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28Sep

The Bitcoin Revolution is Coming

Posted by Pamela Swift in Technology

bitcoin-revo

Article By Emiliano Baidenbaum, an attorney for the Financial Services business unit of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

How can unrelated parties negotiate securely and transparently without having to rely on expensive intermediaries? Some programmers believe that bitcoin is the answer to that question and that it will revolutionize the way we do business.

What started as a nine page proposal in the white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” by Satoshi Nakamoto (whose true identity remains unknown), has now become the way that more than 200,000 transactions per day are done. The rising popularity of bitcoin has caused markets and financial institutions to invest in the development of products based on this revolutionizing technology.

To understand what the buzz over bitcoin is all about and how to make the most of it, we need to become familiar with the concepts of bitcoin and blockchain, the opportunities that they are creating, and the approach that regulators are taking.

Bitcoin and Blockchain

The bitcoin technology is an open-source software (its license allows anyone to develop or improve the software program) that enables parties to complete a transaction without intermediaries and simultaneously records the transaction in a public ledger. The transactions represent the transfer of “bitcoin” units from one party to another, which are logged into a public ledger called “blockchain”.

Although the terms “bitcoin” and “Bitcoin” are generally used interchangeably, they are not the same. On one side, “Bitcoin” refers to the specific digital currency developed in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. A number of people are more familiar with this term. On the other side, the term “bitcoin” refers to a broader category of software programs that are linked to specific assets. A bitcoin is basically the accounting unit shown for each transaction in the ledger that represents the asset being transferred.

The ledger where bitcoin transactions are registered is called “blockchain”. Blockchain is a single database that is massively distributed. The transactions are published to the entire network for validation by multiple sources and then reflected into an irrevocable block entry. The importance of bitcoin resides in blockchain. Blockchain makes it possible to rely on a secure, public record of transfers of digital property. Unlike data kept by traditional administrators, bitcoins are recorded in a decentralized manner to ensure that there is no single point of vulnerability for loss or alteration of entries.

To perform transactions, users of bitcoin are required to obtain a “wallet”, comprised of a public key and a private key. The public key is basically an account linked to the user, and the private key is the password to access such account. Whenever users enter into a transaction, blockchain publishes the transaction to the entire network so that it can be validated by multiple sources. Once blockchain creates a new block entry for such transaction, the user signs the transaction using its private key and blockchain will irrevocably reflect that such transaction is linked to the public key.

The Benefits of Bitcoin

The nature of bitcoin could revolutionize the whole structure of the financial industry and how business transactions are conducted in general. Unlike in other platforms, transactions in blockchain are maintained digitally in an irrevocable manner that is publicly verifiable and secured against outage, destruction or alteration. This creates areas of opportunity mainly seen in the form of currency, recordkeeping and smart-contracts.

As discussed earlier in this article, the most popular use of bitcoin is as the digital currency called Bitcoin. This currency has commercial value (approximately USD$640 as of June 27, 2016) and can be freely exchanged by parties without the need to rely on financial institutions or banking authorities. This means that one party in certain country could perform a faster international transfer to another party in a different country without having to pay substantial transaction fees to banks or depend on currency availability in its country. While Bitcoin may free users from some of the issues relating to international bank transfers or central baking restrictions; it may expose them to more volatility in value and to less acceptance by market participants, in comparison to deals involving other currencies such as the US Dollar or Euro.

Other less known uses of bitcoin are in the form of recordkeeping and smart-contracts. Parties could reduce costs by relying on blockchain’s digital entries as record of a transaction, instead of keeping duplicates in storage. Also, the transparency of blockchain could facilitate the auditability of transactions performed by a certain party. In regard to smart-contracts, parties could develop programs that rely in blockchain to automatically execute terms of a contract, such as transferring bitcoins upon the occurrence of certain event. The challenge would be to ensure that the external data that triggers the transfer can be consistently validated by all sources in the blockchain network.

U.S. and International Regulation

The regulation of bitcoin is still in an early stage. The few authorities that have issued regulation in this regard have focused on the financial or currency-like use of bitcoin, with particular interest in whether to grant bitcoin legal tender status and how to prevent potential money laundering. How authorities will approach the other blockchain uses is not clear yet.

In the United States, regulators have begun to analyze bitcoin at both state and federal levels. So far, regulators have not recognized that bitcoin possess legal tender status, but the trend has been to accept its use.

The federal authorities have acknowledged that bitcoin is taxable property and that it could be treated as a commodity or security, in some cases. At the state level, New York was the first to regulate bitcoin by requiring a license to use bitcoin for e-currency activities and imposing compliance requirements (recordkeeping, reporting, cybersecurity, anti-money laundering prevention, etc.) for such purposes. California issued a similar regulation. Both Washington and Virginia are on their way to developing their own regulations. Additionally, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors started drafting a unified framework that will serve as a guide for all states.

At the international level, the development of regulations is proceeding at a slow pace. Other than Russia (which took the position of banning bitcoin as a type of currency) or Luxemburg (which granted the first payment institution license to a bitcoin provider), most countries have taken a wait-and-see approach. The European Union has not developed legislation in this regard, but the expectation is that it will focus on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism regulation.

The future of bitcoin is uncertain, but it is clear that it will change the way parties to a transaction interact with each other. This technology is challenging traditional market participants and regulators to come up with innovative solutions that keep up with the digital revolution.



 
  


27Sep

Is Gamification A Fad?

Posted by Pamela Swift in Uncategorized

1-gamification

For years, business owners have been implementing different methods and incentives to keep employees motivated to work hard and strive for success. While traditional rewards like Employee of the Month plaques, weekend travel opportunities, gift cards and cash certificates still hold weight when it comes to incentive initiatives, many businesses are capitalizing on modern technology for ways to keep employees inspired.

Gamification is one of the most popular technological incentives being used throughout the business world today. Consumer and employee gamification strategies combines gaming mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate employees and users to reach their goals, gamification cultivates healthy competition both in and outside of the office setting to ultimately achieve better results.

Benefits of Gamification In The Workplace

Not only has gamification proven to be effective when engaging employees, but it’s also an advantageous tool for motivating changes in behavior, developing skills, problem solving and more. Furthermore, when designed correctly, gamification has the ability to generate buzz about your brand, spread social proof of company improvements, and boost customer loyalty. Gamification isn’t a fad, it’s here to stay.

Prime Examples Of Gamification Success

Today, more than 50% of companies that manage an innovation process use gamification to initiate business breakthroughs like new products and services, cost reductions, efficiency improvements, new business models, new ventures and much more. Below are 5 prime examples businesses that use gamification to better the employee and customer experience.

  1. Verizon Insider uses gamification to improve customer loyalty and engagement. The nationwide cellular and wireless company employed gamification strategies in Verizon Insider, a community base where customers can access exclusive offers, participate first-hand in online and real-world events, and engage with other members of the Verizon community through written reviews, discussion panels and more. Giving customers a personal, interactive connection with the company is rewarding for users and amplifies brand recognition and customer loyalty.
  1. The Mindbloom app Proof is an excellent example of a gamification app that boosts motivation and tracks goals. Used by both small businesses and large enterprises, employee gamification techniques like Proof spark healthy competition amongst employees by prompting users to create week-long challenges and use phone or video proof to track their progress and eventual accomplishments of goals. Brands that use Proof can then offer rewards for completed challenges and even use the app to engage customers, too.
  1. Kaplan University uses gamification for educational achievement. The university uses solutions from Badgeville – a private technology company – to enrich its curriculum giving users an engagement incentive. For Kaplan, their gamification strategy incorporates challenges and badges to reward students for participating in the curriculum. After integrating gamification, the school saw grades improve, fail rates decrease, in better student behavior. Furthermore, Kaplan uses gamification to track and analyze results. This allows them to distinguish successful students from struggling students so they can utilize alternative gamification techniques to foster success across the student population.
  1. Exercise expert Jillian Michaels implements gamification to encourage, motivate, and track the success of clients. This gamification solution offers a variety of different challenges for participants to choose from, all which are designed to help users stay track with their fitness program. Participants can select specific challenges based on their lifestyle needs or personal goals and are rewarded with badges, prizes, contests, and even partner and group challenges.
  1. Thanks to gamification, the U.S. Army has adopted a whole new approach to recruitment. Though the Army is known for using games in training purposes, they’ve recently started using gamification as a strategy for promoting awareness and attracting new recruit. With tools like the “Virtual Army Experience” and others, the Army is using gamification to redefine their recruitment approach.

Author Bio

Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer who covers everything from HR to technology and leadership skills. She enjoys learning more about how to make leaders & businesses successful.


linkedin_job_

When LinkedIn opened the LinkedIn publishing platform to everyone – consultants, business leaders and their sales, marketing and business development teams were getting hundreds to thousands of views. But now, many are struggling to get even 100 views. And, we find that people are beginning to post less because their efforts are not driving sales results.

What happened?

The problem was that everyone was just using the LinkedIn platform as an extension of their blog. They were sharing every piece of content on the LinkedIn publishing platform even if it ineffectively took away from any positioning work that may have been completed on their profile. They were publishing articles without any thought of how it would challenge their prospects’ thoughts and actions and drive demand for an alternative option. They’re simply following the actions of other LinkedIn experts and social selling experts.

A Review of the Content That’s Being Published on the LinkedIn Publishing Platform by the Experts:

  • Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing in an Hour a Day and one of the most well-known LinkedIn marketing consultants talks about how to customize your invitations on LinkedIn. Can’t that be found on almost every social media consultant’s website?
  • Melonie Dodaro – a contributor to LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog and best-selling author of the LinkedIn Code shares on the LinkedIn publishing platform 7 messages that you should not send on LinkedIn including the default message (like this hasn’t been written about a million times in the last 5 years.) In her posts about LinkedIn profiles (as well as the posts from fellow Social Media Examiner contributor Stephanie Sammons) you’ll find tips about having a professional photo, a strong headline and a summary that is written in 1st person that is prospect-centric. Notice the same old information just written by another author.
  • Christine Hueber, who self-proclaims herself as the #1 LinkedIn All-Time Top Female Expert mainly uses the LinkedIn Publishing Platform to promote her events, workshops, webinars etc. Most of the posts are blatant self-promotions even though B2B buyers are calling for more value. They want relationships first. They want to see real, differentiated value and how you turn their vision into results they want to achieve. When Christine provides any value in her platform posts, it is generic value. For example, in a post where she talks about how to increase your website traffic 500+% with a simple strategy – she talks about consistent, compelling blogging (like no duh!) and then you have to sign up for a strategy session to learn about an effective system that makes blogging easy, fast and fun.
  • Donna Serdula, a LinkedIn profile makeover expert – uses the LinkedIn publishing platform to share information about completely overdone topics like “Should Your LinkedIn Profile Be Written in 1st Person or 3rd Person.” She also discusses things like the Microsoft Acquisition of LinkedIn, the LinkedIn lawsuit and how LinkedIn caps the number of searches you can complete with a free account. Now, how do these topics relate back to driving demand for LinkedIn profile makeovers?
  • Kurt Shaver (Founder of The Sales Foundry) and many others ineffectively newsjack and push out content. When the news broke, about the Microsoft + LinkedIn acquisition, everyone started creating and sharing articles and posts about it. Kurt Shaver, started writing posts about how it’s mostly a tactic to beat Salesforce (who cares except for anyone in marketing automation) and Why Microsoft Buying LinkedIn is Like the Warriors Signing Kevin Durant. This may have gotten 2000+ views, hundreds of likes and comments and even Jeff Weiner’s attention, but if there is no next step action what good is it? If the acquisition isn’t changing anything now or in the near future for my prospects, why would I write about it?

How I’m Using the LinkedIn Publishing Platform Differently

On my LinkedIn publishing platform you’ll find posts that challenge a Forrester’s analysts thoughts that LinkedIn is just for brand awareness and I debate Jay Baer’s idea that social media should be a volume play. I have posts that show how most LinkedIn profiles are worthless as sales and marketing tools as I focus on how they are failing to communicate real business value – this post has doubled our LinkedIn profile makeover project revenue! I talk about how B2B buyers are calling for a change in how you sell and market to them on LinkedIn and what those changes should be. I evaluate the actions taken by CMOs at top companies like Xerox, Lithium, XOJet, Wiley and G2Crowd and show how they are struggling to get past brand awareness.

The content I’m sharing is not the same old LinkedIn content. It’s provocative. It’s challenging. It opens your eyes and makes you question your approach (which is the first step in the challenger sales!)

Each piece of content is designed to drive next step actions beyond the view, like, comment or share. It’s meant to be used in part of the nurturing program to move buyers forward. And, each piece is meant to position me as the unique LinkedIn expert.

Click here to read my posts!

Additional Social Content Mistakes the Experts Are Making

David Meerman Scott (best-selling author with more than 250,000 books sold worldwide, keynote sales and marketing speaker) believes that only 10% of the content you share in social media circles (including LinkedIn) should be your own. Wayne Breitbarth (author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success) believes that for every 10 updates, 6 should be for content you didn’t create!

This positions you as a resource rather than a thought leader! LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to go directly to key decision makers and communicate to them your business value. Your business value shouldn’t be that you can curate content that would be relevant to them!

Keep in mind that a recent LinkedIn study shows that 80% of IT buyers say that thought leadership content is crucial in their decision making process – and I’m sure that if LinkedIn completed the study in other industries, they’d get similar results. If thought leadership content was key, why would I focus on sharing other people’s content more?

Now, take a look at the content you’re publishing and sharing on LinkedIn?

Is your content just driving awareness instead of next step actions and revenue? Are you making the same mistakes that even these experts are making?

Maybe it’s time that you take a different approach! Watch our LinkedIn Leads to Revenue webinar to learn about the content, processes and approaches you need to drive demand and revenues on LinkedIn.

About the Author:

Kristina Jaramillo, Chief LinkedIn Strategist at GetLinkedInHelp.com helps sales and marketing leaders go beyond brand awareness and actually drive demand. By combining the right content with her relationship-based LinkedIn approach, Kristina is helping many of her clients gain more revenue opportunities than all of their other efforts combined. Watch her LinkedIn Leads to Revenue webinar at http://freelinkedinmarketingtraining.com/linkedinleadstorevenue to learn more about Kristina’s approach.


Which Type of Business Owner Are You

If you’re hesitant about creating a business plan, it could be down to the type of business owner you are.

Over my 14 years of being in business, and speaking with many, many business owners over that time, I’ve discovered that when it comes to creating a strategic business and marketing plan for their business, these business owners typically fall into one of these four camps:

businessownercamp

The Perfectionist Camp.  These business owners plan everything in minute detail and won’t dive in until everything is perfect. They constantly tweak, change, and revisit their plan.  The problem with this approach is that it will never be perfect.  Your business plan won’t ever be perfect, so you may as well just start now and get going.  You can always tweak/change/update as you go along.

The BSO Camp. These business owners are constantly distracted by Bright Shiny Object syndrome, never finishing one project before moving on to the next.  The problem with this approach to running your business is that you never get anything done. Nothing ever gets implemented.  No results (or very lackluster results) are ever seen. So there’s no real business growth and everything becomes confusing and overwhelming.

Opportunities are not the same as Bright Shiny Objects.

The Boxing-Myself-In Camp. Then there’s the business owner who won’t create a business plan because, if they do, they feel they’ll be boxing themselves in and missing out on opportunities that arise.  The problem with this approach is that by not having a business you don’t have any real roadmap for growing your business; nothing is done in a very strategic way.  And the irony is, you do end up missing out on opportunities because you don’t have a point of reference for anything that you do.

The Don’t Know What To Do Camp.  And finally there’s the business owner who simply doesn’t know what to do.  They’re very confused by all the different elements of online business management and really don’t know where to start when it comes to running to their business. They don’t know what their starting point should be.  Because they don’t know where to start, it’s really hard for them to create a strategic business and marketing plan that is going to work for them.

Despite all of these different scenarios there is one thing in common…

Without a strategic business and marketing plan in place, it’s going to be very difficult to grow your business and sustain it over the long-term.

  • Opportunities will be missed.
  • Revenues will be lost.
  • And you’ll have no benchmark with which to gauge your success by.

This is why it’s so important you spend a little time planning out what you want for your business.

And I recommend to business owners who have never created a plan before that they first start with a 90-day business plan. Even by creating a plan that focuses on a shorter timeframe, it will provide them with the much-needed structure in which to grow their business.

Where are you struggling to create your business plan?

Tracey Lawton

About Our GE Network Expert - Tracey Lawton

Tracey Lawton is an expert in online business management, office administration, and developing administrative systems. Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, Tracey Lawton, supports professional speakers, coaches, and authors to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how to create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free tips at http://OfficeOrganizationSuccess.com.


business-mistakess

Do you have to try and eat a piece of a hot pepper in order to know it’s hot? No. Why not? Because somebody in the past already tried to gulp down an entire jalapeno pepper and it did not go so well. Therefore, others learned from that mistake and decided to use it in smaller amounts. The same principle of learning on the mistakes and experience of the other people has been around forever. It can also be implemented to small businesses. Here are the 5 mistakes that you need to avoid to stay afloat.

Introducing Every Single Novelty There Is

New technologies are important and you need to make sure that you are up to date. If your competition is using something, sooner or later, you will be forced to try it yourself. It will stop being a perk and it will turn into a standard. However, that does not mean that you need to accept just every single piece of equipment and software you are offered. Pick only the things that obviously facilitate or boost your work efficiency. Even then, purchase only if you are provided by a demo period. You can never tell if it really works until you try it first.

Expanding Too Soon

A good start and a financially successful period may get you thinking about expanding. However, it is not reasonable to expect that a business twice as big will bring profits twice as high, right away. Expanding is a big investment and it doesn’t mean that it has to go smoothly every time. Profits can be less than expected, so it can end up setting you back rather than improving your position.

Miscalculating Optimal Workload for Your Employees and Yourself

At times, you may feel that adding a little bit more on an employee’s plate will make them more efficient without putting in much more effort. However, that can add up very quickly up to the point where it hurts your business. Eventually, the quantity of the work will reflect poorly on its quality and there are no small businesses that can make compromise on their good service or products.

Not Developing a Proper Financial Plan

An effective financial plan is an essential factor of your business survival and success. You need to make it realistic and flexible. Many people find this quite challenging, so it is always advisable to hire a professional for this type of work. Once you have a plan, you need to stick to it. Being flexible about it is good, but even that flexibility needs to be within reasonable limits.

Letting Go on the Money Owed to You

Your business depends on your earnings. You invest time, money and work hours into your business, so if you do not have the money paid back to you, you will soon lose everything. Therefore, if there is one thing you need to think about – it is the way you deal with the payments. All your deals need to be written down and turned into solid contracts. In the worst case scenario, you will be able to hire an agency to deal with debt collection in your behalf.

A lot of businesses failed because of these mistakes. Some of them succeeded despite them. In both cases, it is best to be aware of them and learn from them.

About the Author

Dan Radak is a marketing professional with ten years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.



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