It’s time for the end of the year, where we take a look at what we learned and figure out what to take with us to the next year. For me, that means taking a look at what I’ve learned about business in 2014 and what media has contributed to that. Here are some of the highlights from the television, radio, and computer.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but represents some of my favorite resources for learning more about the art and science of creating and operating businesses. Each of the following pieces of media was informally rated based on 1) my actually having read or watched it 2) me finding it useful for people who might want to learn more about business in general, and particularly actually creating a business 3) it’s entertainment value—could you get addicted to it and actually enjoy going back to it again and again? Because, like me, you’re probably not going to actually just read this stuff all day long, but do it in your free time instead.
Along with the usual sports and news programs, I have found a new spot in my television rotation: The Profit. Airing weekly (and many other times you turn on CNBC), the Profit follows Martin Lemonis as he goes to family businesses and encourages them to focus on People, Process, and Product. These businesses are often struggling to turn their revenues into profit, creating the opportunity for a turn-around. Distinguishing itself from some business-reality shows, Lemonis invests his own money in the businesses he’s coaching and spends as much time dealing with the people issues as he does the process and product (which often leads to gratuitous shots of crying). The show is also a constant lesson in negotiation, as Lemonis maneuvers to remove people he doesn’t trust, eliminate product lines that don’t sell, and alter owner/employee compensation. Bonus points for the nifty visuals on the financial nuts and bolts of the businesses. The show may soon suffer from overexposure, but it is an excellent look at how real businesses can shake things up to improve their bottom line.
I regularly listen to a range of finance/ economics podcasts, and I routinely get a ton out of both Planet Money and Marketplace. Excellent production, interesting topics, and snappiness of their presentation (20 minutes!). What could be a negative is that I have a hard time differentiating between them in my head—are these programs actually supposed to accomplish different things? Anyhow, these public radio mainstays are excellent casual listening. I always learn about industries and topics, from the Icelandic economic transition from fish to banking to aluminum, to the aftermarket for high-demand Nike shoes.
For a first-person narrative of the process of launching a venture-funded startup, try Startup. I also regularly listen to Freakonomics, but the topics there often veer from business-related content, and, like the book, the show-runners sometimes seem to fall in love with their own thinking to the detriment of their final conclusions.
Magazine / Website
To find out what technological and business advances I don’t know about but probably should, I love looking to the MIT Technology Review. The magazine, also available online, provides excellent deep dives into some of the most interesting and important topics in new and burgeoning fields. You want to know more about artificial intelligence? Biotech? Self-driving cars? MIT Technology Review brings authoritative, informative reporting to these complicated and fascinating subjects.
The MOOCs!: This year I participated in at least part of four different open online course offerings, not including regular meanderings through Youtube (Google for Entrepreneurs) and Slideshare (Sizing your Market).
For jumping into entrepreneurial thinking and process, this year I loved both Bill Aulet’s “Who is Your Customer?”(offered through edX) and Steve Blank’s “How to Build a Startup”(Udacity), based on the Business Model Canvas. The difference in styles is mainly the thing here, as the courses get at much of the same content: use direct person –to-person research to create an in-depth understanding of your market. Aulet uses conversations and short lectures featuring him and student-entrepreneurs to deliver content and provide examples. Blanks uses the hand-drawn technique similar to the Kauffman Foundation’s Kauffman Sketchbook series.
In both cases, the Mooc is not an expert level course for experienced entrepreneurs, but rather useful for those looking to start their first business. Each is an excellent dive into some of the most important concepts in entrepreneurship.
Written by Terence O'Neill
IBM recently announced a partnership with Twitter in which IBM will help companies make more strategic decisions based on Twitter data. This partnership aligns with their current goal of moving further into the analytics arena. The Twitter data will be added to IBM’s Watson technology, which is a cognitive technology that processes information like a human and is able to answer questions using natural language. The use of cognitive technology with data from Twitter is another large step in the area of data analytics.
The Eli Broad College of Business has made data analytics a priority for their students. During the past year, students have worked closely with IBM and the Watson technology giving them a competitive edge in the big data field.
By Breezy Silver
Eli Broad College of Business (http://broad.msu.edu/2014/01/22/broad-undergraduates-move-cognitive-computing-future-ibms-watson/)
The Gast Business Library will offer time with therapy dogs for stress relief during finals week. These trained, certified therapy dogs give students an opportunity to “paws” for a fun break!
When: Monday, December 8 and Tuesday, December 9 from 1-3pm
Where: Room 13 in the Business Library
Therapy dogs will also be available at the Main Library.
Questions? Contact Laura Leavitt.
In the Wall Street Journal article “Google Searches for Role in App Age,” Rolfe Winkler breaks down Google’s strategy to ensure its advertising business stays relevant in the mobile age. Google was built around searching the web. The company deployed “spiders” to find links and created algorithms to rank the value of pages. Now, with the increase in mobile phone use, siloed apps have left Google out of the loop, causing the need for a new approach. On smartphones, traditional web browsing currently only represents 20% of use, according to mobile-analytics firm Flurry. The rest of the time is spent in apps.
Apps can now sign up to allow Google to index them. These indexes are made up of “deep links.” For indexed apps, Google can link directly within the app, prompting people to open the app when searching Google on their phones. This is a plus for mobile users because apps often provide increased functionality. Right now, Google is only providing links to apps on mobile devices using its Android OS.
While Google has made no official comment on whether or not it will sell ads to appear next to these deep links, a founder of a mobile ad firm believes developers will be very interested in buying these ads. According to Localytics, a mobile research firm, “more than 60% of apps are opened 10 times or fewer after being downloaded” and deep link advertising could help increase the number of times users return to an app after downloading it. Facebook started “app install” ads in October of 2012 and in one year, these ads led to the installation of over 145 million apps.
Interested in reading this article? The library subscribes to the Wall Street Journal.
Want to find more data on mobile phones, apps and social media? Try eMarketer, a database that specializes in online market research information.
Written by Emily Treptow
For all of you who love your iPads and Android tablets, MSU Libraries subscribes to BrowZine, an app that can help you read and stay current with scholarly journals.
Within the BrowZine app, you can:
For more information on how to get started and use, visit MSU’s BrowZine page.
BrowZine is an app that you freely download yourself from iTunes, Google Play or Amazon App Store. Once you have the app on your device, you will choose MSU as your library and login with MSU net ID and password. Then you will be able to add journals subscribed to by the MSU Libraries to your bookshelf.
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