IoT And The Supply Chain Revolution

The digital age has seen many new entries our everyday vernacular, from “world wide web” to “quantum computing”, from “big data” to “omni-channel”, and where one man’s “pivot” is another’s “disruption”. We have all become technophiles to some degree, whether by visible enthusiasm or simply through our everyday practices.

Today, we all carry what were once defined as “supercomputers” in our pocket or handbag. By virtue of our personal devices and small-screen dependencies, we are all connected. The internet is rarely more than an arm’s reach away, and we are essentially walking, talking components in the internet of things.

The IoT is really a bundle of ideas and conceptual possibilities that arrives ahead of any later reality. Like most ideas, particularly those in the technology space, it is presently a half-invention – partly happening, but mostly yet to happen, an idea that invites others to latch onto and riff off. Sometimes the invitation inspires, and mainstream embrace follows, sometimes the ideas don’t take hold.


But the term IoT isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, we’re only on the cusp of it becoming truly realised and part of our daily lives. Once just a shorthand for “things” such as smart fridges able to text you a reminder to buy more milk, the IoT is now a means to evolve the World Wide Web into a truly physical-digital operating system.

That might sound grandiose, so let’s anchor ourselves with a quick, simple and accessible definition from Wikipedia:

“The internet of things (‘IoT’) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”

If you can tag any physical item with a “unique identifier” – and if that tag or “label” can transmit and connect to the internet – then the “internet of things” moves from concept to reality in a single step.

What does this then all mean, both in literal and far-reaching terms?

A printed piece of paper, either applied to a product or integrated into a piece of packaging, has the potential to now also be an IoT-enabler. Take our historic understanding of what a printed paper label actually is, but build in a microchip and antenna. Immediately, the “label” becomes the thread by which any physical item can be cloud-connected.

Simply, the right kind of label can make almost any physical thing part of the IoT – and it’s when you then consider all this through the lens of production, manufacturing, ingredients, retail, consumer experience and global supply chains, that things become eye-opening.


“I worry about the gaps. The passages of time that are unknown. A consignment arrives in the dock, could be sitting there for an hour, five, a day, before then being loaded for the next leg of its journey. What happened in that gap? Maybe nothing. But it’s unverified. The fear is anything from theft to contamination. I don’t want to trust and hope. I want certainty. I want a logistics solution that removes doubt. No more gaps, no more unknowns.” – Helen Priestley, Summer 2019

A prediction: the next term to cross the divide and become a matter of mainstream concern (and mainstream parlance) is “supply chain”.

We might recall supply chains as fleeting moments in an economics or geography class, long since cranially filed away as relating to “global manufacturing practices”. But the doors get blown off the filing cabinet the moment you consider the truly big issues and global concerns of our times. Sustainability, ethical sourcing, corporate responsibility, brand safety and product integrity are vast, complex, down-the-rabbit hole concerns. But they could be addressed through a combination of old-fashioned supply chain best practices combined with intelligent labels, transforming the supply chain into an IoT ecosystem that can be tracked, traced, interrogated and held to account.


While supply chains have typically been somewhat “behind the curtain” concerns, it doesn’t mean they should be hidden from view or accountability. And now they don’t have to be. Digital innovations can now make direct customer engagement a more profound reality. Intelligent labels suddenly serve as a portal into richer consumer encounters, from branded content to value-based experiences, where the possibilities are arguably limitless.

Intelligent label technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) make it possible for global supply chains to be sustainable and trusted by design. They also make it possible for the “who, what and where” of every physical product to also become data-points of irrefutable fact and absolute visibility. Where, for example, proof of provenance, or proof of ethically sourced materials and manufacture are assured through a guaranteed data trail.



  • Coronavirus has spread much more quickly than SARS or MERS.
  • The latest data suggests that it’s less deadly than either SARS or MERS.
  • It will take several weeks to be confident about how the virus behaves, including its mortality rate.

International alarm over the coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in December is driven by its rapid spread and the fact that infectious disease experts cannot yet know how deadly or contagious it is.

Within weeks, the virus has infected more people than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) did in months. On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global emergency.

The chart below shows the cumulative number of cases starting from the day that symptoms were documented for the first case. When compared to the new virus, the spread of SARS took much longer to gain momentum. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012, took eight years to infect almost 2,500 people.

Confirmed infections since the first case

The latest statistics indicate a fatality rate of about 2.2%, but disease experts say the actual rate may be higher or lower as there are likely more unconfirmed cases.

The SARS virus killed about 10% of all infected individuals, while the MERS outbreak identified in 2012 had a fatality rate of around 35%.

Disease experts caution that it will take several more weeks to be confident of how the new virus behaves given how quickly it has spread and the fact that a reliable diagnostic test has only recently been introduced.

“Not everybody is being seen, not everybody is being tested,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

“All the experts, myself included, tell the public that there is much we don’t know about this virus and we are learning as we go along. That is not so reassuring.”

Some experts question whether the new virus shares similarities with seasonal flu, which has a low mortality rate but infects so many people that more than half a million may die from it each year, according to global health estimates.

In emerging infectious disease outbreaks, the most serious cases are identified first. Coronavirus infections can range from mild cold-like symptoms to severe cases that cause pneumonia, acute respiratory illness and death.

About 20% of confirmed cases in the China coronavirus outbreak are classified as severe, similar to SARS and MERS, Schaffner said.


This Korean Entertainment Conglomerate Made ‘Parasite’ Happen, Financed Oscar-Winning Satire

Executive producers Min Heoi Heo and Miky Lee accept the Best Picture award for “Parasite” during … [+] KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES

The multi-Oscar-winning film Parasite, a bitterly comic-tragic satire on class divisions and rivalries in South Korea, owes much of its success to the 61-year-old granddaughter of the founder of Korea’s largest chaebol or conglomerate, Lee Byung-Chull.

It was Lee Mi-kyung, known as Miky, who took the microphone from the director and writer, Bong Joon Ho, after Parasite had won accolades as best picture and best international feature at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. As vice chairwoman of the CJ Group and executive producer of the film, she spoke for everyone else standing with her on stage as she heaped praise on Bong, who also won Oscars as best director and, with Han Jin Won, best original screenplay.

“I like everything about him, his smile, his crazy hair, the way he talks, the way he walks and especially the way he directs,” she said during the ceremony. “What I really like about him is his sense of humor and the fact that he can be really make fun of himself and he never takes himself seriously.”

The words came easily to Miky, who, as vice chairwoman of CJ Group and executive producer of the film, has been the driving force behind CJ’s rise as South Korea’s biggest entertainment company. It all began when she and her younger brother, CJ Chairman Lee Jae-hyun, 59, invested $300 million into DreamWorks at its founding nearly 25 years ago. Her role expanded after her brother was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion and sentenced to two and half years in prison, from which he was released with a presidential pardon in 2016.

A graduate of Korea’s prestigious Seoul National University, Miky studied Japanese in Japan and Chinese in Taiwan, then earned a master’s degree in Asian Studies at Harvard. Next, she served as director of Samsung America before joining Cheil, which Lee Byung-chull had founded as Cheil Sugar, a major Samsung entity.

Lee Maeng-hee, Lee Byung-chull’s oldest son, took over Cheil, renamed Cheil Jedang, while Lee Kun-hee, his younger brother, got the rest of the Samsung empire, including Samsung Electronics. In 1993, Lee Maeng-hee transferred control of Cheil Jedang to Lee Jae-hyun, who broke off from Samsung and shortened the name to its initials, CJ, after the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

As CJ vice chairwoman, responsible for the entertainment division, Miky has won a reputation as an exuberant, creative figure, one of the forces behind the “Korean wave” and the international popularity of K-pop. “The DreamWorks deal marked the start of the group’s rapid expansion outside of its previous food specialty,” says Geoffrey Cain, author of the newly published book Samsung Rising. Together, Miky and her brother, says Cain, “ran the CJ Group as a very compatible team with Jae-hyun planning company strategy and Miky implementing his plans often by traveling overseas for negotiations and to scout entertainment trends.”

Miky, who now lives near Los Angeles, showed her sense of independence from traditional Korean cultural constraints when CJ produced satires of Park Geun-hye, the president who was impeached and jailed in the Candlelight Revolution of 2016 and 2017. That same spirit came through as she spoke for everyone involved at the Academy Awards.

Just as important as her praise for director Bong was the recognition she gave brother Lee Jae-hyun for “always supporting and building our dreams even when it looked like impossible dreams.”

“Thank you, Jay. I want to thank my brother Jay,” she said, leaving no doubt he had supported her in her investment in Parasite along with Bong’s earlier films and numerous other ventures in film, TV and K-pop too.



How Businesses Should Handle the Coronavirus Outbreak

We’ve put together a handy guide on best practices companies and human resources departments should deploy to help their employees avoid exposure to the new virus strain.

Image credit: Pixabay

The World Health Organisation has named the new coronavirus out of Wuhan that has killed 1,100 people COVID-19, and said that a vaccine to combat the infection should be ready in 18 months.

Cities in China have been cordoned off, airlines have cancelled flights to and out of the country, and airports globally have started implementing thermal scanners to catch any infections early.

Till date, around 45,171 cases of a coronavirus infection have been reported, surpassing the SARS epidemic in early 2000s. According to Chinese officials, the rate of new infections is showing signs of slowing.

Till date, around 45,171 cases of a coronavirus infection have been reported, surpassing the SARS epidemic in early 2000s. According to Chinese officials, the rate of new infections is showing signs of slowing.

Source: Worldometer

With coronavirus still continuing to spread across the world, we’ve put together a handy guide on best practices companies and human resources departments should follow to help their employees stay healthy and infection-free.

Effective Communication is Key

HR departments should pull together information pertaining to the coronavirus to create a ready-to-refer instructional guide for employees that not only educates them about the viral infection, but also enlists ways to avoid it.

The communication strategy should be multi-pronged and use all channels of communication available.

“You are looking at bulletins, sticking posters on the wall, emails, chat groups, town hall, infographics, videos, and any mode of media that could help to effectively communicate the message to all employees,” says Adrian Tan, a veteran HR practitioner and APAC leader of PeopleStrong, an India-based Enterprise HR SaaS platform.

Information gathered should only be from credible and verified sources, such as the page, the CDC website, and reputable news outlets that clearly attribute their information to either statements made by governmental agencies, or health professionals engaged in researching the virus.

Check out this Bloomberg story that busts some myths and highlights false information about coronavirus making the rounds online.

Implement Flexible Working Arrangement Plans, or BCP Protocols

For those in the thick of it – like countries that share a border with China, or have multiple reported cases of a coronavirus infection – allowing employees to work from home is the best way to prevent contamination given that human-to-human transmission is possible.

“By implementing flexible working arrangements, you are not just eliminating the possibility of transmission at the office but also during commute. This is especially so for densely populated cities such as Hong Kong where you are literally inches away from someone’s face in the MTR during peak hours,” says Tan.

This holds true for many other countries with packed urban centres as well.

“Given the better infrastructure that we have today, it is much easier to be “business-as-usual” with chat platforms, project management dashboards and other platforms that are online or on the cloud,” he adds.

This might not be possible for work that is location-dependent though, but the CDC and WHO websites have laid out ways to avoid viral infections by using non-invasive implements such as face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and maintaining good personal hygiene.

Reconsider Leave Policies

The last thing a company would want is for an infected employee to turn up to work because they didn’t have enough paid time off left. That not only hurts the sick employee who has had to stress him/herself out to get to work, but also their colleagues, as well as everyone and everything they encounter and touch on the way.

“If the company is results-driven, whether the employee works from home or in the office should not matter as long as the work is being delivered. Given the developments in technology today, there is a suite of solutions for companies to use such that meetings, discussions and day-to-day work can go on per normal,” Tan says.

For employees that are suspected of being sick, or start feeling ill during the day, particularly those that have been travelling, calling and notifying health authorities should be a priority. Fear mongering and forcing the employee into isolation, against their will, should be avoided at all costs, until advised by a medical authority.

Using Tech to Avoid Human Contact Might not be such a bad thing

Platforms that allow teams to collaborate and communicate effectively can be used during work-from-home days. Meetings can be done over Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom, while real-time collaborations can be done using free platforms like Collabedit.

(Read about more collaborative tools you can use here and here.)

Other HR Initiatives, Apart From Handing Out Free Masks, According to Tan

  • Beside provisioning free masks and sanitisers, the cleaning schedule of the office can be increased.
  • Senior management has to walk the talk to ensure they mask up wherever appropriate to.
  • Temperature taking could be incorporated so that everyone in the office would have a peace of mind and not be paranoid that their co-workers may be infected. Such information should be openly available so that employees have complete trust in the information provided.
  • Lastly, lunch could be catered so as to minimize employees exposure to crowded areas like the food centre.


Renewing Company Goals Can Make You More Successful–Here’s Why

Set high standards for your business, even if that means changing goals.

How are your New Years resolutions holding up? If you’ve started skipping the gym or had a glass during Dry January, don’t beat yourself up. Failure is part of the process. If you’ve miscalculated a goal, don’t get demoralized and give up on the intention. Instead, refocus. In your personal life and in business, it’s OK to revise your goals so long as you’re learning in the process.

Setting the goals for your business can be complicated. How do you strike a balance between goals you can reasonably reach and stretch goals that will help drive you forward? How do you grow into new markets or products while keeping the core of your business healthy? How will you communicate those goals to the people in a position to help you reach them, and how will you make them relevant for everyone else?

I advise setting stretch goals and overpromising. Personally, it helps me to get more done. But setting the standard very high for yourself or your business means you may have to face at least partial failure pretty often. Everyone faces failure differently, but to me, that’s OK. The lessons and growth failure provides are invaluable. Recognizing your own expectations and efforts–and setting another high goal–are more important than exceeding a lofty goal.

Communicate goals and progress regularly.

Even at smaller businesses where the entire team is local to one office, it takes effort to make your goals visible and continually report on incentives tied to them. If individual team members aren’t (yet) helping you move toward your goal, don’t keep that information to yourself. They may be ready to set new resolutions, too, with the right support and encouragement.

In larger companies, each team or department may set expectations for itself and its members, (hopefully) aligned with the company’s overall direction. If that direction needs to change, those expectations and incentives may suddenly be less aligned. You’re steering the ship, but the crew needs to know when the direction has changed.

At 600 employees, Kabbage is a complex web of minds and unique contributions, each necessary to the success of the company. Part of my job as co-founder is to communicate what those goals are during the year and be transparent and communicative about how those goals are being realized (or not).

For us, we summarize corporate goals and our progress in a monthly email to the full team. We then reiterate our performance at Town Hall meetings where anyone in the company has the opportunity to ask questions.

If you’re revising your resolutions, don’t forget to share your new goals, and any adjusted incentives, with your team. You’re not admitting failure, you’re updating them on the new plan for success. Effective communication of company goals, well beyond the leadership team, can help everyone feel like they’re pulling in the same direction.

When it comes to incentives, don’t overthink it.

Dozens of books and journal articles promise to explain how to motivate your employees to help you meet your (new and evolving) goals. We use shorthand from personality tests (“ENTJs need confidence-builders and unconditional encouragement “) or generation characteristics (“Millennials need autonomy and purpose”) to predict what drives others.

However, it’s a universal truth in business: people show up because you pay them. If you stop paying them, they’ll stop showing up.

I’m a big believer in bonuses and profit-sharing to distribute and communicate our responsibility for meeting goals. Like other companies our size, we provide annual bonuses to our team based on our achievement of company goals: sometimes we payout in full or partially depending on our progress.

As a small business owner, if you’re in a position to reward in this way, it is a great function to build incentives around company goals.

Remember, you can start again whenever you want.

I’ve never held grudges. Not as a kid, not in romance, not in business. If you do something terrible or fail me, I’m generally pretty willing to start over. It’s the same with goals: it doesn’t feel like a failure if we keep making progress. Coming up short sometimes tells me we’re keeping standards and productivity high.

So don’t get discouraged by the goals if you’ve fallen behind on your New Year’s resolution or your 5-year-plan. Make a February resolution, and one again in March or May if you need to. Keep setting high standards for what you and your business can be. It’s the only way to grow.


You Can Attack Your Day, or You Can Let Your Day Attack You

Want to achieve your goals? Go out and attack your day, before it attacks you.

By Dustin McKissen

Founder and CEO, McKissen + Company


Starting your own company is really, really hard. Entrepreneurship is lonely, your odds of making it are slim–and when you do achieve success?

Get ready.

In some ways, the stress of holding on to what you’ve built can be just as significant as the stress of building it in the first place.

In the end, though, building a business is a challenge entrepreneurs willingly embrace.

What about the challenges we never see coming?

What about the challenges we never asked for?

What about an unexpected illness in your family? Or a disease you never saw coming? Or the stress that comes from family in general? What about an unexpected job loss? Or the stress that comes just from scrolling through your newsfeed?

Regardless of the challenges you wake up to, you have two choices:

You can attack your day.

Or you can let your day attack you.

There is no third option.

You can choose to let your life or your community crumble beneath you, or you can roll up your sleeves and do something about it. You can wonder why everyone else gets the opportunities you wish you had, or you can do whatever it takes to grab a few of those opportunities for yourself. You can lay blame for your challenges at the feet of whoever it is you think is responsible–or you can realize that the first sign of weakness is telling someone else why it’s their fault that your life didn’t turn out the way you hoped.

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Winter Innovation Summit at the Sorenson Impact Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The focus was on Opportunity Zones. If you are unfamiliar with OZs, the term comes from a provision within the late-2017 tax legislation that encourages investment in economically challenged communities.

Why would anyone find tax policy inspirational?

Because throughout the event, leader after leader stepped on stage to explain why they refuse to accept the reality they were given, refuse to blame anyone else for their challenges, and instead rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

It was a lesson in what can happen when entire communities attack their day, and it was a lesson all of us should take to heart, regardless of what we do for living.

Our individual challenges can break us, and a collection of broken people creates broken communities, broken societies, and a broken world.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

And it won’t be that way, so long as you attack your day, rather than letting your day attack you.


2020 Email Marketing Guide – What Makes a Really Great Newsletter

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The development of Internet technology has opened many doors to businesses. If you possess knowledge about digital marketing, then you can achieve some great results. Sticking to the traditional way of advertising won’t help you become better than competitors.

Yet, we have noticed that many people focus their marketing campaigns on social media. The reason for that is probably a huge number of people. However, what if we tell you that Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are not the most effective tool for advertising?

Believe it or not, email marketing brings the best results to businesses in different fields. More precisely, this type of marketing delivers a 3800% ROI on average. For every $1 that you invest, you can potentially get $38. Of course, this counts if your campaign meets the requirements of your audience. That’s why the power of newsletters is every business should use!

How to Gather E-Mails of Customers?

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Logically, you won’t be able to send newsletters to your audience if you somehow do not get their emails. We will use the method that most of the online businesses use. They usually ask for an email in the post-purchasing period. When a customer purchases a product, a new window usually pops up before they leave a website. There will be a box where they can type into their email for the newest info about the shop.

If you want to convince them more to do that, offer them a 20% discount for the next purchase if they subscribe to your email.

The point of the newsletters is to convince people to buy some of your products. That’s why you need to develop a powerful email marketing campaign. It is okay if you do not feel confident after our pieces of advice. You can always hire someone such as eSputnik to help you with this.

Yet, trying to do things on your own is also a good choice. So, let’s start with the tips!

Think of Attractive Title!

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Keep in mind that people receive dozens of emails during the day. Most of them remain unopened. That’s why you need to find a way to get their attention and convince them to open your newsletter.

Logically, the first thing that they see is the title of the email. Our suggestion is not to use long-form titles. They should remain short but convincing! Use a couple of words that will explain the things that the receiver will find in the title. For instance, a title such as “20% Discount until the End of the Week” would be a great choice!

The reader will get attention, he will know what you offer in advance, and there is a big chance he will open it!

Pick the Right Design

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Okay, your previous customer clicked and the first thing that he sees is design! For example, imagine that your newsletter is colored completely in black. That color would be hard to read and he won’t even check what you have to offer.

Use the designs suitable for your industry. For example, if you are selling medical products, the background of the newsletter should be light green. That is a color of health. Besides that, your design needs to be adaptable for different devices.

Design the Header Properly

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The first thing that a person sees after checking the “entire” design is a header. That’s why you have to pay extra attention to this part! In this place, it is recommendable to put a logo of your shop. The reader will immediately be aware that he is reading your newsletter.

This is especially important for the readers that already read your newsletters before. If they were satisfied with your previous newsletter, then they won’t have a problem to continue reading.

Pay Attention to Subtitles as Well

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We have to say one thing. The human eye is quite ungrateful. You haven’t probably noticed that you doing the same. Yet, do you truly go line by line and read the entire content that you see online? Of course not, we are skipping parts, getting back to the previous part of the text, etc.

First of all, using subtitles makes the text easier for reading. Imagine this article without subtitles. Would you even reach this part of the text? Despite that, the content below the subtitle should not be long as well. We suggest that your paragraphs contain less than 150 words.

Anyway, the reader will probably go through the email before everything. The first thing that his eye will catch is subtitles. That will give him a clearer picture of what he can expect in the newsletter. Try to be as precise as possible with subtitles. Maybe the reader looks for a certain part and it will be easier for him to find it with a subtitle.

Use Images

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Our lives became faster because of Internet technology. That also means that we all became a bit impatient. So, even if you have the most engaging newsletter ever, it is necessary to cover it with images. These images should not be large a lot and they need to possess quality. Thanks to the images, the newsletter itself becomes less monotonous.

Include the Links in the Right Place

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We understand that you want to attract people to go to your website for some reason. Yet, the newsletter mustn’t be full of links. It will be more effective to put 3 links in the right place than putting 10 links through the entire text of 500 words.

There is one more thing that we need to add. Each newsletter needs to have “call-to-action” parts. The one that always needs to exist is located at the end of the newsletter. For instance, “visit our website to see new products” or “click on the link to get discount”. However, you can also include them somewhere in the middle of the text as well. Of course, do not overdo it.

Footer is Equally Important as Header

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We have noticed that many businesses neglect the importance of footer. Some newsletters do not even possess it. Well, this is a perfect place to share your contact info with the reader. Despite that, you can add social media buttons there or allows users to give you feedback.

Be Regular

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How often you will send newsletters is your choice. It depends on a lot of factors. Yet, if you usually send them on Monday and Thursday, then stick to that schedule. Your customers will get used to your newsletters on certain days. More precisely, they will expect them at the current moment. If you do that constantly, they will appreciate the time that you dedicated to them.