The Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC

The English Premier League is a global brand. Stories abound of travellers from Stoke-on-Trent travelling to far flung corners of the earth, getting into a cab, pub, or conversation and being asked; “Where are you from?” the traveller responds; “I am from Stoke” only to be told; “I know Stoke FC!”, a list of players is usually reeled out including Peter Crouch and co, and from then onward, the conversation takes on a new dimension of familiarity and friendliness.

Peter Crouch Goal Celebration

 

English Premiership Clubs have fans in all corners of the world. Jerseys are sold in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia. Matches are watched on all sorts of devices and football players are household names with kids dreaming of growing up to be like their heroes or even just meeting them someday.

 

Beyond the pitch however, there is another dimension that is closer to home. Football clubs are generating huge revenues and investing these in a variety of ways with a huge impact to their local economies. For example, Stoke FC’s revenue was £11 million in the 2007/2008 football season and then Championship promotion boosted the Club’s revenue even more from commercial, match day and broadcast streams. In the 2015/2016 Stoke FC’s total revenues rose to £119 million, making them the 9th in the Premier League. The growth in the Club’s income since joining the Premier League has enabled it to significantly increase its investment in the region and grow the profile of the Club and the city at home and abroad.  Some key regional and social impact statistics for Stoke FC for the 2015/2016 season are shown in Table 1.

 

Table 1: Key Regional Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC Statistics (2015/2016 Season)
2,391 international visits
119,000+ domestic tourists
£7 million visitor spending
301 direct Club employees (FTEs)
£1.3 million spent on local community initiatives
£29 million spent on Club supply chains (some local)

 

In addition to the impact highlighted in Table 1, the Club has also expanded its stadium to boost match day attendance and attract more visitors to the region, invested in players from the UK and abroad to extend the reach of its fan base to other areas of the globe, invested around £4million into its academy providing local young people with opportunities to develop their football careers at the Club, and invested in the Community Trust to work with the wider community to target individuals who want to get back into education, employment or generally improve their health or mental well-being.

 

Not only does success on the pitch attract visitors to the region who spend on travel, accommodation and food and drink, there is the indirect effect from the supply chain and the induced impact from increased employee spending. Analysis from Ernst & Young LLP shows that Stoke City FC generated a total Gross Value Added contribution of 132 million to the region during the 2015/2016 season. £108 million was directly contributed via the club and its tourism, a further £13 million was generated via indirect effects in local supply chains and £10 million was generated via induced effects. This activity also attracts businesses to locate their operations within the area.

Staffordshire University students and staff with Tony Scholes (CEO of Stoke FC)

 

Granted that a lot of the players might not live in the region, the activities of Stoke City FC resulted in an estimated £66million total liability to the Exchequer in 2015/2016. The presence of Stoke City FC also supported many FTE jobs in the regional economy during that period. 301 people were directly employed by the club, 853 people were employed by relevant supply chains, 401 people were employed via tourism to watch Stoke FC, and a further 682 were employed because of induced effects.

 

Beyond these, the Club supports a variety of initiatives to improve the lives of individuals and communities, working with a number of stakeholders including schools, local government and wider supporting organisations (e.g. the premier league). Community activities are delivered by Stoke City FC’s Community Trust (SCCT) which was founded in 1989 and became a registered charity in 2004. Ernst & Young LLP estimate that around 10,900 people have participated in community and charitable programmes in 2015/2016. 119,600 day trips were organised and 304 people have gained at least one qualification as a result of the Clubs initiatives. During the period under review, 10,246 hours of volunteering community work was done with the result of £8.7 million savings for the local community on physical wellbeing and £2.9 million savings on mental well being from increased physical activity.

 

With these key statistics, it is not hard to cheer for our local team. The sporting and commercial success of the Club in recent years, which includes breaking their transfer record twice in the 2015/2016 season, has allowed Stoke FC to further embed itself as a key member of our local economy. We at Staffordshire University will continue to cheer for the club. You should do the same too 😊😊😊!!!

 

Welcome to Staffordshire University!

Welcome week, more commonly known as Freshers’ week, is officially your first week at university and is the perfect opportunity for you to unpack, make new friends and find out more about your course. My advice would be to get involved with as much as you can to ensure you get the most out of this first week.

Your first day of your new independent life will begin on Saturday 16th September – Moving in day! All your hard work over the past year has paid off and now is the time for your new adventure to start as you move into your new home for the next year.

Before you can start unpacking you need to do your face-to-face enrolment in the sports hall – if you have been to one of our open days you may already know where this is but if not just ask one of our friendly Student Ambassadors and they will be happy to help. Here you will not only receive the keys to your new home, but you will also get your student card which enables you to get student discount in a wide variety of shops and restaurants!

When everything is unpacked and you have met your flatmates, it’s time to relax and have a bit of fun before your studying starts. The LRV will be hosting a ‘Moving In Party’ and this is your chance to meet lots of other first years from all different courses and enjoy yourself (please drink responsibly, DrinkAware have some hints and tips for staying safe).

On Sunday 17th September, there is a family fun day open to everyone where there will be stalls, street food, music and much more! It is also enrolment day for students who are studying off site which will take place in the sports hall.Monday 18th September is officially the first day of Welcome Week. Each individual course will give out their timetable and there will be welcome sessions where you will find out more information about your course. These sessions are important and I highly recommend that you attend – start how you mean to go on! In the sessions, you will get the following information:

  • A breakdown of your course
  • The plan for the year
  • Meet your tutors – Good first impressions are important
  • Reading/books list
  • Meet your course mates – you will be learning and working with these people so good to get off on a good start!

Wednesday 20th September is the Students’ Union Day and is the highlight of Welcome Week! This day hosts the ‘Freshers’ Fair/Commercial Fair’ (located in the LRV) where you can get your hands on lots of freebies, discounts, vouchers and food! The ‘Clubs and Societies Fair’ (located in the sports hall and Brindley outpost) is also held on Wednesday and gives you the chance to browse and join up to a number of the hundreds of clubs and societies that are run across the university.

On Thursday 21st September, the LRV is hosting a ‘Laser Tag’ event, 16:00-21:00 and entry is free!

Friday 22nd September is the last day of Welcome Week and is the launch of the LRV‘s new club night ‘Eclipse’.

Don’t forget to check out the wristbands available to purchase that will guarantee entry to the Move-In Party, special events and club nights. Click here to get yours!

For more advice on what to do and where to go during welcome week click here.

What Goliath can learn from David

In Business Schools all over the country and beyond we tend to focus on large and often multinational corporations, and the overarching focus on providing shareholders with the greatest possible return on investment has been identified as one potential contributor to the 2008 financial crisis (see for example https://www.forbes.com/sites/shawnoconnor/2013/05/15/the-responsibility-of-business-schools-in-training-ethical-leaders-2/#3102f64960bd). 

My current research leads to conversations with barbers, microbrewers, tattoo artists, baristas, tailors, street artists and denim heads who are participating in the resurgence of traditional trades rather than CEOs of multinational corporations. These entrepreneurs all have two things in common and that is the importance of having a trade and a purpose that goes beyond only making a living. They all refer to their colleagues as an integral part to their success, and they don’t define themselves as managers or leaders, but as master brewers or floor sweepers. They have an identity, authenticity and presence that go way beyond any suit and tie.

Talking with these individuals I am becoming more and more convinced that Goliath has much to learn from David. Whilst David believes in success with and through his people, Goliath too often believes in success despite of his people. Whilst David is acknowledging individual contributions, Goliath is often referring to staff as replaceable overheads. Whilst David is focusing on providing the best possible service or product, Goliath is more concerned about often meaningless and short term KPIs. Whilst David’s eye is on securing sustainable organisational success, Goliath’s is on personal short term success, sometimes at the cost of his very own existence.

Yes, David also needs to be successful and make a living, but he has a whole different approach to doing so which I believe Goliath can learn from.

Professor Rune Todnem By
@Prof_RuneTBy

Enterprise training for 50 somethings and over

Are you aged 50 or over and are you thinking about setting up your own business? Or maybe you just fancy exploring a few ideas and getting some training?

Do you have a hobby or interest in an area you could turn into a business? Do you want a better work-life balance? Are you unemployed, facing redundancy or looking for a change? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then sign up now to this exciting new training course with the Business School at Staffordshire University.

We are offering you the opportunity to participate in a free face to face and online learning course that has been developed through identifying the needs of older workers. Through coaching, mentoring and training provided you will potentially be able to develop the entrepreneurial and enterprising knowledge and skills necessary to set up your own business.

Older woman facing camera behind flowers

We will look at areas such as how to obtain finance for your business and assess its viability. We even look at how to come up with a business idea in the first place, and once you know what you want to do we then guide you through the process of how to set it up. We help you to identify who your customers will be and how to promote your product to them. For those of you who feel you lack confidence we look at how to overcome some of the obstacles and barriers to ensure success.

The first of these courses will commence on 7th November 2017 and will include approximately 40 hours of face to face and online learning over a period of 1-3 months. The training is flexible so that you can choose to study the areas that best suit your needs. Following the training you will be signposted to a range of mentoring and support in the development of your business.

To register your interest in the course, please complete the application form using one of the links below. If you have completed the downloadable application form, please return it to Tom Ward at t.ward@staffs.ac.uk or the postal address detailed on the form. Should you require further information or a hard copy of the form, you can e-mail Tom or contact him on 01782 294902.

Online application form

Downloadable application form

Twitter: @silver_workers

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Funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and EU flag logo

The Importance of Employability Skills – Get Ready for Employability Challenge!

Without a doubt, one of the main challenges for students today is that different employers look for different sets of employability skills. However, it can be difficult for students to think about their employability skills whilst at university given busy schedules and pressure to meet assignment deadlines.

At Staffordshire University we take employability promise seriously. We want all of our students to graduate with the right employability skills and experience to enable them to follow their chosen career path. We promise our students to equip them with relevant employment skills and we deliver on our promise. We are proud about the fact that 97% of our graduates are in employment after graduating. When it comes to employability of our graduates, we are proud to be No. 1* in England for graduate employability. To achieve this, we work in partnership with many industry-leading organisations to help them tap into our home-grown graduate talent as well as helping students develop their employability skills through various initiatives and practices such as mentoring and work-shadowing. Global Entrepreneurial Week (GEW) event held at Staffordshire University every year plays the key role in equipping graduates with relevant work-related skills.

At Staffordshire University, we are committed to helping students maximise their employability and ultimately finding their dream graduate job, by offering a range of career-related events. In particular, GEW is an annual event at Staffordshire University that brings together a range of industry leading employers on campus during which students can meet and network with employers to find out about employment opportunities. Organised specifically for students, GEW and FutureFest event is designed to inform students about the future world-of-work. The Staffordshire University is committed to helping students maximise their employability, therefore the program is centred on topics that can help students succeed in every step of their career development process.

However, whilst we are committed to bringing leading business experts to share their expertise with students, there is also an expectation from students to actively participate in this event in order to get the most out of this unique opportunity for their career development. How to make the most out of this event? Network, network, network. Forward thinking students always have their CVs on hand to give out to potential employers. If you have never written a CV, you could get a professional help from the Career Office, who would assist you in writing a professionally looking CV, highlighting your transferable skills, and any work experience you have to date.

GEW and FutureFest event will provide students with an excellent opportunity to meet employers, discuss job opportunities, better understand career opportunities across various industries, get industry insights from recruiters, network with Industry leaders or simply get inspired. So, if you’re looking for your dream job or just looking to further enhance your employability skills, come along to GEW and FutureFest event held at Staffordshire University on November 13. We look forward to active participation of students in GEW and FutureFest 2017!

Dr Katerina Thomas, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

www.staffs.ac.uk

 

*Joint with Bishop Grosseteste University, excluding specialist institutions. Source: DLHE 2017

Can we trust what we see?

What is ‘quality’- standards, atmosphere, experience, reputation, education, consistency and doing it right no matter what. In a forever changing environment how are businesses meant to keep up with quality standards, changing standards and awarding bodies. Ford cited in Andersen (2013) stated ‘Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.’  Is looking the same as seeing? And who can we trust when it comes to quality?

We have to get it right no matter- what, who, how many staff have phoned in sick or when the tea spoon fairy paid you a visit.  Quality is based on opinion and expectation rather than star rating, price or quantity. We have brand reputation and businesses are forever trying to encourage staff to not just meet expectations but to exceed! To stay on top you must stand out, and one way is to exceed customer expectations.

We are now living in a very ‘personal age’ it’s not just a burger it’s your burger. Your name is on products and services are tailored to your individual needs. Businesses need to get staff to understand what guest expectations are and to understand it’s the personal touch that guest will remember and share.

It’s really hard on a busy shift when we have to serve a guest, answer the phone and close the fridge door all at the same time! This is why is it harder than ever to actually see rather than just look! Guest have their own expectations and we have to try and surpass these without even knowing what they are! When I see a restaurant that has dirty plates on the tables, I think wow they’ve been busy. But others might see- staff aren’t being very efficient. Expectations and perceptions are different and very hard to manage.

If you want to try and understand how to manage guest expectations and find out more about quality and exceeding customer expectations  register and complete a quality module for free using our on line training tool. There are 11 modules to choose from: – Quality, Seasonality, Training and Energy Controls. Click here to register and complete for free: – http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Tonia Barrett, Staffordshire Business School

 

Reference

Andersen, E. (2013) 21 Quotes from Henry Ford on Business, Leadership and Life. [Online] Available from: – https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/05/31/21-quotes-from-henry-ford-on-business-leadership-and-life/#5dd7a464293c [accessed 19.07.2017]

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Sustainable Food and Drink Tourism

‘Tourist choices are increasingly influenced by sustainability considerations’
(UN World Tourism Organisation – 2012)

The UN regards food as an ‘intangible cultural asset’

Food is part of a destinations ‘persona’

Source: World Food Travel Association, 2016 FoodTrekking Monitor

Food sustains life; without food, humans cannot survive. It is, therefore, important for our future to protect the natural resources that supply food. However, what people eat not only matters for individuals and their environment, but for the economy and society in general. At the same time, food is an important component of a holiday. For hotels and cruise ships, good food has the potential to become a competitive advantage while bad food can damage a hotel’s or cruise ship’s reputation for years. This is why it is of great importance for tourism businesses to manage food in a sustainable way.

Sustainable food consumption is a growing field of interest. One reason is the constantly and rapidly growing demand for food in a world whose population is expected to grow to over 9 billion people by 2050. At the same time, food producers around the world often do not get a fair share of global food trade and in many instances work under poor conditions. Additional pressure arises from the greenhouse-gas emissions caused by food production, which play a crucial role in climate change. Furthermore, the health aspect of food is a major concern, especially in modern societies. Finally, rapid socio-cultural changes in many countries raise the question of the protection of food cultures and traditions.

Food and drinks consumption is seen by most tourists as an important part of their trips and tourism often takes place in ecologically, socially and culturally sensitive destinations. Through food consumption, it is not only possible to support your health and well-being while on holiday, but also to interact directly with the ecological, social and cultural resources of a destination.

Some key facts

  1. For 44% of traveller’s food is one of the top three criteria they consider when deciding where to travel.
  2. 1 in 5 international visitors to Europe are involved in gastronomic activities on the trip.
  3. Food and drinks is the second largest spend by tourists (after accommodation) whilst on holiday. 

At the same time, unsustainable food consumption has the potential to cause harm for tourists, local inhabit- ants, and destinations in general. Over use of scarce resources, excessive food waste and poor labour conditions are some examples of areas, where touristic food consumption has negative consequences for a destination. Understanding and managing food in a holistic, sustainable way is therefore one key for the future success of tourism businesses around the world.

Dimension: Local Food

Local purchasing supports a destination’s economy both directly through payments and indirectly through the creation of jobs. Also, from an environmental point of view, local sourcing makes sense, since it lowers transport emissions and packaging waste. Local sourcing also helps protect local food cultures and might provide healthier options of less-processed and -preserved food.

The primary challenge to tourism businesses in holiday destinations is, therefore,
to find access to local produce and to build up a reliable food supply. However, there is no official definition of what local food actually means. For example, the Green Restaurant Association (USA) defines local food as food that comes from a distance of below 400 miles (643 km) away, while Viabono (Germany) regards food from less than 60 miles (96.5 km) away as local.

What is considered local also depends on the destination: for a hotel on a small island, the local radius is probably smaller than for a land-based hotel in extensively populated areas. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you should look for the closest food supply you can get.

Local ingredients and food seem to play a key role, when it comes to customers attitudes. More than 60% of German package holiday travellers prefer local dishes to familiar ones and strongly agree that food and drink are a good way to become acquainted with other cultures.

So what can you do?

 You have to understand the growing importance of food and drink in the tourism industry and its importance to your customers. Than, identify and apply actions to address customer needs and promote your business using sustainability as the message.

We have created a free online tool to help you develop this area. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs.  All you need is an internet connection.

Click here to register and start your free online training today:  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Marzena Reszka, Staffordshire Business School.

Reference

UN World Tourism Organisation (2012). Annual Report. [Online] Available from: http://www2.unwto.org/publication/unwto-annual-report-2012

World Food Travel Association (2016). Food Trekking Monitor. [Online] Available from: http://www.worldfoodtravel.org/articles/world-food-travel-association-2016-annual-report

Useful links

https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2017/04/10/service-quality-in-tourism-the-road-less-travelled/

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What Next After Graduation?

Now you have completed an important journey of your life! It is truly a milestone and whether you have done it for yourself or for parents’/partner’s sake, the dedication, commitments and challenges have been great and will live with you for a very long time to come. From now on, anything that you wish to set as a target or challenge is within your reach! Some of you will be looking for jobs and others will make a decision whether to set another educational goal. A master’s degree perhaps, a PGCE or professional qualifications? Any and all are within your sight and sky is the limit for you! Whatever you would like to do, you are now the expert to confirm to yourself, yes, I can and I will do it…

Just to let you know that Staffordshire Business School offers a wide range of Masters degrees, just to mention few: MSc Accounting and Finance, MSc Digital Marketing Management, MSc International Business Management, MA Human Resource Management and MA Strategic Human Resource Management. Most of which attract a student finance loan of £10,280 to pay for the fees and your living costs. Because the University wanted to make it easy for those who wish to further their study, it set the Masters fees so low! Therefore, the £10,280 student finance loan is more than enough to pay the fees and goes a long way to cover significant part of your living expenses. For example, the fees for the MSc Accounting and Finance is £6,200 (for Home and EU students). The recipients of £10,280 from student finance will be left with £4,080 after paying the fees which they can use towards their living expenses!

Remember, if you are still finding it difficult to make this strategic decision about your future, your ‘former’ personal tutor, course leader and all other staff who taught you are only too pleased to discuss this with you. Of course the Postgraduate course tutors are there too to provide further details about their particular course.

Being the Connected University, the message is simple, do not hesitate to get in touch!

Arshad Hussain, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School.

www.staffs.ac.uk

Sustainable Supply Chain

Operating ethically and operating profitably are no longer mutually exclusive concepts. Leading companies are “walking the walk,” balancing the goal of achieving profitability with gaining social and environmental advantages.

Companies stuck in a mind-set of “what’s the minimum I need to do” are missing out on opportunities to use ethical business practices as an integral part of what makes them unique.

Achieving responsible and profitable supply chains is about gaining a triple advantage creating a clear business case for organisations, as well as benefits for the environment and society. Those focused on this “triple advantage” is supply chain operations can increase competitiveness through increased revenue and brand reputation while decreasing cost and risk.

To sustain competitiveness, companies need to recalibrate their strategies towards ethical behaviour—moving from a focus on compliance to differentiation. Companies engaged in responsible supply chain efforts often refer to their “license to operate.” That implies they’ve established trust with local governments and society by complying with regulations and establishing health and safety programs that give them tacit permission to do business.

So you may think what is a supply chain?

Supply chains are present in every economic sector – they are made up of connections between suppliers of all the goods and services that go into the delivery of products to consumers.

A sustainable supply chain is one that involves the incorporation of socio-cultural, environmental and economically viable practices placed into the full lifecycle of the supply chain. The full lifecycle of the supply chain means all the steps from product design and development, to selection of appropriate materials, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, storage, supply, consumption, and recycling.

What are sustainable tourism supply chains?

In the context of the tourism sector, a sustainable supply chain includes all suppliers of goods and services;

–        either contracted straight from tour operators and associated ground handlers

–        or via suppliers including accommodation providers

A holiday is the end product most commonly purchased in a tourism supply chain.

Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) encapsulates the trend to use purchasing policies and practices to facilitate sustainable development at the tourist destination. Most research has focused on environmental aspects of manufacturing, while other aspects of sustainability or the challenges for the service sector are largely ignored. Yet SSC is particularly important for tour operators, as the product depends on the activities of suppliers such as accommodation, transport and activities. Therefore, tour operators’ contribution to sustainable tourism will be more effective through the definition and implementation of policies that acknowledge responsibility for the impacts of suppliers.

Across tourism supply chains, research has suggested that the process of implementing sustainable practices is most challenging in the area of transport, and most straight forward in accommodation. Attempt to generate sustainability at the scale of a destination need the combined efforts of the widest partnership of stakeholders.

It is therefore important, when supporting and connecting to a local destination, for businesses to have a strong grasp of the whole holiday experience and the type of advice that will be useful for customers. Each destination has its specific setting, but a general summary of links looks like this:

© 2003 Richard Tapper, Environment Business & Development Group

The Benefits

So why might a business wish to apply a sustainable tourism supply approach – what are the principal benefits?

All supply chains can be optimised using sustainable practices. Sustainability in the supply chain encapsulates a number of different priorities:

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Conservation of resources
  • Reduction of carbon footprint
  • Financial savings and viability
  • Social responsibility

Managing supply chains in a sustainable manner can help businesses in not only reducing their total carbon footprint, but also in optimising their end-to-end operations to achieve:

  • Improved credibility, visibility and brand reputation
  • Improved access to markets
  • Greater operational effectiveness leading to cost savings and profitability

We have created a free online tool to help you develop. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs.  All you need is an internet connection.

Click here to register and start your free online training today:  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Marzena Reszka, Staffordshire Business School


Reference

Accenture Consulting (2017). Walking the Walk Driving Competitiveness Through Ethical Supply Chains. [Online] Available from: www.accenture.com

Useful links

https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2017/04/10/service-quality-in-tourism-the-road-less-travelled/

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Is a voice command system safe (or private) enough for you?

I love shopping online; the ease and convenience of shopping without the hassles of trying to find a parking spot and dealing with the crowds at the mall makes it attractive for me. Recently, one of the biggest online shopping events took place on July 10. It was an Amazon’s Black Friday-like sales event called Amazon Prime Day. One item that caught my eye was Amazon’s Echo.

Echo” is a smart speaker with a microphone and “Alexa” is Amazon’s voice command system that resides within Echo. Amazon is not the only company offering a smart command system. There is also Google Now and the latest Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana. These personal voice command assistants have downloadable “skills” which allow you to verbally tell them to do certain things, such as obtain weather reports, create to-do list, play your favourite songs, make phone calls, and write and send text messages, order take-away food from Deliveroo or UberEat or even shop online.

The ease, speed and convenience of these voice command assistants is that you no longer have to speak into your phone, as Apple’s Siri requires.  Essentially, when the voice command assistant hears its wake-up word (a word users set to prompt Alexa to action), the voice command system responds to your voice command/s as long as you are within earshot of the speaker’s microphone. It is always on ready standby for your next command.

However, as with all things, there are limitations with these voice command systems. For example, you can only give one command at a time to the voice command assistant and may get mixed-up if you use more than one device or if you set the same wake up word for each device it could then get confusing for both the system and the user. These voice command assistants may also have unforeseen or unintended consequences for the user.

For example, if like to eat corn chips or are an early riser then Alexa will know this because it helped created your grocery list and it helped to set your alarm to wake you up each morning. Thus, Alexa collects data from its users, sends this information to the cloud and presumably captures and uses the information for marketing purposes. You might think to yourself that this data collection is not a big deal but what is the big deal?

The big deal is that Alexa, in this case, is owned by Amazon – one of the largest online shopping sites in the world. Think about it. Once awaken, Alexa hears (and saves) everything unless you push the mute button or delete the information from the voice command assistant. You might soon start to notice that you are now getting suggestions from Amazon as different brands of corn chips available at Amazon’s website or other suggestions for books on the early bird getting the worm.

These voice command systems offer the consumer an innovative way to communicate with their environment and this may be the wave of the future, but at what cost will this come?

Here are six things to think about:

  1. What are the ramifications if Alexa being “on” and it overhears a conversation you are having with your house guest? There is an interesting case in the United States where police demanded that Amazon turn over information from a murder suspect’s Echo. You need to think of the possible ramifications of personal privacy once these voice command assistants are turned on and installed in cars or home appliances.
  2. What are the limitations placed on companies when collecting, using or disclosing consumers’ personal information? How much control will you be willing to forego over the use of your personal information?
  3. Do these companies re-sell, barter, or disclose the information to other companies or governments, and under what circumstances?
  4. Do consumers actually read a company’s privacy policy? Generally, most people simply “accept” the privacy policy without much thought.
  5. Should consumers be paid for the information they provide via these voice command systems or is the opportunity to use a company’s services enough compensation for you? Information is a valuable commodity after all and personal information collected about you may be invasive.
  6. Are the privacy concerns regarding the collection of personal information by these companies over blown? After all, there are ways to mute the voice command or delete the information from the system, right? Do you know if this is really possible?

Finally, you’ve probably heard a version of the “nothing to hide argument” which often gets cited in discussions around privacy and surveillance. It goes something like this: “I am not worried about being surveilled by X because I have nothing to hide.

Edward Snowden, the American ex-NSA intelligence employee, who copied and leaked classified information about global surveillance programs once said, “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

So, what are you willing to give up for the ease, speed and convenience of using these voice command systems? Perhaps you need to think about it a bit more before you let devices collect personal information about you?

Fatimah Moran, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

Click here for information on the courses available at Staffordshire Business School

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