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Yearly Archives: 2005

Cellular Phones' Future: 3G

by David Chang

Do you use a cellphone? – Who doesn’t?
Do you know your cellphone service carrier? – Probably.
Do you understand the technologies built into your cellphone? – Maybe.

Do you know what’s coming next? – Probably not!

Cingular, T-Mobile, Sprint PCS and Verizon are the four biggest cellular service providers in the U.S. Cingular and T-Mobile are GSM carriers, which stands for Global System for Mobile Communications. GSM uses time division multiple access (TDMA) to divide and allocate radio frequencies into slots, which allows a single frequency to support multiple (up to eight) simultaneous data channels. GSM was first introduced in 1991 and it has become the standard in Europe and Asia . Sprint PCS and Verizon are CDMA carriers, which stands for code-division multiple access. Unlike GSM, CDMA uses spread-spectrum techniques. Instead of assigning a specific frequency to each user, CDMA uses the full available spectrum. CDMA was first introduced as a military technology during World War II by English allies to transmit data through multiple frequencies to distract the Germans from picking up the complete signal. It is a newer and better technology than GSM, and forms the basis of the next generation of phones.

Analog cellular phones have been defined as first-generation phones. Digital cellular phones are marked as second-generation. So, what will third-generation (3G) phones be like? 3G phones will have high data-transfer speed, always-on data access and greater voice capacity. 3G wireless networks will transfer data at speeds of up to 384kbps. What a huge improvement over common wireless data transfer speeds, which are often slower than a 14.4kb modem in the U.S.! 3G technology will make music and video downloads possible on your cellular phone. Video conferences by phone will become commonplace.

3G technology will soon launch in China . Many cellular phone manufacturers have introduced multiple products to support the new technology. The Chinese wireless phone industry will become even bigger as it merges with 3G technology. The future of cellular phones has arrived.

Sources:

http://www.phonescoop.com/glossary/term.php?gid=1

http://www.darwinmag.com/learn/curve/column.html?ArticleID=182

http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/ni/3G/technology

Marketing for Success

by Pete Julius

Need to improve the success of your marketing program? I hope that all of you answered yes to this question. Every organization needs to improve, no matter how much success it has experienced. A tremendous amount of increased competition from new, low-cost locations around the world has been generated in this age of globalization. This forces economic development agencies to become smarter with their marketing efforts. Below is a list of things that can help give you a successful marketing program, or at least improve your results.

Leadership – It all starts with solid leadership. Make sure the leader of your organization is going to be able to build trust with all internal and external team members, plan for future growth, successfully implement all objectives and strategies, monitor progress and most of all, lead your organization to new heights. Your leader should have experience, a well-established reputation and a proven track record, and be a people-person who is suited for the position. Take the time to find the right person for the job. Just don’t accept a person because he or she was the best one who applied for the position. First understand the mission and vision of your organization, then find the right person to lead the charge. Also, keep in mind that this “ideal leader” may come with a price tag. If you are really serious and committed, then you may have to shell out some bucks to get the right person.

Support & determination from community – Your community marketing efforts must have support from the entire economic development organization, elected officials, non-elected city and county officials, business leaders, volunteers and anyone else who may play a role in promoting your community. More importantly, you must do what you can to reduce the level of political bickering that exists within the local and area political system. Fighting between political entities does nothing more than create more problems and significantly reduces the chances of success. This is especially true for regional organizations and those communities insistent upon looking out for themselves. Globalization has changed the traditional methods of economic development: communities must learn to cooperate and work together to compete. As globalization continues to grow, communities will get smaller and smaller. Corporate real estate executives now have more options for their next facility, which makes marketing your communities much more difficult, especially if yours is a rural community.

SWOT & Focus – Before you can even begin to think about recruiting and retaining businesses, you must have knowledge of your community. One of the easiest things that can be done is to conduct a SWOT analysis. This assessment is designed to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis will help you to identify your competitive advantage. In this age of globalization and increased competition, it is imperative that you understand your position and how you can market yourself against your competition. Too many times we have we seen communities target growing industries simply because they are active, without considering how that particular industry would fit in their community. We have seen too many organizations waste money targeting industries that they don’t stand a chance of targeting. Luck does exist, but success is far greater when you understand your position and market your position effectively.

Innovative, customized strategies – You need to develop marketing strategies that are both innovative and customized. This is especially true for small communities, whose innovative strategies that will make them stand out from other communities. Host a conference or seminar within one of your targeted industries, develop sister-city partnerships with foreign countries, recruit talent instead of companies, or even buy a company within one of your targeted industries and build on that base. Whatever the strategy, communities must do something that is different from the ordinary to stand out from their competition. This process will involve the same marketing tactics (i.e. direct-mail campaigns, catering to site selectors and brokers, media placement, etc.), but the implementation may be different. One common practice is to implement an innovative strategy that had been successfully implemented by another community. The problem with this approach is that the best practices are not a “one size fits all” strategy. Best practices are good to use, but they must be tailored to your community.

Clear, accurate messages – Once you know your position and have developed your innovative strategies, make sure that you communicate clear and accurate messages about your community. Make sure that you do not mislead your target companies: it will only bring about disaster. You run the risk of attracting companies poorly suited to your community. As a result you could successfully attract a company that closes its doors a few years down the road because the community did not deliver what it promised. Where does that leave you? Right back where you started.trying to attract businesses to your community to generate jobs for the unemployed. More importantly, that ridiculous stunt will be remembered by the company that you fooled, other prospective companies, site selectors and real estate brokers.

Measure, evaluate, adjust – How can you improve anything that you do not measure? Improvement is always needed. Even the best need to improve. You must first establish a set of marketing measurements, monitor them on a consistent basis, and fine tune.

News That Matters Through Communal Blogging

by Josh Morse

In this age of overwhelming amounts of information, it often seems near-impossible to follow the latest trends, especially in the fast-paced technology industry. Traditional paper-based media, such as weekly magazines, often report information that has already been superceded by newer developments. Even web-based publications suffer from the limitations of a small team of editors attempting to scrutinize and compile stories from the vast array of sources available to them. Enter Slashdot.

Slashdot (http://www.slashdot.com), the brainchild of Rob Malda (http:// www.cmdrtaco.net ) while he was still an undergraduate at Hope College , experienced an instant explosion in popularity in the late 90’s. Subtitled “News for nerds. Stuff that matters,” Slashdot is unapologetically dedicated to issues that appeal to the community of the computer elite, ranging from reviews of high-tech gadgets and Linux distributions to leaked images of the newest Star Wars movie. What makes Slashdot unique, however, is the model used to gather and publish information.

Slashdot uses a system of blogging (short for we b-logging ) to display the summary of a story, with one or more links to other web articles from which the story was drawn. This frees Slashdot writers from composing long articles, and allows readers to quickly peruse summaries before deciding to read the full article. The most unique element of the Slashdot model, however, is that the readers themselves are the writers. Any Slashdot reader may submit an article summary or review, and a small team of editors sorts through submissions and decides which will be posted to the main site. Furthermore, readers can offer comments on posted articles, lending their technology expertise to an active messageboard. These posts are then rated for content by other users, allowing time-strapped readers to read the posts designated as the most informative. Thus, Slashdot is able to link to new technology news almost as quickly as it is posted on another site, and provide a great variety of additional information for interested readers.

While not everyone will be interested in “News for Nerds,” the impact of the Slashdot model reaches beyond technology experts. The website Wikipedia (http:// www.wikipedia.org ) has harnessed the expertise of the web community to create an online encyclopedia of information, with topics ranging from the French Revolution to more modern entities such as Slashdot itself. More recently, the producers of Wikipedia have expanded into the news arena, harnessing their own international-user base to blog news events from around the world. While Wikinews (http://www.wikinews.org) has no immediate plans to challenge established news outlets, the low cost and wide variety of information available may make the site a viable alternative to established corporate media outlets. If nothing else, it illustrates that the traditional roles of reader and writer are blending into a communal system that makes information fast, far-reaching, and free.

Sources

Glasner, Joanna. “Wikipedia Creators Move Into News.” Wired News . Nov 29, 2004 . http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,65819,00.html

Rising Popularity of Nascar

by Tammy Hart

Being the daughter of a race car driver, I take an extreme interest in the evolution of stock-car racing (NASCAR). NASCAR was first organized in the late 1940’s in Florida on a beach/road course by Bill France, Sr., in an effort to grow stock car racing with standardized rules, a regular schedule and an organized championship. From there it quickly moved away from dirt tracks to the high-banked super speedways such as Darlington , which held its first race on Labor Day 1950. The track owner, Harold Brasington, predicted less than 10,000 fans, but 25,000 came.

In the early days of NASCAR, the media wasn’t all that interested in televising the races. The first network television coverage of NASCAR racing was a filmed segment of the “Firecracker 400” at Daytona on ABC’s “Wild World of Sports” program in 1961. CBS televised the Daytona 500 for the first time in 1979, following the dramatic finish between Pearson and Petty in the 1976 Daytona 500. I can still recall my dad’s frustration when stations would quit televising the race before it was finished to start airing other programs. Today NASCAR is considered to be the number-one, and fastest growing spectator sport in the United States , in addition to having the highest television ratings with the exception of the NFL. NASCAR has taken on many other forms, some of which are receiving national coverage, including the Busch Grand National and Craftsman truck series, both of which are also gaining steadily in popularity.

NASCAR has continued to develop with each passing year. I’ll never forget the ecstatic look on my brother’s face when my parents came home from a race with a personally autographed picture of Harry Gant in his number 33 Skoal Bandit race car. In 1979 Gant lost the Rookie of the Year honors to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Gant raced the Skoal Bandit car until he retired from the Winston Cup circuit in 1994. In 1995 he was inducted into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Court of Legends.

Today NASCAR is banning all advertising of nicotine in an effort to promote a more positive, family-friendly image. The sponsors who promote NASCAR events and showcase their products trackside have also evolved significantly. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (Winston) was the reigning sponsor for NASCAR for more than thirty years until Nextel took over sponsorship in 2003. Although NASCAR has clearly expressed its appreciation to Winston for its decades of support, it recognizes the need to change its image. The sport had reached a point where it was having difficulties growing because of the changing public perceptions of tobacco, according to NASCAR Public Relations Director Chip Williams. The change in sponsorship will allow NASCAR to target different marketing areas in television and radio, including kid-friendly media.

Many community leaders believe that NASCAR’s economic impact on a community can be tremendous. Today’s successful tracks are moving towards larger cities and bigger venues. Two tracks suffering from more nationally marketed forces are Rockingham (“The Rock”) and Darlington (located about 50 miles from each other in North Carolina ). Both tracks are now operated by the France family. NASCAR believes it can broaden its national audience and give its sponsors more exposure by moving to larger, more marketable tracks in the Midwest or west. Some say the troubled economy and rising ticket prices are contributing factors to Rockingham not being able to fill the grandstands. Others say scheduling issues contributed to low tickets sales: the first scheduled race at Rockingham is during February’s cold, following the Daytona 500 in Florida , where the weather is warm. Whatever the case might be, it’s not just Rockingham , NC, feeling the pain of competitive pressure; other neighboring counties are distressed as well. Caleb Miles, President of Moore County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, claims that race weeks used to house 2500 fans in its hotel rooms and see more than $2.5 million in tourist spending. Marketing the races to larger cities threatens these economic benefits.

Some experts fear that moving the scheduled races to bigger market areas may produce more short-term revenue, but in the long run may ruin the sport’s uniqueness and quality. Other economists believe the monetary impact of professional franchises and large sporting events is exaggerated. They claim that the money spent on the event is mostly from locals who would otherwise have spent it on other activities within the local economy. But I don’t believe NASCAR can really be lumped in with the rest of the large sporting events. In my opinion, it is in a separate league of its own.

Sources:

www.arcaracing.com; www.asaracing.com; www.nascar.com; www.thatsracin.com

Labor and Site Selection Decisions: How Important Can They Be?

by Cory Koch

Labor Factors Influence Decisions

Labor has worked its way to the top of the priority list when it comes to selecting a new warehouse site. Over the past few years, IKEA, Sears and Target have purchased or leased distribution centers where the local work force has demonstrated a proven and successful track record of performance. Labor availability, cost and quality were critical in these site-selection decisions.

Labor Costs Are Warehouses’ Largest Line Item

On average, labor makes up almost 65 percent of total warehouse operating costs. In the meantime, warehouses continue to experience pressures to improve services, reduce cycle times and reduce costs. When an area provides a labor-cost advantage, the ears of the Operations and Logistics executives stand at attention. In most cases, site-selection decisions are made because of significant labor-cost savings. Some companies have seen savings of $2 million annually by making this selection. Other reports I have seen estimate labor-cost savings of $1.2 million annually when companies chose a smaller rural community only 30 miles away from a major metropolitan area.

Warehouse Clusters Deplete Local Labor Pools

Some industrial areas across our country have been too successful at attracting major warehousing operations. They have created huge clusters or concentrations of warehouses which all compete for the same labor pool, especially in metropolitan areas such as Memphis , Atlanta , Indianapolis and Chicago . These cities find they are competing more and more vigorously to attract and keep their people. Higher costs and increasing turnover rates have resulted. In some cases, companies have had to limit staff hiring because of inflated wages.

In these cluster areas, serious increases in logistical pressures have also caused interface clashes with the residential areas surrounding warehouse districts. This clash with residential districts can be serious, especially when warehouse operations are being pressured to be more flexible and frequently operate on a 24-hour, 7-days-per-week basis to meet consumer demands and expectations.

Secondary Warehouse Locations Offer Benefits

Companies are increasingly turning to outlying areas to solve labor challenges and avoid potential for residential and logistics interface clashes. For example, the southern Central Valley of California has become a region where several large retailers have implemented a better warehouse solution. West Coast Logistics analyzed the region and its warehousing operations, learning that the area’s available labor pool exhibits a strong work ethic and employee loyalty very similar to that of the Midwestern United States.

A high percentage of those workers grew up toiling in the local agricultural fields. These workers appreciate the opportunities that a warehouse position brings. Attendance is excellent. Employees are dedicated and work with intensity. They give 110 percent as an expression of their appreciation for having a satisfying job.

Two companies have benefited handsomely by locating in this region. Sears’ 1.3 million-square-foot regional distribution center in Delano , California , is currently being expanded by another 1.5 million square feet. It has consistently ranked at or near the top as the company’s most productive operation in North America . Similarly, IKEA, the world’s largest and most profitable furniture company, operates a 1.7 million-square-foot regional distribution center at the Tejon Industrial Complex. IKEA boasts that it consistently meets or exceeds forecasted productivity and performance goals.

Clearly in today’s world of warehouse site-location decisions, the key is labor–cost, quality and availability. With the demands on corporate supply chains to move products faster, cheaper and better, labor components will continue to be critical. Be sure that the site you’re considering has the labor resources to meet this vital challenge.