There are no strangers! Just friends, I haven’t (yet) met…

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

VirtualAssistantThe past weeks were very difficult to me. I have been asked for expert opinion on the impact of the crude oil price explosion and potential counter measures. With my background on technical projects, there seems an expectation, that I”d support the idea of tweaking cost by reducing staff further and adding technology as the panacea. In my eyes, that is short-sighted and simply stupid. As are airlines cheating the passenger

1st semester in Marketing: It is far more expensive acquiring new customers than keeping existing ones. And far more expensive to recover a lost one. Customers selecting your product only because of the bargain price have no loyalty. Reliable business? Only if you use the opportunity to make them a loyal customer!

This is what the subject of this post is all about: Sale is personal. Service is personal. IT solutions can support staff by handling (a lot) routine work, mass mailings, etc. IT must be part of the distribution portfolio. But it can only handle the “bread and butter business”. Business development?
Addressing angry, mishandled customers with a friendly face or a personal phone call, I learned to be far more effective. Make them your friend…

And with travel becoming more expensive, the product becomes “luxury” again. Luxury usually implies a more personal sale and service! You better be ready…

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Revolution arising?

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed [L. Long]

Richard Eastman lately forwarded a mail to me: What is a Billion

It started to trigger a thought. I started to discuss with friends. I got … frustrated.

Having started with “a clean account” after World War II, Germany is now Third globally in state indebtedness. Paying off 1 Billion a year and no interest on the debt, it would take Germany 130 years to pay off. It took the politicians only some 55 years to reach that point.

nationaldebtOkay. So our national debt is unmanagable (or so the politics tell us), but instead of consolidating our national household, we spend +12 billion for development aid in other countries? That is a +140% increase compared to 2003 and is more than 50% of what the (somewhat larger) U.S. spend. If we keep the pace, we surpass them in 3-4 years… Austria and Switzerland together spend about 3,5 billion. China or Russia do not even show up on the chart. So we have the luxury to further increase taxes (Germany”s tax rules exceed the tax rules of all other worldwide countries together), add on to bureaucracy – but we have no money to provide child day care centers?

With the WIG-project, I also learned that such development could not be financed in Germany. Sure, I did not believe it – all basic technology has been developed and brought to prototype, aside the know-how, there are funds available. What a shock to learn (from DLR!), that these funds are “meant for basic research, not for R&D to convert existing technologies to products”…

Germans emigrate. We become an emmigration country – while Ireland or Portugal, the former poorhouses in Europe convert to immigrant countries.
An “unword” in Germany is the “migrator”, people trying to come to Germany. No, they are not immigrants in the eyes of the politicians – they are neither integrated.

I saw a report lately on the Weimar Republic (the one that lead to the Third Reich). I don”t know, if I was the only one, striken by the similarities. Oscar Lafontaine is called a demagogue even by the respected press and he mentioned on TV lately he feels that to be a compliment (I compare to Weimar Republic!). People vote for extremist parties – because the Grand Coalition in power today fails to address any of the peoples needs. Polititicans wonder, why the voters get tired of voting? Extreme parties increase their influence. From what I hear on the streets:

We are sitting on a tinderbox … with a short and already burning fuse.

Footnotes:
¹ I am a fan of space travel, get this right. I doubt, NASA being very effective, so I love commercial projects, such as Mars Direct or SpaceShipTwo. I believe NASA has become a bureaucratic dinosaur needing commercial competition.
² Humantiarian Aid is not in question. What I question is “monetary aid”, known to end up anywhere but where it”s needed. And to increase the amount spent (by +140% in five years) when consolidating the national household is said to be a top priority.

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Alternatives in Aviation – Cheating the Passenger?

“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

The Cassandra-effect: When I addressed the situation on the crude oil market to airline managers earlier this year, looking back I feel like 1994, addressing the Internet: I was “the freak”.

The kerosine price explosion sped up the szenarios I did address. Just a brief recap of my theses: Flying will become a luxury again. How much longer until the low-cost-airlines need to update their models? The cost of operations exploding, airline managers become “creative” (the current FVW special addresses their dilemma). In order not to increase the visible price, airlines charge extra for each and every “standard” service. Kerosine charge, taxes, airport, credit card and even invented fees, a (increasing) fee for each and every bag, for the meal, the inflight entertainment, excessive passenger weight. This “procedure” is extremely short-sighted with a negative repercussion: The travelers feel cheated, the “public opinion” strikes back.
Airlines (not only the low cost) reduce frequencies, park aircraft. No longer records in aircraft orders, options are being returned to Airbus, Boeing, etc.. Am I the only one to see these facts? Kerosine-powered travel is doomed, new solutions will now be developed, tried – and succeed!

Some years ago, Jürgen Weber, at the time the boss of Lufthansa, questioned that the use of light crude oil may need to be confined to the aviation industry as all other industries would have possible replacements. So it is not the question that airline travel will become expensive again. Who in his right mind believes the crude oil will become cheaper again? Evolving into a luxury product, I question the “cost reduction” on staff and services. A friend lately compared it: They try to sell a Rolls Royce with wooden benches.

wig

What now these weeks to me came nevertheless as a big surprise. In some of my presentations, I used this idea of a WIG powered with a hydrogen-engine as an example alternative to the fuel-consuming aircraft.
Meanwhile, I received a serious inquiry, asking if this is realistically possible. Research confirmed the feasability of the idea, so now the idea is being addressed with investors. Can it be true that I may become an “aircraft maker”???

While discussing this szenario ideas suddenly are being considered that have been Science Fiction from the 60s until today. Surprisingly even for me, who these people are, asking me for my ideas and opinions. Obviously, the prices finally exceeded the point, where such “Science Fiction” leaves the fiction and becomes a viable concept and a commercial possibility.

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Shift Happens (narrated)

I lately refer frequently to the video Shift Happens, giving in roughly six minutes a summary, what, how and why our time seems to be increasingly an issue and how the world around us is reshaped by globalization and Internet.

The source has been a small presentation (Powerpoint) done in fall 2006 for 150 teachers and parents. The presentation and it”s variants (such as the Youtube-video) have meanwhile been downloaded more than 5 million times!

The follow up video Vision 2020 in fact is meanwhile exceeded in expert discussions, expecting an “intelligent agent” to support automatic, qualified searches within a year – a change which impact is compared to the one when Google revolutionized the web search. Nevertheless, I do recommend also the 18 minute follow up video after you have watched “Shift Happens” (the video above) first.

If you wish to learn more, here is the site where it all began.

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