CEO, National Express Transit

Deploying an app is often more feasible and cost-effective than a major infrastructure upgrade.

How Transit Agencies Harness TechnologyHow Transit Agencies Harness Technology

Mass transit aims to offer convenience and value for its riders. A key concern for transit managers is how to improve customer experience. When transit agencies integrate newer technologies, riders are happier and ridership grows. In this era of rapid technological discovery, transit agencies have more opportunities to evolve and please passengers.

Why Technology Matters 

Transit agencies can take advantage of relatively inexpensive technology to improve transit. This is important because of ongoing struggles with uncertain funding and tighter budgets. Deploying an app is often more feasible and cost-effective than a major infrastructure upgrade.

Adopting tech may also increase ridership, which can increase revenue substantially. New York MTA licensed GPS data to create an app called Bus Time, which told riders when their bus would arrive. A study of the app showed an increase in rides, which led to more fares.

Transit and Smartphones

The majority of Americans own smartphones and they use them as they travel. Many transit authorities understand apps can vastly improve a rider’s experience. Portland, Oregon has a reputation for having one of the best transit systems. One of the features of Portland’s system is have high degree of customer interaction and support. Another example is the Chicago Transit Authority, which launched an app that allows riders to pay for fares using a smartphone.

Social media is now embraced by many transit systems. By using Twitter and Facebook, passengers can get real-time updates on delays. As a result, riders feel more connected to their transit provider, which boosts feelings of good will.

Future of Technology and Transit

The future of mass transit is likely in the hands of younger adults. Millennials overtook the Baby Boomers in 2016 and are now the largest generation in America. These adults —between ages 18 and 35 — influence all aspects of society and especially shape mass transit.

The typical profile of a Millennial mass transit user is they are technological savvy and use multiple modes of travel by foot, bike, public transit and car. These adults prefer to live in metropolitan areas, which offer various options for travel within and outside the city. Rather than only driving, this generation has embraced having choices, which saves them time and money.

Mass transit offers advantages to Millennials, which can be improved with technology upgrades. Riders work and socialize on a commute using digital devices. Therefore, better online access via wifi will make mass transit more appealing. Harnessing GPS technology to offer real-time information about arrivals and delays will make mass transit more convenient.

Partner, Moore Stephens

M&A points to consider before executing a U.K. inward investment strategyM&A points to consider before executing a U.K. inward investment strategy

Investing in the UK, an acknowledged world-leading business destination, is a strategic objective for a number of global companies and international investors. But what should you consider before you take those steps?

  1. Have a pragmatic strategy beyond Brexit

In January 2017, UK PM Theresa May set out her 12 point plan for negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU. A good entry strategy should be Brexit agnostic and therefore plan beyond it in order to effectively navigate the uncertainties likely to arise as Brexit is expected to be formally triggered in 2017.

  1. Structure of the transaction

Consideration should be given to the type and form of entry strategy. Identifying the right acquisition candidate is important and involves market mapping, exploring the universe of candidates and assessing whether the target is the right fit and the most appropriate way to engage with them.

Undertaking an acquisition in the current political change facing the UK and other G7 countries in 2017, a strategy that is flexible with optionality built in may well benefit all.

  1. Do you have the right professional advisers

It is important that you have the right professional advisers who understand the UK, share your values, know your story, and have the right skills to service you in this vibrant economy beyond the completion of an acquisition.

The right advisers will help you gain insight into and navigate the regulatory framework, act on your behalf during negotiations, provide access to their proprietary database of potential acquisition targets thereby avoiding corporate auctions, help engage with and project manage other advisers that may need to be involved, provide valuable sector expertise as well as conduct a tailored due diligence exercise.

  1. Is your bank global

It may also be worthwhile assessing your banking relationships. Will your existing bank(s) be able to service you adequately and do they have a presence in the UK? Working with a bank who has a presence and breadth of services across sectors is vital, even down to the fundamental differences that your sector needs to be supported with. Therefore, it is important to assess your relationships in good time.

  1. Create a credible project team with authority to execute documents and properly project manage the inward investment

As with any M&A transaction, investing in the UK will consume management’s time and resources. During the project it is important to have a committed and dedicated team who have board level authority. Project management teams should ideally include management, outside advisers and operational experts.

Negotiations, even at the preliminary stage, can be lengthy with long periods of silence between key stages. It is therefore important to keep communication channels open at senior levels. We believe a corporate transaction is a significant milestone in a business’s lifecycle and therefore board level buy-in and signoffs should be timely obtained.

  1. Innovative solutions can minimise or avoid deal leakages

UK M&A activity remains one of the highest globally; the UK economy is one of the strongest and most innovative G7 economies.  Innovations in transactions continue apace as often the headline value is not always the purchase price paid.

Innovations include the use of locked boxes, warranty and indemnity insurance, escrow accounts, deferred consideration, buy out of certain obligations by a third party (e.g. pension obligations), corporate loan notes, asset sales and subsidiary swaps amongst other ways used to minimise deal leakages.

 

Director of Business Development for the UK & Europe, Avitus Group

Avitus Group’s Workplace Social Media Policy Best Practices Guide recommends specific content for employee handbooks to avoid falling to the too-wide-sweeping-policies trap, outlines multiple case studies to guide employers on the difference between gripes and legal expression of concerns, and encourages businesses to know the law before firing employees for social media behavior.

NLRB fact sheet on social media

Read the full National Labor Relations Act, here

The Employee Handbook and Social Media in the United States: Important Best PracticesThe Employee Handbook and Social Media in the United States: Important Best Practices

Today, use of social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more, has expanded to a platform for any employee to share thoughts on his or her workplace.

Some employees write work-related social media messages because they are concerned that an aspect of their workplace environment might not be legal or possibly dangerous. Others hit the keyboard in the heat of the moment when they are upset about varying work-related issues and feel the need to vent on a public platform.

This private use of social media can cross the line into professional social media misconduct, and end up potentially being harmful to a business. However, this line is not always clear. To protect their business interests, management often takes steps, usually via an employee handbook, to develop policy aimed at avoiding malicious defamation. With that being said, this must be accomplished by following best practices and staying in compliance with the law.

The ultimate authority over employee and employer rights and actions, including what is detailed in an employee handbook, is the federal law set by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The National Labor Relations Board holds authority to enforce the NLRA, and its jurisdiction extends to most U.S. workplaces. Board decisions have gone through the courts and up to the U.S. Supreme court, establishing nationwide court precedents.

The problem comes when a business’s rules and company-imposed consequences start walking on what the NLRB considers ‘protected concerted activity.’ By definition, this protects the rights of employees to use social media to ‘question, disagree, and complain…regarding aspects of employment terms and conditions, including wages and hours.’

Therefore, when an employee begins to disparage a company or other employees, it can be unclear what is and is not protected under the NLRB rules. Best practices on social media policies really started to become an issue starting in 2010, when employers began looking for guidance in these uncharted waters. In response, the NLRB general counsel issued a guidance on social media, which can be found in the sidebar.

However, not all employers are aware of the law and unjustly fire or discipline employees for social media behavior. This lack of knowledge has ended up costing the employer. In 2014 alone, the NLRB General Counsel sought $43.8 million in back pay as monetary remedies for the employees who were illegally fired after participating in protected activities.

Without guidance through the sections of the NLRA, such as that provided by Avitus Group, employers often feel like they are blindly navigating a rocky road of questions and legal traps. Employers need to be able to understand who is making the statements, the method their employees are using to seek change, whether the concerns are legitimate or just personal gripes, and whether their handbook policies are legal or in violation of NLRA’s section 7 protected rights and activities. Becoming educated on these issues, and following best practices can save the business money and reputation.

Director of Business Development for the UK & Europe, Avitus Group

Read the class-action lawsuit against Abercrombie and Fitch

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