Category Archives: Trending

24 of the most mesmerising machines

Working in procurement you are closer than most to the thing that ultimately ends up rolling off the production line. But have you ever thought to yourself ‘how DID that come to be?’

Lucky for you then that the inquisitive minds over at How It’s Made, and those kings of the viral tap – Buzzfeed, have put together a little video that shows 24 examples of the world’s most awe-inspiring machinery.

We bet you can’t  identify what all 24 of them do…

Are apples and potatoes the sustainable energy source of the future?

Could you power your supply chain with apples and oranges?

Outside Westfield shopping centre in London’s Shepherd’s Bush, Microsoft and Carphone Warehouse have unveiled one of the world’s biggest science experiments…

Behold an enormous 20ft wide and 8ft high installation featuring a phenomenal amount of fruit and vegetables, which, amazingly, is able to wirelessly charge a Nokia Lumia smartphone.

Microsoft and Carphone Warehouse teamed up with Caleb Charland, a science enthusiast and artist, to create the magnificent charging art piece. Inspired by the school science project, where an electrical current is generated using a potato, Caleb created ‘Back To Light’ his latest body of work.

Caleb has now applied this method to create the Lumia organic charger using 800 apples and potatoes.

Bet you wish you’d paid more attention in your science class now?

The curse of Generation Y: Meet the Millennials

A great deal has been written about Millennials… A lot of it, not all that nice – so it’s with interest that we pored over the new infographic compiled from research Collegefeed conducted on a 5000-strong sample.

The results can be viewed below in full, but first some context for anyone not quite up to speed… You might already be familiar with the previous Generation X, well Millennials are members of the next wave – sometimes referred to as Generation Y. As for what makes up this demographic, the boundaries are loose at best – those born anywhere between the 1980s and 2000s have been included in commentary to date.

Collegefeed.com

Although 60 percent of those surveyed were female, the results show that the top 10 list was predominately made-up of male role-models (only 4 were women).

Alongside strong entrepreneurial-powerhouses such as Jobs, Gates, Musk, Zuckerberg, and Branson – there sits quite a selection of personalities from the world of showbiz and entertainment.

Other survey results included Pope Francis, Marissa Mayer, Jon Stewart, Beyonce Knowles, and Jennifer Lawrence. Bey’s done a lot for female empowerment, and we love The Hunger Games trilogy as much as the next person, but are such inclusions casting our young Millennials in an unflattering light?

Collegefeed.com

30 percent of those surveyed stated they are worried that their employers believe they are lazy and/or entitled. This could tie into a later line of questioning that asked if Millennials felt they had a harder time of finding jobs (compared to earlier generations). The result? A resounding 70 percent answered ‘Yes’.

This is in direct contrast to recent job reports and statistics that have shown a decrease in the overall unemployment rate for new graduates.

Collegefeed.com

The last of the survey’s findings focused on the Millennial’s motivation factors for choosing a role. The majority put ‘Salary’ as their top priority.

These days you read more and more about companies shying away from promoting, hiring, or training talented Millennial candidates. If you look at the survey note that both ‘Stability’ and ‘advancement opportunities’ came towards the bottom – could this be another black mark against the Millennial’s perceived reputation?

Various factors come into play, says Tony Sorenson, CEO of Versique Search (versique.com) and Consulting and McKinley Consulting (mckinleyconsulting.com). Millennials typically transition jobs more frequently than employees from the previous generation, which can cause hiring managers to assume they’ll lose younger employees quicker, making it harder to justify investing time and money in them. “Unfortunately, this trend can translate into the organization missing out on valuable talent and Millennials feeling undervalued,” says Sorenson.

Has any of this changed your outlook on the Millennial workforce, or are you a member of Generation Y and have a polarising opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources: Collegefeed.com, Star Tribune

Why you want this man to buy you a car

Could this man make a living out of procurement?

Up until recently David Johns was just an ordinary Australian going about his life… But that changes when Johns decided to create the world’s slickest used car ad.

Jaroslav Monchak/Shutterstock.com

The outcome was simple – Johns just wanted to get rid of his 1999 Holden Barina hatchback. A car which isn’t going to set the used car pages alight; sure it’s a capable-enough little runner, but its unassuming looks won’t make potential buyers go weak at the knees.

It also helps that Johns is a digital director of an Australian design agency, but who was he to know the Internet would warm to it like it did…

Such is the success of the viral hit (over 845k views and counting), Johns has agreed to donate the proceeds to a charity looking to fight cancer.

Of course, at the end of the day it’s all a bit of fun, but we can’t help think that through the video Johns has demonstrated some of the attributes of a procurement superstar. He seems to have made a pretty solid case for the car – that shows negotiations nous!

A solid professional also requires the ability to innovate – Johns video has confidently disrupted the typically-staid view of the used car market, while in the same breath inspiring others to follow his lead.

Discover more must-have attributes

But this isn’t the first time this approach has been used… Back in 2008 the American’s did it first! Here they are with their slick ad for a decidedly-dodgy 1988 Dodge Aries K Car.

The same dynamism and ambition is also present in this Swedish used car ad for a Volvo (1.6m YouTube views).

What do you make of the video; do you think you could do better, and more importantly – would you hire him?

Winning leadership lessons from the World Cup

How to be a real contender, improve your game and win. 

A lot has been written about Brazil’s spectacular fall from grace, but less on Germany’s titanic struggle in the climatic last game. Now the dust has settled and people go back to their normal lives, what has the World Cup actually taught us?

Let’s hear from a few experts:

Avoid creating mavericks so says S. Venkatesh, executive director, KEC International, RPG Group.

“It is something we grapple within organizations all the time on how to encourage teams while encouraging star performers. I believe in encouraging star performers. Only star performers bring in exponential change.”

Develop the next generation – Anurag Shrivastava, chief executive, HRNext.

A leader inspires confidence in his people and motivates them towards achieving a common goal… It is important that an organization should continuously work on developing its next generation of leaders and technical experts.”

Shrivastava continues: “They may not be the best, but they have the necessary know-how in their domains. An organization should encourage and recognize the next level of performers as well. Globally and in India, firms such as General Electric Co., Google Inc., Hindustan Unilever Ltd and ITC Ltd keep working on developing their leadership pipeline and conduct programmes for further enhancement of employee skill sets.”

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a contributor on Forbes.com who specializes in the psychology of leadership writes:

“Whether in sports, politics or business, major achievements are always the result of team rather than individual efforts. And teams can never emerge without the vision, guidance, and management of a leader.

Good leaders may seem bigger than their teams, but only when they are attention-seeking narcissists. Although we tend to attribute collective team achievements to specific individuals, individual talent only shines in the right context. That is, you can be the most talented person in the world but on your own you will achieve nothing.”

In summing up, he comments: “Although we tend to regard talent and personality as two unrelated things, there is a close connection between them. Talent without personality is less likely to succeed than personality without talent. And the bigger the stakes, the more success depends on personality.”

Can you add any more to our scorecard? If so, leave your World Cup leadership lessons in the comments below. No fouls please!

Has Amazon identified a niche market in wearable tech?

Where do you stand on wearable gadgets? Internet retailer Amazon is betting big on the niche wearable technology market.

Amazon has launched a specialist storefront dedicated to wearable technology and gadgets.

Ahmet Misirligul/Shutterstock.com

Whether it’s activity trackers, smartwatches, heart rate monitors, wearable cameras, or Google Glass-like devices, Amazon has struck upon a particularly fashionable niche…

Amazon’s one-stop-shop for wearable technology has the potential to disrupt –it is after-all a first mover in this new retail space, and as such expect the copycats to follow in their droves…

Wearables on the rise

When it comes to both innovation and appeal, wearables have come a relatively long way in a short space of time. Originally viewed as a passing fad back in 2012, tech plaudits predicted that wearable tech would go the way of 3D. Sure, it’s an interesting space to be in, but could it fuel a sustainable ecosystem over time?

In that same year (2012) wearables accounted for a $2.7 billion spend, with the number expected to reach $8.3 billion by 2018. By that reckoning, wearables are going to be with us for a little longer yet…

Nike+ Fuel Band

At the time of writing, the Amazon store lists over 100 different products. But with wearables expanding into clothing and even skin, Deloitte predicts global sales of wearables will top 10 million during 2014.

In addition, a survey by Accenture indicated that smartwatches appealed to 46% of people polled, whereas Google Glass (or an alternative) attracted 42% of the vote. In total 6000 people were polled.

Never say “game over”

The electrical equipment manufacturer Cressall has shared this inspirational story of Simon Marston with us, and how he managed to bring an almost-forgotten technology back to life.

g-stockstudio/Shutterstock.com

Some technologies never take off. It’s the way of the world. Whatever happened, for example, to hovercrafts – the favourite transportation method of Sir Sean Connery’s James Bond? The technology world is full of inventions that never made it big, often because they were too ahead of their time. Take the example of the Leicester-manufactured Virtuality machine, a precursor of the Oculus Rift.

For all the nostalgics out there, Simon has restored two Virtuality machines and made them available to the general public. One of the machines can be seen at the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester (UK).

In the early 90s, the main purpose of the Virtuality technology, was gaming; amazing, never-before-seen video games that allowed you to completely immerse yourself in a fictional universe. The machine completely captured Simon’s imagination during his days at college.

Years later, when Simon had the opportunity to purchase his own VR machine, he just couldn’t resist it. He spent months chasing long-lost information and invested significant financial resources to make his VR 1000 series functional again. At first, he tried to find the necessary information online, but to no avail. While some people seemed to remember the technology, none had insight about its internal workings.

The main problem was caused by the old screens, which were broken and couldn’t be replaced, because they were obsolete. Simon decided the best solution was to convert video signals from the VR machine into a new generation screen. His attempt was successful, meaning he could once again play some of his favourite arcade games.

So what is the purpose of this quest? Simon’s love of retro technology and his understanding of how people react to it are only two of the reasons he refused to believe the game was over for Virtuality, when most people had all but forgotten about it.

Follow Simon’s example and seize every opportunity – never let your dreams die, instead make them a living, breathing, reality.

Somebody just paid $1 million to say “Yo”… Is this the most pointless app ever?

Can a simple “Yo” change the way we communicate? This new Android/iOS app thinks it can…

LDprod/Shutterstock.com

‘Yo’ describes itself as a “single-tap zero character communication tool” – yes, it sounds impressive when you put it like that – but peer behind its faceless purple façade and you might be left scratching your head.

What is a ‘Yo’?

Good question. When we delved into the Yo app, we initially questioned how it has managed to amass a whopping $1 million in funding (yep, you read that right). Its simplicity is clear from the start – its kaleidoscopic colour scheme reinforces this playful, carefree aesthetic. In-fact the hardest part is probably downloading and importing the unlucky recipients of your Yos (your contacts).

When you send a Yo, your contact is alerted via a push notification on their mobile, along with an audible ‘Yo’ greeting. The first few times it’s kind-of funny.

A Facebook ‘poke’ for a new generation?

While Facebook’s pokes could be easily ignored, Yo has the potential to get in your face. And as you might have guessed – this could get old, real fast.

Still, it must be doing something right. For an app that took 8 hours to create, it’s already home to 50000 users, who’ve collectively sent four million Yos (plus there’s that $1 million in funding in-case you’ve forgotten…) So as well as rising up-and-up the app charts, it’s forging ahead in the venture capital rankings too…

It’s easy of course to write it off as some trivial, throwaway app – but Yo does cause us to ponder the validity of push notifications and their potential usefulness both inside and outside of the workplace.

Jesse Pinkman - Breaking Bad. Copyright AMC
Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman was known for yelling “Yo!” a lot. We reckon he’s downloaded it already.

The importance of push notifications

Push notifications (sometimes known as push messaging) are nothing new – if you own a mobile phone then you’ll have no-doubt come across push services at some point. Push is linked to a publish/subscribe model – so if you’ve ever signed up to a news service (or channel), it’s highly likely you’ll have received the content through push messaging.

Could an app like Yo therefore be used to our advantage? Imagine this, what if we could send a Yo (or push alternative) to a buyer/purchaser/supplier to inform them of the following scenarios: Stock is low – need to re-order, alert to quality issue, goods have been delivered, goods have not been delivered, etc.

Of course there are other potential uses for good – we think it would work effectively in emergency situations, with Yos being sent to relevant parties to take action.

What do you make of Yo: Is it just another flash in the pan, or is there the potential for interesting use elsewhere?

Yo can be downloaded for free from both the Google Play and iOS store  – there appear to be two listings however, look for the one made by Life Before Us LLC.

Don’t sell yourself short – stand out from the crowd

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

Personal branding can make a huge impact on your ability to do your job in the procurement industry.

Personal branding experts suggest that leveraging your online presence, considering who’s in your network and assessing your dress sense can all make an impact on your personal brand.

Kate O’Reilly is the principal of Sydney’s Optimiss Consulting, which advises corporate firms on gender equality, organisational change, business, communications, human capital, corporate governance and personal branding.

Your personal brand as what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself.

We’re all familiar with the personal brands of celebrities such as Richard Branson or Lady Gaga, but we need to learn that personal branding is essential for our success too, O’Reilly says.

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s about what people say when they’re endorsing you or putting you forward for a new role or a new project.”

A lot of people don’t realise that it takes a lot of time to think about personal branding, or that it is something you can construct yourself. “It’s not that it’s artificial. Best branding is authentic, but it’s calculated and planned.”

Developing and delivering a personal brand can be achieved by having an up-to-date CV and LinkedIn profile, being on message and consistent in what you say, considering your look and style, being nice to other people and making connections and delivering on a quality experience to everyone who deals with you.

“Consistency is key in your message, in your look in how you treat people. It’s about being professional in everything you do, getting back to people when you say you will, and delivering on time.

“Is your elevator pitch compelling and memorable? You need to consider why you stand out and what you stand for.”

O’Reilly says there’s nothing fake about manufacturing your personal brand.

“Rather, what you’re doing is deciding how you want to be remembered and having a really good consistent message in absolutely everything you do, and every contact everyone has with you. It’s like any good brand – they pick two or three things, and they repeat them over and over again.”

Consistency is key, she says.

CEO of Brisbane personal branding firm Jump the Q, Rachel Quilty says the number of professionals wanting to develop a specific strategic style has grown. Personal branding affords you more mobility within your industry, she says.

“Consider yourself a brand. Image management is vital in today’s business world. Improving your image and personal brand is an investment in building your personal profile, reputation and the results you will achieve.”

Social procurement is gathering global momentum

ASDF_MEDIA/Shutterstock.com

Companies bold enough to step into social procurement are discovering that it’s helping solve business problems and also improving the bottom line.

A recent report on social procurement found that the movement is gathering momentum both in governments and private businesses around the world.

The report, Corporate Social Procurement in Australia, was conducted by Australia’s leading social enterprise development organisation, Social Traders and The Faculty, and found that 67 per cent of companies to respond currently undertake social procurement, or intend to do so in the near future.

It found that more than $905 million was directed to social procurement by 11 businesses. This figure is expected to rise quickly, with another 18 respondents committed to connecting social procurement initiatives by 2014. The research included a literature review and a survey of 21 Australian businesses with a market capitalisation of $221 billion.

Many companies tip their toes into social procurement with a pilot program, or undertake work within discrete business areas. Some go on to develop company policies to ensure social procurement becomes the norm.

A program’s success is usually measured by jobs created, volume and percentage of total money spent, and the value delivered to the organisation and the community.

Leighton Contractors chief procurement officer, Visna Lampasi is one of those in this space to facilitate a significant engagement project with indigenous businesses into the supply chain, increasing expenditure with indigenous suppliers to $3 million last year, with a $5 million target set for this year. This achievement has gone partway toward seeing her named CPO of the Year for 2014.

Craig Laslett, managing director of Leighton Contractors says the company believes it has a responsibility to contribute to the growth and advancement of Indigenous people and communities.

“Our organisation-wide focus on strong leadership and advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Straight people and their communities starts from the top, with my personal commitment to enhancing the lives and opportunities for Indigenous Australians.”

Leading Australian construction, mining and services contractors, Thiess Services moved into this space more than a decade ago when it invited a social enterprise specialising in land care management, Marriott Enviro Services, to provide workers for landscape operations to general maintenance, grass and garden maintenance and painting.

Since 2009, Thiess has spent around $1.3 million a year with Marriott, which employs a large number of people with a disability.

Cadbury

Australian FMCG brand Cadbury also made a strategic decision to shift to Fair Trade certified cocoa in 2010, at a cost of $45 million. Soon after this, Cadbury became the world’s largest buyer of certified cocoa, with sales increasing.

Todd Stitzer, CEO of Cadbury said in an interview included in the report that: “The greatest power consumers have is of their buying dollar … if consumers feel that they want products more ethically produced, they should buy what they value.”

And yet, many corporates have little understanding of social procurement.

Matthew Bonwick of The Faculty Management Consultants says that the greatest challenge to the implementation of social procurement is where to start.

The key is to start small and work up to bigger things, he says.

“Many passionate advocates can be found on the ground floor of corporates, so identify existing leaders from within before scaling up,” he says.

Broad spectrum adoption from within a company is critical to corporate legitimacy in the medium run, he says.

“As markets develop and consumers become more educated, these strategies will become defining elements of competitor advantage. And key enablers will be passionate people and strategic senior managers who are willing to support the learning curve.”