Monday, December 6, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The ubiquity of mobile devices and their always on access and applications radically enables many, many different types of working relationships that blur the distinction between insider and outsider. Historically if a company wanted something done and done right, it needed to completely control the individual executing the task - that person needed to be closely supervised, trained and use specialized tools to deliver the company's solution into the market. The mobile internet undermines that model decisively.
We are working with a small transportation technology company: Freighthunter who has developed a PDA based application designed to manage the error fraught shipping and receiving interface between enterprise vendors and their customers. Essentially what FH has done is to create a standardized workflow that any trucker, no matter who he works for can utilize when delivering to a given buyer for a given vendor. The most clever part of the vision is that before the driver arrives at the delivery point he can use the solution to view customer specific training: say 10 minutes on how to deliver to Walmart. When he gets to the customer site, he follows a specific customer/vendor workflow, for example a WM and P&G joint receiving workflow that is spelled out for him on the PDA - if he doesn't follow it to the letter, he doesn't get paid the service premium. Finally, the tool enables that specific paired relationship's variables, metrics and tasks to be executed in real time. The result: the Walmart/P&G order/bill of lading/delivery/receipt relationship is managed perfectly by a person who doesn't work for either company and may not even have been exposed to them before that day.
How will that person get hired to deliver for WM/PG? Through a brokerage that will look more and more like a social network - with rules for membership, professional standards and visibility into each member's performance against those standards. Those that don't cut the mustard won't be allowed to remain part of the group. And the group will interact with its clients through ubiquitous client specific applications and training loaded Just In Time on that person's mobile device at precisely the moment that they need it to execute the service.
That's the power of the mobile internet: deliver specific, high quality vendor/customer outcomes through any qualified service provider. It's a big wave that could overturn a lot of old freighters out on the Openwater.
Computer Mahjong is about as complex as most customer facing business processes that front line employees are expected to execute. It illustrates just how powerful a little training, a little software and workflow constrained by rules can be: something that was too hard to figure out given hours of time in the 1970s is mastered in minutes in the midst of a tornado warning in 2010.
This suggests to me that any customer, partner or employee relationship can be enhanced, indeed transformed with a combination of training, tool and workflow deployed via mobile tool. The leverage available to organizations with imagination is virtually incalculable. Out on the Openwater.
Trade Harbor is an Openwater portfolio company specializing in delivering low cost voice authentication solutions primarily for the financial services industry. Their primary insight is that current mechanisms to do business on line by capturing digital signatures are insecure and ultimately inadequate. If my dog knew how to key in my credit card numbers (front and back) he'd be able to sign 'his' signature and that new 4 foot long mega chew toy would be winging its way mouthward, no questions asked. Trade Harbor was designed to eliminate this problem.
But the more interesting opportunity with a voice signature application is its ability to drive organizational change and ultimately strategic positioning in the consumer financial services industry. A reminder: organizational change is nothing more than changed behavior by employees, partners and customers. And it is strategically directed and focused changes in behavior that drive advantage.
So back to voice signatures: The current mechanisms for authenticating customers into voice, web and even personal interfaces are appalling.
- Appallingly obtuse: "give me your site key!"; "no, for this account your user ID is your account number unless you changed it", "your password must include both alpha and numeric fields", "what is your shared secret? I'm sorry sir, I can't tell you which one you chose, you need to tell me".
- Appallingly insecure: most people keep their userids and passwords on post-its, the more organized have them all crisply organized on a single 3X5 card for easy theft.
- Appallingly unresponsive to variations in risk: authentication to check an account balance is treated the same as that to make a trade.
- And appallingly expensive: the lack of trust in the authenticity of the customer leads to challenge questions, snail mail confirmations, denied purchases, angry customers and burned out customer service representatives "yes sir, I know that I know who you are and that you need to get money out of the ATM today because you're in Khazakstan, but we must send the new pin to your home address. Yes sir, I know that you aren't there and that the Yak Herd Hotel won't take a credit card."
With Trade Harbor's VSS the paradigm can change.
- The VSS can deliver far higher real 'field' levels of security than any UserID/Password/Physical Token combination can or ever could.
- Try as they might, people can't forget or misplace their voices, a critical factor with a rapidly aging customer base.
- A bank could stop treating customers like Pavlovian dogs ("site key!, ID!, Password!, Shared Secret!, rollover!, sit!; good boy!!") and start treating them like human beings: "Hi! All we need is your full name, your address and your voice."
- VSS can be 'tuned' so that the authentication threshold for transferring money to a third party can be far higher than that for providing balance information.
- And Voice is the only biometric that both has enormous signal complexity (making voices fiendishly difficult to replicate) and a ubiquitous capture tool (landline, mobile, or PC microphone).
- Automated challenges to a customer's mobile phone so check and card transactions that exceed the fraud threshold can be validated by a simple automated call to the customer's mobile rather than rejected.
- Stronger VSS non-repudiation guarantees, protecting volume erosion from low service/low price competition.
- Enhanced security feature bundles, yielding premium prices for true peace of mind.
- Youth cards with flexible spending limits: the student can spend up to $100 a day on her own but if she needs to spend more, the responsible party can approve it with a voice signature.
- Corporate cards that support only certain transaction categories can be overridden with a voice signature from the appropriate executive.
- Disbursements of cash, tickets, vouchers and other money equivalents can be delivered remotely via UPS or Fed-ex by simply requiring a voice signature be collected by the driver prior to disbursement.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Just in case you're stuck helping your kids raise money for their scout troop: out on the Openwater.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
“We know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys, but there is nothing much we can do.” – Luo Ping, director general, China Banking Regulatory Commission
The current rush to the dollar and away from the Euro is being done by sophisticated players who understand that the dollar is no more a reliable long term store of value than the soon to be lamented Euro. But they're stuck. And taking the view of short term speculators everywhere, they expect to be the ones to get out of the building before it collapses.
The problem is that there are so many people and the exit is so very small. And what about us? You know, the guys who live in the building?
Kevin Williamson at NRO has more here.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The GAO estimates that by 2020 93% of all Federal revenues will go to entitlements and to service the debt. 93%. I subscribe to the theory that when something can't happen, it won't. Will we raise taxes or cut spending enough to move this number appreciably? You know the answer to that. We'll do what almost every 'developed' nation has done before us: we'll inflate our debts away.
And all of those financial refugees crowding on the roof, searching in vain for rescue?
They'll be pulverized.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Openwater Advisors specializes in helping the owners of knowledge based service businesses (KBS) to maximize the value of their investment. A knowledge based service business is one where the primary product is 'know how'. Consultants, software makers, colleges and even churches are all KBSs. Know how is an example of what economists call a nonrival good, meaning that one person's use of a particular piece of knowledge does not preclude others from using it. Thus a specific unit of 'know how' can be distributed to as many people as are willing to purchase and make use of it.
This nonrival characteristic drives the principal form of differentiation among KBS: distribution. Let me provide a mundane example from my consulting past. One of the services that my firm provided to corporations back in the 1980s was sales force effectiveness. We would work with sales organizations to identify areas where they differed from 'best practice' and help them develop and implement plans to get there. Today, much of the content of our traditional effectiveness study is encompassed in an on-line web service called Salesforce.com. Essentially, what Salesforce.com did was take the know-how from thousands of years of experience running top sales forces and embed it in software and associated workflow that can be accessed at a modest cost from any internet connection.
Several interesting things happen when you take expertise and embed it in this manner:
Knowledge is leveraged - the number of clients a traditional 'meatware' consultant could help at any one time was limited by the hours he had available and the geography he inhabited. By contrast, with a web service an essentially limitless number of people can make use of the designer's insights and expertise at the same time.
Pricing plummets and demand soars - by disconnecting the expert's time investment from the delivery of the service, the web service provider drives the marginal cost of providing his service almost to zero, enabling far lower prices to the market. This in turn radically expands the addressable market for the service. The minimum scale for sales effectiveness solutions, for example, shifted from hundreds of thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars.
Solution value soars - Despite the massive reduction in price, the overall market value of the leveraged solution is vastly greater than that of a traditional consultant. In other words the knowledge leverage far exceeds price destruction. Thus beyond the minimum scale needed to amortize the investment to embed the know how, a highly leveraged KBS like Salesforce.com is always far more profitable than traditional consulting.
Changing service delivery changes everything else - Leveraging service delivery means lower revenue per unit but many more units. This change poses serious challenges to the traditional way of marketing, selling and administering the firm. Even the types and mix of people change.
Value becomes portable - Traditional consultants have a hard time selling their practices. This is because the value of the the practice is lodged in the brains of its Principals. By taking that knowledge and embedding it in software, the traditional consulting expert creates an asset that is far easier to monetize.
Relationship Holds Within Large Firms
The leverage-price-value relationship not only holds between firms, it applies within large firms that provide multiple solutions around a specific service line. Take for example Tax. Tax services include everything from strategic consulting to return preparation for corporate clients and the affluent down to HR Block, Turbo Tax and at the bottom: the IRS' online free web service. (Some hawk eyed reader will point out that the IRS' free service generates no revenue so therefore has no value but of course they are generating immense revenue from the site).
"$65 and hour? We can't touch that" - Senior Partner of successful mid-market firm (ex PW)
Yet the vast majority of this complex middle market tax preparation business is in other's hands. This is because while delivery and administration are scale sensitive and highly leveraged, the acquisition and management of client relationships is not. For economic, historical and risk reasons the Big 4 limit client acquisition and management activities to a limited number of highly paid 'insiders' who bear the enterprise risk and get its rewards (aka: Partners). This radically limits the size of the customers that can be economically pursued, captured and managed - it drives the Firms towards a big client strategy. The mid-market providers don't deliver a better technical service, in most cases the market is extremely fragmented with many small firms and sole practitioners providing supoptimal service. What they do have is a willingness to accept rewards far lower than Big 4 Partners achieve and have virtually none of the independence or high profile liability issues.
Leveraged Capability Creation
At this point I wanted to discuss how someone with a lot of different intellectual capital could analyze which bits are most leverageable and then take them through a process of doing so. Didn't get to that.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
There are good reasons to think that this kind of imbalance will become more common. There is, for example, the current political environment.
Consider two market players, A and B. A sells a stock to B. Why is this happening? Well,A thinks the stock is overvalued, so he wants to sell it. B, contrariwise, thinks the stock is undervalued, so he wants to buy it.
Why do A and B have different views, though? They’re both working from the same data. Likely they’re both professionals, with teams of analysts backing them up. (In today’s environment in fact, one of them is probably a computer program; but that’s another story, and doesn’t affect the argument.)
One common reason is that they’re working with different time horizons. A might be looking two weeks ahead, B may be looking two years ahead. On this basis, they might both be right: the stock may be overvalued in the short term, but undervalued in the long term.
A lot of trading is like that. Most commonly the trade will be between someone with a higher appetite for risk (short time horizon) and someone with a lower (long time horizon — probably an institutional investor). This long-term/short-term balance is one of the things that keeps the market stable.
Politics can upset this balance by introducing uncertainty into the long-term picture. The bailouts did just that. Investors — and many more long-term investors than short-term — are asking: “How do I know who’s Too Big to Fail? How do I know when there’ll be a bailout and when nature will take its course? What are the rules?”
In an atmosphere of uncertainty like this, with risk harder to quantify, long-term players become short-term players. Trading strategies will then fail more often. If several fail at once, automated high-frequency trading programs all start doing the same thing (buying or selling) and suddenly everyone’s over on the starboard side of the boat. Information cascade.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Source: Census Bureau
Source: Census Bureau
Double hmmm. Since 1996 texting has gone from nothing to almost 120 billion messages in 2008. Cell phone subscriptions have grown six-fold yet highway fatalities are down 28% per mile driven in a period of time where speed limits increased from 55 to 65, 70, 75, even 80 MPH. And the steepest declines in death rates have occurred in the last two years when texting added a net 100 billion messages a year. (Oh, and these trends occurred before most if not all of the highly publicized 'bans').
So what's going on? Well the simple answer is that people and societies just aren't that simple. There was probably some improvement in car and roadway safety going on during this time and our population got slightly older and more affluent. But neither of these trends are sufficient to overcome the horrific carnage that the finger waggers were telling us was happening every day because of cell phones and texting. My theory is that people are intelligent and adaptive creatures - they know full well that their phone behavior impairs their driving attention and adapt their driving habits accordingly. But I could be wrong. Nobody who's honest with themselves really knows.
So why did I come up with such a different conclusion than the waggers? First, I tested the overall claim of "cellphones increase traffic danger" against the macro data - a trend that demands laws and moral judgment should pretty dang easy to see in the data, shouldn't it? And if it can't be detected then what's the big deal? and Second, I didn't presume that I had "the" answer as to what the explanation was or even that there was an answer. Things are complex, people adapt, we don't completely understand how human societies work - if we did we wouldn't have panics, wars and riots.
This is an important consideration when someone comes to you saying that they have "the" answer to a market opportunity or institutional challenge. The odds are that they don't. They may have a handle on a piece of the answer but it is highly unlikely that they understand how the solution will play out in a market filled with countless independent actors making their independent value judgements and responses. Friedrich Hayek won a Nobel Prize for articulating this "knowledge" problem. And it's a problem that bedevils anyone bringing a new solution or policy to market. The more frame breaking the concept, the more creative the solution, the bigger an issue this is. We just don't know what's going to happen.
This doesn't mean that new solutions are illegitimate or that innovation should be rejected, it simply means that the outcome of innovation or change is seldom predictable. This rewards organizations and people who are good at sensing market needs, experimenting with new concepts and adapting to changing circumstances. Indeed, it rewards those institutions organized around markets because markets incorporate everyone's perspective, everyone's knowledge. Oh, and by the way: the faster a market changes the bigger the advantage that innovators have because they are driving change rather than reacting to it.
So the next time someone comes to you with 'THE' answer, tell them that it's more complicated than that. Out on the Openwater.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
That led me to reflect on conversations I've been having with a good friend. He has a job leading a series of big market facing initiatives and he's not getting the support he needs from the back office technical and communications teams. Frustrated and needing help, he was constantly being dragged into their meetings to solve problems to get the support he needed 'unstuck'.
This is the wrong approach. My son solved the lawnmower problem because he had to. While no expert, he's a technical whiz and he knew that I had faith in his ability to deliver. I asked him to do something new but well within his capabilities and he did so. The same is true for technical support of any kind: it's a mistake to solve their problems for them - it infantilizes them - you get down in the weeds, it becomes your problem, your fault.
The right way to deal with technical delivery is to do your homework - define what outcomes you need, compare them to what competitors or other industries achieve and demand that your team meet or exceed that standard. Then get out of the way and let them do it. Either they'll succeed and so will you or they will tell you that they can't keep up - that's the time to either eliminate their legitimate roadblocks or find new support.
The key concept is Comparative Advantage, best articulated by David Ricardo in 19th century England: while you may be able to do everything that your support team does better, it is best for you to focus on your best and highest use - the thing that the market values the most about you. By doing so and demanding excellence from those that support you, you'll get the most out of your efforts. Out on the Openwater.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
A million dollars really isn't that much money so to waste it isn't a big deal, right? Well it depends on how you think about it. Imagine if you hired a person and paid them $40 an hour. Their sole job responsibility would be four times an hour to take a crisp 20 dollar bill, cut it into small pieces and flush it down the toilet. If they were paid to do that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year the combination of their wages and the flushing would equal roughly $1 million dollars.
Feels a little different now, doesn't it?
Monday, May 3, 2010
Of more interest to me is how people take tools and technologies and adapt them to their use. I suspect that none of the users took a class in Roman-Arabic script translation or consulted Roman-Arabic script dictionaries to participate (I think they exist). They took a communications tool that had utility for them and made it their own. This demonstrates just how effective mobile technology linked to ubiquitous web services can be as tools for change when coupled with the ever adaptable human mind.
Now if I only could decode nouveau Arabic written in Roman script phonetically back into Arabic script so I can use my Arabic dictionary to find out what the heck they are saying. Out on the Openwater.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Some will interpret this as a magnificent achievement of regulation, others of unfettered capitalism. The news will be used to both justify global warming regulation and to reject it. Regardless, the fact remains that the human mind's capacity to imagine the future is almost unlimited and over ever shortening timescales has the capacity to stun us with its inventiveness. So as you make decisions, it's important to recognize just how fast the technology event horizon is creeping up on you while you're out on the Openwater.
Monday, April 12, 2010
And therein lies the problem for knowledge based businesses. Imagine how lousy movies would be if the stars were forced to write, direct and perform in their own films. For every Woody Allen or Charlie Chaplin, there are hundreds of lesser talents that can only do one thing well. Yet most industries that sell knowledge services (I would put churches in that category) still rely on a single person: the partner, the pastor, the guru to develop all of the ideas and content, direct the show and star in it. This is clearly nuts.
With the proliferation of media and tools, the ability to create visually and aurally rich multi-media experiences that deliver far more impact and value has exploded, but our organizations have lagged. With the new media environment the idea is a concept that can be taken and replicated in many different ways for different audiences. And once created, a high impact presentation of a given concept can be repeated literally millions of times. This has several compelling implications for knowledge based businesses:
First: You can't afford to reinvent the wheel. The key to communicating and syndicating your ideas is reusable content that can be leveraged via multiple channels. In Preacher terms: quit writing the sermons from scratch, figure out how to replicate the best of what others have done. Then focus your time adding your unique idea or twist, your 'special sauce' to the mix. You don't have time to think about everything from first principles, stand on other's shoulder's to get to the goal.
Second: Repurpose the same concepts and message to multiple audiences. An idea whose time has come has incredible impact. The best preachers of the "word of the new" figure out how to get the message across in multiple ways: the book , the video, the seminars, the speeches, the celebrity appearances, the tracts, the entertaining shorts and so on. The value of the idea is enormous only if it reaches the audiences that are most likely to benefit from it - so create the idea once and deploy it everywhere.
Third: The power of the network is key. It is not very often that brilliant ideas are spread through mass channel marketing. Usually there is a sophistication and complexity to ideas the make them difficult to sell in 30 second spots. Ideas, knowledge, and know-how are spread by disciples - people who have first been exposed and then have sought out the vision of the creator of the knowledge. Wise knowledge based businesses figure out how to create what Seth Godin calls "tribes" of people who share a commitment to the faith or concept or lifestyle represented by the idea creator.
Fourth, and this is key: Specialize - engage people who create ideas and messages and keep them hard at that. Find others who are good at communicating the message or choreographing the interplay between message, media and audience. Like the entertainment industry does, give these directors, producers and technicians the power to craft a unified vision and message. It is very seldom that the idea creator (aka the 'screen' or 'sermon' writer) really understands how to deliver their idea in a way to change the perspectives of thousands or even millions of people.
So, if you want to sell your ideas, focus on what is unique and borrow the rest, find as many different mechanisms to communicate the idea to the world, emphasizing those things that are leveragable and repeatable. And look for disciples, people who will share your passion. Finally LET GO - it would be very unusual if you had all the skills to deliver your knowledge in a high impact way - find brilliant professionals and let them do their jobs. And if you let them, you might, just might do something that could change the world.
Changing the world: now that's a goal worth pursuing out on the Openwater.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
So what's the answer? Services. Clients have and are increasingly moving away from trying to optimize and understand the proliferating complexity of their enterprise software solutions. Instead, they are turning towards vendors that deliver a comprehensive solution to a specific business problem: a full training, workflow and web service solution. They deliver outcomes, not code. And outcomes are much easier to understand and account for than the infinite optionality of the enterprise software world. Appregatta is a company founded to bring this service model to market.
So while in the past sofware has been king, in the future, technology enabled services that embed training, workflow and code into an outcome will increasingly win the day. Mind you this isn't necessarily the same thing as outsourcing or offshoring, it's delivering a completely executed service solution that client employees can deliver. If they're not careful, firms that specialize in software implementation will find their dancecards distressingly barren in this brave new world.
It turns out that finding a service row and hoeing it is an increasingly viable strategy used by the fastest yachts racing out on the Openwater.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
It represents the motion of an animal through space as it forages. Note how the animal stays in one location for quite a while, eating whatever is there. As soon as the local supply is exhausted it then sets out in a random direction for quite some distance, stops and then begins foraging again. Social researchers have demonstrated that this is what consumers do: they find a brand or restaurant or website that they like, they forage closely at it, returning again and again. This is why increasing product complexity works for a while - the new flavors or features keep the customer coming back to the same feeding ground.
No matter how interesting and complex you make things, eventually the customer gets all the value that they want or just gets bored with your offer and they set out to find something new. And complexity at that point makes it harder for them to stop at a new solution or brand - the complexity makes it harder to take advantage of the features that make the product valuable.
This explains why complexity is a rational short term tactic with potentially disastrous long term implications.
Something to think about next time you're fishing for whales out on the Openwater.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
This is interesting because historically the Big 4,6,8 have been substantially more expensive than their less branded (if not White label then grey label) competitors - this is because the big boys needed far more infrastructure and risk management to serve global companies than the regionals needed to serve simpler mid-market businesses. This led to a mass exodus towards 'selectivity' or the abandonment of the mid-market by the Big 4. In Mr. Kent's remarks I noted the glimmer of a shift in competitive dynamics. By utilizing their global reach, scale and access to technology, the Big 4 appear to be narrowing the price gap between themselves and their smaller competitors, making the decision to go with the Brand Name easier for the upper end of the mid-market.
It will be interesting to see how the 'speed boats' respond to this challenge from the 'ocean liners' out on the Openwater.
And if the competing choices don't really increase customer value, then there is a net loss to the system.
As they say: read the whole thing.
Fighting commodification with valueless complexity, another way to sink your rowboat out on the Openwater.
This is the consequence of constant technological change and productivity growth. For our society to get wealthier each worker must produce more output each year. And since there is only a finite number of physical 'things' we can eat, wear or even possess (our bulging closets and basements testify to that), inevitably productivity will outstrip demand and employment will fall.
So where have all the workers gone? There has been a temporary surge of employment in technology or 'knowledge' work but that too is falling at an even faster rate than manufacturing. Notwithstanding all of the state and government 'high tech' quality jobs programs, tech employment will not soak up the workers. It is simply too easily automated. Instead employment is surging two categories: 'personal services' and 'government and government subsidized businesses'.
Personal services is a huge category that includes everything from hair dressing to lawn mowing to resort management and restaurants. As we get more affluent we are able to pay more for the sorts of things that only the rich could get in the past. Indeed we pay each other to get these personal services. Research comparing German married women to their American counterparts found that even though many more American wives worked full time outside of the home, they had more leisure time because they could rely on efficient, inexpensive personal services from each other. In a real sense we've followed David Ricardo's law of comparative advantage to it's logical end: those who like to cook, cook, those who like to account for taxes, do the taxes.
It is likely that many of the jobs of the future will remain in this category, only becoming more inventive and sophisticated over time. Virginia Postrel's "The Substance of Style" is an important book to read in this regard. A significant part of the entrepenurial effort of the 21st century is likely to go into enabling people to get the services that they want at higher quality, lower price and greater level of sophistication and customization.
More later on the other major growth area - government and government subsidized industries.
Something to think about while waiting for you Mochalatte with a shot of expresso out on the Openwater.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
They came back to me and said that I wasn't 'up to their standards' which perplexed me because creating content for the web is actually an area that I am known to be very good at. So I sent the original and my rewrite to a friend who is a professional editor for her opinion. Sure enough after reviewing the materials she agreed with me that what I had done was certainly professional quality.
That's when it hit me: this company has no customers. As a result, they have no need for new people. And rather than sign up a bunch of people who would get no work, signalling their lack of success, they chose to pretend that their standards were "too high".
Sometimes it's hard to figure out who is for real when you're out on the Openwater.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
What the players found was that it wasn't the best chess players or the players with the best chess playing software that won these hybrid man-machine tournaments but the players that best integrated their chess skills with their automation. It turns out that one has to know when to take the software's advice and when to reject it. It was the integration between the automation and the expert that made the most powerful match.
This has profound implications for how we design software. Quite a bit of software seeks to replace the business analyst or decision maker with codified business rules that 'always' do the right thing. But all systems have exceptions or areas at the limit where the decision tool is not robust. Therefore the key to competitive advantage in these highly automated decision environments may end up being in the expert human - computer interface. In other words, in having humans with the expertise to know when the system doesn't maximize outcomes and to intervene accordingly.
Training experts to override rather than simply operate the software. Something that knowledge based businesses need to think about while riding their cyborg hovercraft out on the Openwater.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The Wordperfect Axiom
When the platform changes, the leaders change.
Wordperfect had a virtual monopoly on word processing in big firms that used DOS. Then Windows arrived and the folks at Wordperfect didn't feel the need to hurry in porting themselves to the new platform. They had achieved lock-in after all, and why support Microsoft?
In less than a year, they were toast.
When the game machine platform of choice switches from Sony to xBox to Nintendo, etc., the list of bestelling games change and new companies become dominant.
When the platform for music shifted from record stores to iTunes, the power shifted too, and many labels were crushed.
Again and again the same rules apply. In fact, they always do. When the platform changes, the deck gets shuffled.
Think this only applies to software?
- First, they chose to specialize in video - video being the most effective medium for conveying information
- Second, they broke the training exercises into segments no more than 10 minutes in length because that's the longest someone can effectively focus on and competently absorb new material
- Third, they emphasized 'just in time' training - the concept of viewing a short training concept right before engaging in the task so that the steps are fresh and reinforced by doing
- Fourth, they used skilled training designers and professional presenters to translate expert generated content into effective skill building
- Fifth they made it all available on line via smart phone or PC so that trainees could access any material any time that it made sense for them
- Sixth, they made chat and social media tools available for specific training courses so that those taking a course could rebuild in a virtual world some of the community that they lost when moving from in person training to on line.
- They set a cost reduction objective: the new EJ4 tools and methods should reduce total corporate training costs by half.
- And finally, they set specific performance goals for training: payback within one year. If training doesn't 'move the needle' for a client, then it's free.