Archive for Business

AirBnb-style rentals: cheapness main attraction

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HomeAway, Expedia’s AirBnb-style site, recently published an interesting survey into minpaku, private rentals.

The two types of rentals in the survey are first renting a complete dwelling, a flat or a house, and second, the more traditional B’n’B style of renting out a room in someone’s home. In Japan, the term is 民泊, minpaku, and taking the characters literally it might be something like “staying with the people”. There is a long history of minpaku, which used to be more like traditional B’n’B with all the regulation that goes with that, but now it is usually taken as referring to the probably-illegal-in-most-circumstances private rental of rooms and flats.

I am very much anti-AirBnB; traditional B’n’Bs have many regulations covering them, including the obvious one of insurance for guests, but most net-based rentals turn a blind eye on these regulations, and renting out complete units in blocks of flats can often cause friction with the neighbours due to guests being unfamiliar or just ignoring the social norms that apply in Japanese shared accommodation.
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Business book titles that tempt Japanese to read further

goo Ranking chose a bunch of business book titles and presented them to their monitor group to choose the titles that made people want to learn about the contents.

Note that all the title translations are my original work, but there might be official English titles for some of them.

Number three sounds most curious, but I’ve not travelled in the Green Car enough (ie, never) to make any judgement as to where it is true or not. I can quite understand number one, but some of the ones like “Being good at cosplay equals being good at work!” just sound a bit too forced to be worth picking up.

Number 6 says successful people don’t drink can coffee, but here’s proof that a world executive boss has can coffee:

Boss coffee in green
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Surprising realities of dispatch work

Here’s one of these times that goo Ranking’s surveys give a detailed view of some aspect of Japan’s society, this time being the surprising realities of dispatch workers.

The dispatch law in Japan is a complex beast; for example the company where people are placed cannot legally instruct the dispatched staff or even select who gets placed – it all has to go through the dispatch company, although my experience of working with dispatchers is that the letter of the law is not always followed…

This situation will probably be familiar to many of my readers, as there is an increasing tendancy for Japanese schools to employ English teachers through dispatch companies; one major benefit for the schools or private companies is that it is very easy to dismiss the workers at the end of a short-term contract, whereas full-time employees are very difficult to dispatch, shall we say.

You’ll notice also that the vast majority of the points below are negative.

Here’s the only kind of dispatch most Japanese can get behind; the sign on the back says “Disaster Dispatch”, Japan’s Self Defence Force being sent to help out with natural disasters.

災害派遣
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Why Japanese work and don’t work

This combined survey and ranking from @nifty into working revealed a few attitudes that were new to me, so hopefully my readers will enjoy it too!

First, less than a third report taking a sickie or slacking on the job; I can understand, perhaps, people not wanting to admit slacking even in an anonymous setting, but in my experience with my employer, who offers more holidays than people can take, I feel that many people find it easier to phone in sick rather than go through the proper channels to request a holiday; I have no data to back this up, though!

I’m not sure if 25% workplace romances is high or low; I suppose it depends on whether or not the majority were affairs or not. I do remember when I joined our work union, at the introductory meeting they reminded everyone that one of their offerings were regular matchmaking-like social gatherings.

Here’s someone sleeping on the job:

Sleeping
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Domestic electricity market liberalisation

Would you like to change your electricity provider? graph of japanese statistics

I’ve seen surprisingly little written (in English) about the topic of this survey from @Nifty into the recent electricity market liberalisation, which allows people to choose their domestic electricity billing company.

We’ve changed from Tokyo Electricity to Tokyo Gas, which was very little bother apart from a new smart meter installation. It means we get one bill instead of two, and just a little cheaper than before, but their contract can be cancelled at any time for no penalty, unlike many other new providers who have 18 month to three year minimum terms!
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One in ten Japanese techies think machine learning will replace them within ten years

What is your opinions on machine intelligence? graph of japanese statisticsHere’s a short yet interesting (I especially have high hopes for Deep Learning) survey from Gartner Japan into machine intelligence.

I’m pretty sure many of my readers will have heard about Deep Learning, computing’s new Silver Bullet that will slay (if you believe the hype) all machine intelligence issues. I’ve worked a little on it myself, and I’ve attended a presentation or two on the subject, where people like the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center are doing quite wonderful stuff with drudge work like photo classification and scene understanding, but moving it up to the next level, especially for real-time work like vision systems for vehicles may take both more research and more computer horsepower.

Furthermore, there has recently been hype about half of all jobs being replaced by robots or AI by 2033, but I am sceptical because (a) I’ll be retired by then, so what do I care, and (b) I’ve heard all this before, with major breakthroughs always 10 or 20 years in the future. Furthermore, if they are going to replace half the jobs, I’m going to make sure that I’m in the other half!

Regardless of the future outcome, this is a topic that I think everyone in the IT business should be following!
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Electricity market liberalisation

How do you rate electricity market liberalisation? graph of japanese statisticsNext month the marketplace for domestic electricity will be opened up, allowing many companies to sell electricity direct to consumers, rather than the current situation of monopoly providers. Belle Maison Lifestyle Research Labs recently conducted a survey into electricity liberalisation to see how aware people were of their new choices.

I’ve already signed up with Tokyo Gas; they seem to have the best deal going overall, and they are only one of three companies that have no compulsory contract length, so we can change any time; many other providers have one or two year terms that may lock you into a bad deal.
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Two in five Tokyo home-owners think foreigners shouldn’t use Airbnb

Airbnb shouldn't allow foreigners to use their services graph of japanese statistics

Marketing Research Camp recently published a survey into Minpaku – literally “staying at private homes” – a Japanese term for “Bed and Breakfast”, and its more modern form, Airbnb.

This is a very interesting survey; the report here was based on a single question published on the web site (their full 61 page report is available for free download, however) and revealed a number of interesting statistics. In particular, the headline figure of 40% Tokyo-resident home-owners thinking that Airbnb and similar services should not accept foreign customers is quite an eye-opener. Recently, there has been a lot of news articles about poor-mannered foreign guests (and I’ve even seen other foreign residents complaining of this) being excessively noisy in common areas of flats where there is an Airbnb property, and the implication from the news being that the vast majority of the places are not people renting out a spare room, but one-room flats being bought (or indeed illegally subletted) in residential property specifically for Airbnbing while the owner lives elesewhere.

One local government in Tokyo (Ota ward) recently tried to regulate Airbnb-type rentals, but I heard just two properties applied for certification.

Just for the record, I do not approve of Airbnb-type rental outside of spare rooms in one’s own home, and I think there should be just as strict regulation of online BnB properties as there is of traditional BnBs.

Note that I’ve decided to move demographic information to the end of articles from now on.
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Working from home: many Japanese keen

Would you like to work from home? graph of japanese statisticsRather appropriately for today, a day where snow, or according to the news I just watched, over-caution about snow, resulted in massive train delays all over the Tokyo area, the Japan Telework Association released a survey into working styles.

Demographics

Between the 25th and 29th of September 2015 39,929 members of the NTT Com Research monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. \59.0% of the sample were male, 0.2% in their teens, 4.5% in their twenties, 16.6% in their thirties, 30.0% in their forties, 27.2% in their fifties, 15.8% in their sixties, and 5.6% aged seventy or older. Furthermore, the sample was whittled down to 22,916 people aged between 20 and 69 and in work, either full-time or part-time. From that sample, 43.7% used email for work frequently every day, 12.9% used email once or twice per day, 24.4% used it less than once a day, and 19.0% never. Finally, these 18,565 mail users became the sample for the questions below.

I purposely avoid checking work email from home; I could if I wanted set up my phone to receive mail, but I don’t see why I should do work on my own tab, and anyway, nothing exciting enough happens in the evenings to merit checking email. On the other hand, most of the management I have known in Japan are obsessive micro-managers, so I feel they have to keep in touch to prove their own worth.
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Taxi apps in Japan

Have you used a smartphone taxi hailing apps? graph of japanese statistics

I’m back, hopefully getting back into a regular multiple-posts-per-week schedule, with this look at taxi hailing apps.

Demographics

Between the 28th of March and the 2nd of April 2014 1,071 members of the goo Research monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.6% of the sample were male, 13.6% in their teens, 15.7% in their twenties, 21.5% in their thirties, 17.2% in their forties, 14.9% in their fifties, and 17.1% aged sixty or older.

Most of Japan’s taxi apps are official ones from taxi companies; a service like Uber does not exist in Japan, and I don’t think it would work here. As I understand it, taxi companies in America often do not come when called, so Uber, even though it apparently more expensive than a regular taxi, fills a niche. In Japan, there are if anything too many taxis, so failing to appear is never a problem.
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