Saturday, November 08, 2008

Job to job retraining in Finland

UPM to start "From job to job" programme in Kajaani and Valkeakoski in Finland
"PM has today announced that it will close down Kajaani paper mill and Tervasaari pulp mill in Finland by the end of the year. In order to alleviate the impacts of redundancy UPM will start a
'From Job to Job' programme in both locations. The programme includes, in cooperation with authorities and partner companies, active measures to support finding a new job and retraining.

UPM will support re-employment training of employees who have been given notice. UPM has reserved EUR 1.5 million to support the participation and material costs for retraining at a rate of up to EUR 5,000 per person.

In addition, UPM will encourage affected personnel to create new businesses by offering start-up support. The company has booked EUR 1 million for this purpose. UPM's start-up support can be applied until the end of 2010. Maximum support for business is EUR 20,000.

In order to relieve the situation in Kajaani where the mill will be closed, UPM will extend the re-employment obligation for local employees from 9 months, obligated by law, to 15 months. UPM is committed to inform employees given notice about the company's vacancies to their home addresses and employment authorities at all the company's mill locations 9 months beyond the above mentioned time period."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wal-Mart v Apple . . . and DRM

Walmart's MP3 Store VS Apple iTunes

"Last month Walmart gave consumers the number 1 reason why DRM isn't the answer when they announced that they would be shutting down their DRM server come October 9th. Since then, Walmart relaunched it's online music store on Tuesday. The new music store offers the latest hits at only $.79 per song, while standard songs are offered at $.94. With competitive pricing options Walmart could give iTunes stiff competition."

Workforce and Economic Opportunity Initiative

The Beaufort Gazette: Wal-Mart grant fires up green construction program at TCL:

"TCL will begin using the grant money this year to train instructors and develop a curriculum. Classes and workshops will begin in fall 2009, and Feight said green principles will be integrated into all programs.

TCL is one of 20 technical and community colleges nationwide to receive the grant, which Wal-Mart awarded though its Workforce and Economic Opportunity Initiative.

Students will learn that though the initial cost of LEED-certified buildings can be higher than traditional methods, green buildings often provide better air and water quality and are often cheaper to maintain because they require less energy, according to the Green Building Council.

The initiative targets rural or isolated communities and aims to enhance development by encouraging local businesses, colleges and community organizations to work together, according to a news release from the Wal-Mart Foundation."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Wal-Mart Investment through 2010

Wal-Mart View: Big Plans Abroad, Small U.S. Stores - "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it will continue emphasizing international expansion, particularly in emerging markets such as Brazil, as it trims U.S. growth, company officials said on Tuesday.

A day after declaring that it will curtail openings of its traditional U.S. stores and focus more on remodeling existing locations, the world's largest retailer by sales laid out a vision for growth during the second half of a two-day conference with investment analysts.

Wal-Mart officials forecast that they will add approximately 19% less square footage in the coming year compared with a year earlier, with much of the reduction coming from the U.S. In all, Wal-Mart expects to add 34 to 36 million square feet of retail space in the fiscal year starting in February, compared with 42 to 43 million square feet of retail space globally in the current fiscal year, ending Jan. 31.

Wal-Mart, which has benefited from the global downturn thanks to its economies of scale and lower prices, reiterated it felt well-positioned to prosper in the current economy.

"This company will emerge from this time a tougher competitor," Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott said.

Still, company officials detailed plans to transform into a different kind of discount retailer by focusing more on smaller stores than in the past. Wal-Mart has been executing that shift for the past three years, officials noted, well before the economy soured.

Analysts generally seemed to approve Wal-Mart's moves. Some predicted that by focusing on sprucing up older locations, the retailer may be poised to hold on to some of the new customers it has attracted during the downturn.

"The strained consumer environment has driven sustained traffic from core customers and new traffic from affluent shoppers, which could prove sticky if executives are able to maintain and enhance the customer experience," Goldman Sachs analyst Adrianne Shapira wrote in a note to investors.

Wal-Mart stock rose 11%, or $5.50, to $55.17 Tuesday in 4 p.m. New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Over the next five years, Wal-Mart said it will devote 53% of its international spending to emerging markets such as Brazil and India, up from 33% in the previous five years, with the remainder going to mature markets such as Canada and the U.K.

Wal-Mart also said it remains committed to succeeding in Japan, a plan that was criticized by analysts a year ago. The retailer said it is on pace to post its first operating profit in Japan this fiscal year.

Though Wal-Mart said it remains bullish on international expansion, overall capital spending, including adding new stores and remodeling existing ones, was projected to rise only slightly, to $4.8 to 5.3 billion in the year ending January 2010, from the current year's $4.5 billion to $4.8 billion.

Citizens Community Bancorp + Wal Mart

Citizens Community Bancorp to Open Six In-Store Branches at Wal-Mart Supercenters in 2009 - MarketWatch
"EAU CLAIRE, Wis., Oct 30, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Citizens Community Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Citizens Community Federal, today announced that it has signed an agreement with Wal-Mart to open six branches during 2009 in Wal-Mart Supercenters in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The company will open Citizens Community Federal branches in the following Wal-Mart Supercenter locations:
-- Menomonie, Wis.;
-- Neenah, Wis.;
-- Plover, Wis.;
-- Shawano, Wis.;
-- Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; and
-- Oak Park Heights, Minn.
Said Tim Cruciani, executive vice president of Citizens Community Bancorp, Inc., 'We're very excited to continue our expansion into Wal-Mart retail locations in 2009. These new branches will provide our customers the opportunity to do their banking and shopping in one, convenient location--with expanded hours and services to fulfill their banking needs. Citizens' continued transition into Wal-Mart Supercenters is consistent with our targeted expansion strategy and offers the potential for deposit and loan growth.'"

Wal-Mart + iPhone website

Wal-Mart announces a custom iPhone website

"Users surfing to will be automatically redirected to the iPhone version of the web site if they are using an iPhone.

Once on the site, users have an option to browse either Wal-Mart’s products or services on the very well-done and attractive site. The product section is well designed, and allows shoppers to browse Wal-Mart’s products, see what items are online, and even find which stores have it in stock as well.

The only caveat is that you cannot buy items on the iPhone site and are instead directed to the non-iPhone site to do so. There is also a Store Finder option that allows you to find the nearest store that works on the site too. Excellent idea indeed for those with the Wal-Mart itch."

The physical side of Google

A view from India. . . The Hindu News

"The book also deals properly with the physical side of building adigital empire. Early on, Google chose as its hardware 'a system cobbledtogether with inexpensive PC components' rather than more costly specialist equipment. This was a clever, counter-intuitive decision, the first ofmany. Google's racks of cheap servers could easily be expanded or othersadded. The company then set about placing them as close to its potentialcustomers as possible. Stross explains: 'As fast as electrons travel,physical distance still affects [online] response speed... Reducing [it]by even a fraction of a second mattered to users, as Google discovered whenit ran experiments to see if users noticed a difference between [a wait of]0.9 seconds [and one of] 0.4 seconds... Users were conspicuously more likely to grow bored and leave the Google site after waiting thatinterminable 0.9 seconds.

As quick and pragmatic as its customers, Google spent the early years ofthis decade securing premises across America for its servers: first incommercial spaces desperate for tenants after the 2001 dotcom crash, thenin its own purpose-built "data centres". Such was the surging demand forits services, and the amount of power the company was consuming as aresult, the first such facility was established in a town with its ownhydro-electric power station.

Whether Web users will remain satisfied for many more years with thelong shaggy lists of online sources that Google offers them is a question,frustratingly, that Stross does not properly answer. He does outline themenace to the company posed by the highly successful social networking siteFacebook, "a miniature Web universe - behind a wall, inaccessible to Google". And he lists other threats. Google's copyright dispute with publishers over its desire to make all books electronically searchable remains unresolved. Google's ad revenue may shrink, and no longer be sufficient to subsidise all its other, more experimental activities.

Follow the Money

Perhaps Anticipating Reform Health Money Swings to Dems

"Widely perceived to be one of the nation's biggest challenges, health care reform will be at the top of the next administration's agenda, and a battle over proposed changes is certain. For the past 15 years, the health sector, which is already gearing up for next year's fight, has given more money to Republicans than Democrats. But with Democrats in control of Congress-and likely to pick up a few more seats next week-the tide is turning. Out of the $123 million contributed by the drug manufacturers, doctors, HMOs, hospitals and other interests in the health sector this election cycle, 53 percent has gone to Democratic candidates, committees and parties and 46 percent to Republican.

'They're reading the political tea leaves like everybody else,' said Robert B. Healms, a health care policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute. 'There are strong expectations that [Barack Obama] will win, and you could probably find [this financial trend] when administrations change from Republicans to Democrats.

The pharmaceutical and health products industry has spent at least $135 million on federal lobbying so far in 2008, twice as much as any of the other industries in the health sector this year. Perhaps this is not surprising because the drug industry is heavily affected by the rules of Medicare Part D, a federal program that subsidizes prescription drug costs. "This is an industry that is very dependent on what the government policy is," Healms said. "It affects their markets and their ability to sell."

Political scientists agree. "This sub-sector has emerged as a key target of government regulation in recent years," said Steven J. Balla, a political scientist at George Washington University who focuses on health care policy. "With so much at stake, this spending (on lobbying) makes sense."

$65,000 + Wal-Mart Shoppers

Arkansas News Bureau - Wal-Mart to pare capital spending:

"The world's largest retailer further revealed that as the U.S. economy reels from tighter credit, mounting job losses and falling home prices, it is attracting more higher-income shoppers. Traffic at stores serving households with incomes above $65,000 have been growing much faster than at the chain as a whole, the company said."

Flu shots on demand

The right medicine to the right person at the right time.
Wal-Mart parking lot is the right place.

NEWS 25 - WEHT: Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro: "WARRICK CO, IN - Without even getting out of their car, hundreds of Warrick County residents got their flu shots on Saturday. The Warrick County Health Department says drive-thru vaccinations were such a big hit last year that they are offering it again this fall.

Saturday was the first opportunity for residents to get their flu shot without even getting out of the car. It was held in the parking lot of the Boonville Wal-Mart. Health officials tell NEWS 25 they gave out 600 vaccinations in just three hours."

Coupons - A business opportunity

Turn Economic Lemons Into Sales Lemonade

"However, all is not dark, and the nervousness that consumers are feeling right now may be tapped to effectively help improve one’s business right now and for the long-term. I’ve got a marketing tactic that can help with search engine optimization while simultaneously bumping up sales and even store visits for local brick-and-mortars. Read on!

My secret local search engine optimization tip du jour is exquisitely simple: coupons!

It’s unsurprising that consumers are searching for coupons more than ever, since they feel the need to cut back on expenses. Google Trends is showing a really sharp increase in searches for [coupons] as we approach the end of this year:"

Measure to manage. And eat your own dogfood

What we learned from 1 million businesses in the cloud:

We measure every server request for every user, every moment of every day. Any millisecond delay is logged.
. . .
More than 1 million businesses have selected Google Apps to run their business, and tens of millions of people use Gmail every day. With this type of adoption, a disruption of any size — even a minor one affecting fewer than 0.003% of Google Apps Premier Edition users, like the one a few weeks ago — attracts a disproportional amount of attention. We've made a series of commitments to improve our communications with customers during any outages, and we have an unwavering commitment to make all issues visible and transparent through our open user groups.

Google is one of the 1 million businesses that run on Google Apps, and any service interruption affects our users and our business; our engineers are also some of our most demanding customers. We understand the importance of delivering on the cloud's promise of greater security, reliability and capability at lower cost. We are hugely thankful to our customers who drive us to become better every day.

Space Matters

Local Search Marketing Tips for B2B Marketers

"B2B marketers establish conversions - or desired actions - throughout their customers’ buying process. These actions may take place online, on the phone, or live at a specific location. Regardless, many occur at the local level.

Local search enables marketers to capitalize on these interactions and differentiate your firm based upon one very important factor - geographic proximity."

Metrics for Sale..

In an information economy, you have to turn an invisible conversation into a metric. Once you have a metric, you've grown a long tail.

Google’s New Metric For YouTube Ads: Brain Waves: "YouTube has recently been pushing overlay ads which appear in the lower portion of the window while the video is playing. Since these ads are often used for branding purpose looking at click thru measurements would not give a true picture of their impact upon the advertisers brand messaging.

To prove the efficacy of these ads, Google hired a company called NeuroFocus to conduct research measuring biometric response to the overlays through indicators such as brainwave activity, skin response, and eye tracking. The study discovered that viewers found the overlays “compelling and engaging” and that these ads generated a high amount of attention and emotional engagement for a variety of different brands and video types. In addition, including a companion banner alongside the overlay ad was found to improve brand response compared to banner ads alone."

Google Books Subscription?

So. . .if libraries and universities can buy subscriptions to the full archive, how far away is K-12? If k-12 can buy subscriptions, what happens if those books are available on demand versioned for a particular classroom at a particular time?

US: Google Books Drives Visits to Book Retailers:
"Among other things, the settlement allows universities and libraries to buy a subscription to the entire collection of scanned books in Google's archives. Last week, 22% of visits from Google Book Search went to an Education website, with Worldcat (a website that allows users to search library catalogs) the #3 downstream website overall and the #1 Education website."