Amazon knocked off top of UK consumer poll once ethics considered

Amazon has slipped down a list of companies ranked by customer satisfaction after consumers were asked to consider ethics when rating brands.

The online retailer, which became the world’s most valuable listed company earlier this month, had taken the top spot in the last six published biannual UK Customer Satisfaction Indexes (UKSCI). But it slipped to fifth place, with a score of 85.4 out of 100, after the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) added new categories, including an ethical dimension to the poll of 10,000 consumers.

Amazon has previously faced high-profile criticism over the working conditions experienced by its employees and its relatively meagre tax contribution in the UK.

Read entire article Amazon knocked off top of UK consumer poll once ethics considered | Rob Davies | The Guardian

A Supply Chain Christmas Wishlist for 2018

From Amazon not taking over the world to more practical supply chain research by academics, Dan Gilmore offers Santa his list.

For the past many years, for my last First Thoughts column of the year I have generally been oscillating between my versions of “A Supply Chain Christmas Carol” and “Twas the Night Before a Supply Chain Christmas,” updated as appropriate from year to year.

Occasionally I also throw in a supply chain Christmas list that I hope Santa might deliver in the coming year. So I decided to offer that list again here in 2018, with a couple of holdovers from the 2016 list, because frankly Santa still hasn’t come through (maybe I am on the naughty list?). It is a short list, but think would have a major impact if Santa could somehow fill up my supply chain stocking.

Would love to hear an item or two on your Supply Chain wish list as well. So here we go.

Read entire article A Supply Chain Christmas Wishlist for 2018 | Dan Gilmore | Supply Chain Digest

Facebook gave Spotify and Netflix access to users’ private messages

What to make of the New York Times’ latest story about Facebook’s broad data-sharing agreements?

The story, which draws on internal documents describing the company’s partnerships, reports on previously undisclosed aspects of business partnerships with companies including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, and Netflix. In some cases, companies had access to data years after it was supposed to have been cut off.

> See also:  6-Year-Old explains how messed up it is that her entire life has been put on Facebook

The story, which builds on reporting earlier this year from both the Times and the Wall Street Journal, describes a variety of data-sharing partnerships, some of which users were likely unaware of. They include:

  • Giving Apple access to users’ Facebook contacts and calendar entries, even if they had disabled data sharing, as part of a partnership that still exists. Apple told the Times it was unaware that it had special access, and of the data described would never leave the user’s device.
  • Giving Amazon the names and contact information of users, in a partnership that is currently being wound down. Amazon wouldn’t discuss how it used the data other than to say it had used it “appropriately.” On Twitter, Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill speculated that Amazon may have used the data to fight review fraud.
  • Giving Bing, the Microsoft search engine, access to see names and other profile information of a user’s friends. Microsoft said it has since deleted the data. Facebook says that only user data set to “public” was accessible to Microsoft.
  • Giving Spotify, Netflix, and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read users’ private Facebook messages.

Here’s how the story is framed by reporters Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia, and Nicholas Confessore.

Read entire article Facebook gave Spotify and Netflix access to users’ private messages | Casey Newton | The Verge

New (e-)takeoff for aviation industry

New technologies, from robotics to machine learning, are ushering in a period of rapid change and development. While the aviation industry is working to reap the benefits of this industrial automation, standards, especially those of ISO/TC 184/SC 4, will play a key role in ensuring a smooth flight path – but only if they can keep up.

Ever since Icarus boldly strapped on his wooden-framed wings made of feathers and wax and took to the skies, human beings have been defying gravity, designing and creating all kinds of contraptions and devices to get themselves airborne.

Finding solutions to these challenges calls for cost-­effective, fast and flexible new production processesHubris, along with solar power, did it in for Icarus, but these days, the likes of Elon Musk, founder and chief designer of SpaceX and creator of Tesla, and Jeff Bezos, founder of and Blue Origin, are blazing new trails in the skies, driven by their vision and a sense of adventure, and propelled by the new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

These modern-day Icaruses can afford to think big, and their successes, trailblazing endeavours and projections are splashed across the media. Of course, the aerospace and aviation industry has been pushing boundaries for years. From the first commercial air flight in 1914, demand for air travel has grown exponentially. As a result, the industry has had to seek new ways to design safer, faster, lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

> Read entire article New (e-)takeoff for aviation industry | Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis |

Amazon investigating employees leaking data for bribes

Amazon is investigating reports of employees leaking confidential internal data and offering other services to sellers on its e-commerce platform in exchange for bribes, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Employees at the internet retailer are allegedly selling sales and search information to independent merchants selling products on the site, giving them an edge over competitors in violation of company policy, the newspaper reported. Brokers working as intermediaries for Amazon employees are also offering to delete negative reviews and restore banned accounts, the newspaper said, citing anonymous sellers, brokers and others familiar with the probe.

The investigation began in May after the company was tipped off to the practice taking place in China, where it’s said to be most prevalent, the Journal reported.

> Read entire article Amazon investigates employees leaking data for bribes | Steven Musil | CNet

The future of work: Are you ready for smart Cobots?

When you can design your workflow to capitalize on the best attributes of humans and robots, there are many benefits.

Robots are the latest generation of robotic systems, and they are intended to work alongside humans. Thanks to enhancements in sensor and vision technology, cobots do not need to be secured behind a cage to keep humans in the workplace safe from the rapid movements and heavy bulk that are typical in earlier generations of industrial robots.

Advances in computing power and robotic technology along with a smaller price tag, an average of $24,000 each, make cobots a realistic option for small- and medium-sized businesses. Now the benefits of advanced robotics are available to these companies to help them compete with larger manufacturers.

Cobots are:

  • Easy to program: No programming expertise is needed to set up and operate cobots quickly. Often, they are virtually plug and play or easily programmed through a tablet or by adjusting the cobot’s arms.
  • Fast to setup: Unlike traditional industrial robots that take weeks to be operational, the setup time for most cobots is just a few hours.
  • Flexible: Traditional robots are often bolted to the floor and deployed for a particular application. Cobots are flexible and mobile, don’t require a lot of space and can be redeployed very easily to support new and multiple applications.
  • Safe: Cobots don’t need safety cages to keep your human workforce safe on the job when they are working. They can sense obstacles and adjust their speed or reverse to avoid crashing into humans (or other obstacles).
> Read entire article The Future Of Work: Are You Ready For Smart Cobots? | Bernard Marr | Forbes

How many distribution centers workers does it take to fulfill 200,000 ecommerce orders per day?

That’s right: four workers, mostly just there to keep an eye on the operation.

We’ve reported in recent months about a number of stories in major media such as the New York Times about how automation in distribution will not really eliminate that many jobs, and that humans and robots can happily coexist, especially in businesses that are seeing rapid growth in volumes.

One New York Times article, for example, noted how Dave Clark, an Amazon operations executive, recently said that even after Amazon has installed more than 100,000 of its Kiva robots at 26 distribution centers in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan, it is still hiring massive quantities of DC associates.

> Read entire article The Future of Distribution Automation, It Seems, is Here Right Now | Supply Chain Digest

Four takeaways from Amazon Alexa’s bone-chilling, unprompted laughter

Multiple people have been spooked by Amazon’s virtual AI assistant, Alexa, laughing on its own. Amazon has promised it will implement changes to avoid similar incidents in the future, but it’s good to look at what we could learn from all of this.

Posted on Futurism | By Dom Galeon

Reports of Amazon’s virtual artificial intelligence (AI) assistant Alexa behaving strangely have recently made the rounds on the news and social media. Several Alexa-enabled devices have reportedly started talking or laughing without being prompted, or doing so instead of performing a command. Naturally, Alexa owners who heard this freaked out, with many resorting to turning off the AI assistants or unplugging their devices.

These incidents didn’t go unnoticed by Amazon, which immediately set out to fix the bug. On March 7, Amazon released a statement explaining Alexa’s sudden gleeful outbursts: “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh,’” the company said.

As a result, Amazon decided to change the phrase to “Alexa, can you laugh?” which they said would be “less likely to have false positives.” The phrase “Alexa, laugh” has also been disabled. Amazon also noted that they were “changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter.

First, let’s set a couple of things straight. Alexa laughing at seemingly random moments, coupled with little acts of defiance, sure sounds chillingly familiar — but this (probably) isn’t a sign of an AI takeover. What it is, rather, is a chance to reconsider some of the realities of living with virtual AI assistants today, and in the future.

This should probably go without saying. One of the most promising — but also, arguably, disconcerting — realities of AI in mobile devices and the Internet of Things is that they are always on.

Read entire article Four Takeaways From Amazon Alexa’s Bone-Chilling, Unprompted Laughter | Futurism

Amazon’s automated grocery store of the future opens today Inc will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public today after more than a year of testing, moving forward on an experiment that could dramatically alter brick-and-mortar retail.

Posted on Reuters | By Jeffrey Dastin

The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous – customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.For grocers, the store’s opening heralds another potential disruption at the hands of the world’s largest online retailer, which bought high-end supermarket chain Whole Foods Market last year for $13.7 billion. Long lines can deter shoppers, so a company that figures out how to eradicate wait times will have an advantage.

Amazon did not discuss if or when it will add more Go locations, and reiterated it has no plans to add the technology to the larger and more complex Whole Foods stores.

Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous – customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

Read entire article Amazon’s automated grocery store of the future opens Monday | Reuters

Experts rail against internet password ‘organizers’

Security experts have warned consumers against buying their loved ones “username/password” organizers this Christmas as it encourages poor security practice.

Posted on InfoSecurity
By Phil Muncaster

Various retailers including Amazon, Etsy, and Blackwell’s are selling the pocket-sized notebooks, advertised as being a “convenient place” to store all one’s online log-ins.
While these items have been selling for a few years now, security experts are becoming increasingly vocal about their concerns in light of rising cyber-threat levels.
ESET security specialist, Mark James, argued that users should be looking to online password managers rather than physical log-in organizers like these.

Consumers urged to use online password managers and MFA instead

Read complete article Experts Rail Against Internet Password ‘Organizers’ | Phil Muncaster | InfoSecurity

Supply chain in the era of intelligent automation

Every business on the planet strives to increase revenue, enhance profitability and make its customers happy.
In the past, organisations mainly focused on achieving customer satisfaction with timely product or service fulfilment. Today, however, most organisations recognise that it’s no longer enough to compete merely on products and services – instead, it’s about managing customer experience and their business outcome as a value add.

We could go as far as to say this is the era of the experience economy. Most organisations make their customers happy by meeting their needs, solving their problems and providing experiences marked by immediacy, vantage and customisation. To my mind, however, what really matters is the outcome of an individual customer’s needs – which will lead to the next wave of evolution and differentiator as the “outcome economy.”

The outcome economy not only addresses customer end needs by selling a promise of outcome, it also senses and creates wish lists that open new sales opportunities for businesses to improve revenues and profitability, delivering a notable return on investment and assets, and achieving a substantial reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO).

“Amazon-like” has become an industry standard for customer experience

Companies such as Amazon are already leveraging their artificial intelligence (AI) tools to enable the development of the outcome economy, and we have all seen their growth over the last few years.

6 scary news for Halloween!

Amazon Key is a new service that lets couriers unlock your front door!

The natural evolution of supply chain, or a step too far?

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Pollution kills nine million people a year

Pollution has been linked to nine million deaths worldwide in 2015, a report in The Lancet has found.

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Halloween 2017 Supply Chain Infographics

Consumers are expected to spend a record $9.1 billion for Halloween 2017, making it the largest spending for the spooky holiday to date.

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How one boy became a terrorist

This, dear readers, is how terrorism happens! At least in the case of one young boy in Ireland in the 1970s. A text by Phil Gurski.

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