Reading Emotions in a Call Center

Check out this video of Steve Jobs talking about the origins of the iPad. The text that appears as Jobs talks is how a computer program developed by a firm called Beyond Verbal is interpreting Jobs’ emotion. That is, the program is judging whether Jobs is feeling fatigue or nostalgia based not on what is…

Big Data is In Fashion

Big data is, of course, one of the business world’s most in vogue buzz words. It may even be having an impact on how various industries function. Case in point, today’s Wall Street Journal reports that several firms are selling data and services to fashion brands and retailers (Fashion Industry Meets Big Data, Sep 9).

Should Restaurants Eliminate Tips?

How do you feel about tipping? Are you happy to reward a well-done job or do you have more of a Mr. Pink attitude toward gratuities?

A pair of recent Slate articles got me thinking about tipping. The first is pretty straightforward and makes the case that tipping at restaurants should just be banned (Tipping Is an Abomination, Jul 9). The argument is that the practice is bad for customers since it leads to uneven treatment and bad for workers since it allows employers to pay absurdly low wages. But what happens when a restaurant simply eliminates tipping? That is the topic of the second article written by a former restauranteur who did just that (What Happens When You Abolish Tipping, Aug 14). In lieu of tipping, the restaurant added an 18% service charge to the check. Thus it pricing was more like an auto service station that breaks out its labor charges from the cost of parts.

Balancing Bikes

Bike sharing is spreading across the nation. One of the highest profile programs has been in New York City, and while there has been griping about various aspects of the Citi Bike program, it has by some measures been successful. According to the NY Times, the system has attracted over 70,000 annual members and has handled over more than 42,000 trips on a peak day (The Balancing Act That Bike-Share Riders Just Watch, Aug 14).

One of the challenges that has come up with the system is how to balance the supply and demand of bikes between stations.

Golf Course Bottlenecks

How long should it take to play a round of golf?

There are two ways of thinking about that question. The first is to think of playing when you have the course to yourself. Then the time to play is just a question of how good or bad your own game is. If all your drives are true, you can finish your round quickly. If you are king of the three (or possibly four) putt, you’re going to be longer on the course.

Apparel in America

Last week I posted on making toys in the US; this week it’s apparel — specifically, T-shirts and sweatshirts. Let starts with sweatshirts and a firm called American Giant. The story starts back in December with an article in Slate describing the company’s business model and extolling the wonders of its product (This Is the Greatest Hoodie Ever…

Making Toys in the U.S.

Last Monday I posted about Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robot which can be easily programmed to perform a variety of manufacturing tasks. And that very day, theWall Street Journal had a story about a firm that uses Baxter robot (A Toy Maker Comes Home to the U.S.A., Mar 11)! K’Nex Brands makes a variety of plastic building sets that snap together…

Lean and Mean – Improving Sales and Distribution Performance

The key to developing a lean and mean, high performance operation is applying the technology and principles which translate into improved profitability and customer retention. In many cases, the same solutions which create customer “self-help” capabilities are also solutions which can address similar needs for internal business users. Ultimately, the goals are elimination of redundant or error-prone processes, establishing the sharing and secure collaboration of information throughout the organization, implementing integrated systems which allow users to efficiently perform their particular tasks, and working cooperatively with others in the supply chain to maximize the real-time capability and efficiency.