The narrative of automation replacing jobs is a persistent one. The story varies depending on the narrator, but the general thrust cites multiple studies that show anywhere from 14 percent to 47 percent of jobs are at high risk of being automated. While this provides good soundbites for television, it doesn’t tell the whole story, or even an accurate one.
Lately, however, politicians and the private sector alike are exploring a new stand on automation: Robots don’t take jobs; corporations do.
During a recent talk at SXSW, for example, Congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said we should be excited about automation because it frees up time for greater pursuits like invention and science investigation. The problem for human workers, she suggests, is economics and corporate culture, not automation. Ocasio-Cortez referenced the idea of a tax on robots, which has also been floated by Bill Gates and the French politician Benoit Hamon.
Meanwhile, the California Democratic Party has added to its platform Universal Basic Income, a policy that proposes workers should receive money from the government to offset jobs taken by automation. It’s a proposal supported by Elon Musk, too.
Not everyone is on board with the idea of a robot tax. In 2017, the European Parliament rejected a tax on robot owners that would fund retraining in employees displaced by automation. In the U.S., the idea of a robot tax faces similar headwinds: Businesses invest in robotics here not only because it improves production, but because the tax code encourages it by increasing tax subsidies on capital investments.
The MIT economist Daron Acemoglu frames this notion slightly differently. He says that spending money on technologies designed to replace workers has come at the expense of investments in productive uses for human labor.
If history is a guide, resistance to these taxation initiatives will be considerable. Case in point: livery/stable workers weren’t compensated when they were displaced by the automobile. Farm workers weren’t compensated after the advent of the harvester.
Like replacing human workers with automation, the merits and drawbacks of robot taxation are not easily packaged into a soundbite. But at the very least, it could become another facet in the debate that manufacturers will need to weigh when considering how and where they deploy their robots.
Tech B2B sponsored the A3 Wellness Run/Walk at @a3automate #a3forum on Jan 15. 30 people showed up, more than twice as many as last year. Our group enjoyed the last of the warm weather as a cold front rolled in within an hour after the run. Great camaraderie and fun — just one of the highlights from the forum, which included insider looks at how robotics, machine vision & motor control are reshaping everything from how we build cars to how we make and deliver pizza.
The best marketing agencies have their strengths: print advertising, public relations, or new media. And sometimes, they’re good at them all.
But very few can offer deep B2B expertise in all these channels PLUS an IN-DEPTH knowledge of your industrial automation market.
TECH B2B Marketing (TECH B2B) knows the industrial automation market inside out because we’ve covered it as journalists and artists, and sold it as corporate marketing specialists. Look at our client lists and you’ll see: Winners go with TECH B2B.
- Automated Imaging Association
- Robotic Industry Association
- Motion Control Association
- Siemens Building & Automation
- ISRA Vision
- And many more
Don’t waste time and money trying to explain to your marketing agency that ladder logic isn’t the next-generation foot stool.
Let’s get to work. Contact TECH B2B to learn more about how we can help increase your bottom line.
IBM is rethinking how its employees interact with each other and their customers. E-mail, company reps say, is “anti-social,” and that, of course, goes against the very grain of social media. So, the conglomerate is promoting a social business model that uses digital work tools so employees can “do great work together.”
Sure, IBM has cash at the ready to throw at the program. But this idea can work at the small business level, thanks to open source collaborative platforms. First of all, open source means cheap, or even free. With open source, you’ve got a group of volunteer software programmers who are always making tweaks. And because of this robust community of developers, you don’t need that large IT department. (An important note: Any open source program worth its salt will have a governing committee to keep bad apples from slipping through).
These online collaborative platforms (Redmine, dotProject, Manymoon via LinkedIn, to name a few) get everyone in your company on the same page, regardless of employees’ locations. Users can easily work together with a virtual online program that allows them to manage documents, share files, create charts, facilitate communication, and the like. There are open source platforms for CRM, too, whether it’s for record keeping, sales integration, support, or troubleshooting.
Social media is all about collaboration, and so is business. It makes sense, then, to use social media software to improve business development and CRM programs. And the best part? You don’t need to have an IBM budget to do it.
Jackie has been working with a local foster home as part of a community service project named “Choose to Matter“. Jackie raised money to fix playground equipment and sports facilities at Jacksonville’s Foster Home while working with local high school sports teams to visit the facility and invite the children to local sporting events.She now needs your vote to win an opportunity to join Julie Foudy at the 2012 Summer Olympics as a Youth Ambassador for McDonald’s Champions of Play Program. Check out Jackie’s project page, watch the video and vote for your favorite.
Kudos to Jeff Burnstein, Dana Whalls-et-al at the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the new name and brand for the Automation Technologies Council, the parent organization to HBC clients the Automated Imaging Association, Robotic Industry Association, and Motion Control Association.
Burnstein unveiled the new A3 brand at the recent AIA business conference to, “…more accurately reflects our mission, which is to be the global advocate for the benefits of automation.” He also introduced a new logo for the machine vision focused trade association, the Automated Imaging Association (AIA). You can read more here.
First things first: Huge fan of Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute. And if you’ve ever had to do a market analysis on your own, then you know how much fun it is to type “The End” and then paint a big cross hair on your back with a “Kick Me” Post-It right in the middle.
But I think what we have in CMI’s new annual Marketing Benchmark study is “a failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke aside, the new report raises as many questions (for me) as it purportedly answers.
First, the report says that the most common types of “content marketing” are: articles (79%), social media (74%), blogs (65%), e-newsletters (63%), and case studies (58%).
Let’s ponder this a moment. First, “article” must refer to technical, trend, or “how to” articles, but not “case studies.” Okay. I get that. I guess. Those of us in the trenches know that case studies are better at supporting targeted sales, while “technical” articles are better at converting the masses and directing them toward the opening of your sales funnel, so you might assume that a company will have to develop more content for larger groups (potential customers) than small groups of existing customers. And here’s why:
To a customer that knows your products, a story about a similar company (or competitor) using the same approach makes them feel better about pulling the trigger. But to the faceless masses of potential customers doing research about new products and services, they want to know specifically how a technology, process or application will make them “look good” I mean, be more productive, profitable and efficient. The fact that an ACME made a bundle going with your products is irrelevant.
So, a smart company realizes that the more valuable the article (analytical, insightful, useful…the stories that are a bear to write) the greater the customer appeal. But the simple truth is: If your company doesn’t generate a 100M a year, you probably don’t have the staff to churn out analytical content on every Tuesday. Wednesday, now that’s a better day. Downhill. But still, weekly genius is tough to come by.
Ergo, I think we can assume the CMI respondents were from medium to large companies with deep pockets and army’s of paid consultants.
Next: social media is more used than blogs? Really? When did a blog stop being social media?
Okay, the authors must be saying that social media refers to the big boys (FaceSpace, LinkedNing, YouTubeBadoo, etc.). But the problem here is saying companies put more into developing content for social media than blogs. The vast majority of B2B companies use blogs to generate content that they push (and spin, Google hates self plagiarism too) out to the social network sites. Not the other way around.
If you do a lot of professional video, you can make this argument because video, illustrators, talented artists, etc., cost big bucks. But if your SMM is like 90% of your competitors, then the message is text and photos. And what makes more sense? Writing 1 insightful post to your blog and spinning it 6 different ways to the big SM guys? Or writing 6 incredibly insightful pieces — one for each social media outlet– and paying for exclusivity?
Hmm. Unless you have a room full of typewriters, a pack of talented monkeys (No slam to the sales department there. They still can’t type.), and a group of Lemurs refilling the monkey’s beer buster helmets with RedBull, you’re probably using your blog to help feed the social media marketing beast and not the other way around.
So, again: How does social media content outrank blog development? Yeah, I don’t know either.
Here are some more things that make you wonder what’s in CMI’s fudge: Compared to 2010, the 2011 survey indicates more use of blogs (27% increase), white papers (19%), and videos (27%) in the B2B marketing arsenal. What’s more, companies are relying less on print to get their message across (42% in 2010 vs. 31% in 2011 for print magazines, as well as a 5% drop between the two years for print newsletters).
Where to start? First, trends are pointless without some idea of how much mass is behind the trend. For example: If my Christmas party had 300% more people than last year, but last year, it was just me, Jennifer, Sophia, Andy, Daniel, and our pet hamster — who does a hell of a Michael Buble imitation by the way — 300% isn’t quite as impressive.
But my favorite ‘insight’ is the drop off in print magazine content. Most trade publications are making their nut these days through digital sales, not growth in print advertising. So, is a print magazine that makes 60% of its revenue from newsletters, virtual conferences, digital editions, etc., still a print magazine? If Reed/Elsevier doesn’t cut down a single tree to make $7B a year, does anyone really care? What’s really important is how a media outlet drives qualified customers to your company’s website or its telephone number. Most media buys are combo purchases these days anyway. So, the death of print is either greatly exaggerated, or at least, barely worth a bottle of Jameson at the wake.
Some other interesting ‘nuggets’:
- Of the five industries covered by the report, manufacturing/processing ranks the lowest in implementation at 83%. That’s a solid ‘B’ even without a grading curve. And they’re the worst? Maybe manufacturing needs to rework the U.S. educational system.
- Web traffic is the most widely used success metric (58%). I’m guessing the other 42% are incoming phone calls because the pigeon union went on strike last month and my car has never looked cleaner.
- Biggest content challenges include “producing engaging content” and “budget to produce content.” Really?!? Inconceivable! Management has always been SSSOO supportive of marketing. And maintenance too! And the need for smart phones that come preloaded with Angry Birds.
- 40% of marketers consider themselves to be more effective in content marketing than their competitors. Wow, 60% of marketers are self-deprecating and honest? NOW THERE’S AN INSIGHT! 🙂 Joe, Can we get the list of the other 60%, please? With sugar on top?
- Every social media channel is seeing increased adoption, often by 15-20%. Tis an easy thing to build a Facebook company page. But it’s a bear to get management, engineers, production, etc., to check your site every day unless you have something special to say. Every day.
- Brand awareness and customer acquisition are at the top of content marketing goals. Okay, that’s too easy to make fun of.
- 60% of survey respondents indicate they will increase spending on content marketing in 2012. That must be because the other 40% are kicking their butt! Again, Joe: HBC promises to put you on our Christmas list if you’ll only give us that list of the magical 60%!!
All kidding aside, if you’ve ever had to do market analysis, you know it’s as much fun as a root canal in an inversion chair. It can take years to get enough data to be meaningful. But, dear reader, remember to be careful what you read, especially when it comes to allocating money for the Art of Marketing.
Either way: Joe, you still da’ man.
Type “link building” into Google, and the search engine finds more than 87 million sites. It seems that everyone has an opinion on the topic, and rightly so, considering the value of SEO. So how do you break through all this clutter to make sure you’re doing right by your client and getting them page views? I’ve gathered some of the best tips out there from the likes of Vertical Measures and SEO Book, among others, who live and breathe link building.
Promote websites through directories. Article and web directory submissions can build backlinks while increasing exposure. And even though directories may not always provide direct traffic, their value lies in how search engines evaluate the links.
Exchange links with similar websites, but make sure you’re doing so with business partners who will send traffic your way, not just for the sake of simply getting your name onto another (perhaps irrelevant) site. What’s more, avoid link trading hubs like the plague.
Find out what your competitors are doing and if they outrank your site. Analyze backlinks through free sources such as SEO Book backlink analyzer, Yahoo site explorer, and Open Site explorer.
Write original articles and syndicate them to places like ezine or Digg with links directly back to your client’s site. Plus, it’s one more way to build brand awareness.
Participate in forums that provide signature links. Your cachet will go up if you leave relevant, helpful comments.
Create goodies like contests and quizzes. For our clients, we have posted trivia questions with the winning reader getting an iPod, as well as create a cash incentive to sign up for their newsletter.
Great post here from Ann Meany that’s timely — not just because it’s nearly Halloween — but because there is no better way to spend your promotional dollar than content that helps your customers do their job better, faster, cheaper.
Ms. Meany points out that like Zombies:
— Content comes back from the dead when your repurpose it.
— Content is more effective at finding brains the more of it you have
— Content never rests thanks to the 24/7/365 Internet.
Read Ms. Meany’s post here.
Happy Halloween All!