The Organizational Strategist

March 28, 2013

Mobilizing a data driven organization: Big Data and you


-Introduction-

Big data is a newer, exciting topic. It can mean so many things as it is data driven and that data can come from so many sources. A volume of information is captured all of the time via smartphones, traffic sensors, retail checkouts, and more. In my experience discussing and dealing with it, it can be overwhelming and downright unproductive without focus and alignment.  With focus, it can lead to a lot of targeted benefits.  With alignment to that focus, your org can take effective action.

-What can I do with ‘big data’?-

Big data comes down to a lot of complicated and even complex information mining. You might be able to discover which areas in the city have the worst stop signs (by analyzing police and insurance claims), where candy bars should be placed in relation to where and what different children’s toys are sold, or predictive and forecasting fleet tire maintenance. There are numerous possible information points that you can learn about, but it all depends on the data you’re gathering. The more that you have available, which can be traced, linked, analyzed, and then rationalized the more you have to work on. Of course, you need to know what you are seeking to learn and act on first (decrease cost, improve quality, share brand recognition, streamline operations, etc.).

-How to prepare your organization for immediate action-

First and foremost, it is very important to have curious people lead the data diving and hypothesizing. Big data involves a lot of critical thinking and hypothesizing to uncover the gold mine of information. To do that one needs to pull together strategic needs and desires (cost savings, higher sales, brand turnaround, etc.). For implementation of a big data initiative a staged process can be followed:

Stage 1 – Build pilots to prove the key concepts and potential within your organization.

Choose the hottest topics with the best (most comprehensive, highest quality/consistency, most thorough, etc.) data and that have people itching to learn more. Some of those topics might be around:

  • Specific geographic trends
  • Customer behaviors
  • Product line(s)
  • Service line(s)

As the data is pulled together and analyzed, document the process and procedure for future uses. Take an inventory of all the actionable areas that are discovered. Here you should be able to see the array of possibilities and potential. Brainstorm what will be the most effective initial (quick wins) and longer term (strategic) areas to act upon. Then measure the relevant baseline(s) to gauge how things are currently doing (product/service cost, timing, throughput, efficiency, customer quality/satisfaction, maturity level, etc.) so that as actions are taken, they can be evaluated properly. Move ahead and take selected action(s) based off of the prioritized inventory. This is where it gets the most exciting as you see that after the actions are fulfilled, you can measure improvements by comparing to the baseline.

Stage 2 – Expand and scale the operation.

After the initial results are back, you can make case studies and other results publicly known to inspire others and cascade the change momentum. This is important for helping ensure the case for changing how work is done and fueling the big data initiatives. Use lessons learned, process tips/flow, team structure, etc. from pilots to expand into other areas that can benefit from usage of big data. Spread and enact the big data coverage to any/all areas that make sense. The scaling up and out should be a gradual pace, not all at once, to ensure that the growth in the function is sustainable and practical. It may be that the data diving is very helpful all the time in some organizations and only periodically in others. A shared service of business intelligence operatives may be a helpful set up in an organization.

Stage 3 – Mature and operationalize the change.

As an organization embraces and utilizes big data initiatives it can make sense to have big data teams pulled into a greater program and/or PMO for governance, quality approaches, best practices, proper mobilization, templates, and so on. With repeatable approaches and optimization, the big data initiatives will become more and more successful. Start standardizing on the common areas while allowing flexibility for the unique approaches (some groups will need to make their own way as the normal approach of gathering/measuring data could be radically different). Build the data-driven and inspired change into common culture. Experimenting, testing, and learning should become standard.

-Summary-

Big data is a sophisticated approach to business and technical analysis. It involves more complicated technical approaches and vastly larger data to draw upon. As the appropriate skill sets are pulled together, an organization starts finding new and exciting ways of gaining significantly better insights about their market environment, customers, and other important information. To truly get the best of these information gathering sources, an organization needs to take the risk of trying it out and becoming comfortable with ongoing information that fuels changed and improved approaches. The more an organization can learn and take in, the better its efforts will become.

October 2, 2011

A competitive evaluation of Google+

Filed under: Strategy, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Whit @ 3:56 pm

Every once in a while a new technology comes around that takes the spotlight.  In that attempt, Google+ has recently been released and has been gaining traction.  However, will it become a passing fad that does not go anywhere?

The features of Google+, or G+ as I’ve abbreviated it, are very appealing yet much the same as its major competitor, Facebook.  There are differences of course in the future planned areas, such as the video chat that has been advertised.  While the core of means of sharing information remains much the same.  A big usability advantage is that G+ has “circles,” which makes specialized information distribution significantly easier.  There lies a compelling difference between Facebook and G+.

Right now, G+ is steadily growing and has a high utilization rate.  I anticipate this is principally due to the early adopters who are tech enthusiasts and love playing with and sharing techie tools and stories. 

What Google+ can do to make people switch over from Facebook:

  • New, engaging features that will distinguish G+
  • Make the transition easy (port over other social network content like profile information, friends, images, etc.)
  • Link with specialized social networks (LinkedIn as an example) to span across sites for sharing and/or pulling in information

What G+ can do to retain its new users:

  • Continue to make the user experience positive (features, updates, etc.)
  • Maintain the distinctive appeals of G+ and Google’s brand image (simplicity, search/sharing information, links with other Google services)
  • Balance new services with the user acceptance and adoption (The auto-upload of pictures on my phone is an example that makes me hesitant to install G+ there)

Facebook has rolled out many updates in recent years that were very negatively perceived by its users.  What was popular and effective was replaced by convoluted, poor interfaces that confused people and took away what was appreciated.  Facebook has adjusted and evolved over time though.  However, activity like that will lessen the loyalty a user has to the service.  This leads to an opportunity for substitute services, like G+.  However, if G+ were to take the same approach of losing touch with its users, then the same loyalty loss may occur.

Time will tell as to whether G+ wins out on the dominant social network service.  What are your thoughts how it will turn out?

-Facebook’s recent timeline update-

As I was amid the drafting and editing process for this article, I saw on the news that Facebook was going to roll out a large timeline feature to its site.  This was seen as both a means to compete against Google+ and a new feature for Facebook.  This would be a compelling advancement for Facebook if users were to involve themselves and take the time to intimately personalize their information.   It would be a strong point for people to stay with Facebook if their information and interactions are unique.  This also helps if other users are involved, make the connections stronger, and share/connect information together.  That network externality could bring immense benefits.

To brand new social network/navigation users though, Google+ will still likely be an easy entrance point if its general sharing and reading functionality continues to be better.  Facebook would then become the offering for those that have more time and energy to put into their profiles. 

 

Some nice links from Mashable.com that describe Google+:

http://mashable.com/2011/07/16/google-plus-resources/

http://mashable.com/2011/07/16/google-plus-guide/

http://mashable.com/2011/07/01/google-the-pros-cons/

March 31, 2010

Assessing Nintendo’s Strategic Move into Schools

Filed under: Strategy, Technology — Tags: , , , — Whit @ 10:29 pm

-Introduction-

Recently in one of the news feeds that I monitor, I saw that Nintendo plans on expanding its offerings to include educational materials. CBS News has the article here. You may be thinking, “That seems odd. Nintendo makes video games with plumbers getting super-sized from touching magic mushrooms.” The strategy Nintendo is taking does seem like a huge departure, at first. However, the move into the educational realm looks to be a new strong offering in Nintendo’s market portfolio.

 

-Nintendo Strategy Analysis-

Strategy is the alignment of resources and capabilities to win in the market. Strategy can be done at an entire organizational level or to less encompassing levels like on a product or service level. Nintendo has the brain power, technical prowess, brand recognition, and more which makes it a competitive and profitable player in the video game industry. A vital question when evaluating entering into a new market space is if the new market is a logical fit with the organization’s current resources and capabilities. If there are gaps or risks, then steps should be taken to supplement or cultivate the new resources or capabilities needed to then win in the new market. An organization that is considering entering into an entirely new market space is akin to an idea coming out of the Futurist Horizon from the 3 Horizon’s of Growth.

Since I am an outside reviewer of this strategic approach, my knowledge is limited to what I know of the company and its recent progress. The employee level knowledge of the underpinnings of execution, internal alignment, and leadership vision are unknown. What can be addressed are the logical needs of the educational market space and comparing that to what is known of Nintendo.

Nintendo is planning on using its DS platform to bring forth educational games. That answers one of my initial questions of what would be the method that Nintendo will use to deliver the educational games. Thus Nintendo already has the technical prowess, supply chain, and other elements in place to deliver those systems to both the video game market and the educational market.

Another avenue of interest would be to know if Nintendo is capable of creating the right kind of software content in its games to be appealing to the users and actually provide educational value. Reaching and bringing in different demographics of users (different genders, younger to older) has been a strength of Nintendo. I remember hearing about the Nintendo Dogs game, a virtual pet game, and how that was not appealing to me. However, I kept hearing about its success with women, people my parent’s age, and players who like the animal games. A Forbes article highlights how Nintendo has had great success with its 2006 Brain Age game and how there was a study done by the government of Scotland  that indicated math scores did, in fact, increase after using the game over time. In a Nintendo World Report article, a reputable game design company, Intelligent Systems, the creator of acclaimed Fire Emblem game, has plans to make vocabulary enhancing offerings in mid-March this year. Also, another Nintendo World Report article reports that McDonald’s restaurants in Japan will be using the DS system to train employees. These findings show that Nintendo has the potential for creating games that fit the needs of many different kinds of users and has the means to deliver the material effectively.

Taking into account these glimpses into Nintendo’s offerings and activity, the strategy to expand into the educational space seems to fit. There are documented results indicating success, positive movement with initial products like Brain Age, which may have been a pilot to test the market, and a reach through the DS system to users of many ages.

-Considerations for Implementation-

In pondering Nintendo’s strategy and how to help make it effective as Nintendo’s offerings grow in this space, I came up with the following ideas:

  • Partner with teachers, administrators, parents and other important stakholders: These groups are gatekeepers into spending for educational efforts in class and at home. By actively engaging these stakeholder groups to find out what learning goals or curriculum aids are most needed, Nintendo’s games can be made to best fit those needs. At a larger scale, partnership with politicians, government agencies and more would be of immense benefit.
  • Start with the low hanging fruit: Japan is a good market to start in due to the high saturation of Nintendo products. When expanding into other geographies, find out the areas that are already familiar with the Nintendo brand and utilize a lot of technology in daily life. This will help make the new technological use in educational systems easily accepted. Building on success creates momentum and makes it easier to progress.
  • Continue to track and measure success: Academic circles are heavily influenced by metrics and continual learning. The case study done by Scotland’s government is a good start to this effort.
  • Expand in areas that can augment and complement the DS offerings: The Wii system, as an example, allows for at-home, multiplayer engagement and easy downloads. Making educational family games would be a good way to keep the learning happening and bring the whole family in to help the students.

 

-Conclusion-

Nintendo may be new to the educational space, but has been making solid steps to build its own resources and capabilities. Early indicators of success make this strategic plan appear feasible. It will be interesting to see if characters like the famous plumbers will become an every-day classroom appearance or not.

-Links-

Nintendo to put consoles in schools: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/19/ap/business/main6314135.shtml

3 Horizons of Growth: http://blog.seattlepi.com/organizationalstrategist/archives/199445.asp

Forbes article on Nintendo’s Brainy Strategy: http://www.forbes.com/2008/10/08/games-smart-brain-tech-personal-cx_mji_1008games.html

Fire Emblem company makes vocabulary games: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/newsArt.cfm?artid=22769

November 3, 2009

Clean Tech: Working Smarter, not Harder


-Introduction-

The long held notions to reduce, reuse, and recycle will help our environment and preserve our limited resources still hold true. Consumers and companies are making more of an effort to care for our planet’s sustainability. However, the paths for achieving that aim have been evolving and diversifying. Using less material, fuel, electricity or other inputs (reduction) are still a primary pursuit. Yet, it seems to be that the biggest thing going on right now are innovations to harness and utilize energy through a smarter means instead of a more rigorous means. Essentially, the sustainability pursuits for organizations must work smarter, not harder, to keep up with the latest trends and technology.

-Sustainable Alternative Energy Avenues-

Smart grid is an example of this kind of sustainability pursuit that many companies, including Boeing, IBM, Oracle, Google, and more are getting into. Fundamentally it’s a means of working through the base economic principle of supply versus demand applied to mass scale electricity usage. As demand grows and supply isn’t as available, the price for energy (particularly electricity) goes up. The smart grid technologies and implementations would help manage the supply versus demand so that there isn’t as much stress on the plants creating the energy. Working smarter via smart grid technology and infrastructure would save money, reduce stress on energy generators, lessen the possibility of a power outage, and potentially allow for companies or households to sell back power. To learn more about how smart grids work, what components go into them, and the current evaluation of the potential benefits, check out this Strategy and Business article. To keep up with smart grid press, you may want to bookmark Greentech Media’s greentechgrid site, which can be found here. That last site has a lot of articles and resources to cover what all is happening, both from the technical and organizational involvement sides of smart grid development.

Solar panels, hydro-electric, and wind power and others take advantage of energy in its natural forms of movement and/or heat. These are other sustainable clean technology pursuits that have vast potential to provide the energy consumers need as well. These power sources take energy from a naturally occurring source and transform it into another, easily accessible and consumable means for our usage. Wind turbines and hydroelectric dams use the kinetic force of wind or gravity, respectively, to harness energy. Solar energy is harnessing the heat from the sun’s rays to polarize the photo-voltaic cells, among other solar power harnessing means. McKinsey did a neat interactive post on solar technologies. The article can be found here, which will explain the definitions as well as compare their strengths and challenges.

These technologies are all harnessing energy that is already out there; we just need to capture it. Once we’ve done that we can use it to our advantage. In some ways, these sources of energy are like finding a twenty dollar bill in your ski jacket that you had saved for emergency snacks and you are surprised to find it when you pull it out of your winter clothes bin. These are energy opportunities that are at your feet and we need to simply find a way to pick it up. Instead of doing the hard tasks of mining and burning to create energy as coal plants do, we can be smarter by using what we have all around us. These are ways we can work smarter, instead of harder.

-Organizational Clean Tech Use-

Better energy usage, capturing the energy that’s right in front of us and innovation to breakthrough into new energy avenues has caught the attention of organizations from government to businesses. Being smart about energy has definitely caught on. The gas-electricity hybrid Prius automobile from Toyota has been extremely popular and become a symbol of that company’s innovation. President Obama’s administration wants to make the US a leader in clean energy pursuits. An article from the San Jose Mercury News states that the new “Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy… has received $400 million through the federal stimulus act.” That money is going to be used to help fund new ideas to create the next generation of clean technologies in the US. Notable companies, Google and Microsoft, have long been looking for sustainability measures in their products and operations. As mentioned in this Financial Times article both of those companies are investigating wind energy and Microsoft has put a server farm in Dublin to take advantage of the natural cooling the weather there provides.

On the product side, I found that Microsoft’s Windows 7 Operating System has some clean tech examples. Windows 7 has improved power management and boot time, mentioned in this ComputerWorld article, which reduces power usage and the shortened boot time answers many prayers. A recent Microsoft’s Software Enables Earth sustainability blog post states that the power management features include automatically powering down when idle, handling system component power usage better (i.e. not powering a component when not needed/in use), and new diagnostic tools to help with power management. Another post from the same blog states that there’s a 91% carbon emission reduction from using digital downloads instead of producing CDs/DVDs. Most of these are management tools that enable more control of emissions and resource usage. While not revolutionary in their approach, smart and helpful decision making can help ensure a company has a lessened negative environmental impact, decreased energy costs, and increase operating performance.

-Summary-

The Triple Bottom Line Sustainability, defined and described in a previous article of mine here, can be achieved by many means. Energy usage has become an important topic and will likely continue to become even more important in the future. Clean tech, thus far, seems to be focused on better managing resources. The improved resource management and usage is done by working smarter, instead of working harder.

Pursuing improved management offers better awareness, control, security, and lessened risks. Leadership goes beyond management and inspires change. A question that I have been pondering after researching clean tech and the improved management of energy resources is what would it mean to be a leader in the clean technology realm?

 

-Hyperlinked Sites-

Smart Grid explanation site: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/li00091?pg=all

Greentechgrid site: http://www.greentechmedia.com/channel/gridtech/

McKinsey Interactive article: https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Energy_Resources_Materials/Electric_Power/Evaluating_the_potential_of_solar_technologies_2426

ARPA-E receives $400 million for clean tech grants: http://dailyme.com/story/2009102300006546/obama-business-leaders-push-clean-energy.html

Financial Times article mentioning Microsoft and Google looking into wind energy: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8ebb43e6-bf37-11de-a696-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

Computerworld article on Windows 7: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9139707/Early_adopters_finding_Windows_7_saves_time_and_energy

Microsoft Software Enabled Earth blog post on Windows 7: http://blogs.msdn.com/see/archive/2009/10/22/top-5-environmental-considerations-to-make-the-move-to-windows-7.aspx

Microsoft Software Enabled Earth blog post on carbon reductions by using downloads: http://blogs.msdn.com/see/archive/2009/10/15/study-on-digital-distribution-of-software-shows-significant-environmental-benefits.aspx

Triple Bottom Line Sustainability post: http://whittblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/triple-bottom-line-sustainability-and-value-chain-analysis/

Augmented Reality: This looks cool, literally

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , — Whit @ 4:34 pm

I just read about Augmented Reality (AR) in this Business Week article. Not having heard of AR previously, I was drawn in by the examples from the Star Wars and Terminator movies. The future implications of how AR could be used sound fantastic. I’m good at quickly recognizing people visually, yet names often take a while to recall. Having a tip to help me remember a person’s name based on facial recognition software would be great. Business networking at a conference would be extraordinarily easy in finding the right people to talk to for a particular interest.

Knowing about the Monocle iPhone application makes me want a smart phone even more now. This is one tech that I plan on following for future applications.

 

Business Week AR Article: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2009/tc2009112_434755.htm?campaign_id=rss_tech

October 29, 2009

Twitter Exploration, Results, and Future Possibilities


-Introduction-

In an earlier blog article, I wrote about Twitter. In it, I introduced what the online product is, how it can be used for personal and/or professional application, and some tips on how to use it optimally. That article can be found by clicking here. Also, I mentioned some areas that I wanted to look into. I’ve since researched Twitter, explored its usage through my own accounts, and more. Those areas that I have investigated are as follows:

  • Monitor an organization’s happenings (Microsoft’s Windows 7 release in this case)
  • Network through Twitter
  • Explore the Twitter applications available
  • Research developments within the Twitter organization and future implications on usage

I’ll start by reporting about my exploration of the wealth of information available on Twitter applications. What I primarily wanted to get out of searching for Twitter applications was easier desktop management of my messaging, known as “tweeting” in Twitter-speak. This is because I do not have Twitter installed on a phone and I have multiple accounts, which means I have to manually switch in and out of my accounts to get into them via my computer.

-Twitter Applications-

Of the desktop Twitter applications, TweetDeck is by far the best received by the general user community and website reviews for using Twitter. I’ve enjoyed using it and it really helps. It does this by allowing me to manage and be present (monitoring tweets, making my own tweets go out simultaneously via different accounts and tools, and filtering) in my different twittering/status updating avenues. For instance, I have my two accounts (professional and personal-friends-only) displayed side by side showing columns or tweets. Those columns can be custom searches, tweets from those that I’m following, direct messages, mentions of me and more. Additionally, TweetDeck allows me to pull in my Facebook status update feed, which is really helpful. Most of my daily happening updates go out to both my friend-twitter feed and Facebook feed. My professional feed goes out through my professional-twitter feed and to Facebook and/or my friend-twitter feed, if I desire. The most helpful site that I found for simply comparing desktop applications can be found here. For a second opinion and more information, try this site. To download and use the TweetDeck application, the site page, which includes a download link, can be found by going to the TweetDeck website.

Twitter has a number of applications that are available to it. Beyond account management and user interface applications, there are many applications that give additional information. This can be especially interesting if you are using Twitter for your business purposes. Some of the added benefits of these applications are scheduling your tweets for specific times, allowing others to tweet about your blog posts, setting up a tag cloud from tweets, getting trend information, and much more. I found a site that is the self proclaimed “ultimate” list of Twitter applications that includes about 20 different applications here. Another interesting find is a blog that is devoted to Twitter applications. To keep up with the blog go to this URL.

-Twitter Networking-

Twittering for job searching has definitely been helpful. I’ve found a number of professional people and organizations to follow. Some examples include my professors and their speaking engagement or research updates, Hay Group citing discounts for particular products, Microsoft stating some of its clean tech and environmentally friendly activity, my professional colleagues, company representatives from companies that I am interested in learning more about and job postings from recruiters. Searching on company names, professional learning interests, specific named individuals, and through social navigation have all been helpful for me as I expand what I follow on Twitter.

-Monitoring Organizational Happenings via Twitter-

Twitter has trends that can be searched on and pooled from anyone posting a tweet. The trends can be identified by their hash mark in the message. For instance, if there was a popular topic on Halloween that was a Twitter trend, it might be marked as #Halloween. A Twitter search could be done on “#Halloween” and a list of recent posts with #Halloween in them would display.

Monitoring the twitter trends is interesting too. I previously mentioned the Sidekick data loss problems that were happening, which I had seen by checking out the trend on T-Mobile. I later found out from a Microsoft Press Release that the Sidekick data can be restored, according to Microsoft. I also read about the number of Windows 7 media releases, parties, and business predictions. The Tweets were proclaiming high and wide, mainly from my more technically oriented friends and Tweeps (Twitter friends), about #win7. From what I could tell, the major points were Mac vs. PC types, trepidation about upgrading and the potential problems that may ensue, and Microsoft champions touting the wonders of the new operating system. This kind of conversation or tweeting is what I would expect from a successful product launch. On a side note, I did find and subsequently follow the sustainability Microsoft Twitter feed (Microsoft_Green), mentioned above, which updates on interesting points about what Microsoft has been doing in regards to its sustainability efforts.

-Recent Twitter Developments and Foreseen Implications-

Also, Twitter is now becoming a hotbed for future live monitoring and data analysis. I read in an Associated Press Article that both the Microsoft and Google companies are both diving into the streams of tweeting data. If done well, I can foresee these information sources enabling them to be both more reactive and proactive if they’re using pattern seeking, trending, smart heuristic based algorithms and long term analysis. Here are some of the business benefits that they can derive:

  • Timely and holistic public relations updates and feedback
  • Eager, free, and open feedback and input into products and services (think of the consumer research potential)
  • Massive crowd-sourced data mining

This could be an amazing way of absorbing the tweet trend data. That is assuming the organizations find effective ways to engage and solicit the kind of responses they want. The manner in which the Twitter public is engaged would be crucial though. That is because opening up a dialogue to get public feedback informs the public at the same time. If the public finds the new information displeasing, it may make for bad press. So, it may be a double-edged sword if used in that manner. I could see that it would be great in more of an idea creation phase of products or services with significantly less risk of negative reactions. After all, being open, sharing, and engaging is well known to be favored.

-Summary-

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed the professional and social returns I have received from Twitter. It’s a good way of keeping in touch and to get the latest news, regardless of whether it is opinion or research based. Twitter is an interesting medium for updates and sharing. The simplicity of the product is grand and the enormity of data is staggering. I expect that I am not alone in being interested in what lies ahead for Twitter and all of its tweeps.

-Hyperlinked Sites-

My earlier Twitter blog article: http://whittblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/twhitterpated/

The Twitter desktop application review: http://www.listio.com/reviews/2008/08/comparison-twitter-tools-and-applications/

Another Twitter application comparison: http://mashable.com/2009/06/27/twitter-desktop-apps/

The TweetDeck application page: http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/

Ultimate list of Twitter applications: http://techie-buzz.com/twitter/ultimate-list-of-twitter-applications-and-websites.html

Twitter application blog: http://mytwitapps.com/

Microsoft can restore Sidekick data: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2009/oct09/10-15sidekick.mspx

Microsoft and Google both have rights to Twitter feeds: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/21/ap/tech/main5407305.shtml

October 13, 2009

Twhitterpated


I’ve been trying out Twitter this past summer. In this short time, I’ve experienced some of the good and bad aspects of using the service. The good is that I’ve been able to connect with friends, colleagues, and organizations. The bad is that I do occasionally get over-twittered aka “twitter pated” from the entries that talk about eating a sandwich or similar mundane information.

For those of you who may be thinking “What the heck is a Twitter? Isn’t that some kind of a bird call? I know my nephew is sometimes a little twit…” or similar thoughts, Twitter is an online social networking and social navigation application. More specifically, it is called a micro-blog. That’s because it allows short and pithy updates to a community of followers or readers. By saying short and pithy, that means 140 characters. That’s characters (letters, numbers, and symbols) only, not full words. The 140 character micro-blog posts on Twitter are called “Tweets”. Many people use Twitter on their internet enabled smart phones to send updates on what they have been doing. What people say on Twitter will vary from insightful and helpful to silly or completely nonsensical.

In looking into Twitter, I quickly found that having two types of accounts was very helpful. One account includes my professional colleagues, interesting organizations, and other peers. The other account is with my friends for everyday information; where I can talk about the great honey roasted turkey and colby-jack cheese sandwich that I just had. Both of my accounts are low in followers so I haven’t been able to get the quick feedback that Twitter is famous for giving. That aspect will hopefully come with time. I have found interesting articles, helpful tips, and new areas to explore from monitoring my professional connections’ tweets. In my informal account, I have been able to stay more in touch with friends from across the country.

Another recent San Jose Mercury News article confirms much of what I’ve mentioned and says a bit more, especially on the networking and job search realms. The article has a bulleted list of do’s and don’ts for Twitter job hunting, which may be of interest. Here they are:

DOS AND DON’TS WHEN JOB-HUNTING ON TWITTER

1. DO follow potential employers to learn more about their products and service.

2. DON’T get sucked in; get the information you’re looking for, then get out.

3. DO use multiple Twitter profiles — a personal one, for instance, as well as those created specifically to follow certain employers.

4. DON’T use a silly or cartoonish icon on your profile — it could turn off a potential employer.

5. DO use directories like Twellow or Mr. Tweet to help you locate other professionals and trendsetters in your field.

There are a few aspects to Twitter that I have yet to get into.

One of the areas I haven’t used Twitter for much yet is to look up target companies to monitor what’s being said about them and subscribe to their feed(s), if they have them. T-Mobile is a company of interest for me and today I was watching the various complaints and comparisons being said about their products. Evidently the Sidekick phones can delete user data. Imagine somehow losing all of your contacts at once. That would be awfully frustrating. I’ve read that T-Mobile is issuing a $100 gift certificate for those who have such data problems.

Twitter also has a number of different applications available. These applications can be used to sort feeds, link accounts, navigate, organize and more. Since my phone is not a smart phone, I don’t have internet connectivity. So, much of the convenience that many Twitter users enjoy, I won’t be able to access. I do hope to get such a phone sometime, perhaps not a Sidekick though, and enjoy the tweets as they come and go.

Marketing and branding initiatives are yet one more realm that Twitter has helped. I can see how product updates, previews on service releases, short introductions to articles and more could be a great fit for a company’s marketing, public relations and branding initiatives.

From these Twitter-offerings, I am going to explore what I can. I’ll certainly tap into the networking and company searching points as that’s a particular area of interest for me at the present. From a desktop client perspective, I’ll search to find what apps may be a good fit for me too. I will plan on updating this blog with a follow up on what’s gone well and what hasn’t for me. Feel free to follow me on my Twitter page. Links to do so are shown on the right hand sidebar of this blog.

The article mentioned has been hyperlinked to easily direct readers. In case that’s not working, the URL is as follows: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_13474050?nclick_check=1.

October 10, 2009

Greetings and introduction


Hello reader(s),

  In this blog I, Whit Tice, plan to discuss the various areas of interest and initiatives that I have regarding business, technology, and organizational development. Some of the areas that I will likely talk about will be business strategy, appreciative inquiry, triple bottom line sustainability, new gadgets and gizmos, and generational interests (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y/Millennials, etc). More topics and the variety will likely change and evolve over time. I welcome your input as a means of open sharing of interests, resources, and ideas.

  This will be my first foray into blogging regarding professional interests and activity. As such, please ensure your contributions and, of course, mine are professional. Thanks for your interest and time!

All the best,

-Whit Tice

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