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Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissemination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening

29 Nov

Organisations no longer need to focus on disseminating information, it is too shallow a primary goal. Either at public private or discrete operative contexts, social enterprises are more comfortable operating as curators. They are experts at providing the contexts, stimulus and governance to bring out the best of their key stakeholders, whether internally or externally. Employees, suppliers, distributors, customers are no longer groups to be coerced and manipulated. They are groups to be listened to, influenced by and directed by. Old top down and chamber orientated techniques which advanced individual and collective self orientations will increasingly be outmanoeuvred by new and re-plasticised businesses who know how to respond and reciprocate through sharing and constructive dialogues.

Considerable amounts of information is getting lost all the time or its dissapating as a result of ever deacreasing attention cycles. Often the strains placed on people researching and writing pieces combined with other onerous tasks can result in the acquired knowledge being underexposed. For instance, articles may not be uploaded onto the Internet after having been forwarded onto publication editors. Reports may be delayed and only done in infrequent batches. Other organisations with a mutual interest in the results may not be even informed at all. Without already receiving public attention organisations are merely dropping research and information will be unproductive. Modern information and communications bombardment and white noise result in less and less of the population accessing information without proactive effort or specialist interest. Even basic two way approaches will begin to look dated compared to more collaborative infrastructure and community frameworks as attention clusters around dynamic automation and choruses of support and:or criticism.

One key aspect which increasingly is becoming a key distinction for value creation is whether communal and communications clusters operate within highly narrow and specialised ‘silos’ or whether they strive to either in aggregate or through representatives work pro actively with other communities. There is nothing wrong with groups working, thinking and advancing within a very narrow band. Through the Internet and our global age the advantage of the long tail in terms of distribution of ideas and commerce rewards this behaviour and even makes it economically viable. However, from an business perspective the motivating factor is to motivate expansive, competitive and sustainable organisational change. Without integrating the specialist information and knowledge in an integrated manner with other stakeholder groups and chambers there is a significant loss.

To create a successful vision and productive strategies it is important to involve all stakeholders and ensure that all leaders are participating in the decision making process. Hopefully there is a committment to cooperating and relaying decisions to all appropriate areas of their organisation. Regular meetings between policymakers help to acknowledge and deal with any strains created as a result of difficult reforms and identify and widen openings for positive and consensual improvements. Practically, project websites, where project can be shared and ideas explored in a supportiive is highly recommended to aid decision making and focus on key strategic cores and public relations activity.

A classic historical example of the value of connecting disarate groups and ideas is the legacy of Desiderius Erasmus, author of In Praise of Folly. One of the great stabilising forces in Europe during the 15th and 16th Century, he helped carry Europe intellectually of the dark ages and provided enough oxygen not only for the Renaissance but for the carrying and synthesis of post Roman ideas and explorations (which is why Europe’s scheme for EU students learning abroad is an aptly named initiative) and the re-acceptance of stigmatised and forgotten classical texts. Through serving as an interlocutor, he channelled ideas from academics and key figures to the time, meshing disperse geographical and scholastic ideas into a discussion which not only fed into how Reformation and Counter Reformqtion developed in Europe but also the context with which these warring ideas could interact and reach dialogue once the embers of conflict within Europe died down.

Returning to contemporary business requirements, organisations need to have an understanding regarding how their value to other groups functions not only on a profit level but in an age powered by informatics on a communications level. Doing this effectively necessitates identifying relative values and returns of both internal and external forums, mediators, champions and detractors. Executives who suggest social entrepreneurship status but who are unable to do so are likely to be misaligning the business models or strategies through poor goals or benchmarking. Otherwise they are misrepresenting themselves.

It is highly important that the risks of any project to introduce and improve social entrepreneurship are laid out in advance so that they can be effectively addressed should the project run into difficulties. A framework for assessment should be used to evaluate the efficiency of any work. This can include qualitative as well as quantitative results. As mentioned, in a previous post covering technology, invention and competition, it is common for organisations to engage in lateral assaults on rival’s business revenue streams using aggressive (or even zero-cost) pricing schemes. It is conceivable for business models to support similar competitive advantages concerning dialogues and even open innovation approaches to undermine competition and enlarge the outer core sphere of an organisations competencies, to cross subsidise core strategic areas.

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More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change also includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Re-imagine and Expand
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

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Other sections of Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age series includes:

  • Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening
  • The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  • The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

 

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The Biggest Decision CIOs have to make today: Reshoring vs Offshoring outsourcing.

29 Nov

Offshoring may not be the most beneficial option for CIOs when it comes to outsourcing. As I mentioned in my previous blog “Welcome to the age of Reshoring” outsourcing is becoming another vital decision that CIOs can be faced with.  William Floyd CTO, MB Trading has had mixed outcomes when it comes to outsourcing.  Over the last 20 years MB trading has been outsourcing to India-based companies but due to the long distance of India and its cultural differences has led to communication problems between teams effecting overall performance. As a result jobs that were once outsourced offshore are being reincorporated in-house.

“We are confident we can do much better than the outsourcing company, we also feel we can do this in-house at similar costs, due to the recession.” William Floyd CTO, MB Trading

Similarly for Richard Broome, CIO of Host Analytics location & distance played a major part in his decision whether to strategically outsource offshore or inshore. Initially Host Analytics a cloud based company outsourced its customer support to India. But it became apparent that there was a communication gap between offshore customer support and its customers, there was a lack of expertise. Broome came to realise that customers’ needs were not be met by outsourcing IT operations. A strategic decision to keep outsourcing in-house was a right decision for host analytics as it a skilled and experience workforce were able to understand the customer’s needs. (Techtarget.com)

Location was the difference between a nightmare and a dream-come-true outsourcing strategy.” Richard Broome CIO, Host Analytics

More recently Randy Mott CIO of general motors is withdrawing form it reliance on offshore outsourcing, but is reversing GM’s outsourcing strategy to an onshore one. It plans to double the in-house experts in the next 3 years but the big issue is maintaining efficiency without increasing costs. Will others follow suit at a detriment of IT service leaders like (HP, Dell, IBM) or is this just an unnecessary move that will be too costly to maintain?

“If you’re more efficient and you can go through the process more quickly, you have more time and more resources to be looking at innovations that provide a competitive advantage for the company,” Huston-Rough.

Employees at the Fiat and Guangzhou Automobile Group manufacturing plant in Changsha work on the production of Viaggio vehicles (BloomBerg Business Week)

The swing of the pendulum: Welcome to the age of “Reshoring”

29 Nov

A hot topic of “offshoring” in the 2nd  US  presidential debate 2012 between Mitt Romney and current president Barrack Obama has made us aware of the fact that today’s economic climate is rapidly changing, causing an overall shift in the way companies outsource abroad. Barrack Obama announced a plan to remove outsourcing benefits in an effort to stimulate the US economy; consequently SMEs are reshoring their production and IT workers. Cliftonmoore gave a good insight into the outsourcing offshore (O&O) markets; India and China being the two leaders in the outsourcing market today. Due to the growing demand of companies needing to outsource offshore has significantly increased the labour cost of India and china’s workforce. This has turned firms looking to outsource to alternative countries with cheaper labour costs possible options like Eastern Europe or South America. But by no means is labour cost the only factor that is taken into consideration, India still remains the top of the O&O market today due to India’s unique benefits that other’s in the offshore business just haven’t been able to keep up. India boosts it is ideal in the offshore market due to its abundance of engineers, large English-speaking population and historical ties to Western countries, as well as it’s relatively low labour costs and has been doing it so before anyone else, China hot on their heels.

BDO USA LLP survey 2012

 

Although outsourcing is very much evident with 62% of outsourcing being offshored to India, outsourcing in the U.S technology industry has declined for the third straight year in a row. There has been a notable shift from 2009 when nearly twice as companies were outsourcing services and manufacturing offshore this has dramatically reduced.

““Bringing services and manufacturing back to the U.S. is also a smart move for tech companies looking to improve the quality of service and reduce exposure to international risks and major supply chain disruptions.” Paul Heiselmann BDO USA LLP

But it’s not a case that outsourcing has taken a 180 degree turn from offshore to onshore. The majority of outsourcing is still done offshore but a recent shift in firms reshoring has emerged due to different factors be it to for competitive gain or standardisation. Factors that have led to reshoring outsourcing:

  • Time and cost of training out-house employees offshore
  • Technical capabilities lost due to outsourcing offshore
  • When quality and performance outweighs cost of labour
  • Miscommunications leading to incorrect deliveries

Taking for example GE who has been offshoring it’s IT outsourcing to India for the last 15 years. More than half of its IT work was taken out by non-GE employee, but in 2009 GE made the strategic move to regain some of its technical capabilities lost as a result of outsourcing offshore. (CIO.com)  Has quality and performance qualities that results from inshore outsourcing outweighed the added value that traditional offshore outsourcing offers to firms. Leading up to the recession and the troubled economy it created offshore outsourcing was the common strategy put in place which ultimately cut costs and maximise ROI. Is the tide slowly turning and how will this affect the western economy; possible deflation in wages, increased blue collar jobs, a lower cost of living? All things we have to think about in the future.

Big Data without Business Intelligence is like Jelly without Ice Cream

29 Nov

Shvetank Shah, executive director at advisory firm CEB, says “that the future of technology is here and now, and to maintain competitive advantage, CIOs need to understand what’s coming down the pipeline.” He discusses how mobile technologies, cloud computing and business intelligence (BI) will be critical in the future of technology and that these areas should be on top of the mind of CIOs. Mobile technologies and cloud computing have been discussed in length by myself and my fellow bloggers in previous posts so I am going to discuss business intelligence.

As we entered 2012, big data (as explained here) analysis was the main focus of CIOs – how to make sense of this wealth of information in order to maintain, enhance and expand the business. With big data analysis, attention also turned to business intelligence, I mean, what good is big data if it cannot be understood and used to its full potential.

“Business intelligence is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance” (Gartner). Enterprise business intelligence applications and technologies have the ability to support companies in making targeted and appropriate decisions at a time when good business judgement can make or break an organisation. BI applications are highly varied and adaptable, and thus they can target enterprise goals broadly or meet a specific purpose. For example, they can be built for enterprise-wide use or for a single department.

In an Intel White Paper, Intel IT claim to be laying the technical and business foundations for deploying advanced business intelligence solutions across the enterprise. They firmly believe that advanced analytics can greatly improve the ability to respond to market changes quickly and transform Intel’s business.

Intel IT is working in close partnership with Intel business groups to help them envision new ways of using business intelligence to improve insight, decision making, and business velocity. They identify several proofs of concept (PoCs) that illustrate the power of BI including a:

• Batch computing algorithm that proactively predicts when product design jobs will fail.

• Information security dashboard that helps track and respond to malware threats.

• Predictive engine that enables early detection of product quality problems on our manufacturing lines.

This is the future of BI.

Intel IT’s goal is to develop analytical models that are reusable across multiple lines of business. Intel IT believe that their “small BI solution design teams can deliver about USD 5 to 10 million in value for every six-month advanced- analytics project focused on solving high-impact business problems.”

However, they also envisage infrastructure and technical challenges, as well as behavioural challenges. These include:

  • Enabling collaborative, mobile, and visual BI. This will allow employees to interact with information how they want, where they want, and when they want. This raises user interface and security protocol issues we must resolve; and
  • Investing in new skills within IT to develop advanced BI solutions, including constructing analytical models, supporting use of unstructured data, developing mobile applications, and presenting information in a visual format. In addition, business groups (i.e. the end users) will need to learn how to consume, interpret, and trust more sophisticated analytical information, for example.

Information projects are in resurgence again as we’re beginning to exhaust the process opportunities. Most Fortune 500 companies have done their big ERP which have been going on since the 1990s. The real action is in business intelligence at the moment, as well as collaboration (as I’ve discussed here) and anything at the customer interface. All of these trends line up with information and analytics, which business intelligence will continue to play a huge role in now and in the future.

Sources:

(http://searchcio.techtarget.com/video/The-future-of-technology-and-other-top-of-mind-CIO-concerns)

(http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/business-intelligence-bi/)

(http://searchcio.techtarget.com/guides/Enterprise-business-intelligence-tutorial-for-CIOs)

(http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/best-practices/transforming-intel-business-with-advanced-analytics.pdf)

Cooling – The “Green” in Green IT

28 Nov

Green IT

‘…the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems (such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems) efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment.’
S. Murugesan
Green IT is frequently explained thus, and though admirable, it is idealistic.

CGI get closer to the truth at the beginning of their paper “Emerging Trends in Green IT” citing corporate responsibility programs, public awareness of environmental issues, and positive environmental brand image. The energy and various other efficiencies that accompany sustainable IT business practices equates to a win-win opportunity.

Further along in the paper they hit the nail on the head in outlining several of the key issues fuelling the Green IT movement:

• Rising energy demand with a more limited supply and increasing utility costs

• Management of hazardous waste and electronic equipment disposal (e-waste)

• Increasing gasoline costs, which drive up employee commuting costs leading to retention issues

• Increasing real estate costs

• Rising airline ticket costs and travel complexities

Scenical, Yes. Clearly, the bottom line here is as long as Business and Green objectives can correspond the Green IT trend will prosper.

In response to these challenges, several areas/processes have come under scrutiny:

• Energy efficiency & Power consumption: One PC won’t melt much ice – but now that there are millions of them…

• Green procurement and asset management: Purchase more efficient systems, and make them last longer to minimise disposal costs.

• Technology-based solutions: Employing technology to reduce demand for travel, commuting, and real estate. Virtual offices are a good example.

• Cooling: Keeping IT systems cool is a major issue in terms of power consumption, reliability and therefore cost.

Cooling
Although CGI do mention Data Center cooling strategies as central to cooling costs, they neglect to mention the exponential increases in data and the implications (as discussed in previous posts) of Big Data and Cloud in terms of storage, reliability, and therefore cooling.

Interestingly, they also outline the potential for leveraging local climate characteristics to the advantage of cooling strategy.

Cool Irish weather attracts Google, new data centre announced‘ (2011)

…Ireland had the least need for air conditioning (cooling) of any Country in the world. This cool climate has recently been very useful to enable Ireland to secure a substantial investment by Google.
“Ireland has the least need of cooling or air conditioning in the whole world, with only 19 degree days required, compared with 40 in Iceland and 43 in Norway.” http://thehelpfulengineer.com/index.php/2011/10/cool-irish-weather-attracts-google-new-data-centre-announced/

Google unveils €75m data hub (2012)

…It uses Ireland’s climate to cool its computers, has no air conditioning and is entirely carbon neutral. It could only be Google’s latest building in Dublin. http://www.irishexaminer.com/archives/2012/0929/ireland/google-unveils-75m-data-hub-209212.html

So, Ireland is a natural data warehouse. Add a highly educated IS savvy workforce – The future is bright!

Sources:
http://thehelpfulengineer.com/index.php/2011/10/cool-irish-weather-attracts-google-new-data-centre-announced/
http://www.greenbiz.com/research/report/2012/03/01/six-growing-trends-corporate-sustainability
http://www.greenbiz.com/sites/default/files/1112-1315117_CCaSS_SixTrends_FQ0029_lo%20res%20revised%203.7.2012.pdf
http://thegreenitreport.blogspot.ie/
http://www.cga-canada.org/en-ca/AboutCGACanada/CGAMagazine/2010/Jan-Feb/Pages/ca_2010_01-02_bsin_doubleclick.aspx
S. Murugesan, “Making IT Green,” IT Professional, vol. 12, no. 2, 2010.

Importance of Information Technology in Finance

28 Nov

With strong signs that the IT industry will continue to grow across a range of industries. IT is quickly becoming a very important component which ensures businesses can run effectively and efficiently. One key growth area is the financial industry where IT opportunities will increase.

Information technology has many uses in finance. Companies nowadays  use I.T in  many different ways from  financial trading to reporting the earnings of a business.  A companyin the financial services industry in ireland uses its Information System on a  daily basis. Information technology allows  such companies in this industry  to quickly calculate” financial statistics”, as well as for the use in electronic transfers of money, but in Ireland at present  the major key area within the finanial sector is funds, A good IT system in funds is of major benefit to companies and allows them compete for new business . http://www.ehow.com/about_6397556_importance-information-technology-finance.html

Companies  typically prefer to do business with banks or  financial institutions that offer many different services that they can access through some kind of technology based device . The ability by a customer to access their information quickly and securely  through there information system allows many banks  to increase their customer base and thus showing the high importance of the I.T in Finance. 

Below are some of the 2 reasons why IT Is So important in Finance :

Function

Customers can easily transfer and complete online transaction . Instead of  people using checks which are quickly becoming outdated for example,a company with a good information technology can clear a transaction at a click of a button. A debit or credit card purchase can be very quickly compared with the customers account balance, this either then allows the  transaction or not. (http://www.ehow.com/about_6397556_importance-information-technology-finance.html). But alot of big Finance companies that are in funds area develop there Information systems for use in producing NAVs as quick and accurate as they can, good I.T systems within a company of this nature provides the company the most upto date information on market prices on stocks and also the system itself must be user friendly and accurate.

Convenience

A Person lookin after the own finance can recieve great value from  information technology in finance and with the development of IT this  has made personal finace so much easier and quicker . Banks provide data on current and savings accounts on line as well as withdrawals . A customer can download all there account transactions and if the need arises can store them in records on a home computer, companies can also nowadays do the same and nearly always have there own accounting system built into the Information system network to make things even easier for them and it also make things more accurate. (http://www.ehow.com/about_6397556_importance-information-technology-finance.html)

Social Media

The Finance Industry can use Information Technology to create benefits from the likes of the social media,  i discussed   social media and IT importance in one of my earlier blogs,  Social Media sites on the Internet provides financial institutions with useful information on their customers. By trying to get  online communities associated with their products, companies in the financial industries  not only recieve information but it can  also encourage ” brand loyalty”, it also allows finance companies to contact the” younger demographics” that will be their future customers according to this site i found during my research: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-information-technology-finance-17292.html

 

New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

28 Nov

Part 4 of More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

The growth of the Internet has allowed individuals and businesses easy access to vast amounts of data and information. In an age where customers and suppliers have a more accurate understanding of their purchasing and vending values a business model needs to yield value propositions that are compelling to customers, achieves advantageous cost and risk structures and enables significant value.

Production, enterprise, consumption and economic growth operates in virtuous loops, with each socio-technological cycle advancing this trend. Understanding why social business is important today requires understanding the tools and their functions. However, it is nothing without new and improved ideas, value sets and priorities to govern more efficient and effective organisational behaviour.

Similar to how technology and tools often emerge where economic need or opportunity is greatest, there is often a complimenting widening and expansion of the possibilities and applications regarding how societies and organisations conduct themselves. This is reinforced by the clustering nature of human nature, with areas experiencing technological and process advancements, golden ages even. Especially if wider discourse provides intellectual scale. Examining the greats of political economy this correlation becomes clearer.

Returning to the Industrial Age, The Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th Century provided an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. Building on the nascent ideas of utilitarianism sparked by Thomas Hobbes mechanistic view of human beings and passions, in 1776 Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, crystallizing how the industrial revolution would irrevocably transform processes and actions. Such was the shift in thought, Smith was describing emerging functions prior to terms like economics or capitalism being in use, where the term corporation carried a regulating terminology and significantly whilst Europe was still dominated by feudalism. Although this impact clusters, two key Smith quotes highlight accelerating socio-technological dynamics, which still dominate executives’ thoughts regarding business models and strategy:

  • The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greatest part of skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.”1
  • The establishment of any new manufacture, of any new branch of commerce, or any new practice in agriculture, is always a speculation, from which the projector promises himself extraordinary profits. These profits sometimes are very great, and sometimes, more frequently, perhaps, they are quite otherwise; but in general they bear no regular proportion to those of other older trades in the neighbourhood. If the project succeeds, they are commonly at first very high. When the trade or practice becomes thoroughly established and well known, the competition reduces them to the level of other trades.”2

Just like technology and process splintering into numerous strategies, 20th century analysis has evolved to become more specialised, both towards business, department and workflow areas. Porter argued that profitability in any industry is determined by five forces, including competition among existing players, the threat of new entrants, the power of supplier, the power of customers and the availability of substitute products. A company’s success was not determined by quality, innovation or products but by the logic of its strategy. At the same time organisations are faced with a groundswell of new improvements that raise not only their capacities but also rivals given the reducing time distance between a new innovation being used by earlier adopters and more successful/favoured tools becoming commonplace.Considering Smith’s second quote, it intriguing considering whether Nicholas Carr was blind to this quote when he penned his infamous essay Does IT Matter3, which proposed the decline of competitive advantage that IT provides organisations.

In terms of what is taking place with the massive explosion in volume and interconnectivity of desktop, laptop and mobile communications, organisations are unable to escape these economic laws. Just as the economic moved away as a norm from artisan modes of production and more generalist statuses of professionals to deal with local restrictions of their creation and distribution of activity, we should similarly expect a greater distinction between those who are generalists (who will be in decline as communications volumes increase in scale) and a growing body of actors performing specialised functions (to reflect the productive gains that understanding a craft, complementing it with at hand specialist tools and with a localised understanding of value networks).

For Brad Power, managers must speed the flow of information so that decisions can be made faster at all levels, from top to bottom:

For example, the executive team of Think Finance, a developer of financial products and one of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, gets together every day to review performance. CEO Ken Rees wrote to me that, “in an environment that’s changing as quickly as ours, there are so many things to be worried about. The daily huddles and daily executive team review of the dashboards help us make sure we are raising and resolving any issues quickly while giving me comfort that everything is going smoothly and that I don’t need to intervene. There are a host of other things that we do with the goal of breaking down hierarchy and improving communication (both up and down) to start to get people used to constant change as a standard practice rather than an upsetting occurrence.”

This would appear to highlight a significant internal organisation social trend that middle managers may be an area of reduced ROI in workplaces in the future. It will be curious to see how such a trend creates differing impacts on already hierarchical and egalitarian framed organisations.

For department roles, aspects that were a source of effort will be replaced by automation. For example, analytics will remove a lot of guesswork and more strategy in marketing. By rewarding curiosity, building confidence, and ensuring accountability, analytics encourages innovation and makes a marketing program more creative and powerful.

If you consider these two traits in terms of the mass volumes, either within countries or between them for both physical and digital goods it increases the risk of failure for organisations irrespective of static successes for business models and/or strategies. Globalisation as a process for creating common worldwide and free market trading conditions represents one of the key features of modern enterprises. New global trading opportunities help drive surges in business model innovation. Today traditional balances between customers and suppliers have altered, following new informational, physical, digital, communal and psychological patterns and lower cost provision of information and customer solutions. Correspondingly business models have recalibrated significantly, with strategy taking new forms to deal with more complex parameters.

A fundamental aspect of these technologies is that it is no longer just the direct stakeholders who have access to significant amounts of data and knowledge, social technologies a democratising. For example, not only did the Democratic and Republican parties invest time and resources in pulling together and analysis data, anybody could with free tools. For businesses, irrespective of motivation, reason or logic certain individuals and groups may very conceivably know more about core or critical aspects of the organisation than its front line staff, managers or executives. For industries where customer relations are important or where feedback could become important there increasingly need to be policies put in place to cover not only specific affairs but provide rules of thumb for unknowns. Potentially worse, the accessibility of technology and app development means that even hobbyists can reverse engineer your processes to provide tools that may undermine your competitive advantage, turning a lost opportunity into a threat. Perhaps this i why Gartner are expecting the biggest Big Data investments to be social network analysis and content analytics, with 45% of new spending each year.

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1An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776, Book I, Chapter I, pg.7

2An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776, Book I, Chapter X, Part I, pg.136

3IT Doesn’t Matter – Nicholas Carr – Harvard Business School – 2003

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More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change also includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Re-imagine and Expand
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

————–

Other sections of Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age series includes:

————————–

Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

Not Just Invention: Change Through the Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand

28 Nov

Part 3 of More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

Scaling and Building

Innovators’ value should never be underestimated, given their application of new tools and concepts often for fantastic ends. To understand today’s informatics capacities better it is best to focus on the contribution of architects and engineers to the world around us. For instance, recognising the contribution of columns and then later arches to engineering and architecture is huge. Its difficult to imagine today the benefits load bearing properties have provided civilizations, from the most humble of bridges and houses to the awe inspiring cathedrals, temples and aqueducts each age’s antiquities highlight the values, utilities and design of this benefit.

The Industrial Age is no different. The geologic properties of materials and the newly available compounds such as steel were waiting for great minds such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel to awaken the potential of new scales of engineering, demonstrated in projects originally laughed down as unsound follies. Fortunately the zeal of Victorian enterprise was able to ignore naysayers, particularly as the reward from new transport arteries was too significant. The great scales of the technology created modern forums, including the rail terminal, St Pancras (then the largest single spanning roof in the world) and Crystal Palace, the site of the Great Exhibition. Today, London Bridge’s rail terminal contains a significant and inspiring modernist work, The Shard. With its advanced use of steel and glass properties, it reminds us not only of the recurring importance of proximity of structures to human flows and the inheritances of older material advances but also more expansive applications made possible through the extension of scientific and artistic understanding.


Thinking in terms of information opportunities, much has been said in regards to big data. Whilst betraying the ecosystem of opportunities it provides business through overly simplified terminology, it does provide the construct for presenting the values of volume, velocity and volatility. Gartner’s Doug Laney coined the term Infonomics to describe the concept of data as a formal business asset. Knowing that data has value that may not be apparent, there’s a new emphasis on saving what you have on the chance that it will reveal a meaningful pattern later or will be valuable to a partner or ‘data customer’. In terms of social opportunities this data not only needs to be collected, it needs to be increasingly embedded into business model and strategic thinking.

Mobile technology stands to change the nature of sentiment analysis through the ability to request and receive feedback from exactly where and when a thought is occurring. Like with other social concepts, mobile significantly ups the ante for volume of information, location and time. Mobile gives an organization the chance to intervene while the customer is still unhappy and even still in the store or website.

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Capabilities, Capacity and Competition

 

Considering competition covering of scale and accuracy involving new operating tools, Germany’s unification involving new weaponry and logistics is a useful casestudy. Despite having Europe’s largest land army Austria lost its dominance in the region. Prussia ascended, through matching invention in weaponry (a breech-loaded bolt-action rifle1 that fired at six times the rate) and innovation (as first user of rail transport for European wars) with modern reforms. Koniggratz was devastating2. The Austrians lost 45,000 men, compared to Prussia losing less than 10,000.

Naturally such precedent caused a scramble in research by other nations to emulate this advantage (following lags). In 1866 France adopted their3 bolt-action rifle and trialled it in 1870’s Franco-Prussian War. The battlefield proved the necessity of this weapon class with new models of behaviour (including regiment density and positioning). Observing nations were present. The threat of the opposing sophistication would have necessitated the change in practices, lest the sophistication prove too devastating.

Relating this to business models where rivals are technologically matched, it is not only up to entrepreneurs to identify what component in the business model they have or can create for a competitive business plan. However, given the threat of competing business models where drivers as similar to the rifle situation above it is sensible to also reverse engineer potential weakpoints (or as an alternative consider outsourcing). When it comes to relating change to the objectives and requirements of an organisation, it is not only imperative to build internal models able to maximise opportunities but also enough flexibility to recognise the ability and hunger for rivals to ape what makes your organisation successful. Doing so is especially important in most industries, given technological developments and globalisation have catalysed increasingly short timescales between an invention or innovation being adopted by a first mover and its mainstreaming.

Considering the methods organisations deploy for business models to undermine competitors revenue streams as a form of attrition, it is curious how often it is not only about matching like for like but also trying to isolate rival business models strengths and weaknesses. Reverse engineering key aspects or macros of a business model or working under the conventions of price and quality competition is key. However, it goes further than that, particularly today. It is common for organisations to engage in lateral assaults on rivals’ business revenue streams using aggressive (or even zero cost) pricing schemes to direct customers towards their core business models. For example, the free distribution of iTunes software and low downloads prices at its store (relative to rivals) was a model to encourage uptake of its iPods and subsequently the iPad. In effect it fed financial gains from music production towards a different media type.

Looking at the computational capacities that will be used to power future workplaces, war is already escalating:

Big Data is on every CIO’s mind this quarter, and for good reason. Companies will have spent $4.3 billion on Big Data technologies by the end of 2012.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Those initial investments will in turn trigger a domino effect of upgrades and new initiatives that are valued at $34 billion for 2013, per Gartner. Over a 5 year period, spend is estimated at $232 billion.

The fact that that article was about the opportunity of open source technologies make the proposition all the more intriguing regarding the growing scale of free or lower cost but still useful tools for improving the functioning of an organisation. Industries will be obliged to create in order to maintain competitive advantage and maximise their profit base.

The recent election was a classic case study regarding the importance of data and modern processing and knowledge tools to provide strategic advantage. This extract gives a key parrallel to Konniggratz regarding the relationship between using front line activists and functional tools to increase rate and precision of activities:

The Big Data-based approach, Alterx adds, “allows a campaign to micro-target its efforts for activities on the ground (e.g., where to send canvassers, where to locate signage, even the selection of a school or community center for a candidate visit) to find the actionable areas where the race is likely to 48 to 50.”

By pooling responses over the last several days of a tracking poll (such as Gallup’s and Rasmussen Reports’) there would be a large enough, constantly updated sample, to allow for nearly live local level updates.

“Short-term bumps are spread around, and the basic closeness of a race in a small area isn’t likely to change much with a two to four point bounce in the national polls (A 48 to 50 local race is as close as a 50 to 48 race, even though this change represents a 4 point shift).

This gives a clear example relating to how information systems and social interaction is becoming intertwined, as well as how important it is becoming for executives to maintain an understanding of the capacities and capabilities of competitors.

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1Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse’s breech-loaded bolt-action rifle enabled this switch. It combined a technique previously only used centuries for some early canon models. Modern craft based manufacturing techniques helped. Beyond its brilliance it optimised consistency and cost of production. Long firing pin and sliding bolt functionality meant that Prussian infantry was able to fire six times as many rounds as their Austrian counterparts.

2Machine Guns: An Illustrated History of Their Impact – James H Willbanks – ABC Clio Inc – 2004

3Invented by Antoine Alphonse Chassepot

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More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change also includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

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Other sections of Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age series include:

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress

28 Nov

Part 2 of More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

As is the norm, the Industrial Age’s inventions were driven by an intense economic hunger to build new approaches to harnessing fuel and momentum to bridge the gap between the large demand for resources, applications and new industries. A key economic consumer item was glass windows, given that in Europe from the 15th Century for two centuries there was a cooling period, which encouraged people to spend more time indoors. Although the catalyst for this new age was legislative (King James I proclaiming in 1615 that “no person or persons whatsoever shall melt, make, or cause to be melted any kinde forme, or fashion of Glasse or Glasses whatsoever with Timber or Wood” to preserve wood stocks for his navy), the breakthroughs were economic (such as the invention of Abraham Darby’s new dome shaped furnace to utilise coal and Thomas Savery’s Miner’s Friend to extract water from the mines through steam, valves and suction). The greats of invention followed, such as Thomas Newcomen, James Watt and William Murdoch accelerated further the mechanising potential of coal and stream. This was expanded upon with re-imagined applications of this potential through rail inventions by Richard Trevithick and William Hedley  William Henry, John Fitch, John Stevens, William Symington and Robert Fulton creating inventions for steam powered water craft.

For success in the Information Age organisations need to harness information systems data as if it is steam and similarly frame computer science infrastructure as if it is a pressured air container for flows, movement and production. On a macro level doing so not only provides automation for the most basic of functions but increasingly enabled faster, more complex and personalised activity for creating previously unimaginable tools, products and functions. On an organisational level this push highlights the importance of organisations either directly or indirectly associated with technology to take advantage of new opportunities. This is particularly so given that longterm success of an organisation is normally founded on the principle of creating as wide a distance between the cost of production and the revenue from sales of goods or products.

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More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change also includes:

  1. Introduction;
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress;
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand;
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue;
  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening;
  6. The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  7. The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

  1. social_informed, covering wiser social business themes;
  2. metr1c1de, covering benchmarking;
  3. secureitie, covering security;
  4. datam1n1ng, covering data and statistics;
  5. managechangeit, covering management, change and IT.

More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

28 Nov

Part 1 of More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

There have been significant economic and societal gains as a result of the symbiotic improvements to the capabilities of technological and computational development and how individuals and groups harness this raw potential. Unimaginable outcomes and possibilities, previously out of the reach of even elites and nation states have today become readily available and even ordinary. We should not only celebrate this, we should learn from the inventive, innovative and social drivers that powered this change.

In order to convey the scale of social transformations that these refined and newer tools provide I felt it appropriate to draw parallel with the Industrial Age and reinforce how our pushing against the boundaries of possibility today is not without precedent. It also helps shine light regarding how leaders should be thinking of the future and how to relate businesses and organisations to change.

Three clarifications help explain technology’s contribution to business model and strategic challenges:

  • At some point even the most basic of tools and infrastructures had to be conceived, formed and manipulated, reconfigured and re-engineered;
  • Invention and innovation is usually determined through need or to satisfy a specific outcome. However, history highlights that serendipity or un/expected re/discovered models and applications of tools can provide the most significant breakthroughs. Either evolutionary or revolutionary, great jumps can come from the most written off and neglected cul-de-sacs of human (and today, computational) enquiry.
  • Whether ancient or modern, man’s great inheritances have been received and expand upon tend to be under appreciated. Similarly, the great leaps forward in our age usually lose cache through the triumph of familiarity and pervasiveness.

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Serving as part of the Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age series, supplementary posts will include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress;
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand;
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue;
  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening;
  6. The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  7. The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.

————————–

Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

 

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

 

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