Blogs

Magical Autumn

Magical Autumn will be published in Keele University’s Creative writing Anthology. 

I used to dream of

Autumn leaves forever

Falling on the ground.

I felt the crisp cool

Wind, tickle my nose.

It was my paradise

Stomping on the leaves,

Hearing their crunch.

I savoured every moment.

A mystical voice sings,

filling the air with sweet music

Flowers bloom and path the way

To a magical kingdom

Full of playful fairies,

Elves defeating wicked witches

The timeless haven

For anyone to visit, to play

As long as you may dream.

But now I am older;

My dreams have changed.

I have no need of fairies

My paradise is no longer;

That autumnal day

Nor that haven.

My life is full of magic,

So perfect with love that

I do not need to run away.

No, now that I am older:

I only dream of you.

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Technology’s influence on business in 2017

At work I maintain the company’s blog. I’m very fortunate to work for an employer that gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts on the same platform as the experts in the field.

You can read the full post here, but for now here’s an extract.

The economic forecast for 2017 is not looking great according to the majority of economists surveyed by the Financial Times.

Howard Archer, Chief European and UK economist, predicts GDP growth to slow to 1.3% in 2017. He also highlights that “businesses will probably be cautious over investment and employment” due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the UK’s future relationships with the EU. Archer does offer a positive from Brexit, with the pound weaker the UK’s export market should do better.

Tim Besley, London School of Economics, estimates modest slowing on the assumption there will be no significant shocks from outside the UK. He does, however, note that the outlooks for China and the US are uncertain.

Technology enablement will be necessary if the economy predictions are accurate then consumers and businesses are less likely to invest in your business; you will need to optimise your use of technology to market yourself and persuade people to use your services.

With Nintendo 3DS, augmented reality (AR) became more accessible; it was, however, the release of Pokémon Go that brought AR to the mainstream. Caspar Thykier, Chief Executive of Zappar, suggests that content creation tools are improving rapidly so much so that you can use them without the need of expert levels of coding. Depending on your business this could make you stand out from the competition as being fun, innovative and technologically advanced.

 

Role of business in social mobility

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission group indicates that only 1 in 8 children from low-income homes goes on to achieve a high income as an adult (State of the Nation, 2013).

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission group indicates that only 1 in 8 children from low-income homes goes on to achieve a high income as an adult (State of the Nation, 2013). According to the OECD, Britain has some of the lowest social mobility in the developed world. 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior armed forces and 55% of Civil Service departmental heads attended independent schools despite just 7% of the population who had a private education.

Bath University found that there are two main problems in businesses which exacerbate the divide. First, access to jobs often depends on ‘who you know and what you can afford’ rather than what candidates can do. Second, employers define the evidence used to assess candidates too narrowly.

‘Who you know and what you can afford’ is a problem for young people who may be seeking work experience or internships. Half of work placements are generally filled by applicants who heard from ‘word of mouth’ rather than advertisement. This places lower income applicants at a disadvantage as they are less likely to have the relevant contacts than those from better off backgrounds. Many sectors offer unpaid internships which again is inaccessible to lower income individuals because they may not have financial support from their families, whereas many middle-class families are financially comfortable enough to support their children in pursuing unpaid internships.

Despite being told that a degree will make you more valuable to employers it seems only 7% of graduate employers target more than 30 universities to offer graduate positions with a fifth of employers targeting 10 or fewer. This means that students that were unable to move away from home due to financial costs may already be disadvantaged before they even graduate if they happen to choose one of the universities that isn’t targeted by the big employers.

So, what can businesses do to help social mobility and improve the prospects for our young people?

Many young people are now participating in initiatives such as “Tenner Challenge” which provides secondary school students the opportunity to develop key skills such as creativity, resilience and problem solving using real money to take calculate risks in business. This gives them the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. This can provide young people a real-life lesson in finance.

A Staffordshire local programme offers young people the opportunity to pitch their business ideas in Dragons’ Den style. This year, students pitched to Nick Gilbert from Michelin, Sarah Da Silva the chairwoman of Staffordshire Young Enterprise and Mike Cozens from World of Wedgewood. Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills at Staffordshire County Council said “Young enterprise is a great programme that is really helping inspire young people with the skills, confidence and ambition to succeed in this ever-changing global economy.”

By offering local schools assistance in developing skills you not only look good to the community, but also can provide an opportunity for the schoolchildren to come in for work experience and offer a pathway to employment to school leavers.

43% of young people believe unpaid internships act of have acted as a major barrier to getting a job. 40% who thought of those that considered applying for an internship has reconsidered because they couldn’t work for free. Of those that were offered an internship, 39% turned it down for financial reasons.

By paying your interns you widen the candidate pool and therefore increase your chances of finding the best fit for your company. Paid interns are more likely to convert to full time and are more likely to stay with the company long term which can help your staff turnover numbers.

What small businesses can learn from the video game industry

I have a look at what small businesses can learn from the video game industry

The video gaming industry is huge. Last year the international video game revenue was estimated to be $91.5bn. In the UK, the industry is reportedly worth £4.1bn. Since the invention of smartphones, more people are playing games in their spare time. Even mothers who had to drag their child away from the TV, are on their phones or tablets playing video games.

Even if you aren’t a gamer, your technological world has been affected by the video game world. The computers developed to compete with consoles and so, gave you the ability to watch films or listen to music.

The video game industry is an example of how a once small industry can become one of the most influential groups. It may be worth then looking at what other businesses can learn from the video game world.

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Don’t compete with big business, fill their gaps.

Despite a large population of females playing video games, only 9% of 76 titles in 2015 had exclusively playable female leads. 76% of those titles had combat of some description and of course, females do play and enjoy these games but often these games are targeted to males. However, there is a growing trend with smaller game developers to fill this gap by providing games with strong female leads. Life is Strange, whose main character is a teenage girl, has sold over 1.2 million units worldwide. It was nominated and won multiple awards, including BAFTA Games Award for Best Story. Clearly, the demand is there, someone just has to be gutsy and make it.

Similarly, there’s probably a sector or area where bigger firms just haven’t explored, perhaps because their team is more experienced in other areas. This is where you can develop your brand by building your team to be more encompassing

 

Recognise your best asset and capitalise on it.

One of the bestselling video games is the Mario series. The Italian plumber has featured in over 200 games, which covers different genres. Mario is a much-loved character and Nintendo have capitalised on this by adapting and marketing him across the market.

Your business already has something completely exclusive to it, you (and your employees). Learn how to develop and grow to achieve the most out of yourself (and your employees).

 

Visuals Matter

From 8-bit to realistic hair movement. Graphics in video games have come a long way.  The BAFTA Games awards recognises the “Artistic Achievement” of the developers as does other awards. Games that have appealing or alternative visuals tend are more likely to be downloaded.

Invest in your designs, be bold and daring and try to stand out.

 

Build a community

The most successful video games have built a community of loyal gamers, for example, The Sims or Call of Duty.

The best way to build a community around your business is to start a conversation around your brand, industry and best practices. You can do this through webinars and live tweeting Q&As. Depending on your business, you could try posting on websites such as Reddit and Imgur to market yourself.

 

Allow your employees to take risks

Video game developers often have to offer suggestions about a storyline, the visuals, the characters, the music or whatever they feel would improve the chances of the game being successful.  Producers recognise this and aim to have a workplace environment which encourages people to be able to speak out or offer ideas.

Avoid making your employees feel like failure isn’t an option, instead provide a space where creative ideas can be explored as this can lead to discovery and could lead to improved products and services.

 

Be willing to cut your losses

Sometimes a game which despite everyone’s hard work just isn’t selling. Marketing campaigns can’t boost engagement and as disheartening as it is, they need to be able to move on to something else.

Similarly, sometimes things in business may seem worthwhile pursuing but nothing is coming to fruition, perhaps it’s time to stand back and reflect on why.

The last thing to be taken from the video game industry is the importance of perseverance. Making a game, let alone a successful one isn’t easy. People do it because they love games, you need to be as passionate about your business if you’re going to be successful.