Taming the oil price

For the foreseeable future, the world will need oil, but its price volatility makes buying and selling it a challenge for producers and the myriad manufacturers who need it. For brokers who sit in the middle of such transactions, finding the optimal price and the number of clients to spread their risk is one of their biggest challenges. Belleh Fontem, a senior researcher in operations and information systems at the University of Massachusetts, USA, has designed a mathematical programme that embraces oil price volatility. The results could have far-reaching consequences.

One of the main benefits of a highly networked global economy is the sheer scale of access to products and services. On the flip side, being so interwoven, that network is at the mercy of impactful events anywhere within it. Witness the effects when the Ever Given, one of the world’s biggest container ships, blocked the

Beware the cliched motivators

Abstract: The snake-oil salesman of the Wild West is a firm fixture of modern-day business... Beware the forked tongue of the snake-oil salesman! This may sound like dated advice from the Wild West but it's as true today as it was when American frontiersmen, desperate for alms to aid their various ill fortunes, fell foul of the smooth talking quack hawking his quick fix mixture. Times are just as wild in today's business environment, where ever-expanding frontiers demand more than just sound sense and the employment of time-honoured trade philosophy. Just as you invest in a formula that rewards your prospecting, someone edges closer to your stake and you are forced to try new measures to remain one step ahead of them. And who can provide this nostrum for superior profit? Today's answer to the snake-oil salesman - the motivational speaker. When you're feeling down

What glass ceiling?

Abstract: Let's discuss why the glass ceiling isn't... Every time a social commentator or political activist bleats about the ever present 'glass ceiling' hanging in the way of the advancement of women in senior management positions, I want to grab them by the ear and drag them off to the closest magazine stand. It is there where they will find the real culprit - splashed all over those glossy covers. The term 'glass ceiling' dates back to the corporate America of the early 80s. It only really became a 'legitimised' buzzword when it appeared in a March 1986 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Since then it has earned its colours as a rallying flag for feminists and equal rights campaigners. It's just a pity that their passion is blinding them to the real problem - the women themselves. They have no real interest

Let’s say hello to talk radio

Abstract: a shift in radio is necessary, but the industry is slow to change... There's always a fall-out wherever expressive entertainment crosses paths with corporate economic imperatives, and generally, it's creative integrity that ends up trampled in the dust. This is equally the case in commercial radio. However, a turnaround is on the cards, inspired by the voice, fingers and ears of the listener; and it provides an opportunity for one specific format of radio. The ongoing battle between the BBC and commercial radio for the ears, minds and hearts of the British radio consumer is a fascinating, ongoing struggle between formats. Whereas the local BBC stations mainly offer full-service programming, which is more speech-based, the local commercial stations are driven mostly by music. It is a similar set up here in South Africa, where most commercial radio stations carry mainly music and leave the

Who really killed the radio stars?

Abstract: Something that fits in your pocket did, and something else in your pocket might bring them back... For some reason the original title was abandoned in favour of Networks killed the radio star, iPods might bring them back. For me this is like going to see The Empire Strikes Back and the guy in front of you telling you that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. Quick...name me ten top stars of South African radio. I'm not surprised if you're battling a bit, although I should be. Johannesburg has more radio stations with more money being thrown at them than any other city in this country. Most of the so-called big name radio personalities are on Johannesburg-based radio stations. So we should all know who they are. But we don't, and the reason why we don't fits into your pocket. It's money. Over the past

Can we hear the death knell of radio?

Abstract: the biggest challenge to radio as we know it is here in the palm of our hands. As far back as June 2006, I prophesied in my column in the Saturday Star that commercial radio was about to be revolutionised by a small device that fits into the palm of your hand. I was right, albeit a little conservative in my analysis. This device has indeed brought about dramatic changes, but to the extent that traditional radio as you and I know it could very soon be over. The device is the iPod and its family, which, since my column has now grown to incorporate the iTouch and the iPhone. They are, as you know, personal music players, but the latter two, and their imitators are the ones that really threaten the traditional role of the commercial radio station. For what is going to