Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bringing Slavery in the Supply Chain to Light

hile human trafficking and slavery are criminal offenses, they still persist. In fact, our global economy tends to foster these crimes by keeping that labor component within the supply chain out of sight from the consumers of the final products. Now, lawmakers are betting that transparency, first on a state level, and, possibly, on a federal level, may help solve the problem.
On September 30, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the California Senate Bill 657, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 (S.B. 657). It requires businesses that operate in California to disclose what efforts they take to purge their supply chains of human trafficking and slavery. For the electronics industry, with its deep roots in the Silicon Valley, this is significant news, and it may be the seed of a bigger change.


Transparency Combats Human Trafficking & Slavery in the Supply Chain

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When efficiency, algorithms, and labor laws collide

Timeclock Wikipedia Commons
Flexibility is considered a virtue and an essential component an agile organization which can respond to changing needs in real-time. However, when that type of flexibility comes at the expense of employees, the company may not only be crossing the line of ethics but of law.

On April 10, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman directed his office to send a letter (posted by the Wall Street Journal) to 13 major retailers.  What Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew Group Inc., L. Brands, Burlington Coat Factory, TJX Companies, Urban Outfitters, Target Corp., Sears Holding Corp., Williams Sonoma Inc., Crocs, Ann Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc were all asked were to account for questionable scheduling practices known as “on-call” shifts.

Read more in 

The Legal Limits for On-Call Shifts

Thursday, May 7, 2015

IoT to boost supply chain to the tune of $1.9 trillion

"We're all connected" served as the tagline for New York Telephone back in the last century.  That was way before people envision the level of connection made possible by the Internet of Things.  We've come a long way and will go much further, according to the forecast of a recent trend report from DHL and Cisco on the positive impact IoT will have for supply chains.
Read more in 

IoT to Deliver $1.9 Trillion Boost to Supply Chain

Big data alone is not enough for an agile enterprise

Ever get a promotional email or ad that has no relevance to you? We all have, and it’s usually due to the marketing algorithms used to analyze big data inputs responding incorrectly to the wrong signal. For example, eBay started applying algorithms to the tags used to track customers in 2007 to measure the relevance of search results on its site. After a couple of years of success, the results became less accurate and seemed more random and arbitrary. The algorithms no longer worked because one of the tags had shifted. Events like that one resulted in customers seeing search results or receiving marketing emails that made no sense to them.
“The algorithm is not a human brain and doesn’t realize that the parameters have changed when tags change,” Ratzesberger observed. If a change is made to a variable, everything “downstream” from that variable must change, too, or the complex results can backfire.

The solution to this entire problem of achieving agility at scale is the Sentient Enterprise, a concept that Ratzesberger developed with Dr. Mohan Sawhney, a professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 
Read more here

Monday, April 27, 2015

Marketing that misses the mark

Today I found a message in my LinkedIn mailbox that is so very off the mark, it's funny.It's from a company that "create[s] innovative marketing videos."

It promises, "No more endless pages of boring web content - replace all that with a play button, and give your clients a perfect sales pitch, every time."

The thing is, I don't like marketing videos. I much prefer to take in information through text. In fact, creating such texts is my job, and I work hard to make sure they are not "boring." So this marketing expert has proved himself to not be much of an expert about targeting. But there is no real harm done. I won't expose the name here, and the email cost nothing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Environmental concerns and the electronic supply chain

Though people always talk about the weather, no one ever does anything about it. To some extent, that is also true about climate, even for those concerned about climate change. Doing something requires more than awareness. It requires a plan, and mapping out a plan begins with information about current practices. A new partnership is aimed at the getting to the starting point with data from more companies involved in the electronic supply chain.
Read more in 

Data Drives Down Carbon in the Electronic Supply Chain

Achieving conflict-free minerals in a supply chain is a goal mandated by ethics, as well as law. Arriving at that end requires many steps along the way. In its latest report, Apple takes credit for achieving milestones on the way. Read more in

Apple Marking Progress on the Road to Conflict-Free Minerals

Monday, April 6, 2015

The app that's a breath of fresh air

“We live in a personal, real time, location based world,” declares BreezoMeter. That reality of today’s mobile world is the heart of the app’s design. Combining big data, algorithms and mobile technology, it delivers specific air quality information and recommendations in real time. Today’s mobile consumers demand no less.
“The highest growth in coming years is likely in segment-level and real-time personalization,” according to a recent report, entitled “Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing” (PDF). People who carry mobile devices expect access to “services and content for the moment and in the moment.” That’s what BreezoMeter’s air quality app aims to deliver.
Like many other innovations, BreezoMeter was born out of frustration. Its CEO, Ran Korber, was frustrated by the lack of centralized air quality information available when he was seeking a place clear of air pollution for his new home in Israel. As an environmental engineer with a pregnant wife, he was particularly concerned about the air quality. Finding nothing on the market provided all the answer he sought, he created his own solution.
The app proved successful in Israel where 300 sensors sufficed to cover the most populated areas of an area roughly the size of New Jersey. Scaling up to cover an area hundreds of time bigger was a challenge for the startup. 

Is a Smart Barbie a Smart Move?

Today's fashion doll is not your grandmother's Barbie. Nowadays, she comes equipped with WiFi, voice recognition, and access to data stored in the cloud.
Since 1959, the iconic Barbie doll has gone through multiple permutations as it evolved to reflect the fashions and expectations of each generation. Lately, that includes technology to enable conversations with the doll. And Mattel has discovered that a talking Barbie causes trouble. In the last generation, people objected to what Barbie said; now they object to what she hears.
Read more in 

Smart Barbie Puts Child's Play In The Cloud