I got mail from Bob

I got an automated email from GoDaddy.com to be more precize from Bob Parsons, the CEO and Founder from GoDaddy.com. It was not unique I received this mail, since it went out to all customers using their wordpress hosting plan. However instead of that it was just a marketing thing, Bob become a real person to me in the way the email was signed:

Normally these things are just signed by a simple autograph and a meaningless name. However now it gave me the opportunity to connect with Bob on Twitter. And the good thing is: Bob is on Twitter, for real. It is not a marketing account, it is Bob. And that makes communication more real and credible than the normal standardized mailings.

Operational model typologies

Companies make two important choices in the design of their operations:

  1. How standardized their business processes should be across operational units (business units, region, function, market segment) and
  2. how integrated their business processes should be across those units.

That’s two variables. Assuming each has two values: Low and High, and you get four possible combinations. Ross gave these four types of models different names.

  1. Low Integration, Low Standardization – the Diversification Operating Model
  2. High Integration, Low Standardization – the Coordination Operating Model
  3. Low Integration, High Standardization – the Replication Operating Model
  4. High Integration, High Standardization – the Unification Operating Model

Nick Malik illustrated these models in this way (Based on research of J. Ross, MIT):

operational-models_1

Or as one of my colleagues put it:

Coordination

Seamless access to shared data:
  • Shared customers, products, or suppliers
  • Impact on other business unit transactions
  • Operationally unique business units or functions
  • Autonomous business management
  • Business unit control over process design
  • Shared customer/supplier/product data
  • Consensus processes for designing IT infrastructure services; IT application decisions made in business unit

Unification

Standardized integrated processes:
  • Customers and suppliers maybe local or global
  • Globally integrated business processes often with support of enterprise systems
  • Business Units with similar or overlapping Marketing & Procurement operations
  • Centralized management often applying functional/process/business unit matrix
  • High level process owners design for standardized processes
  • Centrally mandated databases
  • IT decisions made centrally

Diversification

Independance with shared services:
  • Few, if any shared customers or suppliers
  • Independent transactions
  • Operationally unique business units
  • Autonomous business management
  • Business unit control over process design
  • Few data standards across units
  • Most IT decisions made within business units

Replication

Standardized independance:
  • Few, if any shared customers
  • Independent transactions aggregated at a high level
  • Operationally similar business units
  • Autonomous business unit leaders with limited authority over processes
  • Centralized (or federal) control over business process design
  • Standardized data definitions but data locally owned with some aggregation
  • Centrally mandated IT services
Shared customers, products, or suppliers
Impact on other business unit transactions
Operationally unique business units or functions
Autonomous business management
Business unit control over process design
Shared customer/supplier/product data
Consensus processes for designing IT infrastructure services; IT application decisions made in business unit

Is Apple still the same company as 25 years ago?

Short answer: yes it is. Read this quote from a review from John C. Dvorak on the release of the Macintosh in 1984:

San Francisco Examiner, John C. Dvorak, 19 Feb. 1984

The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation — as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices.

Source

There is no why

Apple still hasn’t put in the “why” in the equation. For example with the release of the iPhone 3G: no cut and paste available, no MMS available an no option to shoot video with your phone. All very basic functions, however Apple decided that it wasn’t necessary for you to have those features. As well as they decide which apps will make it to the appstore and which don’t. And for the apps that don’t, they put a bit of “why” in the equation, however most often it is “too confusion for our users since these features are also available in native apps”. Still no “why” on why it is too confusion for users..

However I guess we like to be told what we should and shouldn’t do, since Apple is still in business and is making good money on one of the most closed devices and platforms ever (the iPhone). We don’t mind, we will obey Apple, they know what’s good for us, especially on the iPhone.

4 Myths about blocking Internet access in the enterprise

Some enterprises think that blocking Internet access for their employees is the solution to many of their issues. They think that productivity will be increased, costs can be saved, less security and legal issues will occur and, since the rise of Web2.0 and social media in particular: less damage to their reputation can be done. So if you are ever confronted with one of these four reasons for blocking the Internet access for your employees (or if somebody is using this argument to explain to you why your access to the Internet is blocked), you will know the answer.

Blocking will increase the productivity of the employee

This argument is based on the fact that if an employee is on Facebook or Twitter, he is not working, but babbling and browsing during the expensive hours of the enterprise. Of course that is true, however it isn’t the complete story. Facebook and Twitter are not time wasters every time these tools are used, they can be used effectively to gather information, but they also are more effective in catching up friends and family, most often more effective than a phone call that will take an hour. The phone call takes more time than just a tweet, or just a message on Facebook. People will not stop doing non-work things during work hours if the enterprise blocks the Internet access, they will probably still do it, but less effectively since one of the most effective tools was blocked. Plus instead of catching up with colleagues online, they will have to find another way: more coffee breaks, more chit chat in the office and longer lunches could be results of that. Not blocking Internet access can even help your employees to get a better work-life balance, since they can do certain things during work hours, which by blocking Internet access has to be done outside office hours.

If employees are spending 10 hours a day on Facebook during office hours, do not block, but ask why they are online so much, and if it helps them in getting their work done. Just simple talk with employees, instead of blocking access. They might give you the brightest ideas in years on how you can utilize the Internet in a way to generate business. And if they are being unproductive, you can have a talk about and how to change that, blocking will not instantly change somebodies attitude.

We will save a lot of money since our employees are wasting the bandwidth

Watching YouTube videos, surfing the web on non related websites are most often bandwidth wasters. However visiting ‘useful’ (whatever that definition might be) sites during work hours might be too. If something doesn’t help you in task-completion it is a waste. Let’s have a closer look at YouTube: is it a waste, are the instruction and training videos on  YouTube a waste, or do they help sombody in completing his work? Is an hour spend on Google less waste than five minutes on Facebook for asking a work related question and receiving answers to that question? Besides that, bandwith is getting cheaper every year and broadband is widely available and is also declining in price.

Blocking will save you bandwidth, however will it solve the real problem (if there is any problem at all)?. The real solution? Talk with your employees, ask what they do online and why they spend hours on YouTube or other sites, they might be working more efficient than you were aware off in the first place. They might be even doing customer service on different platforms, or providing customers with instruction videos for your products.

No issues with downloaded inappropriate content / malware

If this is a real worry, than there are more issues than just possible mis-use of an Internet connection, it is a lack of trust in your employees.  However if you are afraid of this, please note that there is still something such as USB sticks which can help your employees to distribute the inappropriate content or accidentally install malware. Or, if you should also block external devices and USB sticks, please note that not all inappropriate is digital, it seems that there are certain magazines or movies that you might prefer not to have in the office, or even not at all in the world.

Also closing your Internet connection only solves the download issue, employees can still distribute inappropriate content or malware. However, you could also put some effort in it and talk with your employees what one should and shouldn’t do in the office with the Internet connection.

Our reputation is at risk if our employees are online

If your reputation is on the line by employee behavior, don’t be to surprised, but employees also have an Internet connection at home. People still can leak confidential information, provide misinformation, spread rumors, or damage the image of the company in any other way. However why would they? If you are afraid that ‘bad things may happen’, again: talk with your employees, explain on how you think they should behave online, however, listen to them on what they think is correct online behavior.

Create a set of guidelines, together with your employees, on how you should behave online and how Internet access should be used. Do not make it a list which just sums up all things that are forbidden, since then you’ll be waiting till somebody finds the next work around which is not on your list. Make clear what is preferred behavior and discuss this with your employees and let your employees provide input (or even better: let them create the guidelines). It is really simple: blocking is not a long term (nor a short term) solution for the issues that are often mentioned. If employee behavior is a real issue with regards to Internet access, discuss the behavior, since the attitude is a problem, not the Internet connection.

You only block Internet access when you are afraid to talk with your employees about their behavior. Preventing behavior does not solve your problems, it will prevent them just for a short period of time.

Realtime: why it won’t work for me (and for you)

Above is a picture of the numbers of feeds that I receive in my Google Reader (labeled with tems posted) and the numbers of items I read (labeled with items read). Not an interesting graph at all, since it won’t tell you much about what I am reading, the only thing it will tell you is that I often don’t read the items right after I received them.

The relaunch of RSScloud

Last week RSScloud was (re)launched. Which enables something like a  real-time rss platform. Which is very nice, especially for the geeks (me) and nerds (not me) who thinks that this is the feature they really need to have right now. However as the above graph shows, I will not use real-time at all. The reason for my current reading pattern is that I read whenever I completed some tasks, or when I am bored, or whenever I think I need to. If things are urgent they will come to me either way in a rather short notice (via people, phone, twitter, social media, etc etc). You don’t have the time either to be real time, unless your daily business is gazing at a screen waiting till you got triggered by the real time events on your laptop / iphone / other device. Most people have other daily business so they won’t be able to act real time, or will be somewhere during the day at places that they cannot handle the real time items (doing 100km/h isn’t the best time to read your feeds, especially not on a crowded high way, neither is waking up during the night for every new item that is posted).

Real-time? Yes it is nice, but not useful as I already wrote here. On demand is more likely since you want to consume at the times you decide, not at the times that somebody else decides for you. If you go real time your information consumption can end up be like drinking from the fire hose: it will get you instant water, but can you handle it? A firehouse doesn’t stop, unless the source from where the water is coming will dry up.

Business case or prototype

If you love social media you probably already saw the YouTube movie about social media and if it is a fad. It is a very impressive movie showing a lot of statistics about social media. Although I am spending quite some time every day on social media and helping people and enterprises on what they can achieve with social media, I think some numbers require some perspective. For example the time to reach 50 million users of a certain service. My colleague Mark Walton-Hayfield made a nice visual of some of the items that appear in the video:

statistics.png

Before you start thinking that Facebook is far more superior than any other medium please take into account that:

  • The phone was something that was quite costly
  • Nobody used the phone, so buying one was risking
  • There was hardly any infrastructure for the phone, since it was new
  • Same goes for radio: there wasn’t a lot to listen to
  • The World Wide Web had it easier, since some of the infrastructure was already there, as well as the medium (Personal Computer)
  • Facebook is the only service that requires no upfront investment
  • Facebook uses an infrastructure that is already there, even more: if you don’t have access to that infrastructure you cannot access Facebook
  • Facebook ‘just’ extended an existing platform that had already more than 50 million users, instead of creating a new platform and acquiring new users.

Are statistics a fad?

Are social media statistics therefore a fad? No not at all, however you should not compare apples and oranges. You should not compare a service that costs money and needs an infrastructure to be developed with a service that is free and is running on an existing infrastructure. However you can conclude something from the visualization: we now have the possibility to introduce new services on top of existing infrastructure which have no initial investment except for time and which has an immense potential reach at the moment they are released.

If you want to build the next Facebook (or a service that has Facebook’s reach), you don’t need to have millions of dollars, the only thing you need to have is some time and if you want to reach out to the public you can start for a few dollars with online hosting. It doesn’t require a big investment upfront to create a great idea. So are you still building business cases for months, spending a lot of money and time on paper without any tangible result, or are you starting to develop a working prototype? The prototype is cheaper to build and you are likely to be able to present your idea more tangible.

Business cases are for old business

What you choose is up to you, however you can save more money than ever since it has never been so easy and so cheap to get a solution up and running and have access to 1.6 billion potential customers. Off course you still can build a business case, however with the same amount of time and money you have to use for your business case you are probably able to deliver a solid prototype which speaks for itself.

Dump the disclaimer

On a lot of blogs I read a little a disclaimer such as (format is from the SAP social media guidelines):

“This [Choose. Blog, Space …] is the personal [Blog, Space …] of [Name] and only contains my personal views, thoughts and opinions. It is not endorsed by [employer] nor does it constitute any official communication of [employer].”

Although I think I understand why this is put on some of these sites, I think it is something that is not really adding any value. The employer is not endorsing or using the site for official communication, however why is this mentioned explicitly? Is the employer afraid of that the employee will damage the brand or the company? Should the employer be afraid of anything harmful that might happen?

Don’t worry

No the employer should not worry of bad things that might happen on certain places on the Web that are caused by its employees. At least he should not be worried more than when one of his employees is going to a pub having a beer. I am aware the Web is more permanent in saving information one told, however you do not have to be the one who put the story online. Somebody else can write (or film or record) a great story with all the details about your behavior in the pub after a few beers.

If you have a set of social media guidelines you provide employees a guide how they should behave online. By providing such a guide, you do not need disclaimer, since the employee is already behaving according those guidelines. Employees are great marketeers for your company and your brand, do endorse them and provide them a set of guidelines on how they should behave. Professional and personal lifes are meshed, accept that as an employer, however trust your employees and let them promote and talk about your company. It can do more good than harm, especially if you provided them clear guidelines.

Off course is this item my personal view, it does not necessarily represents the views of my employer 😉

Hello email world, bye email world

Hello Twitterati, twexit, good morning Twitterteers etc etc. That seems to be normal behavior on microblogging sites and other social networks. I am not going to tell what you should or you should not do online, that is completely up to you, since the Internet is about you and all the individuals there are and there are no rules. However, do you do exactly the same thing with a medium such as email? First thing in the morning: send an email to wish all your colleagues and friends a very good morning, or send them all an email that you are offline for the next 10 minutes. I guess (and hope) you don’t do that. I know the mediums differ, however your Twitter account has often a bigger reach than your email.

Why?

But some are doing this on Twitter, why would you want to do that? Off course wishing everybody a beautiful morning is great (like wishing everybody in a bus a very good morning), however does it add value after doing that 20 times in a row? And than the other thing: telling people that you are exiting Twitter (the twexit tweets), why would you even want to do that? Will be people end up in utter distress if you won’t tweet back in a few minutes? No probably they will think that you are offline, even if you did not tell them. Or do you also enable your auto responder in your email as soon as you leave your email client alone for 10 minutes?

Think!

So think before you tweet, does it add value? Your tweet is send out to all your followers and that number is often larger than the number of people you meet in real life in one week. It adds more value to personalize your wishes for a beautiful good morning (and people will appreciate it more if they are the one who get such a personalized greeting). Mentioning that you are not online for a few minutes or hours? Sorry but nobody expects you that you will be online 24/7 so there is no need to notify everybody that you are not online anymore. In case you are afraid that you miss something: you will miss things anyway, you do not have the time to read everything. If it is really important the news will reach you anyway, same goes for urgent matters of your friends, if it is really urgent they will find you, independent of the medium.

Well I go offline for a few minutes, have to do some shopping…

Moving from service to infrastructure

Are you using a certain service? Do not judge it by its cover. Sometimes the medium someone is using for a service will become some kind of personification of the service. Like for some Outlook is equal to email and TweetDeck for Twitter.

Email or Yammer?

For example some weeks ago I was having a conversation with a colleague on Yammer. At a moment in the discussion I referred back to a previous conversation that was related to the subject, she told me that she read that discussion, because she already received my emails of this conversation. At first this was rather surprising for me, especially since I only spoke to her via Yammer and never send her an email before. When I gave it some thought, I realized that you could also Yammer via email (as you by the web interface, SMS, IM and third party tools).

Email will be always there

What I also realized that we never get rid of email (even if we really want to) and that some services will move from service to infrastructure. Twitter and Yammer are both moving (or already there) towards being a piece of infrastructure (a protocol) and people can use these protocols to communicate with one another. People can choose which tools they use to use the protocol. It could even go further (especially with the tools that take care of distributed microblogging) and tools could even make the protocol irrelevant (which should be done, since it is about communication and not about data exchange via a specific protocol). This way someone might read the information you posted to Twitter on his TV while accessing Facebook.

It will be just a matter of time till services and protocols become more and more irrelevant to the end users, they will not even be aware of the fact that they are either using Twitter or Yammer or Facebook, the service itself is hard to differentiate on anything other than the network effect. The medium will matter, since every medium has its value. It should be the ultimate goal of every service: moving from being a service to becoming a piece of infrastructure.

Monetizing could kill your service

I used to be a frequent user of Twitterfon on my iPhone. However it seemed like the developer of Twitterfon did not like the fact that a lot of people were using this app. Why would I think something like that?  I think the developer of Twitterfon dislike the fact that many people used Twitterfon since he put a mega ad on top of its app and will be offering a paid version that is ad free. You should not degrade something to monetize it.

Ads aren’t uncool

I do not dislike ads, not at all, I use some other apps on my iPhone  that have ads in them, the big difference is, those apps had those ads all the time  and there was all the time an alternative paid version of the app available without the ads.

For the very few who might wonder: I switched to Tweetie as Twitter app on my iPhone. Tweetie is a paid app and has similar features as Twitterfon. Since I like those features and I would not mind paying for it, I decided to pay for Tweetie. I do not trust Twitterfon anymore , since the app was degraded and the features that were free were put in a paid version. If everything else is equal, I’ll always prefer to deal with someone I can trust.

Don’t break trust

People do not mind to pay for a service. They mind paying for a service they cannot trust. Do not break trust, especially since it is the most valuable thing in a market where everything else is equal.