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This is how Google will collapse

This is how Google will collapse

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Google made almost all its money from ads. It was a booming business—until it wasn’t. Here’s how things looked right before the most spectacular crash the technology industry had ever seen.

The crumbling of Google’s cornerstone
Back when Google was still just an idea, its founders thought that “advertising funded search engines [would] be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.”

They changed their minds.

With that change, Google became one of the wealthiest, most powerful companies in history. Search was Google’s golden goose, as well as its only unambiguous win. So when Amazon rapidly surpassed Google as the top product search destination in 2017, Google’s foundations began to falter.

Amazon was fighting Google on its home turf, and it was winning. Even worse, the people turning to Amazon over Google for their shopping searches were from the most important group for advertisers and the future: young people. Advertisers followed them, and Amazon began to siphon away ad dollars that once went to Google search ads. Google’s mighty engine had started to sputter.

Google realized that it was hard to convince people who were used to getting something for free that they should now pay for it.

A shift from search to discovery also started to take shape in the late 2010s: When shoppers weren’t searching for things directly on Amazon, things were finding them. Advertisers realized that money previously spent on Google’s search ads was better spent either on Amazon ads or native ads in content feeds, like Instagram and Facebook. Google had no engaging content feeds, so it completely missed the wave, just like it had with social media and instant messaging.

Seeing the signs on the horizon, Google tried unsuccessfully to find revenue in areas other than advertising. Google struggled to make money with its hardware, cloud services, and wildly ambitious “Other Bets” categories.

For all its efforts, the money Google earned from its nonadvertising ventures only ever accounted for a mere 15% of their revenue. And revenue from Google’s moonshot “Other Bets” didn’t even cover a small fraction of the increasingly massive fines the company started to receive from looming regulators.

The war on ads
In late 2015, Apple—Google’s main competitor in the mobile space—added a feature to their devices that allowed users to block ads.

Devices running iOS were responsible for as much as 75% of Google’s revenue from mobile search ads, which is probably why Google was paying Apple billions of dollars every year to remain the default search engine on Apple devices. By making this move, Apple was simultaneously weighing in decisively on the great ad blocking debate of the 2010s and dealing a substantial blow to the future of online advertising.

This move from Apple reflected the unprecedented mainstream adoption of ad blocking software happening at the time. Having one of the biggest technology companies on the planet standing behind consumers only emboldened the movement.

Well over a quarter of desktop and laptop users in the United States were blocking ads by the year 2018. Those users would soon block ads on their mobile devices, too, as mobile ad block usage eclipsed desktop usage in 2017 and rose even faster.

Source: 2017 Adblock Report/PageFair

Mobile ads were one of Google’s biggest areas of growth during its final years of domination, but people started to block mobile ads en masse once they realized that ads and tracking scripts were costing them as much as $23 per month in bandwidth and using up a significant portion of their battery life.

Research showed that 54% of users reported a lack of trust as their reason for not clicking banner ads, and 33% found them completely intolerable. The average banner ad was clicked on by a dismal 0.06% of viewers, and of those clicks, over 60% were accidental.

Even those who weren’t blocking ads had trained themselves to ignore them entirely. Researchers dubbed this phenomenon “banner blindness.”
The people most likely to block ads were also the most valuable to advertisers: millennials and high earners. Young users are a strong indicator for future trends, and they were heavy users of ad blocking software. Internet users had spoken, and they hated Google’s ads.

The ad blocking epidemic presented significant threats to Google’s business: People were getting used to using the internet without seeing ads, and Google was losing money every time their ads were blocked.

In early 2017, Google made the desperate, confusing, and legally questionable decision to add its own form of ad blocker to Chrome, but it did nothing except attract more antitrust regulation. It would quickly become clear to Google that even though ads were getting slightly better, ad blocking numbers would continue to rise.

Source: 2017 Adblock Report/PageFair

Later, in 2019, Google tried to make it harder for users to block ads in its then-dominant Chrome browser. All while Google was paying huge sums of money to let its ads through the most popular ad blocking software.

Google wasn’t willing to acknowledge the problems people had with the system they helped create, and it was clear that the company had no idea what to do when people started rejecting it. Too many people had become accustomed to a web without invasive banner ads following them around and slowing down every site they visited. Internet users had waged a war on ads, and Google was losing.

An unprofitable behemoth
A key platform where Google served ads was YouTube, which it bought in 2006 and quickly turned into one of its biggest entities. But even with a sixth of the world visiting this video-sharing behemoth every month, YouTube never became profitable.

While attempting to coax big brands and advertisers onto the platform in the hopes of finally turning a profit, YouTube misunderstood, alienated, and downright angered the creators and communities that had turned the platform into a global phenomenon.

In an attempt to combat the effect of ad blockers, Google launched an ad-free subscription model in late 2015, but the subscription numbers were underwhelming, and eventually, Google realized that it was hard to convince people who were used to getting something for free that they should now pay for it.

YouTube ads were interruptive and annoying to users, and the video-sharing site never proved to be as effective for brand awareness advertising as Google needed it to be. Global ad spend continued to move online from traditional media, but it wasn’t going to Google’s platforms.

The turning tides
Google’s products were free, innovative, and used by billions of people. In order to get access to these free products, people had to give up their personal data and their valuable attention. Google’s ads weren’t something its users wanted—they were simply a tax for accessing the Google ecosystem.

Google was enticing people into trading their privacy, data, and attention for the convenience of its amazing free products and services, some of which had no good alternatives. However, scandal after scandal after scandal proved that the trade might not be worth it, and people started to question what they were giving up by clicking “I agree.”

Every word uttered to Google Assistant, every action in any of Google’s numerous apps, and every data point about every one of their billions of users was stored and analyzed in the name of more accurate advertising.

And it wasn’t just Google’s users questioning the trade-off. Regulators and decision makers also finally started to understand how free internet products and services made money, and the companies behind them soon faced a long-awaited reckoning.

With its golden goose getting old, ad blocking rising, public opinion shifting, regulation closing in, and all of its ambitious bets on the future failing to make money, a lot was riding on Google’s next moves.

It made the wrong ones.

How Google missed the chance to pivot
If losing a major portion of their audience and annoying the rest wasn’t bad enough, Google also failed to get ahead of one of the biggest shifts in the internet’s history.

Google’s strategy since day one could be summed up as “aggregate and advertise,” as George Gilder put it in Life After Google. Every word uttered to Google Assistant, every action in any of Google’s numerous apps, and every data point about every one of their billions of users was stored and analyzed in the name of more accurate advertising.

Google’s business model was built on the foundational belief that in order to serve ads accurately, it had to collect and analyze as much data as possible from as many people as possible. This belief led the entire advertising industry to turn the web into a monstrosity of tracking and surveillance.

The holy grail of accurate advertising is perfect targeting and perfect attribution: getting an ad in front of the right people, knowing exactly when and where someone saw an ad, and being able to prove where credit is due when they make a purchase.

The entire industry was spinning its wheels chasing this vision, but eventually realized that its approach to the problem was completely backward. A vast, seedy, unfathomable landscape of tracking tendrils spanning the entire web would only ever overcomplicate things, ruin the user experience, and enable a staggering amount of ad fraud.
True attribution and accurate targeting used to be rocket science, black magic, and nearly impossible.

The breakthrough was this: If everything from interest matching to ad placement happened inside the user’s device, it would be possible to show the user ads they would actually find relevant and understand exactly which ads they interacted with and how, all without the user’s private data ever leaving the device.

It turned out that ads didn’t need to broadcast a user’s private data into the ether in order to be accurate, nor did they need to slow down websites and cost the user their bandwidth and battery life in order to fund good content.

Treating people as people turned out to be a winning strategy — not just for advertising or the bottom line, but for society.

As Google’s revenue grew, so too did consumer awareness of how Google was profiting from our data and attention. We became increasingly unwilling to exchange privacy for convenience. We stopped clicking “I agree,” a trend that only accelerated when the company was forced by regulators to be more transparent about its business model. A perfect storm was brewing.

Early signs of Google’s demise became clear toward the end of the 2010s, as its revenue growth began to slow and hardly anyone even noticed as the company’s foundational principle was quietly proven false by the creator of JavaScript (ironically, one of the very tools that had been weaponized by the dark side of online advertising).

Brendan Eich created JavaScript while he was working at Netscape. After Internet Explorer killed Netscape, he co-founded Mozilla and restarted the browser wars to take down Internet Explorer with Firefox. Several years later, when Google dominated the web with Chrome, Eich created Brave to fundamentally change the economics of the internet.

The companies that thrived were the ones that understood that people are not pawns in a game of corporate chess, bids in an infinite automated auction, data points in a sea of categories, or correlations in obscenely large data sets. People are people. And treating people as people turned out to be a winning strategy—not just for advertising or the bottom line, but for society.

Google wasn’t forever
At its peak, Google had a massive and loyal user-base across a staggering number of products, but advertising revenue was the glue that held everything together. As the numbers waned and the competitors circled, Google’s core began to buckle under the weight of its vast empire.

Google had been a driving force in the technology industry ever since its disruptive entry in 1998. But in a world where people grew to resent being tracked and profiled, Google’s business model was not innovation-friendly, and it missed several opportunities to pivot, ultimately rendering its numerous grand and ambitious projects unsustainable. Innovation costs money, and Google’s main stream of revenue had started to dry up.

In a few short years, Google had gone from a fun, commonplace verb to a reminder of how quickly a giant can fall.


Featured Article: Getting the right mindset to flourish in Japan

Source: https://medium.com/forwardtick/how-google-collapsed-b6ffa82198ee

Author: Daniel James

Image Credit: Mandela Smith

The Strange Mating Rituals of Self-Driving Car Companies

The Strange Mating Rituals of Self-Driving Car Companies

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Aurora, founded by veterans of Google, Uber, and Tesla, is building technology for self-driving cars.

The autonomous vehicle industry is looking a lot like a middle-school dance. Monday, Aurora and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced they would work together to put the startup’s self-driving tech, called Aurora Driver, into FCA’s commercial vehicles, including cargo vans and Ram pickup trucks. On Tuesday, word leaked that Aurora and Volkswagen had discontinued their 18-month joint effort to build an urban robotaxi system.

Wednesday, Aurora and Hyundai said they’re doubling down on their own partnership, with the South Korean company (and its conglomerate partner, Kia) pouring more money into Aurora’s now $600 million Series B financing round. The companies will continue to work together to build Aurora’s tech into Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered Nexo.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen and Ford, already working together to build electric commercial vehicles, are reportedly eyeing a more intensive autonomous vehicle tech partnership based around Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based startup in which Ford has a majority stake. Hyundai recently poured money into Yandex, the Russian tech giant that is also building robotaxi technology. FCA is still building Chrysler Pacificas for Waymo’s self-driving tests; now Jaguar is building I-Paces for Waymo, too.

Plus, earlier this year Toyota doubled down on its investment in Uber, working with Japanese automotive supplier Denso to write a $667 million check that helped the ride-hail company make its self-driving unit more independent. (Uber also worked with Volvo to release on Wednesday a new generation of its testing robocar.) In March, Daimler (which is also working with Uber) officially pooled its resources with fellow German BMW on AV and mobility efforts. Apple, with its still-stealthy self-driving program, is eyeing the startup Drive.ai as a prospective acquisition, according to a report from The Information. Honda said in October that it would contribute $2 billion to Cruise, General Motors’ self-driving unit, over the next 12 years.

Through one lens, this is just how relationships work—especially when a middle schooler, ahem, industry is young and doesn’t quite know itself yet. Even a few years ago, when General Motors acquired Cruise and Ford poured money into Argo, self-driving tech companies and more traditional automotive giants understood that they needed to work together to get passengers into robocars. “The stage we’re at now is much more open to partnerships and collaboration, a model stolen from the tech industry 15 years ago,” Thomas Jönsson of Autoliv, a leading supplier of car safety systems, told WIRED back in 2017.

Now these breakups and makeups show that the companies understand better what they need from a partner, or at least have the good sense to know when something isn’t working. VW and Ford, for example, have been in talks about all sorts of collaborations, so it makes sense that VW would prefer Ford’s self-driving partner, Argo, to Aurora. (Some executive turnover at the German automaker probably helped, too.)

Through another lens, these alliances are signs of industry consolidation—no surprise in a sector that has spent billions to develop a tech that has yet to become a commercial product. Many in the industry have adopted the notion that self-driving tech will become more commodity than distinguishable branded product, says Mike Ramsey, an analyst at the research firm Gartner. That would mean the real money is in getting your technology into as many hands—or beneath as many butts—as possible. And after all that spending on research and development, no one wants to be left holding the bag. “This was always going to happen,” says Ramsey. “The musical chairs are disappearing.”

What sets 2019’s alliances apart from those made just a few years earlier are the deals between big automakers: Daimler and BMW; Ford and VW; Honda and GM. As tech development grinds on, even some of the largest multinational corporations in the world seem to need a dance partner.


Featured Article: Getting the right mindset to flourish in Japan

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2019/07/03/why-softbank-invested-300-million-in-robotic-process-automation-rpa/#525b00a37e6f

Author: Aarian Marshall

Image Credit: Aurora Innovation Inc.

Getting the Right Mindset to Flourish in Japan

Getting the Right Mindset to Flourish in Japan

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Building a successful career in Japan requires a recalibration of certain mindsets one may possess in order to better adapt to the culture and business norms here. Here are some of the mindsets one needs to embrace in order to flourish in Japan:

  • Don’t expect to be treated differently just because you’re a foreigner

When I was just starting to build my career in Japan, one of the things I appreciated from the Japanese was how accepting they were every time I would make a mistake culture-wise—they gave me a lot of room to learn. At the same time, I wasn’t given any special treatment or promised certain concessions for being a foreigner. And one should never expect otherwise.

A lot of the organizational expectations that are fundamental to organically Japanese companies still apply to foreigners. Such expectations include how often the Japanese take personal holidays (they take very few), the number of hours they put in for work (typically very long), the strict channels of decision-making, and even the generally top-down hierarchical structure of the organization itself. Japanese work environments tend to be quite rigid and strict—a huge difference from workplaces in the West that are more easy going and lenient towards people’s personal situations.. While Japanese companies are slowly evolving to keep up with global trends, they still have a long way to go, and an organization of 2000 people isn’t going to simply adjust to a few foreigners. So it’s better to manage one’s expectations if you are to build a career here. It may seem difficult at the beginning, but it’s also a means of growing as a person, not just as a professional as there are many positive aspects of Japanese corporate culture such as teamwork, commitment to one’s work, and a strong sense of responsibility to collective whole rather than just the individual as well as many others.

  • Calibrate your expectations in terms of compensation and timelines for professional development

What most foreigners with prior work experience outside of Japan are used to is a system that provides focus: you’re trained to do well on a particular task. This streamlined method makes development much quicker. On the other hand, the traditional model in Japan for hiring new graduates is this: hire a bunch of fresh graduates, spend about four months training each on a variety of tasks, and slowly build a workforce of generalists who know multiple company operations. In many ways, this set-up is effective because knowledge isn’t limited to one but is spread to the group. The downside of this is that the timeline of development has always been longer since you don’t get as much responsibility as quickly.

Even though this resonates more strongly with new graduates, it is still relevant to those in the middle of their career as well. In most Western companies, those in their early to mid-30s can already be executives leading large businesses, whereas, in Japan, people don’t normally get that same responsibility at least until their mid-40s. So if you’re a capable, high-flying person seeking to get executive exposure, joining a Japanese company in your 30’s may not be the best option, however, if you are inclined to become an entrepreneur and believe in your abilities, Japan provides various excellent opportunities to build a successful business here.

In addition to the above, salary compensation in Japan is generally not as competitive as in other first world developed countries such as the UK, US, etc. The reason behind this is mainly cultural—Japan values equitable distribution of goods and resources, making it a fairly balanced society. As opposed to other countries where there are widening gaps of wealth, in Japan, you typically don’t see extremely high pay for the all-stars and low wages for blue-collared workers—there tends to be more equitable distribution of compensation across the masses here than in other regions of the world.
This is not to say that you can’t make a lot of money in the country—you can! But as a rule of thumb, if you’re joining a standard Japanese company, compensation is typically going to lag those of other first-world, fully developed nations, so you need to assess your priorities and adjust your expectations accordingly in most instances.

  • Have the initiative to learn the basics of the language, culture, customs, and norms

I think this is the most obvious mindset to adopt. I often get frustrated when I find foreigners unwilling to at least speak in Japanese and insisting on strictly English. English may be the lingua franca, but remember that Japan has a long history and a deep-rooted culture that had very little interaction with the English language for centuries; the country remained in self-imposed isolation (Sakoku) until about 150 years ago when the Meiji Era opened Japan’s doors to the world. I of course believe that to stay competitive Japan must improve its overall English literacy, however, one cannot expect to have deep relationships or deep engagements at work without some working levels of Japanese in my experience.

So if you intend on building a career in Japan, learn the language—conversational Japanese, at the very least, to help you engage with people and understand what’s going on. Aside from that, it’s important to learn basic customs and cultural norms such as bowing, exchanging name cards, or even excusing yourself when you need to leave your desk in the middle of work hours (yes, it exists!). Some people may find it strange, but in Japan, it’s basic etiquette.

You don’t have to try to become Japanese yourself (in fact, I don’t think you should try!), but you should at least make some basic efforts to assimilate in order to “rock the boat” less and gain more depth in your relationships here.

It may seem like a lot, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. Japan is a phenomenal country with excellent opportunities to build a unique and interesting career. For foreigners, as long as you know how to shift through the differences in culture and expectations, Japan is a goldmine for personal and professional growth and can provide you with a lifetime of excellent memories and meaningful relationships.

Related Article: How to Successfully Build One’s Career in Japan

Author: Casey Abel Connect with me in LinkedIn!

How to Successfully Build One’s Career in Japan

How to Successfully Build One’s Career in Japan

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For young professionals, mid-career entrepreneurs and people in the core of their career planning to uproot and relocate to Japan, here are a few behaviors to be kept in mind in order to have a smooth and growth-directed adjustment.

When anyone decides to move to another country and establish their respective careers there, it’s always important to understand the culture-shaping it and its people. This includes knowing the country’s customs, traditions, belief systems, work mentality, etc. and also being conscious of one’s own culture in relation to it. This understanding—of another culture and of one’s own—is crucial in building a successful career outside of one’s home turf.

As a foreigner working in Japan for over ten years (I’ve been here since 2006), understanding the Japanese culture and being aware of the differences—as well as the similarities—with my Western, American upbringing, has helped my career grow with fewer hurdles. In terms of one’s attitude, here are some of the things I’ve picked up that are key to building successful working relationships in Japan:

  • Don’t Dominate Meetings and Be Comfortable With Silence

Most of us who grew up in Western cultures, such as the U.S., Canada, and Europe, were raised to be assertive, to voice out our opinions, to speak up and express—for Americans, think “Thanksgiving dinners”. In short, we talk a lot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you find yourself in a meeting with Japanese colleagues, you’ll find that Westerners usually dominate the discussion. It may be due to the fact that we’re culturally more assertive or that we’re more fluent in English but in general, the Japanese tend to be more reserved with their speech. They don’t like to voice out their opinions as boldly as Westerners and they are also very polite, so much so that when someone starts talking too much, they wouldn’t try to stop or cut that person off. That’s why it’s easy for us to dominate meetings, even if it isn’t our intention. Be aware of this so that your opinions don’t eclipse those of others.

I think that another reason for this tendency to “over-talk” is our discomfort with silence. We feel pressured to fill these gaps in speech with words, even to the point of nonsense. Although to us, silence is considered an empty pause, to the Japanese, silence has value—it’s an opportunity to reflect or to give the person you’re talking to time to digest what you said. This practice of pausing and reflecting has actually helped me engage in more meaningful conversations within and beyond work. So instead of making an effort to fill gaps in a conversation that can rattle others and derail the discussion, aim for purposeful silence.

  • Gain Influence Through Softer Means

If you’re working at a Japanese company and you want to make an impact or steer the work into a direction you feel is important, go soft, not hard. In Japan, it is not normally customary to confront an issue, insist on an agenda, or question one’s superior in front of everybody (a definite no-no). You have to ease your way in instead of asserting your points bluntly.

The Japanese value harmony over disruption and operate within a very hierarchical management structure. Influence isn’t given instantaneously but requires effort and time. To get your foot in the door, you first need to climb the ladder, which entails earning trust and doing consistent, quality work over time. If it seems like a lot of effort, it is—but trust me, this creates firmer, more resilient roots to support flourishing work relationships over the long run, something people in Japan tend to focus more on than others in my personal experiences.

  • Act as a Bridge

Although Japan has begun to take more aggressive steps toward learning the English language, according to a survey conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Education (and in my everyday life experiences here!), the general population still has low levels of English literacy, thereby creating humongous gaps in access to global information.

There is usually a two to four-year lag in Japan in terms of some cultural trends (think keto diets just taking off here!), industry trends, business management, and even issues related to workplace diversity and inclusion. But these gaps can be an excellent opportunity for foreigners to act as bridges. If you plug into the wealth of information across the globe and stay on top of the best practices, there are a lot of opportunities to arbitrage these between Japan and the rest of the world. Utilize those gaps, as they can be spaces for you to grow credibility, influence, and trust. This is a great way to add value to those around you – just remember point #2 and not to push too much too fast.

If you keep these three behaviors in mind—don’t dominate meetings, gain influence through softer means, and act as a bridge—it will be easier to transition to Japan and more importantly, establish a successful career in this wonderful country.

Author: Casey Abel Connect with me in LinkedIn!

The hidden potential of Japan’s older workers

The hidden potential of Japan’s older workers

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The advantage of person-to-person skills transfer is that over generations, we keep improving.

Imagine a manufacturing plant in the perfect world of the internet-of-things. All machines are programmed, connected and humming smoothly 24/7. Breakdowns are prevented by automated maintenance. Noise fills the plant but no workers are in sight, with the exception of a few in white lab coats in a central control room.

That picture may be accurate today for some consumer products, such as pharmaceuticals, but in reality few factories are so highly automated, particularly outside the consumer industries. One still sees technicians on the shop floor.

Despite the hype around automation, the position is unlikely to change much for the foreseeable future, even in Japan, where labor shortages are especially intense.

Even the most advanced machinery makers say some technologies will remain analog in a digitized world. A company may supply the most sophisticated industrial robots to customers around the world, but to make them, they often rely on 50-year-old machines operated manually by seasoned workers. If the machines break down, these skilled workers know how to fix them.

Even in a world of ubiquitous internet and automation, there is room for analog human intervention because not everything can be digitized, at least not for a long time. Replacing equipment typically takes place over multiyear cycles, during which the workers take time to familiarize themselves with the kinks of the machines they work with.

The fashionable solution, in an increasingly tight labor market, is to use artificial intelligence to replicate human expertise. Many initiatives are underway to instill human nuance into AI so that it can reproduce a skilled technician’s movements precisely, eliminating the need for human apprentices.

Problem solved? Not so fast. AI, while perfectly capable of performing the tasks it is taught, cannot stumble across new and better ways of doing things. The advantage of person-to-person skills transfer is that over generations, we keep improving. Technological development is an accumulation of serendipitous accidents. This is the element often overlooked in when presenting AI as a magic bullet in manufacturing.

Of course, human workers do have one huge disadvantage versus AI: They get older.

Like the Japanese population as a whole, the country’s manufacturing sector is suffering from population decline and a growing imbalance between young and old. According to a government survey, Japan’s manufacturing workforce shrank 9% from 11.7 million to 10.6 million between 2008 and 2018. While the share of workers over age 65 in manufacturing employment rose 2.4 points from 6.5% in 2008 to 8.9% in 2018, the under-35 age group fell by almost 4 points from 29.0% to 25.1%.

Allowing older workers to stay on the job longer is one way to ensure continuity on the factory floor, traditionally a strength of Japanese manufacturing. Even so, today’s work environment is not kind to older staff. Most companies — 79.3% of all companies and 88.7% of manufacturers have a designated retirement age of 60, according to a 2017 Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare survey. Although the revised Law for the Stabilization of Employment of the Aged stipulates that employers must offer jobs to those who wish to remain employed up until the age 65, their salaries are often slashed after they hit 60 — by 20% to 40%.

When it comes to older workers, Japan could learn a lesson from Germany, another advanced manufacturing nation grappling with an aging workforce. Backed by a system of corporate governance that gives workers direct representation on company boards, and a voice in management decisions, Germany works hard to retain older skilled workers. German manufacturers often provide tailored contracts to experienced technicians, who may work three hours a day, or on call. They sometimes receive mechanical assistance, for example, with heavy lifting.

ABB, an engineering powerhouse, founded a Generations Center in 2012 in Mannheim-Kaefertal to promote a better workplace environment and in-house recruitment opportunities, as well as to address the health care needs of older employees. Bosch, a well-respected leader in automotive sector, welcomes the retired experts to return as consultants on project-basis. Companies in Germany understand that these experienced workers value respect and care, which motivates them to work harder.

In Japan, a progressive approach to older staff is easiest seen at small to mid-sized companies, perhaps due to their acute labor shortages and the short distance between the shop floor and management. A mid-sized industrial pump manufacturer, for example, handcrafted flexible working conditions for a company veteran in his late sixties. Despite suffering cancer, the employee continues to contribute in quality assurance, his specialty, while teaching the trade to younger colleagues.

The traditional manufacturing sector in Japan is vertically constructed with layers of small to mid-sized suppliers which collaborate seamlessly often despite a lack of capital ties. The older generation has built the trust to work together between companies, providing a hidden lubricant to the system. For this reason, we must not underestimate what older employees represent; human relationships in addition to technical competence.

For employers, investing in younger workers by offering training and benefits is a no-brainer. But young, talented employees may well jump ship, taking the current employer’s investment to another. Investing in senior workers, something employers may overlook, lowers that risk: Senior workers have already demonstrated their loyalty.

Employers must ensure that older workers’ knowledge and skills pass to the younger generation.  

Keeping older engineers happy, healthy and working longer is a necessary defensive strategy. Employers must ensure that their knowledge and skills pass to the younger generation.

Older workers also preserve analog technologies and techniques. As companies digitize, analog processes are often neglected or dismissed by management. For those older staff who feel left out, a possible response might be management buyouts or starting their own companies.

There are examples of successful venture capitalists who focus on a niche group of entrepreneurs, such as SoGal ventures, which specializes in helping women entrepreneurs. Why not a Japanese fund that would invest in older engineers with access to specialized, mature technology? With proper access to the global market such companies could thrive.

Seeking external funding is not the only way to build scale. In the internet-of-things era, factories are no longer islands but can be connected online. If skilled tech workers and their shop floors are connected, they can form a networked manufacturing platform for outsourced operations through every step of the manufacturing process — from prototyping to scaling.

If those who need process expertise can be coupled with those who possess the equipment needed to do the job, older entrepreneurs can be an engine for the new “manufacturing-as-a-service” business.

The “silver economy,” is a buzzword in developed economies. It tends to focus on older people as consumers, or their particular needs, such as health care. But one must not forget older workers and entrepreneurs are a vital part of production in the silver economy. Older people are not simply warm bodies plugging a hole in the labor market, but a source of innovation and competitive advantage in manufacturing.


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Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/The-hidden-potential-of-Japan-s-older-workers

Author: Nobuko Kobayashi

Image Credit: Reuters


Japan’s moon rover will be made by Toyota

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Tokyo, Japan, March 12, 2019—The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) agreed today to study the possibility of collaborating on international space exploration. As a first step, JAXA and Toyota agreed to further cooperate on and accelerate their ongoing joint study of a manned, pressurized rover*2 that employs fuel cell vehicle technologies. Such a form of mobility is deemed necessary for human exploration activities on the lunar surface. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.

International space exploration, aiming to achieve sustainable prosperity for all of humankind by expanding the domain of human activity and giving rise to intellectual properties, has its sights set on the moon and Mars. To achieve the goals of such exploration, coordination between unmanned missions, such as the recent successful touchdown by the asteroid probe Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu, and manned missions, such as those involving humans using pressurized rovers to conduct activities on the moon, is essential. When it comes to challenging missions such as lunar or Martian exploration, while various countries are competing in advancing their technologies, they are also advancing their cooperative efforts.

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa had this to say today about the agreement between JAXA and Toyota: “At JAXA, we are pursuing international coordination and technological studies toward Japan’s participation in international space exploration. We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits. Having Toyota join us in the challenge of international space exploration greatly strengthens our confidence. Manned rovers with pressurized cabins are an element that will play an important role in full-fledged exploration and use of the lunar surface. For this, we would like to concentrate our country’s technological abilities and conduct technological studies. Through our joint studies going forward, we would like to put to use Toyota’s excellent technological abilities related to mobility, and we look forward to the acceleration of our technological studies for the realization of a manned, pressurized rover.” Read More

Source: http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2019/03/20190312a.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Image Credit: JAXA


Significant Changes to Japan’s Labor Laws Will Take Effect in April 2019: Are You Prepared?

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Japan is known as a country that prizes and exemplifies hard work. While there are significant benefits to this worth ethic, excessive work habits create problems for the country as well. Media attention to KAROSHI (death because of too much work) has helped to bring some of these challenges to the forefront of social and political discussion. Furthermore, Japan is currently the most rapidly aging country in the world, resulting in critical shortages in the workforce necessary to maintain the economy, currently the third largest in the world.

In order to provide a solution to these challenges, Japan has shifted gears to reform its work habits and to reduce working hours so that everyone—including the elderly and others who were not able to work because of the lengthy hours expectations—can enter or remain in the workforce.

The new “Work Style Reform Legislation” was passed in 2018 and makes significant revisions to Japan’s labor laws. Most of the amendments take effect in April 2019. Employers that have operations in Japan need to take immediate action to comply with the new requirements.

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Source: https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/significant-changes-japans-labor-laws-will-take-effect-april-2019-are

Author: Aki Tanaka

Image Credit:  Japan Times


Japan’s Women Need More Than Jobs

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If the country wants to slow its population decline, it’s going to have to abolish its two-track labor system. 

Japan’s leaders seem happy to rest the country’s fate on the shoulders of its women. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to get more of them out of the home to compensate for a shrinking workforce. His deputy Taro Aso, on the other hand, had to apologize recently after blaming them for not having enough kids. I can hear women secretly seethe, “What now, they want us to work, have kids and take care of husbands?” (Male participation in chores is notoriously low in Japan.)

At Davos this year, Abe rightfully took pride in noting that the number of working women in Japan had increased by 2 million between 2015 and 2018 and that nearly 70 percent of Japanese women between the ages of 15 and 64 were employed last year — a labor participation rate “higher than, say, in the U.S.” That’s a fundamental cultural shift that will generate benefits for years to come.

But Japan doesn’t just need to get more women into the workforce. It needs to create conditions that would allow them to thrive there and develop fulfilling careers, while still having babies and raising families. That’s going to require much tougher, more extensive reforms than Abe’s government has been willing to entertain thus far.

What Abe wasn’t so eager to share in Davos is that the quality of women’s labor in Japan remains embarrassingly low. The wage gap stood at 24.5 percent in 2017, meaning a Japanese woman earns on average a quarter less than a man’s dollar. The World Economic Forum, Abe’s Davos host, ranks Japan at No. 110 in its Global Gender Gap Index 2018.

This divide is the product of a rigid, dual-track labor market particular to Japan. Regular workers, about 62 percent of all salaried workers excluding management, enjoy pay hikes and fringe benefits at the expense of bearing full-blown responsibilities. Irregular workers, on the other hand, have limited responsibilities and time commitments, but are largely relegated to menial tasks and often passed up for raises. As of 2017, only 44 percent of working women held regular positions, in contrast to 78 percent of employed men. Indeed, 73 percent newly employed women in 2018 — 620,000 out of 850,000 — could find only irregular positions.

From the standpoint of Japanese businesses, this looks like a success. The government estimates that between 2017 and 2030, Japan will lose 3.8 million workers due to deaths outnumbering births. It’s hoping for women, senior citizens and foreign workers to fill the void. Conveniently, they are all cheaper than classic “salarymen” holding regular positions.

In the longer term, though, this isn’t a solution. Japan’s fertility rate has been slipping, from 1.57 in 1989 to 1.43 in 2017. Absent more babies and large-scale immigration, which remains politically impossible, Japan’s population will continue to dwindle, losing close to 400,000 people per year, or 0.3 percent of the population.

The question is how to make it possible for Japanese women to raise families, work and get promoted. Up until 2010, only 20 percent of women returned to work after giving birth to their first child. I actually sympathize with male executives who are being pressured by the government to promote more women. Who could expect a rich pipeline of next-in-line female managers to emerge overnight? In hindsight, Abe’s original goal of having at least 30 percent of managers be women by 2020 was unrealistic. The latest figures by the Japan Institute of Labor Policy and Training suggests the number is closer to 13 percent.

Changing this will require addressing both rules and culture. In terms of the former, the key is to abolish the two-track labor system. Companies need to instill flexibility in career paths, eliminating the gap between regular and irregular positions. Workers need to be judged and rewarded based on output rather than face time. New rules forcing companies to pay workers the same for the same work, which go into effect next year, are a step in the right direction.

If workers are allowed to transition fluidly between different formats of labor, be it full-time or part-time, without leaving their employer, the road back to work will be smoother for women who interrupt their careers to have children. This flexibility will allow companies to pick their high-potential candidates from a much wider pool, leading naturally to a greater number of women in managerial positions in the future. Needless to say, it will also help men who take time off to care for children or aging parents.

Cultural change isn’t confined to offices. Men and women, at work and at home alike, need to fully embrace equal gender participation. Education will play a big role in changing attitudes. This will take time, but the trend lines are hopeful: According to a recent Nikkei survey, as many as 60 percents of twenty-something households say both husband and wife share a load of domestic chores equally, a stark contrast to a mere 30 percent within fifty-something households.

Most importantly, Japan’s government can’t rest on its record. While progress is visible, it’s only exposing how much further the country has to go.


Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-12/japan-needs-to-help-its-women-balance-jobs-and-kids-better

Author: Nobuko Kobayashi

Image Credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images


Automation Anywhere Closes Strategic Investment

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Automation Anywhere, a global leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), announced that it has received a strategic investment from Workday Ventures, solidifying a partnership that will help connect Workday customers to Automation Anywhere’s world-leading, intelligent RPA platform. In addition to the investment, Automation Anywhere has joined the Workday Software Partner Program.

Automation Anywhere pioneered RPA and its Intelligent Digital Workforce Platform, which leverages unique cognitive automation and analytic capabilities to drive increased productivity and business process accuracy.

“As a global leader in RPA, we are redefining the future of work,” said Clyde Hosein, chief financial officer, Automation Anywhere. “The investment from Workday Ventures and our partnership with Workday cements our ability to help more organizations accelerate their…  Read more


Source: https://vcnewsdaily.com/automation-anywhere/venture-capital-funding/grbmckjfxr


10 Types of Motivation: What They Are & How to Use Them

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There are as many as 10 different types of motivation. Each one of these motivational types identifies a unique driving factor that can either increase or decrease a person’s motivation, resulting in levels of achievement, happiness, or success. Specific types of motivation typically motivate a specific type of person.

It’s up to you to identify the unique motivational type that’ll motivate you to live the life you want. However, when taken together, different types of motivation can be used as a unifying strategy to motivate yourself as well as the others around you. Therefore, the best motivational strategy is to identify the ones that resonate with you and blend them together.

To help, below are the top 10 types of motivation and how they work:

1. Intrinsic Motivation & Extrinsic Motivation

Broadly speaking, there are two general types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation states that people are motivated by internal rewards like fulfillment and contentment. Conversely, extrinsic motivation states that people are motivated by external rewards like a bonus or raise as well as negative external factors like getting fired.

However, while the opposite of each other, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be used together. For example…..

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Author: Evan Tarver

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