All posts by Matt Farrington-Smith

Vote for Procurious in the UK Blog Awards 2015!

We’ve been entered into the biggest event in the UK blogging calendar, the annual UK Blog Awards!

Who’s heard of a social network that also publishes its own editorial content? LinkedIn goes so far, but Pulse is essentially community-curated…  This is where Procurious comes in.

Vote for Procurious in the UK Blog Awards 2015

Like what you read on Procurious? Help us out by voting at the UK Blog Awards 2015 (or #UKBA15 for the more social media savvy).

It’s super easy and will only take a second. Here’s how:

How to register your vote

Head on over to our official #UKBA15 voting page

Fill out your full name and email address in the required fields.

Press Submit!

Please note, if you vote more than once your vote will be not be counted. 

Share on social media

On Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+? Spread the word on using #UKBA15 and the link to our page http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/Procurious-2

We’ll also be sharing the link to vote around Procurious in the next few weeks, feel free to share and repost to your network too.

Voting opened on Monday 10th November 2014 and runs until Monday 1st December 2014.

Procurious thanks you for your support in advance – we are building a community, and we wouldn’t be here without you.

Procurious wants to hear from you: help us to help you!

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that community is at the very heart of Procurious – it’s in our blood.

Write for Procurious

We hope you’re enjoying the journey so far and benefiting from the online learning, discussions with other members, our worldwide event listing directory, and informative editorial. Yet we still want to do more, we’re not resting on our laurels.  We want to make Procurious full-to-bursting with more of the stuff you want to see, but in order to shape this we need to call on you – the members.

Maybe you’re organising an event, have the latest, greatest training video that the world NEEDS to see, or just have something interesting to say. Whatever the motivation, we want to hear from you!

Are we missing an event?

If you’re organising (or know of) a super-cool procurement or supply chain event that would be of value to fellow Procurious members, drop us a line to get it added to our listings.

If you can supply an overview, programme details, confirmed speakers, the intended audience, and fee (if applicable) – even better!

Take a look at this example listing to get more of an idea of what we’re looking for.

Remember Procurious is a truly global network, so we’ll advertise your event no-matter how far afield…

Learning with Procurious

We’re always looking to expand our learning resources. Whether you’ve created a helpful tutorial video, or have the perfect voice for podcasting – we want to check it out.

We offer free samplers of all of our videos, but some can attract a fee when unlocking the full version. Let us know your preference when you submit your URL for consideration.

Call for contributors

Fancy yourself as a bit of a wordsmith? Is there a frustrated writer inside of you clawing to get out?

We’re putting out a call for fresh new talent to contribute to our ever-growing pool of guest writers.

So if you can string a sentence together, understand the value of a good headline, and can resist the urge to prattle on – we want to hear from you. Need some inspiration? Head on over to the blog and see what we’re talking about today. Send us an email, or a message via Procurious to get involved.

The Apprentice: A lesson in how not to market yourself

It’s been billed as the “job interview from hell”… 

To our UK, US, and AUS readers, any mention of The Apprentice will unilaterally  send shivers down your spine and cause a gleeful smile to creep across your face. For the rest of you, sit back and prepare to get schooled in the art of bad self-promotion…

The Apprentice (UK) - worst quotes

Every year sixteen of the UK’s most promising businessmen and women (see also: misguided marketeers/shifty salespeople/glamour-model in disguise) compete in a gruelling twelve week process to be named Lord Sugar’s Apprentice. It’s a format borrowed from the hugely popular US Donald Trump iteration. The difference being, the victor gets to to win the top prize: a business investment of £250k, with Sugar retaining 50% of the company.

With the exception of a winning handful, Lord Sugar (along with his two politely patient aides) observe these candidates through weeks of ingenious tasks to test their sales and negotiation skills, marketing savviness, entrepreneurial drive, and procurement acumen.

Are you often surprised by your own brilliance?

We’ve gathered some of the finest utterances to fall out of their mouths in the series’ 10-year history for your enjoyment. As you can see, if you get someone to talk about himself or herself – it has the tendency to bring out the very worst in people… If you plan on going further in your professional career, take heed, don’t commit the mortal sin of repeating any of the following!

“Everything I touch turns to sold” Stuart Baggs (2010)

“I can sell ice to the Eskimos” – Melissa Cohen (2010)

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the Moon” – Melody Hossaini (2011)

“I’m a ‘Great’ of my generation. I’m an innovator and leader in business. I take inspiration from Napoleon” – Zeeshaan Shah (2013)

“As a salesperson, I would rate myself as probably the best in Europe” – Jennifer Maguire (2008)

“I’m like a shark, right at the top of the food chain. I take what I want, when I want. I truly am the reflection of perfection” – Ricky Martin (2012)

“My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money” – Shibby Robati (2010)

“There are two types of people in the world: Winners and… I don’t know how to say the word, I can’t say it” – Ian Stringer (2008)

“I have the energy of a Duracell bunny, sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit, and a brain like Einstein” –  Luisa Zissman (2013)

Now we’ve armed you with inspiration, we want to hear the very worst examples you’ve encountered in your careers. Can you beat these?

Stay up-to-date with Procurious




What makes people hide from social networks?

Ello. Is this the social network you have been waiting for?

This is what happens when social networks like Facebook and Twitter start to veer off-course – disillusioned programmers come up with something they think everyone wants: ad-free, and to some extent – private.

Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.

Going incognito

But what does this ‘simple, beautiful & ad-free’ new platform actually achieve? At this early stage it all reeks of being a bit too cool for school… You get the sense it’s been designed for those desperate to stand out, but in the same breath want to rebel against the system, damn the man. There’s rebellion bubbling beneath the monochrome swooshes, but everything is so hidden it’s hard to fathom what’s really going on.

You want to hide? Sure, you can do that (along with everyone else who’s desperately trying to suss out if their friends are there too). We’re as good as invisible – but this isn’t entirely the happy outcome everyone thought it would be.

“Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold…”

OK, maybe we’re overplaying Ello’s original modus-operandi here – but deep down it is still driving at the same thing.

Why is anonymity so important?

Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.
Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.

Social networks (by their very nature) are social. They are a not palm-laden solace for shying away from the wandering eyes of the world.

Many will surely (mistakenly) flock to Ello for peace of mind -after all, a few lofty statements go a long way… But on the face of it, it seems that Ello is no different: The information Ello collects includes your location, language, referring web site, and time spent visiting Ello.

Dig a little deeper and we note that users can however opt to switch this tracking off by visiting their settings page. With the best intentions this still won’t stop your browser from communicating/disclosing your activity to Internet servers the world over – albeit anonymously – so is there really such a thing as going dark?

On its ‘WTF’ page Ello reiterates that it respects a browser’s Do Not Track preferences, but notes such efforts are effectively null and void if you happen to use Chrome, or use services Google-powered search services or YouTube.

Did you manage to get an invite? You can add me on mfsmith20 and we can explore this crazy place together…

What do you make of it all: do you think that Ello has a worthwhile place in society? 

Staying active and healthy with Jawbone UP24

Fitness trackers are proving big business; if you need proof, just know that the likes of Nike, Sony, Fitbit, and Samsung have already jumped onboard the somewhat profitable activity train.

The Jawbone UP24 is another from this particular stable, in so much as it’s an activity tracker designed to be worn on the wrist.

Jawbone UP24 fitness tracker review

Design and appearance 

The Jawbone UP24’s unobtrusive nature makes it perfect for those just dipping their toe into the activity tracker waters. If you’re scared of making a statement,  and instead are looking to make small, gradual changes to your lifestyle, then this could be the fitness band for you.

For the fashion-conscious among you, the Jawbone UP24 is available in a variety of colours – namely: red, navy blue, lemon lime, onyx, persimmon, and pink coral.

Jawbone UP24 fitness band - reviewed

A selection of sizes (small, medium, and large) ensures you’ll get the best fit – there’s not much of a difference in weight between the models either. The UP24 weighs in at 19g, 22g, and 23g respectively.

The band itself is made out of toughened, textured rubber. And we had no concerns when it came to wearing it for long periods of time, as the rubber happily possesses hypoallergenic qualities (skin irritation be gone – hurrah!)

Charging is achieved via a 2.5mm connector (think headphone jack in all but function) – this isn’t your standard USB charging cable. But you’re only looking at around 80 minutes for a full charge when connected.

How does it work?

What's inside the Jawbone UP24
The innards of the band.

The UP24 couples a Tri-axis accelerometer with some natty algorithms to passively track and quantify your steps, distance, active and idle time.

By taking into account your age, gender, height and weight, the band can also calculate the number of calories burned during a period of activity.

The band itself tracks your movement and sleep, but elsewhere the UP app will keep tabs on your meals and mood.

UP24 app

This is Jawbone’s second activity tracker – the original Jawbone UP lacks the newies’ Bluetooth Smart syncing (useful for viewing your data in real-time).

A lack of built-in screen means you’ll still be reliant on your mobile – but you’ll likely bump into a lamppost if you’re constantly distracted/keep-checking your wrist. Suffice to say, this omission isn’t exactly a deal-breaker. Plus, the band doesn’t rely on an ever-present connection – you can happily go about your business without using your mobile as a crutch. When you get the itch to analyse your movements, simply make sure you’re within reach of your Bluetooth-enabled device and press the button on the band to sync all recent data.

Currently none of the fitness bands in the marketplace offer any form of location-tracking. If you’re after a solution that plots your run/route, a GPS running watch may better serve your needs.

In terms of record-keeping, the app puts in a sterling effort. Your steps (or progress towards the daily goal if you want to think of it that way) are displayed in the form of a helpful chart. Plus you can deep-dive to get a better look at specified time-periods, should you so wish.

Sleep is also displayed in this way – the chart will break your slumber down into heavy/light periods, duration, if you woke at all, and how many sheep you counted before nodding-off…

Gentle encouragement

Jawbone UP24 app

A little encouragement goes a long way… The UP app offers-up daily recommendations to help encourage healthy living. Whether these be around water intake, reminders to go to bed earlier, or you’ve just been inactive for too long. The band can be programmed to deliver vibrating reminders, which is useful for encouraging you to get up from your desk, and give your legs a shake. Coupled with the band, it’s like having your very own motivational speaker on your wrist…

The iOS version of the UP app also allows you to track caffeine.

If you already use apps like RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, etc. you can import data into the UP app and delve into the minutiae of your activity.

Using the Jawbone UP24
The UP24 app allows you to keep a record of your food and drink intake… like this Cava here.

I took the UP24 band along with me to Seville. In such muggy climes it would’ve been foolish to do ‘too much’, but in the gaps between siesta and a hundred mouthfuls of tapas I managed to put in more than my recommended daily average.

During my tenure with the Jawbone UP24, news of a significant update was announced. The update brings with it increased battery life (a full 14 days – up from the 7 days fresh out of the box). Updating the band will erase all current activity mind, so make sure you’ve recently synced your Jawbone before carrying it out.

Like what you’ve heard? Price-wise you can get your hands on the Jawbone UP24 for around the £105 mark in Europe.

Sourcing things differently: the world of alternative storefronts

Here in 2014 companies are increasingly looking for different ways to get products into the hands of the end user. We’re not just talking about practical logistics, but every decision and thought that informs a customer’s purchasing process. Take Internet sensation Alibaba for instance – sure you can draw parallels to other popular online storefronts, but there’s something in its old-fashioned street-vendor approach that no one else has successfully harnessed in this age.

Elsewhere HowGood is offering shoppers the chance to shop transparently, informing around sustainability and ethical factors.

What is Alibaba? Alibaba online marketplace

What is Alibaba? 

Described by The Economist as the world’s greatest bazaar, Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce platform that is single-handedly responsible for carrying out more transactions than both eBay and Amazon (and that’s combined…) In terms of numbers Alibaba represents a massive 80 per cent of online purchases in China.

Alibaba is a haven for manufacturers, suppliers, importers and exporters.

Three websites actually sit under the Alibaba umbrella, and they are: Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com.

It’s an online marketplace (for want of a better explanation), one that’s free for users to browse and buy, but sellers can pay for ads in order to stand out. It’s come some way from its roots when it existed solely for the purpose of connecting manufacturers to potential customers. In 2012 Taobao and Tmall saw transactions totalling $170 billion being made – and revenue in 2013 stood at $6.73 billion.

There’s more than just the transactional side of the business too. Services such as AliSourcePro will allow businesses to source new supplies, and get quotations for stock in under 12 hours. A payment system – Alipay, meanwhile handles small and micro financial transactions.

The rise and rise of Alibaba: A healthy investment

The Chinese e-commerce giant has made it into the history books by achieving the largest initial public offering (IPO) since records began. Upon its debut Alibaba stood tall at $92.70 (a full 38 per cent more than the original estimate) – and racking up a colossal $25 billion in total shares.

And with that, Alibaba founder Jack Ma has somewhat unsurprisingly just topped China’s rich list too.

Your sustainable weekly shop

HowGood sustainable shopping

Want to be better informed about the things you’re putting into your shopping basket?

HowGood is offered through both a dedicated app and online experience – and has just amassed $2 million in funding.

Researches and rates products based on a number of criteria (60 In total); with everything from a company’s behaviour over time, to the provenance of ingredients and the manufacturing process.

Procurement under the spotlight

HowGood’s website states:

“We investigate the products’ ingredients – and the company’s procurement and processing methods. We’ll look at everything from corporate governance to specific issues like hazardous waste emissions.

We’ll also put company behaviour in the context of their industry. So if a company’s industry has naturally low carbon emissions, their emissions policy will carry a lower weighting — and vice versa.”

HowGood’s genesis dates back to 2007, in 2014 it now shares data to small US grocers spread across 21 different states. Its ‘Featured grocer’ spotlight regularly identifies highly-rated products and suppliers.

Find out more about the food you eat at howgood.com

Will augmented reality change the manufacturing industry?

According to recently published figures – only 17 per cent believe that augmented reality is going to change manufacturing in the future.

But first a primer: what is augmented reality?

Augmented reality in manufacturing

People often confuse augmented reality (AR for short) with virtual reality, the two are wholly different beasts but it’s easy to see the logic. Virtual reality transports the user into a carefully constructed 3D, virtual world. It’s a full-blown immersive experience – and it needs to be, in order to create and sustain the illusion. Whereas augmented reality relies on digital data being overlaid on a live view of the world outside. Text, graphics and sound fill your field of vision, adding a useful extra layer of data to your immediate surroundings. In technology terms we’re talking Google Glass and Sony’s Smart EyeGlass, rather than Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus.

Factories of the future

Today there is very little practical, real-world use of augmented reality in the field. Despite being AR is still very much in its infancy many industries and professions are wising-up to the benefits the technology can afford.

Not to mention, the use of AR could expedite training – negating the use of offsite sessions and bringing it in-house instead. Similarly it has applications within the medical world, providing the surgeon with overlays of essential patient information.

Boeing, BMW and Volkswagen are working on implementing AR into their assembly lines to smooth the manufacturing process.

There’s a strong case for the use of AR within the retail and commerce space. Want to see what’s inside a product’s packaging without opening it? You can do that, sure.

How about using it to help battle immoral practice in the workplace? Google Glass is now able to detect whether someone’s happy, sad, nervous, angry or excited with the help of an app. This could help boost productivity, ensuring workers remain in a healthy state of mind, and identifying emotional strain before it fully takes hold.

Incidentally SCM World currently carries a survey on the future of manufacturing – you can take part and submit your thoughts here. The results are due to be published in October, so we’ll be keeping a careful eye on this one.

Social network faux pas

If you’ve got even a smidgen of a presence on social media then you’re in the public spotlight. Don’t damage your carefully constructed image by falling foul of these common faux pas.

Social networking faux pas

Inappropriate material

When we refer to inappropriate material, we’re not just talking about the sort of content that caused upset for Hollywood’s superstars… Insensitive opinions, jokes in bad taste, photos from that party, in-fact anything that makes you look the opposite of ‘ha ha’ silly should be pretty much avoided.

Don’t ever post anything that could harm your image, or cause major embarrassment. You never know who’s watching. Your career might thank you for it later. The Internet never forgets you know…

Changing your name

It’s all very well to hide behind a clever alter ego, but when you replace your surname with nonsense it really goes beyond the pail…

Matt ‘Twinkletoes’ Jones doesn’t imply a healthy sense of humour, it makes you look a twerp.

Game invites

This one only really applies to Facebook but it’s a humdinger… If we want to play a life-sucking, cutesy (yet mildly addictive) online game then we’ll do it of our own accord. We don’t want spurious invites and intrusive notifications cajoling us to join your sad existence.

Oh it has cute fluffy cats? OK, maybe just for a few minutes…

The written word

Are your social networking accounts wanted for crimes against the English language?

Do you flout a flagrant disregard for sentence structure, needlessly employ CamelCase in the Very Middle of Sentences, make serious spelling errors, or babble in incomprehensible text-speak? These are just some of the offenders on our list.

To all those that answered ‘yes’ – just stop it. Stop it now.

Laziness

Social networks are communication tools, let’s not forget this… But there are times when you can’t help but wonder whether this is really the right platform for your verbal diarrhoea.  It really comes to something when you’re holding conversations with your nearest and dearest when they’re in the same room.

By all means like a photo, or share an amusing anecdote but don’t use social media as an alternative to meaningful, real life interactions. Far-fetched? Nope, we’ve seen it play out on Facebook and the results made us reach for the ‘hide’ button.

Hashtags

Ah the humble hashtag (#). Hashtags have their uses, but in the wrong hands they can turn into weapons of mass annoyance. Don’t litter your status updates with the things, instead employ a shred of common sense. A general rule of thumb is stick to a maximum of 2-3 in one Tweet. Plus, stop using them on Facebook (although the social network added support for them, the experience remains mediocre at best). Stick to Twitter and Google+ for your hashtag fix.

Arguing in public

Don’t air your dirty laundry in public. All of the major social networking platforms offer private or direct messaging functionality – use them instead of causing a social media storm. It also looks wholly unprofessional, so keep your diatribe private.

Social networks

Validation services

We all need validation… Twitter validation services however are a trifle unneeded if you’re anything but a large company trying to weed out armies of zombie accounts.

If you’re on social media you should be fully aware of who’s following you, liking your pages, and interacting with your ‘brand’. Therefore leaving it to an automated tool like TrueTwit or TweetDeck (for instance) almost feels like missing the point. You shouldn’t be doing it.

Saying that, there is nothing wrong with TrueTwit  (and others of its ilk) but if you’re just starting out on social media we’d encourage you to cultivate personal connections first.

LinkedIn embarrassment

Ever receive those emails from LinkedIn telling you to ‘congratulate’ Bob Mills on his work anniversary?

In this fast-paced modern world, roles and functions change all the time, so there’s every likelihood the poor sap you’re being told to shower with glad tidings has been moved on. Maybe send condolences to Bob in the form of flowers instead?

Commitment

If your heart’s not in it then it soon becomes blindingly obvious to the people sitting at the other end. No matter your social network of choice, people ultimately choose to follow you for a reason – so don’t let them down. Post often, be friendly, engaging, and show some personality will you? A dormant account is a waste of everyone’s time and network.

Join an entirely new online network – Procurious.com
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
We’re even on Google+

Enjoyed this article? Vote for Procurious at the #UKBA15 

Twitter experiment in favorited tweets reveals dark side of social networking

In my best Carrie Bradshaw voiceover, I have to ask: are we all just social network test-subjects?

A lot of criticism has been levelled at Twitter over its new, stealth, timeline experiment.

Matt Farrington Smith talks about Twitter favorites experiment

In an effort to engage newbies, Twitter has been sharing users ‘favourite’ tweets in the timelines of people they follow. The offending tweets appear as retweets, further adding to the confusion.

Let’s get this straight, we make the choice to actively follow people on Twitter that we have an interest in. We enjoy reading their tweets, along with any retweets they make. We don’t expect to start seeing tweets from accounts we have never followed appearing in our timeline.

I don’t really see the benefits of favouriting tweets, why favourite when a retweet proves more effective? But I appreciate there are occasions when all you want to do is stick a pin in something (or need to acknowledge a Tweet). For these reasons alone Twitter’s favourite function is tailored more towards private use, moreover than consumption by the masses.

Of course by their very nature social networks need to adapt and grow. Changes are inevitable, but many users have been left puzzled as to why Twitter didn’t provide a heads-up out of courtesy. In-fact the last time Twitter spoke about its experiments was back in 2013: https://blog.twitter.com/2013/experiments-twitter

At the time of writing there is no discernible way to turn this ‘feature’ off. Plus it transcends all Twitter-supported platforms, meaning you’ll encounter it whether you’re on mobile, tablet, or desktop.

Facebook’s psychology experiments

“I’m not a lab rat!” Just a couple of months back, the Internet was awash with similar cries from Facebook users after it was revealed that Zucks’ and company had secretly carried out experiments on a sample of 700k.

The experiments involved manipulating users’ news feeds to control the emotional expressions they were subjected to.

It’s possible to view this as part of a wider ethical debate – is Facebook really allowed to play with our emotions and purposefully make us feel sad?

Facebook makes 600,000 users sad

In its defence, Facebook did speak-up about the experiments. Adam Kramer, a data scientist at Facebook revealed:

“Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone. I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused.”

He went on to explain the rationale behind such a study: “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out”.

“At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

Social networks are fragmenting over time

You could argue that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and other networks of their ilk) are so far-removed from their genesis, they’re almost unrecognisable.

When Facebook changed the algorithm that determined how often posts by pages were shown in news feeds, many felt like they were being unfairly penalized.

The change involved Facebook prioritizing content that it deems more relevant to users, but it also means page owners need to now pay should they want to reach the audience they once reached.

Sometimes less is more. This is especially true when it comes to the unending torrent of crap that spews forth daily in our news feeds. Important updates from your nearest and dearest are now punctuated by promoted or sponsored messages.

In some ways this barrage of promoted posts/tweets/statuses are like the pop-up adverts of old. The difference being your ad-blocking software proves resilient to this scourge…

Acting as Community Editor for Procurious I should point out that we take upmost care when it comes to our users’ privacy.  If you want to be part of an ethical online network that values its members, and won’t enforce experimental changes on you needlessly – then you should really stick with us.