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Tag Archives: Innovation

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Hallmark and The Business of Love

Katia Arias No Comments

As we get closer to Christmas, I would love to highlight a company that has transformed the way we live the holidays and any special occasion for that matter.

Making the world “a more caring place”, Hallmark has become a leader in both the greeting card and entertainment industries, sustaining its place in the market since the 1910s.

Today this $3.7 billion business has reached more than 40,000 retail stores and audiences in over a 100 countries, printing and showcasing content in over 30 languages.

So, Hallmark is huge! But, what is it that makes the Hallmark’s merchandise so attractive?

As TIME author Graeme McMillan points out, Hallmark has been able to give people “exactly what they want”, offering products that satisfy the needs of the “heart” and being there for customers to translate their deepest feelings into beautiful messages.

Source: Hallmark Youtube Channel

On top of things, the creative process behind Hallmark’s products goes beyond a simple brainstorming. Employees have access to immense resource libraries, creative workshops, innovation labs, and art collections, which gives them the ability to think bigger.

All these things, however, wouldn’t do much if the staff wasn’t committed to the vision of creating a more “emotionally connected world”.

Brought in from every path of life, Hallmark’s employees are individuals who wish to make a difference in other’s lives. They see their work not only as an opportunity for themselves but also as a chance to spread hope, empathy and laughter to the world.

Source: Hallmark Youtube Channel

In 2007, CBS News had the opportunity to visit Hallmark’s comedy department “Shoebox”, and captured key moments that make up this company’s amazing culture.

Hiring only 50 people, Shoebox brings in artists from every background, from flight attendants to musicians and ministers. Later on this group of diverse individuals comes together simply to find the right joke. It is such a creative and purposeful atmosphere that a lot of the staff assures they’ve found their calling in what they do.

Moving a little forward into the entertainment industry, who hasn’t heard of the “Countdown to Christmas”? Or the “Thanksgiving Event”? With two TV channels, Hallmark has been able to enchant viewers all over the world, ranking No. 2 amongst cable networks during Thanksgiving week 2015, which then led to a very successful streaming during the Christmas Season.

1900s Hallmark Christmas Commercial 

Source: Hallmark Youtube Channel

The secret? As Variety writer, Rick Kissell puts it; Hallmark has found its niche offering “family-friendly” entertainment. Which, as we all know, is very hard to find in today’s TV. All Hallmark movies follow somewhat the same plot, offering people a second chance in life and hopeful happy endings. The films often speak of “holiday spirit” and try to spread long-term values rather than instant pleasure to the viewers.

In conclusion, Hallmark is today successful because it has genuinely understood the essential yearnings of people. Everyone wants to love and be loved. And, employing innovative technologies and a socially conscious workforce, this multi-billion dollar company managed to satisfy the needs through simple solutions: kind words and happy endings.

Everyone at Hallmark wants to make the world a better place and that feeling is then transmitted through the products, which in turn attracts everyone out there who believes in the same mission.

So, are you ready to buy your Christmas cards now?

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Could Artificial Intelligence Mean The End Of The Human Race?

Katia Arias No Comments

Artificial Intelligence

Source: erichstauffer.com

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has declared our time’s technological breakthroughs as “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, where all existing technologies fuse to break barriers between the physical, digital and biological worlds.

Amongst the biggest advances of the revolution we find Artificial Intelligence (AI), a computer system able to carry out human tasks such as decision-making, speech recognition and visual perceptions.

Source: mirror.co.uk

Source: mirror.co.uk

Using AI companies like Google and Tesla created the first self-driven car. Facebook has used it to recognize faces, Apple created Siri; and NASA is developing an air security program where planes can dodge storms and other hazards. No wonder, the world of science is eager to dive even deeper into the field.

 

 

But, even if AI seems great so far, what would happen to us when machines take over the world?

“We are approaching the time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task” Moshe Vardi, computer science professor at Rice University expressed. And, if not developed responsibly, Cambridge professor Stephen Hawkins noted, “artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”.

Studies carried out by Citi in the USA and the Center For Economic Policy in the EU and Japan, show that AI can indeed spell the end of humanity by, widening the inequality gap, increasing levels of unemployment, and taking away the “human” factor of work, which, in turn, upsets entire economies and poses moral concerns.

 

  1. Increased Inequality

 According to the Citi report, the inequality theory caused by AI can be summarized as follows:

“The benefits from the new industrial revolution are not being equally shared amongst all people in the world.”

With higher technology, the skill requirements for labor also become higher, leaving all those who didn’t study a computer science almost out of the game; hence creating a new 1% vs. 99% division.

The 1% represents the tech savvy, highly skilled population that benefits from AI and can complement its knowledge with the new automated processes. And the 99%, on the other hand, represents the middle to low skilled populations whose job will be taken away by AI, and whose knowledge will be substituted by computers.

As the Business Insider would put it, the cities with more rapid income growths that hold more 1% income earners and offer very specialized jobs are less susceptible to automation; while cities that offer more generic jobs, hold 99% income earners and have slow income growths are most likely to be taken over by machines. Leading towards mass migration, the death of some towns amongst other issues.

Source: VOX - CEPR's Policy Portal

Source: VOX – CEPR’s Policy Portal

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Source: VOX – CEPR’s Policy Portal

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Unemployment

The new inequality gap also leads to the next major issue, which is mass unemployment. As more and more factory workers, taxi drivers, and lab technicians are replaced; the world will find itself with a higher dependency rate than ever before. More people will need to survive but less people will be able to work for it.

The Citi Report proposed that education would be the only solution to solve the problem. With only 0.5% of the US Workforce shifting to tech industries in the 2000s, the World Bank estimated that 47% of US jobs would be replaced by automation in the near future and only high skilled Tech training could land these people new and stable jobs.

Going even further the World Bank estimated that in China the replacement rate would be of 77%, in South Africa 67%, India 69%, UK 35% and Thailand 72% (amongst others), landing with an OECD average of 57%. Which, according to the World Economic Forum, represents the net loss of more than 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020.

 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com - World Bank Development Report (2016)

Source: World Bank Development Report (2016)

Read More: Is Uber doing bad by doing good?

3. No More “Humanity”

While machines can predict the weather and avoid traffic accidents by 90%, they cannot replace humans when it comes to common sense, creativity, multitasking, learning, morality  and feeling.

As infant psychologist Alison Gopnik would point out, “machines are not [yet] as smart as a two-year-old child.” Simply because they can’t form hypotheses, create theories or learn from experience and imitation.

Innovation sounds great. But what if robots can solve puzzles but they can’t really learn from the world around or find new solutions on the spot. Or, what if robots can increase your company’s efficiency but they do so trespassing the rules because they have no moral compass?

This is why scientists & entrepreneurs like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are paying special attention to the revolution and encouraging developers to be careful. We want machines to help humanity not to take over it.

 

Source: Intelligence.booklikes.com

Source: Intelligence.booklikes.com

Conclusion

 In conclusion, whether or not we want it, AI is here to stay and ready to make an impact. It all depends now on how governments, business owners and individuals will adapt to the revolution and how they will choose to mingle with technology.

On the public side, governments should create policies that bring technology at the same pace workers can adapt to it, paired up with technical programs to retrain the population.

On the private side, businesses must recognize that machines, even if they bring cost and time efficient solutions to the table, cannot replace humans when it comes to design thinking processes or morality. Hence they must study their companies and keep a sustainable balance between people and machines.

And as individuals, people must learn where they stand. If the technology is growing around you, get informed, seek to learn and keep on working to stay competitive.

 

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

 

Sources:

  1. “What Will Artificial Intelligence Mean For The World of Work?” Recovered from: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/feb/17/artificial-intelligence-future-of-work on September, 16
  2. “Robots Will Steal Your Job: How AI Could Increase Unemployment & Inequality” recovered from: http://uk.businessinsider.com/robots-will-steal-your-job-citi-ai-increase-unemployment-inequality-2016-2 on September, 16
  3. “Artificial Intelligence And Employment” recovered from: http://voxeu.org/article/artificial-intelligence-and-employment on September, 16
  4. “AI And Robots Threaten To Unleash Mass Unemployment, Scientists Warn”, recovered from: https://www.ft.com/content/063c1176-d29a-11e5-969e-9d801cf5e15b on September, 16
  5. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What It Means, How to Respond”, recovered from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/ on September, 16
  6. “Applications of AI”, recovered from: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/whatisai/node3.html on September, 16
  7. “AI Has Arrived And That Really Worries The World’s Brightest Minds” recovered from: https://www.wired.com/2015/01/ai-arrived-really-worries-worlds-brightest-minds/ on September, 16
  8. “Five Million Jobs by 2020: The Real Challenge Of The Fourth Industrial Revolution” recovered from: https://www.weforum.org/press/2016/01/five-million-jobs-by-2020-the-real-challenge-of-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/ on September, 16
  9. “Weighing In On The Pros And Cons Of Artificial Intelligence” recovered from: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-artificial-intelligence.html on September, 16
  10. “Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind”, recovered from: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540 on September, 16

 

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Overview: Social Entrepreneurship

Katia Arias No Comments

You have probably heard of social entrepreneurship at some point in your career. Probably defined as the “charitable work of some business people” or by its true definition: the type of entrepreneurship that wants to solve the problems of the world using business solutions.

As a social entrepreneur I can’t remember the amount of glares I got when I told people about my career choice. For people it seemed unconceivable to use corporate structures to decrease food insecurity or save our oceans.

But it can be done. With a lot of passion and hard work, businesses that adopt a social/environmental focus can indeed save the world and make profits at the same time. And, through this post, I’ll explain how…

 

Social entrepreneurs don’t usually have a personal agenda

It is rare to hear a social entrepreneur say that his main driver is money. As an SE myself, I know the hustles that go into building a social enterprise, the endless hours and effort you put into creating something that will not necessarily bring a fast ROI and will take some time to prove its effectiveness. It is impossible to stick for long if you’re in it for the money.

Social entrepreneurship is about passion and the genuine desire to create a better world. The social endeavor usually comes from the heart and belongs to those who are serious about sacrificing their own commodities to give others the optimal life they deserve.

 

Here’s a great video from Devex for a broader explanation…

Social enterprises employ social processes

A holistic social enterprise seeks to empower the community and preserve the environment in every step of the way.

Take Trash to Cash, an Indian company launched to help people with disabilities raise their standard of life. Their model includes collecting old flowers from temples (that would otherwise go in the rivers) and getting people with disabilities to transform them into colored powder that is then sold to celebrate the Holi Festival of Colors. On top of that, workers are given extra training to improve on various technical skills.

Looking more closely, this model does not only get money and dumps it into a fund to make a company look good. On the contrary! From the start Trash to Cash prevents water pollution, then it gives disabled communities the opportunity to get an income and live a decent life. And finally, they provide the Indian people with essential products to celebrate their heritage. In every process there is impact!

I invite you to watch this  Walmart video on Madhumita Puri (founder of Trash to Cash) and her advancements for the Child Development program…

Social enterprises are self-sustainable

While traditional CSR programs can tackle social needs, social enterprises exist to tackle these needs sustainably through time. If a company decides that their CSR program no longer works for them, then all the “donation” money will go away and communities are left to wonder.

To avoid that, social enterprises teach people to fish rather than giving them the fish. It creates holistic opportunities where communities take their development in their hands and learn to sustain themselves on their own.

On the financial side of things, social enterprises sustain themselves through their own revenue models. CSR programs, on the other hands, depend on company funds or outside donations.

“Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient” – Aristotle

Social enterprises attract a larger pull of financial contributors

Because social enterprises are self-sustaining and produce financial and social returns on investment, they are eligible for many more types of funding than charities and foundations.

Yes you can still rely on pilot stage funding like crowdfunding and relative/friend donations. But also you can enter business competitions, reach to angel investors and, if your idea is strong enough, you can get some funding from venture capitalists.

To go even further, there are many particular social and environmental investors interested in putting their money to work for good. Social entrepreneurs also may have access to social impact bonds and other financial alliances with organizations and people that wish to contribute to the planet’s development.

The Center of Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology does a great work in explaining “social investing” and why it attracts investors…

Social entrepreneurship opens doors to innovation and disruptive thinking

Social entrepreneurs are disruptive innovators. People who want to change the status quo and challenge the present system to build one that is more just and beneficial for everyone. And they do so by breaking barriers of accessibility, affordability and impact.

Disrupters see opportunities in every market, they are not afraid to take the least traveled road and they prototype often based on customer feedback! This, in turn, leads to incredibly (hard to copy) creative solutions that appeal more to both customers and beneficiaries.

Here’s a video from The Explainer: Harvard Business Review to give you a better idea on the concept…

Social Entrepreneurship is about the triple-bottom line

When you see a social enterprise, you see an organization that values people, planet and profit. To make a decision, social entrepreneurs consider the environment and the community as important members of the board.

Success is not measured only through financial ROI. For social entrepreneurs success is measured also through SROI, which is the social (and environmental) return on investment. Social investors are interested in measure organizational transparency, stakeholder involvement, net impact and of course the effectiveness of the enterprise’s theory of change (how well was the problem solved).

Image Source: CSR Ambassadors

Image Source: CSR Ambassadors

If you really want to help the world and save the planet I encourage you to invest in the present and future social entrepreneurs. Get involved in social enterprises or start your own! Social Entrepreneurship is about earning profits by doing good and creating positive impact using your own business skills! Don’t be afraid and start working for the sustainable change you want to see.

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

 

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New iPhone 7: Yes or No?

Katia Arias No Comments

The iPhone 7 is out. And, while some loyal fans welcome the new release with joy, others worry the new phone won’t meet their expectations.

And as we welcome water-resistance and wireless headphones, let’s outline some of the biggest pros and cons Apple’s new creation has to offer.

 

pros_cons

PROS: 

  1. Weather resistance – Although weather resistance does not mean your phone can survive a major drown, its internal-external hydrophobic coat keeps the phone safe from rain, dust, splashes and the accidental toilet slips (must get it out immediately though).
  1. Brighter camera colors – although many say the camera features haven’t changed much from the iPhone 6 to the 7, there are many improvements. Optical zoom, OIS and a wider aperture of f/1.8 are some of this. The image coloring is also better and even if the camera has the same megapixel count as the iPhone 6, it offers better quality images.
  2. More storage space – finally, after many generations of iPhones, Apple has increased the standard storage setting to 32GB. For people who love to store a lot of music, pictures and files, these are excellent news. And to those who need even more, there’s also an option to upgrade storage up to 128GB (with extra cost of course).
  1. iOS 10 – amongst the best features of the new iPhone is the software. iOS 10 offers quicker and more efficient applications that save up storage space, set “bedtime alarms”, avoid toll roads (with Apple Maps), close all shortcuts at once, and receive notifications for “read messages” on message.
  2. Improved Battery life – if you get iPhone 7 plus, your battery is set to last 2 hours longer than the iPhone 6, if you get the iPhone 7, you get 1 extra hour.

 water-resistant

CONS:  

  1. No headphone jack – another big change that came with the new iPhone are the new wireless headphones. Having wireless headphones, users no longer need a headphone jack. This allows the phone to be thinner but also limits users extensively. Auxiliary cables and noise cancelling headphones are no longer an option. And, in case you wanted to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time, you can’t.
  1. Little to no aesthetic changes – if you look at the iPhone 6 & iPhone 7 you can notice that not much changed in the design. Maybe the touch button was taken away and replaced for a buzzing touch spot. But other than that, size, screen display and application arrangement remain very similar to previous models.
  1. Limited innovation – unlike the competition, Apple did not launch the iPhone 7 with highly competitive features. While the competition offers phones with 3D cameras, USB hard drive mode, VR and other incredible features, Apple has resulted to its traditional approach. Yes iOS 10 is a big breakthrough but users are now expecting smarter phones that combine more and more gadgets each time in one pocket-sized device.
  1. $$$ – And finally, the iPhone 7 is offered at $649 and the iPhone 7 Plus starts at $749. If you compare these prices to the competition they are WAY higher. Young Millennials, who are the ones most likely to buy, are also the ones most likely on a strict budget. Making Android options a safer bet.

iphone-7-headphones

In the end, buying or not an iPhone is more a question of loyalty than it is of functionality. With new technologies, Android is catching up very quickly and offering phones as innovative and “cool” as Apple. Design and aesthetics, however, still remains Apple’s domain since they still offer (by far) the prettiest phones out there.

I hope this list helps you take a better and more informed decision on whether or not to invest in Apple’s new model. And I leave you with a list of sources to guide you even further:

  1. Paste Magazine : Pros And Cons of iPhone 7 Without A Headphone Jack
  2. In-Depth iPhone Review : iPhone 7 Review
  3. Tech Times : iPhone 7 Review Roundup, What Experts Are Saying
  4. Forbes : 25 Secret Features Of iOS 10

 

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

 

Real Life

Is Augmented Reality The Future Of Business And Marketing?

Katia Arias No Comments

Imagine if you could bring all your marketing material to life, giving clients the opportunity to try your products on their phone.

Thanks to augmented reality live business is now a possibility. Easy and convenient, clients need only a phone to scan the pages of a catalog and superimpose virtual images over their own reality.

If you think this approach is too “far-fetched” I invite you to take a look at Pokémon Go, the app that reached 100M downloads in the span of weeks. Surpassing Twitter and Snapchat, users and experts both accredit the app’s success to augmented reality, which combines: real-virtual experiences, mobile friendliness and nostalgia.

 

  1. Real-Virtual Experiences

People love Pokémon Go because it takes them from being “watchers” to active “participants”. By imposing the virtual world of Pokémon over the user’s real surroundings, fans can finally know what is like to be a Pokémon master.

Now, imagine if you applied the same principle to your business. You could easily increase purchases by enabling customers to visualize how your product would look on them or in their home.

If you are a real state company, why not transforming your 2D images into 3D interactive experiences? Or, in the case of a clothing store why not let people try your virtual collections on their real bodies? just like Styliff did:

  1. Mobile Friendliness

When they launched Pokémon Go, Niantic and Nintendo understood their target market. The kids that loved Pokémon and waited 20 years for its return are today’s millennial. The generation that can’t live without technology.

To attract the new generation of buyers, I suggest you digitalize your marketing materials and make them mobile friendly. Allow your content to fit an iPhone screen and tailor it to be short, practical and shareable.

As the following image from Insperity shows, the best way to get to your new markets is through tech…

  1. Nostalgia

And lastly, Pokémon Go succeeded because it appealed  to people’s emotions. First, the app brought something that was old and cherished and made it new again. And second, the game focused on bringing back familiar faces from 1998.

Augmented reality can help your business play nostalgia by imposing the past over the future, creating a dual-reality that mixes old and new. It can adapt memories to fit new technology and use the power of familiarity & active participation to attract new customers.

So, in the end, what does augmented reality mean for business? It means a better way to attract, engage, and retain loyal customers. It attracts because it lets people access new worlds easily, it engages because it blends business and customer realities, and it retains because it can go directly to people’s hearts.

 

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

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