A Sign Of The Times

Have you noticed these icons popping up with increasing frequency on business cards, advertisements and in magazines?

You may have asked yourself why are they there? What do they? Do I need one?

To help you make sense of these new icons I’ve written this quick introduction to the new age of barcodes.

Barcodes, traditionally those linear patterns on your groceries and department store price tags have, like so many other methods of identification, evolved over the years.

Initially commercially developed to automate the checkout process in grocery stores they have expanded from 1 dimensional (linear) to 2 dimensional matrix codes (symbol patterns). They have also branched into an ever-widening variety of industries, generally referred to as Auto ID Data Capture. They are now used for complex filing systems, patient identification, boarding passes even to track the mating habits of bees.

Recently, 2D barcodes have made their way into the social networking scene as apps have been developed for smart phones that enable users to easily scan a code and access information immediately. As I mentioned, you will, if you haven’t already, probably notice them popping up more often as the technology gathers wider user recognition. The two matrix codes receiving the most attention are QR codes & High Capacity Color Barcode.

QR Codes - also know as Quick Response codes- appear as a pattern of squares and were originally developed to track auto parts. However, in recent years they have been embraced by the smart phone industry as a means to quickly convey a lot of information. Using the phone’s camera you simply snap a shot of a QR code and the data within is brought up on your phone. Primarily use to exchange URLs, email, Twitter handles or other social networking information the codes have made their way into all sorts of printed medium.

Their ease of readability combined with the fact that it is free and equally easy to create your own QR code means we’re probably just seeing the beginning of their mark on the data transfer industry.

High Capacity Color Barcodes (HCCB) – also known as Microsoft Tags- are a Microsoft concept and look like a random pattern of colored triangles. Similar to QR codes HCCBs have gained marketshare because they are smart phone friendly. And, because the symbols incorporate a color palette they are capable of storing a lot more information. This allows them to encode much more than a few social networking links. In fact, I first noticed them when they were included in two magazines I subscribe to. In one the HCCB, once scanned, allowed me to watch how to properly attempt a new exercise. The other the HCCB popped up a movie trailer. Although they are a patented, and proprietary concept, HCCB are just as free and easy as a QR Code to acquire.

It is encouraging to see companies welcoming opportunities to build the link between print and digital media. Growing recognition of the potential for providing consumers with enhanced experiences in both formats is an indicator that print may not be as dead as many think.

There is something rather Orwellian about the increasingly probable chance that someday soon all of our personal information could be encoded in a tiny square symbol. For now though, I’ll happily scan and watch movie trailers and exercise videos. I encourage you to check them out and, if you too have a lot of information you want to quickly and easily disseminate these new barcode may be the product for you.

Trends Discussion 2008: Going Global [Part II]

Gaining an international presence in your industry is a process that doesn't have to be long and drawn out. It just takes some proper planning and stamina. I'm hoping that my thoughts will give your company the boost it needs to get out a major way.

In this game, there really are no rules, you make the rules. The tips that I'm sharing with you are the rules that we've [Bizucate] established to help us win this game of playing in international markets. Here are my other tips:

1.GET OUT...visit your chosen country and see what it's about

2. Make yourself aware of the economic markets and conditions of that country as part of your Going Global research

3. Decide why you want to go global (as part of your number 3 below). Is it to see something in another country, have something produced/developed there) or both? It will drive your research efforts

These tips are a great way to realize the culture and really measure whether your selected country would benefit from doing business with you. This gives your company an edge and a true understanding of what you're getting into. Again, you want your motives for doing business in the selected country to be crystal clear so when asked, you will be able to communicate the company's objective(s).

The next BIG question is how long should it take before your company is actually delivering its product or service? That time is up to you and your team. Like anything, you want to craft your plan, talk to as many companies or contacts who are already global, and take measurable action. To keep the idea of going global exciting, check out the blogosphere. I've recently discovered this blog doingbizabroad and international business is the primary topic.

Do you have any ideas about going global or other great blogs focusing on this topic?
Leave me a comment.

Until then, create your plan and stay focused on the vision.

Keep the learning going...pass it on!


Trends Discussion 2008: Going Global

This is a topic that’s been on my mind for quite some time. In fact, I’m going to make this a two part series because I have some things to share with you about the benefits and some down sides, but mostly benefits, of doing business abroad…

Did you know that taking your business global could be the largest driving force in your revenues? If you’re properly positioned before take-off, I can almost guarantee it will be a ride worth taking. Other countries are dying to buy our services and/or products. Bizucate billed six countries last year and that experience exceeded my vision for where I’d plan to take my business in 2007, not to mention getting the visas, racking up on frequent flyer miles and operating on completely different time zones. Now that I think about it, things were pretty busy for us on the international front last year.

We buy services abroad, we sell services abroad and we travel abroad so why not do business abroad? Dell and IBM weren't afraid to do it and look where it has gotten them. I know the first thing that usually comes to mind when I talk about crossing the seas is HOW?

At Bizucate, the bulk of our international alliances were formed through larger corporations that contracted us to train their team.  I have to say that had it not been for these major powerhouses, I’m not sure if we would have been able to hit the international markets as strongly as we did. Crossing international markets is doable if you have a systematic approach. In case I've sparked some interest of new possiblities in the way you do business, I want to share four tips to encourage you to get started:

1. Know what your company has to offer

2. Strategically choose partnerships with a major firm, organization or business who has international offices and who could benefit from your service

3. Define your international strategy and make them known to your partners, when the time is right

4. Know your price points, is your company willing to shell out eight grand for an airline ticket to present a one hour speech?

More tips to come in my next post. In the meantime, I hope this really gets you thinking about international companies who could benefit from the service you provide.

Tell me, why aren't you doing business abroad? If you are, what are your thoughts about it? 

Keep the learning going...pass it on!


Trends Discussion 2008

Now that we are making our way out of the “New Year” I think it’s safe to say that 2008 has hit the ground running. Have you made a difference in the lives of your customers’ businesses yet? What’s stopping you? Who’s stopping you?

Time is ticking so I want to challenge you to be forward thinking in your approach as we are just four weeks away from the closing bell of the first quarter.

At Bizucate, I'm finding that in order to add value, it's essential for me to sell and deliver for at least two hours out of my day. What does that mean for my business and my customers' businesses? It means that all this talk about a recession show us that we should take the time to add to our pool customers by making those follow-up calls and carving out new business opportunities, while delivering what we promised to our current customer base. In no way should hard times be an indicator to pay special attention to your current or potential customer base. Be proactive.

The trend for 2008 is to keep the current customer happy and constantly adding new customers to the mix.

I’d compare the selling and delivering component to the likes of a mother loving four children all the same? Surely, doesn’t she love one more than the other? Selling and delivering operate in this way, when you’re out doing the presentations, or trying to make a sell all while giving your current customers what they deserve, it makes it impossible to love one more than the other, well, almost.

Let’s start with what’s necessary and add value in the way we do business.

Keep the learning going…pass it on!