Category Archives: Technology Solutions

A warm welcome to the real world Amazon.

 On the back of great news that the mighty grim reaper of great independent retailers, Amazon have actually opened a bricks and mortar store a sense of guarded euphoria has began to breeze through the world of shopping generally. I say guarded, because it’s a tentative, dip the toe in the water move from Amazon. They’ve only stepped outside the front doors of their Head Quarters, squinting in the sunlight perhaps. But they have opened a store in their home town of Seattle.

Hot on the heels of Apple who have dedicated the last few years cementing a physical presence in our high streets and shopping malls, the penny has finally dropped for Amazon. People actually enjoy shopping. Fundamentally the whole retail experience is precisely that. An experience.

From being dragged wide eyed and often in a state somewhere between terror, amazement and amusement around a town centre as a snotty nosed toddler to buying Xmas presents on your day off many of us actually like shopping. Oh, many of us may indeed protest when our wife is in the changing room trying on the 16th version of the same dress, but secretly we love it. It’s our time, we mix and match it with a coffee, a spot of lunch and a beer. None of which you can do whilst scrolling through an online store.
I’m delighted Amazon and Apple have swallowed their pride and entered the real world. A world where people stop and say hello. A place where men acknowledge each other’s pain outside yet another changing room. A world where I stop and actually engage with a product because the lustre of an object caught my eye. A place where we do what human beings really truly do best, interact with our environment and each other.

The smell of roast chestnuts, the sound of laughter, that dash out of the rain into the nearest bar are all things that stimulate me, engage me and make me happy I’m alive. No amount of surreal virtual or augmented reality in the online world will ever replicate the simple joy of being outside, amongst my fellow human beings. I want to feel stuff, touch things, sense them not simply be told about them by a load of reviews from people I don’t know and whose judgement I probably wouldn’t trust if I did.

So bravo to Amazon, I look forward to seeing you soon on a high street near me. Hopefully a hustling, bustling, thriving one.

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“Liking and Sharing isn’t participating or contributing it’s just lazy”

One of the most disappointing things about social media is the sudden realisation that the vast majority of people seek recognition for doing basically nothing. BlankWherever your social media lounge is based it is usually littered by a profusion of repetition. People rarely if ever post anything original, express a sincere, profound view or even have the courtesy to comment. It is about time people got their fat backsides off the social media couch and started paying their way.

As a blog writer and some one who initiates debate, plays devils advocate, lays my soul out there in cyberspace for all to see sometimes I would like to feel others are as involved as me. I want them to read, support and criticise. When I open up about all areas of my life from my first love The Arsenal to my professional passion the recruitment industry right or wrong I like to think I am participating in this huge collective called Social Media and the World Wide Web. Yes I share things I have read but I usually add some form of comment as to why I think it is worth sharing, what it means to me or what it doesn’t for that matter.

Yet everywhere you look there are observers, hangers on, freeloaders who just seem to take take take. Let us consider LinkedIn groups for example. I haven’t studied this but I am pretty certain that in most cases less than 10% of any group is actively participant in the group discussions. Even less actually start discussions. You can ask for help a hundred times as I did recently and not one single response or offer of insight or advice. So what is the point of having them? What is the point of being a member of one?

My LinkedIn timeline is often full of people re-posting stuff again and again. Littered with nonsense, proverbial sayings, theological, ideological, philosophical garbage regurgitated again and again like some self sustaining waste recycling system with no comment, observation or indication as to why they thought it was worthy of sharing anyway?

If you can't name a country without the letter A in the name your are an imbecile.

If you can’t name a country without the letter A in the name your are an imbecile.

I’ve taken to ‘hiding’ people who post crap on my LinkedIn timeline. If you don’t know how to ‘hide’ them then just follow these instructions – to the top left of the actual post if you hover over the corner a ‘hide’ button appears. It is bliss trust me. Never again will you have to see someone post the picture Professionally rubbish

Social Media – A Cautionary Tale Featuring The 3 Bears, Humpty Dumpty and Gerald Ratner

“The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed–would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
– George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 1

A Gentle Introduction – like a walk in the woods before the wolves come out to play

George Orwell was possibly not the most entertaining writer I have had the good fortune to read, Robert Rankin and his musings about Hugo Rune and the Brentford area is far more amusing. Whilst of course a real piece of escapism for when the infernal imbecile sat next to you on the train spends 2 hours shouting down their phone to their obviously paranoid and untrusting wife that he is on his way home is Jasper Ffordes, Nursery Crimes Divsion stories, I can particularly recommend The Big Over Easy, Humpty Dumpty is hilarious as a mixed up philandering gambler and delusional fraudster, as is the depiction of Reading. But back to less entertaining things, I remember reading Orwell’s, Keep the Aspidistra Flying and fighting right to the very end to keep my eyes open in the face of such absolute mediocrity and blandness, which was precisely the point of the book of course. But in many of his dark cynical observations and perceptions of life, politics and humanity such as Animal Farm and especially ‘1984’ he was indeed as many of us suspected a visionary.

Social Media – A Bright New World or a Disaster Waiting to Happen

Consider the quote from 1984 at the start of this post in light of the modern situation with our New Social Media World for a moment. Consider the frantic drafting and re-drafting of corporate social media policies to protect them against every imaginable, definable and perceivable scenario that their legal advisers can envisage, and this sort of envisaging does not come cheap of course. Review the constant media reports of amendments to public law, the perception and interpretation of acts likely to cause offence, a breach of the peace. How many media reports are there already of commercial suicide because they underestimated how disappointed a customer was, career suicide because they posted something offensive about their own employer or boss. Then consider the global concerns about elements related to privacy and marketing possibly even brainwashing. Remember the furore over subliminal imaging? How is that different from source amnesia? Except one is legal because we don’t really understand it yet and it is also big business, and the other was banned because we thought we understood it in the 60’s and 70’s when the World was in awe of such things. Governments and Judicial organisations around the World are trying to define what is acceptable, what is within the law, what you can say, who you can say it to and what the punishments are for breaches of these new first Social Media World laws and legislations. In my opinion they are rushing headlong into a mind field that will last for generations.

Can You Tweet Yourself to Death?

Professionally – YES! Incorrect utilisation of social media can ruin your business, your brand, your reputation, your career and possibly your life in literally minutes. I am a recruiter or a Head Hunter and I operate internationally across various markets, diverse cultures and religions. I only have to make one ill thought out post on twitter or Linkedin and I can easily offend someone somewhere amongst all the cultures, religions, belief factors and ethical perceptions. I may never actually know who I offended or why, but they can alienate me from hundreds of people who have never met me, but will judge me without even uttering a word to me. For recruiters in a World where our entire business is people related and based upon relationships and reputations social media is literally a dream opportunity or a potential disaster waiting to happen, as Gary Chaplin found out when he accidentally blind copied an insulting email to thousands of people. He intended the sentiment of the original email, he maybe thought it was funny, he was undoubtedly a little angry at the time. But he never imagined it would go as far and as fast as it did. Bad news has never travelled so fast and so persistently as it does today. Imagine if someone made the same gaffe as Gerald Ratner did in 1991 today? For those who don’t remember it here is a little sample:

He said: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

He added that his stores’ earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”.

He wiped almost £500 million off his companies share value, that was in 1991! The damage was limited in many ways because bad news didn’t travel so fast. You could get PR Gurus and agents like Max Clifford (who has finally been dealt his cards) to disaster manage and spread counter claims almost as fast as bad news moved. Not today.

Personally and privately it can cost you your friends, your relationship, your family and even your liberty almost instantly. It isn’t just you as the individual who drive this by the initial insensitivity or stupidity or possibly even correct but unwarranted or illegal statement or thought. It is also the media who use the same tools to drive and create a social frenzy out of a little piece of social media because the more visits, the more hits, the more advertising they secure the more money the company earns. I have even heard of one guy whose own wife exposed him for buying and reading pornography, her tweets became a hit in Japan, he was ridiculed to the point of attempted suicide. It is that culture thing again, reputation and status are worth more than your life in Japan, yet Bill the Mechanic from Sheffield probably reads Playboy (I almost inserted a hyperlink here, but thought better of it. Who is interested in Sheffield after all) on the bus with his wife present.

The power is amazing. The sheer concept of literally millions of people reading within minutes, something that was intended for a small, private select audience of my friends or family is mind blowing. It used to take PR Companies weeks, months and maybe even years to get an advertising or political message out but now one carefully choreographed and stage managed strap line can do the same job as dozens of PR and Branding Execs in hours if not less.

I find it frightening on so many levels. Yet despite my fear of it and probably in spite of my naturally outspoken, passionately driven and often strongly opinionated personality I still play with it and experiment with it just like I am right now. Almost all of us, even the so called guru’s who charge to train and teach and maximise our use and a firms investment in it, are really like that first human who  played with fire out of curiosity, hypnotised by the mystical flickering flame. When he subsequently set fire to his enemies dwelling and realised its other potential they hadn’t invented the offence of arson. Nobody considered it a crime of passion, it was just one of those things.

We haven’t even educated one single generation yet about the benefits and the dangers of social media. As far as I am aware it isn’t part of the school curriculum, it isn’t discussed as part of the moral guidance delivered in churches. When I was a child there was a splendid Community Police Sergeant called Keith Ellis who used to come to my school. He brought people to talk to us about the dangers of railway lines, swimming in lakes, crossing roads, riding bicycles safely and later during our teenage years he warned us of the dangers of drugs, alcohol, glue sniffing, aerosol abuse and going off the rails. Who tells our children today about the dangers of social media? I know that we are quite rightly abundantly clear and aware of the dangers of strangers on the web, but how does a 17yr old know what Facebook can really do, how does a 40yr old know how to utilise his privacy settings? Who has told him? How does a job seeker know that he is actively alienating every recruiter and potentially lot’s of prospective employers due to his blogs success or his rants on discussions on Linkedin.

Make-Believe

We are basically making it up as we go along, changing the rules to suit public opinion, jumping to conclusions about what everyone thinks, responding en-masse in an almost hysterical manner. Forgetting that just because it is the majority choice doesn’t make it right. I may not like your sexual orientation it doesn’t make you wrong, it doesn’t make my opinion right either. Yet you can flaunt your sexual preferences, your likes in public, but I am legally prohibited from voicing mine ( this is just an example). Sexuality or Race is taboo as it should be, yet my political preference is fair game. You can slander their heritage and their culture because they come from a council estate in Yorkshire, but they can’t criticise your religious beliefs or cultural differences. The problem is if people don’t truly understand how it works, how can they be responsible. There are no written rules, we don’t have a moral or ethical guide or compass on Social Media, because it is still happening and it is too complex.

In recent months we have had examples of people imprisoned for making statements perceived to be inciting a riot. In a couple of cases individuals who appear to severely lack any kind of sound moral guidance or social responsibility claimed they were joking, they didn’t mean it, they were just having a laugh with their mates. How do we really know they were not, after all none of the ones convicted and jailed were actually caught in the act of public disorder or affray. In effect it was a ‘thoughtcrime’, it was a brain-fart, it was an outspoken moment of stupidity, but it was probably shared and understood by their desired audience, they just didn’t realise it wasn’t shared and understood by mine and yours. If they had known that a second of misguided humour could secure you 3-4yrs in prison do you really think they would have done it? Really!

Education and Prevention is Key

In the UK it is extremely difficult to obtain a gun, at least legally anyway. There is good reason for this, people don’t understand how to use them safely, can’t secure them properly and are often tempted to use them negligently or in moments of anger. The never ending images of brainless, moronic individuals who actually post photographs of themselves on facebook posing with pistols, sub-machine guns, machine pistols clearly demonstrate this. Get this, very often it is an illegal weapon. It is like giving a child a sushi knife. Similarly with cars (cars not cats okay), you have to be taught how to drive one safely so that you don’t kill someone or yourself. But even then there is massive investment in telling us the obvious, don’t drink and drive, don’t speed, cautionary signs on motorways for example.Despite the fact that we have all taken courses and passed a test.

Where are the public notices warning us about the consequences of social media? You can hit and run a 10yr old boy and escape with a suspended sentence, you can speed and kill a car full of passengers and get less than 12mths in prison. If you get burgled and your shotgun gets stolen the police provide you with an insurance claim number. Yet you post on Facebook “Let’s have a riot” and get 4yrs? You slander your boss to your friends on facebook and lose your job, become a national laughing stock and essentially become unemployable.

If you are Parents and your children are engaging with social media, tell them about how to use it properly while you are explaining about the birds and the bees and how not to communicate with strangers.

If you are an employer who encourages your employees to use social media then appoint a volunteer social media representative, encourage them to stay ahead of the game, to train, to issue advice. It isn’t enough to assume that everyone knows what they are doing, just because you have issued a Social Media Policy. You have an obligation to protect your employees just as you do to protect your revenues and your business.

If like me you are using social media but feel like you are often wearing a blindfold, then be cautious, never post in anger and always review, have reviewed by someone else or think twice before posting.

——————————————————————————————————————–Many of the examples used are for effect only and do not represent the views and opinions of the author / authors. Any tips, suggestions, legal advice, insight, education references are extremely welcomed on this subject matter. Please share, re-post and feel free to enlighten me, make constructive comments.

Exquisite Vacancy – Implementation & Project Support Manager

Based in UK – Extensive travel across EMEA region

Global Leader in Retail Analytics and Retail Customer Measurement Solutions

Exceptional Package – Exceptional Product Training – Exceptional Opportunity

The Sector

Retail Analytics and Customer Measurement Solutions  as a sector underpin the ability to understand, determine and influence what generates customer traffic and retail buying habits, it is the lifeblood of the retail environment and a shopping centres success. As retailers and retail property businesses focus on how to increase conversion rates, customer spend value and to generate a higher yield from their marketing and advertising budgets the footfall measurement and customer analytics technology sector is set for rapid and continued growth.

The Company

Few other operators and solution providers in this sector can claim the client base this organisation retains. High value, top end branded retailers and international retail property developers and management organisations have become trusted clients and value this company’s services as an integral part of their business strategy.

Probably the only organisation in the sector that can be truly described as offering a global capability and undoubtedly No1 in the USA and Asia they have a clearly defined vision and strategy to establish their business as No1 in the European and Middle East market place.

The Culture

Recognised by their admirers for demonstrating true innovative approaches to technology and the interpretation and implementation of analytical results this business thrives on entrepreneurialism, creativity and objectivity. This is demonstrated from the top down by the fresh outlook and influence of the CEO to the technical teams and their service and delivery capability.

The Opportunity

This is an exceptional opportunity for an individual who wants to work on a truly international basis, liaising and co-ordinating the EMEA aspects of product installations and on-going support. You will act as the Client and Installation Team interface, managing budgets, installation program, issues / risks and general service delivery for the organisation.

This role will provide an opportunity to work with diverse teams in a broad range of locations from Central & Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa. It is challenging, rewarding and an exhilarating career opportunity which will also entail travel to the USA.

The Candidate

You will be:

  • Degree educated, possibly with an MBA and a demonstrable track record of managing complex, multi-faceted projects and deliverables.
  • Experienced team leader able to motivate, coach and direct remotely.
  • A clear strategic thinker with a passion for maximising the efficiency and application of resources and capability effectively.
  • A change aficionado who relishes challenge, loves working in adversarial environments and can influence and create buy-in top down, bottom up.

You must have:

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Experience of budgetary management of resources and manpower
  • Proven track record of experience within Client Services and Operations
  • Exceptional project management skills and certification PMBOK / PMP methodology or similar is a must.
  • Preferably a 2nd language in either Spanish and / or French
  • A genuine desire to travel

To apply for this exceptional opportunity in total confidence contact:

Darren Ledger – International Search – Active Solutions (UK)

 +44 (0) 1924 371333 or email

Darren@solutions.uk.net