This man is holding a guitar made by a robot (apparently)

Planet Business: Sony’s robo-riff, digital non-intimacy, ‘shine theory’, Wells Fargone and Zara’s success

Sony Corporation chief executive and president Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai giving a demo of a guitar made from Koov, a new Sony “robot-building educational kit” at an event about “increasing opportunity during adolescence” held by the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.  Photograph: Bryan R Smith / AFP / Getty Images

Sony Corporation chief executive and president Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai giving a demo of a guitar made from Koov, a new Sony “robot-building educational kit” at an event about “increasing opportunity during adolescence” held by the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Photograph: Bryan R Smith / AFP / Getty Images

 

Image of the week: One more tune

Rarely does anyone look as happy at a conference/summit/talking shop as Sony Corporation chief executive and president Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai did this week at an event about “increasing opportunity during adolescence” held by the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. He gave a demo of a guitar made from Koov, a new Sony “robot-building educational kit”. It’s designed to help the next generation of robotics specialists hone their adult-shaming skills from an early age – or maybe just make people’s eyes glaze over at parties like regular guitarists, who knows?

In numbers: Digital hindrance

30

Percentage of people who said their use of digital technology hindered their relationships with partners, according to Virgin Media’s Digital Insights Report.

37

Percentage telling Amárach Research, who conducted the survey, that digital technology hindered their ability to be intimate with their partner. Well, there’s always something more interesting on Twitter, isn’t there?

61

Percentage of people who say “going to sleep” is hindered by digital technology. The phrase “slide to power off” springs to mind.

The lexicon: Shine theory

“Shine theory” has been in the news lately because Barack Obama’s female staff have been giving it a go, hoping it will make their voices heard. Outnumbered by their male counterparts, who had been part of Obama’s circle for longer, they used shine theory’s “amplification” technique. This involved repeating each other’s suggestions to make sure they couldn’t be ignored, and in the process crediting one another to prevent men claiming the ideas as their own, which is, well, a thing that happens sometimes, even to bad ideas.

The term was popularised in the US by podcast hosts Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, who argue that it is far more beneficial to women to support their female colleagues than it is to compete for recognition – or, as Friedman put it, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Of course, you need at least two women in the room for this to even to begin to have an impact.

Getting to know: John Stumpf

The chief executive and chairman of US bank Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, gave testimony to a Senate banking committee this week, during which both Democrat and Republican senators had harsh words to say about its fake bank accounts scandal.

“You have done something I’ve never seen in 10 years: You have united this committee – and not in a good way,” Senator Jon Tester said, while Senator Elizabeth Warren told him he should resign. Stumpf has denied that the opening of more than two million fake accounts in customers’ names was an orchestrated fraud, but his “gutless leadership”, as Warren labelled it, has come in for a sustained attack.

The bandages on his right hand as he was sworn in were attributed to an activity he may have more time for in future: playing with his grandchildren.

The list: Inditex hits

Inditex, the Spanish owner of Zara and a bunch of other fashion chains, and the biggest clothing retailer in the world has announced a 16 per cent rise in first-half sales, beating expectations. So what is the secret of its success?

1. Quick stock turnover: Zara is famed for its ability to get new trends from its manufacturing to distribution bases faster than the fashion press can declare the trend over.

2. Expansion: Inditex opened stores in no fewer than 38 markets during the first half of the year, most recently bringing Zara to Vietnam.

3. Magic Mario: The company revamped the image of its Massimo Dutti chain by hiring “name” photographer Mario Testino for a spot of brand enhancement.

4. Online strength: Customers can now pay in-store by scanning the clothes’ QR codes on their mobiles.

5. Flower power: Zara’s floral dresses have sold well this year, the company said, while even its supply of jumpsuits flew out the door – despite the obvious logistical difficulties of wearing them.

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