop fasteners.
He also needed a distinctive name to go with his invention and he came up with VELCRO.
VELCRO is in fact a combination of the French words “velour” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook). VELCRO therefore in effect means “hooked velvet”.
Since it’s launch it has gone on to become one of the most used items in clothing and all of this came about as a result of a man walking with his dog in 1941.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Velcro_Blue.jpg9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2022-05-13 07:08:382022-05-13 14:00:20I’ll stick to that…
One of the five fundamental ethical principles is Integrity.
Being straightforward and honest is a vital characteristic of being a professional accountant.
Most people who are studying for their professional exams have one thing on their mind. Namely, to pass their exams but four students who were studying for their ACCA exams had other things on their minds and at the same time, were not the brightest individuals out there.
What they planned to do was to register for some Computer Based Exams (CBEs) and then whilst sitting the exams they would use their mobile phones to take photos of the computer screen showing the questions. They would then sell these photos with the questions on them via the internet.
The four individuals involved, Chen Yiyun, Hiujiao Ru, Zehui Gong and Ziying Wang decided to sell the questions on Taobao Marketplace, a Chinese shopping website.
They no doubt thought that this was an extremely clever way of making some money. What could possibly go wrong by taking photos of the questions and then selling them online?
One of the other fundamental ethical principles is that of Professional Competence.
Now, if these individuals had even a minuscule amount of Professional Competence, they would have reviewed the photos before selling them.
Alas for them they didn’t review them.
If they had reviewed them, they would have seen at the top of the computer screen in the photos their ACCA student registration number and the exam centre.
ACCA were made aware of the questions being for sale and made a test purchase on the Taobao Marketplace. Given the student registration numbers were on the screen, they didn’t need a team of top detectives to identify the individuals involved.
Unsurprisingly, the four individuals are now ex-students of ACCA having been found guilty of misconduct and they were ordered to pay costs ranging from £3,500 to £7,000.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/ACCA-exam-cheating.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2022-04-18 07:38:372022-04-26 15:05:44Exams for sale….
There are over 300 million twitter accounts and more than 500 million tweets are sent per day. That’s an impressive figure that works out at over 5,000 tweets per second.
It can be a useful tool for companies. They can use it to engage with their customers and potential customers by way of branding and promotional activities. They can also use it as a form of a helpdesk or customer support. The Dutch airline KLM for example uses Twitter and Facebook to enable customers to contact them and get a reply within an hour.
Most companies will use Twitter to promote items or get their message out but Twitter user @edgette22 has identified a secret the fast food giant KFC has been keeping within their Twitter account.
KFC is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain (as measured by sales) after McDonald’s, with nearly 20,000 locations globally in over 100 countries.
They also have over a million Twitter followers.
But they only follow 11 people.
And the 11 people they follow are a strange mix.
Geri Halliwell, Mel B, Emma Bunton, Mel C and Victoria Beckham (in other words the 5 ladies who made up the Spice Girls).
They also follow Herb Scribner, Herb J. Wesson Jr, Herb Waters, Herb Dean, Herb Sendek and Herb Alpert.
Or to put it another way, KFC follow five Spice Girls and 6 Herbs.
Five spices and six herbs?
That sounds familiar as the secret recipe for KFC chicken is 11 herbs and spices.
Either the social media department of KFC were having a quiet day and decided to play a few games or it was a deliberate move to get people talking about KFC when their followers were noticed.
Either way, congratulations are due to whoever was behind the idea.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/KFC_twitter.png10321834Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2022-03-27 09:36:082022-04-01 15:56:28Some spicy people to follow…
Working from home has become a fact of life for a lot of people due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Synonymous with working from home are the video conferencing facilities such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.
The growth in use of these technologies has been phenomenal. Back in December 2019 for example there were on average 10 million daily meeting participants on zoom. Fast forward to today and the daily averages are around 300 million.
The technologies have been incredibly useful for keeping teams together and maintaining working practices but with back-to-back zoom meetings sometimes going on for hours some people are suffering from “zoom fatigue”.
There’s also the issue of what happens if you are desperate for a cup of coffee or a call of nature during a particularly long and boring meeting?
It’s pretty obvious on the screen if you try and sneak out for a couple of minutes and taking your laptop with you to the kitchen or toilet is best avoided.
Enter freezingcam.com which as the name suggests enables you to simply click a button on screen and your webcam will freeze and give the impression that you are having internet connection issues.
After quickly popping out of the room to do whatever you wanted to do, you can get back to your desk, click the unfreeze button and lo and behold you are back at the meeting and everyone thinks you were having internet issues rather than looking for those chocolate digestive biscuits in the kitchen…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/zoom_call.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2022-02-16 06:41:492022-02-16 15:32:29Enjoy the freeze…
A few years ago if a company wanted to advertise their products they mainly used the traditional media methods of TV, radio and print.
Nowadays the world is awash with viral marketing and social media promotion.
Although the main delivery methods used in advertising have no doubt faced rapid change I would argue that the basic technique of getting peoples attention and keeping it until the message is delivered in a memorable way is still key.
The “advert” below is in my opinion a great example of how advertising should be done.
It’s got the viral marketing angle to it as it’s great for viewing on phones and computers (and of course pausing and replaying it). It also works for the traditional TV ads.
What’s nice about it is that in less than one and half minutes it covers a range of human emotions. There are also no words spoken and the only text comes up at the end.
It also highlights the power of music in advertising. Three well known songs were used so there was no need to specially commission some song writing.
If you watch the advert without the music it has a far lower impact.
Have a look (and listen) and see what you think.
Oh and in case you get concerned mid way through don’t worry as it’s got a happy ending.
The interesting thing about this though is that it’s actually a fake advert. It was created by filmmaker John Nolan to showcase his animatronics skills.
John is clearly a creative genius when it comes to animatronics film making and I’m sure the big cheese companies would love to have somebody with his skills working for them.
Are you happy when you spend money? I guess the answer depends on what you’re spending the money on but over in China, KFC have technology which enables a person to pay for their KFC meal with a smile.
Yes, a smile.
Nothing else is needed – no bank card, no phone app. Just a smile.
That’s a pretty advanced system and involves facial recognition technology.
Customers who want to get their dose of fast food at the KFC branch in Hangzhou can leave their cash and cards behind and instead smile at a scanner, press confirm and then hey presto you’ve paid for your meal without moving your hands and you will soon be tucking into your Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Payment is taken from a cash account which has been linked to the person’s face.
China has some of the most advanced facial scanning technology in the world. Collecting images of the public doesn’t need any consent in China and the technology is likely to spread.
For example, it’s been reported that students in several universities in China are now registering by scanning their faces and lecturers will soon be able to track the facial expressions of students to see how well they are following the lectures.
It may be advisable for these students to master the act of hiding those yawns during a boring lecture and instead start to practice for the KFC they’re planning to get after the lecture…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/pay-by-a-smile.jpg14122510Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2021-09-01 05:42:532021-09-01 08:15:26Is this worth smiling for?
If a company outsources jobs, in some situations it can be seen as good business practice but if an individual outsources his own job then what is that seen as?
Outsourcing is where a company gets another organisation to undertake a job or business function that would have previously been completed in-house. This is often done for cost saving reasons and an illustration of outsourcing would for example be getting another organisation to maintain your payroll.
A while ago there was the first example I’d heard of an individual outsourcing his own job.
Verison is one of the leading telecoms companies in the US and their security team provided details of a case study where an employee by the name of “Bob” who was a top developer had actually outsourced his own job to China without his employers knowing about it.
In other words, he had received his salary from his employers but had personally paid for somebody else to do his job at a cheaper rate without his employer knowing about it!
He was paid in excess of USD 100,000 for his job and yet he was paying a Chinese consulting firm less than 20% of that to do the job for him.
According to Verison a typical day for Bob was:
9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos (!!) 11:30 a.m. – Take lunch 1:00 p.m. – Ebay time. 2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn 4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management. 5:00 p.m. – Go home
Despite not actually doing any of the work himself his performance reviews were excellent and he had been regarded as the best developer in the building.
So, in summary – he was paid a pretty good salary and all he did was play around on the internet.
All his real work was outsourced by him to a Chinese company. He paid them whilst his employer paid him 5 times the amount that he had paid the Chinese company.
Bob lost his job but it does raise an interesting debate as when a company outsources it’s seen as a clever move but when an individual outsources their own job they end up losing that job.
Anyway, whilst you’re thinking of that particular point I’d like to mention that the next blog article will be written by a Chinese company but please don’t tell my employer.
Meanwhile I’m off to watch some cat videos…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/cat-video.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2021-08-13 15:51:252021-08-16 10:58:22Would you do this with your job?
Before cash came along, people used to barter. Somebody who had grown vegetables would exchange potatoes they’d grown with a baker who’d baked bread. A farmer would exchange a cow with someone who had grown rice. And so on…
This was all very well if you had lots of vegetables or lots of cows but exchanging 1,000 kg of potatoes for the latest Xbox or taking a cow with you to pay for cinema tickets was never going to work.
As a result, along came cash.
The Lydians (now part of Turkey) are widely believed to be the first Western culture to make coins and their first coins came in to existence way back around the time of 700 BC.
Since then things have developed.
Bills of Exchange were introduced in Italy in the 12th century (Bills of Exchange are paper documents which enable traders to buy and sell goods without having to carry cash).
The Bank of England introduced printed cheques in 1717.
The first credit card in the UK was issued in 1966.
Online banking was launched in the late 1990s.
Through all of this cash has remained and there are now 180 currencies recognised as legal tender by the United Nations member states.
Things are changing though and Apple, Samsung and Google all have contactless payment systems whereby money is loaded onto an app on your phone and payment can be made by scanning your phone at a contactless terminal.
The company Ringly have taken things a step further though and have a partnership with MasterCard which enables you to pay for items with the tap of a ring.
The rings that Ringly sell (including the ring shown in the photo above) cost between $195 and $260 and use technology to link the ring to your phone to access the Ringly app. The app will then enable payment to be made. This is pretty impressive given that all the technology has to be fitted onto the surface of the ring.
The end result is that you will be able to purchase items via a contactless terminal by simply tapping your ring without getting your wallet or purse out.
So, is this a genuinely useful idea or just a “gimmick”? After all, you’ll still need your phone with you to make a payment.
Either way, it’s a nice excuse if you were thinking of buying a new ring.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/technology-business-strategy.jpg562999Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2021-08-06 03:33:402021-08-06 04:22:53Cash is king but jewellery looks nicer…
Sometimes a little bit of creative thinking can go a long way. This bit of creativity though went a very long way indeed.
Creativity can add value to all types of businesses and this particular project involved technology and one of the largest sea birds.
There are 22 species of the albatross bird. With a wingspan of up to 3.5 metres, the wandering albatross species has the largest wingspan of any living flying bird. Importantly for this project though, they are also capable of flying long distances out to sea.
Illegal fishing by trawlers can seriously impact on fish levels. Organisations tasked with protecting fish levels can find it almost impossible to prevent this illegal fishing. In simple terms, the ocean is very large and the boats are pretty small so keeping track of them and what they are fishing for is very difficult.
In an innovative project led by the French National Centre for Scientific Research, 169 Albatrosses have been equipped with sensors. If the birds are in the vicinity of a boat, these sensors are able to tell whether the boat’s Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) are switched off.
Having the AIS systems switched off on a boat is common when the boat is fishing illegally.
The beauty of this project is that the albatrosses can cover huge areas and when the sensors identify boats with their AIS switched off, the enforcement boats can head to that location to investigate further.
The initiative was trialled off the coast of New Zealand and over a 6 month period the birds located 353 boats, 37% of which were not emitting the AIS signal.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/albatross_fishing.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2021-07-08 14:02:292021-07-08 19:01:35Flying high with creativity.
Most of you have probably had an interview. In fact, some of you may have had a number of interviews but a boss of one of the top companies in Australia has recently disclosed a pretty unusual way of deciding who not to offer a job to.
Trent Innes, who heads up Xero in Australia said that he will greet the person when he or she arrives for the interview and then take them to the kitchen to offer them a drink before heading to the meeting room with the drink. Even if they aren’t tea or coffee drinkers they will generally walk away with a glass of water.
He explained in the Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios that after taking the drink back for the interview “one of the things I’m always looking for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take that empty cup back to the kitchen?”
He explained that what “I was trying to find was what was the lowest level task I could find that regardless of what you did inside the organisation was still super important that would actually really drive a culture of ownership.”
He went on to say, “You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge and experience but it really does come down to attitude, and the attitude that we talk a lot about is the concept of ‘wash your own coffee cup’.”
That’s quite a smart move by Mr Innes as he said that attitude was the most important trait he looked for when hiring people.
He said that “Especially in a fast growth company or a start-up environment or scale up environment – you need people with a really strong growth mindset and that comes back to their attitude.”
So, how many interviewees do you think offered to take their cups back?
Perhaps surprisingly, the number of people who offered to take their cup back to the kitchen was pretty high. According to Mr Innes only 5 to 10 per cent of the interviewees didn’t offer to return their empty coffee cup back to the kitchen.
So there you go. If you’re attending an interview and you go to the kitchen with the boss to get a drink, it’s probably a good idea to offer to take the cup back.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/coffee-interview-1.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2021-06-04 09:28:312021-05-24 09:52:23Best to take it back…
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