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HP study reveals optimism among SMB owners

Some 60 percent of respondents see digital transformation as key with innovation in work processes, flexible work options and customized products and services identified as future strategies. However, cost effective solutions are required given cashflow remains top of mind and SMBs are unclear where to look or what such solutions are available. This is especially key where only 4 in 10 SMBs have a department or person responsible for innovation.

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Photo by Luke Chesser from Unsplash.com

HP Inc.’s latest study on SMBs in Asia-Pacific, “Survival to Revival”, surveying 1,600 SMBs across eight countries in Asia reveals over 50 percent of small-medium business owners expect not just to survive but thrive following the pandemic and feel that digital transformation will be a key part of this revival.

In response, HP is introducing integrated services-based print solutions including an HP Roam for Business bundle to make it easy to print on the go and enhanced HP SecurePrint a flexible, cloud-native solution that releases documents only to authorized users. 

Some 60 percent of respondents see digital transformation as key with innovation in work processes, flexible work options and customized products and services identified as future strategies. However, cost effective solutions are required given cashflow remains top of mind and SMBs are unclear where to look or what such solutions are available. This is especially key where only 4 in 10 SMBs have a department or person responsible for innovation.

“SMBs are the lifeblood of every economy in Asia but the pandemic has hit SMBs hard. As the engines of growth for Asia economies, it is critical for them to move past survival to revive their businesses,” said Ng Tian Chong, Managing Director, Greater Asia at HP. “This study provides us with the insights to provide practical help for SMBs so that they have access to an ecosystem of devices, tools and technology. With these resources, we want to help SMBs unlock innovation for customer and employee-centric experiences, as well as broadly upskill talent to rebound from the pandemic and prepare for the future.”

Completed in June 2020, the study surveyed across Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam found:

  • Companies most confident of bouncing back place high importance on digital adoption Across the region, nearly 60% view digital adoption as very important or essential. Indonesian SMBs are particularly sensitive to this need, with a full 74% believing it is essential or very important, as is Thailand, also at 65%.
  • Growth projections are significantly adjusted post pandemic. Across the region, 46% of SMBs expecting growth prior to the pandemic but that figure has dropped dramatically to just 16%. India and Vietnam are the most confident about post pandemic growth and Singapore, Japan and South Korea are least positive. 
  • Disruption to productivity is a common experience during COVID. Only 6% of SMBs recorded higher levels of workplace productivity compared to pre-COVID period while 43% recorded lower productivity.
  • Skills was identified as an issue: The pandemic amplified the lack of digital-first mindsets and skills within existing SMBs that hamper growth, affecting nearly half (44%) of respondents.
  • SMBs are unclear on where to look for assistance: Financial institutions rank high (31%); 60% of SMBs consider government support to be insufficient and/or are unclear on what support is available; only 19% of respondents turn to IT companies for help

A need for Talent

Underpinning all of this, is a need to identify digital talents who can help SMBs to transform the business. The majority of SMBs do not dedicate resources and/or invest in innovation as a discipline; it is more common to ask customers what they want, or simply mirror what the competition is offering. Only one in five SMBs have customized offerings, looked for new sales & supply-chain channels or introduced new lines of business.

In this respect, Indonesia (59%) and Thailand (51%) stand out for having the highest percentage of SMBs dedicating resources to innovation. Unsurprisingly, SMBs in Indonesia and Thailand are also most confident about business performance post COVID.

Services and solutions for SMBs

To support SMBs in adapting to new agile working environments, HP has introduced a suite of integrated services-based print solutions to enable SMBs to stay productive and effective no matter where they work. HP is now offering a one-year license for HP Roam for Business with a compatible HP LaserJet Pro 400-series bought by 31 October 2020, making it easy to print on the go from a mobile device and to retrieve the job touchless at any HP Roam-enabled printer within the company network

In addition, HP has enhanced HP SecurePrint which now supports all network types, including traditional networks behind a firewall as well as serverless print environments, helping customers simplify IT infrastructures. To empower workers the HP Workpath ecosystem, which enables workers to connect to cloud-based platforms directly from the Multifunction Printers (MFP), has expanded rapidly since it launched in November 2019, with 100+ apps available on the platform and thousands of apps deployed.

To meet the demands of the SMB worker’s multi-task, multi-place workday, HP PCs are designed to enable them to work anywhere when inspiration comes, giving them the performance that matches up to their creativity, and allowing them to collaborate seamlessly and effortlessly to bring their ideas to life

Security is a top priority in agile working environments. To ensure SMBs get ease of mind when working anywhere, HP is offering Sure Click Pro for free to all HP and non-HP Windows customers till September 30, 2020. HP Sure Click technology guards against malware, ransomware, and viruses embedded in email attachments or malicious websites.

HP is making it easy for SMBs to get their hands on the latest technology. Through initiatives like HP For Business in Thailand, HP has tailored a monthly subscription program with powerful devices with trusted security, and 24/7 technical support. The program helps relieve financial pressures on entrepreneurs in the short term and takes care of their IT management needs.

Continuous upskilling is critical for SMBs to revive and grow. The HP LIFE program offers free online self-paced training courses designed to help entrepreneurs and SMBs acquire new skills to grow their business, such as business communications, having a success mindset, social media marketing, and design thinking.

Methodology

In total, 1,600 SMBs completed the survey between 26th May 2020 to 7th June 2020, which comprised of 200 interviews in each of the markets: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Only an Owner, Partner, Managing Director, CEO, COO, CFO, or a Director of a business with less than 200 employees qualified for the survey. Interviews were split evenly between Micro Business (<10 employees), Small Business (10-49 employees), and Medium Business (50-199 employees). Multiple industries were represented including Retail/Wholesale, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Healthcare, Education and Financial Services.

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Purpose beyond profit: How brands can benefit consumer well-being

I a brand adequately addresses moderating factors, the potential benefits to consumers and marketers are considerable. These factors include consumer trust, brand authenticity, brand credibility, commitment to purpose, consumer-value congruence, and brand-purpose proximity.

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Researchers from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University published a new paper in the Journal of Consumer Psychology that offers fresh insights into “brand purpose” and its potential benefits to consumers.

The article, “Conceptualizing brand purpose and considering its implications for consumer eudaimonic well-being,” is authored by Patti Williams, Jennifer Edson Escalas, and Andrew Morningstar.

In response to industry reports, apparent consumer demand, and high-profile calls from top executives including BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink, brands have publicly begun pursuing purpose beyond profit. Brands in a wide variety of categories have sought to define, articulate, communicate, and act according to their “brand purpose.” 

The authors define brand purpose as a brand’s long-term aim central to “identity, meaning structure and strategy” that leads to productive engagement with some aspect of the world beyond profit.  

This research team explores the different types of well-being consumers may experience by engaging with brands they believe reflect their own values. Specifically, they focus on eudaimonia, a feeling of fulfillment resulting from living a meaningful life, contributing meaningfully to society, and acting in alignment with moral virtues.

Their framework cites five mediating factors that affect the relationship between brand purpose and consumer well-being: consumer purpose, meaning and significance, self-acceptance/achievement of true self, positive relationships, and other-praising emotions.  

The article suggests that, if a brand adequately addresses moderating factors, the potential benefits to consumers and marketers are considerable. These factors include consumer trust, brand authenticity, brand credibility, commitment to purpose, consumer-value congruence, and brand-purpose proximity.

While consumers may gain a vital sense of well-being; marketers, may secure positive brand judgements, brand loyalty, and brand evangelism.

“The ultimate goal of our review,” the authors write, “is to guide future consumer psychology research into brand purpose, a concept that we believe may have a transformative impact on business, consumers, and society.

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‘Top reviews’ can help sway shoppers, but there are limits

Although featured — or top — reviews on e-commerce sites can help cut down on information overload for customers trying to make purchasing decisions, too many such top reviews can pose an overload of their own, according to researchers.

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Although featured — or top — reviews on e-commerce sites can help cut down on information overload for customers trying to make purchasing decisions, too many such top reviews can pose an overload of their own, according to researchers.

In a study of products and product reviews on online retail giant Amazon, the researchers found that top reviews — which are featured reviews that consumers have endorsed as the most helpful — can lead to higher sales and improved customer satisfaction. However, they added that when there are too many featured reviews, their influence can start to wane.

“We found that there is a situation that when there are too many top reviews, you fall right back into the trap where there is just too much information for the consumer,” said Wael Jabr, assistant professor of supply chain and information systems in the Penn State Smeal College of Business. “In this natural experiment we had some products with just three top reviews and others with significantly more. For products with way more top reviews, we saw the value of those top reviews goes away.”

The researchers used data from about 2.2 million reviews of 1,000 products on Amazon, including all review-related information, such as the overall number of reviews and featured reviews of those products. Sentiment of reviews was determined by the rating the customers gave the product. The researchers also tracked the Amazon sales ranking of the studied products over a 10-month period.

The effectiveness of the top reviews was based on how the performance of individual products changed over time. Specifically, the researchers looked at how the reviews started to disperse in their ratings and how the product sales rank changed. 

The study was published in Management Information Systems Quarterly.

According to Jabr, e-commerce sites chose to feature reviews because popular products tended to attract numerous reviews. The number of reviews for some of these products can be staggering, he added.

“For example, when Amazon put out the Echo Dot smart speaker, more than a million customers reviewed that product within the first four years of its release,” said Jabr. “So, do we need a million reviews to make a good decision on what to buy? Probably not. At a certain point, then, companies started to realize there is an overload that customers will face when we have to navigate this content. Retailers eventually came up with a variety of ways to kind of help you navigate this content, one of which is featuring reviews.”

Sentiment match

The researchers also found that the influence of top reviews is strengthened when their opinions tend to match the overall sentiment of the other reviews.

“When you look at the reviews, Amazon shows you the overall ratings of the reviews — for example, how many people gave it a four-star rating, or, how many people gave it a two or three, etcetera,” said Jabr. “We wondered, then, if the top review effect can be amplified. And it can. We found that when the distribution of top reviews and the distribution of overall reviews match, then the power of top reviews to influence gains strength. It is almost like there is a confirmation when the top reviews match what the crowd is saying.”

The power of top reviews to lift sales and satisfaction is limited, however, said Jabr, who worked with Mohammad Rahman, associate professor of management at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. For example, they found that top reviews lack the power to improve the status of less popular products.

The findings could help companies design better webpages while also helping customers make better decisions, said Jabr.

Selling isn’t enough

“Platforms, such as Amazon, are, of course, in the business of selling stuff, but selling stuff alone is not enough,” said Jabr. “Platforms want consumers satisfied with their purchases — and not return those purchases. They also want repeat consumers. In fact, Jeff Bezos himself is quoted saying, ‘We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help consumers make better decisions.’”

The study explores whether there is a certain magic number of reviews as being an optimal amount of top reviews, according to the researchers.

“While the natural experiment does not compare every combination of numbers — for example, two reviews compared to three reviews, or two compared to four — we found that products with three reviews faired better than products with a varying number of reviews ranging from four to 10,” said Jabr. 

In addition to being thoughtful about selecting and displaying top reviews on a webpage, the researchers also suggest that, at a certain point, companies should switch from encouraging customers to review products to asking them to endorse reviews.

“Retailers often default to sending you an email saying, ‘Please rate our product,’ which we think is great,” said Jabr. “But when there are enough reviews, they may want to find a way to nudge the customers to decide on top reviews because that’s going to be much more valuable then writing one more review.”

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Why silly distractions at work can actually be good for you

Short positivity interventions can help employees make the best of their day and that employers and employees should consider incorporating more positivity into the workday.

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Positive interventions that distract us from difficult tasks actually help to reduce our stress levels, according to new research from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Trinity Business School. 

The research, conducted by an international team of researchers, shows that short positive interventions, such as watching a funny YouTube video, can help you to overcome daily demands like dealing with annoying emails or the tasks you dread. In turn, this allows you to be more engaged, creative, and helpful toward your coworkers.

The research was led by Vera Schweitzer from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management with co-authors Wladislaw Rivkin (Trinity), Fabiola Gerpott (WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management), Stefan Diestel (University of Wuppertal), Jana Kühnel (University of Vienna), Roman Prem (University of Graz), and Mo Wang (University of Florida).

So, according to this research, next time you find yourself secretly laughing at a hilarious video your colleague sent to you during the lunch break, you should embrace it. This will help you to recover from a stressful morning and prepare you to make the rest of the day a success.

Professor Vera Schweitzer, researcher at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, explained: “Our study shows that experiencing feelings of positivity throughout your workday can help you to remain effective ­ particularly when daily work demands require you to invest a lot of self-control, that is, regulatory resources to control your temper.

“Trying to stay calm after reading an annoying email, for example, is typically quite depleting for employees. Consequently, they might struggle to demonstrate self-control throughout the rest of their workday, which, in turn, would hamper their engagement, creativity, and behavior toward their colleagues.

“This is where positivity comes into play: Watching a funny video increases feelings of positivity. Such positive emotions allow employees to protect their regulatory resources even after dealing with resource-consuming self-control demands. In turn, this positively affects their effectiveness at work.”

Dr Wladislaw Rivkin added:“Today’s work environments are increasingly demanding, but we have limited understanding of what organizations and employees can do to prevent the stressful effects of self-control demands such as negative emails or unloved tasks. 

“Our research shows that short positivity interventions can help employees make the best of their day and that employers and employees should consider incorporating more positivity into the workday. For example, organizations could provide employees with recommendations about short funny videos via a daily newsletter or post a ‘joke of the day’ on the intranet. By doing so, employers can help mitigate the negative effects of self-control demands.” 

The researchers gathered their results by examining 85 employees over 12 workdays, who received a daily text- or video-based positivity micro-intervention. 

The paper, entitled ‘Some positivity per day can protect you a long way: A within-person field experiment to test an affect-resource model of employee effectiveness at work’, was published in the journal ‘Work & Stress’. 

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