Thursday, November 29, 2012

Future Board Rooms

I have always been a strong supporter of gender equality as evident by my years as a volunteer for the WFF (Women’s Foodservice Forum) in my industry.  The United States is slowly making progress.  However, will more women on boards truly make a difference in how companies operate?

Read On:
According to Catalyst, a nonprofit organization focused on furthering women in business, the average number of women on a board in a Fortune 500 company in the United States is only 16 percent – fourth highest in the world.  Detailed below are the top six countries:

Percent of Women on Boards
United States
Great Britain

**Note: Norway passed a law in 2003 to ensure that 40 percent of directors for all public companies were women.  The European Union Justice Commissioner is proposing to introduce a similar law within the year.

There is a long standing economic argument that boards with women have proven to be more competent at decision making, thus companies’ profits are higher and they are more humanely/co-operatively operated.  Numerous research studies have concluded men and women have different value systems.  Some research has directionally indicated that with the greater representation of women (e.g., orchestras) has led to improved long-term organizational performance.   A recent study conducted by Miriam Schwartz-Ziv found that boards with three or more female directors performed better, mainly because these boards tended to ask for twice the amount of information to make decisions that ultimately led to greater results.

While the E.U. is looking to install a quota system, it is still unclear what direction the United States is going to move forward.  Gender equality is our goal, but will it change the way we run our boards?  Will the women that are added to our boards come from the same schooling/business backgrounds as the men already in control?  Or will companies begin to recognize the true meaning of diversity and start selecting women who believe in experimenting, taking risks in order to break through the clutter and truly innovate.  Personally I believe that if we do not change the way our boards currently think and operate, even as more women join them, we will continue experiencing “group verdict” better known as “group think.”

Support gender equality, but more importantly, shake up your current board room.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

App Saturation!

Last week I gave a presentation in New Orleans on mobile marketing.  I asked the audience if they knew how many apps there are worldwide.  One smart participant answered correctly, “a lot!”

Read On:
Last March Apple announced that they passed the 25th billion download which was 15 billion more apps since July 2011.  Recently they indicated that 46 million apps were being downloaded daily.  To put this number in perspective, McDonald’s has 33 thousand stores worldwide in 118 countries and serves an estimated 6.5 million burgers per day.  That means Apple downloads a little more than seven times the number of burgers McDonalds sells per day.  Apple’s counterpart Google announced in October that they surpassed the 25th billion download via Google Play.

App alert:
  • Lady Gaga’s next album Artpop will be launched via a paid-for app.  It will include chats and films for every song, Gaga inspired games comparable to her “Farmville” game, fashion updates, etc.
  •           The App du Jour everyone is buzzing about is Summly, a news condenser scanning service.  Its developer, Nick D’Aloisio who just turned 17 this month, realized that everyone only skims lengthy newspaper articles.  Consequently, the Summly app summarizes articles down to two-paragraph bullet points.
I forecast that someday in the not so distant future we will be able to buy an app to skim the skim!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Scavenger Multi-tasking

Back in May of 2011 in a post titled Gamification USA I addressed the new phenomenon of organized scavenger hunts.  Based on what I have witnessed these past few weekends, it appears that these events have added a fitness element.

Read On:
The Philamazing Race BooTacular Scavenger Hunt was held last Saturday here in Philadelphia.  In addition to solving clues and conquering obstacles, it appears the organizers have designed the event to be comparable to The Amazing Race on TV.  People in their running outfits, armed with their smartphones, were running from one clue to the next in my neighborhood.  How clever.  In addition to learning about the history of our great nation (I live across the street from the Independence National Historical Park), participants were working out/staying in shape at the same time.  In appears that gamification is now evolving to the next level, scavenger multi-tasking – you can test your history skills on a light jog while checking out the historic sites of Philadelphia.  I even witnessed one participant eating a breakfast bar while jogging.  

Scavenger multi-tasking has its price: $30 early registration; $50 admission for teams of two to four people.  What’s next?  Speed dating on scavenger hunts?