Use criticism to develop yourself!

By Neha Verma

At some point in life, we all face criticism personally or professionally. Criticism doesn’t come easy and at times it is difficult to acknowledge the same. We often get bogged down by the criticism so much that we ignore what we can actually learn from it. So instead of retaliating or being defensive; pause for a while think critically and then respond – though easy said than done.

I am amongst those who would become extremely uncomfortable when criticized. My initial reactions were driven emotionally. I would carry the distress caused by criticism throughout the day and affect my work. Over the time, I realized that we don’t have control over others; how they judge and form an opinion about us, but we can definitely learn to respond in a better way and display our maturity.

If you are going through difficult time combating criticism, I have listed a few suggestions to face criticism bravely:

  • Criticism opens a whole new perspective which you might not have thought of. Life is a process of continuous learning and we learn best from our flaws.
  • When you accept criticism, you show humility towards the fact that you are ready to acknowledge your own weaknesses.
  • Criticism helps enhance your emotional quotient. You learn to listen.
  • Criticism makes you strong; you will learn to tackle difficult situations and people.
  • Criticism enhances your problem-solving skill and makes you a rational thinker.
  • Learn to let go unconstructive criticism, do not dwell on it for a long time and create a stressful environment for yourself.

We are often scared of being judged and are obsessed with the thought of what other people think of us. Most of the time, we receive unsolicited criticism/feedback and we tend to misinterpret the intention behind it. Criticism challenges our disposition and to maintain a calm demeanor becomes relatively difficult. But, remember you are being critiqued because you created something. So, next time when you are criticized, remember you and your work are being noticed. Don’t let opinion of others stop you from doing what you believe in.

Training is an investment, not an expense!

By Neha Verma

Training is an integral part of any organization; it equips the employees with skills required to perform the job. Every organization invests in training their employees that are responsible for giving results. Most organizations/businesses consider training as an expense when it is actually an investment.

There are numerous reasons to invest in training, like; improved quality or in other words reduction in errors or defects, enhanced productivity, increased motivation, helps in retaining the talent pool, capacity building, groom the leaders, etc. Training helps in building capacity within an organization and investing in people is vital as this is the workforce which can bring excellent profits to your business.

In the times of economic crisis, organization often control its budget by cutting down on non-core or non-billable activities, and unfortunately training is one of such activities – if not cancelled completely. However, training can help both employees and organizations in such challenging situations. With the advancement of technology and globalization, there are various methods to reduce the cost of training whilst maintain its effectiveness. Virtual classes, use of instructional system designs, video conferencing and other technological improvements have helped revamp the training making it cost effective. In this era of globalization, where organizations are spread across the globe, such advancement in training delivery techniques are highly cost effective and have reduced the need of face to face training.

Training should be designed to focus on immediate business need and to cater the various talent pool bespoke training or curriculum is the preferred way of keeping at pace with the organizational changes and needs. Training should be pragmatic in approach and directly applicable to day to day activities which will help organizations to measure ROI. An efficiently trained staff with improved skill set will have high productivity and quality, efficient at their job whilst feeling recognized and valued by management.

As leaders and managers, you are responsible for the success of your organization, and developing your people to increases your chance of success. For any organization, people are one of the biggest investments and they should not be left to rust.

Meet the team behind EiSHT – a start-up strengthening young people’s soft skills

EiSHT is a social enterprise created by a team of management professionals and avid volunteers who together possess years of experience in recruiting, training and developing young people. Caroline O’Connor initially came up with the idea in January en route back from an event with Naas No Name! Club.  What began as a means of helping young people achieve their goals in getting their first summer jobs has evolved and adapted to what the market seeks.  It has become a programme to help arm young people with the skills, competence and self-awareness required to adapt to the rapidly evolving workplace.  “We want you to have the skills, confidence and competency to be the High Potential Leaders of the future and to realise your superpowers”. 

EiSHT was born – Emotionally intelligent, Skilled, Happy Teens – from paying attention to the recurring concerns of teenagers and young adults under 25 and of recruiters, trainers and managers of under 25s.

What sets this programme apart is that it is founded on the core pillars of employability, professionalism, self-awareness, gratitude and social citizenship.  It focusses on soft skills, which are not part of the second level curriculum, to build resilience and adaptability going into third level and beyond.  It will be delivered through a combination of self-organised learning on their online platform, psychometrics, workshops, and coaching.  “Where we are in the 4th industrial revolution, this programme will help to secure the options and opportunities for young people in the humanisation of work”.

Caroline O’Connor was elevated to the Short Term Enterprise Allowance in the summer.  Intreo supported her completion of that programme and enabled her to come to Trinity via Springboard to join Tangent on the PgC in Creative Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  “It’s been an avalanche of progress and proved that once you make the first terrifyingly challenging decision, everything else starts to fall into place and so many doors have opened”.  Caroline, mother of two, has over 20 years’ experience in hospitality and FMCG.  She has been involved with No Name! Club since senior secondary school and has run the Naas club for the past four years. 

The organisation works with TY to 6th year students on a programme of social confidence without peer pressure of alcohol and other drugs.  Conor Dalgarno is the web designer, developer and technical genius behind EiSHT.  One of the first .IE registrars, Conor works with start-ups consistently through this ownership of Silkweb Group.  Aside from being a classic car owner and enthusiast, he is the voluntary director of youth rugby with Navan RFC.  Aoife Sheehy is their coach, mentor and psychometrics whiz from their partners in Thomas International.  Aoife was on the UCC Ignite Incubator with her previous employer and is fellow volunteer of No Name! Club.  Caroline brought the team together with their shared core drive to make a social imprint and improve opportunities for young people.

Partnerships with Thomas International, Dulann.com, Silkweb Group and John Murray Headshots have propelled this idea into a fully supported, scalable solution.  The team is charging on, with help from the TES team & Incubator, the Tangent team and others.  The next stage includes rolling out further trials in second level education and development of the web platform.  The whole programme is scalable and can be exported – the key for the team is to continue to prototype and reiterate each stage of the process to its customers. Results from trials have so far proved that the team is set to make EiSHT a social success. 

“We have a deal!” But where to next?

Just as fears of a no-deal Brexit were reaching their peak, news came from Brussels yesterday that a deal is finally reached.

Last Thursday Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the UK, had a semi-formal meeting with Leo Varadkar in the Thornton Manor. Although no one really expected this would lead to any kind of breakthrough, the results were rather surprising. When the two came out of the private meeting room with a smile, declaring that they see “a pathway to a deal”, the exchange rate of pound sterling gained more than 2% against the US dollar on that very day. One week later, the EU passed the new Brexit deal.

Yesterday was definitely a day to remember in both the UK and the EU’s history, but after the cheerful moment, we need to stop and think about what could happen next, and what the implications are.

Firstly, the deal is not final. It did pass a difficult hurdle – coming to an agreement with the EU. However, the hard journey through the British parliament has just begun. Boris Johnson has two days to seek allies before the unusual “Super Saturday” session in the House of Commons. Although Boris believes the deal is of the best interest for both parties and is quite confident about the results of the voting, analysts hold different opinions. Sporting Index, a lottery company who successfully predicted the results of previous Brexit votes, have sent out an email estimating the “Yes” vote would be 313 while Boris needs 320 to pass the deal in the British parliament.

In one scenario, the deal will be passed in the British Parliament this Saturday. This will mean no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the rights of EU citizens in the UK will be protected (as will those of UK citizens living in the EU). The UK will leave the customs union as a whole, while Northern Ireland will still remain an “entry point”. For most of us life will remain the same, except we might notice that grocery shopping seems a bit more expensive. Establishing the UK to EU “entry point” on the island is set to make Ireland more of a focus area between the two, which will give rise to both opportunities and challenges. Dublin had already seen big names such as Travelers Insurance Company moving its European business to Ireland to avoid risks associated with Brexit. If the deal is passed and Brexit is official, more London-based international companies will start seeking new bases in the EU, and Ireland is no doubt one of the most appealing options.

If the deal is not passed by the House of Commons, the Benn Act will require the PM to seek an extension of the Brexit date from the EU. For businesses in the UK, this will amount to another period of uncertainty and continuous economic stagnation. For the past three years, uncertainty has caused numerous British companies and investors to suffer, and has seen the bankruptcy of long-standing companies such as Thomas Cook. The Benn Act may appear to be inconsequential for the EU from a political perspective – or even beneficial. However, given the significance of the UK in the global market, the ramifications of further uncertainty for businesses operating there may result in harm for industry in the EU.

Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

By Andrés Soto Ramos

Key Points:

  • Importance of diversity in the workplace
  • Diversity and inclusion?
  • Healthier organisational climate:
  • Prevents knowledge inbreeding
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Encourages open communication

Enough has been said about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In the digital era that we live in, organizations are under heavy scrutiny of society and can face severe brand image damages if they are caught not following inclusive practices.

We can see an example of this in how U.S. companies have been quick to dismiss any situation in which racial profiling or any kind of abuse to minorities has taken place in their establishments, that are often resulting in the termination of the employee that caused the issue. But business should not advocate for inclusiveness only because it is what our society expect, they should also consider the positive impact in the bottom line of fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

What exactly is diversity and inclusion? These two words are often (wrongly) used as synonyms in advertising or company communications, but it is important to remember that they do not have the same meaning. Instead of going into the dictionary definition of each, we can explain these with a simple metaphor that has proven useful to clarify this subject in corporate environments; diversity means that everyone is invited to the party, and inclusion means that everyone will also be invited to dance. Therefore, diversity an inclusion (D&I) in the workplace translates to building a talent pool of individuals from different background, gender, age, creed, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, languages, education, etc; and to nurture an environment in which everyone feels safety in sharing their opinions and that allows them to have access to the same growth opportunities.

While this feels again as an overly romanticised definition that companies can use as a sales pitch, organisations that adopt D&I practices are bound to reap on a wider and more valuable set of benefits that come from a healthier organisational climate:

Prevents knowledge inbreeding

Just as the organisms in an ecosystem have higher disposition to a set of diseases when they share a common gene-pool, organisations that hire and promote individuals from similar backgrounds to management positions are prone to adopt ideas within an identical line of thought, therefore reducing the chance of bad ideas being scrutinised and discussed, and limiting the innovating output.

Enhances employee engagement

Companies around the world invest millions of dollars per year in workshops and teambuilding activities to promote employee satisfaction. But since most modern workers will spend at least a third of their day in their workplaces. Satisfaction and engagement can be also improved by fostering a safe climate in which different opinions are respected and equally taken into consideration. Individuals will show higher attachment towards organisations that genuinely value their contributions.

Encourages open communication

Companies with a diverse workforce that is empowered to openly communicate and share their opinions are most likely to display efficient conflict resolution within their work groups. As well as better problem-solving techniques due to the flexibility that comes with open-mindedness and respect for others’ opinions. In opposition, individuals that feel threatened or judged will refrain from communicating the issues they perceive in their companies due to the fear of being prosecuted by their peers. Consulting data and reports on diversity and inclusion have consistently proven a strong correlation between better financial performance and the adoption of D&I practices. Individuals and managers must not ignore this evidence and advocate for inclusive companies not just because of the positive advertising that can be generated because of this, or simply to follow what can be considered a trend in modern human resources practices. Building a truly inclusive workplace can become a real competitive advantage for organisations, with a direct impact in their climate and overall company performance.

Saudi Aramco’s impending IPO is set to be the largest in history

  • The oil giant’s mammoth IPO, to be formally announced this Sunday, is set to earn $40 billion for the kingdom.
  • Saudi Arabia is pushing forward after delays caused by international scandals, drone-attacks and fears of an economic downturn.
  • Investment banks are sharing in $450 million in fees paid out by Aramco in exchange for help with the listing, to the dismay of environmental and human rights groups.

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco has been planning its initial public offering (IPO) for about three years. The energy company is the most profitable in the world, making $111 billion last year – more than the top five publicly traded oil companies combined. On Thursday the government is expected to give the official thumbs-up for the IPO to go ahead, and a formal declaration is to take place this Sunday.

The Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s hope is that selling 3% of the shares in Aramco will raise money (estimated at $40 billion) for the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, and the proceeds are going to be used to diversify the Saudi Arabian economy away from an over-reliance on oil. This means it is projected to be the largest IPO ever, with the next highest being Alibaba’s 2014 IPO which raked in $25 billion.

A portion of the oil giant’s shares will be floated on the domestic stock exchange in the capital Riyadh, called the Tadawul, with general plans to pursue a listing on an international exchange at a later date. Why is it that such a lucrative opportunity for the kingdom has taken years to come to fruition?

Intense global backlash related to the murder of the outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s government, Jamal Khashoggi, last year almost certainly spooked international investors and resulted in the oil company pushing back its IPO. But more recent crises have heaped uncertainty on the nation’s oil industry specifically.

On September 14, two of Aramco’s largest refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked by drones, paralysing about half of the nation’s oil production (output plummeted by ~5.7 million barrels per day, which equates to about 5% of global oil production) and destabilising global financial markets. The U.S, a host of European countries and Saudi Arabia itself blamed Iran for the bombings, although the Yemeni Houthis declared themselves responsible.

Aramco states that it has recovered production to pre-drone strike levels, at about 10 million barrels per day. This remains shy of its full capacity of 12 million barrels that it expects to reach by the end of November. While this suggests the oil giant may be resilient in its ability to rebound back to its preferred output, the attacks nonetheless reveal major vulnerabilities in the firm’s infrastructure. Its seeming unpreparedness for threats of this nature no doubt worried potential investors, delaying its IPO.  

On October 7th, one of the Big Three credit rating agencies, Fitch Ratings, downgraded Saudi Aramco’s credit score by a notch given these concerns over security. In addition to all this, at the beginning of this week the price of a barrel of Brent crude measured at less than $60, and this is below the level prior to the drone attack. This signals universal fear among investors of an impending global economic slowdown.

Nonetheless, it’s full steam ahead for Aramco’s entrance to the public market, and in its effort to sweeten the deal for hesitant investors the firm is offering $75 billion in annual dividends. The kingdom is also going to pay between $350-$450 million in fees to professional advisors in exchange for help with selling its shares. This equates to about 1% of the expected proceeds of $40 billion, which is a lower proportion than many engaged in the project were anticipating. For comparison, Alibaba paid $300 million to its pool of investment bankers, coming to about 1.2% of its $25 billion proceeds.

Among those hired to sell Aramco’s shares are ex-Trump national security advisor and partner at Goldman Sachs Dina Powell, and ex- United States congress representative Eric Cantor. According to Bloomberg, “The roster of bankers reads like a who’s who of finance, underscoring the importance of Saudi Arabia a year after the murder of government critic Jamal Khashoggi prompted a brief spell of skittishness over doing business with the country.”

A question hovers over the company’s valuation. The Crown Prince originally desired a valuation of $2 trillion – but this looks to be overly ambitious. A recent Economist report which took the dividend yield as a reliable metric for valuing an energy company found that a valuation of about $1.2 trillion is closer to the mark.

The listing has incited criticism from a swathe of environmental advocacy groups (such as Earthworks and Share Action), discouraging potential investors from financing “the biggest single infusion of capital into the fossil fuel industry” since the passing of the Paris climate agreement in 2016. It has also attracted the ire of human rights watchdogs, who blast Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record in a letter sent to nine international banks associated with Aramco’s IPO (such as JP Morgan Chase and Credit Suisse). The antipathy is only set to escalate following the formal announcement this coming Sunday.

The Network Effect

By Brid O’Donnell

Key Points:

  • Be Brave
  • Prioritize Questions
  • Know when to move on
  • What’s next
  • Execute the follow up

Networking is hard, but necessary to be successful in the business world. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind as you begin your networking journey.

  1. Be Brave

Networking can sometimes feel like a game of luck, at a certain event, you may meet strangers who you can develop into good friends and allies or else you don’t. However, you can increase your luck by putting yourself out there as much as possible. Regularly try something new and be curious. That can be intimidating and challenging, but a good networker is continuously expanding their networks and leaving their silo. Thus you must put yourself in new situations, and you need to be ready to make the first move, a lot.

In the same thread as being brave, be the person who introduces people. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships; you must ask yourself what you can give, as opposed to thinking about what you want out of this connection. Often the answer to what you can give the other person is connections to new people as everyone needs a hand at networking. By bringing people together, you not only help other people network, but you are also signalling to those around you that you are a leader and creates a good reputation for yourself.

  • Prioritize questions, not stories

Everyone has stories that they enjoy telling. It is fair to say that you need to know your own story, aka your elevator pitch; the 60-second round-up of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It’s important to make sure you get exposure and make yourself memorable and interesting. Thus you should prepare your story in advance and be ready to say. However, it should be brief and quick. After you make that introduction, the focus of the conversation should not be on you, but everyone else and the best way to achieve that is by asking questions.

Therefore, along with preparing your own story, you should also have a good list of go-to questions; broad, open-ended questions that help develop the conversation further. They are useful to fall back on when you are jumping into the deep end with someone completely new. However, don’t treat these questions like a checklist. Think of questions on the go, adapting to how the conversation unfolds. This shows that you are an active listener, which is a vital skill in networking.

  • Know when to move on

It often gets overlooked, but at a busy reception, it is easy to get end up in a conversation that has received its full potential; however, you feel too awkward to end the conversation. Don’t be afraid to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your time; It was so nice meeting you” or something similarly polite. You don’t need an excuse like I need to go to the bathroom, you need to acknowledge that you enjoyed the conversation and leave. If you are feeling like the conversation is nearing its natural end, the other person most likely feels the same way and appreciate the chance to start other conversations.

  • Next Steps

Introducing yourself to someone and having a chat isn’t enough to consider them a connection. Even adding them on Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t enough. You need to recall and formalize. I’m forgetful, especially when it comes to exact details, and the best advice I have ever received is to get a contact book or rather a personal CRM. Of course, you should take note of the person’s name, organization, background and contact details but don’t forget the small things. If you spoke about a certain topic or the person has a particular interest, include it. Even the stuff which seems irrelevant, like if someone mentions that they are a fan of Arsenal, remember that. Later on, when you reconnect, your contact will appreciate you remembering the small irrelevant things. There are many CRM apps out there you can use, but a well-designed spreadsheet could also suffice.

  • Execute the Follow-Up

The last step to networking is the follow-up. Emailing or reaching out to a new contact on LinkedIn soon after your first meeting can reenforce your first introduction and creates a new channel of contact. Use this opportunity to thank the person and show your appreciation and delight at meeting them. A specific thank you to someone can create a lot of goodwill and don’t be subtle about it. Finally, remember to keep your word and be thoughtful. If you said you would check something for them, follow through. This shows that you are reliable and quickly builds trust. As for being thoughtful, don’t be shy about sending people articles or clips that you think will interest them. This stage of networking can quickly become relationship-managing, and it can seem slow going, but networking is about continuous efforts that lead to future successes.

If you are interested in developing your networking skills further, Trinity graduate Kingsley Aikins has established The Networking Institute (www.thenetworkinginstitute.com) and has worked with major global corporates in finance, accounting and consultancy as well as governments and non-profit. Visit the website to pick up even more tips and advice on networking!

Luckin Coffee: Legend or failing unicorn?

Luckin Coffee was founded in 2017, yet has already established more than 3000 wholly-owned shops in China. The coffee chain successfully completed its IPO in the US this March, only 18 months after the founding of the company, raising $561 million. You may have never heard the name, but it is quickly becoming a key competitor in the ~$10 billion Chinese Coffee retail industry, and threatens the current leading player, Starbucks.

   To differentiate themselves from Starbucks, Luckin Coffee self-describes as a Coffee-Network or Coffee Technology Corporation. In its prospectus, the word “technology” appears 88 times, followed by the third most used word “network”, which appears 79 times.

Technology is clearly the key to its operations. Luckin states that AI enables them to analyse their customers’ behaviour and select better services and products tailored for each individual based on big data. The Luckin Coffee app also plays a major part in their operations. In fact, all purchases of Luckin Coffee are made through its apps (iOS, Android and Wechat’s built-in-apps), and no cashier can be found in any of its shops.

   As opposed to the company itself, the founder of Luckin is probably more famous. Zhiya Qian, the former COO of CAR (China Auto Rental), is known for leading the “subsidy war” in China’s car rental industry and won a large market share for the company. She strongly believes that her success in the car rental industry can be replicated in the fast-growing Coffee retail industry.

   The inner logic of this marketing model is simple. The initial approach is characterised by the use of large amounts of subsidies to break into an industry, in order to build customer loyalty and seize market share with rapid expansion. Having achieved this, the company makes use of “internet thinking” and reduce subsidies to turn losses into gains when most of the other competitors are no longer competitive. Luckin is still in the first stage, as it is still quickly opening more shops and offering huge discounts such as 81%-offs, and pricing the cost of a cup at around 1 euro to attract customers (while the general price per cup is between €4 and €6). The money burning strategy is no doubt doing its job, but the problem is how long can it last?

   In the financial statements from the prospectus, for the three months ended 1st March 2019, Luckin’s total revenue reached $713 million. However, the net loss is $110 million higher. This financial data is a dangerous signal that the speed of growth of the company might not be able to justify the money they have been burning in a foreseeable period of time. Data shows that if Luckin continues losing money at this rate, the company’s cash flow will be in severe danger and may not survive for another two quarters. This may be one of the reasons driving this start-up to rush to hold an IPO. Despite its financial state, Luckin still holds a positive attitude towards its strategy, claiming they will not slow down the rapid chain growth and will continue subsidising its products.

Last month, reporters found some Luckin Coffee shops have started to sell “convenience store food”. Meanwhile the company updated its business scope, adding clothes, shoes, hats etc to its product line. Is this a sign that Luckin Coffee is transforming into a comprehensive new retail chain to save its cash flow? The answer will be seen in no time.

The Economic Impact of UAV Technology: Regulatory Approvals Paving the way for a Billion Dollar Industry?

While the concept of an unmanned aerial vehicle (hereinafter UAV), also known as a drone, delivering products may seem futuristic it is set to become a reality. Given that, the Irish Aviation Authority (hereinafter IAA) have shown a willingness to support drone airspace. This is hardly surprising when considering that, according to Goldman Sachs, UAV technology is estimated to be worth $100 billion, in market opportunity, to the worlds’ global economy by 2020.

With the fastest area of growth projected to be in the commercial and civil sector. For instance, a study conducted by PwC has suggested that UAV powered business operations could potentially be worth $127 billion. While, UAV technology, which is of military origin, is likely to be as ground-breaking as similar products of military origin, such as the internet and GPS. It is questionable whether its value will be derived from its hardware which has low production costs and is, therefore, unlikely to drive industry growth. Since the technology used in this area can be easily reproduced, growth in this area is likely to be in services that operate and manage drones. For instance, Amazons’ drone delivery service, PrimeAir, which has been described as ‘ground-breaking’.

Although UAV’s have the potential for enormous market opportunity, regulatory approval is needed to start operations and to generate profits. For instance, in the U.S the Federal Aviation Administration (hereinafter FAA) must grant an air carrier certificate before commercial UAV operations can be commenced. Though Wing Aviation became the first U.S company that received FAA approval other companies such as Amazon, and UPS are still awaiting approval. In Ireland, Manna, which aims to facilitate “3-minuet food delivery” using UAV technology, should become a reality by Q1 of 2020. While the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order S.I. 563 of 2015 outlines that UAV registration is mandatory in Ireland for vehicles over 1kg.

It is submitted that since drone airspace is a new concept a more comprehensive framework will be needed. For instance, in April 2019 an Airbus A320 landing in London Gatwick had to swerve to avoid collision with a UAV. However, the IAA has indicated that persons operating drones illegally will be subject to the full rigors of the law. Moreover, in June 2019 the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 published European rules on UAV’s to ensure that UAV operations across Europe are safe. Given, the novel nature of commercial UAV activity safety has been a paramount concern for regulators. 

Due to economies of scale UAV technology is predicted to play a larger role in our everyday lives. Furthermore, there may be financial incentives for using this technology. For instance, in the construction industry, when lease agreements are in place, the lessor would likely qualify for tax deductions. While data privacy concerns and infringements of General Data Protection Regulations (hereinafter GDPR) have been raised. These concerns may likely be mitigated if commercial UAV’s operate using Lidar, Sonar, and GPS without cameras. The impact of the UAV regulations and whether they will bring harmony and economic growth to this area remains to be seen.

Foreign Language Skill: How it opens up a world of Job Opportunities?

Key Points:

  • English is not enough!
  • Speaking another language makes you stand out from the crowd.
  • Helps to discover new cultures.
  • Helps to meet new people.
  • You develop 4 key skills; listening, reading, speaking and writing.
  • Speaking more than one language increases your brain capacity and causes you to have a better memory.
  • It’s an impressive achievement to speak a foreign language and you’ll have better options for your future!

Today’s world is full of different and very interesting cultures. So why not to use this opportunity and learn something new – a new language. Having this skill, will help you in so many ways:

  • Open up a world of Job Opportunities

In English speaking countries it is important to stand out. You can do it by learning another language.

The world is changing fast. More companies than ever are doing business around the world, but they can’t do it without hiring globally minded people who can speak at least one foreign language. Ever wanted to be like those people you see in the airport travelling to foreign countries “on business” all the time? That can be you.

  • It’s great for traveling

Knowing more than one language opens up your vacation destination possibilities. Traveling to a foreign country becomes much easier if you can speak the language of that country.

Getting to a comfortable speaking level in a foreign language is a great motivator to get you out there – practise!

  • You build multitasking skills

Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech and writing easily. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. (Employers love this one)

Interesting Fact: It is also known that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving tests.

  • You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia

For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.

  • You become smarter

Learning a second language improves your memory and increases your attention span. The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain, challenges you to concentrate and boosts your problem-solving skills.

Bilingual students tend to score higher on standardized tests than monolingual students, especially in the areas of vocabulary, reading and math. As you learn to switch from one language to another, you improve your multitasking abilities. Bilingual individuals have also been shown to be more logical and rational, be more perceptive and aware of their surroundings.

  • It boosts your creativity

Researchers are also concluding that multilingual speakers are more creative than monolingual speakers. Learning a foreign language improves not only your ability to solve problems and to think more logically, it also makes you experiment with new words and phrases.

Leveling up your second language skills forces you to reach for alternate words when you can’t quite remember the original one you wanted to use. It improves your skills in divergent thinking, which is the ability to identify multiple solutions to a single problem. This is exactly what kind of people employers are looking for!

  • It builds up your self-confidence

You’re about to teach yourself to believe, “yes, I can.”

Confidence increases when a new skill is mastered, and learning a foreign language is no different. And let’s face it: confident people are more interesting than those who are unsure of themselves. The techniques you use to develop a second tongue result in a greater sense of open-mindedness.

In order to master a new language, conversations with native and fluent speakers are essential. If you’re shy but want to meet new people, using the excuse that you want to practice your speaking skills is a great opener and a doorway to making new friends, expanding your horizons and broadening your life experiences. Plus, who doesn’t want to be more interesting?

  • It aids in self-discovery and self-actualization

It is an interesting outcome, not at all something that you list as your expected result when you embark to learn a new language. But trying to understand a language and the heritage that goes with it will put you in a position of self-discovery. It makes you come to terms with how you view the world and other cultures.

So which language are you starting to learn first?! In Trinity we have a choice from Russian to Spanish, from Polish to Italian and many more. Don’t miss this brilliant opportunity to have something unique along your creative business mind!

How the Internet of Things is Changing Business

John Fink

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a relatively new term used to describe the relationship between modern digital technologies; it is a paradigm under which consumer technologies record data about their usage and operation and share it with relevant devices for certain purposes in a sprawling network of interconnected machines. The power of the Internet of Things is in task automation, by using the data recorded from usage analytics, devices within the IoT can satisfy simply and repetitive tasks with minimal to no human input. It allows for your home thermostat to know when you’ve arrived home based on your phone’s location data, and warm up your house for you; Or it sends you an email when the postman was detected as arriving at your front door through your IoT security camera. The potential for what tasks can be automated, and what quality of life improvements can be developed, are vast in scope.

The market for the Internet of Things is rapidly expanding. Research, development, and marketing of IoT enable devices from major tech developers has seem a massive uptick over the past decade, and it’s slated to grow ever larger, you may be familiar with several AI personal assistants that have become more popular in previous years and are often bumbled with modern smartphones and speakers. As of late 2018, Forbes predicted that world spending on Internet of Things technologies will reach 1.2 trillion in 2022. This growth in popularity and creative application of IoT devices has not only affected consumers but has also changed business in more than a few ways. How businesses interact within themselves, with other businesses, and with customers all have the potential to change with IoT technology, and many already do. Using them, data about internal operations and external interactions can be unified within one interconnected network of devices for easy access and organization. Here are just a few of the ways that the Internet of Things has affected business.

  1. Product Management: Using scanners, cameras, digital ID tags, sensors for pressure/impact/temperature/humidity, and computers to manage them all, buyers and sellers in the IoT world can track not only the location of a shipped or stored product, but the conditions of its storage and handling. Grocers can ensure that perishable food was stored at the correct temperature throughout handling, and a window pane installer can ensure that a tempered glass screen was not dropped at any point while shipping.
  2. Operations Management: By connecting devices to your workflow that measure the frequency of the completion of a task, it can be quantified how productive certain measures are without the need of a human observer. Scanners, switches, and computers that record the use of devices on a worksite can compile their data into an accurate summation of workplace efficiency. In a complimentary light, devices like smart locks, lights, and HVAC systems can help to automate certain simple tasks, increase security, and decrease waste.
  3. Customer Management: Through IoT enabled consumer devices, notably the popular AI personal assistants that are found on smartphones and speakers (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant), businesses can interact with their customers, and make sales, on a completely unprecedented platform, with an unprecedented amount of ease in making a sale for both buyer and seller. A good example of this is the Domino’s Pizza Alexa skill, by downloading it, you can shout at your Alexa enabled TV or speaker to order your favorite pizza without even requiring you to pick up your phone. This benefits Domino’s in that no employee time (and therefor, company money) is utilized to make the sale.

These are just a few of the ways that IoT devices are changing business. Several modular and bespoke technologies/software have been released recently with the aim of increasing consumer and business interconnectivity with the internet of things. Such devices are the raspberry pi and other popular small computer kits, the Amazon Alexa skills kit, AI assistant control interfaces like the Google Assistant Home, and more. There is a great opportunity now for businesses not only to integrate these technologies into their workflow, but to develop services that utilize the consumer versions of these technologies to increase their level of customer interaction.

Seanad Calls for Irish Government to Offer More Support for Irish SMEs

Paddy Ryder

The Seanad in recent days has called upon the Irish government to introduce additional supports for Irish SME’s. There are three classifications that compromise the SME sector: micro enterprises, small enterprises and medium enterprises.

A micro enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 10 employees and has either an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding €2 million; a small enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 50 employees and has either annual turnover and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding  €10 million and a medium enterprise is defined as an enterprise that has between 50 employees and 249 employees and has either an annual turnover not exceeding  €50 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.

The supports recommended by the Seanad will impact all of the aforementioned enterprises. Such supports include further entrepreneurial education in primary schools, specific supports for female entrepreneurs and the introduction of a new junior ministerial role to represent SME’s. The new ministerial position will enable the shaping of SME policy and help to foster the growth of small businesses in traditional sectors. It is hoped that exposing primary school students to entrepreneurship will lead to more economic activity and similarly, that new supports for female entrepreneurs boosts female leadership.

The Seanad found that typical SME concerns included rising business costs most notably the costs of rent, insurance and rates, competitive recruitment, Brexit uncertainty and continuous delays in the roll out of the national broadband plan. Ireland’s tax system was also highlighted as a difficulty with CGT rates significantly higher for SMEs in Ireland than in the UK and other jurisdictions. The EIS scheme for investment into early stage business is also less attractive in Ireland than the UK equivalent.

The EU and US rarely see eye to eye on matters of trade and commerce, but both see SME’s as the backbone of their respective economies, meaning SME’s are the cornerstone of commerce across the globe not just Ireland. Having said this however, the role of SME’s in Ireland is particularly important given that 99.8% of business activities in Ireland are represented by SME’s. This translates to 238,000 businesses, employing more than 1.3 million workers in Ireland, almost half of the entire Irish workforce. SME’s are therefore the main source of jobs in the Irish economy, thus, the new Seanad recommendations are a welcomed proposition and it is hoped that the recommendations can positively impact the Irish business landscape creating conditions that allow Irish SME’s to flourish.

Read the full report at –https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/seanad_public_consultation_committee/reports/2019/2019-05-16_small-and-medium-sized-businesses-in-ireland_en.pdf

These 10 Companies Control Almost Everything we Consume

It’s a scary thought isn’t it. All of our favourite brands owned and controlled by no more than 10 individual companies. How is it possible for such a small number of companies to be associated with every single major food and drink brand that we have ever come across and who are they? Some of them you will most likely recognise and some maybe not. 6 of these companies are American, 1 is Swiss, 1 is British, 1 is French and there is also a British-Dutch company.

Oxfam released the information as a way of spreading awareness about the huge concentration of market power in the industry so that people would be aware of who owns what they are buying, ultimately in an effort to push these companies to make positive changes. Let’s take a look at them:

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  1. Mondelez
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Mondelez made about $25.9 billion in snacks in 2017. They own all of Cadbury (which incorporates a huge number of chocolate bars such as Crunchies, Freddos and Twirls) as well as other consumer favourites Oreo, Milka and Toblerone. They also own Sour Patch Kids and Kenco.

2.Unilever

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Another one of the well known companies that make up the 10 we will discuss. Unilever owns a vast wide-ranging catalog of brands including Lyons, Knorr and Hellmans. They are also the single biggest ice cream producer in the world with Magnum, Cornetto and Ben ‘n Jerrys under their belt. Unilever accumulated $51 billion in revenue in 2018.

3. Coca Cola

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Next on the list is soft drink giant Coca Cola. Coming in at a revenue in 2017 of 35.41 billion, the company is in charge of Coke, Sprite and Fanta. It is not just soft drinks that they own however as they also control Smart Water, Innocent Smoothies and Honest Tea.

4. Nestlé

The Swiss company made a staggering $90.8 billion revenue in 2017. These guys produce a lot of the chocolate we consume that Mondelez doesn’t under Cadbury. This includes KitKat, Smarties, Rolos and Aeros. They also own Nescafe of course but one that you mightn’t have been aware of is Polo mints being owned by Nestlé.

5. PepsiCo

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As far as drinks go PepsiCo owns Pepsi, Gatorade and Tropicana fruit juices. Interestingly they also own and market the Starbucks drinks available outside of Starbucks stores. Surprisingly Walkers is owned by PepsiCo, meaning that they control the production of Walkers crisps, Doritos and Cheetos. They recorded revenue of $63.53 billion in 2017

6. General Mills

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$15.62 billion is how much this company managed to make in 2017. They did this through their companies that include Green Giant, Old El Paso and Nature Valley. Not to mention the fact that they own 25 different cereal brands, one of which is Cheerios. Haagen-Dazs is another company owned by General Mills and they also own Parker Bros., the makers of Monopoly.

7. Kellogs

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Kellogs made $12.92 billion revenue in 2017, smaller compared to the rest of the companies in this domain but certainly not something to be scoffed at. This company produces Kellogs alongside over 30 other different cereals. Pringles, Nutri-Grain and Pop-Tarts are produced by Kellogs as well.

8. Associated British Foods

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The only solely British company in this group received revenue of roughly $19 billion in 2018. Probably owning some of the lesser known brands in the group, the company is in charge of brands like Twinings, Kingsmill and Ryvita Biscuits. They are however responsible for the export of massive American brands such as Tabasco hot sauce and Skippy peanut butter.

9. Mars

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Apart from the obvious, Mars owns pretty much any chocolate that isn’t Cadburys or Nestlé. Chocolate such as M&M’s, Galaxy and Snickers. What’s less obvious is their ownership of Wrigleys, which produces a plethora of chewing gum brands like Extra, Hubba Bubba and Orbit. Wrigleys also makes Skittles and Starbursts. The brands that few people would know are owned by Mars include Uncle Ben’s and Dolmio. $35 billion is how much revenue Mars made in 2017.

10. Danone

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In 2017, Danone received roughly $27.5 billion in revenue. Bottled water brands Evian and Volvic as well as yoghurts Activia and Actimel are owned by Danone. They also sell medical nutrition products such as Cow and Gate.

So there you have it. These are the 10 companies and the brands that they own. I’m sure you’ve heard of most if not all of these companies. However, it is still a little overwhelming to see just how many brands they own between them. Hopefully you got some interesting insight into who actually owns what brands and if you’re anyway similar to me, you will find it difficult to eat your Uncle Ben’s microwave rice knowing that it is made by the same company as your beloved M&M’s.

Differences between Hard and Soft skills? Why are they so important for employers?

  • What are the skills employers are looking from the graduates?
  • How can YOU learn those skills and become a better candidate for an internship or a job?
  • What are the differences between soft and hard skills?
  • Why are they so important?

What are the Hard skills?

  • Hard skills are the tough skills.
  • They show your knowledge about the job and your ability to do the work right.
  • They are specific to each job and are basis of job requirements.
  • They are quantifiable and are often learned in school, through earned certifications or in previous work experiences.
  • These skills can also be considered “resume keywords,” which are words recruiters use to search for applicants. Each resume should use the exact hard skills found in the job description.

What are the Soft Skills?

  • Soft skills are interpersonal skills.
  • These are much harder to define and evaluate.
  • They show how well employee can interact with customers.
  • They are non-measurable and so not specific to any job or career.
  • Soft skills are “people” skills.
  • These skills are personality traits that help define character but offer less proof of experience than hard skills.
  • Soft skills include communication skills, listening skills, and empathy etc.

Hard Skills List  

Examples of Hard Skills:                                        

  • Data Analysis                                                
  • Planning Skills                                               
  • Accounting
  • Financial
  • Software
  • Word Processing
  • Writing

Tips I recommend to improve your Hard skills

  • It is not a surprise that almost every type of job is in a strong connection with computers. Examples of basic computer skills are the ability to work with Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook Express and Windows Share Folders. If you need education or additional learning for these essential computer skills, here are some helpful courses:

1) Microsoft Excel Course – Excel from Beginner to Advanced:

2) Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint Training With Certificate Data Analysis

  • Analyzing some kind of data is a common part of many job positions and responsibilities. There are many reasons to learn data analysis: want to start a new career, want to develop your hard skills in your current career, or you want to know how to use, collect and present data for any purpose. If you have one of the above reasons, here are 2 important courses that can help:

1) Complete Introduction to Business Data Analysis

2) Data Science A-Z: Real-Life Data Science Exercises Included

  • Knowing Foreign Languages: Although English is the official business correspondence language for many countries, it is a big advantage to know other languages. Examples of the most required languages are German, Spanish, French, Chinese. So, is it the time to go and start learning a new language? And the answer is – Yes. It will make you a better candidate for any internship or a job. Check out some courses here: https://www.duolingo.com/courses

Soft Skills List

Examples of Soft Skills include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Time management skills
  • Willingness to learn

Five tips I recommend to improve your Soft skills

  1. Build self-awareness – Understand why you react to certain situations and certain people in a certain way. In order to develop any self-management skill, you first have to understand yourself.
  2. Change yourself not others – Some people might think or say that improving soft skills can help you manipulate other people actions. However, it is not true. Improving soft skills is all about changing yourself, your perception, your approach to situations.
  3. Understand other people’s motivations – Any action that cause a conflict and trigger yours or other person’s insecurity, will create a difficult or unexpected situation. By proactively trying to put yourself in their shoes before any interaction, you could communicate better and can better manage your reaction to unexpected situations.
  4. Start Easy and Relax –You cannot improve all your soft skills over one night, so identify one soft skill you want to start with. Start researching (books, blogs, etc…) and practice on that one skill. Once you make progress on one soft skill, it will give you the confidence to improve more on others a step at a time.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice – Sadly soft skills are not something you can just study in a book to get better, improvement takes practice over time. Improving soft skills is fundamentally about changing your behaviour toward yourself and others. Every next interaction you have with people at work is an opportunity to practice a soft skill!

HARD Skills vs. SOFT Skills

A combination of hard skills and soft skills forms a well-rounded job applicant. While hard skills are quite different than soft skills, together, they create a good balance between hard knowledge and interpersonal attributes. Hard skills show mastery and proficiency while soft skills show communication and relational abilities.

The balance of hard and soft skills is important. Hard skills help the applicant get past ATS while showing experience level and qualification for the position. Soft skills make the applicant human, showing leadership, empathy, and character. Both of them added together can make a perfect employee or a graduate.

So, which skills are more important – hard or soft?

Of course, both of them are equal. Balance is the key and the best answer here. So, make sure that your resume and/or CV contains enough skills of both types! Good luck!

3 Lessons Every Young Entrepreneur Must Learn from Taylor Swift

I’m sure you must have jammed to ‘Shake It Off’ at some point in your life.

Or cried to “Love Story”.

Or danced to “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.

Or screamed the lyrics to “Blank Space” (it’s not ‘Starbucks lovers’!).

That’s Taylor Swift, who has a song for every mood.

She’s turning 30 this year, and has already been in the music industry for 13 years; that’s right, she began her career at the age of 17! Since then, she has made a successful switch in her genre from country to pop, and has won over 400 awards, including 10 Grammys. She has sold almost $935.4 million worth of tickets through 6 world tours. If you’ve watched her ‘reputation’ tour on Netflix, you know exactly how powerful she is and why she deserves to stand where she does today.

I’ve loved Taylor for years; but only now do I understand the influence this woman has over, well… the music industry!

This is what every young entrepreneur (or human!) must learn from Taylor Swift:

  • Don’t be afraid to start young

By the age of 9, Taylor knew she wanted to be a singer. She would have her mother drive around various record labels and studios in Nashville, where Taylor would walk in, give her demo cd, and say, “Hi! I’m Taylor.. I’m 11.. I want a record deal.. Call me!”. She was signed by various records by the age of 14, and finally released her first album, Taylor Swift, at the age of 17. Her debut album won her massive recognition, and helped her understand her target audience and future moves at a young age.

If you think you’re too young to start something, you’re wrong. The sooner you start, the more mistakes you make. And the more mistakes you make, the sooner you learn from them and the better you understand how to not make them again. Starting young is a boon; allow yourself this ‘extra’ time to learn through practical experience because this is what will propel you farther.

  • Make sacrifices

Love Story, one of Taylor’s most highly acclaimed song, was written in 15 minutes as she sat on her bedroom floor. That song came alive only because she decided to give up something else and spend her time writing it down.

If you want to create a difference for your own self, you have to give up things that distract you from your goal. What sets you apart from everyone else is how you decide to spend your time while others decide to hang out or party. It’s not wrong to party obviously, but you must realise when it is pulling you away from your dreams. If you have a goal, be certain about it and take action towards it. Spend your time wisely by making sacrifices every single day.

  • A combination of skills stands out

When Taylor first started sharing singing demo cds with record labels, she hoped they would listen to her voice and give her a deal. But she soon realised that everyone in Nashville had the same dream as her, and she was doing the same thing as everyone else. That’s when she decided to stand out of the crowd by writing her own songs and learning to play the guitar. Today, Taylor writes, sings and produces her own music, while also playing multiple instruments. What helped her along the way are her exceptional conversational skills, marketing strategies, persevering self-advocacy and brilliant stage presence.

If you want to stand out, you must be exceptional. One way to do that is to have a combination of skills. The best way to do that is to have a powerful combination of a hard skill and soft skill, or to have complementing skills. If you can learn and combine various skills and use them to enhance the one skill you are best at, then there’s no stopping you! For example, if you like writing, learn a bit of video editing or graphic designing. If you have an idea for a startup, learn pitch development and the art of effective written and verbal communication. (We really need to update the quote “Jack of all trades……”)

Whatever be your opinion of Taylor Swift, you can’t deny the staggering numbers she has achieved. These 3 attributes are what helped Taylor Swift get where she is now. So, why not give them a shot?

Career Choices: What’s Hot in Dublin?

John Fink

The Dublin Economic Monitor indicates in its most recent edition (February 2019), that as of Q3 2018 the employed workforce of Dublin measured at 696,200, the highest value since records began by the Central Statistics Office in 1998. Obviously, there is no shortage of available labor and as such, it takes talent to impress employers. Corporations seek the best from a wide pool of potential hires, and to stay competitive anyone seeking future employment will need to hone their professional skills to satisfy the requirements of the corporate world. Taking courses or reading literature on a new skill auxiliary to that of your primary studies might one day make the difference between you and another candidate for your ideal career, or help you discover a completely unexpected career path. Trends on sector growth in Dublin provide valuable insight into what industries are expanding, thus making new hires and from that one can approximate what skills might make them a more valuable member of the workforce:

Read more

Conquer Media – A Trinity start-up seeing rapid growth in web and app development

Overview

Conquer Media began in December 2018. I, Gareth Power, was sick of getting insane quotes (even for minimum viable products), for web and app development from Irish agencies. I wanted to create a low-cost, yet high-quality solution. I teamed up with some colleagues from my computer science course and began using APIs and efficient code to save time without sacrificing quality, allowing clients to save up to 80% on normal costs for developments. This is exactly what makes us different. We also take great care in each project we work on, ensuring we use our innovative skills to transform our clients’ ideas.

The Team

Gareth Power – I, Gareth, am the co-founder and CEO of Conquer Media. I have six years of experience in programming and mobile development. I have won multiple awards for my work, including 2nd place in Apps4Gaps 2016.

Séamus Conlon – Séamus is the CBO of Conquer Media and a business student in Trinity. He organizes negotiations, contracts and strategy for the business, ensuring that professionalism is maintained.

Declan Roberts & Conall O’Toole – Declan and Conall are both sales reps for Conquer Media. They arrange the acquisition of new clients for the business. Both are computer science students.

Where we are now

We have currently turned a profit of ~ €17,000. This is thanks to an array of web development clients and more profitable mobile app development clients coming onboard recently. We are beginning to expand from smaller businesses to more established SME’s and develop customized software for businesses. We currently hold contracts totalling €8,000 and are in talks with larger businesses to grow this figure. Our team is constantly improving and developing our skills to deliver higher-quality services. Our website at conquermedia.ie has just been redeveloped and recreated to a higher standard than before.

Plans for the future

We plan to expand using both online ads and our sales team, which is growing stronger every day. We plan on targeting larger clients and businesses, where our developments can have more impact across different industries. Examples include the construction and auto industries, where efficiency is key. Our problem-solving abilities allow us to provide invaluable solutions for pain-points in those industries. As we grow our client base, we plan on outsourcing to high quality developers to increase our capacity, while maintaining the efficiency and value that our clients expect.

Get in Touch

If anyone would like to get in touch to work with us or discuss developments, please contact gareth@conquermedia.ie

Platforms Outperform Their Competitors – Here’s Why

By Jan Keim

Maybe you have heard the following statement by Tom Goodwin already: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”. Clearly, when looking at the many examples of platforms disrupting industries, there is something interesting going on. Let’s dive deeper into the logic behind the so-called platform economy.

The Fundamentals

Traditional business models are designed around buying some sort of raw material, manufacturing a product and selling it to customers, or gathering people to deliver services. When looking at digital business models, this logic does not apply. Multisided platforms, or “matchmakers” as they are sometimes called, provide one or multiple groups of people with access to other groups of people and facilitate the interaction. At least one group of people perceives the facilitation of the interaction with another group as value they are willing to pay for. For example, Uber drivers can earn money by getting connected to riders via a platform, a service both groups value. Drivers benefit from the frequency of rides, and riders benefit from availability, transparent pricing, and transparent quality due to the rating mechanism.

The interdependence of demands has long been ignored in business, until Geoffrey Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne published the first peer-reviewed article on this topic in 2000. Since then, many platforms have emerged and pushed the boundaries of different industries, including hospitality, retail and transportation. But what exactly makes such platforms better than traditional businesses?

Network Effects, Curation and Excess Value

As middlemen, platforms benefit from the value created by letting groups of people with specific needs interact with each other to satisfy those needs. This means that platforms facilitate the exchange of goods, services or social currency (e.g. “likes”). For multisided platforms, network effects are crucial to their business models. There are two types of network effects that either can be positive or negative: same-side or cross-side network effects.

  • Positive same-side network effects come into play if an increase in participants on one side creates additional value for the same side. An example of this is WhatsApp, where users benefit from more people they can chat with.
  • Negative same-side network effects happen if additional players on the same side have a negative impact on the others, e.g. on a marketplace like eBay where people try to sell substitute goods to the same customer group.
  • Positive cross-side network effects happen when one group benefits from an increase of participants on the other side. Marketplaces such as Amazon create value for customers not only because of the delivery of goods, but also because the selection of goods is much bigger compared to traditional retailers.
  • Negative cross-side network effects, while rather rare, refer to a decrease in value for the opposite side should an additional player enter the other group. An example of negative cross-side network effects is advertisement, where more advertisers may have a negative impact on the user experience.

Network effects, in fact, are so important to a platform business that some companies are willing to pay one side to attract the other side. For example, companies like Sony (PlayStation) or Microsoft (Xbox) sell their gaming consoles at a loss. However, the more people own a certain console, the more attractive game development for those consoles becomes, which represents a main revenue stream for Sony’s and Microsoft’s gaming divisions.

Because effective matchmaking is the key to generating value, curation is a core competency in the platform economy. Curation refers to a mechanism that ensures successful matchmaking. Such mechanisms may consist of rating systems, filters or algorithms. Curation ensures that a customer on one side finds the right partner on the other side. If a platform business fails to ensure effective matchmaking, chances are high that the business fails. Imagine what would happen if Airbnb keeps failing at showing you available rooms that match your budget and location preferences, or if Amazon kept showing you irrelevant products without the possibility to filter based on what you are looking for.

Multisided platforms rely on technology for value creation. The technology enables platforms to deliver four sources of value that would not exist without them, so-called “excess value”. Customers benefit from access to value created on the platform (e.g. videos on YouTube), producers benefit from access to a community (e.g. Airbnb), and both sides benefit from tools and services that facilitate their interaction (e.g. Kickstarter) as well as from the curation mechanism that enhances the quality of their interactions.

The Chicken-and-Egg Problem

When deciding on building a multisided platform, there is one key challenge that many start-ups fail to overcome: the chicken-and-egg problem. Each group on a multisided platform depends on the presence of the other group(s). Without both groups on the platform at the same time, the value proposition cannot be delivered. Therefore, when starting off, a platform business needs a strategy on how to attract all relevant sides so that effective matchmaking can take place. There are different strategies a platform business can use to overcome this dilemma, for example:

  • The Micro-Market Strategy: By making the platform accessible to Harvard students only, Facebook overcame the chicken-and-egg problem by targeting a tiny market of members that already interacted with each other on campus.
  • The Big Bang Adoption Strategy: Tinder launched at a frat party at the University of Southern California. Within a short period of time, the company was able to attract a high volume of sign-ups immediately.
  • The Follow-the-Rabbit Strategy: Amazon started off as an online retailer to build a database of users and producers. Later, the company pivoted into a platform that helped producers and consumers match with each other.

What the Future Holds

Looking at the success stories of platform businesses, it is not far-fetched to assume that further disruption of industries will take place in the future. Traditional businesses should ask themselves how they can react and possibly benefit from platforms in order to avoid being pushed out of the market. In fact, some big and traditional brands have already started implementing platforms to create additional value for their customers, such as Nike with its NikePlus platform, or Under Armour with MyFitnessPal and Endomondo.

Acknowledgement

This article is based on the content delivered by Conor Foley during the Digital Business Models module at Trinity Business School. Conor is studying for a PhD in the area of digital business models. His particular area of interest relates to multisided digital platforms and the way in which they achieve sustained competitive advantage and accelerated growth.

Raise Productivity, Work from Home!

By Neha Verma

Most of us often find ourselves working tirelessly day in and day out and still our efficiency is questioned. Spending long hours with our best friend at work – the thinking machine with hunched back and strained eyes, results in stress and serious health problems. The most debatable topic in the corporate world today is optimal utilization of working hours.

Does working for longer hours enhance productivity? Using the time efficiently is the key. Productivity gets a hit to some extent by pleasure principle and procrastination acts as an icing on the cake. Today organizations worldwide are finding ways to increase productivity by utilizing the available resources strategically. UK recently introduced a new law, giving employees legal right to ask for flexible working hours considering that the flexitime might help boost productivity. This concept is not new to the corporate world. Many organizations encourage this trend and have work from home as one of their policies. The unprecedented growth in technology and communication has made it possible. Today no matter where we are, we can get connected with the world in a jiffy. However, implementing this law at country level may change the working dynamics.

This new law has questioned our age-old concept of being physically present at work. The concept of work from home sounds interesting but it is not easy to work from the confines of one’s home in a pyjama throughout the day.

Behavioural attributes like:

  • Self-discipline
  • Commitment
  • Result-driven
  • Accountability

Will play a key role in the successful implementation of this law. This can act as a motivational for a lot of employees particularly for women employees and working mothers as there will be a choice for them to stay at home and work.

Working from home not only enhances productivity and provides flexibility but it is eco-friendly as well – there would be controlled traffic, less consumption of energy and office space etc. I know there must be a lot of corporate pundits who would disagree with the concept of working from home but in the long run this trend is here to stay.

So, ditch going to the office and find a suitable corner of your house where you can work productively, be flexible, save travelling time and avoid emotional and mental stress.

Rezero: Trinity Start-Up Changing the Environment for the Better

Do you buy takeaway food? Are you frustrated at the packaging waste left behind? There’s a solution coming! Rezero drastically reduces single use food packaging through an innovative deposit-return system for reusable containers, the first of it’s kind in Ireland. You can now enjoy your food, reduce environmental impact and consume more consciously!

Rezero is closely connected with Trinity. David Weitbrecht completed his undergraduate degree in Management Science (MSISS) before working for a professional services company. It was there he met Dan, who was training (unsuccessfully) to be an accountant. The pair spent their lunchtimes discussing business ideas from translation apps to receipt analysers. Dan left to work in the tech industry, David left soon after and founded ZeroWaste.ie originally selling low waste products such as bamboo toothbrushes through e-commerce B2C.

He quickly realised that B2C sales have a low impact and began to explore options in the B2B world. The food service industry caught his eye as an industry producing an enormous amount of waste where innovative solutions could make a difference. What if businesses switched from plastic coffee cups to compostables? And Zerowaste.ie handled the Supply and Disposal? David approached Dan to join at this stage and the duo were reunited. They pitched to the Climate KIC accelerator facilitated by Tangent and operating out of Trinity College and received 5k to go from idea to business plan.

During this period, David, along with a Donegal Councillor ran the PosterFree.ie campaign encouraging all candidates in Ireland to run plastic poster free during the 2019 May local elections. The #Posterfree campaign garnered national media attention featuring on RTE TV, Newstalk, Today FM, The Irish Times, The Sunday Business Post along with 100+ news articles from across the country.

“While in the accelerator, it became clear that we, as a company, needed to promote reuse over single use. From speaking to business owners and looking in bins the length and breadth of the country, we recognised that compostables were not a long term solution. Climate KIC recognised this as well and thus we were back to the drawing board”, said David Weitbrecht whilst speaking to TBR.

However, motivated by the prospect of something great, they pivoted and focused their efforts on longer term solutions, solutions that follow the core principles of the circular economy. Experiences at festivals and abroad brought encouragement to the idea of a deposit-return system working in Ireland. Out of ZeroWaste.ie, Rezero was born. 

By enrolling in Trinity’s postgraduate course in Creative Thinking, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, David could once again tap into Trinity’s support network for early stage startups. With the new idea, Rezero successfully pitched to join the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society (TES) incubator and has been hard at work finalising the mechanics of the system and laying strong foundations for future national growth. Containers have been sourced and the relevant health & safety/hygiene regulations investigated and satisfied. Six early adopters, all mid-market businesses, have partnered with Rezero to mark the beginning of a 2020 national launch and rollout. Additional partners are actively being recruited to grow this number ahead of the 2020 launch.

“We will scale Rezero to all major food service outlets over the next 6 to 24 months. To achieve our vision of eliminating as much single use packaging as possible, Rezero has set it’s eyes upon international expansion. Our goal is to change consumer habits and be a catalyst for more circular economy based ventures.”

Keep up to date with their social media @zerowaste.ie and @rezero.io for all things circular economy and zero waste.

They’re looking for members to join their team. If you are passionate about having an impact in an exciting and growing startup, please email them at support@zerowaste.ie!

Meditree – Trinity Start-Up Tackling Administrative Inefficiencies in the Healthcare Sector

1) What do you do and how did you get started?

Abs and I were talking about how he is finding his start as a full-time doctor at the Galway University Hospital. He started mentioning a lot of bottlenecks in the workflows and how manual a lot of the document processes were. A second, more alarming factor, came from academic research experience of how hospital data quality becomes a bottleneck when trying to implement the latest technologies to healthcare domains. The data is usually either manually created or does not exist at all. This significantly inhibits innovation and improvement in the industry.

This concerned us about the future of Irish Healthcare. A nail in the coffin was figuring out that Ireland has been consistently falling in the rankings of the EuroHealth Consumer Index, currently being 22nd out of 36 countries. Worst of all, it’s the lowest of all countries in accessibility, and doing bad in several other metrics, including Patient rights and information. So we decided to combine our disciplinary knowledge (Computer Science and Medicine) to find ways of streamlining workflows for multidisciplinary teams in healthcare, all while maintaining data interoperability, reconciliation and security.

Our solution aims to provide healthcare professionals with an online platform to access, publish and collaborate on Multidisciplinary Medical Documents.

These medical records are persisted into a knowledge graph. This interconnected data allows healthcare professionals to gain further insights that they were not able to extrapolate before. Within the rampant age of big data, a solution to aid in the fundamentals of Organic Intelligence is critical, and we strongly believe that solution is MediTree. Our initial phase seeks to streamline the phlebotomist’s workflow. Meditree allows surgeons to set a recurring order for patients in need of regular blood tests. Blood test results are key in monitoring a patient’s recovery post-surgery. Meditree would then enable such requests to be sent directly to Phlebotomists, cutting out the lengthy, manual request process entirely, all while keeping a record for reconciliation and enhancing of analysis for future patients undergoing similar surgeries, e.g. Giving options of the most reasonable tests to give the current patient. Making the Records an ever-learning model.

2) Tell us about the team:

Uzair Qureshi – Masters student in TCD in Computer and Electronic Engineering. Uzair has worked at the ADAPT Research Centre as a Research Intern working on Linked Data Quality Assessment. He also worked at Mastercard Dublin as a Software Engineer, where he won their regional hackathon, the intern hackathon and filed a patent with them. He has also won JCIs Top Outstanding Young Persons 2018 and won an Innovation award from Engineers Ireland & ARUP. He has a great interest in Research and looking for domains of application for the latest advancements in technology.

Abd-Al Rehman Tahir –He finished his Doctorate from TCD Medicine, and has a breadth of knowledge in medical practices, having done rotations in several different hospitals for 3 years and now working full time as a Student Doctor at the Galway University Hospital. Mohammed Elsayed – Is a third year student at TCD Medicine with great experience in Medicine and a keen interest in Medicinal practice and research.

3) How far along your business plan are you now?

We are starting off with our research phase where we establish credibility in our solution and knowledge of the problem. This is being done through writing short articles highlighting the current plight of healthcare management and how we aim to solve it. We are currently working on writing a white paper on Data Interoperability Issues in Multidisciplinary Teams within Irish Healthcare.

4) Plans for the future?

We hope to become a trusted academic and research entity that would be working in unison with the Government Sector (using data to highlight and optimize usage of healthcare resources) , Hospitals (Helping healthcare professionals streamline their workflow by cutting manual processes and enhancing organic intelligence) and Academic Institutes (mediating the data for purposes of academic research which aims to enhance healthcare for the future ). Potential challenges run into HSE, and how to manage the integration process efficiently, we are learning more and more with how other programs are being initiated into hospitals.

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