Friday, August 29, 2008

Microsoft Sphere

AMD Ups Market Share Notebook Volume Channel

ContextNB3

AMD Mobile Turion 64 X2 increased market share in distribution sales of PC notebooks, outperforming Intel in the consumer IT space during February, according to Context for France, Germany and UK.

In the volume channel (incorporating multiple retailer and mail order), the share of Intel's Core 2 Duo processor was 34% in February (stable month-on-month, but down from 39% registered in December).

In second position was Celeron M, with 26%, followed by AMD Mobile Turion 64 X2, which registered an all-time high market share in this type of channel, with 21% and surpassing Pentium Dual Core in fourth position with 14%.

In the consumer IT space within the volume channel, AMD became the best selling processor vendor for the first time in the past 12 months, with its Mobile Turion 64 X2 processor gaining 30% market share, outperforming Intel's Core 2 Duo, which registered 27% and Celeron M with 24%.

Original source: Consumer I.T.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Marketing

"We can make more in mobile than desktop, eventually. The reason is because the mobile device is more targeted. Think about it: You carry your phone with you everywhere. It knows all about you. We can use that to do a very, very targeted ad. Over time, Google will make more money from mobile advertising."
-- Google CEO Eric Schmidt

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Repost: Budget Strategically To Stay On Course

By Tim Berry | August 28, 2008 - Click here for the original post.

These 9 tips will help you manage your budget, steer straight and control your destiny.

Budgeting is probably the least-loved business management tool. Even the word "budget" brings to mind disapproving accountants and denied requests. And how often have we heard the phrase, "it's not in the budget"? Nevertheless, budgeting is one of the most valuable tools in your management arsenal.

What Do I Get Out of Budgeting?budget
Let's look at what budgeting can do for your business: Budgeting puts the money where strategy's mouth is. I call it strategic alignment. Spend money on strategic priorities.

It sounds obvious, but during more than 30 years' working with businesses of all sizes that are trying to grow, I've seen them do just the opposite: They talk about priorities when they get together, but spend on other things entirely. For example, I worked with a company that intended to emphasize customer service but spent nothing on employee training, more employees or better-quality items to sell.

Budgeting Means Taking the Wheel
The next question is: How will I know whether I'm actually addressing priorities in my day-to-day operations? You think it's obvious, but I've been there: The phone starts ringing, fires need to be put out, days and weeks and months go by.

With the budgeting process, however, you can turn to the numbers and see how your spending breaks down into categories. Compare that to your original budget. Now you have a tool to track your progress and, of course (here's where the management comes in), make corrections.

Budgeting is Precaution, Safety and Risk-Proofing During a Storm
If the economic news spells a recession, we all run to our budgets to prepare for the storm. If sales go down, we need to recognize it quickly and identify possible course corrections. Usually that means watching expenses. That's all budgeting. Budgeting is about process, not just numbers.

So that's how I look at budgeting: It's a process, not just a budget. What's really important about budgeting--and where you get the real benefit for your business--is in completing the full process. That means you develop a good budget for the beginning of the year and then carefully manage changes--budget plan vs. actual budget--throughout the year. Here are nine tips to help you develop a good budget:

  1. Your budget will be wrong; all budgets are: Budgeting means guessing the future--and it doesn't have to be an accurate guess to be vital to management. If you don't have a budget--even if it's off--you can't work with it to correct your course.
  2. The review process is absolutely critical: It isn't the budget itself that makes the budgeting worthwhile. It's the review that comes regularly, focusing on what's different from the budget. That means comparing budgeted expenses to actual expenses.
  3. The most important single point is the review schedule: Never finish a budget without setting a schedule for budget review. That means when, where and who will attend the meeting. As my company grew from just me to 40 employees, we set up a regular budget review the third Thursday of every month, giving us enough time to close the month. It doesn't take long. We bring in lunch and we're done by 2:30 p.m. Budget review is a powerful management tool. Bringing your people together to work on the budget builds an automatic peer process, pride in the performers and incentive for those who can do better.
  4. Keep the assumptions visible: The first agenda item in the review meeting is to look at the assumptions. What's changed? How does that affect our budget? We live in constant change, so good budgeting keeps the change where we can see it and manage it. Sticking to a budget isn't necessarily the best course. Managing a budget, by seeing how assumptions have changed and correcting the course, is better.
  5. Keep it simple: Try to build the budget so the information that comes out matches the people responsible as much as possible. Keep it summarized so you can see it well. If you divide the information into lots of detail categories, all you see is the trees, and management requires seeing the forest. Build it so you can summarize and aggregate.
  6. Tools, tools, tools: You may be like me, in that one of my weaknesses is that I get lost in the tools--the accounting software, for example, or the management database--when what really matters is the human process, the discipline to do things right. Just in case that's true, let me offer some battle-scarred tips about the tools:
    • Your bookkeeping software isn't the problem. There are lots of competent software tools that help you keep track of the money and manage the budget. Some are better than others, but the best one for you is whichever one works with easy data export from your bank.
    • Usually banks offer two or three options for data links. Let your bank do the heavy lifting of data entry. I've worked with Quicken, QuickBooks, Microsoft Money, Accpac and several versions of Sage and Peachtree. Right now my favorite is Netbooks. But the software isn't the problem. If your software doesn't talk to your bank, look into that and consider switching. If it does, then software isn't your problem.
  7. Match your accounting reports to key management items: It's called chart of accounts, and what it means is setting up categories that match control and responsibility, and the information you can manage later on. Accounting is going to be very detailed, but budgeting and budget management need summaries of categories and more aggregation.
    Set up your budget so you can see strategic priorities. For example, in my company we needed to view sales by product and by channel, so we built the chart of accounts to categorize sales by product and channel. I worked with a coffee shop that needed to see sales broken into general categories such as drinks, food items and accessories. If that's what you need to manage, then set up your bookkeeping to show it.
    As another example, break expenses into areas of control, like who's responsible, rather than type of expense. We have travel broken into upper management travel, sales travel, marketing travel and product development travel, because we want visibility for the specific people in charge of sales, marketing and product development. And that's a company with 40 people, not 4,000.
  8. Consistency matters, regardless of tools: Do as I say, not as I've done. Some years we keep switching categories in the budget, trying to get better visibility. Those years we typically have less information because we can't go back to the past. When we stick to our categories over time, it's easier to see trends.
  9. Do the above.You'll be glad you did: Good budgeting brings your words and your numbers together. This is what you need to control and steer your company toward the future you want. The alternative is haphazardly reacting to events--essentially drifting. Good budgeting lets you control your destiny.  Make no mistake: Budgeting is one of the keys to management.

Tim Berry is the "Business Plans" coach at Entrepreneur.com and is president of Palo Alto Software Inc., which produces the industry's leading business planning software, Business Plan Pro, as well as other popular planning applications for businesses. He is the author of The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan  published by Entrepreneur Press.

Friday, August 22, 2008

6 Ways To Cut Your Commuting Costs

Inc.com - The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs came up with 6 ways to cut your commuting costs. Here they are:

  1. Carpooling
    According to eRideShare.com, an Edwardsville, Ill.-based website that helps organize rideshares, interest in carpooling has jumped higher in recent weeks than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when disabled oil refineries sent gas prices soaring. Beyond savings, commuters say they're also concerned with reducing greenhouse gases.
  2. Bikesharing
    Taking a cue from Paris, Amsterdam, and other European cities, many U.S. employers are now launching bike-sharing programs of their own, allowing workers to sign out bikes for the ride to and from home. Cities are also getting in on the action. In May, Washington D.C. unveiled a city-wide version, with over 120 public bikes available to anyone with a special swipe card.
  3. Shorter workweeks
    A handful of U.S. companies are wiping Fridays off the schedule altogether by adding an hour or two to workdays during the rest of the week. Not only do workers save commuting costs, they're also showing up Monday mornings in a more productive mood, employers say. In Birmingham, Ala., city employees are now being instructed to work four days a week, in response to rising gas prices.
  4. Public transit discounts
    More local transit authorities are now offering discounts to workers who purchase bus, train, and subway passes through their employers or third-party vendors. For their part, employees benefit from pre-tax savings on the passes. That, and a morning commute that doesn't involve stop-and-go traffic.
  5. Telecommuting
    Thanks to the growth of the Web and network technology, nearly 30 million Americans now work remotely at least one day every month. A recent study estimates that 40 percent of all U.S. workers could do their jobs from home, saving up to 625 million barrels of oil annually.
  6. Walking
    Less than 6 percent of Americans currently walk to work. That might change soon. Recent surveys show job-seekers are now looking for work closer to home, with many drawing the line at just 10 miles. At the same time, employers say long commutes are turning away their best job candidates.

You can find the Inc.com slide show here: Inc.com Slide Show - 6 Ways to cut your commuting costs

 

Image Metrics

Marc Rapp posted this very interesting video on how faces are digitalized. As the former EMEA Head of Precision (Dell's Workstations), this caught my attention.


Have a look at the video and be amazed...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Understanding Your Customers Needs/Pains (Sales Process)

  1. Let the customer do the talking.
    Ask questions about him/her and how he/she got to that position. It will tell you a lot about who you are dealing with.
    Ask questions about the business: where it came from and where it is going, how he/she will support that strategic goal, what the needs/issues/pains are he/she is encountering.
    Keep asking open questions like: could you give me an example of that, help me understand that matter a little better, what do you mean by that, how is that an issue, what could solve the issue, ...
  2. Let the customer do the talking - Bis.
    Don't let the customer come back to you with questions. Once you are talking he/she will have time to think and to form an opinion about you and your company. When asked what you/your company does, always tell then the issue/pain you solved for a "reference" customer, never tell them what product/service you are selling (at least not in the initial face). Always reply at the end of your conversation if they encountered a similar issue and ask them how they are dealing with it.
  3. Who else is suffering (aka the pain chain)?
    Always try to find out who else in the organization is suffering from the issues/pains mentioned. The more people are involved, the more willingness you will find to solve the issue.
  4. Why would they want to solve the issue?
    Try to find out what the compelling reason is to fix the issue? Is it:
    - Increase in revenue;
    - Decrease of costs;
    - Increase of productivity;
    - Increase of service levels.
    This will be the core message of your value proposition and ROI. If you can't find the reason, most likely they will not purchase your product/service.
  5. When will they act?
    By when do they need to solve the issue? Even more important, what will happen if they don't solve the issue, what will the impact be on the organization?
  6. Ask for time.
    Never tell the customer you have a product/service that fits their needs straight away. Always ask for some time to come back with a proposal. Meantime, call them to check if you understood their issue/pain 100% correct (the Columbo trick). If you have an off the shelve solution, price will be the decisive factor.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Increasing Oil Price = Local Jobs = Virtual Information Globalization

The increasing oil price is becoming an issue for the "outsource"

countries (manufacturing). Today, we see ships leaving the Chinese ports loaded with goods for the US and Europe. Strangely enough, they return empty. Why? Because it is cheaper to sail back empty than fully loaded. One day, oil will be too expensive to be wasted as fuel for cars, trucks, boats or planes (in that order).

Local manufacturing will be dominating the world economy again. World economy, local?? Yes, in order to be competitive, and save on transportation cost, production will have to be closer to the customer. From the other hand, companies will become more and more global, instead of multinational. Resources, people in this case (or should we call them brains) will be recruited locally. They will than become part of a virtual global community.

Today, we see the first steps in that direction. Unified Communications and Web 2.0 are already providing the tools needed to make it happen: audio/video conferencing, collaboration tools, knowledge sharing communities, ... . A huge number of "global" companies are being introduced, each and everyone of them introduced both Unified Communications and Web 2.0 tools to reduce their travel expenses with 25%.

I would like to use Germany as an example, business travel counts for € 80.000.000.000,- (yes, 80 Billion Euros). If that amount could be reduced with 25%, that would mean that companies would have access to an additional € 20 Billion. That money could be used to regain profitability (long term stability), employment and R&D (can't wait to see the new products and/or services that would come from that money). At the same time, it will also reduced the carbon footprint and as such result in a cleaner, healthier environment for our kids.

Meanwhile, the oil companies are working on new and cleaner forms of energy (gas to liquid, hydrogen, ...) and globalization will start all over again... (but most probably in a reduced form).

An Anthropological Introduction To YouTube

55:33 Video by Michael Wesch on the YouTube generation, presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008.