Wearable Devices Monitor How Salespeople Talk

Improving the way employees communicate with customers is crucial to increased sales. Now there’s wearable technology that can show salespeople how they’re doing.

Sociometric Solutions has developed sensors that are attached to an employee’s ID badge and can measure the length and quality of conversations the salesperson has with retail customers.

The sensors — microphones with real time voice-processing software — don’t record the conversations but analyze the sounds to determine tone of voice, how quickly someone talks and volume modulation (if the speaker is emotive or flat). Another sensor, a motion detector, gauges the employee’s posture to discern closeness to others when speaking as well as fatigue. Proprietary algorithms then interpret the varying data and compare it to sales performance.

For Bank of America’s call center operation, the wearable technology identified a need for closer-knit work groups, which helped increase call-handling productivity by 12 percent and helped reduce turnover from 40 percent to 12 percent.

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Cooling Data Centers Generate New Energy Sources

Several companies are taking the necessary steps to reduce the carbon footprints of their data centers

Cooling servers and other computer equipment account for nearly 40 percent the energy consumed by data centers, according to a recent paper by Emerson Network Power.

Now such companies as KPMG and eBay are looking to convert the exhaust heat from this process into energy, and in doing so, reduce their electricity costs and energy footprints. They are using different me[thods that lead to a similar result: greater energy self-sufficiency.

Data centers — large groups of networked computer servers used for the remote storage, processing and distribution of large amounts of data — are energy gluttons. They’re responsible for more than 2 percent of electricity usage in the United States, according to a report by Villanova University. Another study by The New York Times found that data centers use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear plants.

“For every watt of computer power consumed by a data center, it takes another watt to cool it,” says Dennis Symanski, senior technical leader and data center expert at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

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How The Internet Of Things Is Helping Battle Water Shortages

Just in time to do battle with the worst drought in a generation, Santa Clarita City in California retrofitted its antiquated irrigation controllers, sprinkling water throughout 700 acres of parks, medians and other cityscape and saving more than 180 million gallons of water. The new system incorporated sophisticated sensors and data analytics, using the Internet of Things(IoT) to keep lawns — and municipal goals — green.

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ERM from the Top

Since its founding in 1895, Lincoln Electric has been a top-down driven company. John C. Lincoln launched the business with a capital investment of only $200 and a focus on electric motors. In 1911, Lincoln and his younger brother, James, hit upon the product that would define their future—the world’s first variable-voltage, single-operator, portable welding machine.

Today, Lincoln Electric is a Fortune 1000 company that manufactures welding products, arc welding equipment and robotic welding systems. That original $200 has more than paid off—sales in 2012 were a record $2.9 billion.

When the company’s risk manager, John Hach, saw an opportunity to move Lincoln Electric to an enterprise risk management (ERM) platform, he knew he needed company leaders to champion the project.
This interview is part of a continuing RIMS Q&A series spotlighting ERM practitioners. For more, visit the RIMS Strategic and Enterprise Risk Center at www.RIMS.org/ERM.

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Political Risk and the Supply Chain

Every global risk manager is finely attuned to the weather, given the potentially devastating impact Mother Nature can have on supply chains. But another kind of storm can unravel international operations—one that effects the political climate.

As this year’s events in Ukraine have vividly demonstrated, formerly stable political regimes can quickly falter and fail. Even a staunch ally like Egypt, once a safe destination for tourists, can become a questionable place to do business in an instant. Economic factors like rising interest rates in the United States can also create political and economic havoc in emerging countries that have thus far benefited from record-low borrowing rates.

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Coping with Black Swans

The insurance and reinsurance industries are in business to take bets on risks that can be identified, assessed, prioritized and planned for financially. Disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, massive asbestos-like litigation and even terrorist attacks fit the bill. But what about so-called Black Swan events?

A Black Swan is a disaster or series of cascading disasters that no one saw coming—hence there was no way to identify, assess, prioritize and plan for the impact. The term apocryphally derives from the settlement of Australia by the British, who had seen white swans before but never a black one.

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The Upside of ‘Surge Pricing’ at Uber

The company is criticized for jacking up prices during periods of high demand but economists say that they are simply letting data on market conditions dictate pricing.

This past winter, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife Jessica earned her 15 minutes of fame, fuming over the $415 she reportedly paid to Uber to chauffeur her kids to a bar mitzvah, a price much higher than she had previously paid to get from here to there. Seinfeld famously posted a photograph of the receipt on Instagram, accompanied by the hashtags #neverforget and #neveragain. Leaving aside for the moment that the Seinfelds are faring fine financially, Jessica neglected to mention the upside of Uber’s surge pricing, as this practice is pejoratively called. Case in point — the $41 it cost me to ride Uber from my house to LAX last week, and the $72.16 it cost to taxi back. Uber’s prices jack up and down for basic supply-and-demand reasons. When demand for a ride is high and supply is low, as it is during a blizzard, prices rise. When the opposite holds true, they fall, although no one Instagrams their delight. Experts say this model heralds a new era made possible by access to data and more advanced analytics.

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Music Industry Uses Big Data to Track Royalties

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The music industry has changed dramatically in the last couple decades, except for one domain — how television, film, video game and other producers of creative content license music tracks. Now, thanks to data analytics, APM Music believes that it has found a way to improve the system by enabling customers, who include major entertainment studios, to access musical tracks more easily from the Los Angeles-based company’s huge library.

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How Data Analytics make Red Sox Fans Happier

For any baseball team, making the World Series is a pretty dependable way to boost revenue. But when the Boston Red Sox seemed a long fly ball from this goal, the team still had something else going for it other than slugger David Ortiz: big data analytics.

The Sox have implemented several cloud-based technologies from providers such as Host Analytics, MicroStrategy and Microsoft Dynamics to slice and dice data on ticket sales, as well as revenue from merchandise, food and parking. The tools also help the company reduce expenses, by pinpointing how many ticket takers, ushers and security personnel it will need for a particular game or game series, based on past experience.The World Series champs access voluminous structured and unstructured game data on the weather, the opposing team, the day and time of the week and various pre-game promotions. Algorithms let then the team forecast how best to allocate resources based on expected fluctuations in demand.

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