01/15/15

Facebook At Work

 

Image via Flickr

When you think of Facebook usage at work, you most likely associate it with being unprofessional, time-consuming, and unproductive. But that might soon be a thing of the past! Facebook has recently introduced the integration of social networking and business in a new platform called “Facebook At Work”; this specifically focuses on the social aspects of both Facebook and the workplace in order to maximize the efficiency and productivity of communication.

But instead of being free-range, this platform allows you to communicate solely with your fellow employees. Your ‘friends’ are your co-workers, you share links, articles, and ideas, that are beneficial to the company, and you’re able to create private groups with your team to communicate about projects. But fear not, you will also able to link your personal and work accounts while keeping all posts separate.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s main selling point will be familiarity. In fact, Facebook has been using a similar way of communicating within the company and hopes to publicize its methods with Facebook At Work.

As Lars Rasmussen, engineer at Facebook, said to the New York Times, “It’s the Facebook everyone knows and loves but adapted to work.”

The app is currently available for download on the Apple IOS and is in the process of being available for Android. And, because the program is still in testing, it is ad-free and free to use. However, pricing for the app may be discussed in the future.

Currently, this platform is being tested by only a small number of companies. But, if you’re interested in creating an account of your own, find more information here on Facebook’s website.

05/14/14
WTWNYC 2014 at Baruch College

Check Out These Business Events in NYC!

WTWNYC 2014 at Baruch College

WTWNYC 2014 at Baruch College

Have you heard of World Trade Week? Each year in May, trade organizations and businesses come together to celebrate and promote international trade. Events and seminars are taking place all month around the city. If you have an interest in international commerce or want to network with professionals, check out the full calendar of events. Some events require paid registration, but others are completely free.

Definitely check out “MCC Young Professionals Going Global”, a networking event that will be held in the West Village next week.  Tickets are $15, but refreshments will be provided.

The kickoff to World Trade Week in NYC is held at Baruch each May with an awards ceremony and breakfast. This year, I helped organize a “Share Your Knowledge” station where guests could submit tweets that would be displayed live throughout the venue. Check out some of the tweets we sent out below!

05/12/14
A McDonald’s drive-thru in Vietnam via McDonaldsCorp

Ronald McDonald: The Global Citizen?

A McDonald’s drive-thru in Vietnam via McDonaldsCorp

A McDonald’s drive-thru in Vietnam via McDonaldsCorp

When you think of the phrase “fast food”, the first thought that probably comes to mind is two large golden arches. This is in no way a coincidence; it’s the direct result of the power that McDonald’s has in today’s society.

Since it first opened its doors in 1948, McDonald’s has extended its reach to over 119 countries. McDonald’s has been able to takeover in countries because the company assimilates fairly well by putting its own spin on local cuisine. For example, after opening up its stores in India, McDonald’s had to adapt its meat-based menu items to a country that is for the most part vegetarian.   To counter this problem, McDonald’s came up with the McAloo, a familiar set of buns with a potato patty instead of meat in the middle. Similarly, the franchise offers the McBurrito in Mexico and the Big Kahuna in Australia.

Vietnam is the latest country to be inhabited by the franchise in its conquest to achieving global domination. Business is doing extremely well in Vietnam for the fast-food giant as the branch has served more than 400,000 customers in its first month of business. In the first 24-hours after opening alone, roughly 22,500 customers were able to sink their teeth into McDonald’s world famous burgers and fries – which for most, was the first time.

A big factor as to whether or not McDonalds will survive in Vietnam is the price point of its products. McDonalds is known for being a place where you can eat on a tight budget here in America but how does it stack up in Vietnam?  The company’s $3.10 McPork burger doesn’t look too appetizing when compared to Vietnam’s average salaries and typical food prices.

This brings up the question of whether or not McDonalds is even needed in other countries. The company isn’t really doing much for farmers, as most of the meat and potatoes are imported straight from the U.S.

It is unrealistic for McDonalds to be a staple in the Vietnamese diet, as most only make $185 a month and a burger ranges from $3-$4. For now, the success of McDonalds in Vietnam will be a direct result of the economy and whether or not the people of the country are ready to give the Golden Arches a chance.

04/4/14
Athens protest, 2010 – via Joanna

5 Easy Steps to Creating Your Own Economic Crisis

Athens protest, 2010 – via Joanna

Athens protest, 2010 – via Joanna

You’ve probably heard one of your professors mention Greece’s ridiculous amount of debt or Spain’s sky-high unemployment rate. But just how did this great, big mess start anyway? Read on to discover the patented 5-step process behind every economic crisis, as demonstrated by members of the European Union.

  1. Borrow money…

Before the Eurozone was created, the cost of borrowing money was high for some of the weaker nations in the continent. The introduction of a common currency made it easier for these countries to borrow from other well-off nations. Between 2002 and 2008, it was incredibly easy to obtain credit and countries like Greece, Spain and Italy started taking on more debt than they could handle.

2.  …but don’t pay it back

The countries that lent this money didn’t carefully examine their debtors’ creditworthiness.  A lot of the borrowed money was spent on real estate, which drove housing prices up and created a real estate bubble. Once housing prices crashed, homeowners were left with mortgages that were worth way more than their homes.

If only... - via Images_of_Money

If only… – via Images_of_Money

3.  Don’t ask for help

The nations at the heart of the Eurozone crisis are the “PIIGS” countries: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. Greece received the most attention at the start of 2010 when the country’s finance minister stated that Greece owed 300 billion Euros to its creditors. Later, it was revealed that Greece had mismanaged its finances in previous years and downplayed the severity of its problems. According to the BBC, former Prime Minister George Papandreou said …it was ‘out of the question’ to resort to an International Monetary Fund loan.”

4.  Share the wealth

After Greece admitted that it was in over its head, the European Union began to investigate the financials of its other members. Borrowing costs in Spain and Italy were rising sharply and their government bonds—traditionally a safe investment—were becoming riskier and riskier to invest in. This was especially troubling given that these two countries have the largest economies out of all the PIIGS countries. Unemployment was at record highs.

And last, but not least…

5.  Panic

People were already hesitant to take on risk once the bad news about Greece came to light. But the realization that Greece wasn’t the only country in danger of defaulting on its debt spread fear throughout Europe. Once it became evident that these countries were in much more trouble than they seemed, banks and investors all but stopped lending money.

And there you have it—a recipe for your very own economic crisis.

04/3/14
Cuban street - via Doug88888

Does the Future Look Bright? Cuba-tter Believe It

Cuban street - via Doug88888

Cuban street – via Doug88888

Cuba has been known for its empty promises to citizens regarding economic reforms but recent news show that the winds of change have finally arrived at the country. For the first time in 50 years, the country is passing new laws as part of Raúl Castro’s plan  to boost the economy.

Throughout the Cold War, Cuba received significant economic and military assistance from its closest ally, the Soviet Union, and Havana found itself billions of dollars in debt to Moscow. In December 2013, the Russian Federation forgave 90% of Cuba’s debt, reducing the amount owed from $32 billion to $3.2 billion. Under the new agreement, Cuba has a decade to pay off this manageable amount. Plus, according to the CIA Factbook, Cuba’s GDP in 2012 was an estimated $121 billion and is increasing each year.  With these two factors working in tandem, Cuba is quickly eliminating its debt and increasing economic growth.

The Cuban government also took some steps to improve the lives of its people. Last July at the International Press Centre in Havana, government representatives revealed their plan to unify Cuba’s twin currencies (Cuban pesos used by locals and “convertible” pesos used by tourists) to reduce income inequality. The government has also renewed leases for land to be given to private farmers or co-operatives, relaxed restrictions on loans, allowed cars to be bought or sold freely, and permitted civilians to surf the internet at one of 118 internet centers.

But that‘s not all; the Cuban reform is also expanding in collaboration with other countries. The Brazilian government is seeking to hire Cuban doctors to work in parts of Brazil’s poor public health system to improve public services and exert influence in Cuba. With Brazilian exports to Cuba currently amounting to $450 million a year and Cuba reaping nearly $270 million a year from the deal,  the medical alliance between the countries has proven to be beneficial to both economies.  Brazil now ranks among Cuba’s largest trading partners and this relationship could help Brazilian companies find more or perhaps even better opportunities abroad. Other countries have also looked into doing business in Cuba such as Spain, a leader in foreign direct investment and tourism.

According to Cuba Headlines, Cuba’s GDP grew only 2.7 percent, far lower than the forecasted 3.6 percent. Cuba still has a long journey ahead to economic success, but with these new plans in place, the future of the country seems promising.

04/1/14
Zara – via torasaga

How Does Zara Stay Ahead of the Game?

Zara – via torasaga

Zara – via torasaga

Brands like Zara have transformed the fashion industry. This fashion-forward company is rapidly growing, while other retailers are struggling to get customers through the door.  While traditional specialty retailers have in-house design teams working on next season’s fashions, “fast fashion” retailers like Zara work on styles that accurately on trend.

The consequences of incorrectly forecasting fashion trends a year in advance are deadly to any retailer. Unpopular items will be marked down, which hurts the company in the long run. Zara’s unconventional business model eliminates this risk.

The company’s main approach includes stocking very little and renewing collections often. Unlike other brands that only update their inventories seasonally, Zara’s stores are restocked with new products twice a week. This strategy works in two ways. First, it encourages customers to come back to the store frequently. It also gives shoppers a sense of urgency to buy products that will soon be out of stock.

Zara’s factories in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Turkey produce its trendiest clothes. This accounts for about half of Zara’s inventory. Its more basic garments are ordered about six months in advance from factories in Asia, where labor costs are much lower, then sent by ship to Spain.

Zara executives have invested in high-tech equipment and extra capacity that allows their factories to  respond to unexpected production fluctuations. This is something many Asian manufacturers lack the ability to do. Once new products have been examined, arranged, and tagged, they’re packed overnight, loaded onto trucks, and taken directly to a store or the airport. The trucks and planes run on established schedules, delivering clothes to most stores within 48 hours.

Zara’s process innovation is truly revolutionary and makes this company fast and market-responsive. It’s no wonder that Zara has climbed its way to the top of the fashion industry.

To learn more about the methods, policies, and institutions involved in the flow of goods from retailers like Zara to its customers, take MKT 3000: Marketing Foundations!