By Gareth Breeze, protective VR case expert at the Case Farm.
There are some amazing ways that companies are using VR for business success.
With the arrival of affordable, consumer-friendly headsets, what was once a quixotic Sci-Fi fantasy is now becoming a real part of our everyday lives, and it is changing how we do business in ways we never thought were possible.
The rise of VR has done much more than give us 360 vision. It’s broken through previous barriers of communication, altered entire sales strategies, and completely transformed how companies train their staff.
Needless to say it’s an interesting time to be alive, and a crucial time for business development. True business success lies in the ability to move with the times, and the words “keep up or lose out” are possibly more relevant than ever before.
VR is just the beginning for businesses
If you think VR technology is only for tech firms and video game makers, think again. Much like the introduction of the internet, it began with a specific use (military communications in the 1980s), but soon turned mainstream and took over every aspect of modern life. Do you know a company in 2018 which doesn’t have a website or use digital communication? Not a successful one, for sure.
It’s true that the birth of VR into the mainstream world was primarily for enhancing entertainment purposes, but it’s professional growth has already started. According to research from Tractica, uptake of VR in business is going to outpace leisure and entertainment by 2021.
VR for next level employee training
In a virtual world, if things go terribly wrong you can press restart – not the case on an operating table or when flying a plane. VR offers a revolutionary opportunity to employers to train their staff in a consequence-free environment. Doctors and surgeons can now carry out complex procedures on 3D virtual patients, making life or death choices along the way without risking anyone’s life.
Teachers have access to virtual classrooms to test their teaching methods and practice dealing with challenging behaviour, which can be observed and analysed by teacher trainers without any real children being involved.
Of course, there are many, many more professions where VR is becoming a large part of training, and this is expected to grow much more in the coming few decades.
VR can cut costs for businesses in all verticals
Businesses are already discovering how stepping into a virtual world can result in a very real cut in costs. Allowing employees to practise their roles, whether initial training of later career developments, in a 3D virtual environment, has been known to save millions.
The physical equipment that was once needed is now in the virtual realm, with in some cases digital supervisors, saving an extortionate amount for the company in the long run. The obvious cost of investing in this level of technology is high, but is an investment which will serve you and your company very well indeed.
Architects have already saved large sums of money by converting to technology and virtual buildings for their development and planning. Not only does it allow clear representation to clients, it allows everyone involved to explore freely without travel and with much less time spent.
Make the right choices when it comes to introducing VR to your business
It goes without saying that if you run a company, you may need to make the switch to VR, but there’s no denying that it’s a big financial step to take for any business looking to adapt.
Once you do make the investment, you’re going to need a protective case to store and transport your VR kit. VR cases by the Case Farm could be the perfect companion, catering for various different VR systems and keeping them from damage. With waterproof, dustproof and shockproof protection, your VR equipment will be helping your business grow for many years to come.
Chipmakers in drought-hit Taiwan order water trucks to prepare for ‘the worst’
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan chipmakers are buying water by the truckload for some of their foundries as the island widens restrictions on water supply amid a drought that could exacerbate a chip supply crunch for the global auto industry.
Some auto makers have already been forced to trim production, and Taiwan had received requests for help to bridge the shortage of auto chips from countries including the United States and Germany.
Taiwan, a key hub in the global technology supply chain for giants such as Apple Inc, will begin on Thursday to further reduce water supply for factories in central and southern cities where major science parks are located.
Water levels in several reservoirs in the island’s central and southern region stand at below 20%, following months of scant rainfall and a rare typhoon-free summer.
“We have planned for the worst,” Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters on Tuesday. “We hope companies can reduce water usage by 7% to 11%.”
With limited rainfall forecast for the months ahead, Taiwan Water Corporation this week said the island has entered the “toughest moment”.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, this week started ordering small amounts of water by the truckload to supply some of its facilities across the island.
“We are making preparations for our future water demand,” TSMC told Reuters, describing the move as a “pressure test”. The chip giant said it has seen no impact on production. Both Vanguard International Semiconductor Corporation and United Microelectronics Corp signed contracts with water trucks and said there was no impact on production.
Vanguard said it has started a drill to truck water to its facilities in the northern city of Hsinchu.
Taiwanese technology companies have long complained about a chronic water shortage, which became more acute after factories expanded production following a Sino-U.S. trade war.
(Reporting By Yimou Lee; additional reporting by Jeanny Kao; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Employee ownership – resilience in a time of uncertainty
By Stephen Greenwood, Owner of Valloop
White House economist Jared Bernstein is a major advocate for employee ownership, in which employees buy the company they work for. In a recent study, he notes the model’s various benefits, such as how it both improves job quality as well as increasing workers’ wealth and productivity.
As a long-time adviser to President Biden, it’s highly likely Bernstein will be pushing the US Government to encourage more private businesses to transition to employee ownership. Given today’s financial uncertainty, now would seem an opportune time for businesses everywhere to consider the concept, not only for the economic and emotional stability and resilience it can offer to their employees, but also for the positive impact it can have on their bottom line and wider society. In the study, Bernstein references Federal Reserve data which showed that over half of corporate stock was held by the wealthiest one percent of households – conversely, the bottom 50 percent hold just 1 percent of the value of corporate entities. Bernstein emphasises the role employee ownership can play in redressing this imbalance: “ESOPs (Employee shared ownership plans) transfer capital ownership to wage earners, directly reducing extremely high levels of wealth concentration, and ESOP firms appear to have less internal wage dispersion”.
As a form of business buy-out, employee ownership offers owners the chance to sell their company or retire but, rather than see their legacy subsumed by a competitor or PLC, it allows them to see it remain a going concern, simultaneously protecting a loyal workforce and the business’ wider community. At Valloop, we take an ethical approach to buy-outs by providing the financial instruments required for SME employees across Europe to buy their businesses via its intelligent buy-out (IBO) frameworks, creating employee co-owned companies driving value and change through greater social inclusion. This ensures a strong financial performance for investors in a way that also benefits society. In the past five years we have seen compound annual growth of more than 15%*.
The benefits of employee ownership have been proven. Underpinned by the simple idea that no business can thrive without its people, an employee ownership structure gives everyone involved a common goal – that of commercial success. Knowing they have a stake in the business, employees feel directly involved in a company’s success and that they will be rewarded for it. Indeed, research shows that the approach leads to a happier workforce: a greater involvement in the decision-making and future direction of a company results in a greater sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.
Its benefits spread beyond a company’s employees too. Companies in which employees have a stake often tend to remain rooted in the community, for example. Not only does this help protect jobs, but it can also give the company a competitive advantage, encouraging local business opportunities, and maintaining legacy company-supplier relationships. What’s more, it’s likely that employees will spend their greater take-home pay within their local communities and transition those who are classed as in-work poverty towards greater financial independence.
Essentially, the community inclusion enabled by employee-owned companies can create better performing businesses while, at the same time, transforming the fabric of society. And in the current climate, this inclusion has never been needed more.
This begs the question of why aren’t there more employee-owned businesses? Arguably, the reason there aren’t more is because the financial products have not existed to enable buyouts like this that benefit all stakeholders – investors, owners and employees. Valloop does that and has democratised access to its Private Markets Fund with the £100k point of entry for investors. By opening the market in this way, employee ownership can be brought into the mainstream.
For greater resilience
According to the Employee Ownership Association, “employee-owned businesses achieve higher productivity and greater levels of innovation and are more resilient to economic turbulence.”
By acting in the long-term interest of its workforce, an employee-owned business will tend not to deliver short-term benefits for a select few stakeholders. It will typically enjoy a significantly healthier – and, importantly, stable – bottom line. And, with better informed, more engaged, and more trusting employees, it will be highly resilient to economic changes.
Of course, the impact of COVID-19 means the country is undergoing a level of economic turbulence not seen since the Second World War. With almost one in five UK businesses either temporarily or permanently ceasing to trade by the end of 2020, the need for business resilience has never been more critical – and not just for the businesses themselves.
While a company’s resilience will come from the ability of its employees and processes to adapt to change, a mix of different business types will help make a community more resilient to economic shock, and the assurance of job and financial security will enable workers to better weather the storm. As Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association explains, now is the time to consider employee ownership: “The Valloop solution launches at a time when the interest in employee ownership is rocketing across the UK SME sector as business owners and their management teams seek alternative ways to secure the future of their businesses. The long-term resilience of businesses and regions is increasingly more relevant as the UK builds back from the pandemic and innovations such as Valloop are very much welcomed by the Employee Ownership Association as a way of ensuring more businesses and their employees are able to experience the benefits of employee ownership, whilst contributing to a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”
This need for resilience is echoed in the US. According to Stephanie Silverman, President and CEO of the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA), “as hardworking Americans grapple with staggering economic uncertainty driven by the pandemic, we hope more policymakers in Washington will… encourage private companies to become [employee]-owned, giving more Americans the chance to have financial stability and giving more companies the opportunity to see productivity gains as well.”
For the good of society
The concept of employee ownership is nothing new. The John Lewis Partnership, for example, has been at least partially owned by its employees for over 100 years. It’s the largest of over 370 such businesses in the country which, together, deliver 4 percent of UK GDP each year.
But it has become more relevant in the time of COVID. It matters to society. Not only does it offer owners an alternative to selling to a competitor or overseas buyer but, by creating democratic ownership of a company for all of its employees, it protects jobs, and by keeping the business and its productivity in the region, it protects communities.
Given the wide-ranging benefits of employee-owned companies, the title of Bernstein’s study is apt in this current period of economic uncertainty – “Why aren’t there more?”. The simple answer is that there were not liquidity investors, until now…
* past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Hyundai Motor to recall Kona EV and other electric vehicles in South Korea
SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co will recall 26,699 electric vehicles including Kona EVs in South Korea due to potential fire risks, South Korea’s transport ministry said on Wednesday.
The recall will replace the vehicles’ battery systems and applies to 25,083 Kona EVs, starting March 29, the ministry said in a statement.
It is Hyundai’s second recall for the Kona, its best-selling electric vehicle and follows a decision by South Korean authorities this year to launch a probe into whether the previous recall was adequate. The first recall occurred in October after a series of fires but in January one of the recalled vehicles caught fire.
The Kona EV uses batteries manufactured by LG Chem Ltd’s wholly owned battery division LG Energy Solution.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Edwina Gibbs)
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