How Tech Is Changing The Finance Industry

How Tech Is Changing The Finance Industry

The financial industry has undergone plenty of changes throughout the past couple of decades. As technology continues to transform services,...

How Fender Used Machine Learning And Social Listening Through Social Media For Success

How Fender Used Machine Learning And Social Listening Through Social Media For Success

In the past, all the smartest brands making use of social media have relied on tools that help with social...

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18293552513 e473df2764 o - How Tech Is Changing The Finance Industry

How Tech Is Changing The Finance Industry

The financial industry has undergone plenty of changes throughout the past couple of decades. As technology continues to transform services, processes, and more, we’re only going to see more changes from here on out. Whether it’s existing technologies that are being developed further or groundbreaking new ideas that have just been implemented, technological advances will continue to reshape the finance industry.

Advances in technology don’t just affect the finance industry itself, but also its employees and consumers. Most tasks have already moved from paper-based to digital as the financial services industry continues to be disrupted by technology.

FinTech on the rise

For decades it was considered borderline impossible for new companies to break into the financial services industry. Alas, no longer. FinTech companies such as Creditfix have been finding new ways to not only get into but even disrupt the financial services industry. These so-called disruptors are relatively young companies — often startups — that successfully implement innovative ideas and grow at a hare’s pace.

Whether it’s insurance or mobile payments, there’s no area of the finance industry that these disruptors can’t reach. These companies often attack the most profitable elements on the value chain of the financial services industry. Even large corporations worry that their dominance could be quickly overthrown by a single FinTech company in a timespan of less than a decade.

The number of investments in FinTech tripled worldwide in 2014 for a total of over $12 billion. Even banks have spent around $215 billion on information technology, software, hardware, and contractors just to keep up with the competition. All of this spending to stay up to date in the FinTech game is making a huge impact on the finance industry.

Financial carpooling

It started with Uber allowing you to share a ride with individuals headed the same way as you, now you could be sharing more than just a spare seat. In a few years, consumers may look elsewhere for their banking needs rather than going to the nearest Wells Fargo or Bank of America.

The system dubbed “sharing economy” is now expanding beyond transportation and accommodation — it’s headed straight for the financial services industry. The so-called sharing economy will consist mainly of decentralized asset ownership — similar to the cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum that we see today — that utilize IT and machine learning to make matches between users and providers of capital.

This alternative to getting a bank loan may not seem like much, but in the grand scale of things, it is an absolute game changer for consumers.


As the funding and innovation in the blockchain industry only continue to grow, blockchain and cryptocurrencies will begin to conquer lands beyond retail purposes which means that we could see Bitcoin being used at an institutional level.

While the majority of these blockchain companies may not survive the next decade, the blockchain industry will become an integral component of the technology and operational infrastructures used by financial institutions.


During the early days of automation, the finance sector was among the first industries to capitalize on its potential applications and benefits. From automatic trading platforms that can autonomously trade stocks, ETFs, and currencies, to machine learning software that could predict — to an extent — whether or not a stock would rise or fall, the financial industry has been reaping the benefits of technological automation ever since its inception.

Recent studies show that automated banking could replace as much as 30% of bank jobs worldwide over the next decade. Further advances in the field of automation will make the use of financial services faster and easier for consumers.

Breakthroughs in the big data and analytics field have also helped the automation industry improve its already impressive system. For instance, automated financial advisors could collect data, compile it, and use it to determine the best course of action for a client — all in a matter of seconds, no less!

Going digital

Around twenty years ago, a large number of financial institutions created e-business units to capitalize on a trend of e-commerce interest, and, as time passed, this became the new norm for businesses.

Large investments in technology and internet development brought businesses to a level of efficiency never before seen. Today’s digital landscape covers a wide range of areas from operational efficiency to customer experience, to big data and analytics.

One of the biggest industries that has gone digital is the commercial banking field which has utilized advances in technology to improve their infrastructure for taking payments, selling insurance, growing client accounts, and giving out loans.

Big data

Big data is a crucial part of any strategy aimed at increasing revenue and profit margins. It’s important to have an in-depth understanding of what your consumers hold dear to their hearts. In the olden times, customer feedback was limited to surveys and focus groups, and the data gathered was often unreliable.

Technological advances have given companies the opportunity to gather individualized and accurate data about the behavior of their customers. Knowing what the end-user of a product or service does, wants, and needs is paramount to offering the most value while still maximizing profit.


Self-learning machines are no longer limited to the world of science fiction. While it’s not exactly Skynet-caliber, artificial intelligence software that possess the ability to learn on their own are already helping financial institutions pinpoint the source of issues, mitigate risks, and lower operating costs by increasing the efficiency of internal and external systems.

Machine learning developers often focus on implementing basic human qualities such as self-education, pattern recognition, reasoning through logic, and even the ability to understand emotional and social queues.

There are already existing robots that can recognize specific objects, analyze the environment around them, and converse with homo sapiens in a human tone. If you’re skeptical, just have a look at the performance of self-driving cars in live, on-the-street tests.

As time goes on, robots will be able to perform increasingly complex tasks. While there are still some technological hurdles that face the development of sentient robots, the next few decades will slingshot the robotics industry to new heights.

Should you start preparing for the point in time where robots become too smart to follow orders and declare war on the human race? While that scenario is quite unlikely, being prepared certainly couldn’t hurt.


9357 forex trading wikimedia - The Beginner’s Guide to Forex Trading

The Beginner’s Guide to Forex Trading

The trading of currency is something that appeals to many people, especially if there’s a profit to be made. However, it’s not as simple as buying some currency and then reselling for a profit, as there are other factors that can determine as to what the outcome is.

Everyone has to take their first steps into the world of investing at one point or another, whether its using Elliott Wave Theory or other methodologies, but that doesn’t mean we should look to run before we can walk.

Many people will be keen to make a profit when it comes to forex trading, but this shouldn’t mean we have to make a series of losses along the way.

Profit Is Never Guaranteed

One of the major misconceptions of forex trading is that you can become a millionaire with the week. The truth is that trading in forex is just like any other form of investment, in that you put your money at risk each time you make an investment.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t rewards available to you, as thousands of people have found forex trading to be very profitable, but it’s important that we approach forex trading with clarity.

PIPs Explained

The forex exchange rate changes frequently, and it’s not unusual to see currencies listed in four decimal places. You may hear changes in the exchange rate referred to as PIPs, which is an acronym for ‘price in points’ So if an exchange rate of 1.501 has risen five PIPs, the updated rate would be 1.506.

Understanding Currency Pairs

Whether you’re new to investing or you’ve had some experience, you will find that currencies are traded in pairs. The first currency symbol in the pair is known as the base currency. For example, if EUR/USD was given an exchange rate of 1.1431, then one euro would equate to 1.1431 Euros.

Should the base currency rise, then this shows will mean a rise in value. This will also show that the paired currency is dropping in value.

Long-Term or Short-Term Investing?

When approaching the world of forex trading for the first time, it can be difficult to ascertain which strategy to use. While everyone will have a preference, those looking to make an investment for the first time with minimum funds will probably be better suited to a long-term investment.

The reason for this is because short-term investments can last mere hours, which can mean more work on your behalf. If you’re happy with this, then there’s no reason as to why you shouldn’t embrace it. However, as the profit margins will be relatively low for a small investment, the man hours spent staring at a screen don’t really pay off.

However, patience is a virtue, and you’ll soon become comfortable with the forex trading industry and how different commodities are affected by different factors.

Once you have a better understanding of forex trading, you will be in a better position to widen the profit margin, but in the early days, it should be more about learning how investing works as opposed to making a profit with money we may not have.

Don’t Over Complicate the Process

When making investments for the first time, it’s easy to assume that you need a slew of tools at your disposal, but as long as you know how to use one or two, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make some headway in the forex industry.

One common investment can be software that integrates the Elliot Wave Theory into modern-day trading. This software effectively simplifies the theory introduced by Ralph Nelson Elliot in the early 1920’s that focuses on cycles and market trends.

There will be many versions of such software online, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, it’s merely a case of finding a platform that work for you. If you’re a little spoilt for choice, then it may be a good idea to see if there are any free trial that you can make use of.

Consider Practicing with a Demo Account

People learn in different ways. While some may be able to look at a series of instructions and follow them to the letter, some learn more from the mistakes they make.

When you’re dealing with real-life currency, there isn’t much room for error, but what other option is there when it comes to learning the ropes?

When looking at brokers, it can be wise to consider an option that offers the use of a ‘demo account,’ which effectively emulates real-life trading using dummy funds. While you won’t be able to take advantage of any profit you make, it does mean that your funds aren’t at risk during the early days of trading.

Once you get a feel for forex trading and the way it works, then you can easily switch over to your real funds and enjoy the benefits.

Always Make Notes

When you start a new job or educational course, you tend to take note. For some people, this means a point of reference, whereas others can remember more by writing it down.

Although the process of forex trading seems relatively black-and-white on the surface, there can be much more that lies beneath.

Although there are many reference points available to you online, there’s no real experience like your own, and who knows, you my even find a few tips of your own that you can share with others.

When trading in forex, the first steps can be a little worrying and turbulent, but you will soon find that you’re able to adapt quickly, and be buying and selling foreign exchange with relative ease.

golf slider 3 e1521194212434 - Tips For Planning Your Corporate Golf Tournament

Tips For Planning Your Corporate Golf Tournament

One of the most effective ways for your business to network and promote your services and customers on the golf course, is by hosting a corporate golf tournament. While it might sound like something of a daunting task. Particularly if you have never held a corporate golf event ever.

However, with the right help and most crucially, planning and preparation, you can host a successful golf tournament for your company that couples as a perfect way to promote it.

Establish a Committee For Your Event

It can be something of a full-time job, the planning and hosting of a golf tournament, even for experienced event planners. It is best to appoint someone as the director of the tournament and set up a team that will help make your event happen.

Although the responsibilities and members of these committees will be determined by your own requirements and resources, you should give thought to assigning someone in charge of the following points below.

Choose A Date For Your Event

This is obviously the date that all of the planning and preparation revolves around. Set it so it is far off into the future, six months at the very least, to allow for enough time for anyone you invite to the event to set aside time to attend it.

Find A Golf Course For Your Golf Tournament

It is crucial to find a golf course and sign on a contract for it as early into the planning process as possible. The golf clubs that are best for corporate tournaments are also likely to be good resources for various other aspects of your planning.

In addition to the course and other amenities related to golf, the golf club will normally be able to help with the food and drinks services that are available before, during and after your event; registrations of players and organising the award ceremony for after the tournament.

Decide Upon A Theme For Your Tournament

By having a specific theme for your golf tournament, it will help set it apart from the many others out there. The theme could be in support of a local community group or charity, or in honour of a special guest.

Calculate And Stick To A Budget

Just like anything else connected to your business, calculating and sticking to a budget will help with your golf event planning. Along with the budget you have for promoting your event, you may decide on charging a fee for playing in a golf tournament, as well as any sponsorship funds.

These costs could include anything from basics such as cart rentals and green charges, to whether you want to make investment in insurance to include big jackpot, high profile hole-in-one competitions.

Get Help From Sponsors

The more organisations and companies you can find to help with the sponsoring of your tournament, the better. Whether this is through donation of the products or services you require, or supply of the prizes you want for competitions or by running mini-competitions. This will all help to make the event more appealing and more cost efficient for your company.

Choose A Tournament Format

The choice of the formant of your tournament will determine the degree to which your event attendees will enjoy it. If you know a lot of people who play golf regularly will be attending, a shotgun-style event, that involves players starting from different holes on the course and playing their rounds at the same time, will ensure you have most players on at the same time.

A popular choice for events is a Scramble or Best Ball if you know there will be players with varying golfing abilities. With these styles of play all golfers tee off and take their next shots from the spot where the best shot in the previous round landed.

Decide On What Events And Or Contests You Will Have

There are various kinds of events and contests, both off and on the golf course, that can make the event livelier and more engaging for all in attendance. Whether it is hosting silent auctions as fundraisers for charities or ‘closest to the hole’ contests, there are various ways to make your golf tournament and event stand out.

Make An Invitation List

The type of tournament format you decide upon will determine the number of people who can be invited to your event. For example, for a ‘shotgun’ style tournament involving only one tee-off time, means it is conceivably possibly that you could have 72 golfers playing, with four to each hole.

Work Out A Communications/Marketing Plan

Along with sending invites, you may way to keep in contact with event guests via postal mail or email. You can increase interest in your tournament by announcing events, sponsorships and new prize etc. as and when they happen.

Carefully Plan The Event’s Logistics

It is important, if you are not going to take on the job yourself, that you assign one person at least with the responsibility of ensuring that everything goes according to plan on the big day. This includes aspects such as the registrations at the start of the day and the prize tables through to the guest speakers and award ceremony that will be held later on.

As you can see, there are a number of very important steps to organising and running a successful corporate golf tournament event. From the course to the number of guests, the type of tournament you are going to host, and everything in between require meticulous forethought and planning.  If you don’t want to take on all this by yourself or even through members of your team, you should consider hiring professionals who know what they are doing. Professionals like a Golf Event Management team.

They have the experience and know-how because they spend their time planning and running golf events for corporate and other clients. With their help you could just sit back or tee off and enjoy the event without all the hassle and harassment of trying to run it as well.

Social Listening featured image - How Fender Used Machine Learning And Social Listening Through Social Media For Success

How Fender Used Machine Learning And Social Listening Through Social Media For Success

In the past, all the smartest brands making use of social media have relied on tools that help with social listening to analyse and assess their audience and brand image brands such as have adopted this approach for a long time, however, as time has moved on, that is not enough anymore and as well as actually measuring these metrics, companies want to understand the why behind them.

Fender, the musical instrument manufacturer, are a perfect working example of this shift. Without a doubt, one of the greatest guitar brands in the world and close rivals to the other giants of the guitar world – Gibson, Fender has been revolutionising music and its culture since the 40’s and are not only one of the world’s biggest musical instrument manufacturers, but also marketers and distributors too.

Keenly aware of the need to listen to their audience utilise social media most effectively the company has been revolutionising how it uses this format.

The company has been using cutting edge tools for analysing social media, that is constructed from AI and incredibly powerful machine learning technologies. These allow companies, in this case Fender, to explore the finer points of their consumer’s purchase intent and sentiment and discover new audience trends and affinities as they start to surface and evolve.

At the SMWLA event last year, the Social Media Strategy head of Fender, Stephanie Nordstrom gave a talk all about how the company are using these tools to keep Fender in pole position. The tools they have been working with were designed and created by highly renowned social media analytics Crimson Hexagon.

Along with her team and the brand analytics tools devised by Crimson Hexagon, they have been pushing deeper to better understand exactly who their current audience is, how it can target new audiences, monitoring for any foreseeable dangers and developing new marketing campaigns for new lines and products.

According to Nordstorm, as is true of many companies, one of the key aspects of their marketing efforts is the company’s social media channels. As well as marketing the company they also help to build the community between them and their audience and helps to the brand’s story.

Fender’s social media accounts therefore, are more than just a direct sales tool, but are also to increase brand awareness to improve the infinity customers have with the brand, building loyalty in the company and leading conversations and overall establishing and developing a positive sentiment among people.

When they started following these monitoring and listening strategies they were able to discover what the audience felt and wanted and change tactics as appropriate.

With Nordstorm and her social media team using Crimson Hexagon tools, they were able to achieve an additional 1 million more fans for Fender’s social media accounts during the previous year.

Social Listening Helping To Reach Previously Untapped Audiences

Fender have always predominately had a strong core following of older guitar players who are mostly male and who know Fender inside and out. The company and Nordstorm wanted to try and reach out to young female acoustic guitar players and therefore, made use of Crimson Hexagon to find out exactly what was being said about buying guitars by younger females on social media.

Fender made an interesting discovery. Fender were under the misconception that younger females were only interested in playing acoustic guitars. However, social listening showed that they are actually also interested in electric guitars too. As a result of these findings, Fender developed more marketing campaigns aimed at women.

Monitoring Any Foreseeable Dangers

Dangers can also be monitored effectively using social listening. For instance, when the Republican National Convention used the Fender trademark guitar design for its logo, the manufacturer was justifiably worried that their fans would react negatively to their guitar being used by a political party.

Fender after all are a non-partisan and while the logo was altered slightly so it wasn’t a complete match to Fender’s trademark, the company was still worried.

So they used social listening to find out exactly what their fans would think and say about this. Fans were actually upset at RNC for using that logo, but not with Fender themselves. As a result of these findings, they decided to leave the situation to settle on its own and didn’t make a comment or statement 

Developing New Marketing Campaigns For New Product Lines

Fender have also used machine learning and social listening when it comes to developing new marketing campaigns for new product lines. When the time arrived for the company to release the Flea signature bass guitar, Fender expanded and increased their campaign and helped spread it through all their social media channels using social learning.

Just before the bass guitar was officially launched, the social media team assessed all conversations about Flea that were trending as a way of determining the best kind of marketing campaign to launch the new instrument to their audience.

Research revealed that RHCP and Flea fans liked his unique and quirky individuality and personality. This is what motivated Fender to introduce the #MyFleaStyle competition and marketing campaign.

It wasn’t just before running a campaign that Fender used the Crimson Hexagon tools, as they used them during the contest too to help track people who entered the competition and to find out how people reacted to the marketing campaign.

As is obvious from the above, the reason Fender are so successful is thanks to their ability to assess what their customers want and clean them properly. Although the above is a complete learning example, four important points are raised by it:

  • Make full use of online listening to learn more about your audience
  • Follow through on opportunities to reach out to new and different people to expand their audience market
  • Assess and observe conversations that their audience were participating in
  • Brainstorm and develop new marketing campaigns using online tools from Crimson Hexagon.

Other musical instrument manufacturing brands could take a leaf out of Fender’s book and use a similar approach to its social media.

thumb user 1823161 2016 12 14 09 14 57 - Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: What’s the Difference?

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: What’s the Difference?

What makes you jump out of bed every morning? What do you look forward to as the sun rises to shine over a new day? The question here is not “what”, but “why” you engage in a particular activity. One day, you may not need to snooze the alarm button and are already rearing to go to work as you may be receiving a promotion that day. Another day you may feel as if you are having to drag yourself to work because of a client meeting that you are dreading.

What are the reasons behind these differing emotions? Motivation. It is all about the level of motivation you possess to undertake any action. Although there are multiple forms of motivation, it can be broadly classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. A person’s set of traits ascertain whether he or she will be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. Comprehending the reason for your deeds and behaviour will help you track your source of stimulation.

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

As the term denotes-intrinsic refers to the internal, natural inclination to conduct an activity for the sake of contentment or happiness; not to gain anything in return. It implies that the outcome created or caused is in sync with the person’s core structure of values. You embark on your own personal journey of self-purpose to strengthen your set of skills or to sharpen your knowledge base in a specific field.

Instances of intrinsic motivation can include going to a kickboxing class because you want to relieve yourself from stress. You could read a book because you enjoy losing yourself in its imaginary world or you choose to clean your home because you like a hygienic environment.

What Factors Affect Intrinsic Motivation?

  1. Inquisitiveness: Human beings are naturally curious creatures. It is possible that if something within the physical environment captures your attention, you may have your own internal incentive to learn more.
  2. Control: Individuals may feel more confident on the inside in being able to manage themselves and exerting control over their atmospheres.
  3. Recognition: You may relish having your achievements acknowledged by others and it may increase your level of intrinsic motivation.
  4. Challenge: When individuals try to attain challenging objectives that mean more to them, it acts as an inducement.

What is Extrinsic Motivation?

What is Extrinsic Motivation?

Extrinsic motivation stems from an outside channel that pushes you to act or behave in a certain way to evade a negative consequence or to gain a reward. The foundation of communities is constructed on the basis of extrinsic motivation as people thrive on social connections and recognition.

When you are incentivised to engage, study, or work on a task with respected results, then that is a form of extrinsic motivation. Even if you don’t find the project in question enjoyable or intellectually stimulating, you will persist in completing it as your energy is driven by an external force.

When a factory worker performs the same number of steps in an assembly line day in and day out, he is motivated by the pay check that he will receive at the end of the month. When you wish to assign or delegate a task, even within your family home, you may provide a positive or negative incentive to get the ball rolling. 

If you want your kids to tidy room, you may choose to let them have an extra scoop of ice cream or not allow them to watch television. If you read a book to prepare for a test (and not your own internal enjoyment), then you are extrinsically motivated. Perhaps you hit the gym every morning to lose weight for an upcoming wedding, not because you want to tone up.

What is the difference between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation?

Would it not be great if you did not require that extra momentum to perform our jobs or duties? Intrinsic motivation may appear to be more powerful as you are going to engage in an activity for the love of it, not for the sake of it. However, history tells a different story.

As human beings, we are not perfect and flourish naturally when there is an additional incentive. You may give a work assignment your best shot (even if you enjoy it) in hopes of your manager’s appreciation in the form of a bonus or raise. To function efficiently, both forms of motivation are important and necessary to make the world go around.

What is the Overjustification Effect?

Prizes offered as a basis of extrinsic motivation can help augment the level of interest a person may have in a job. Be it an increment in the percentage of sales commission earned, a promotion, a change in job title, or a raise, it encourages an individual to expand his existing scope of skills and broaden his learning horizons.

Along the way, he may fall in love with the subject matter at hand. However, you must balance it out and not over do it. Certain studies conducted have illustrated that by providing too many rewards for actions that are also intrinsically motivated may cause a reduction in that person’s natural motivation. This is known as the overjustification effect.

One renowned instance involves a research study held with children in the age bracket of nine and ten. They were rewarded for playing math games. Prior to the prizes bestowed, several children adored the games simply because it had a fun element. However, after they received the reward, they spent significantly less time playing.

Psychologists haven’t determined the cause of what has come be to known as the overjustification effect. The only determined fact is that projects that had a high degree of intrinsic motivation tended to decline after individuals were given awards for engaging with it.

If you are a leader and guide a work team, it is recommended to limit the utilization of extrinsic awards. Of course, it is vital to offer raises, quarterly bonuses and what not-however, it is equally important to allocate an adequate amount of resources and time to let your workforce discover their own tasks that excite them. As an individual, it is advised to strive for extrinsic incentives, yet do find the time to do what you love as well.

modernoffice2 - 9 Ways To Design An Awesome Office

9 Ways To Design An Awesome Office

We live in a fast paced changing world where competition reigns and companies work harder than ever. It is where the majority of our days are spent. To maintain a consistent and strong level of productivity, firms are innovating their work spaces and even finding quirky locations such as large warehouses, or even metal garages for sale to create an ambiance of inspiration and creativity.

After all, one’s surroundings has a direct impact on their frame of mind. Imagine dipping your toes in aqua-clear crystal waters, feel the soft crimson sand under your feet and breathe in the fresh, salty air. You will feel calm and at peace. It is hard to replicate that feeling within four walls where nothing exists except for your desk, chair and computer. We recommend a few ways to spruce things up within your work space that will help in keeping your employees motivated!

  1. Let the Sun Shine

Who doesn’t feel fabulous in the great outdoors? Nature is king in boosting levels of productivity. Insert wooden floors and panels, install a bright floral wallpaper or simply bring in plants to create a lush environment. Did you know that plants help to diminish levels of mold, dust and carbon dioxide? This will ameliorate the general well-being of your workers and will aid in avoiding illnesses such as coughing and headaches. Apart from health benefits, plants liven up the workplace and will help in maintaining concentration.

Don’t forget those large windows that allow bright sunlight to stream in and keep employee morale high. Keeping the blinds open and ensuring that work desks are turned in the direction of the sunlight also is key as well.

You can incorporate materials such as cork, marble, wood or granite in your office furnishings. Not only does it give it an awesome look and feel, it is endurable and will go a long way. Paint your walls earthy shades of golds, greens, browns and blue.

  1. Multipurpose Work Stations

Traditional floor plans are being done away with as the concept of multipurpose work stations is taking over. Having oval or round shaped desks that can accommodate four to six people is gradually becoming a norm. It strengthens team spirit and promotes collaboration. Not only that. Incorporate height adjustable desks so your work force can customize desks as per their comfort. Conference rooms that come with glass windows are still considered awesome, especially that come with external views (if any).

  1. Funky Lounge Areas

Another awesome design idea for your office is to have a separate dedicated lounge area where employees can come in to rejuvenate. Whether it is a cup of coffee they want to have, make an informal phone call or just want a change of scenery, lounge areas are becoming a norm in the corporate world.

  1. Add Personalized Artworks

The days of corporate logo blow ups, images of senior management and trophy cabinets are long gone. Tap into your organizational culture and see what gets your workforce’s juices flowing. Get them involved in selecting the visuals and art that will be exhibited on the walls. It could be your favourite poem, an inspirational quote or a candid shot of a team-building event. Personalize it with your own effects, add a filter or have it framed. The point is to inject a sense of ownership.

  1. Re-think that Reception Area

There are several ways of meeting and greeting your client or any individual who visits your premises. It is a great opportunity to innovate and reflect your brand’s personality. The importance of the reception area cannot be stressed enough. After all, first impressions matter. It is a reflection of your corporate vision that is conveyed to any guest that steps in through your doors.

You would not want your guest to walk into a small, dark and messy area that doesn’t portray your values as a company. Offer a welcoming space that oozes warmth, comfort and most importantly-your brand style. Factors such as the right lighting sets the mood for any meeting that may take place. Put up your work portfolio or customer testimonials in a jazzy way to let your guest know how awesome your services are. Even better, do away with the typical reception area and paint little bubbles with arrows pointing the directions to your different departments. Highlight your brand colours and device a little game for your visitor to make it all the more fun!

  1. Be a little OCD

Yes, it is perfectly alright to be a bit obsessed with cleanliness-especially at your place of work! People have different styles of working and may or not may not be able to function if their respective areas of operation are not meeting basic hygienic standards. Clutter sends the wrong message. Organize your papers and desk so you are able to better organize your work plan.

  1. Get a Chalkboard

Whiteboards, like white walls, are mundane and tedious! Go order a chalkboard to spice things up and give your place some character. Leave each other messages, take notes or just draw a caricature to add some personality to the workplace. This is an emerging corporate design trend and is slowly replacing whiteboards in many offices. Unlike our school days, there are many options available for chalkboards that are not just black.

  1. Get Quirky

Water bottles turned into lights, lockers turned into reception areas, or doors turned into coffee tables-now is the time to let your quirky side out! This not only adds your personal touch to office décor but will not make a large dent in the budget either. It can be anything-ranging from an antique vase to a funky statue.

  1. Have a Theme

Accommodation giants such as Airbnb have embraced this concept and incorporate multiple themes to represent the vast listings they own within their own working spaces. Each floor has its own culturally inspired theme that is offset against natural light that encourages teamwork. You can replicate this in your own office as well and does not need to cost an arm and a leg. We do believe in maintaining budgets.

1495800094 TCnejV 1495792945 FMNEge startup shutterstock470 - Tech Start-Ups In The UK – What Support Is Available?

Tech Start-Ups In The UK – What Support Is Available?

Gary Shapiro the president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association drew scorn last year in the UK after comments he made at the CES (consumer electronics show) in Las Vegas. Acting as the event organiser for the CES Mr. Shapiro’s comment that the UK government was a “source of embarrassment” over its lack of support for tech start-ups did little to earn him any goodwill.

Many people were quick to point out the UK government did offer plenty of support for tech start-ups with Matt Hancock the UK minister for sport, media and culture saying: “He’s wrong on that because the British presence here is significant”

He further elaborated adding: “This is one of many different shows around the world where we have a British presence. In a sense what it shows is there is a constant battle to stay ahead”. However, while Mr. Shapiro’s comments were not received positively some did argue that he had a point.

After all, in last year’s event, it was estimated there was up to five times the number of French start-ups at the CES as British ones. So, when you look at the numbers and the rather split options from UK tech start-ups at the time do we have to begrudgingly admit that Mr. Shapiro had a point?

It might not have been phrased overly well but can we really argue with facts? Or does it simply mean that the way the UK government goes about offering support is different when compared to countries like France and Netherlands, which the UK was compared to in Mr. Shapiro’s comment.

Well now that we are just over a year on from that CES show and only a few weeks have passed since the 2018 show let’s take a look at how the UK supports its tech companies shall we? That way we can better judge whether Mr. Shapiro’s comment had any merit.

Start-Up Support In The UK

Before I take a look at some individual examples of support let me give you a basic idea of what I found. Let’s get the big question out of the way first yes there is plenty of support available for UK tech start-ups although finding it can be a little difficult.

There’s also some geographical issues because some of the help and support on offer is focused on London tech start-ups. Now while the capital is one of the best places for a tech business to set-up it might not be an option for everyone.

So, let’s now take a look at what I’ve found. Support for start-ups comes in many forms some focuses on certain aspects of business like funding help and mentoring while others are more general. So, without further ado let’s see what help is available.

Legal and General Support

According to Jones Whyte Family Lawyers, one of the many stumbling blocks for start-up businesses is the many legal loopholes and barriers you’ll need to cross. This is understandably complex work and requires a lot of time, but is there any help available from the UK government?

Yes, there is, the Direct GOV website is a great starting resource and it even offers professional templates for some of the documentation you’ll need. It also links to other professional bodies that can offer you advice and assistance.

There is a bounty of resources for writing business plans in particular which is one of the first steps any entrepreneur will need to take to set-up their business. There’s also resources that outline business tax and other costs as well as some valuable legal resources that outline what you’ll be responsible for when you set-up your business.

You’ll also find a whole host of government-sponsored schemes that can be found all around the UK, so it’s highly likely they’ll be an organisation or group who can support you in some way no matter where your business is based.

Innovative UK is another Government Body worth mentioning, it holds funding competitions for businesses and research groups. There’s also the London Co-Investment fund however as the name implies you will need to be based in London to apply for a grant. 

Tech London is another valuable resource for support which can help with funding capital, mentoring and much more. Tech London is a joint project by a number of groups including the Mayor of London however you do once again need to be based in London to get assistance.

However, Tech London can help businesses get set-up in London as well, so if you are interested in moving your businesses base of operation to London then Tech London is a valuable resource. Some other notable government schemes include the better broadband scheme for businesses which is designed to offer support to business who work in low broadband speed areas.

While this is certainly useful to select businesses, it does feel like a far inferior version of the broadband connection voucher scheme which was shut down at the end of 2015. Some other notable support groups funded by the UK government include Tech City UK which provides a wide-range of support to UK tech businesses.

This includes legal support, professional assistance and much more! Many tech businesses have been helped through the difficult early days of their start-up with the assistance of Tech City UK including big names like Shazam and Just Eat.

Another valuable part of Tech City UK’s support is the mentoring and support platform the Digital Business Academy. This a free online platform designed to help entrepreneurs learn and share their skills and there are a number of valuable rewards available.

So How Much Support Is On Offer?

That’s a snapshot of the support available in the UK, there’s plenty of other names and groups to talk about so, on the whole, does the UK government offer enough support to tech companies?

Well, that’s all going to be down to the individual there is certainly a lot of support and many of the important areas are covered like legal assistance and mentoring but like anything, there is still room for improvement. However, I would still urge any tech start-up entrepreneur to explore the support options available. 

dataanalytics - Tech trends to watch for small businesses in 2018

Tech trends to watch for small businesses in 2018

2018 is an exciting year for small business tech.

Whether it’s products that are developed specifically for small business – or developments that now see big business tech financially obtainable by smaller counterparts, you’ll want to have a look at what’s going to be possible in the next 12 months – as some of it could significantly redefine the direction your business moves in…

Voice for business

While 2017 was the year that saw voice assistants hit the mainstream, 2018 looks to be the year that voice becomes a must-have business accessory.

Amazon’s Alexa will be available to small business and enterprises early in 2018 – but it’s integration into other devices that’s proving to be the most exciting development for businesses. Both laptops and vehicles with Alexa built in are soon to be available – and dongles available to upgrade cars and devices that aren’t Alexa enabled.

Alexa in the workplace could revolutionise communication – and it’s addition to mobile devices could see the potential of truly connected workplace expand enormously.

Digital workplaces

When you combine greater levels of connectivity with a need for ultra-quick market agility you become more aware of why decentralised digital workspaces are becoming increasingly popular for small businesses.

Never before have so many freelancers combined with small business to create dynamic workforces – and this is made infinitely easier with products like Microsoft Office 365, Google’s G-Suite and others. It will not be uncommon to see small businesses shunning the need for central office space in 2018 – and instead opting for tech supported virtual offices, with employees around the globe.


While blockchain technology is unlikely to make a big impact on your small businesses office in 2018 – it’s very much on the ‘one to watch’ list moving forward.

If you’ve heard of the blockchain it’s almost certainly been in the same breath as Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies – but to link it only to monetary transactions is somewhat short sighted.

A blockchain is essentially a distributed record of transactions – with the impartial hosting computers tasked with validating the transactions that are recorded. If the digital footprint of a transaction works out, then it’s added to the decentralised record – which then becomes a permanent record, unable to be deleted or changed.

While digital currency is often linked to anonymous behaviour, the possibilities of blockchain tech for business offer exactly the opposite – indelible records of important exchanges – something that could revolutionise everything from money to healthcare, manufacture, logistics, sales, payroll and more…

Bots and chatbots

If you had interacted with a chatbot until recently it was probably painfully obviously that you were doing so, clunky responses and slightly uncalibrated solutions were commonplace, leading to consumer frustration – and sometimes a feeling like you were being short-changed by customer services.

Advances in the tech mean 2018 is likely to be very different – with chatbot technology now offering some advantages over traditional human chat.

Time waiting on hold could be a thing of the past for customers engaging with chatbots, as could delays while customer records are interrogated or solutions sought. And of course, a chatbot system can be scaled with almost unlimited potential – meaning that if your small business expands significantly overnight – so does your sales, support and service provision.

Self-driving vehicles

The average UK commute is 25 minutes each way – meaning 216 hours or around 5 and a half weeks of business time is spent potentially just sitting in your car.

Now consider what that additional time and work could add up to for your small business over the course of a year. Self-driving tech is still expensive now – but it would also be expensive to take on someone of managerial or director quality for a lengthy period of time.

As the price of self-driving vehicles fall – small business resources could be stretched much further…


E-commerce isn’t anything new – so you might wonder why it features on a list of things that are going to be hot in 2018.

In actual fact, it’s the continuing decline of the high-street that’s seeing e-commerce continue to feature as a must-have for small businesses into 2018 – especially as search becomes more and more accessible throughout our day, with mobile and voice browsing featuring more prominently in consumer’s lives expect to see more companies such as Atlas Ceramics and other popular E-commerce sites adding new tech driven features to their websites.

If you’re not part of the e-commerce juggernaut that continues to roll – 2018 might be a good time to start thinking about how you can get aboard.

5G connectivity

5G cellular connectivity seems close to being a reality for the major cellular networks – and its implementation will see further increases in speed over 4G connections.

The technology behind 5G is designed to reduce network speed delays that occur due to ‘latency’ – effectively the measure of delay that occurs when data is transmitted around the world (and more often than not, to and from satellite orbit). Higher latency causes bottlenecks in data flow, slowing a connection.

Higher connection speed makes it more and more feasible to have significant chunks of your business working remotely, on client sites, at pop-up venues, at employees home – and so on – giving you some exceptional options for how to grow and manage your business. 

Internet of things

The 5G tech we’ve just mentioned also promises to have a huge impact on IoT or Internet of Things connectivity.

It’s predicted that virtually all new electronic devices manufactured by 2020 will have connectivity capability, meaning our world is likely to become more connected like never before – and the possibilities for small business are incredible.

Consider your company’s payroll – with working hours updated automatically from a worker’s smart phone, laptop and car – removing the need for huge amounts of pay and expense calculations. Or maybe the IoT possibilities around stock levels and checking would be more appealing – with smart labels scanned in and out, automatically updates a real time system and re-ordering with zero effort required from your team.

Although connectivity ideas like these might seem the stuff of daydreams at this stage, innovative features like Amazon’s ‘Dash’ are making our day to day lives far more connected than they ever have been before – and the business applications could be far more wide-spanning.

slide - Innovative Brands And Their Awesome Offices

Innovative Brands And Their Awesome Offices

Every Monday morning, millions of people around the world head to the office. It’s almost a second home, where we spend hour after hour working away, collaborating with colleagues, attending meetings, joining conference calls and eating packed lunch at our desks. But for some individuals, they’re doing all of the above in an amazing setting. They work for companies that value creativity and have provided employees with a workplace that inspires, a place that employees enjoy. Here are some of the coolest offices around the world:

Company: Lego

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Playing homage to the products that have made Lego a household name, the company’s office in Denmark is a collector’s dream. Bookshelves dotted throughout the building display a selection of Lego’s most exciting creations; from Doctor Who memorabilia and Star Wars spacecrafts, to machine-dinosaur hybrids and working miniature vehicles. The layout of the office promotes collaboration within the large central space, while quiet nooks can be found on the perimeter for those looking for a moment of peace. Anyone not in the mood to take the stairs can make use of the giant slide, which provides a great entrance into the main collaboration area. An abundance of windows means the building is flooded with natural light.

Company: Quicken Loans

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Creating an office space for 6,000 employees can’t be easy. However, Quicken Loans took the challenge in their stride and transformed nine buildings into creative workplaces; each boasting its own unique vibe. While each office is different, a theme of vibrancy and openness is evident throughout. Artwork is sourced from local artists, and displayed on the walls and floors. To move from area to area, staff can walk or opt to scooter for more efficiency. Meeting hubs are dotted throughout the campus, ranging in size and theming. For downtime, employees can head to the roof bar, challenge colleagues to a game of ping pong, or burn some energy on the Cleveland Cavaliers replica basketball court.

Company: Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market office by Wirt Design Group Glendale California 04 - Innovative Brands And Their Awesome Offices

When Whole Foods Market moved offices in 2013, they wanted to create a workplace them embodies the company culture of family, community, sustainability, health and transparency. Each f these themes can be seen in the resulting offices, in everything from the sheer amount of glass used throughout to the nature-inspired graphics. The heart of the building is the test kitchen. Surrounding the space, a plethora of work stations can be found, offering employees the flexibility to find the environment that works for them. Natural lighting and reclaimed furnishings showcase the company’s promotion of sustainability, while also giving the place a simple and minimalist feel. The many windows also allow colleagues to enjoy great views of the adjacent mountain range while they work.

Company: Ancestry

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The past and present create a stylish harmony at Ancestry’s office in Utah. On one wall you’ll find a striking, colourful and modern art piece showcased to perfection, while another wall plays host to a selection of antique plates. The theme of the company is ‘human connection’, which can be seen in the employee portraits that are dotted throughout the office, which are accompanied by an archival photograph of one of their relatives (found through the company website, of course). Colour plays an important part in the Ancestry office, showing the migration of different ancestries through time. Meanwhile shared spaces such as the break room are a rainbow of hues, giving the impression that heritage is global. Furnishings give the office a sense of nostalgia, thanks to the worn chesterfields, plush ottomans, and the giant table in the café that reminds employees of a meal with the family.

Company: Adobe Systems

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In 2016, Adobe decided it was high time that they revamped their office to align with their present-day values. The transformation process involved updates to the Wellness Center, two cafes and Customer Experience Center. It also meant connecting the three isolated towers to create a stylish vertical campus. A breath of new life into the West and East Towers saw the introduction of wood and pops of colour. Oversized bleachers, living room-themed meeting rooms, booths and picnic benches allow employees to work in the setting of their choice. Features like the succulent wall and greenhouse meeting rooms connect the outside to the inside. For those wishing to fully transition out of doors, the rooftop trellis has turned the area into a space for eating, lounging and working.

Company: TOMS

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On an estate of steel buildings in LA is TOMS HQ. Inside, the buildings original steel rafters and ventilation pipes have become part of the décor, and are complemented by ample reclaimed wood. Traditional desks form one part of the office space, with cubicles separated by pieces of plywood. Meeting rooms are dotted throughout the open place office, tucked into nooks and crannies. Outside, there’s more meeting rooms available; in the shape of safari tents. Motivational quotes are a key part of the TOMS office, with reclaimed wooden strips on the walls displaying some of the company’s iconic charitable messages, and others showing inspirational sayings that resonate with the company ethos. 


600 - Innovative Brands And Their Awesome Offices

Housed within a Grade II listed building in Gloucestershire, UK, is From the outside, the office is the picture of tradition, with the building somewhat resembling a Victorian castle. Meanwhile inside, vibrant colours and the modern décor are in complete contrast. Each room has a distinct theme, including the Star Wars cinema room, ice cave meeting room and ski lodge area. The themes even continue to the bathrooms, with one devoted to the Rolling Stones and another with a steam punk vibe. There’s a multitude of creative spaces for employees to enjoy, either for work or to socialise in. An on-site gym shows the company’s dedication to promoting health and wellbeing, while the historic yet modern giant polar bear and UV paint-splashed suit of armour give an insight into the company’s sense of humour.

getting engagement right 1280x720 e1515404706731 - Motivating Your Staff – and preventing their desire to leave you.

Motivating Your Staff – and preventing their desire to leave you.


Some have it by the truckload; others, not so much. It can depend on so many outside influences it’s amazing we ever get anything done. Life is full to the brim; work, play, life commitments – so squeezing in even more, whether it’s something you want to do or achieve, or something you have to do or achieve, you’re going to need a whole barrow load of it.

Motivating others – surely that’s even harder?

To motivate someone else you’re going to have to see if they have the self-discipline and natural reward to do it for themselves or if you’re going to need to put that imaginary firework underneath them to achieve what it is you need from them. Keeping your staff working hard and earning their loyalty too means you’re going to need to understand the mechanics of motivation and how to use them to your advantage.

Some Psychology Behind the How.

Hertzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Frederick Herzberg two-factor theory decided Motivator Factors lead to satisfaction, happy workers, and greater results; and that Hygiene Factors led to the opposite. Feeling like part of the team, enjoying the work, their progression through career roles, they were all positives, yet if parts of their work life lacked what they felt important; low salaries, poor benefits, unhealthy relationships, it adversely instilled a desire to go find those things they needed elsewhere.

Simple enough right? Treat your staff like people. Talk to them. Reward them. Don’t take them for granted and help them feel like they belong – surely that shouldn’t be too hard?

For many staff however, even when their employers or team leaders think they’re getting it right they’re probably not. So don’t assume anything. Acquire real data. Ask your workers what would make them happy. Only they can tell you what they want and if they do then you’re half way there. How you do that is up to you. Regular and open appraisals of both sides are a great opportunity to hear their needs and could go a long way raising their sense of worth and in turn their motivation.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow decided that unless some basics needs were met by an individual they weren’t ever going to become motivated to achieve at a higher level. That’s right. Motivated to achieve at a higher level.

Those basics needs were few: physiological – food, sleep, shelter; safety security, health, wellbeing; love/belonging friendships, relationships, family; esteem a need to feel confident and respected; self-actualisation – and this is the big one, the desire to become the best version of you and achieve everything that comes with it.

To best utilise the findings from this method, again it points to giving staff value within their role. To feel appreciated and have that reason to strive. Self-actualisation.

This isn’t just in the work environment though, so it would help to make efforts to ensure staff are healthy and happy in their home lives too if at all possible. You can help there with fair salaries, flexible hours, the simple understanding that they’re humans too, not just automatons powering the workplace profit machine, and by working with them when they have problems that an ease in pressure or a short term relaxed schedule at work could offer.

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect could so easily be misunderstood and abused. The science shows that people work much harder when they know they’re being observed. So let’s stand behind our workers with a whip and a cosh!

Perhaps not.

A better way to implement this is with regular monitoring and discussions about their work role. Problem solving together can make someone feel much more motivated as a team player than hitting the same brick wall all on their own.

Another point of interest while gathering the data for this practice was that while making improvements to the working environment it gave staff a feeling of being cared for and appreciation. Each individual change brought an increase in productivity.

Expectancy Theory

This one’s easy. People will behave relatively to what they expect the outcome from their efforts to earn them. Do more – get more. The problem with this is that we don’t always believe our efforts will pay off. So the rewards or achievements hoped for have to be a likely pay-off of real value and that the effort it will take is personally achievable. It doesn’t always have to be for financial gain – the reward could be personal, not financial, but they are rewards as a return on their investment all the same.

Three Dimensional Theory of Attribution

Bernard Weiner believed people want to know WHY? and if they understood WHY it would become a motivation (or lack of) factor the next time a similar situation arose. He learned that the important part of understanding wasn’t so much the WHYS but the attributions to them. The HOW of the WHY. Was the reason for failing a stable one? Acts of God are unlikely to happen twice so that WHY may be an unrealistic HOW. Was the event caused by an outside influence not to be repeated, or one that could be? Could you have controlled what happened better given a second chance or was there no control to be had? Keep asking the HOWs of the WHY.

The best way to put this into real life practice and make it work for you is by attaining feedback.

So we’re back to communication. Talk to your staff. Discuss shortcomings and successes. Learn the WHYs and ask all about the HOWs. Understand their effects in order to boost the good ones and remove the bad.

Conclusions and Those All Important Practical Motivators

So now we know the science – what can we do?

The common themes throughout each scientific theory are Reward and Communicate.

The ways you can reward your staff are numerous. A simple bonus for a particular project result, commissions on sales, a pay-rise or promotion for continuing long-term efforts, prizes for project achievements such as extra time off. Time has been a proven currency of good will to so many people. Just look how we yearn for that extra day off a bank holiday brings. The day off might be worth three times more to your staff than its financial equivalent. And how will you know? Well, you’ll just have to ask won’t you?

Listen to your staff to find out what they really want. Don’t give them a case of wine if they drink beer. Use what they tell you. These should all be mechanisms to help your staff gain a physical or financial benefit in return for the extra hard work you are asking them to give continually. It has to be worth their while.

Give them the personal development they need. Offer them incentives of achievement. Help them grow. Organise training but in your time not their own – or meet them half way if they want something you can’t quite give them. Don’t give with one hand only to take it away with the other. Show them you value them. Work with them.

Build the relationships that count. Try developing Company Days to openly communicate all that is going on in the business so they can feel part of the bigger picture. Listen to their part in current projects. Be a two way street not just the hand that cracks the whip. Team Building is so important but if you’re going down the traditional routes, again, make sure you do it in company time. A lot of your staff will hate these activities being forced on them despite the benefits to you – but it could well be a better option than another day stuck at their desk?

And as research suggests, especially within the millennial generation, that happiness and personal satisfaction is becoming more important than financial gain from our working lives now both are becoming so closely linked, and it would seem the key to this is communication. Ask your staff what they want. Listen and find a way to meet their needs. If you can do this you’ll grow happy and motivated employees that won’t go looking for their happy somewhere else.

And if you get it right, well, why would they?