Swift Momentum Charity Day

Swift Momentum & The Playstation are teaming up to give back to the Cape Town community.

The Sponsors

Swift Momentum

Swift Momentum will be sponsoring the party packets, face painting and transport for the children to the venue.

The Playstation

The Playstation will be sponsoring the venue, 1 session inside the park and an awesome time.

https://www.theplaystation.co.za/

Date:
25 SEPTEMBER 2018

The Run4Schools Foundation

The Run4Schools Foundation started more than a decade ago in township Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. Founder is Leslie Pangemanan from The Netherlands, an experienced Two Oceans Ultrarunner (14x). The Run4Schools program runs at – what’s in a name – three primary schools: Alpine, Northwood and Tafelsig and soon to be one high school. Activities like sports, dance and singing during and at the end of the school day, keep children sheltered from gangsterism and crime infesting the local communities. Over 5000 learners are participating in the Run4Schools programmers. Through their programmer, the children have developed more self-esteem, motivating them to finish school and simply have more fun and joy in their lives. Thanks to their dedicated coaches, volunteers, events, partnerships and runners like you.

Swift Momentum & The Playstation are teaming up to give back to the Cape Town community.

The Sponsors

Swift Momentum

Swift Momentum will be sponsoring the party packets, face painting and transport for the children to the venue.

The Playstation

The Playstation will be sponsoring the venue, 1 session inside the park and an awesome time.

https://www.theplaystation.co.za/

Date:
25 SEPTEMBER 2018

The Run4Schools Foundation

The Run4Schools Foundation started more than a decade ago in township Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. Founder is Leslie Pangemanan from The Netherlands, an experienced Two Oceans Ultrarunner (14x). The Run4Schools program runs at – what’s in a name – three primary schools: Alpine, Northwood and Tafelsig and soon to be one high school. Activities like sports, dance and singing during and at the end of the school day, keep children sheltered from gangsterism and crime infesting the local communities. Over 5000 learners are participating in the Run4Schools programmers. Through their programmer, the children have developed more self-esteem, motivating them to finish school and simply have more fun and joy in their lives. Thanks to their dedicated coaches, volunteers, events, partnerships and runners like you.

New Zealand company to trial four-day work week

A New Zealand firm will be testing out a four-day work week in March and implement it in July if trials are successful, local reports said.

Perpetual Guardian, a trustee company, is purportedly the first major business in the country to do so, The Guardian reported on Friday (Feb 9).

The trial will take place for more than 200 employees in 16 offices in New Zealand over a period of six weeks, the NZ Herald said in a report.

Those who take part will not have any changes to their salaries, and they will not work longer hours for the four work days of the week – instead of working 40 hours a week, they will work for 32 hours.

“We have seen cases where employees work longer hours for fewer days of the week or they earn 75 per cent of their full-time salary, but that is not what we are doing here,” Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes told the NZ Herald.

Four-day work weeks have been tested in several countries such as Japan and the United States and in companies such as Amazon, Google and Deloitte.

In July last year, The Straits Times published a report about several Japanese companies offering such work weeks, with employees clocking the standard 40 hours a week over four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days.

IBM Japan has offered reduced hours since 2004. Employees may choose to work either 60 per cent or 80 per cent of the standard 40-hour workweek, with their salaries pro-rated accordingly.

In 2016, e-commerce Giant Amazon reportedly tested 30-hour work weeks for some employees at its Seattle headquarters.

Workers under the trials had the option to work Mondays to Thursdays and had to be in the office only from 10am to 2pm. The workers were paid as part-time employees, but received the benefits of a full-time employee who worked 40 hours per week.

According to the Ministry of Manpower’s statistics site, the annual average for total paid hours worked per employee in Singapore in 2016 was 45.5.

The figure was 45.1 as at September last year. Figures for the full year have not been released.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/new-zealand-company-to-trial-four-day-work-week

19 questions you should never ask in an interview – and what you should ask instead

  • Job interviews provide job seekers with an excellent opportunity to learn more about the organisation and role they’re going for.
  • But asking certain questions during an interview might hurt your chances of landing the gig.
  • Business Insider compiled some questions to cross off your list, and some good replacements you can ask instead.

Job interviews can get pretty stressful.

Not only do you have to answer the interviewer’s questions, but you have to come up with a bunch of questions yourself. Do yourself a favour and prepare some questions to ask beforehand. And think about what other queries you’re better off avoiding.
Here are some awkward or off-putting questions you should steering clear, along with some decent replacement questions you can ask instead.

Don’t ask: ‘What does your company do?’

Questions like this will make you look unprepared. To avoid that, never ask anything that can easily be answered with a Google search.

Ask: ‘How would you describe the company’s culture?’

Talent Zoo EVP Amy Hoover said this question gives you a broad view on the corporate philosophy of a company and on whether it prioritizes employee happiness and development.

Or ask: ‘Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?’

This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, said Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob.

Don’t ask: ‘What will my salary be?’

Hold off on the money talk.

“Candidates have to walk a thin line between gathering information they need about a company and assuming they are going to get the position,” Jesse Siegal, a senior managing director at The Execu|Search Group staffing firm, told Business Insider.

If compensation comes up naturally, that’s fine. But you don’t want to bring up the subject yourself during initial screeners.

Ask: ‘Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?’

“Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you,” Hoover said.

Asking about an “offer” rather than a “decision” will give you a better sense of the timeline because “decision” is a broad term, while an “offer” refers to the point when they’re ready to hand over the contract.

Plus, if you’re desperate to learn more about compensation, this question might prompt a discussion about how your pay will be determined.

Don’t ask: ‘What are the hours?’

Asking this question betrays a punch-the-clock mentality. It’s better to go over details like this once you have the job in hand.

Ask: ‘How would you describe the company’s values around work-life balance?’

It’s not unreasonable to want to know how many hours you’ll be clocking in every week. This is just a gentler way of getting to that topic.

Definitely don’t ask: ‘Will I have to work long hours?’

This one is even more of a red flag to interviewers than simply asking about your hours. It will almost certainly be perceived negatively.

Ask: ‘If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?’

Obviously this shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison said, but it also gives you a better idea about what the job will be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you really want to pursue it. “A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in,” he said.

Don’t ask: ‘Will I have my own office?’

Does it really matter?

Instead, ask: ‘How has this position evolved?’

Basically, this question just lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping-stone.

Don’t ask: ‘Can I make personal calls during the day?’

This one says that you’re not 100% focused on your work.

And definitely don’t ask: ‘Do you monitor emails or internet usage?’

This question will raise red flags — something you definitely don’t want to do in the interview.

Ask: ‘Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?’

While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.

Don’t ask: ‘How soon can I take a vacation?’

Planning your time off before you’ve even gotten the job sends the message that you’re not committed to the work.

Also skip: ‘Will I have an expense account?’

There’s really no reason to ask this in the interview. Plus, it sends the wrong message.

Ask: ‘If hired, what are the three most important things you’d like me to accomplish in the first six to 12 months at the company?’

The interviewer wants to hear what you can do for their company. “Think of every open position as a problem or pain point the company is hoping to solve with the right hire,” Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, told Business Insider . “The more you know about the hiring manager’s expectations and metrics for success, the easier it will be for you to tailor the conversation to demonstrate your fit for the role.”

Don’t ask: ‘When will I be eligible for a raise?’

This may tell the interviewer that money is the only thing you care about.

Ask: ‘What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?’

This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you’re a good fit for the position, Vicky Oliver wrote in her book, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.” “Once the interviewer tells you what she’s looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind’s eye,” she said. “She or he should look a lot like you.”

Don’t ask: ‘Can I arrive early or leave late as long as I get my work done?’

Don’t try to make adjustments to the schedule before you’ve even been offered the job.

Ask: ‘How do you evaluate success here?’

Knowing how a company measures its employees’ success is important. It will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career there. Plus, the interviewer’s answer can help you decide if the employer’s values align with your own.

Don’t ask: ‘How quickly could I be considered for a promotion?’

Trying to climb the ladder? Well, you haven’t even been hired yet. You’re not even in the same room as the ladder yet! Focus on the task at hand, which is landing the job. If you want to learn more about whether the company promotes from within, scour LinkedIn.

Ask: ‘What have past employees done to succeed in this position?’

The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.

Don’t ask: ‘Who should I avoid in the office?’

This query won’t make you sound particularly well-adjusted. Don’t embroil yourself in coworker drama before you’ve even stepped foot in the office.

And don’t ask: ‘What happens if I don’t get along with my boss or coworkers?’

Avoid this ominous question. The interviewer may wonder if you’ve had problems with colleagues in the past — and they may even assume that you’re difficult to work with.

Ask: ‘Who would I be reporting to?’

It’s important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Oliver wrote. If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” she wrote, or if you’re going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.

Or ask: ‘Can you give me an example of how I would collaborate with my manager?’

Knowing how managers use their employees is important so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed.

And ask: ‘When your staff comes to you with conflicts, how do you respond?’

Knowing how a company deals with conflicts gives you a clearer picture about the company’s culture, Harrison said. But more importantly, asking about conflict resolution shows that you know dealing with disagreements in a professional manner is essential to the company’s growth and success.

Don’t ask: ‘Are you married?/Do you have kids?/etc.’

Never ask the interviewer any personal questions.

Ask: ‘What was your career plan before you got into this role, and how has that changed since you’ve been here?’

Most people love to talk about themselves. Toward the end of your conversation, try engaging your interviewer with a discussion about their own professional path. It certainly worked for Cameron Haberman, who, along with his twin Tyler, landed a gig at Apple.

Or ask: ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’

Becca Brown, the cofounder of the women’s shoe-care company Solemates, interviewed 20 to 30 job candidates a year in her various roles at Goldman Sachs. She told Business Insider she wished candidates would have asked her this question.

“I like this question, and yet no one ever asked it because it’s difficult to answer,” she said. “It’s an important question for anyone to be asking him or herself, and so if ever a candidate were to ask this question, it would have stood out.”

She continued: “I think this is a good question for interviewees to ask because as a candidate if you see where the person interviewing you is headed, you can decide if that trajectory is in line with your career objectives. While they don’t have to be completely correlated, it’s helpful for the candidate to have some indication of the interviewer’s direction.”

Also ask: ‘What’s one of the most interesting projects or opportunities that you’ve worked on?’

“I like this question because it gets me thinking about my own experiences, and my response changes depending on what I was or am working on — and in theory, should always be changing if I’m challenging myself and advancing,” Brown told Business Insider .

Brown said that by asking for a specific example, candidates can get a better picture of what the job entails and how people function in certain roles.

“I always liked getting this question because it would make me reflect on what experiences I was excited about or proud of at the time, and it would make me want to create more of these types of opportunities and experiences,” she said.

Don’t ask: ‘Do you check social media accounts?’

Job seekers should always assume that their prospective employers will find and view their social-media accounts.

And don’t ask: ‘Do you do background checks?’

This one may also make the interviewer suspicious.

Ask: ‘Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?’

This simple question is polite to ask and it can give you peace of mind to know that you’ve covered all your bases, Hoover said. “It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish.”

And ask: ‘Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?’

Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and its management values, Hoover said, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in.

Don’t ask: ‘I heard this wild rumor about the CEO. Is it true?’

You should never bring gossip into a job interview. It’s highly unprofessional.

Instead, ask: ‘How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What’s the one thing you’re working to improve on?’

Harrison said this is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company — which you should definitely be aware of before joining a company. As a bonus, he said it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings of the company before joining it.

Or ask: ‘I read this story about your company. Can you tell me more about this?’

Oliver said questions like this simply show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company and its leaders. Just make sure it’s not a salacious rumor.

Don’t ask: ‘What are grounds for termination?’

It’s not a good idea to get the interviewer thinking about firing you before they’ve even hired you.

Ask: ‘What’s your staff turnover rate and what are you doing to reduce it?’

While this question may seem forward, Harrison said it’s a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. “It is a black and white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here,” he said.

Or ask: ‘Can you tell me where the company is going?’

“If you’re talking to the leader of a company, that’s a great question to ask them, because they’re the best position to tell you that,” Robert Hohman, the CEO of Glassdoor, previously told Business Insider. “They should be able to articulate that really clearly. And it should be inspiring.”

And ask: ‘What makes people stay at this company?’

April Boykin-Huchko, HR manager at marketing firm Affect, told Business Insider that it’s always a good idea to get a broader sense of the company’s culture.

Don’t ask: ‘How did I do?’ or ‘Did I get the job?’

This one puts the interviewer on the spot. If you really want feedback, wait until you get the offer or rejection, and then ask in an email what you did well or could have done better.

Ask: ‘Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?’

Hoover recommended this question because it’s a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she said.

Ask: ‘Is there anyone else I need to meet with?/Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?’

Hoover said knowing if they want you to meet with potential coworkers or not will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, then you’ve gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well, she said.

Ask: ‘Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager during the interview process?’

Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process, Hoover said. If they don’t give that chance, “proceed with caution,” she advised.

And, finally, ask: ‘Have I answered all your questions?’

Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there’s anything they’d like you to elaborate on. You can do this by saying something like: “Yes, I do have a few questions for you — but before I get into those, I am wondering if I’ve sufficiently answered all of your questions. Would you like me to explain anything further or give any examples?”

Not only will they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you’re doing, said Bill York, an executive recruiter with over 30 years of experience and the founder of the executive search firm Tudor Lewis.

If they say, “No, you answered all of my questions very well,” then this may tell you you’re in good shape. If they respond with, “Actually, could you tell me more about X?” or “Would you be able to clarify what you meant when you said Y?” this is your chance for a redo.

Don’t ask: ‘How long are you going to take to get back to me?’

It’s understandable to be eager to learn whether or not you landed the job. But there’s a nicer way of asking this question.

Ask: ‘What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?’

This one tells them you’re interested in the role and eager to hear their decision. “Knowing a company’s timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company’s culture,” Hoover said. It will help you determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before “moving on.”

https://www.businessinsider.co.za/job-interview-questions-best-and-worst-2018-7

Flexible Work Arrangements: Do You Dare Ask in an Interview?

Flexible work arrangements are growing in popularity. An increasing number of employees work remotely, have flexible schedules, or work compressed workweeks. Flexible work arrangements can be attractive not only to employees, but also to employers who want to prevent burnout and improve employee retention.

Basecamp, the popular online project tool, is a Chicago-based company that has found great success with a team of employees who are all free to work remotely. Taking flexible work beyond simple telecommuting, the company allows employees to work a 32-hour week for a third of the year. Basecamp ardently believes that productivity is heightened, not hampered, by flexible work arrangements.

It would seem that employees at many companies would agree with Basecamp’s belief. One study found workplace flexibility was a top job consideration for workers across generations, ranking right under salary and benefits. Another study by PwC, the University of Southern California, and the London Business School found that “a significant number of employees from all generations feel so strongly about wanting a flexible work schedule that they would be willing to give up pay and delay promotions in order to get it.”

Broaching the Subject of Flexible Work in the Job Search

If you value flexible work arrangements and are on the job hunt, how do you ascertain whether a potential employer would be open to giving you the work arrangement you want? Is it wise to inquire about flexible options in an interview, or will doing so reduce your chance of landing the position?

There are two key questions to ask yourself before you ask a potential employer about flexible work:

  1. How important is it to them? Is this a company that values predictability and face time? Is a centralized team integral to smooth operations? More traditional companies will be slower to change, while startups are more likely to have flexible options from the outset. Some international companies may even prefer you keep a shifted schedule to align better with work hours in another part of the world. Understand how work arrangements fit into a company’s overall values and structures.
  2. How important is it to you? What are your priorities in a work arrangement? If you will be unhappy in a rigid work environment, you aren’t doing yourself or the company any favors by punting the discussion. It’s worth sitting down to make a list of your priorities to understand where flexibility falls. Ask yourself if you would want to work at this company even if you had to keep a traditional schedule. Underlying this issue is the kind of work culture you want to join. That is a key consideration in selecting a position that will be a good fit for the long term.

You’ve Decided to Ask: How Should You Do It?

A job interview is a protracted dialogue. Flexible work arrangements are one data point among many that you and the potential employer will be investigating. You want to ask questions in a way that shows you are invested in the mission of the company and in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.

The best way to understand the lay of the land is to inquire about how teams function best in the organization. Your questions should be organically related to learning about the organization of the company. Asking, “Can I work from home?” can seem abrupt, and it may suggest you are less invested in the position than other candidates are.

A more savvy question would be, “How are your teams structured? What work arrangements have you found best serve your mission?” From there, you can move to more specific questions about the hours  employees keep.

Insight From the Employer’s Answer

If an employer has a flexible work program or expresses openness to the idea, great! If they are adamantly against it or express hesitation, the reason behind the answer is as important as the answer itself.

If the company is committed to doing things the way they have always been done simply because they’ve always been done that way, it should raise a red flag. A recalcitrant management style will not create an environment where you or your career will flourish.

If the company has been burned by employees in the past who abused a flexible work program or is hesitant out of concern for how flexible work might affect productivity or client experience, those are concerns you may ease by proving your dedication as an employee.

https://www.recruiter.com/i/flexible-work-arrangements-do-you-dare-ask-in-an-interview/

Remote Workers Are Outperforming Office Workers-Here’s Why

Have you seen any of these gimmicky office designs? Candy dispensers in conference rooms. Hammocks and indoor treehouses. Tech companies tend to be the worst offenders with the startup favorites: beer taps and table tennis.

Maybe there is fun for a moment when the candy bar drops — but does all that money spent on gimmicks deliver anything meaningful for the people who work there?

I have to wonder why company founders are trying so hard with these in-office “perks.” I get that the goal is to create collaboration and fun. But I think this is doing more harm than good. And research shows that the problem is only getting worse.

In fact, one study found that the number of people who say they cannot concentrate at their desk has increased by 16 percent since 2008. Also startling: The number of workers who say they do not have access to quiet places to do focused work is up by 13 percent.

It should not matter where people are getting the work done — as long as they are focused and working hard each day. This is one of the reasons why we founded Aha! on the premise and promise of remote work. Remote work is working for us. We are one of the fastest-growing software companies in the U.S. and a 100 percent distributed team.

I am not alone in this belief. Plenty of studies and surveys show the power of remote work when it comes to productivity.

Here are three reasons remote workers outperform office workers:

1. Productivity

With no office distractions and greater autonomy, remote workers have the freedom to get more done. This is something most people crave. According to a nationwide survey, 65 percent of workers said that remote work would give their productivity a boost. Another 86 percent said that working alone allows them to hit maximum productivity.

2. Teamwork

Despite the distance, remote workers make the best teammates. This is because that distance demands more communication. Without being able to lean on physical proximity, remote workers must reach out to one another frequently and with purpose. This leads to stronger collaboration and camaraderie. And all those long-distance video chats? An astounding 92 percent of workers say the video collaboration actually improves their teamwork.

3. Presence

Office life is littered with absences — workers who are calling in sick or sneaking out early to run an errand or get to an event on time. But remote workers do not need to make excuses. Since they are not tied to an office, they can design their workday to meet the demands of their lives. If they have a cold, they can work from home without spreading the germs to others. And if they need to run an errand, they can handle it quickly without losing a workday. This ultimately makes remote workers more present for their work and team.

These are just a few of the reasons that I say the most effective workers are the ones who do not work in an office. Remote workers are able to cut through the noise and focus on what really matters: meaningful work and being happy doing it.

No beer taps or hammocks necessary.

Remote workers or office workers — who do you think is more effective?

https://www.inc.com/brian-de-haaff/3-ways-remote-workers-outperform-office-workers.html

Flexible working vs. remote working – what’s the difference?

Being able to escape the 9-to-5, a culture of presenteeism and stifling office hierarchies is a dream many people crave – and the facts back it up. An estimated 14.1million workers want more flexibility in their work, according to The Guardian. But when it comes to asking your employer for changes in your work hours, or branching out on your own, it helps to understand the new terminology. Here’s what the new work language means.

So what does flexible working actually mean?

Think of this as the umbrella term for all the different types of work options now available to us. Flexible working simply means “any working schedule that is outside of a normal working pattern”, says FlexiWorkForce. It’s a way to work that suits your needs. If you’re in an office, flexible working could mean compressed hours (where you fit a week’s worth of hours into fewer, longer days), flexitime (where you work a set amount of ‘core hours’ and are flexible with the hours you work before and after these set hours) or annualised hours (where your number of hours for the year are set and when you choose to work – is up to you).

Is flexible working the same as remote working?

Sort of. Remote working is a type of flexible working, which means you aren’t commuting in to an office every day, and can also be referred to as ‘working from home’. Remote working means working from anywhere. In fact, some remote workers don’t even ‘meet’ their employers at all, instead, connecting with them digitally and from anywhere around the world. But for most of us, remote working ends up being based from our kitchen table or local café.

Do I have to be freelance to work remotely?

Not at all. Although remote working is hugely popular with freelancers, small business owners and start-ups, there are big changes happening in organisations, too. Research from the Institute of Leadership and Management found that working remotely has resulted in 13% performance increases – so it is a huge benefit to business. “It’s becoming increasingly acceptable, and beneficial, to implement more complex working patterns and reap the returns that they bring for both employers and their staff,” the research says.

So am I able to ask my boss to work flexibly?

In the UK, you have the right by law to ask your employer to work flexibly. There’s a good guide to the process at Gov.uk – although your employer can turn this request down. Then it’s up to you how you proceed. But things are changing in the workplace – now 77% of workers say that the option of flexible working would definitely make a job more attractive to them. The old-fashioned negative views of flexible working are dying out and more companies are recognising the great opportunities flexible working options offer them and their staff.All in all, the rise of flexible working shows that being ‘at work’ used to be a place you went to – now it’s more a state of mind.

5 Flexible Work Strategies And The Companies That Use Them

Policies like unlimited vacation and remote work help employees manage life’s demands. These companies make it work for the bottom line too.

Even small reductions in work hours can have long-term consequences on retirement security, benefits, health insurance, and job security. As many as 43% of people caring for their parents say that their professional career has suffered as a result of caregiving.

If we can create more flexible work options, the growing workforce whose parents are living longer can balance family obligations with work responsibilities in a creative and productive way.

There are many solutions that companies can explore in order to create more flexible work. Depending on the type of position and responsibilities, there is a flex strategy that will fit nearly every employee’s needs. Here’s a look at five flexible work strategies, and some of the companies that employ them.

READ MORE:

Forget Bitcoin, Place Your Blockchain Bets

Bitcoin is overhyped. If you read my piece from earlier this spring – Spare the Bitcoin Spoil the Blockchain – you know I won’t be making any speculative bets on the crypto market. But what about blockchain, the distributed database and ledger system that powers bitcoin?

My quick take: There’s a lot of hype, a lot of talk and even more questions. But there is undeniably demand for solutions. Some analysts are projecting the market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $14 billion over the next several years. Interestingly, a lot of the buzz comes from technology companies that have nothing directly to do with blockchain. They talk-the-talk because the conversation is everywhere and so they want to be included, but few of them are actually helping their customers take advantage.

To gain some clarity, I spoke with Chris Kirchner, the co-founder and CEO of Slync, an intelligent, blockchain-based, platform that’s enabling blockchain deployment in the market. Slync is already running a number of pilots for enterprise clients and claims to offer a platform that makes getting started with blockchain fast and easy. My first question for Kirchner was around market adoption.

“No one has fully deployed blockchain in their supply chain yet. That said, many companies are actively piloting the technology around different supply chain use cases and seeing success. Once other pilots begin proving the business case, expect to see broader and more rapid adoption,” said Kirchner.

The application potential is broad. Blockchain could pave the way to faster transactions, easier compliance, more effective validation and lower costs. “We’re seeing a lot demand around asset tracking – really anything of value that exchanges multiple hands across the supply chain is a good use case for blockchain.”

The big benefits, according to Kirchner, are accountability, efficiency and transparency. “Anyone that’s ever run a global supply chain has known the deal. They’ve been hurt by a supplier. Whether it was an error, a shipping delay, a quality or safety issue. The point is, no one has been immune. Blockchain will deliver an improvement. It makes everyone more accountable by providing a clear, transparent view of a product’s journey by recording supply chain events – like an asset exchange from one party to the next — as they occur.”

The visibility created by blockchain —the ability for members to collectively track an asset on a distributed ledger— expedites decision making and reduces supply chain disputes. Today, when something goes wrong, there’s a blame game. Everyone ends up pointing fingers, legal battles ensue, “…and it ends up costing more in time and money than the actual shipment was worth,” said Kirchner. “With blockchain, there’s no need to point fingers or invest in lengthy investigations. Everyone can see who is at responsible, and when and where the breakdown occurred. It’s all there.”

While the potential benefits are immense, confusion around how to get started persist. As is the case with most emerging technologies, misinformation is deep.

For companies interested in testing blockchain across their supply chain, Kirchner said there’s four steps everyone needs to take: find a platform, pick an asset to track, identify the partners that will touch the asset, and agree on the critical information that needs to be collected and shared. “It may sound simple, but it all boils down to finding partners with similar goals for their supply chains. While network anchors can drive subordinates to participate, it misses the point.”

It is rare to witness a hyped technology live up to its billing. And while it may be too early a call with respect to realizing a grander vision of all-things-blockchain, in a pure supply chain context, it’s difficult to not jump on the current bandwagon.

Block chain delivers the transparency everyone says they’ve wanted. The collaboration it enables is based on a consensus protocol that quite literally exposes everyone’s hand. With that in mind, while blockchain’s adoption could be slowed by players that don’t want to have their bluffs called, I’m betting on a new, block-chain-based rules set that rewards everyone with good cards. It’s progress.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulmartyn/2018/06/26/forget-bitcoin-place-your-blockchain-bets/#475e1e6e5d75

The Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Shaking Up Much More Than Money

Blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin, may be poised to inspire solutions to key societal challenges, offering help with everything from trading carbon emissions to maintaining health records. But only if the companies and developers involved can agree on things.

That’s the argument Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of Hyperledger, an open-source project overseeing the development of various blockchain technologies, made Tuesday at Business of Blockchain, a conference organized by MIT Technology Review and the MIT Media Lab (follow the conference live on Twitter with the hashtag #bizofblockchain).

Behlendorf says that ongoing efforts to deploy these systems in different settings represent a technological shift with broad societal implications. “This is an opportunity to reinvent how much of the world works,” he said, speaking ahead of the event. “This isn’t just about finance.”

The blockchain on which Bitcoin is built serves as a distributed, cryptographically signed ledger that makes it possible track and verify payments without any centralized authority. The ledger is maintained by computers performing computations that eventually generate more bitcoins. The same distributed cryptographic approach can be used to verify all sorts of transactions (see “Why Bitcoin Could Be Much More Than a Currency”).

Among other sectors, the diamond industry is currently piloting the use of blockchain technology to  distinguish legitimately acquired diamonds from those sourced from conflict regions. By carefully examining the blockchain data supplied with each diamond, it should be possible to identify suspect diamonds and fraudulent transactions. Others are looking at how blockchains could verify carbon-trading deals or serve as a framework for securing digital health records, Behlendorf said.

One of the big challenges with Bitcoin and blockchain systems is their technical complexity and related questions about security. Hyperledger is meant to help with this issue by offering technical guidance and leadership to the community involved with developing its technology. This is also meant to help with some of the infighting within the Bitcoin community that has arisen as a result of its decentralized nature, threatening to undermine the currency even as its value rises.

Indeed, Behlendorf warned, the excitement and big claims surrounding Bitcoin and blockchains could turn them into victims of their own success. “There are over-inflating expectations right now,” he said.

But Behlendorf, who was previously the main developer for the world’s most widely used Web server software, Apache, remains bullish. He suggested that blockchain technologies could have the same transformational potential as the Web.

Bitcoin gained a huge amount of attention a few years after being released in 2009, as geeks dreamed of technological disruption to the world’s financial system and speculators spied an opportunity to profit from the currency’s ballooning value. Bitcoin’s own blockchain serves as the basis for a number of non-currency applications, but various alternative blockchains have emerged, too. Hyperledger is developing one that is designed to be more amenable to non-currency applications.

At the conference, speakers will discuss cryptocurrencies and other financial instruments, as well as various emerging blockchain applications. These include monitoring energy transactions, tracking supply chain logistics, and collecting payments for listening to music online.

Many of these applications are already here. The state of Delaware, for instance, is studying the use of blockchain technology from a company called Symbiont for business contracts. IBM and a Chinese company called Hejia recently announced a blockchain system for supply chain management.

Despite the challenges ahead, Behlendorf isn’t discouraged. “There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical, and there’s way too much hype,” he said. “But it’s a real opportunity to change the rules of the game.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604148/the-technology-behind-bitcoin-is-shaking-up-much-more-than-money/

17 Blockchain Applications That Are Transforming Society

The early internet dealt with intangibles. You sent or received emails, corresponded on forums, read and distributed articles. This modern internet deals with assets, your most valuable immediate items that you can touch and want to protect. These assets are stored in encoded form on a network-to-network chain called the blockchain or ledger, where each participant sees who you do business with. This not only protects your business dealings and prevents theft, but, also, simplifies your affairs, quickens the process, reduces errors, and saves you from hiring a third party.

This decentralized blockchain system is going to change your life from the way you transact business or manage assets, to the way you use your machines, vote, rent a car, and even prove who you are. Along the way, it will transform banks and other financial institutions, hospitals, companies, and governments among others.

At its simplest, cryptocurrencies, or digital coins, are coins that are passed through an electronic network. You can make transactions by check, wiring, or cash. You can also use a type of virtual currency, most famously Bitcoin (BTC) but also Litecoin, Peercoin, or Dogecoin, among others, where you use an electronic coded address to make the transaction.

The more valuable the transaction, the more you want to protect it. Traditional systems hire a mediator, such as a banker or a remittance company to ensure trust. Islanders of Yap had a different solution. They kept a mental record of who owned what and referred to this distributed community record when disputes arose. The blockchain is this community record on a wider, digital scale. It extends across the globe, with computer users from Yemen, Rome, Vermont and so forth where each node in the network records and verifies the data of each transaction that occurs within the network. Records are permanent, comprehensive and public – which is why users love the blockchain for finagling questionable or risky transactions.

How it works

Each transaction is a digital ‘block’ that needs to be verified before it’s allowed to enter the system.

Questions include:

  • Is the money there?
  • Are sender and receiver reputable?
  • Is the request legitimate? And so forth.

Each computer on the network competes on unscrambling the answers, and the winning computer adds this ‘block’ to the ‘blockchain’ in the order that the ‘block’ arrived. The winner broadcasts his proof to the rest of the network, which checks that proof and verifies it before queuing the ‘block’ to complete the transaction. Parties involved are assured that participants have screened and okayed the transaction.

The process not only cuts down on fraud, such as double spending or spams, but also transfers funds simply, safely, and fast.

READ MORE: https://blockgeeks.com/guides/blockchain-applications/