Monday, February 27, 2012

Effects of the Global Economic Crisis: Abandonment of Pets

Although it is true that we humans have been affected by the economic crisis that recently hit the world, there are other individual sectors that have felt its wrath. In fact, it was not only human that got a feel of what the destruction was. One of those terribly affected by this calamity was the number of abandoned pets. This has been one of the problems of those who can no longer afford to pay for the needs of their pets. Instead of buying food and providing the necessary care for their pets, owners opted to leave them in the streets so they could feed themselves.

But because there was a limited number of space and supplies that shelters had, there were a vast number of pets that were euthanized. If they were lucky to get adopted, this was not an option to them. The unlucky ones though, were put to rest just so the pet shelters could continue to operate.

Even before the global economic crisis struck, an estimated number of cats and dogs which were at risk for becoming homeless was already done by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The study, conducted in 2008, showed that there would be 500,000 to 1 million of these pets that would lose their homes. A majority of which, were given up by their owners because they could no longer afford the luxury of having pets.

Aside from this obvious reason, there were a number of homeowners who decided to abandon their pets because they were invoking foreclosures. They gave up their homes so they could rent out an apartment which would not allow pets. Even before the housing crisis broke, the number of abandoned animals had already been at an alarming rate. To add, there was the obvious reason of expensive veterinary care.

While it is sad that there have been a number of individuals affected by the global economic crisis, the same can be said about these abandoned pets. These much-loved family members were given up by their previous owners. Truly, the effects of the crisis have been serious and ill-fated. We can only hope that it will soon end.

Global Economic Trends for 2012

Indeed, 2008 was the year about global economics and it is my contention, as well as the view of our think tank that 2012 will also be a year with global economics dominating much of the media. There are challenges all around the world, and I'd like to discuss a few these if I might.

One of the big challenges happens to do with Iran's nuclear weapons program, and the sanctions placed on that nation. Remember that Iran is a big oil exporter, and when the global community decided to do sanctions, it will hurt the economies of the world and raise the price of oil, causing more stress at a time when things are already tough globally.

Speaking of which the European Union will continue to be a slow motion train wreck, and the ECB will have to decide if it wishes to become a different kind of central bank with a lot more power, and if the member nations will be willing to go over that. In Asia, there are challenges with China's economy, not only inflation, but many other issues as well. Even if the economy slows down which it looks like it might, that doesn't mean prices will.

The challenges in Europe are affecting the United States and slowing our growth down to almost zero, although we are showing 1.8% GDP growth rate. I would submit to you that such estimates also have unknown factors, meaning they could be plus or minus 1.5% or practically zero. When the United States is firing on all cylinders, that high tide raises all boats, but we still have a drag on our economy namely the real estate market, and the unemployment issues.

The debt issues around the world are also going to be a challenge, not just in Europe but also in the United States. Corporate bonds have been doing well in the first quarter of 2012, but all these corporations with all that money in their coffers means that it's not flowing around for the consumer economy. As things appear to be getting back to normal in the United States, the federal government is still spending far more than it takes in. Cutbacks in the public sector after the election will also send more people to the unemployment lines.

If war does happen to break out this year in the Middle East, we will see a spike in oil prices, which will be a tax on all the economies of the world because everything moves by truck, ship, or plane. These are some of the issues and trends in global economics that we will see throughout this year. Please consider all this and think on it.

Balancing Act - Why Outsourcing Ushers Global Economic Equilibrium

A century ago, America was considered the pinnacle of economic development. Uncle Sam proudly waved his flag in every corner of the planet. The proliferation of the American Dream has paved the way for other countries to strive in every field. Corporate America's business mantras have been the gospel of every company, easily becoming the template for each business endeavor a firm embarks into. Skills, innovation, technology - name it, and America dished it to you like hot apple pie.

Every country wanted a piece of it.

Flash forward to 2009. It seems that America found itself in a quicksand of mediocrity. Firms have been closing shop. Jobs are being outsourced. The global economic crisis has overwhelmed most first world countries. Emerging countries on the other hand are proving that they can thrive and find opportunities in such a predicament. The meat of the matter is that companies are embracing the repercussions in the world of business. From the ashes of recession, a few and brave countries have emerged.

Detroit falls, automobile upstart Shanghai rises like the phoenix. The next Wall Street? You might find it in one of the districts of Mumbai. Global warming? The Philippines is making the most out of it. The solar power industry is on the rise here; Silicon Valley-based Solaria is counting on Filipino engineers to make a milestone in solar energy technology. IT services are in demand as well. Need proof? This kid blogger can make money more than you do.

The tides have turned. A few years ago, you had to go to the West, especially to America, to make it big in the world. Today, from auto to aviation, financial services to food consumption, power is rapidly shifting from the West to the East. You don't need the American Dream. People are chasing their own dreams back in their home countries.

For sure, the Chinese and Indians have been humbled by the recent global financial crisis. But, as President Barack Obama keeps reminding them, they can no longer depend on the US consumer for their economic success. The structure and boundaries of the new global marketplace are getting redefined, and the US consumer, instead of being the driver, is ending up being just another passenger on the bus.

It has been said that a country's economy is self-regulating. The same can be said of the global economic condition. The thing is, after the global financial crisis is over and done with, who will lead the pack?

Everything hangs in the balance for now.

Global Economic Meltdown Lurks Ahead

Just read a turbulently absorbing article by Simon Johnson, the British-American economist. He currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Sloan School of Management at MIT. He has also been a Professor of Economics at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. From March, 2007 through the end of August, 2008 he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. What follows is taken from material that was the basis of Professor Johnson's testimony before the Senate Budget Committee.

Despite all the statistics that might lead one to believe that economic recovery is in progress, these hide a brewing debt crisis in Europe. While smaller countries are mostly affected now, especially Greece, this could easily spill over to the United Kingdom and thwart European economic growth, causing the Euro to weaken, thus endangering economic growth worldwide.

While some European efforts are continuing in order to minimize the debt calamity to Greece, and to keep the damage from spreading to other countries, they are seen as too little, too late. The International Monetary Fund is not viewed as capable of playing a strong role for now. The PIIGS group of nations, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, will all be affected by strong pressure from speculative efforts against their credit. Because of the reluctance by their more powerful European counterparts to step in, PIIGS' economic weaknesses are being exploited by speculators.

Basically, these speculative efforts are coming from trading through the credit default swap market. Sound familiar? This very same method of operation is what brought down Lehman and AIG, to name but two. This trading behavior is so opaque, it is difficult to assess what exactly is transpiring, the general economic risks, and the status of the participants, among other factors, which could indeed melt-down more big banks and cause a full-on European-global economic catastrophe.

Allow me to quote Professor Johnson: "Another Lehman/AIG-type situation lurks somewhere on the European continent, and again G7 (and G20) leaders are slow to see the risk." And, as in America, fiscal stimulus funds have all but been drained, thus leaving little leverage to stop the bleeding if catastrophe strikes.

So, while boom times may eventually be ahead, the overall condition of the global economy leaves a shaky foundation from which to build upon. How all of this plays out is clearly uncertain. There are simply too many factors and unknowns to forecast the future other than in what-if terms.

Any way you cut it, prognostication having to do with economies of many nations and an entire world is dicey. But the links between separate economies and their effects on each other and the global economy at large are clear: we're all interconnected and inter-affected.

New Global Economic Leadership

The USA was not always the global economic leader. It took its current place more or less after the world wars. Before the USA, the UK was the global economic leader. The Sterling Pound was worth a lot more than what it is worth today relative to the Singapore Dollar. I remember my parents and my grandparents keeping the Sterling Pound when I was a kid. The exchange rate was S$7 to a Sterling Pound, if I remember their accounts correctly. Today, it is S$2.5 to a Sterling Pound. Not as sterling as before. So, global economic leadership shifted from the UK to the USA.

Now, Jim Rogers has said this many times and I agree with him: economic leadership is shifting once more and the next 100 years will see Asia taking over the reigns of global economic leadership and he expects China to take the lead.

This is why I have also shared my views with friends that my favourite currencies, apart from gold, are the RMB and the Indonesian Rupiah. I've a bit of all three and intend to accumulate more gold. The RMB and the Rupiah are fiat currencies like the US$ but they have not been abused and are not as flawed. The RMB is backed by enormous reserves and the Rupiah is the currency of a country with abundant natural resources which the world demands. Untouched by CDOs, these countries' banks were unscathed.

The Chinese economy is large and dynamic. However, it has to undergo a huge behavioral and structural transformation for the Chinese to consume more and to rely less on exports. Why do I say this? Let us look at Indonesia. It has a population of 240 million, a far cry from China's 1.6 billion, and private consumption forms 60% of its GDP. In China, private consumption forms only 36% of its GDP.

Many might or might not know this but "China's consumption-to-GDP ratio has dropped by nearly 15 percentage points since 1990 and continues to deteriorate in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The sources of China's low consumption rate are both behavioral and structural." This was in a recent report by McKinsey.

Asia might be the future economic powerhouse of the world and China might become the leader but the journey has only begun. The transformation will take time.

Global Economic Power Shifts From The U.S. And Europe To Asia

India just reported GDP growth of 9.4% for the fiscal year ended March 2007. This is way above the 8% predicted rate of growth and moving toward China's stunning 10.4% growth rate.

India, like China is becoming an engine of global growth. The U.S. is clearly no longer the important engine of global growth that it once was. Let us face facts. The U.S. has lost much of its global political leadership, and now its global economic leadership is coming into question.

The U.S. is still the world's biggest economy, but with a growth rate of less than 1% in the last quarter, and with close to double digit growth in India and China there is little doubt that the U.S. will lose its status as the world's biggest economy within a decade if these trends persist.

We are American, and we are pro-America, but we are also realists. Let us invest in those areas where the money is to be made. Let us invest in the countries that are growing fast and in the commodities and precious metals which will benefit from these trends. Let us look at the transportation companies whose products and services are necessary to effectuate this growth and at the energy and base metals which are the building blocks of any economy. Let us also look at the global financial intermediaries that will provide the financing for this growth and at the precious metals stocks where many of the profits will be invested.

In our opinion, gold will play a major part as a vehicle that central banks will acquire to strengthen their balance sheets. Recently, Spain sold some gold. The buyers were the central banks of countries with growing economies-the buyers were Asian central banks.

As power shifts from the U.S. and Europe to Asia, so do the central bank gold holdings shift from U.S. and Europe to Asia.

For more information on global investment visit http://www.howtoinvestglobally.com For more information on Monty Guild's investment management visit http://www.guildinvestment.com

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Monty Guild founded Guild Investment Management in 1971. Prior to founding the company he was an analyst at a bank and a hedge fund. Mr. Guild is a recognized expert in the areas of international investing and economics. He has been a writer and speaker on economic issues for 30 plus years and has been widely quoted in the world media. He holds a BA in economics and an MBA with highest honors.

Global Economic Collapse - A Worldwide Domino Effect

Economists fear that there is a Global economic collapse brewing as there has been a lot of factors that could work together to produce a global domino effect. Suppose a foreign nation, or a number of large corporations, defaults. One or two major banks could go bankrupt. This, in turn, could frighten depositors in other banks, who might start a frenzy of bank withdrawals. Since banks keep only a moderate amount of cash on hand, there could be a massive liquidity crisis. Bankers would be desperate for cash. This chain reaction could expand into a global economic collapse!

Bankers nevertheless say that Global economic collapse is highly unlikely. A former chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank claimed in a recent interview that the banking system "is very sound." True, "banks do a lot of business with one another, so there is tremendous interdependence." But he felt it "most unlikely" that such a Global economic collapse would pull down the world banking system. Since the success of the banking system rests on public confidence, however, it is understandable that banking leaders speak so optimistically.

'But surely a nation would not allow its major banks to fail,' you might say. But that is exactly what the central Bank of Italy did! In 1982, the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano received much publicity because of its close connection with the Vatican. When the scandal-ridden bank failed, the Bank of Italy, to the surprise and consternation of European bankers, withdrew its support. Bankers fear this may have set a dangerous precedent to future Global economic collapse situation down the track.

Though many claims that this state is unlikely to happen, one must always be prepared for worst.

How the Evolution in Industrial Hot Water Systems Can Save Energy

Most industries have made energy efficiency and waste management a top priority to ensure that they gain maximum profit. In almost every country today, there are high penalties for the wasteful use of energy and the improper disposal of waste materials. Heating water and other liquids is a process necessary for many industries. Most of them will need to know how to take advantage of the technological developments in industrial hot water systems.

Meat processing industries do not realize that the equipment they are using may be obsolete and inefficient with today's standards. Most industrial heaters manufactured to standard specifications only have 65% efficiency in heating. This means that they are using twice the energy required to heat their products. While they are making profits, the industries will have to reduce the amount they make for the energy bills they receive monthly.

The technological advances in water heating systems salvage heating energy possible from waste materials. For example, a utilize heat reclaimer utilized to get the heat from waste hot water to the passages of fresh cold water is capable of pre-heating the water from 10% to 30% before it passes into the actual heating mechanism. Around 70% to 95% will be the efficiency of the mechanism to heat the water, saving industries from unnecessary additional costs.

As another example, specially designed boiler economizers make use of the waste energy that goes up the boiler exhaust. They reclaim the heat passing through the boiler exhaust that helps pre-heat the water close to 40%, helping boilers operate more effectively in heating the water. At this point, one can see the benefits of having these particular resource-saving mechanisms in their company.

There are many engineering companies willing to do a case study on your business. After assessment, they propose ideas on how to maximize the use of your equipment efficiently and what they need to build to accomplish this. Having specially designed equipment for your business are great investments indeed. They can help you maximize your profits by eliminating the energy and waste concerns of your company.

Industrial Machinery for Woodworking: Making Your Work Easier

Companies are always looking for the perfect method to manufacture or make products the easier way. There are new systems developed to ensure that entire processes are effective and products are of good quality. It is then very important to look for good woodworking machinery for your industrial needs. There are many reasons why other firms decide to switch from one supplier to another. One good reason is companies are looking for exceptional quality and efficiency in all products. Businesses have different needs and finding the right solution to their problems is the best way to do so. Choosing the best industrial machine equipment avoids the delay of service and can provide accuracy and consistency. All industries have different quality standards and producing high end equipment will be the best bet for companies.

Several Functions of Woodworking Machinery:

There are several products used for woodworking and these are considered by major companies. Industrial machinery has been around for years and it keeps the service more efficient. The Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) router is a machine run by a computer program that manages efficiency in cutting metal, wood or even plastic. The main advantage of these is that they control the performance and make everything easier for the manufacturers and end users. New generation routers simply have buttons to press on a computer that automatically runs the machine. This was created to cut different types of wood according to the preferences of the consumer. One good thing about them is they manage the movement. Routers are also perfect for others who have different interests. Whether it is your passion or hobby, routers used for cutting can have a huge edge over typical machines, and that is innovation.

Another feature of industrial machine equipment is that a person can produce different shapes and sizes depending on the need. A lot of industries prefer this type of router since its functions are easier to understand and you get faster results. There are also non-computer based ones that mainly control the movement using a foot pedal. This helps users hold the wood and prevent it from falling in case accidents happen. Some of them have a few features to adjust the movement or motion when wood cutting starts. The usage of this feature depends on the thickness and length of the wood. With a few adjustments on the machine, you can cut the wood according to your style and form shapes to give it a brand new look.

Other Uses of Woodworking Machinery:

Industrial machine equipment promote enhancement and brings technology to a different level. Routers are also perfect for commercial and residential purposes since it has safety features that can be controlled by machines and end users. Before purchasing these kinds of equipment, it is important to understand all the instructions that usually come with the product. This will help you to know the overall features and avoid accidents at home or in the workplace.

Shipping Companies in Norway - Facing New Challenges and Seizing New Opportunities

The economy in Norway is undergoing a period of transformation as it prepares for a post-petroleum era. Norway is facing the challenge of re-inventing its economy. The freight services industry in Norway is also looking to adapt and embrace new opportunities in response to changing market conditions.

Norway is a country that is extremely rich in natural resources and its economy has been largely based on exploiting these natural strengths in oil, gas and minerals. Norway's largest export is petroleum and petroleum products. In fact, petroleum and natural gas currently account for nearly half of its total exports and it is the world's third largest exporter of oil and gas. However, the challenge is now to adapt to the fact that the North Sea has past its peak oil production. Norway's offshore Oil production peaked in 2002 and so the Norwegian government is well aware that it cannot depend on oil revenues indefinitely into the future. The challenge facing Norway is diversification of its economy, so that it can maintain its high standard of living into a post-petroleum future.

So over the last decade, Norway has faced the challenge and begun a process of reshaping its economy by diversifying into new sectors so it can prosper after petroleum revenues decrease. This includes government support to create a competitive private sector with strengths in IT and technology. Norway is now encouraging the growth of small businesses and encouraging new private sector industry in a number of ways. By doing so, it is following the approach earlier adopted successfully by its neighbours Sweden and Finland.

Norway is fortunate in that is in a strong economic position and is one of the world's richest countries per head. Norway has large foreign trade surpluses due to the high cost of oil in recent times. This is enabling the government to invest in developing new industries to support its strategy of diversification.

The Norwegian government is thus able to help support the freight services sector as it faces the challenge of adapting to new conditions.

One of the private sector industries that is robust and growing in Norway in shipping. Shipping companies originally developed in Norway to serve the offshore petrolem industry and have now achieved a dominant market position. In fact, the shipping fleet in Norway is one of the most modern in the world.

Shipping and freight services has therefore been identified as an industry to be further developed and strengthened in future, as a key part of the Norwegian economy.

As shipping companies face the new challenges, the sector is showing innovation as shipping companies identify and seize new opportunities that are relevant for the post petroleum era.

For example, the Norwegian freight company sector is set to break new ground with the launch of the world's first gas-powered ro-ro vessels. Norwegian shipping company Sea-Cargo AS is building the vessels and they are expected to be launched by 2010. With the focus on lower exhaust emissions from short sea and coastal vessels, Sea Cargo AS identified liquified natural gas as the fuel of the future. These vessels will reduce CO2 emissions by 25% compared with a vessel run on conventional fuel.

Another way in which the freight transport sector is facing the challenge of new opportunities is exploiting new markets, created by changing economic conditions. An especially important area of opportunity for shipping companies in Norway is the Baltic Sea Region.

Norway, like its neighbour Finland, has a significant role to play in serving the Baltic region. Although the global economic crisis is having a negative impact on freight forwarding in many countries worldwide, international freight to and from the Baltics remains a growth area. The majority of shipping companies and economic commentators are expecting growth in the Baltic region to continue to be strong in the next few years. This will strengthen the freight services sector in those countries like Norway and Finland on which freight transport to the Baltic region depends.

The Baltic Region is now a main trading area for the freight forwarding and shipping company industry based in Bergen. They offer a frequent service to the Baltic Region, mainly with its fleet of side door vessels.The main item requiring freight transport is frozen fish from Norway, Scotland and Iceland. This is transported to many destinations in the Baltic Region. This is an expanding market, with an increasing demand for fish products as the buying power of customers increases in the countries that make up the Baltic Region.

In ways such as these, shipping companies in Norway are showing that they can identify and seize the new opportunities created by changing market conditions. This means that the freight forwarding and international freight industry in Norway face a bright future as they rise to the challenge of responding to change.

Investing in the Healthcare Industry - Options for Healthy Returns

Investors looking for opportunities to get in on the huge healthcare market in the United States have several options. Investing in the healthcare industry can be in the form of health insurance companies, hospitals, medical supply companies, pharmaceutical companies, REIT - healthcare facilities, and more. Finding the right investment vehicle for your needs is a matter of deciding what level of risk you can handle, the amount you want to invest, and what type of return you are looking for. Probably the best average return on investment in this industry comes from the REIT - healthcare facilities sector.

REIT stands for real estate investment trust. REIT companies are companies that combine investing in the healthcare industry, real estate investing, and stock market investing. A REIT company is a company whose whole business is to invest in real estate. They are companies typically specialized in a specific type of property, like residences, retail, hotels, healthcare facilities, and more. The structure of a REIT is specially formed for tax benefits. At least seventy-five percent of the assets and income has to be in the real estate investments. The corporate profits that would be taxable can be tax free if they are distributed back to the shareholders in the form of dividends. To follow the rules for a REIT, at least ninety percent of the profits must be given out this way.

The healthcare facilities REIT company industry averaged 24.6% profit margins in 2008. This means that there was a nice hefty profit made by the investors in this field. Investing in the healthcare industry in the area of pharmaceuticals can also be very profitable because pharmaceutical companies have huge profit margins. However, so many issues, like clinical trial results, rumor, public opinion, and current events, effect the rise and fall of stock prices that investors should monitor investments in this sector fairly closely.

Health insurance companies also offer opportunities for investing in the healthcare industry. This sector is considered to be a stable investment because people need health insurance even in tough economic times. The constancy of the need and structuring of the insurance company can offset the dips in membership due to unemployment levels rising. Many health insurance companies also offer different branches of services like life insurance, dental insurance, accident insurance, and vision insurance, the performance of these companies can also affect the overall value of the company and its stocks.

Industrial Units and Commercial Property

Commercial property, industrial units and offices are becoming more and more valuable to their owners. Whether bought to use by the owner or bought to let to other businesses, the value of these units and offices have huge potential for long term capital gain.

Every business whether service based or manufacturing needs premises to operate from and this is what makes industrial units and commercial property so valuable. Owning a commercial property gives a business a major advantage. It increases the value of a business hugely and means that a company has a valuable asset which can be used in various different ways. Firstly, owning and using the property eliminates rental bills incurred when a company has to rent their industrial unit or office from another company. Secondly, the business has a sellable asset which can be turned into capital if necessary. Finally, the business can create revenue by renting out all or part of the unit to another company.

Industrial units and offices can vary hugely in size and design. From small 1000 square foot office space through to 30000 square foot industrial units encompassing storage space, offices, workshops and manufacturing areas. The offices and units can be used simply for storage and be very simple in design and facilities, consisting of merely shelving, lighting and a lockable roller shutter door. On the other end of the spectrum the commercial property can be multi faceted and consist of purpose built reception and office areas including toilets, kitchens and pedestrian entrances coupled with industrial units with the room to store goods and fully working industrial machines to allow for manufacturing and production.

Industrial units, offices and commercial property all need to be designed and built to high standards. They must be equipped with all the facilities needed by a modern company on a day to day basis. Any business needs a good quality property, whether bought or leased, in order to perform their own functions to a high standard. A small internet service company for example must have offices which allow for their employees to work in comfort and carry out their tasks and also must have very secure and high standard storage spaced for servers and computer equipment. The quality of build and workmanship needs to be of the highest quality to ensure both comfort and functionality for the employees. As well as this an industrial unit built to high standards will retain its value as an asset for longer than one of inferior quality and will also allow for higher rent to be demanded from potential tenants.

Companies who design and build these industrial units and offices need to not only design and build the commercial properties but also offer services such as detailed drawings for planning permission, structural calculations, reports for building regulators, layouts and footing design diagrams as well as free estimates. R3 North West perform all these tasks for their clients as well as designing and building top specification and high quality industrial units and offices. Their exciting and modern designs are all built to the highest standards and offer businesses solutions to problems with premises.

Industrial Logos - Effective Brand Ambassadors

Industrial logos are a company's face in the marketplace. These logos reflect a company's image and, thus, impact the response of its potential customers. An industrial logo that does not aptly reflect a company's business can actually have a negative impact on the company's image. Good industrial logos tend to become famous and are remembered by people for times to come. Some such examples are the logos of 3M, Toyota Motors and Harley Davidson.

Now, what makes some industrial logos famous? A very high percentage of industrial logos that become famous are the ones that are simple in design, with no fancy colors or graphic designing. Some of them simply use fonts and are a combination of only one or two colors. Yet they are excellent memory triggers.

Basic Features of Good Industrial Logos

Here are some basic tips for designing good industrial logos:

Should be simple
Should not be confusing
Should represent the true nature of a company's business
Should be attractive enough to make an instant impact on the minds of viewers
Should adhere to designing rules
Should make an appropriate use of colors, fonts and styles
Should be equally effective when produced in black and white mode as when it is in the color mode
The output should be equally effective irrespective of the size
Should not lose its attractiveness when reproduced on different mediums
Should stand out and not be a copy of an existing logo
Should reflect the long-term nature or business of the company

Industrial logos are the first step in building a brand and presenting an industrial company's image to its prospective and existing customers and to its associates. Used in all types of communication, such as letterheads, visiting cards, banners, posters and nameplates, industrial logos need to convey an appropriate and accurate image to the targeted audience.

Designing Industrial Logos

Two options for developing industrial logos are available. In the first case, a company can choose a pre-designed template offered by any of the logo designers and modify it to put its own name. Such logos are not unique and not as effective as custom made logos. However, they are perfect for price sensitive companies. Custom made designs are the best option, since they are developed after incorporating the suggestions of both the company and the designer. While the company can present the true picture of its business and products as well as express its preference for a particular, a graphics designers knows how to convert that into good designs. Industrial logos can be designed by choosing one or a mix of designs incorporating iconic or graphic images, illustrative designs or a font-based design.

BPO Industry in India - A Report

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a broad term referring to outsourcing in all fields. A BPO differentiates itself by either putting in new technology or applying existing technology in a new way to improve a process.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the delegation of one or more IT-intensive business processes to an external provider that in turn owns, administers and manages the selected process based on defined and measurable performance criteria. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is one of the fastest growing segments of the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) industry.

Few of the motivation factors as to why BPO is gaining ground are:

Factor Cost Advantage

Economy of Scale

Business Risk Mitigation

Superior Competency

Utilization Improvement

Generally outsourcing can be defined as - An organization entering into a contract with another organization to operate and manage one or more of its business processes.

Different Types of Services Being Offered By BPO's

Customer Support Services

Our customer service offerings create a virtual customer service center to manage customer concerns and queries through multiple channels including voice, e-mail and chat on a 24/7 and 365 days basis.

Service Example: Customers calling to check on their order status, customers calling to check for information on products and services, customers calling to verify their account status, customers calling to check their reservation status etc.

Technical Support Services

Our technical support offerings include round-the-clock technical support and problem resolution for OEM customers and computer hardware, software, peripherals and Internet infrastructure manufacturing companies. These include installation and product support, up & running support, troubleshooting and Usage support.

Service Example: Customers calling to resolve a problem with their home PC, customers calling to understand how to dial up to their ISP, customers calling with a problem with their software or hardware.

Telemarketing Services

Our telesales and telemarketing outsourcing services target interaction with potential customers for 'prospecting' like either for generating interest in products and services, or to up-sell / promte and cross sell to an existing customer base or to complete the sales process online.

Service Example: Outbound calling to sell wireless services for a telecom provider, outbound calling to retail households to sell leisure holidays, outbound calling to existing customers to sell a new rate card for a mobile service provider or outbound calling to sell credit or debit cards etc.

Employee IT Help-desk Services

Our employee IT help-desk services provide technical problem resolution and support for corporate employees.

Service Example: of this service include level 1 and 2 multi-channel support across a wide range of shrink wrapped and LOB applications, system problem resolutions related to desktop, notebooks, OS, connectivity etc., office productivity tools support including browsers and mail, new service requests, IT operational issues, product usage queries, routing specific requests to designated contacts and remote diagnostics etc.

Insurance Processing

Our insurance processing services provide specialized solutions to the insurance sector and support critical business processes applicable to the industry right from new business acquisition to policy maintenance to claims processing.

Service Example:

New Business / Promotion:

Inbound/outbound sales, Initial Setup, Case Management, Underwriting, Risk assessment, Policy issuance etc.

Policy Maintenance / Management:

Record Changes like Name, Beneficiary, Nominee, Address; Collateral verification, Surrender Audits Accounts Receivable, Accounting, Claim Overpayment, Customer care service via voice/email etc.

Data Entry Services / Data Processing Services
Service Example:

Data entry from Paper/Books with highest accuracy and fast turn around time (TAT)

Data entry from Image file in any format

Business Transaction Data entry like sales / purchase / payroll.

Data entry of E-Books / Electronic Books

Data Entry : Yellow Pages / White Pages Keying

Data Entry and compilation from Web site

Data Capture / Collection

Business Card Data Entry into any Format

Data Entry from hardcopy/Printed Material into text or required format

Data Entry into Software Program and application

Receipt and Bill Data Entry

Catalog Data Entry.

Data Entry for Mailing List/Mailing Label.

Manuscripting typing in to word

Taped Transcription in to word.

Copy, Paste, Editing, Sorting, Indexing Data into required format etc.

Data Conversion Services
Service Example:

Conversion of data across various databases on different platforms

Data Conversion via Input / Output for various media.

Data Conversion for databases, word processors, spreadsheets, and many other standard and custom-made software packages as per requirement.

Conversion from Page maker to PDF format.

Conversion from Ms-Word to HTML format

Conversion from Text to Word Perfect.

Conversion from Text to Word to HTML and Acrobat

Convert Raw Data into required MS Office formats.

Text to PDF and PDF to Word / Text / Doc

Data Compilation in PDF from Several Sources.

E-Book Conversion etc.

Scanning, OCR with Editing & Indexing Services
Service Example:

High speed Image-Scanning and Data capture services

High speed large volume scanning

OCR Data From Scanned page / image

Scan & OCR paper Book in to CD.

ADOBE PDF Conversion Services.

Conversion from paper or e-file to various formats

Book Keeping and Accounting Services
Service Example:

General Ledger

Accounts Receivables and Accounts Payable

Financial Statements

Bank Reconciliation

Assets / Equipment Ledgers etc.

Form Processing Services:

Service Example:

Insurance claim form

Medical Form / Medical billing

Online Form Processing

Payrol Processing etc.

Internet / Online / Web Research

Service Example:

Internet Search, Product Research, Market Research, Survey, Analysis.
Web and Mailing list research etc.

Challenges for a HR Professional in BPO

Brand equity: People still consider BPO to be "low brow", thus making it difficult to attract the best talent.

Standard pre-job training: Again, due to the wide variety of the jobs, lack of general clarity on skill sets, etc, there is no standard curriculum, which could be designed and followed.

Benchmarks: There are hardly any benchmarks for compensation and benefits, performance or HR policies. Everyone is charting their own course.

Customer-companies tend to demand better results from outsourcing partners than what they could actually expect from their own departments. "When the job is being done 10,000 miles away, demands on parameters such as quality, turn around timeliness, information security, business continuity and disaster recovery, etc, are far higher than at home. So, how to be more efficient than the original?

Lack of focused training and certifications
Given this background, the recruiting and compensation challenges of HR departments are only understandable.

Key To success

The key to success in ramping up talent in a BPO environment is a rapid training module. The training component has to be seen as an important sub-process, requiring constant re-engineering.
Business Process Outsourcing: The Top Rankers
WNS has emerged as the top BPO in India, pushing Wipro Spectramind to the second position, according to a survey done by NASSCOM. The basis of ranking is the revenues generated by the BPO companies in 2003-04, as per US GAAP. A list of top fifteen BPO companies in India is given below.

WNS Group

Wipro Spectramind

Daksh e-Services

Convergys

HCL Technologies

Zenta

ICICI Onesource

MphasiS

EXL

Tracmail

GTL Ltd.

vCustomer

HTMT

24/7 Customer

Sutherland Technologies

The parameters for the survey was: Employee Size (Operation level executives), Percentage of last salary hike, Cost to company , Overall Satisfaction Score, Composite Satisfaction, Company Culture, Job Content / Growth, Training , Salary and Compensation , Appraisal System, People, Preferred Company: (Percentage of respondents of a company who named their own company as the preferred one), Dream Company: (Percentage of respondents in the total sample who preferred a particular company).

Employee Benefits Provided By Majoriy Of the BPO Companies
Provident Fund: As per the statutory guidelines, the employee is required to contribute a percentage of his basic salary and DA to a common fund. The employer for this fund contributes as well. The employee can use the amount deposited in this fund for various personal purposes such as purchase of a new house, marriage etc.

Gratuity: Gratuity is one of the retrial benefits given to the employee in which the employer every year contributes a particular amount. The fund created can be used by the employee for the purpose of long-term investment in various things such as a house etc.

Group Mediclaim Insurance Scheme: This insurance scheme is to provide adequate insurance coverage of employees for expenses related to hospitalization due to illness, disease or injury or pregnancy in case of female employees or spouse of male employees. All employees and their dependent family members are eligible. Dependent family members include spouse, non-earning parents and children above three months

Personal Accident Insurance Scheme: This scheme is to provide adequate insurance coverage for Hospitalization expenses arising out of injuries sustained in an accident.

Subsidized Food and Transportation: The organizations provides transportation facility to all the employees from home till office at subsidized rates. The lunch provided is also subsidized.

Company Leased Accommodation: Some of the companies provides shared accommodation for all the out station employees, in fact some of the BPO companies also undertakes to pay electricity/water bills as well as the Society charges for the shared accommodation. The purpose is to provide to the employees to lead a more comfortable work life balance.

Recreation, Cafeteria, ATM and Concierge facilities: The recreation facilities include pool tables, chess tables and coffee bars. Companies also have well equipped gyms, personal trainers and showers at facilities.

Corporate Credit Card: The main purpose of the corporate credit card is enable the timely and efficient payment of official expenses which the employees undertake for purposes such as travel related expenses like Hotel bills, Air tickets etc

Cellular Phone / Laptop: Cellular phone and / or Laptop is provided to the employees on the basis of business need. The employee is responsible for the maintenance and safeguarding of the asset.

Personal Health Care (Regular medical check-ups): Some of the BPO'S provides the facility for extensive health check-up. For employees with above 40 years of age, the medical check-up can be done once a year.

Loans: Many BPO companies provides loan facility on three different occasions: Employees are provided with financial assistance in case of a medical emergency. Employees are also provided with financial assistance at the time of their wedding. And, The new recruits are provided with interest free loans to assist them in their initial settlement at the work location.

Educational Benefits: Many BPO companies have this policy to develop the personality and knowledge level of their employees and hence reimburses the expenses incurred towards tuition fees, examination fees, and purchase of books subject, for pursuing MBA, and/or other management qualification at India's top most Business Schools.

Performance based incentives: In many BPO companies they have plans for , performance based incentive scheme. The parameters for calculation are process performance i.e. speed, accuracy and productivity of each process. The Pay for Performance can be as much as 22% of the salary.

Flexi-time: The main objective of the flextime policy is to provide opportunity to employees to work with flexible work schedules and set out conditions for availing this provision. Flexible work schedules are initiated by employees and approved by management to meet business commitments while supporting employee personal life needs .The factors on which Flexi time is allowed to an employee include: Child or Parent care, Health situation, Maternity, Formal education program

Flexible Salary Benefits: Its main objective is to provide flexibility to the employees to plan a tax-effective compensation structure by balancing the monthly net income, yearly benefits and income tax payable. It is applicable of all the employees of the organization. The Salary consists of Basic, DA and Conveyance Allowance. The Flexible Benefit Plan consists of: House Rent Allowance, Leave Travel Assistance, Medical Reimbursement, Special Allowance

Regular Get together and other cultural programs: The companies organizes cultural program as and when possible but most of the times, once in a quarter, in which all the employees are given an opportunity to display their talents in dramatics, singing, acting, dancing etc. Apart from that the organizations also conduct various sports programs such as Cricket, football, etc and regularly play matches with the teams of other organizations and colleges.

Wedding Day Gift: Employee is given a gift voucher of Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 7000/- based on their level in the organization.

Employee Referral Scheme: In several companies employee referral scheme is implemented to encourage employees to refer friends and relatives for employment in the organization.

Paid Days Off

Maternity Leave

Employee Stock Option Plan

Inspite of all these benefits, the attrition rate in BPO industry is very high, why?. What is the reason for an employee to leave? These and many more are the questions that need immediate attention from the industrial gurus.

Why people prefer to join BPO's?

In general a person with any graduation can join any of the BPO. Some BPO's like to take people with MBA but then again the specialization are of an individual hardly makes any difference. Again, this is the industry, where there is no reference checks and very often people don't even specify there exact age. Lets me share with you some of the reasons as why people prefer to join a BPO:

Did not get a better job.

Find nothing better to do.

Education level doesn't matter

Good work environment

Good Benefits

Flexibility of time

Attractive life style

Transport facility

Why people leave the BPO's?

When there are so many benefits associated with BPO industry....when there are so many privileges for the BPO employees than what makes them to change the company/industry?? Is it only MONEY that matters or anything else as well?? Here are some of the reasons for a BPO professional to change his/her job.

No growth opportunity/lack of promotion

For higher Salary

For Higher education

Misguidance by the company

Policies and procedures are not conducive

No personal life

Physical strains

Uneasy relationship with peers or managers

What they have to say?

With so much of uncertainty in the market.....people are trying their best to stop or to at least have a control on the attrition rate...let me share with you the opinion of the real gurus of the industry.

"Training is a very important aspect of the ITES-BPO industry"- Mr. Arjun Vaznaik, COO, Tracmail

" Career growth in the industry is robust and there is a long-term opportunity. The great growth momentum that the industry is witnessing is creating both vertical and lateral career opportunities. There also exists enough growth opportunities in the middle-management and supervisory level within the industry". - Aadesh Goyal, Executive Vice President & GM, Hughes BPO Services

Which Companies & Industries Would Come Out Strong After the Recession?

After about 25 years we have had a recession which has been led by financial firms. The last such recession was in 1980's. So what is so special about recessions that start due to financial services or banks? To understand this recession completely one needs to realize that the financial services sector is generally considered the back bone of any economy. If something goes wrong to the backbone, the entire economy rocks. Also the economy changes its position in different sectors completely after the recovery. The above point was proven again in this recession when the problem which just started by few people not paying their mortgages to banks rippled into worst recession for decades.

So now the question arises what new things will happen after this economy recovers. As everyone knows after every recession there are some clear winners who grow tremendously once the economy recovers. The biggest difference the current recession will bring is that companies would reduce their reliance on credit. Looking at the companies who are still top performers, it is evident they are the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google. All are all time cash rich companies and have little to no reliance on credit. A company's success would be measured also by how much capital a company has to survive a downturn.

The second change that would come is the big fishes would become even bigger and small businesses would find it hard to survive. With credit availability decreasing, banks would start to only lend out to very safe intuitions. Hence it will become hard to start and grow small businesses due to scarcity of loans. On the other hand since large business would have access to large sums of money at cheap rates they would try and consolidate by purchasing smaller players that are having hard time to survive.

So how does that affect common man by all this? Well to that point common man always gets affected; that is the in fact the prime problem with him. Fewer small businesses mean fewer jobs. It also means lower salaries as there would be less competition from employers. That would in turn mean less spending. Hence in totality although the economy would recover, it will probably not get back to levels we saw in late 2006 anytime soon.

What to Know When Choosing the Best Water Filtration Companies

There are so many water filtration companies in the world today that it's hard to know who you can trust. The deal is, though, that when you purchase water filtration equipment, you are trusting the lives of your family and yourself to them. You are trusting that their products will do what they say they will do and remove the contaminants from water down to acceptable levels. You are trusting that their technology really works efficiently, and you are trusting that when you need the equipment, it will be ready to operate the way you need it to. When you stop and think about it, that's a whole lot of trust. So what exactly can you place your trust in when it comes to water filtration.

There are a number of situations in life that might cause you to need water filters. You might like to camp in backwoods areas where there is no clean water or electricity. You might travel to a country where sanitary water isn't available. You also might get caught in the middle of an emergency situation right in your own home and need a way to provide safe, clean drinking water for your family, or you may just want nice soft water for showering. Getting the right equipment for each situation could mean the difference between life and death. Therefore, you want to be very sure of the water filtration company you're trusting to meet your needs.

When you are searching for the right water filtration system to put your trust in, spend some time talking with a company professional. This person should ask you many questions in order to recommend the equipment that will be right for your needs. Some of the things you can expect him to ask you are:

- How many people live in your home?
- What are you looking for in a water purification system?
- Where does your water supply come from?
- Do you have hard water?
- Is there any color in your water or do you notice any stains?

If the salesperson doesn't ask you questions like these and seems to want to just sell you a unit without knowing the particulars of your situation, you should probably look elsewhere. No one can recommend the right equipment without knowing all about the situation you will be using it for. Reputable water filtration companies will take the time to ask the right questions and answer any that you might have.