Commercial, Gunnebo Business Solutions, Innovation, Microcontroller, Microsoft Azure, Reflections

Everyday Safe and IoT for the Consumer

The whole world have advanced into the digital age and as a lot of appliances, gadgets, and accessories now depend on internet for their operation. These devices are designed with state-of-the-art technology so they can communicate smoothly at any time, and have now become so popular that they outnumber the human population. There are approximately 7.62 billion people around the world but surprisingly, we have 20 billion IoT devices which are all connected to the internet.

New IoT devices emerge every day; we see home automation systems, smartwatches, smart gadgets, smart vehicles and a long list of other things that makes your life easier and more fun in today’s world.

Through my work in Innovation at Gunnebo Business Solutions, I get to work on quite a few cutting edge projects to bring Gunnebo into the connected future. The GBS team strives to develop a scalable collaboration platform that supports each business units digitalization and software offering. Our main focus is actually to lead Gunnebo’s business units into the digital future of Software Services and enable product as a service sales.

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I am currently working on a really exciting project with our Safe Storage Business Unit. We are working on a brand new smart-safe, which can easily be integrated into different parts of the home – kitchen, bedroom or bathroom – to store your valuables. The safe is designed to suit everyday needs and it can be used for storing valuables such as car keys, jewelry, credit card, visas, passports or any other thing important to you.

The safe is designed to be a simple and convenient solution that can be accessed by customers around the world. Anyone interested in getting the best security for their valuables would try out this option. Not only does the safe keep your valuables safe, but it’s also aesthetically appealing and made from the best technology which is only even more attractive.

As any smart device, this safe will of course be easily be connected to the owners mobile phone and send telemetry to the cloud. This is where I come in. I am working with our team in Markersdorf on merging classic and mechanical parts of a safe securely with modern IoT technlology.

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To make sure that our new IoT device deliver to its potential, it is developed with state-of-the-art technology, both physically and on the firmware and software side, that makes it reliable and easy to use.

To ensure the efficiency of our operations we work with agile partners like Microsoft, 3H, Polytech Software and others to help fusing entrepreneurial spirit with professional development of the product. Through their involvement, we have been able to achieve optimal results.

everyday safe

As mentioned earlier, the Internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines. This means that it can be just anything from your television to your wristwatch. Over time, the scope of IoT devices has changed from what it used to be due to the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems.

An IoT device exposes its users to a number of impressive benefits which include increased interaction between devices, allows great automation and control, easier to operate, saves time, saves money, increased efficiency and time saving and so on. But it still has a few drawbacks of its own such as may easily become highly complex, may be affected by privacy and security breach, reduced safety for users and so on.

The market for IoT devices is expanding every day and becoming more popular as its number of users also increases. This might be the first IoT device from Gunnebo, but it is definitely not the last.

If you want to know how Gunnebo works with IoT in the consumer market, feel free to contact me at bjorn.nostdahl@gunnebo.com

 

Gunnebo Business Solutions, Holiday, Reflections, Travel, USA

California, here I come!

Traveling to the US for the second time, I had the chance to take a weekend off to do some sightseeing. Even though I had just a few days, I wanted to cover as much ground as possible.

When the wintry winds start blowing
And the snow is starting to fall
Then my eyes turn westward knowing
That’s the place that I love best of all

California is one of the most well known places in the world for numerous reasons, but chief among them is its identity as pivotal place in world entertainment and technological innovations. It is the birthplace of popular figures like Jessica Alba, Tom Brady, and Clint Eastwood. Ahead of my trip to California, I did a little research on its key areas and here is my summary.

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San Francisco is officially referred to as City and County of San Francisco and colloquially called SF, San Fran, Frisco, or The City. With a population of about 883,305 residents in 2018, SF is the center of commerce and finance in North California. In terms of geographical dimensions, SF spans across 46.89 square miles and is second in the list of densely populated large cities and as a county only more populated by the four NYC boroughs in the entire US. In terms of population of metropolitan statistics in an areas, SF has about 4.7 million people and is the 12th largest. The economic significance of this city is further butressed by the fact that in 2018 SF had a GDP of $549 billion and is the 4th highest number in terms of economic output. When combined with San Jose, SF swells to a population of about 9.67 million and becomes the fifth largest combined statistical area (the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area) in America.

Golden Gate Bridge panorama, San Francisco California

The Hollywood neighborhood located at the heart of Los Angeles, California, is world renowned as the home of film and entertainment in the US, it also houses numerous iconic movie studios. It’s impacts on the industry is so strong that the name “Hollywood” has become an unofficial means of referring to the movie industry and people concerned with it. Hollywood began is rise to prominence when it was officially declared a municipality in 1903, this was followed its consolidation with Los Angeles 7 years later; this was when Hollywood began to grow as a film industry. Today, Hollywood is the largest movie industry in the world.

Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.

Las Vegas, popularly referred to as the “World’s gambling capital” is officially known n as the City of Las Vegas, the most common name is simply “Vegas”. The name “Las Vegas” is derived from the spanish word for “The Meadows”. In the state of Nevada, Vegas is the most populated and ranks 28th on the list of most populated cities in the US. Las Vegas covers an area of 135.8 square miles and hence, the largest city in the greater Mojave Dessert. Vegas is at the forefront of Nevada’s financial, commercial and back cultural scene, it is also renowned worldwide as the capital of gambling, nightlife, exquisite dinning, and casinos.

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On my way back from Vegas I drove through the Mojave dessert, an arid rain-shadow desert that spans across 47,877 square miles in southeastern California and southern Nevada. Of all the desserts in North America, The Mohave is the driest.

Thousands of wind turbines at sunset

Some of the Mojave dessert also encroaches into Utah and Arizona, one of its most distinctive features is the presence of Joshua trees (native to only the Mojave Dessert) in its boundaries. The region is believed to be home to over 1900  plant species. Although The Mojave Dessert has densely populated communities like Las Vegas, Palmdale abs Victorville, its central region has a sparse population.

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With that my three-day road-trip is completed and it is back to work 🙂

 

Gunnebo Business Solutions, Gunnebo Retail Solution, Reflections, Retail, Sustainability

NRF: Sustainable retail, a vital next step

I came to New York in a jacket I bought second hand for EUR 25 in my hometown Ålesund. It is nice, warm and comfortable – and this is what is important to me. If 60-70% of your closet is not used, why not sell it so someone else can benefit from it?

It is a constant source of pleasure to me as I discover that some of my ideals are being put forth as visionary in the retail industry, which I am passionate about. In this year’s NRF, sustainability is one of the key points being discussed and an aspect of it is promoting of re-sale/second hand goods. It’s quite exciting to be a part of this and I will be sharing it all with you.

Young woman is browsing a rail of clothes at mall store

 

Visionary Voices of Ambition, Purpose and Inclusion

The keynote that caught my attention was with four strong female top managers, Mercedes Abramo from Cartier, Shannon Schuyler from PwC, Shawn Outler from Macy’s and Tammy Sheffer from Rent the Runway.

Revolutionizing businesses (ranging from retail to other industries) requires more than just motivational talk, calculable action is needed to unlock potentials and push the edges of possibility. And when it comes to leading the way, some of the biggest moves are coming from female executives. Progressive voices from the biggest names in retail teamed up with CEO Action leaders to share time-honed tactics and winning strategies that are practical.

Couple working in a bulk food store

There has always been a disparity in the treatment of female employees when compared to their male counterparts. Although informal moments are important, it isn’t quite sad that top female managers are treated different than their male opponents. This isn’t obviously not an issue common only in the retail industry, it’s a humanity issue.

What makes this difference in treatment more worrisome is that females even seem to thrive more in the retail industry since it is flexible work. Retail requires a lot of contact with clients and other entities (suppliers, producers, etc), females on average excel in such roles

Issues like this constitute some of the reasons why top management and CEOs are taking political stands more than ever. CEOs are realizing how powerful their voices are and the influence it yields. Progressive views are embraced by many top executives and they can greatly influence employees.

Retail 2020: The dawn of sustainability

The role of technology in retail has started to change the entire market landscape. It’s easy to imagine the stores of the future with magic mirrors or robotic sales assistants. Yes, there have truly been advancements in the technology used in the retail industry and the dawn of 2020 seems like the time for sustainability. Is sustainability growing to the point that it becomes crucial to your transformation journey? How will brands look to adopt technology and sustainability into their operations? If you are constantly plagued by these questions, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Retail and Consumer Goods, Shelley Bransten’s talk on sustainability and impact of technology on the industry will answer all your questions.  Together with Shelley will be Arti Zeighami, Head of AI & Sustainability for H&M, he will share H&M’s sustainability journey and how Microsoft technology equipped them to achieve their sustainability goals. It was good to see Arti again, it was truly an inspiration as always.

Arti noted that retailers are often faced with the question of quantification of product requirement, optimizing supply chain, how much to produce. He also explained that AI in H&M helps perform these computations with fantastic results. He went further to speak on some key tools employed in H&M.

Value chain analysis is a strategy tool used to monitor the internal activities of of a business, retailers in this case. Its primary function is to identify the most valuable activities and those that can be modified to enhance competitive advantage. Simply put, looking into internal activities through the analysis shows the areas where a retailer’s competitive advantages or disadvantages lie. This analysis can shed light on if a firm needs to improve its activities or reduce the operational costs of such activities.

Sometimes having the right products in the right place at the right time is what makes all the difference. Proper strategies and planning of logistic chain a can greatly improve convenience and and lead to higher ROI. Customers are likely to make purchases when products are close to them. Taking data from multiple systems will offer you totally new insights while employing various data mining techniques and technologies diversified your approach and gives you a broader perspective.

The road to sustainability is bound to have a few bumps; so, Test, fail, learn, pivot – then repeat. Making mistakes are inevitable in retail, turning these mistakes into learning experiences will greatly influence your growth rate. Taking on experiments boldly (within reason) and trying out new technology is highly encouraged.

RE-purpose revolution: Upcycling retail’s future

Sustainability has become a top trend. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be labeled as the savage who’s ruining the earth. One of the impacts of environmentalists is that they have successfully managed to make people feel that being environmentally conscious is the new cool. A similar scenario is is playing out in the cosmetics industry, there has been a big influx towards natural products. Tech and industrial giants have obviously noticed this change and adapted to make themselves to being more environment friendly. It’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that retail is shifting towards sustainability.

A lot of retail leaders are doing their best to ensure that they remain relevant and continue to offer their customers sustainable solution. Customers now base their purchase decision on the values of the brand; personal, social and environmental values. It is now clear that to get the best results, then brands have to make purpose-driven decisions that will easily transform the world into a better place. Brands can’t just go around doing what they like. They have to continuously keep the demands of the customer at the back of their mind. It’s only through this re-purpose revolution that the company can reach its peak and keep all of their customers happy. It may seem like a relatively new concept but adopting it is a great choice. So, how do you apply this to your own retail business? The best way to do this would be to learn from the best.

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Hear from some of the most innovative leaders from nimble retailers and break-through digital-first brands who are meeting consumer needs and disrupting the industry.

A fact to always have handy is that consumers are becoming more progressive and conscious; they want to buy second hand, but also need to see something fresh. Customers will willingly buy second hand if it looks appealing enough and satisfies their needs, it’s only a matter  of time before retail leaders set the trend. The growing consumer awareness on sustainability and environmental consciousness are perfect conditions for retailers to slowly introduce the concept of resale. Although a good percentage of this “awareness” in consumers  stems from the urge to look cool and follow trends, it’s  still solid enough for retailers to leverage on.

At some point,  retailers should understand that re-sale does not de-valuate the brand. Among the elite, minimalism and other such ideologies being adopted. These ideologies embraced by high-end customers make them more susceptible to brands that re-sale.

Celebrities sell or give away stuff from their closet that is not used, this on its own should be enough to shed more positive light or re-sale among retailers and customers, shouldn’t it? Resale does not discriminate, the world is ready for second hand sale and those is message that should be preached. The narrative that second hand goods are for the less privileged should be discarded, there’s simply isn’t any logic to it. On the other hand, a wide acceptance of second hand sale will boost the effectiveness and logistics  industries associated with retail.

Another similar idea to re-sale are clothing rental services for luxury items. Brands like Rent The Runway Unlimited, Gwynnie Bee  and New York And Company Closet are already creating significant traction in that field. They work by offering members monthly subscriptions and allowing them  rent 4-6 items at a time, brilliant isn’t it?

Similarly, ReBag is an online store that offers second hand luxury goods. Considering that 92% of luxury item should are bought offline, ReBag switches from online to omnichannel approach to sales. It will be quite interesting to observe the positive effects re-sale will have on brands.

Curious. Distinctive. Uncompromising. Conversations with Recode

Kara Swisher entered the stage with the confidence only she can radiate. New this year, NRF has partnered with Recode to introduce its straight to the point editorial interview style to NRF 2020 Vision’s arena. In this live interview, Recode co-founder and editor-at-large Kara Swisher will leverage her background in tech, media, and commerce to investigate some of the industry’s most pressing challenges, eliciting thought-provoking insights from her soon-to-be-announced interview subject. Swisher has led insightful conversations with likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton, Katrina Lake, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Jack Dorsey, and many other leading players impacting a broad swath of industries, including retail.

Nothing like a panel of four men talking about women’s clothing

Her “victim for the day” is Ben Silbermann who is an American billionaire Internet entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, a visual discovery engine, which lets users organize images, links, recipes and other things.

Ben gave the audience insight in how Pinterest is created for Inspiration in how to dress, decorate and behave. However Kara pointed out the problems with internet platforms, as they easily become playground for fraud and illegal activities like child pornography. Ben insisted that Pinterest has always had a clear etiquette on contents and are continuously working on enforcing this.

Not wanting to talk too much about the future, Ben could reveal that personalization, and that the consumer should see what they want to see will be important. Also ensuring the confidence of the merchants connected to the platform is important.

Closing KeyNote Goop Lab

The Goop Lab is an upcoming American documentary series about the lifestyle and wellness company, Goop, founded by American actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The series will be premiered on Netflix on January 24, 2020.

Goop started as a newsletter from Gwyneth at a point in her life where she wanted to move from acting into another business. Trying to fill the “whitespace” in her life, she started looking into what she calls Contextual Commerce, a concept where you talk, manufacture and sell what you like and what gives you pleasure.

Gwyneth has been a hot topic the last few weeks with her “Smells Like my Vagina” candle, a topic that amused the american audience here at NRF as well as the customers, as the candle was sold out the first day.

The partnership with Netflix generated criticism of the streaming giant for letting Gwyneth Paltrow use their platform to promote her company which has been under fire for making health claims with no backup evidence. Several critics termed the affair a “win for pseudoscience”. When the first trailer was released, the show received even more notable criticism from the scientific community and evidence-based critics. Gwyneth feels that she is often treated unfairly, but it is not like she wants to take her critics to court, all PR is as you know good PR.

This concludes by visit to NRF, but I will visit EuroShop soon, and look forward to keeping you up to date on what goes on in the world of consumer retail!

 

Commercial, Gunnebo Business Solutions, Gunnebo Retail Solution, Innovation, Internet of Things (IoT), Reflections

NRF: Technology keeps retailers two steps ahead

Socioeconomics or social economics is a branch of social science that tries to understand the effect of social structures and processses  on economic activity. At its basic, it studies the relationship between societies progress and local economy, or the global economy. 

Efficient social structures inadvertently lead to a stronger economy. Retail is a critical structure in any society, apart from its obvious importance in economic revenue, it is also a huge platform for human interactions at all levels. Embedding technology deeply into retail to the point that it reaches brick and mortar stores and small businesses will make a more efficient retail industry, and hence, economy.

During my second day at NRF, I wanted to focus on technology and how technology empower brick and mortart stores to keep relevant in 2020.

Female Executives are Leading the Way

Specific and measurable action is required for any scalable transformation in business, retail and other industries. Talk and plans alone cannot push and motivate performance and possibilities.  And when it comes to leading the way, some of the biggest moves are coming from female executives. Progressive voices from the biggest names in retail  and CEO Action leaders share fresh winning strategies, successful tactics, and takeaways that are both valuable and practical.

Horizontal photo african female boss talking at corporate meeting

There has always been a disparity in the treatment of female employees when compared to their male counterparts. Although informal moments are important, it isn’t quite sad that top female managers are treated different than their male opponents. This isn’t obviously not an issue common only in the retail industry, it’s a humanity issue.

What makes this difference in treatment more worrisome is that females even seem to thrive more in the retail industry since it is flexible work. Retail requires a lot of contact with clients and other entities (suppliers, producers, etc), females on average excel in such roles

Issues like this constitute some of the reasons why top management and CEOs are taking political stands more than ever. CEOs are realizing how powerful their voices are and the influence it yields. Progressive views are embraced by many top executives and they can greatly influence employees.

Visiting the Gunnebo Stand

Being a security and technology company, Gunnebo was of course present at NRF showing our cash management devices for retail. From cash management to loss prevention, there are several areas where Gunnebo Cash Management Solutions can help improve retail processes and security procedures to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance the customer experience.

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It was also good to meet ut with collegues I do not see that often, from Sweden, Holland, USA and Denmark amongst other.

Retail and the global social economics scene: The 2020 Vision

The business environment has effectively created space for retailers. But because of the nature of the market, new strategies are important to ensure that retailers can get the best and gain the required advantage. It is assumed that all retailers usually look to establish a fair amount of advantage. This usually ensures that the concept of globalisation is discussed in relation to the retail sector.

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So, how do factors such as government policies, such as tax reform, reciprocal trade agreements and monetary regulation, persist as key instruments in managing global economic health? Former US senator and Speaker of the US House of representatives, Paul Ryan joins NRF 2020 with Recode co-founder and editor-at-large Kara Swisher as expert panelists providing insights on the business impacts of recent political and policy decisions in Washington. Whether it’s tariffs, international trade agreements, tax reforms or impending Big Tech regulations, the former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Ryan, and tech and innovation authority, Swisher will explore and anticipate what lies ahead for consumers and the retail industry on the global stage.

It is in the interest of every retailer to embrace retail technology. All aspects of retail have some sort of software or technology that aids its smooth running. Customer tracking software can greatly improve customer experience and garner loyalty to your brand. Technology makes for a swift and clutter free way to analyze data, monitor sales and keep inventory.

POS (Point of sale), Executive Information Systems and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) are some ways technology can help in sales, warehousing and analysis.

Technology also has tremendous applications on the executive level. With data mining and planning software, executives can delegate most of their work and focus on strategic tests, hence increasing productivity.

Technology in retail is more important now than ever. It is so crucial that NRF has transformed from a retail show to a full blown tech show for one simple reason: most of the advancements in retail are directly as a result of tech advancements.

China Innovation Concept

China is the new innovator, the Chinese government is making huge investments in cooperation with private companies into AI, robotics etc. Domestic tech giants receive huge support from their government and this has yielded positive results in China’s retail sector. The almost sudden rise of Alibaba and other Chinese brands is testament to this fact. Innovation does not work in the same way in democratic countries as autocracies like China, and countries like USA can not outspend China in innovation simply because it does not enjoy the liberties of Chinese autocracy.

Another stepping stone in the path of USA retail technology is that the US does not have any laws to regulate new technology. EU has GDPR and heavy privacy legislation, but US is lagging behind. Unfortunatley the education is also lagging behind, and both modern US and EU must find ways to educate students for working with AI, not doing the same work as AI. This sort of education does not have to be costly and does not have to involve any complex learning, it should be simply focused on teaching people to make the best use of AI and expose them to how AI can increase productivity.

All in all a fresh discussion and enlightening discussion between Paul Ryan and Kara Swisher.

Cloud Computing: Paving the way for the future of retail

The retail industry is on the cusp of great change with customer expectations evolving and impacting all areas of the retail value chain. The most forward-thinking businesses recognize that they must embark on a digital transformation strategy to stay competitive and deliver innovation. And this involves the adoption of cloud computing. The investment brands in cloud computing has risen from about $4 billion in 2011 to a whopping sum of $15 billion in 2016. Retailers are looking to adopt cloud computing just like in the banking and manufacturing industries. There are numerous benefits that can accrue from the adoption of cloud computing.

Google Cloud Platform on a phone screen in a pocket

Winners are retailers that transforms the fastest. The most successful retail brands are those that pursue advancement and embed new systems into their business models. Cloud computing appears to be the next major milestone in retail technology and embracing it now is the way to stay competitive.

Personalization has always been key to brand identity, preserving the identity of your brand in this age of cloud based computing should be a priority. Technology should be utilized to to help retailers optimize the efficiency of business and not totally replace identity.

Digital advisors are automated investment platforms that process the construction and upkeep of an investment portfolio for retsilers. All it takes is opening an investment account, answering some questions about goals and risk tolerance, and the platform makes the best decisions based on answers given. In addition to ease of use and efficiency, digital advisors are also tax effective.

Google works with retailers to solve pain points and shape a future vision that focuses on a set of businesses that brings to bear the very best of Google. Using cloud technologies such as application development, data management, advanced analytics, and AI/ML capabilities, Google is helping retailers unlock impending opportunities. Join Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian and Kohl’s CTO, Paul Gaffney as they discuss how Kohls is infusing their business with intelligence and cloud capabilities to better serve employees and customers.

Global retail mindset: Bold moves from leaders looking to fuel future growth

Retail businesses have extended into every corner of the world. Every business leader is always concerned about the growth of his or her business but sometimes, it can be harder to achieve. This is due to the fact that many retail business owners lack the technical know-how to ensure the sustained growth of the business. A retail business will usually reach a peak after which it may seem like a herculean task to inspire any more growth. How possible is it to get the much-desired growth? Apparently, you have to learn from the techniques used by many industry experts. The insight could be the fuel that you need.

In consecutive interviews, hear from retail and brand executives with penchants for evolution who are tackling new growth challenges, reimaging core customer strategies, and living up to their “change agent” personas? Featuring leaders with bold ideas for leading enterprise transformation, each interview will examine the company’s current landscape, ideas to solve or proactively disrupt industry challenges, and each executive’s vision for future profitable growth.

Holiday, Reflections

Happy Holidays!

Many of my colleagues and friends ask me why I celebrate Christmas while being an atheist. In the Nordic, we actually do not call the holidays Christmas, we call it Jul or Yule. Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time” or “Yule season”) is a festival historically observed by the Germanic people. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.

holiday

Later departing from its pagan roots, Yule underwent Christianised reformulation, resulting in the term Christmastide. Many present-day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule traditions. Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are still used in Nordic countries and Estonia to describe Christmas and other festivals occurring during the winter holiday season.

Unlike Britain, the main Norwegian Christmas celebration takes place with a big Christmas dinner on 24th December, Christmas Eve. The choice of food varies depending on the area of Norway you are from, but often consists stock fish or fermented cod. However, the clear favorite, eaten by as many as six out of ten households, is ‘Ribbe’ – roast pork belly. In Sunnmøre, where I live, we eat Pinnekjøtt. Salty. Rich. Chewy & tender ribs of lamb.

Pork belly with crispy skin
Traditionally served with boiled potatoes, sausages, meat cakes, prunes, lingonberries and pickled cabbage, ‘Ribbe’ and its heavenly aroma is sure to bring you in the holiday mood.

The Holidays is about spending time with family and friends. It’s about creating happy memories that will last a lifetime.

The magical feeling that surrounds the Holidays is one that can’t be replicated at any other time of the year. It connects us regardless of our roots and beliefs in a spirit of thankfulness, love, joy and comradeship.

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The Holidays is about spending time with family and friends. It’s about creating happy memories that will last a lifetime.

Joy and sharing is a pivotal theme of the Holidays and we all have different ways of expressing these values as a result of our backgrounds and cultures. For some, the act of exchanging gifts is their way of expressing love and compassion this season, for others it’s just about taking a break from the rigors of corporate life and spending quality time with family and friends.

It has been a very busy year for me and my family. My girlfriend Therese took up a university education within finance and accounting, Sondre is in his pre-university study, Andreas has left the army and will start working in carpentry and Alexander is studying for his electrical degree. Now we will relax and enjoy each others company for the next few weeks, before we kick off the next year!

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Happy Holidays and all the best to you in the year to come!

Agile, Customer Journey, Gunnebo Business Solutions, Innovation, Methodology, Reflections, User Experience (UX)

Customer Experience and Customer Journey Mapping

After working in Sweden for 5-6 years I took the train from Gothenburg to Stockholm for the first time to attend a workshop on Customer Experience and Customer Journey Mapping. Since commuting across the country was a new experience for me, I chose to be 30min early for the train only to find the doors of the coach locked. Standing outside freezing, I took the time to find my ticket. I had received an SMS with my details a few days earlier, but to my surprise it said: “This is not your ticket”. So my customer experience with SJ prior to arriving at the Customer Experience and Customer Journey Mapping workshop wasn’t really a superb one.

Railway tracks and trains in Stockholm, Sweden.

While puffing and rumbling through the Swedish countryside, I had some time to prepare for the days to come. As a Product Owner it is of course imperative for me to understand everything about our product to deliver impeccable features and functionality to our customer.  However in a complex market the complete customer journey has become more important the recent years and my expectations for the next two days was to gain insights of processes and tools on how to improve my work on Customer Experience and the full Customer Journey when purchasing our services.

The workshop kicked off with an introduction of the participants and their roles, following a thorough explanation of what Customer Experience and Customer Journey Mapping is. The workshop was divided into six parts, all aiming to make content customers and employees: Strategy, Insights, Design, Measurement, Management and Culture.

The way to interact with customers and the focus on customer experience has significantly changed during the last 100 years. Back in 1913 when Woodrow Wilson was president, and USA went through the Progressive Era the focus was mostly on the product itself. However in the 1950’s the focus moved more towards the american dream and a very strong brand focus and transitioning into stronger customer relations through the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Pin up girl drinking cola in hip cafe

The focus on Customer Experience as we know is today started for real around the millennium, where new technology became available to both understand and interact with the customer. Also the consumers matured and expected more than just a product, introducing terminology like retailtainment and entertainmerce.

At its core, Customer Journey Mapping is a methodology that enable insight and understanding of customer’s with the aim of developing products or services that support innovation and business development through earning the satisfaction and loyalty of your customers. In a nutshell, I would call it a form of result oriented customer service.

The workshop was tailored to serve a wide range of people, specifically people responsible for customer experience, others were business managers, business developers, support and customer service managers, marketing managers and marketers, strategists, and product owners. Learning about Customer Experience together availed is the opportunity to create connections and offer each other insights relating to our various fields.

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Customer Experience Management is a strategy, methodology and process to manage a customers exposure, interaction and transaction with a corporation, a product/service and a brand. The discipline that is about developing service and business models that prioritize the customer in all of the company’s business processes, thus creating favorable conditions for growth. One of the fundamental aspects of CX is taking time to understanding the customer’s experience and contact points with your company. It involves careful documentation and recording of all forms of contact between a customer and the company to the extent that at a glance the customer’s journey can be visualized and understood easily; A Customer Journey Map if you will, which is a documentation/mapping of all the customer’s contacts with you as a company.

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During the course of the two-day workshop on learning about Customer Experience, we created a Customer Journey Map for a fictitious company and integrated the results into our respective businesses. We started off by understanding Customer Experience as a business discipline and it’s concepts, what makes up a customer experience and how to understand it. We then proceeded to Customer Journey Mapping, creates models with the aid of working methods, practical steps and guidance. A large part of the workshop was focused on “learning by doing”.

We moved onto Persona and Empathy mapping, gathering customer insights, customer needs and behavior, contact points and channels. This part was more about how to appropriately gauge a customer’s response and feelings when they make contact with our business. We were also taught how to effectively record these to facilitate these to facilitate business growth modeling. Happy customer = better business!

Our knowledge on the workshop was then put to the test by presenting us with practical exercises on creating Customer Journey Map and how to measure the progress of our services linked to Customer Journey Mapping.

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The final part of the learning curve was the most delicate: Business development and business management with CX and how you can introduce change to our business specifically. We were made to understand that without actual measurable growth, the aim of the workshop would not be met. So in essence, all CX and Customer Journey Mapping should lead to measurable growth.

Attending the two day workshop armed me with a lot of new skills in dealing with customers and I learnt basic understanding of Customers and experience as a business discipline. What I consider to be the most vital lesson learnt is understanding how an empathetic approach to customers can create an atmosphere that encourages sustainability and profitability in business for your company.

With all these exciting business models, I’m quite ready and anticipate implementing Customer Experience work plan!

Thank you to Camilla Lif and Johan Sjöström for a great workshop. If you enjoyed reading about the Customer Journey or have any questions or great ideas, feel free to reach out at bjorn.nostdahl@gunnebo.com 🙂

Reflections, Retail, Sustainability

Sustainability in Retail

Let’s face it, nobody wants to be labeled as the savage who’s ruining the earth. One of the impacts of environmentalists is that they have successfully managed to make people feel that being environmentally conscious is the new cool. A similar scenario is is playing out in the cosmetics industry, there has been a big influx towards natural products. Tech and industrial giants have obviously noticed this change and adapted to make themselves to being more environment friendly. It’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that retail is shifting towards sustainability.

Couple working in a bulk food store

What is interesting with sustainability is that it pretty much involves all parts of your life, thus all parts of the retail business. This includes production, logistics, operations to employees consciousness.  Since I work mostly with store operations, I In this post I would like to focus on eco-friendly technology and how this can be implemented in the retail industry.

This brings us to the question, what is eco-friendly technology? Also known as clean tech, green tech and environmental tech, eco-friendly technology can help preserve the environment through energy efficiency and reduction of harmful waste. Green tech innovators use the latest environmental science and green chemistry to reduce the harmful impact of human activity on the earth.

Green technology is still in its beginnings, but lots of interesting innovations have been executed in fields like renewable energy, water purification and waste management, as well as in everyday consumer products like electronics and vehicles. It can be as minute as a hand-held gadget or as immense as a new method of filtering greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Eco-friendly technology often involves Recycled, recyclable and/or biodegradable content, plant-based materials, reduction of polluting substances, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy-efficiency, Multi-functionality and Low-impact manufacturing.

Innovations in the field of green technology have included highly efficient LED lights, which could be used to make countless other gadgets more environmentally friendly, as well as promising growth in lesser-known renewable energies like algae oil. Companies such as Dell and Google are taking steps forward with eco-friendly technology in projects ranging from plant-based packaging to vast wind farms.
Eco-friendly technology innovations such as these will continue have a huge impact on tech, especially when implemented by companies with vast consumer base.

Eco-friendly technologies to join the fight against climate change include:

Direct to the Plumbing Rainwater Tanks

The water supply that reaches most businesses may be steady, safe, and clean. The energy used in the processing and distribution phases also comes from fossil fuels and other less-than-ideal sources, and therefore, not exactly eco-friendly. Harvested rainwater directed to a rainwater tank by means of a catchment area and a number of pipes. Since rain, in itself, is clean, it should not take much to purify it. Many of the filters you need in your system do not require energy to run, so it’s safe to say that with a rainwater harvesting system, you get water that’s safe to use without all the wasted energy.

Greywater Recycling Technology

These are best set up together with a rainwater harvesting system, allows one to reuse water that was just used for something else. The water that can be reused by this type of system can be rain or mains.

Solar and Wind Harvesting Technologies

The fact that Earth Hour participants are required to switch off all their home appliances and lights for one hour is proof that the electrical power we use comes from sources harmful to the environment. It is wonderful that a number of multinational companies have made, or are transitioning, to solar and wind harvesting tech. After all, solar power and wind are renewable and clean sources of energy.

LED and CFL Lighting

LED and CFL bulbs are better than older bulbs in three ways. They are brighter, require lesser energy to function, and last longer. There is absolutely no good reason to not use them.

Biodegradable Plastic

While not exactly new technology, just like the above, many companies are still struggling with making the switch to this type of plastic. This is despite the fact that it’s a lot safer for the environment since it does break down in time.
Let us all stop closing our eyes to the effects of climate change on us and our future and join this young girl in making the world a better and safer place for all the life around us. If you don’t believe you can make big changes to your life style, start with little things like taking your own shopping bag to the mall.

Influencers

So why do we see this intense focus on the environment now? The answer is probably complex, but we cannot underestimate the celebrities and influencers putting the science into layman’s terms. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be labeled as the savage who’s ruining the earth.

Environmentalist Greta Thunberg is a major trendsetter who, at age 15, began protesting in front of the Swedish parliament about the need for speedy action to combat climate change. Her “school strike for the climate” began garnering media attention and she has since become an outspoken climate activist.

In the last year, she has become a worldwide phenomenon of the climate change movement. Promoting #fridaysforfuture alongside millions of children across the globe to demand politicians, governments and corporations make positive moves regarding climate change.

people holding up colorful wooden letter lettering forming the words fridays for future isolated on white background. climate change global warming enviromental school protest concept.

Greta has received many prizes and awards for her strides in the improvement of the environment. In 2019, three members of the Norwegian parliament nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize. And in May 2019, at the age of 16, she was featured on the cover of Time magazine.

At a TEDx speech in November 2018, Thunberg said that she first heard about climate change at the age of eight, but could not understand why so little was being done about it. At age 11, she developed depression and stopped talking. Later she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism. She added that selective mutism means that she was speaking only when she needed to and that “now is one of those moments. She said, “I feel like I am dying inside if I don’t protest”.

To lower her family’s carbon footprint, Greta insisted on becoming vegan and give up flying. She said she persuaded her parents to give up eating meat by making them feel guilty. “I kept telling them that they were stealing our future.” Thunberg says her teachers are divided in their views about her missing class to make her protest. She muses: “As people they think what I am doing is good, but as teachers they say I should stop.” She was also quoted saying, “Sometimes the world makes so little sense that the only thing to do is engage in civil disobedience—even in a country as attached to its rules and regulations as Sweden is”.

Young woman demonstrating against Climate Change

Siv Skard, Associate Professor at Kristiania University College researches consumer behavior. She highlights that people are always concerned about how others look at them and judge them. This is a great point that can be taken advantage of from a business perspective.

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People are self-centered and if they notice that they are being watched, you can promote concepts like ‘go green’ or ‘go healthy’ which people tend to buy.

So, we might move into a greener future for the wrong reasons, but most important is that we are on the right path!

If you are interested in hearing more about the future of retail operations, feel free to contact me at bjorn.nostdahl@gunnebo.com 🙂

Commercial, Gunnebo Business Solutions, Gunnebo Retail Solution, Innovation, Reflections, Retail

Norwegian Trade Conference; BOPIS + BORIS = True

I had the opportunity to attend the Norwegian Trade Conference in Oslo 24th September featuring some of the most interesting retailers in Norway, and even a couple of international speakers. The focus for this years conference was BOPIS + BORIS = True, but some of the keynotes also focused on traditional retail and omnichannel.

Trade is never a dying concept but rather a constantly changing industry. This rapid change and advancement bought in two e-commerce acronyms to the market. This is none other than BOPIS which is abbreviated for buy online and pick up in-store facility and BORIS which is bought online and return in-store.  So what does this give your business? How does it support customers to have a better shopping experience? These are the questions we intend to answer by the end of this article.

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These new purchasing behaviors have widened the scope of shopping gives more flexibility and convenience to your business. Let’s dig in deeper and see what advantages these new Omni channels provide you with.

From apocalypse to renaissance?

Trade would never reach an apocalypse. Rather, it gives new beginnings just like the renaissance. So, it can be related to it as well.  There is one question that many have in mind when it comes to engaging consumers and maintaining relationships with them further with regards to trade and business. Is trade all about customer experience or it solely based on price? 

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Old rusty cash register on the floor of an abandoned store in Pripyat – Chernobyl nuclear power plant zone of alienation.

Recent statistics that mainly focused on Norwegians show that Norwegian shoppers who shopped in physical brick and mortar stores in Norway increased by 16% from 2012-2018 and those who shopped abroad in physical stores increase by 76% in the same time frame. 

On the other hand, Norwegian shoppers who purchased from Norwegian online stores increased by 101% and purchasing from international stores increased by 146% from 2012-2018.

It also revealed that 50% of consumers preferred physical stores whereas 20% preferred online stores. However, 30% did not really have a particular preference. 

Therefore, these facts show that customer service is not just a department or a small fraction in the trade industry. It plays a bigger role as the main purpose is to build a loyal member and focus every aspect of keeping the customer in the center. Simply said, the customer is the boss! Not to forget while the store is 50%, delivery is equally important and takes about another 50% nowadays.

From apocalypse to relevance

Peterson was the speaker of the year during “The Big Show” in New York in January and has about 30 years of experience as a retailer, strategist, and speaker. His innovative approaches to modern retail and strong expertise in cultural trends are his specialty. 

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Lee Peterson – EVP: Thought Leadership & Marketing – WP Partners

It was pointed out that retail closures were more than openings in the USA and the sole reason was shoppers were looking for more facilities than just shopping. Whilst shopping, they looked for eating spots and food halls are a great technique. They also look into children’s play areas, fitness centers, green spaces to relax, farmers’ markets, places to buy household items and other facilities. For example, farmers’ markets have 3985 in 2014 to 9027 in 2019 as buying fresh fruits and vegetables has increased over the years and a consumer on average spends about $16 per visit.

Therefore, many shoppers looked for an all-in-one place to get all that they need. Therefore, incorporating this concept shows that shopping is not dead yet, but rather the way shopping is done must be changed. This is where BOPIS and BORIS become two famous traditions that are followed these days for customer convenience. 

BOPIS and BORIS

BOPIS

Unlike earlier days, people are less patient and expect instant gratification. Thus, BOPIS is very useful for people who are stuck in workplaces or traffic and do not really have the time to choose items in shops. Through this, they get the option of choosing the goods they need online and picking it up on the store. This saves time for people with busy schedules to smoothen their shopping. On the other hand, when customers pick their goods, 75% of them also purchase additional items while in-store.

Looking at the near future, the use of technology will be more heavily incorporated into shopping. For example, having 3-D views of products and being able to visually shop their stores and getting it delivered. 

BORIS

This is another option where you could buy online and get it delivered. However, if you want to exchange or return to a physical store, you can do so. So the hassle of return shopping is eliminated and is a convenient service. The benefit of it is that when customers visit the store to return goods, there is a high chance that they might exchange or even buy additional goods.

But these innovations won’t mean it is the end of shopping centers because having physical stores gives delight to people which virtual stores cannot give. People like to touch, feel or smell which online stores cannot give because those sensations can induce spontaneous purchases.

The line between physical stores and online stores will get thinner and thinner day by day and a new concept will come known as a physical store which will create a fluid web-to-store system with a smooth customer experience. Therefore, many different methods will be used with different approaches to reach different audiences.

How to create total seamlessness between the web and the store?

As Hauk Landsverk, Digital Director of  Elkjøp expressed, to create a seamless integration between web and physical store is through these omnichannel approaches like BOPIS and BORIS to create a link between physical stores and mobile, telephone or computer devices.  Through these, customers will enjoy the benefits of technology which will simultaneously cater to their needs as well. It will be customer-centric rather than product-centric where it is based on the customer’s journey and experience which is a fundamental factor.

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It speeds off the web

Siv Heleen Grødem, entrepreneur and owner of the Suser i Sivet highlights certain strategies to enhance the shopping experience such as instead of selling individual clothes,  you sell a full costume. Apart from that other factors like social media promotions by stores, online presence and personal services like cash on delivery are a few aspects that also enhance the shopping experience. 

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Suser i Sivet also won the prestigeous award for retailer of the year: “The winner is the result of hard and planned work over many years, a willingness to invest and dare to try out new things and excellent marketing in social media. The result is a modern, forward-thinking business that masters the demanding art of combining online sales and physical store in an excellent way.”

Different industries, same customer – how to meet future customer needs

Ingjerd Blekeli Spiten, Executive Vice President of  PersonMarked highlights modern payment options like mobile banking and paying online as new developments that make purchasing more easier and convenient. Most banks and online payment gateways are trustworthy and reliable where almost 90% of people trust their banks and 20% of the people trust global payment systems like PayPal.  There are few others as well that rely on social media payments, IT companies or mobile companies.

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Keeping up with the consumers – how Zalando aims to become the starting point for fashion

David Hejgaard, Regional Lead Nordics of Zalando reflects on Moore’s law stating evolution is much faster than ever where customers tend to shop anywhere at any time of the day. Most physical stores have partnered with virtual stores where people can choose the color and size of what they need. If this is available in the virtual warehouse, they can purchase it. 

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How to prepare for a different future?

Truls Fjeldstad, Director of marketing and business intelligence at NorgesGruppen is a charismatic guy who mainly focuses on sustainability. He believes that classical stores where you pick and pay will continue to exist and never halt. Thus, to prepare for this, new features and services must be introduced to support the traditional brick and mortar stores. These include personal assistants, IoT, automation, and delivery as well. 

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How to leverage customer data and not just collect it?

Anton Nytorp, Head of CoopX at Coop Norway is a firm believer in heat mapping. This is a great technique to understand customer’s purchasing behaviors in the store. These analytics show actions and what your customers usually like. It is a good way to record data in a way that can be interpreted rather than just merely collecting it. 

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Furthermore, placing similar products of different vendors is another great technique so consumers have many options to choose from if they don’t like a particular product type or brand. This also shows and helps identify which products are more likely to be bought.  Having an unmanned- store in Norway is also on the bucket list as it will show what customers actually want and not forced or induced to buy sales representatives. 

Symbolic consumption and self-concept

Siv Skard, Associate Professor at Kristiania University College researches consumer behavior. She highlights that people are always concerned about how others look at them and judge them. This is a great point that can be taken advantage of from a business perspective.  People are self-centered and if they notice that they are being watched, you can promote concepts like ‘go green’ or ‘go healthy’ which people tend to buy. 

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How to create results online from the first click?

Rune Kjeldsen, General Manager at “Hekta på Tur” began his first business at the age of 22 which was sold to a Dutch company. He then began an online store called Hekta Pa Tur which has steady and stable growth. Today it is a leading profitable store.

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Thus the moral of the story is when the wind of change blows, you must build a windmill if you’re a winner because losers will build wind-shields instead.

The customer experience is what will differentiate you from the competitors in the future. 

Always keep in mind that customer experience is far more important than having a good customer service system. Thus, to ensure smooth and efficient customer experience, it is necessary to indulge in profitable and sustainable business models inclusive of Omni channels like BOPIS and BORIS. These strategies are what gives customers a better overall experience.

Sveinung Jørgensen, Associate Professor at INN and Lars Jacob Tynes Pedersen, Associate Professor at NHH research on sustainable and profitable business models working closely with Norwegian and international companies. They have published a book together called ‘RESTART 7 Roads for Sustainable Business Models’. You can read more about them at www.JorgensenPedersen.no

There are a few ways to enhance the customer experience. You can Redesign the business model and approach focusing on a customer-centric fashion model as it is important to see through the customer’s eyes.

Controlled experiments is another process of understanding customers and to see their issues beforehand. You can see the usability of the products, how well people can use and their overall experience and impression of the particular product or service.

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Another method is Circular processes which are usually adapted by product-oriented companies who have sought ways to give in a service and benefit from it. For example, you purchase a washing machine and pay in a cycle whereas the manufacturer will ensure that it works properly and service it when needed. Service logic is quite similar to a circular process and is relatively new which focuses on exchanging services than just goods.

Alliances are equally important to engage with your customers and communicate with them throughout their shopping journey. You can get information such as feedback, their experiences. Knowing these you can adapt means to ensure customer’s expectations are met. Another important aspect is Results that are obtained by different analysis will help you identify loopholes and fix any issues to enhance the overall customer experience.
The three dimensions of customer experience are segregated into three elements. The first is a success where the customer is able to get what he/she requires and also see if the interaction was successful or not. An effort is analyzed to see how much effort the customer had to personally put to get a successful interaction. Lastly, emotion is whether the overall interaction left the customer delighted or disappointed.

The changeover process in the green shift

Anita Sørlundsengen, Retail Director and  Øyvind Andreassen, Senior Region Manager at ST1 Norway highlights the importance of the green shift in the modern century.  Gas stations have now transformed into energy stations with new concepts constantly developing. See how ST1 / Shell at retail director Anita Sørlundsengen and retailer Thommas Landsem have created the energy station of the future with special emphasis on good customer experiences. 

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From market leader to challenger

Lars Kristian Lindberg, CEO / Managing Director at Gresvig emphasized that Gresvig was in need of a change or an advancement from a strong national brand to a more profitable international brand. Ole Sauar, Founder and CEO of Jollyroom stated that social media and influencers are a great method to grow your business in an international platform. Also having playing zones is another key idea. 

Also keep in mind that nordic countries who balance between socialism and capitalism have better economic efficiency and growth and thus, investors must carefully consider this aspect as well.

The key is to hit the emotional muscle

Sondre Gravir, CEO of the SATS group which is a leading fitness center chain in the Nordic region highlights that rather than focussing on getting in participants to the gym, the focus must be on getting the customer to the gym.

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New business models

Emilie Stordalen, daughter of Peter Stordalen and part owner at Strawberry Group is a charismatic and down-to-earth personality. She currently works to develop and operate digital platforms. The specialty about her is that she focuses on individual people such as Amanda, who is young and modern to Anders, who is a bit aged and classical which gives a more personalized experience to customers. 

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Another strategy used is that they tend to use low-quality locations such as basement rooms and give high-quality experiences like LED walls where you feel like you have woken up in a rainforest. These minute details are very important to create a positive image about your services or goods to the customers.

If you are interested in hearing more about the future of retail and IoT, feel free to contact me at bjorn.nostdahl@gunnebo.com 🙂

Holiday, Reflections

Finally Vacation :-)

Finally it is vacation time again – and I can spend some precious time with my family 🙂

17th May Celebration

The summer starts (as always) with the celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day – the national day of Norway – and is an official public holiday observed on May 17th each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as syttende mai (lit. “seventeenth May”), Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day).

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The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17th in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars.

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The unique tradition of the celebration of the 17th of May brings some complexities. That is the reason why it is often confusing and hard to understand for a new-comer to Norway with all the fuzz during the day. The children carry flags and march together with bands. Ice cream, hot dogs and other goods to eat are abundant. The buildings are decorated with Norwegian flags and women and men of all ages dress in their Bunad, or national costume. Graduating high school students wear their russedress and celebrate the approaching school year’s end. The sound of loud music is heard from every corner. Understanding of all these 17th of May traditions requires some historical and social background knowledge.

Sweden Rock

Working in Sweden, I had the opportunity to attend the Sweden Rock festival. Classic rock, hard rock, metal and even some blues – something for all tastes. Clean and neat, safe and secure. Ocean-near location, cozy grass hillsides and real lavatories. But most of all, a really friendly and good-natured atmosphere. Like one big family, with members from over 50 countries. The best audience in the world, quite frankly.

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The festival ran from Wed, 5 Jun 2019 – Sat, 8 Jun 2019, and I had a really great time in one one of the most exhilarating festival in the world. It promises to be a good time.

Tons of Rock

Lagends like Kiss, Def Leppard and Satyricon played at Tons of Rock, and I was overwhelmed to attend this great event!

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Dream Theater had a great show, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the masterpiece “Images & Words” with us at Ekebergsletta.

Maintenance and Spring Cleaning

Spring is the time to roll up the sleeves and fix whatever the long winter has torn down or wore out. Painting the house, cleaning the back yard and of course applying antifouling paint on the boat to keep the sea-weed away.

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I also took the time to fit out the shed with a hardware lab, so the family and myself can work on mechanic repairs outside. The first task at hand was to fix the injection fuel pump for the boat as this had corroded during the winter.

Sun and Sand in Spain

This year (as always) we will go to Orihuela Costa in Spain. Orihuela Costa is a coastal region situated on the Costa Blanca in the province of Alicante. It sits close to the border with Murcia, near La Manga and the beautiful Mar Menor. Despite its name it is actually around 20 kilometres away from the main resort of Orihuela.

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The region covers several resorts including Punta Prima, Playa Flamenca, La Zenia, Cabo Roig, Villamartin, Campoamor and Mil Palmeras.

Orihuela Costa is an ideal destination for those looking for a beach family holiday, with 16 kilometres of diverse coastline. It is also an excellent choice for golf holidays; in fact Orihuela Costa is well equipped for all needs, with lots of amenities, facilities and leisure attractions

Cartagena Roman Theater

The theater was built between 5 and 1 BCE, and for centuries was covered by a cathedral built over the upper part of the the theater’s “cavea,” or seating area. The first remains were discovered in 1988, and the theater underwent restoration, completed in 2003. Today the ancient arena still holds performances, and there is a museum at the site displaying the finds from a series of archaeological excavations.

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Alicante Castle

Alicante boasts many treasures. And among its most prominent is indisputably the Castle of Santa Bárbara, which stands on Mount Benacantil overlooking the city. Hewn from millenary stone, this fortress has witnessed centuries of history in this ancient city and even played a leading role in several chapters.

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Leisure and Activities for the Kids

Not living the kids out, there would also be fancy events and activities they can do to make them enjoy this holiday. I understand that visiting some of these places can be a bore to them, and some places may even be over exiting..

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Music and Entertainment for the Dad

Every Tuesday and Friday I will go to the lunch jam at El Rincon Del Tio Cali where the local musicians will entertain and involve us in fantastic musical experiences. I most likely would be visiting here on my own probably after the kids have gone to other fancy places to catch fun time.

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Leyendas del Rock

Leyendas del Rock is a rock and metal festival that takes place in the city of Villena, Spain. Now celebrating their fourteenth edition – and the seventh consecutive year in it current location – the festival has become a respected date in the calendar of heavy metal fans thanks to the lineups of the scene’s favourites.

With more than 60 performers spread across four days and five stages, the high-octane display of hard-hitting rock sounds will this year be headlined by Australian four-piece Airbourne and legendary Irish rockers Thin Lizzy, among others.

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So, have a nice vacation everyone – I will see you again in 26th August 🙂

Commercial, Fashion, Gunnebo Business Solutions, Innovation, Microsoft Azure, Reflections, Retail

Microsoft Pivot: Envisioning the Future of Digitalization

May 29th, Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft invited Nordic customers and partners for a small conference in Sweden, putting forth his ambitions for the future. This was Nadella’s first ever visit to Sweden, since stepping into the shoes of the company’s CEO. He touched upon issues of today’s tech world, but most importantly made Swedish people aware of his company’s firm belief in global digitization and describe what the future holds in store.

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Photo: Brian Smale/Microsoft

Self-discipline & excitement-seeking are two pillars of Satya’s personality, which has made this Indian-origin techy an intellect worldwide; from Asia to Europe we all treat him with the warm welcome.

Dinner with Microsoft’s ISV Team

A day before the Nadella’s address, I was invited for dinner and socializing hosted by Joanna and Martin from Microsoft. ISV stands for Independent Software Vendor and present individual or companies those who develop, market and sell software running on third-party hardware and software platforms such as the Microsoft.

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The term ISV is prominent in the tech world, used by most tech companies including Microsoft. To understand this from a layman’s term, when Microsoft was in the pursuit of developing windows, its partnerships with numerous companies/individuals to take their project forward both on the technical and non-technical front.

Next Morning, I had the opportunity to see some of the companies that has implemented their solutions on the Microsoft platforms at hotel Berns. There we received a pep talk to Microsoft and partners on the future and what efforts we need to put to make sure it is heading the right direction.

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The Microsoft tech show commenced in style with the tunes of Sweden’s most renowned DJ and Saxophone artist Andreas Ferrronato. His soul-soothing set the mood 🙂

The Volvo Group Digitizing its Operations

Hillevi Pihlblad from Volvo Group talked about how employees hate change and across the globe it is not easy to adapt to changes. Further, she illustrated how the Volvo Group has translated the changes into something positive and made people understand why embracing change can make their lives convenient.

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The H&M Group And The Use of AI To Serve Their Customers The Best

A senior executive and business leader of the H&M Group, Arti Zeighami talked about how the company is investing in Artificial Intelligence technology to tailor store offerings. Heading the Advanced Analytics and AI function, he gave a presentation on how H&M Group is implementing advanced algorithms to scrutinize sales an returns. Further, helped them more efficiently predict the needs and demands of their customers.

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Satya Nadella, The Man of the Moment Taking The Center Stage

Then, finally came the moment when Helene Barnekow introduced Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella. He was treated with great warm claps from the tech people present.

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Nadella who took over the job role of CEO from Steve Ballmer in 2014, is globally renowned for his dynamic leadership and a true passion for technology innovations. Prior to being the company’s CEO, Nadella was Microsoft EVP of the cloud and enterprise group.

His journey as a CEO has transformed Microsoft in terms of technology, also accentuating the company’s business model and corporate culture.  His emphatic leadership abilities steered Microsoft from struggling smartphone strategy to focus on other technical aspects such as the Augmented Reality and Cloud Computing.

He was also responsible for the purchase of Linkedin, a network of professionals for around $26.2. Did you know since taking over as CEO, company’s stocks have increased by 150%?

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The theme of the address by Satya Nadella was how communities and companies are uniting together for the digitized future of Sweden. This speech was largely about Microsoft’s own digital products and services, and how they can drive the world forward.

On his address to the tech people of Sweden, he threw light on various segments of technology-the Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation & Innovation. The American giant was in Stockholm to make a big announcement about setting up data centers in the country.

“We have the ambition that the data centers we build in Sweden should be among the most sustainable in the world, this is another step in strengthening our position as a long-term digitization partner for Swedish businesses”

Key Highlights from Nadella’s Address

“It would be wrong for me not to talk about trust. Because in the end, it is something that will be very important to us – not only to create new technology but to really assure that there is confidence in the technology that we create” he says on stage and continues “We need to create systems that handle personal data and security as a human right.”

Satya Nadella talked about the recent investment his company is making in Sweden. Among all the tech things, Microsoft two centers to be built in Gävle and Sandviken, they will be the most sustainable in the world.

“We will use one hundred percent renewable energy. They will also be completely free from operational emissions. We set a new standard when it comes to the next generation data center. It starts here in Sweden,” said Satya Nadella.

Apart from the data centers, Satya Nadella also highlighted the recent key partnerships during his speech at the China Theater. He further talked about company collaboration with Kiruna, this city makes use of Microsoft Hololens and AR to plan the city’s underground infrastructure.

Microsoft in Sweden

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO Put Forth Examples of Company’s Interest in the Country;

”There have been huge breakthroughs in the last three years, regardless of whether we are talking about object identification or voice recognition. This must be translated into infrastructure. Here we invest heavily.”

“Take Spotify who has a new very cool podcast tool. It lets anyone do their own podcast and they use our speech recognition to convert speech into text. The most interesting thing they do is that for anyone who wants to modify their podcast, they can enter and edit in writing and that the podcast then automatically changes. It shows how to use AI to make it more efficient”

Ending the Visit on a High

Later in the day, Nadella visited the Samhall innovation Days, a hackathon with the aim of “creating the conditions for people with a diagnosis within the autism spectrum to come into operation”, in the company’s press release.

Last summer, Microsoft announced two data centers in Norway to take their cloud computing services to entire Europe.

“By building new data center regions in Norway, we facilitate growth, innovation and digital transformation of Norwegian businesses – whether large companies, the public sector or some of the 200,000 small and medium-sized companies that together create the future of Norway,” said CEO Kimberly Lein-Mathisen in Microsoft Norway when the Norwegian plans became known.

Nadella declared that both the data centers will run on 100% renewable energy, so this project is in the welfare of the country, creating an ocean of newer opportunities for the locals. He also talked about his company’s association with the tech companies/communities in Sweden; one is the Kiruna city and other being the Sandvik Company.

The address at the China Theater in Stockholm by Microsoft’s top boss, Satya Nadella was like a pep talk. He gave his viewpoint on a variety of technology aspect. Most importantly, he announced the company’s program of building two data centers in this Nordic country.