Thursday, 19th October 2017

ProJet Aviation and The Hoxton Agency Award Aviation Scholarship to Local Student

Posted on 27. Aug, 2012 by in Calendar, TECHNOLOGY

scott bell scholarship
Kaj Dentler, Leesburg Airport Director; Kelly Burk, Leesburg Town Council; Julie O’Brien, Expo Co-founder; Shye Gilad, CEO of ProJet Aviation; Scott Bell, Student Recipient; Dennis Boykin, Leesburg Airport Commission Chairman; Sarah Thompson, Expo Co-founder; Kristen Umstattd, Mayor of Leesburg; Clay Hoxton, The Hoxton Agency. Photo taken by Joey Darley

Kaj Dentler, Leesburg Airport Director; Kelly Burk, Leesburg Town Council; Julie O’Brien, Expo Co-founder; Shye Gilad, CEO of ProJet Aviation; Scott Bell, Student Recipient; Dennis Boykin, Leesburg Airport Commission Chairman; Sarah Thompson, Expo Co-founder; Kristen Umstattd, Mayor of Leesburg; Clay Hoxton, The Hoxton Agency. Photo taken by Joey Darley

Leesburg, Va…The first scholarship from the Aviation Education and Career Expo has been presented to Scott Bell of Loudoun County, Virginia. The scholarship, in the amount of $2,000, was co-funded by ProJet Aviation and The Hoxton Agency. Bell was awarded the scholarship in response to an essay contest about why he wanted to pursue a career in the aviation industry. An excerpt of his essay is outlined below:

“I like aviation because it provides a different perspective of the world that no other career can offer – it will take me places, both physically and mentally.  I am attracted to the excitement of traveling to new places and expanding my view of the world and its people.  I also like aviation because it combines physics and technology; I like complex machinery and the systems that keep them operating. I want to become a flight instructor; teaching is a way for me to share knowledge with others and share the exciting field of aviation while refining my skills.”

Bell has been accepted at Kansas State University at Salina, and plans to use the scholarship funds to purchase school supplies and flight training hours.

The 7th annual Aviation Education and Career Expo will be hosted by ProJet Avaition on October 26, 2012 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM at its corporate hangar on the Leesburg Executive Airport. The Hoxton Agency will join ProJet in bringing this event to the community, along with the following sponsors: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Flight Safety International, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, USAIG, and Rickman Construction Company. There is no charge for admission and a free lunch is provided for all attendees.

This event, geared primarily toward youth aged 16-20, attracts between 4-500 students, educators and parents annually, and provides an opportunity to interact with more than 40 aviation vendors. The vendors represent diverse and exciting aviation and aerospace careers including US military and national security assignments; emergency medical airlift; law enforcement; aircraft maintenance; government; medevac; avionics and more.

About ProJet Aviation (www.ProJetAviation.com)

ProJet Aviation is the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area’s premier aircraft management and charter company, specializing in private jet management, worldwide charter flights, aviation consulting, and acquisition services.  ProJet operates a full service jet center in Leesburg, Virginia, with additional bases in Winchester and Manassas. A Washington Business Journal “Best Place to Work,” ProJet combines the safe and secure operational practices of the world’s best air carriers with the refined service of a world-class resort.

Office in The Cloud

Posted on 30. Apr, 2012 by in OPERATIONS, TECHNOLOGY

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There are a multitude of cloud technologies that enable firms to create a completely virtual work environment. This virtual environment operates at lower cost, requires less technology-specific skills to operate and fully supports employees’ flexible work needs.

Wikipedia defines cloud computing as “the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, soft ware and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network–typically the Internet.” In simpler terms, cloud computing enables firms to make use of complex business solutions available through the Internet and serviced by outside providers. Because these firms use solutions available through the Internet, they do not need technology infrastructure and staff .

TYPES OF CLOUD TECHNOLOGY
There are numerous cloud technologies in the market place for both small and large firms. Large firms will typically supplement their existing infrastructure with cloud solutions. Smaller firms can run all operations with cloud technologies. Each firm has different requirements, so a detailed vendor analysis is important in the success of any implementation. Examples of the functions cloud technology can support, as well as some of the providers, are listed below:

Portal, Storage, Calendar & Email: These solutions allow a firm to store vast amounts of corporate information and control access to this information in sophisticated ways, all in the cloud. For example, employee records can be persisted in the cloud with access provided to only those in Human Resources. Essentially, the cloud allows the whole corporate information infrastructure to be made available to an employee’s laptop or PDA with no corporate owned IT infrastructure aside from the laptop and PDA. Hyper Office and Google are two popular providers..

THERE ARE NUMEROUS CLOUD TECHNOLOGIES IN THE MARKET PLACE FOR BOTH SMALL AND LARGE FIRMS

Customer Relationship Management: There are numerous options in the market to track data on customers and support the customer interaction processes. Many of the features are customizable allowing a firm to meet their needs. Net Suite and Sales Force are two popular providers..

Time Reporting: These solutions provide time entry, expense submission, tracking of projects and streamlining of payroll operations. Popular providers include Tenrox, Open Air and Replicon..

Performance Management: These solutions support the employee performance management function, such as employee goals entry, tracking progress towards personal and firm goals, and entry of performance reviews and sign-offs. Some options include Success Factors, Halogen, Clarity Systems and Long-View..

Back Office Operations: Th ere are many outsourcing firms to completely outsource the accounting function, and those are mainly based out of India, yet there are stateside options to manage payroll to include ADP, Alliance and Intuit..

Meetings: Skype and others provide video conferencing and virtual one-on-one meetings. Go To Meeting, Any Meeting and others are used to share computer screens with multiple audience members. Free Conference Calls enables a free line for audio conferencing.

BENEFITS OF USING CLOUD TECHNOLOGY
Empowerment: Ability to have control of systems and make necessary changes as opposed to central information technology (IT) support staff

Cost: Paying monthly or annual fees versus capital and operational expenditures Location: Employees can access data and conduct work with Internet connection Support: Enables sharing of resources from the service provider and ensures reliability, scalability, high performance and security with service level agreements.

Maintenance and Upgrades: The service providers constantly enhance the technology versus having internal IT staff constantly upgrading to meet business needs. Culture: Enabling flexible work schedules and telecommuting can enhance employee morale and loyalty.

Given all the advantages of cloud technology, it’s important to ensure business processes are constantly monitored to determine ways to streamline operations. If cloud technology allows a firm to have a virtual operations team, they must also figure out ways to ensure there is human interaction through social events and conference calls. Staying on the cutting edge and enabling employees to have flexible schedules is a shift in the market, yet human interaction will never be replaceable.

The Sky’s The Limit

Posted on 30. Apr, 2012 by in OPERATIONS, TECHNOLOGY

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Seemingly everyone in the technology world, not to mention the C-suite, is talking about cloud computing. With the cloud’s perceived promise of agility, cost savings and effi ciency, these discussions aren’t surprising.

However, if one were to ask ten people, “What is cloud computing?” you would get 11 different answers. Of these answers, it’s quite likely that many of these answers will be correct, even if they vary dramatically.

While it’s convenient to have simple, user friendly catch phrases like “cloud computing,” the reality is that this blanket term spans a myriad of technologies and services. Cloud computing services cover a wide gamut of target users, functionalities, cost structures, security profiles and complexities.

In conversations with customers, the DLT Cloud Advisory Group is finding that many customers are familiar with the buzzwords. Unfortunately, when it comes to anything beyond buzzword compliance, many people are struggling with identifying exactly which aspects of cloud computing are going to provide the most value. Most people just don’t know where to begin when it comes to analyzing requirements, evaluating the diversity of cloud offerings and determining the specifics of implementation or migration.

Ignoring cloud for a moment, within the traditional data center, IT architects have a variety of tools available for creating IT services. They have RISC, x86, and ATOM and ARMbased processors. They have Windows, Linux, UNIX and mainframe operating systems.

EACH CLOUD SERVICE IS DESIGNED TO MEET SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS

They also have a number of choices for storage platforms, network designs, application servers, databases and development languages. The best thing about these choices is that in the hands of a skilled architect, these tools can be applied to solve real business problems.

Cloud services add a whole new collection of tools to the IT architect’s arsenal. These cloud services come in different service and delivery models, and each cloud service should be evaluated for a best fit for a new application.

Different cloud services also cater to different security profiles, developer environments, levels of control and types of applications. Each cloud service model has specific business and IT benefits, challenges and trade-off s. Before beginning to evaluate a cloud service, a common understanding of cloud terms and models is needed – a common taxonomy, if you will. To foster a common understanding of cloud computing, DLT Solutions has written Cloud Computing for Govies (http://www.dlt.com/cloudgovies). This book addresses questions like, “What is cloud computing?”; “What are the different service and delivery models?” and “What should be considered when evaluating options?”

This book removes the noise and focuses on the basics. It starts by framing the business case and provides the context for how cloud computing has emerged as a potentially compelling alternative to traditional computing models. Within this section, the difference between virtualization and cloud computing is explained – two models that are oft en mistakenly conflated. It also clarifies the different delivery models that range from on-premise, private clouds that are only available to a single agency, to Internet accessible public cloud services that are available to everyone.

There are lots of “Things as a Service” out there. When you peel back the layers of a cloud service and look at it from a target consumer and completeness of business value perspective, you will see patterns emerge. Cloud Computing for Govies breaks down the various models for cloud computing and distills them down into the three most common “as a service” models.

Namely, these three models are Soft ware, Platform, and Infrastructure as a Service. Each of these service models are given their own chapters, explaining the core benefits of each service type and providing examples of current usage within both private and public sector.

The book goes beyond the basics by presenting common cautions and considerations to keep in mind when evaluating different cloud computing platforms. For example, when evaluating cloud vendors, one should be aware that the Service Level Agreements and Terms of Service tend to be locked down and pre-defined, leaving little room for negotiation. Another tip the book provides is that when using nearly all cloud services, it is the responsibility of the consumer to monitor performance and availability. Data portability, the book goes on, can become a challenge when moving between cloud providers or even moving your data back into your own data center. The above tips and more are presented in the book along with the pros, cons, cautions and considerations for each of the three cloud service models covered in the book.

The evaluation of any technology should include a hard look at the security capabilities and how they relate to the business requirements. As such, an entire chapter is devoted to explaining the current realms of responsibility within data centers and mapping these realms to the cloud computing models. Like the different cloud services, there are a number of pros, cons, cautions and considerations when it comes to cloud security, and this chapter provides a foundation for beginning security conversations with cloud providers. In some cases, for example, security requirements may be such that public cloud is not even an option, and this chapter provides some guidance when the benefits of cloud computing are desired but the public offerings won’t suffice.

Each cloud service is designed to meet specific requirements. Some offer greater cost savings but may not provide the appropriate level of visibility, security or control. Others off er higher levels of security at the expense of elasticity and cost. The key is to find the best fit for the business requirements. The goal of Cloud Computing for Govies is to provide a solid foundation of vendor-neutral information that establishes a baseline of understanding, thereby enabling the effective selection of cloud computing.

The Facebookization of Business

Posted on 30. Apr, 2012 by in MARKETING, TECHNOLOGY

Facebookization of Business


Facebookization of Business

Facebookization of Business

Like it or not (er, no pun intended), The social media giant is here to stay. So why not use Facebook to optimize your business?

It’s easy to see how social technology is transforming our personal lives. In many ways, we have less privacy, we know more about our neighbors and family than ever before, and we get all of our information in real time. In the context of our personal lives, these things are sometimes considered to be negative. Do we really want to know what our friends are thinking at every moment of the day? But when you take these transformations and apply them to the business world, you see a much different reaction: who wouldn’t want to know more about their business, their employees, or their CEO, and who wouldn’t want to get that information with enough time to use it to make better business decisions?

To illustrate the potential of social business optimization when I’m speaking to an audience of executives, I sometimes like to hold up an ordinary, everyday object, such as a glass of water, or the remote control I’m using to move from one slide to the next in the presentation, and ask the audience to identify it. Invariably, people will offer a handful of suggestions, including, “A white wireless controller,” “an Apple remote,” “a piece of plastic,” and sometimes someone will say, “A device which controls your Powerpoint slides by matching the frequency of your laptop.” Even on a simple question, people come up with very different answers, some of which are extremely insightful. This variety of perspectives, answers and insights is the heart of what a socially-connected enterprise thrives on: no matter how big your company grows, how many divisions you acquire, how many senior executives enter or exit leadership roles, or how many moving parts you need to coordinate, you should always be able to tap into the knowledge of employees at every level of your company. Th at is the essence of social business optimization, and it’s something that is empowering businesses to make better decisions for their companies right now.

The social consumer may be interested in sharing and commenting on family photos, but the social business is interested in sharing information that leads to better business alignment and fewer knowledge gaps.

TO UNDERSTAND WHAT A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE SHOULD LOOK LIKE, IT HELPS TO UNDERSTAND THE APPEAL OF SOCIAL NETWORKING APPLICATIONS LIKE FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

To understand what a social enterprise should look like, it helps to understand the appeal of social networking applications like Facebook or Twitter. The core appeal of social apps is that they let people participate in a discussion, and they provide a structure that puts the conversation in relevant context.

This also applies to more specialized social utilities like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or even Wikipedia, which create immensely valuable content based on power users who take time out of their busy schedules to write articles that will be read by anonymous strangers – a phenomenon that plays on what Paul Ford calls the “Why wasn’t I consulted?” factor. It’s not unrealistic to say that if we consulted the people inside our business the way we consult with external consultants, and provided them a real forum to contribute and collaborate on issues that matter to their workplace, they’ll get glued to it in the same way they’re glued to Facebook – not only to make their contributions but to check up on everyone else’s. Social business optimization soft ware is able to channel this same creative, collaborative energy we see on social networks toward accomplishing business goals, and it’s able to render complex and potentially overwhelming business factors into comprehensible and actionable information. Here’s how it works, and here’s why the company I founded is called 9Lenses. To move toward social business optimization, you need at least three things:

(1) a social discovery application that lets you take the pulse of your employees; (2) an analytics layer that lets you understand the results of your findings; and (3) a platform that addresses the nine key aspects of your business.

Facebookization of Business

Facebookization of Business

In fact, before it was a software application, 9Lenses started as a framework that was adopted by the George Mason University School of Management to help business stakeholders to understand how their actions relate meaningfully to everyone else’s in a company. The lenses are nine functional areas that every business considers on a daily basis: its market, its people, its finances, its strategy, its operations, its execution, its expectations, its governance, and its legal entity.

In our personal lives, it’s easy to justify protecting our privacy and to resist the openness of social networks. But for businesses, it’s just as easy to see the benefits to be reaped by greater transparency, greater openness and more knowledge.

Social Review Sites

Posted on 30. Apr, 2012 by in MARKETING, TECHNOLOGY

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Sure, everybody’s got something to say. And the internet is the perfect platform to express your opinion. But are social review sites turning every one of us into critics and ruining small business in the process?

If I were to rely on a popular social review site to characterize my favorite hangout in D.C., which I love to frequent both on Saturday nights and for Sunday brunch, I’d deduce, from the reviews on this site, the image of a place that serves soupy burritos, sometimes with rusty screws in them, and plays ZZ Top continuously.

It’s an image of a place that doesn’t seem at all congruent with a place I’ve patronized oft en, but could be presumed by an unsuspecting visitor to this site and social review sites like it—Yelp, Google Places, Citysearch, etc. Though these descriptions don’t in any way fi t my experience or the experience of anyone I know of the place, they’re taken from different reviews on a social review site and could easily be the sole basis for one’s perception of a business before they’ve had the chance to experience it for themselves. On these sites, anyone can contribute anything they like, regardless of accuracy or truth.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE CREDIBILITY OF THESE SITES IS FLIMSY AT BEST

One major drawback of these sites is that anyone can submit a review. Obviously, the most discerning reviewers among us − those with the most discriminating palate, intuitive musical taste and eye for service − who could give us an accurate comprehensive review of a business’s strengths or weaknesses, are not always going to use or take the time to write reviews on these sites. In fact, they’re likely to avoid this activity for lack of commensurate compensation for their efforts, whereas reviewers with bias or vendetta can easily contribute despite their motivation or a possible agenda. It’s similar to the way ratemyprofessor.com has a strong possibility of reflecting a student reviewer’s undesirable or inflated grade rather than their actual potential learning experience in the classroom or the ability of a particular professor. How do you know what you can trust in these reviews? I’d like to think that, in general, reviewers will be honest, but how do I know that whoever wrote this review isn’t a disgruntled employee or a one-time patron with an anomalously displeasing experience (and how do I know that it isn’t entirely the fault of the patron)? The short answer is: I can’t know. And what better way to innocuously retaliate against a former employer or to feel vindication for an undesirable experience than to anonymously vilify the “off ending” business?

One problem is that there is no incentive to contribute to these sites. Patrons who give favorable reviews always do so as a courtesy or possibly because they had an exceptionally positive experience that motivated them to set aside time to write a review. Or maybe they like to review things for the sake of reviewing. But how many people do you know who have a passion for repeatedly reviewing with the sole intention of accurately informing others with no reward? In any case, the reasons to give favorable reviews are few, while the opportunity for criticism incidentally abounds. In a world where we’re increasingly relying on internet sources for guidance, credibility is a valuable commodity. And unfortunately, the credibility of these sites is flimsy at best.

It isn’t just that the reviewer may or may not be trustworthy; another deficiency in these sites is that there is no way to tell if the tastes and preferences of any reviewer on these sites is congruous with your own, despite how credible or competent their review may seem.

Another reason these sites can be disobliging is that they can provide inaccurate information. Julie Lizer from Atlanta, Georgia explains, “The number one result of a recent search on a social review site for a hair salon near my house was a tattoo parlor. Not what I was seeking. The only time I’ve found these sites to be beneficial was in locating phone numbers for restaurants that don’t have their own website.”

In the same way that Lizer has found a use for these sites peripheral to the intended service (access to a phone number rather than the actual review), Malkia Hutchinson, a former resident of D.C., found the same, “I found out my boyfriend at the time had gone to a strip joint and rated it…and sounded like a damned fool while doing so.” Though invaluable, the advantage in Hutchinson’s discovery was serendipitous − something too unreliable to depend on, but possibly the only way that these sites can be useful − by chance alone. Maybe the reviewer you read will happen to be reliable, and maybe they’ll be truthful, and maybe (the biggest gamble) they’ll be looking for the same things in a business that you are also seeking. Th en, and only then, if all the coordinates line up, it’ll be useful, but the chances are slim.

Ultimately, reviews that rely on one-time subjective personal experiences are largely unreliable. The best − and probably only − option to determine whether a business will suit your needs and preferences is just to experience it for yourself.

Capital Connection Unveils Inaugural Entrepreneur Advisory Council

Posted on 29. Mar, 2012 by in TECHNOLOGY

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McLean, Virginia (March 28, 2012) The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association today announced the formation of a newly created Entrepreneurial Advisory Council with the naming of two CEOs and visionaries as inaugural members – Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype and David Steinberg, CEO of SnappCloud.

As accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders, the new council will help spearhead programs to meet the unique needs of high-growth companies, benefitting the upcoming Capital Connection 2012 conference and TechBUZZ with valuable advice from “shining stars” of past Capital Connections conferences.

“Valuable input from luminaries like Wayne Jackson and David Steinberg will ensure the spotlight is on valuable opportunities for seasoned and up-and-coming high performing companies during the one-and-half-day business conference,” said Julia Spicer, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association.  “As previous participants at Capital Connection, the members of the Entrepreneurial Advisory Council know first-hand what is most relevant to our target audience of CXOs, company builders and entrepreneurs.  There is no one better to advise on meaningful content than those who have walked in similar shoes.”

Sonatype CEO Wayne Jackson made his first appearance at Capital Connection when his company, Sourcefire, first presented its business plan at the 2005 event. As chief executive of Sourcefire, Jackson took the start-up through IPO in March 2007, achieving a peak valuation of over $750 million.  His aggressive business direction resulted in Sourcefire being the first open source vendor to go public in 10 years and the first security vendor to go public in five years.

Prior to joining Sourcefire in 2002, Jackson co-founded Riverbed Technologies and served as CEO until successfully positioning the company for sale at $1 billion in 2000.

As keynote speaker at the FastTrack seminar during last year’s inaugural TechBUZZ program, David Steinberg delivered an insightful presentation based on his 30 years of high tech company building in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley.  Currently CEO of SnappCloud, Steinberg’s career spans sales, operations, technology and executive management roles for companies including BNX Software, Check Point Software and SynOptics which became Bay Networks after a merger.  Prior to SnappCloud, Steinberg’s success as CEO at SwapDrive resulted in the company being sold to Symantec in 2008 for $124MM, an eleven times return on investment. Steinberg has also recently served as director or advisor to many local start-ups including SolSystems, Dormify, SingleClick, Contactually, Venga, MessageRadius and more.

Key features at this year’s Capital Connection 2012 and TechBUZZ conference include:

  • Who’s Hot: A who’s who of “Top Tech” companies from around the country.
  • What’s the BUZZ?:  The high-energy, fast-pitch TechBUZZ program, showcasing what’s new and fresh from Seed Stage startups.
  • Easy Access: A new rate structure to make the conference accessible to a broad range of entrepreneurs, angel investors, incubators and companies across all stages of growth.
  • Opportunity to Tell the Company Story: An unparalleled opportunity for early, growth and late stage firms to present business models for investment and showcasing of success.

Capital Connection, one of the nation’s most respected industry conferences, will be held this year on May 23-24 in Washington, D.C. Registration for Capital Connection 2012 and its featured innovative TechBUZZ event is now open on the conference website located at www.capitalconnection.org. Applications are now being accepted for both TechBUZZ and Capital Connection.  Applications for Capital Connection are due April 9th and applications for TechBUZZ are due on May 4th.

About Capital Connection

In its 25th year, Capital Connection brings together the broad community of entrepreneurial companies and potential partners to help enhance business and economic growth. Opinion leaders from business and government share their knowledge and expertise, along with leading technology companies at all growth stages who showcase their capabilities to a nationwide audience of investors, advisors, partners and entrepreneurs at the annual signature event. Launched in 2011, TechBUZZ provides start-ups and seed-stage companies center stage in spotlighting the “next big thing.” For more information and to register, go to www.capitalconnection.org.

About the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association

The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) represents the full spectrum of private equity and venture capital firms with investment interests in the mid-Atlantic and beyond, entrepreneurs and their strategic partners. MAVA provides a wide range of programs, information and forums designed to stimulate revenue and company growth, facilitate quality deal flow, encourage collaboration and foster relationships among entrepreneurs, investors, strategic partners and customers.  To learn more about MAVA and the extensive services the association provides, go to www.mava.org.

Energy Conservation: Improving the Bottom Line

Posted on 01. Feb, 2012 by in TECHNOLOGY

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Although companies have long sought to keep operating expenses low, the recession has upped the ante. Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, tells us that until we wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources, we will continue to cycle through false economic upswings followed by steep downturns. Th e rapid, cyclical effect will further destabilize the global economy to leave us with less and less purchasing power after each sequence.

The only viable response that leads to domestic (and global) economic recovery, then, is the development of renewable energy infrastructure and distribution systems. Although we’ve begun the process of transitioning to green energy, the shift from a fossil fuel-based infrastructure will take 30-40 years to complete. Simply stated, our businesses (and the U.S. economy as a whole) cannot rely on a solution that takes decades to implement.

Buildings consume 74.5% of electricity and approximately half of the total energy produced domestically. In turn, this consumption rate produces nearly 50% of the U.S.’s carbon-dioxide emissions. At a 6% growth rate, last year’s carbon-dioxide levels outstripped the worst case projections put forth by climate experts as little as four years ago. Ecologically, this rate is unsustainable. A rapidly increasing greenhouse gas effect will have serious consequences with respect to food production and human health.


There is good news. Investment in new Cleantech infrastructure (wind, solar, and geothermal energy sources) leads to job creation, economic recovery, and reduction in the greenhouse gas effect. Even better: Creating infrastructure based on renewable energy sources will cost less than maintaining and repairing the old.

We have a long way to go. The carbon-based infrastructure must continue to function at an ever decreasing capacity as the transition occurs. As a point of reference, the development of wind energy has spawned 80,000 new jobs—the same number as the total jobs supported by the coal industry. Yet, coal still produces more than 44% of the total energy consumed in the US. Wind contributes a mere 1.9% to the domestic energy mix.

The experts do not dispute that we have passed the point of no return when it comes to dependence upon brown fuels. Although fossil fuel lobbyists and utility companies may recognize that the transition to Cleantech is inevitable, they’re trying to slow the uptake. Fiscally, their best interests are to maintain the status quo at least short-term.

As a result, today’s businesses face true economic hardship. Many companies overlook the most cost effective way to bridge the gap until renewable energy becomes a mainstream source of power. Th e solution comes in the form of energy conservation management services offered by companies like EnergySherlock™, which is located in Loudoun County.

Tim Reichert, CEO of EnergySherlock, gives insight into how energy conservation management services benefit companies of all sizes and across every industry segment.

“Technology has advanced to the point where we can help businesses actively manage and leverage energy as a strategic asset. Right now energy companies’ goals and businesses’ goals lie at opposite ends of the spectrum. Utilities want to continue to sell in volume and repair existing infrastructure. Companies want to improve margins by reducing operating expenses.” states Reichert.

“Businesses are starting to realize how much they can save by implementing practical energy conservation measures and strategies. Corporate leaders have the power to improve profi tability and sustainability without harming the company. Energy savings flow directly through to the bottom line,” concludes Reichert. EnergySherlock prides itself on a business philosophy that focuses on the clients’ best interests. In addition to off ering a full range of hardware, software, and reporting systems, the company takes a vendor-neutral approach to customize solutions based on each client’s needs. A project’s scope can range anywhere from addressing a single system, such as lighting, to functioning as the client’s energy department. Customers typically reduce their energy costs between 10-30%. Most clients achieve breakeven status within three years or less depending on the energy conservation plan implemented.

“We’re capitalists first, and environmentalists second. But, it’s not a distant second. Conserving energy means you’re also a good corporate citizen,” states Reichert. “Being vendor-neutral enables us to design and implement the best solution based on today’s technologies. We will not make a recommendation if the outcome won’t significantly improve the customer’s bottom line. We’re so confident in the technologies we use and our energy conservation plans that we’re willing to go at risk and return our professional fees if we don’t perform as expected.”

WE’RE CAPITALISTS FIRST, AND
ENVIRONMENTALISTS SECOND.
BUT, IT’S NOT A DISTANT SECOND

When combined with software applications, contemporary facilities management practices and building automation systems remove human error. Buildings that operate 24/7 or have equipment with high energy demands, such as quick serve restaurants, full service restaurants, and hospitals have the most to gain from energy savings programs. Improving energy cost controls helps early adopters gain a competitive advantage. Early adopters also establish a platform for compliance with existing and future regulatory requirements.

With respect to government mandates and oversight, Reichert says, “Companies will struggle to comply with future economic and environmental reporting requirements. The government will continue to issue unfunded mandates and executive orders with complex reporting requirements very similar to accounting regulations. Just like we have tax law and the IRS, there will be a governing body for energy and an industry that evolves to support it. We will be regulated in ways we haven’t even thought about.”

State and regional differences already make energy management extremely complex for companies operating across jurisdictions. For example, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia function as a tri-state business area, yet each locale has its own agenda, budget, mindset, initiatives, politics, and goals when it comes to energy.

The 2011 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard highlights the state-to-state variances. It measures each state on six criteria including building energy codes and state government initiatives.

Scorecard rankings show just how different the conditions are within the tri-state area. Maryland ranked 10, D.C. 22, and Virginia 34. These variances underscore why businesses need a way to see and manage performance on a site-by-site basis. Yet, regional and national companies frequently don’t have the expertise needed to optimize energy programs that use these inconsistencies to their advantage. For this reason, EnergySherlock developed Klarify™, a rules-based software application that gives clients the visibility they need to manage energy as an asset instead of an expense. This powerful tool links into building automation systems to help companies optimize energy consumption site-by-site, region-by-region, and as a whole nationwide. Klarify takes the complexities of industries, state and local differences, and reporting requirements into account. It is designed to adapt as the regulatory environment evolves.

By knowing which rebates and incentives are available regionally, EnergySherlock also helps many clients implement energy conservation projects in a budget neutral or cash positive manner. In these instances, energy savings outweigh the cost of building investments.

Reichert is proud to walk the talk so to speak. He uses the same high efficiency lighting recommended to clients, drives a car with a low carbon footprint, and recycles as much material as possible. “In addition EnergySherlock uses virtual offices so that employees can work from home. We believe in having the lowest carbon footprint in everything we’re doing,” concludes Reichert.

The Future is Electric

Posted on 29. Oct, 2011 by in TECHNOLOGY

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Ladies and gentleman, I am here to talk to you about the future. No crystal balls, just cold hard facts and obvious truths. Can you handle the truth? I most certainly hope so, because in the not-so-distant future, this truth will become more and more evident until one day, no one will be able to deny it. We are, unfortunately, running out of oil, and our principle mode of transportation, the fossil fuel burning combustion engine is sadly, taking its first steps into oblivion.


I’m not going to waste your time or depress you with the obvious geopolitical and environmental factors that have, albeit slowly, forced some of us to consider trading in our gas guzzling SUVs for non-fossil-fuel options. Petrol may be king today, but by its very finite nature, is in a steady decline. Nightmare scenarios of fuel shortages; a torn and irreparable ozone layer; Al Gore’s monotone voice perpetually declaring ‘I told you so’ in a never ending Current TV loop, all abound online and in our over-active imaginations. But alas, hope is on the horizon.

The concept of the hybrid and the fully electric car has been with us for the better part of a decade. It is only now however that people are beginning to take it seriously. This shift in sentiment may have something to do with our decade-long miscalculations in the Middle East or the proposed ease it brings by opening up the country’s HOV lanes to the solitary driver—or more likely, the deathly fear of the aforementioned Al Gore loop from hell. In any case, we have finally begun to see the alternative automobile as a viable option. Going Green is not just for new-age prophets, but is a full-blown cultural and business phenomenon. Everyone, er, except perhaps Republican presidential candidates, has accepted that we are indeed facing measurable climate deterioration and that we have currently peeked our supply of fossil fuels (see Hubert Peek Theory) and are running towards a brick wall faster than Charlie Sheen after happy hour. So what do we, as conscientious citizens of the world, do?

Two readily available options are at your beck and call. The first is the hybrid, which we all know by now, makes use of a fossil fuel combustion engine, and one or more electrical motors, greatly extending the miles a car can travel without needing a refill. The second is the fully electric plug-in-and-go vehicle. We’ll take a look at high end market for both.

Tesla Roadster

TESLA
Tesla Automotive was founded by a group of restless and innovative Silicon Valley engineers and is currently led by its founder, tech guru, Elon Musk, of PayPal fame. At this moment, the company offers three gorgeous models: the high performance Roadster; its muscular big brother the Roadster Sport; and the newly announced Model S, a luxury four door family sedan. All are works of automotive art, and perfectly combine high performance with cutting edge green engineering, putting the driver in a unique position of having their cake and eating it too. Don’t you just love environmentally conscientious indulgence?

The Roaster and the Roaster Sport are testaments to Tesla’s on going pursuit of highend luxury with zero emissions. Not only will you hear the clang of jaws dropping as you zip by on the freeway, but you’ll also have every self righteous environmental activist in the continental U.S. give you the proverbial “thumbs up” as you splash them with gutter water on your way to the steakhouse. Win win.

Fisker Karma


FISKER AUTOMOTIVE
Fisker Started out in 2007 when designer Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler teamed up to create a high performance car that was both innovative as well as easy on the environment. The outcome of their work is the Karma. This car is a gorgeous hybrid that pushes the very definition of sustainability to a whole different direction. The Karma sports a turbo charged and inter-cooled DOHC 16 valve 2.0 liter inline-4 generator engine up front that has 260 hp and 260 lb-ft, and two AC permanent-magnet synchronous drive motors in the back that have 402 hp, with 959 lb-ft. In laymen’s terms, this car flies.

Performance meets elegance meets sustainability. It’s almost too good to be true. The price points for either car is on the high side, but well worth it when one considers the amazing technology that these cars are built on.

Social Media Jobs

Posted on 29. Oct, 2011 by in TECHNOLOGY

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Today, many companies who embrace any form of digital marketing employ some form of social media outreach and communications. While some companies are more social than others, its probably safe to say these days that a good chunk of organizations have a Facebook or Twitter presence. Many brands have presence on both. Still, others entrench themselves far more deeply online beyond the mainstream social networks.

The popularity of “conversational marketing” in the past couple of years and the high demand for brands to connect directly with their consumers, customers and end users has created an entirely new genre of positions, roles and duties focused primarily on working with social media technologies, tools and services to engage, influence and communicate.

A vital role in its relative infancy
Generally speaking, the individuals often being hired to fill this evolving and growing breed of “social jobs” are folks who usually, but not always, have marketing and communications backgrounds. Other professionals possess years of PR under their belt. Yet in some cases, candidates for these positions may not have any formal marketing training or PR experience. It’s not uncommon, right or wrong, to see individuals with little, if any, communications backgrounds fulfilling highly visible social job roles within an organization or on behalf of clients.

As you may be noticing, the skill set required for social jobs is not exactly standardized or as clearly defined as, say, the skill set required for becoming a doctor or an accountant. An accountant, for example, may begin his or her career as a bookkeeper. Later, he or she could eventually become a General Accountant or a CPA. Beyond achieving CPA status, a bookkeeper could, over time, land a position as a Controller managing an entire accounting department. From there, the Controller may perhaps one day reach the pinnacle of accounting jobs within a corporation: the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position. In that role, he or she would oversee all financial and accounting activity across the enterprise.

In stark contrast, the social media job professional of today does not have the longevity of the accounting profession to rely on. Accounting as a practice is as old as civilization. According to Texas’s A&M University, in fact, accounting hasn’t changed all that much since Luca Pacioli, known as the Father of Accounting, wrote the first “textbook” in 1494.

Clearly, the social media career path cannot begin to compare with more established professions. While the profession has matured in the last year or two (and continues to evolve), the social media job field as a whole is only about three to five years old, if that. I remember it was only just a couple of years ago that you’d see social media-specific job titles start to come up in job search results for “marketing” or “internet marketing” positions.

Bottom line: In contrast to long established career paths, the social media job role is relatively new and I’d even argue its still in relative infancy.

So what does a social media professional actually do all day? The answer to this question can vary depending on the organization. However, no matter what the specific duties might be, there tends to be a common misperception that such a job is all about updating Facebook and Twitter. While, yes, activity on mainstream social networks is part of the position, the job is usually much more robust and sophisticated than a mere tweet here and there.

Let’s examine some of the most recent social media jobs available in current job openings. Often, we can determine the depth of activity required in such positions by reading job titles and their descriptions.

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Plan, develop and implement an integrated social media strategy to support overall customer engagement, community growth, and sales objectives in the social arena. Develop insights into actions and form relationships with media partners and communities. Evaluate and manage online chatter to effectively reflect the company brand and experiences with our customers to deliver the end-to-end vacation experience.

SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST
Leverage consumer insights to assess and recommend cross-channel digital strategies (web, mobile, gaming, search, paid media, etc.) to maximize consumer engagement with the client’s social media properties and profiles. Write blog posts, articles, newsletters, communications materials, and deliver assets for social media channels. Develop and manage editorial calendars and strategic timeframes.

SR. DIGITAL & SOCIAL ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE
Develop promotional strategies for clients to enhance and reinforce brand positioning and initiatives. Must be able to understand the customer needs, and develop solutions that meet customer needs. Develop digital and social media strategies for clients to enhance and reinforce brand positioning and initiatives. Service digital and social media clients. Present and sell-in digital and social media concepts and creative to all levels within client organization.

DIRECTOR, SOCIAL MEDIA

Demonstrate “social media DNA” and be well-connected with the broader social sphere. Must also have an extensive and varied social media portfolio including: insights research, outreach, community development & management, content creation, analytics, trend hunting, media and events planning. Candidate will be a thought-leader in all aspects of social media marketing and emerging media and will work in partnership with creative directors, clients and seniorlevel brand/marketing executives to develop and activate social media programs. Must present well, write and speak with ease, and be able to strategically guide and mediate client brainstorm sessions and facilitate program development and approval.

From these select descriptions, it is clear to see that the social media professional must possess a hybrid of communications experience and have a solid or proven background in cross-channel digital strategies.

The challenge for filling these positions can often be vast. In addition to what is detailed above, many such roles require the candidate to possess strong writing capabilities, blogger outreach, PR and marketing backgrounds, sales experience, web design talent, proposal development, online community management, events planning and brand awareness, customer relations and more. The reality is that most candidates will not, of course, possess all these talents and skill sets. And while surely employers will pick and choose the strongest resumes from a given candidate pool, ultimately many of these roles appear to be an evolution of the digital and interactive marketing positions from just a few years ago.

Hiring someone to fill your organization’s social media role is not as easy at it may appear to be. First, employers should know that countless many claim to be “social media gurus” so there must be a clear vetting process for how to determine the candidate’s social depth and experience of most value to your organization. Do not be seduced or hoodwinked by large numbers of followers or friends. Look instead for thought leadership, engagement and consistency in social participation.

Another important aspect to look at is a candidate’s ability to write in an interesting, original style that will attract new audiences and continue to engage existing social connections. The ability to effectively write is often a vastly overlooked criteria for most any social position. Employers must keep in mind that social participation requires, hands down, solid “writing for the web” capabilities. Most every aspect of content to be shared on social needs to be edited for different communities and repurposed regularly depending on the output for social consumption. For example a simple status update or tweet all the way up to more contentextensive digital collateral such as blog posts or ebooks requires someone who can effectively communicate using an original voice. Even then, solid writing is not enough. The candidate for these highly visible positions must also be able to combine their unique writing styles in a way that is complementary to your online branding, outreach and marketing efforts.

Finally, candidates being sought after for social media positions must have a clear understanding that what they do and say as representatives for your brand has incredible impact and reach well beyond their own social graphs. The individual hired for your organization’s social role, even at the more tactical roles of social administrative support, should have the ability to understand “the bigger picture” beyond logging in and out of Facebook all day long. After all, your company’s social communications must be part of a much larger goal or objective outside of social. Usually, social efforts are closely intertwined with marketing, PR and customer service operations.

Employers must ensure that candidates leading the pack have a good combination of tactical and strategic thinking for these very same reasons. In the end, this is an exciting, rapidly changing career path that is attracting a lot of interest and attention from all walks of professional life. The intense interest and demand for these social roles is changing the landscape of marketing candidates at all levels. I, for one, am carefully watching the social space for continued momentum and innovation.

Alternative Investment Vehicles

Posted on 27. Oct, 2011 by in TECHNOLOGY

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The world is running out of financial havens. Gold bumped back above $1900 an ounce after dropping $300 in one day. As investors searched for safety, the yen and Swiss franc were kept off their highs by the efforts of their governments. Just pick up a copy of The Wall Street Journal or The Financial Times these days, and it feels like nothing we know to be tried and true is valid anymore. U.S. Treasuries were as good as gold and then came the S&P’s downgrade. Who can trust investing with Wall Street and stocks anymore? And what about derivatives? If the former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan can’t understand them, how can we? In these uncertain times can a car truly be a good alternative investment vehicle? It turns out that with careful analysis, you can make sound investments in classic cars that may turn healthy returns for you over the long run.

At least with classic cars you get the enjoyment of driving a beautiful vehicle. If all else fails you can sell it for scrap and still make some of your money back. What did the investors get back from the Lehman paper stocks they held? Here are few examples of past classic car opportunities that you missed out on and some that you should consider for future profits:

A few of the golden opportunities that you sadly missed:

Porsche Carrera 2.7 RS

Name of Car: Porsche Carrera 2.7 RS.
Years: 1973-1974
Why was it a good opportunity: Carrera 2.7 RS has a lightweight body and a high output engine version of the standard Carreras of the early seventies. This model is now considered to be greatest classic 911 of all time.
Current Price: If you can get your hands on an original one (not a re-creation) in good condition, you can expect to pay between $250,000 and $300,000, if not more. I said if you can get your hands on one since almost all available cars of this model year are sold by auction these days.
Price appreciation for the last 20 years: In inflation-adjusted current prices, you probably could have purchased one for about less than $25,000 twenty years ago.

Name of Car: Ferrari 246 GT Dino.
Years: 1969-1974
Why was it a good opportunity: Named after the legendary Enzo Ferrari’s late son. Between the years 1969-1974, only 3700 units were produced. At the time of production, it was an affordable mid-engine V6, rear wheel drive sports car. Since then, it has become one of the most sought after Ferraris and classic cars of all time due to its beautiful shape and limited production quantity. 246 GT Dino was very fast for its time, and it was also a direct competitor to 911 Porsche. Just look at it and you will understand why.
Current Price: You can find good examples for sale starting from $150,000 and upwards. As you can guess, they are mainly sold by auction. Price appreciation for the last 20 years: In inflation adjusted current prices, you probably could have purchased one for about less than $15,000 twenty years ago.

Mercedes SL Type R107

Mercedes SL Type R107 interior

Name of Car: Mercedes 300SL Convertible Gullwing
Years: 1955-1957
Why was it a good opportunity: 3 words: design, speed, and Americana. To start with, the gull-wing door shape was and continues today to be one of the most radical designs in automobile history. Secondly, at the time the 300SL was the fastest production car available to the general public. Last but not least, it was designed exclusively for Americans. Being intended for customers in the booming post-war American market, the 300 SL was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show. It also helps that there were only 3258 of them built.
Price: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Starts from $650,000 and primarily sold in auctions only.
Price appreciation for the last 20 years: In inflation adjusted current prices, you probably could have purchased one for about less than $50,000 twenty years ago.

3 future opportunities that you shouldn’t miss:

Name of Car: Ferrari 308 gtb/gts (aka The Magnum Car).
Years: 1975-1985
Why is it a good opportunity: This car has the same layout as the 246 Dino with a midengine (V8 instead of V6) and rear wheel drive. This is also one of the best-looking Ferraris ever made. Earlier production models had carbureted engines and fiberglass bodies, but after 1987, the body was constructed from steel with fuel injection powered engines. In my opinion, the one to buy is the steel bodied, red colored 1981 or 1982 gtb/gts (2 valve injection) with a removable targa roof. I prefer the injection models because they are easier to service than carbureted models.
Current Price: $30,000
Price appreciation for the next 20 years: Due to the relative limited production quantities (as compared to current ones) and again the world wide fascination with all things Americana, you can easily expect this car to appreciate by four times today’s currency value. You can expect Magnum’s car to appreciate in the near future. Now, if only Magnum’s moustache would make a comeback.

Name of Car: Porsche 911 Carrera RS (Factory Type 964).
Years: 1992-1994
Why is it a good opportunity: Officially not imported to the USA, but numerous private imports from Europe are available. In addition, 45 U.S. street legal cars of type 964 Carrera RS were imported by Porsche to the U.S. to be used in a support of American Race Cart Series. The idea never happened and Porsche North America sold these cars to private buyers. They can be identified by “Carrera Cup USA Edition” plaque found on the dashboard. This car is not to be confused with cars built later for the US market and called RS America. They are not the same vehicles.
Current Price: $75,000 in mint condition. Price appreciation for the next 20 years: Due to limited production quantities and the world wide demand for the older Carrera models prices are on the rise. The rumor is that numerous former Porsche race car drivers and also current factory personnel are buying up 964 Carrera RSs. Given these facts, you can easily expect this car to appreciate by 8 fold in today’s currency value.

Name of Car: Mercedes SL Type R107 Factory Code
Years: 1972-1989
Why is it a good opportunity: Made popular in the U.S. by numerous TV series and movies, most notably Hart to Hart and American Gigolo, the R107 SL is much more affordable than the earlier SL classics mentioned from 50s. Although less beautiful than the Gull wing, the R107 still deserves to be called a modern classic. It comes both in soft top and a removable hard top model and offers a surprisingly comfortable drive even for tall drivers. My personal favorites are the SL 380 and the SL 420 produced from 1985 onwards. These were fitted with modern Bosch k-jetronic fuel injection systems and engine management computers.
Current Price: Although the prices vary, it is still possible to pick one up between $8,000 and $12,000 in reasonable and drivable condition. All colors are good, but the white exterior color with tan leather interior really looks classy. I know that Lauren Hutton now looks like a crazy old grandma and Richard Gere has a beer belly these days. Buy one of these cars for yourself, lower the soft top, step on the gas, put in Blondie’s “Call Me” in the cassette player and let your hair blow in the wind. Just imagine that you are 24 again and you are driving on US1 Pacific Coast Highway. Price appreciation for the next 20 years: Depending on the year and the model, you can expect 4 to 6 times return for this investment.