The Organizational Strategist

July 7, 2013

Planning Your Product and Service Roadmap Transformation


-Introduction-

As a part of every organization, there is an ongoing need for innovation in their products and services. It can be very challenging to keep up with the market changes, competition, technological advancement, and other factors that shape the business landscape. To keep up and on top of the business landscape, each company must go through its own cycles of products and services roadmap planning. This roadmap includes understanding the current and future environments (what’s going well, what isn’t going well, what should change over time, etc.) and alignment initiatives (molding the organization to best advance the most important products/services) for long term success. To find out the right approach to take, there are phases of planning the change.

-Research & Analysis-

The first phase is to do a series of tasks to research and analyze the current performance and anticipated trends. Here is a list of tasks to dive into:

  • Find best performers and the worst of the product/service portfolio. This can be done via examining the financial performance of the past few years.
  • Examine market trends and intelligence to gain long term perspective. Looking at industry newsletters, market intelligence organizations (e.g. Forester, Gartner, or IDC), or attending speaker sessions on similar topics can likely help accomplish this.
  • Examine which areas are most strategic by comparing the competitive landscape, long term potential, defensible positioning, new market share, etc.
  • Find the balance of which customers are the most helpful/easiest to work with to understand what can help make the most profitable mix. (check out the strategic divestment article)
  • Examine which products and services can be sold/packaged together (e.g. selling a standard product and then adding consulting services on top of it to help maximize its usage and benefits).
  • Assess which products/services are most interesting/engaging/cool inside the company. Having more or less energy behind a given product or service line can help influence which areas will then have the most passion behind it or them.

At the conclusion of these investigation areas, conclude and rank which products and services have the most potential for short and long term success. By doing most, if not all, of these areas, you can arrive at a lot of strategic and tactical information to draw upon for a number of decision areas.

-Finding out what to accelerate/decelerate-

Noting how performance has been and what it is anticipated to be in the future is very helpful. However, it can also be very important to note what is already going for the company. First, examine current plans and any promises (legal or not) to customers, partners, and competitors to see what flexibility is possible. The areas that can shift can be opportunities for upsells, better terms, more effective agreements, and/or simply discontinuation (in the instance of it not being profitable enough). Then see what areas can be decelerated (phased out, reduction of investment) or retired (removal from active selling and positioning or just replaced), and what can be accelerated (invested in, supported more, amplified, etc.). From combining both the research indicating data driven possibility for current and future attainment as well as the business commitments in motion, you should have the long term plan on how to approach the product and service roadmap, including which changes should take place.

-Planning for the change-

Now, after that sizeable research, analysis, and current commitment plan of record you can finalize your product and service transformation roadmap. This roadmap can make large waves internally with your employees, the market competition, coordination with partners, and certainly in regards to working with current and future customer segments. In kicking this off, there are several important areas to initially attend as you plan and coordinate the roll out of these changes:

  • Give everyone internally a heads up on what changes are coming, particularly those that are in advanced or long term planning (sales, marketing, internal R&D, etc.). In so doing this, it’s very important to state the process that was conducted, the business reasons for it happening, and the important parts about it in regards to the employees. In messaging to the employees be sure to tie it into what motivates them. Perhaps this could be new opportunities ahead, better company profitability implying bigger bonuses to shareholders and employees, removal of pain points, and so on.
  • The existing commitments, if changing, should be discussed with as much lead time as possible. It’s just good customer service to give them that heads up as soon as possible. It will be important to have that messaging prepared in regards the approach taken, the options for adjustment, and long term fulfillment conditions all to allow for the sales cycle and customer relationships to adjust. This can mean having upselling options presentable, different terms and conditions on hand, substitute product or services available, and the handoff to partners queued up if needed. In a similar messaging fashion from the internal front, it is important to let your customers know the business reasons, particularly what is beneficial for the customers through this arrangement. The business reasons could be as simply stated as a regular cadence to the business and a best practice effort. The customer benefits part should be aspects like newer, better, faster, stronger, etc. products and/or services that are relate to better cost or quality for the customer.

-Next Steps-

In this article I’ve only covered planning the change and elements of the initial communications. There is much more to following through with the roadmap than simply that. Effectively implementing a product and service roadmap transformation can be very difficult, complex, and time consuming. It is easy to underestimate what all should fuel this kind of an effort when implementing it. That implementation would likely include positioning and planning, communication planning & drafting, hands on coordination (calls, meetings, presentations, etc.), and the follow through to meet what was articulated in the plans. The devil can be in the details and it is clear there are many details to be discovered in the further design and implementation of a product and service roadmap.

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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/

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: https://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: https://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 17, 2009

Market Leadership Requires Enduring Strategy

Filed under: Strategy — Tags: , , , , , , — Whit @ 5:03 pm

Strategy, according to a highly respected and well known professor of mine, Richard Osborne, who is well known as “The Gorilla”, is defined as “the alignment of resources and capabilities to win in the market.” I immensely enjoyed his class on managerial consulting while studying for my MBA. The definition has served me well for many dialogues, modeling, and then planning the implementation of the strategy.

An enduring strategy requires making that alignment of resources and capabilities effective in the market environment and a lasting advantage over whatever competition is fighting over the same market. Major companies, like IBM and Google, are showing that their strategies are paying off for them, even though many companies are suffering from the present economic challenges. The Associated Press posted that Google and IBM third quarter results were good, each in their own ways. Google’s search based ad clicking and IBM’s technology services have been very lucrative for their organizations. The core business derived from the capabilities and resources of Google and IBM are winning in their market spaces right now.

There is much that can be discussed on strategy. The competitive analysis and market forces in play are often discussion points that contribute significantly to a firm’s strategy. Understanding the most profitable market segments to capture is a tantalizing pursuit. However, these endeavors alone will not ensure a lasting win in the market. They are very helpful and important to win in the current market environment, but the path to create that win is vital for the ongoing success of an organization. Building and developing the organization’s combination of resources and capabilities to be unique and/or very difficult to replicate paves the way for maintaining market leadership.

We can see that IBM and Google have been winning in their markets with the ability to prosper as they have. IBM, for instance, has its strategic partnerships and service contracts. Google has its data capabilities and search algorithms. There are many more aspects of each company that are strengths and aid in the success of their respective organizations. Yet, in each of those examples of organizational resources and capabilities, other organizations would find it remarkably difficult to duplicate. The partnerships and contracts with IBM serve as an ongoing source of business and barrier to other companies. Replicating the data storage/retrieval techniques and technology would require major brain power and funding to undertake.

Strategy is a major interest of mine. I have found that having a diverse background helps with the situational understanding, formulation, and implementation of strategy. I’m always interested in learning more and collaborating. Readers, what areas are of most interest? Which challenges might be helpful to explore?

The link for the Google article can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113841901

The link for the IBM article can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113841812

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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