[Case Study] Should You Rehire a Defector?

The case study published in the Harvard Business Review December 2016 issue deals with Ram Kapur the founder and CEO of Green Impact Consulting, a sustainable design firm. Here is the background story of the case. Good beginnings Green Impact Consulting was founded four years ago. When it was two years old, Hari, friend and Ram’s former right hand, started working at Green Impact Consulting. With his more than eight years of experience, the company began to really take off since then. Initial troubles after Hari, a key employee, quit However Hari left Green Impact Consulting after working there for two years. After initial troubles due to Hari’s departure, the business has picked up again and is in great condition. Hari lied about his motives for leaving and wants to rejoin Now, one year after his departure, Hari wants to rejoin the company. The issue arises around Hari’s motives for leaving and Ram’s feelings about that. Hari went to work for a larger competitor (Sustainable Build Group) after he quit his job at Green Impact Consulting, initially for personal reasons. After a conversation with Ram, it turns out that Hari left because Sustainable Build Group offered him an increased salary

The reasons why Echo and Google are winning over HUE and Nest

I have recently looked through more than 30 smart home providers and realized that there are four groups: Mass product providers: Companies like Samsung SmartThings that ofer all kinds of smart devices. Niche product providers: Companies focusing on one or two products. Like Philiphs with its HUE light bulbs or Rachio with a wifi-controlled sprinkler. Central units: Products like Homee with serve as a bridge between devices from different manufacturers and with different technologies. SaaS platforms: Software companies like qivicon offering cloud solutions for the management, integration and combination of smart devices. Interface provider: There are two broad distinctions in this sectors: Software solutions like the Magenta SmartHome app and hardware providers like the Senic smart controller or Flic, a smart wireless button. The idea of smart homes has been around for over 80 years (here you can find a video of a robot made in 1932) and I honestly think the biggest impact originates from Google’s and Amazon’s introduction of their home assistants (Amazon Echo and Google Home). Their established distribution channels are only of their impact. I believe there are three more reasons: Immediate gratification: Compared to a window sensor or smart doorbell getting a question answered by Echo or a summary of my day is immediately useful. A smart doorbell which helps me talk to postman is certainly

AI for hearables more important than sound quality

It seems to me that lately, everybody is taking about AI. Wwhen I look at what hearables can  do (or what currently available models offer) and what announced hearables promise to deliver, I cannot help but do the same in the context of hearables. There are several differentiation criteria for headphones such as sound quality, comfort or durability. Hearables, of course, are a form of headphones, namely wireless headphones. Therefore, it would make sense to have the same differentiation criteria for hearables. However, hearables are only somewhat similar to hearables. Somewhat because they are independent of end devices, versatile (they have biometric measuring for sports activities but also integrated microphones for making phone calls)and part of ubiquitous computing (you have a computer in your ear). Hence, using the same criteria for headphones as well as hearables, will not work. However, independence or biometric tracking information alone will not help hearables cross the chasm to become mainstream and eventually a commodity. What will is AI. AI answers the “So what?”-question AI will play a huge differentiating role amongst hearables. Possibly in wearables in general. It’is nice that the Dash hearables tell me my hear rate or average speed while running, but that does not answer the „So what?“ question: Headphone:

What firms should do in the case of a product recall

When a company recalls a product, it makes sense to assume that competitors can gain market share. However, a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review’s November 2106 issue suggests otherwise. Product recalls harm you and your local competitors The study refers to what is called perverse spillover: Here, one brand’s recall creates consumer concerns about the recalling brand as well about competitors of the same origin, but boosts the business of foreign competitors. According to the study, this is especially significant for highly dominant brands or models. For instance, if Toyota’s top-selling Corolla were to be recalled it would have a much stronger spillover on Japanese competitors than the recall of a less popular model of less popular brand like the Nissan Sentra. How do deal with product recalls The study also suggested tactics for companies faced with a recall: Recalling firms should avoid apologies: This would only increase awareness of the incident. Local competitors should avoid action: They should not try to take advantage of the situation as it would lead to increased visibility and reinforce the spillover effect. Foreign competitors should embrace action: They, however, should try to take advantage of the situation: For them it makes

Recall of Note 7 did not hurt Samsung’s brand

Samsung has completely recalled its Galaxy Note 7 and stoped production due to risks of catching fire. As a consequence the company lost more than $19n of stock value. At the time of the recall, analysts worried about negative consequences on the firm’s credibility and trust. The concerns were not unjustified considering the gravity of the issue and what other companies were doing at the time of the recall. Actually there wer two rounds of recalls; in the first, which officially started on September 15, Samsung replaced faulty Note 7 with new handsets. The second recall, issued on October 10, was final and production of the Note 7 stopped. The dates are of these actions are interesting as Apple announced its new iPhone models, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on September 7, about a week before the first recall. Also, Google announced its new phones around these days; on October 4 the company presented its Google Pixel phones. With that in mind it is safe to assume that Samsung will not only incur costs from lost sales and recycling of the phones, but also due to damaged reputation. A recent poll, however, indicates otherwise. The poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos revealed two things: Current Samsung smartphone owners are as loyal to their

What makes hearables so interesting?

I think that hearables are a great piece of wearable tech and here are three reasons why I think that: Wireless is more comfortable than wired This one is obvious. Hearables are usually wireless which makes them easy to use and wear: You take them out and put them into your ears — no untangling of cables no fight between cables and clothing. You take them out of your ears and put them back – no rolling up of cables. And no, they do not fall out – at least not mine (The Dash by Bragi) and I was traveling, walking and exercising (running and biking) with them. My wired headphones fell out more often. Versatility and independence There are of course hearables with only one particular use case like the Pilot (on the fly translation of spoken language), but there is also a wide variety of universally usable hearables like the Gear Icon X by Samsung which you can use for sports (it has fitness tracking functions) and everyday activities like „phone-less“ call-handling (they have integrated controls to answer calls without taking out your smartphone). Using The Dash by Bragi (Source) for swimming or everyday use Admittedly, you can get this versatility with

What are actually hearables?

Hearables – smart headphones you can wear The word hearables is a combination of “wearables” and “headphones”.  One thing that differentiates them from “normal” headphones is how you use them.  What, in turn, makes them smart are the smart features they posses.  Some of these features are (biometric) tracking and selective ambient noise control. Another thing that differentiates them is how you Wireless, self-sustained, touch, gestures and charging cases Hearables are usually wireless and have built-in storage and different sensors. With that built-in storage and sensors you can use hearables independently from any end device. In that case their functionality is, of course, limited. For instance, you cannot take any calls. In order to do so you have to connect them to a Bluetooth-enabled end device (like a smartphone or table). Regardless of how you use them they have have built in controls for operating them. Depending on the model you have either touch controls or buttons. The Dash by Bragi, for example, also supports head gestures like nodding. Due to their size and features the battery life is rather short (some have usage time of about three hours) they usually come with a charging case. Samsung Gear Icon X in its charging case (Source) These built-in sensors can

List of already available hearables

As of now four hearables from four different companies are available. A whole lot more is, announced, you can find a list of tose here. The once you can already buy you can already by are listed below. The Dash by Bragi The German company Bragi has actually two hearables in tis portfolio; The Dash and The Headphone. (The Headphone is not yet available, so you can information on it in the “soon to be available list” here.) The Dash by Bragi (Source) The Dash has a battery life of 3 hours which can be expanded through the included charging case, 4GB internal storage and touch controls. These hearables have a nice set of features that makes them interesting for sports: They are waterproof, have biometric sensors for things such as heart rate, steps and duration. If you are not doing any sports you can mute environmental noise and handle phone calls through the earpiece. They also support head gesture control such as nodding. I have talked about my personal experience with the Dash here. You can by it for about $300 in white or black. Gear Icon X by Samsung The Gear Icon X by Samsung (Source) The Icon X is similar to Bragi’s The Dash;

Peter Drucker’s five deadly sins in 2016

(Peter Drucker) In 1993 Peter Drucker published a column titled The Five Deadly Business Sins, a copy for download is available here. Here, I want to shortly summarize them and see how they relate to what is going on in our current business world. 1. Premium pricing and high profit margins Drucker criticizes that companies falsely assume that high profit margins equal maximum profits. The profit equation of course suggests otherwise: Total profit equals profit margin multiplied by amount of goods or services sold. Additionally he argues that premium pricing always creates a market for lower-end competitors. He gave two example for this sin: Xerox and GM. Xerox, over-engineered its copier and, therefore, raised its prices into the premium segment creating high profit margins for Xerox. However, as consumers only needed a basic version, Xerox lost significant market share to Canon who entered the market which such a basic copier. Further, Drucker argues that the U.S. automobile industry (including GM) lost market share due to its fixation on „big cars“ as opposed to Volkswagen and Japanese competitors with their small, fuel-efficient cars. U.S. competitors followed their competitors, but not soon enough, due to the low per car profit margins. This

[Updated] List of announced hearables

Human by Human Human headphones (Source) The “human” hearables are one of the most unique or rather “human” looking hearables that I have seen so far. Their design is inspired by the human ear, should sell at $400 and be available in July 2017. On indiegogo the company collected $518,525 with an intended goal of $150.000. In regards to software features they have a audio sharing (share the music you are listing on your phone with others wearing the “Human”), ambient noise control, live language translation and bio-metric monitoring. What makes them stand out (besides their design) is that they can also server as loudspeakers when attached to each other and their sleep-feature which will “lull” you into sleeping, track you sleep cycles and awaken you. Also, they claim to have a 12+ hour battery life. Air by Crazybaby The Air by Crazybaby in the charging pod (Source) The Air hearables are still founding on indiegogo and have surpassed its goal of $50,000 by quite a bit,  standing currently at $1,495,152 with 12 days left. They are supposed to launch in January 2017 for $159.  What makes them unique is that they are the world’s first carbon nanotube hearables. Besides that, they come with a charing pod, are water