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Author: Sam Kurien
•10:15 AM
Studying statistics is an interesting endeavor as business activities are so closely related to observation, formulation of strategies and extrapolation for analysis of data and implementation of new strategies. The behavior of large groups of people can be as random as coin tosses as mentioned in the previous post. In fact the entire life insurance business is based on this fact. We can't predict whether a specific person will die next year (except for my mother who can predict deaths through dreams...no pun intended she seriously can.) But if we observe millions of people, deaths are random. Hence make accurate prediction models for payouts. The proportion of men aged 25 to 34 who will dice next year is about 0.0021 say on the North American continent. When you have this data compared to the probability of death in women which about 0.0007 for the same range an insurance company tat sells many policies to people aged 25 to 345  will have to pay off on about 0.21% of the polices sold to men and about 0.07% of the policies sold to women.

So we see the law of large numbers applies as the mean of a fairly accurate sample moves towards the mean of the population (in this case the overall customers) very slowly. The law of large numbers is the foundation of such business enterprises like gambling casinos and insurance companies.The winnings (or losses) of a gambler on a few plays are uncertain - that's why gambling is exciting. If you take 100 gamblers and make 100 observations the mean of the sample is not very close to mean of the population, it is only in the very long run that the mean outcome is predictable. The house plays tens of thousands of times so the the house unlike individual gamblers can count on the long run-regularity described by the law of large numbers. Hence the average winnings the house on tens of thousands of plays will be very close to the mean of the distribution of winnings which translates effectively to say that the mean guarantees the house a profit and that's why gambling like insurance is usually a profitable business. At the end of the day the odds are always stacked up against the consumer. 

Thoughts, 

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:56 AM
The idea of probability is empirical. I chuckled when I twittered last night on Einstein's quote that- "God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically". So probability is the art of observing a class of data closely and describing the data in several trials. Hence Randomness or "Random" behavior in statistics is not a synonym for "haphazard" but a description of a kind of order that emerges only in the long run.

The French naturalist Count Buffon (1707 - 1788) tossed a coin 4040 times. The results were 2048 times heads which means 0.5069 chances for the heads to occur. Around 1900 Karl Pearson heroically tossed the coin 24,000 times result was 12,012 heads, a proportion of 0.5005. John Kerrich while imprisoned in the German Nazi camp tossed the coin 10,000 times the result of which was 5076 heads, a proportion of 0.5067. So to make a point about randomness and probability we call a phenomenon random if individual outcomes are uncertain but there is a regular distribution of outcomes in a large number of repetitions, what I am interested in is under the density curve how this randomness can be plotted to make accurate assumptions. The probability of any outcome of a random phenomenon is the proportion of times the outcome would occur in a very long series of repetitions.

I think gamblers and lay people always express this idea in terms of "What are the odds rather than probability?" Odds of A to B against an outcome means that the probability of that outcome is B/(A+B). So "odds of 5 to 1" is another way of saying "probability is 1/6". A probability is always between zero and one as per the laws of probability but odds range from to zero to infinity.

I wonder if some of the Vegas regulars apply laws of probability?

Thoughts.

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:31 PM
Is the cowboy going or coming? I thought this was a cool illusion based upon the interpretation you can formulate your own story.

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Author: Sam Kurien
•6:36 PM
A lot of talk floats around of creating IT as a strategic component when 60% of its activities are service or support related. The art of IT alignment with proper governance wrapped around them not only makes IT a strategic component but enables its support functions to add value to business assets and services. In some instances values can be quantified in financial terms and in some non-financial terms. The non-financial terms are equally important as they fuel the financial components on a continuous form of inputs or future ROI's and VOI's. These non-financial value creation ideas can be:

1) Customer Perceptions: Customer's preferences are influenced by perceptions and in turn perceptions are influenced by attributes of a service or product in terms of value, desire, previous experience, position in the marketplace, need and self-image.

2) Reference values of services: This may be very vaguely defined and sometimes may be plain facts. To find our reference value of services or products, an organization needs to create a on-going dialog with its customers that feeds data into a knowledge base that teaches the producer or creator of the service or the product valuable lessons learnt, what brings value, how value can be added and how best take advantage of preferences and perceptions the customer generates.

3) Finally the economic value of a service to a customer is the sum of the customer's reference value and the net difference in value the customer associates with the service. The positive difference comes from the service's utility and warranty. Negative difference comes from losses suffered by the customer as a result of utilizing the service.

Thoughts,

Sam
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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:48 PM
Thinking about regression, I came across Edwin Hubble's data in the Astronomy magazine and found out that the scatter-plot of the data Hubble gave played a central role in the discovery that universe is expanding. The graph below shows the distances from earth of 24 spiral galaxies, just for kicks I plotted this in excel, the speed indicates the speed at which these galaxies are moving away from us as reported in 1929 by Hubble's data.


The scatter-plot clearly indicates a linear relationship my TI-83 reports a r=0.7842 correlation which means that distant galaxies are moving away rapidly. Astronomers believe that there is a perfect linear relationship along with the scatter caused by imperfect measurements. The two lines on the plot are actually the two-least squares regression lines. The regression line of velocity on distance is solid as indicated. The regression line if drawn of distance on velocity will be different and both lines will have different slopes.

Lesson learnt : There is a close connection between correlation and the slope of the least square regression line.

Thoughts.

Sam
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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:23 PM
Regress means to go backward. How did the term regression come to be? Sir Francis Glaton (1822-1911)  was the first one to apply regression techniques on biological and psychological data. He observed data in heights of tall parents and found that often taller than average parents tended to have children who were also taller than average but not as tall as their parents. Galton called this fact "regression" toward the mean and the name came to be applied to statistical method.

A regression line is very important measure in research then because a regression line summarizes the relationship between independent and dependent variables. as in specific settings one of the variables helps explaining or predicting the other.

Why am I relating this here? I remember a year I talked about visual mapping with mind map, certainly our brain does not always think in linear fashion, thoughts, ideas projects, to do's, likes, dislikes, desires, passions, etc are all over the place. So the question is while amassing information on architecture can you take your visual mindmap and plot out a linear regression?

Thoughts?

Sam
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Author: Sam Kurien
•5:12 PM
Of all the branches of Mathematics, Statistics has a very practical application in solving real world problems. Though I firmly believe all wisdom and knowledge come from God, the area of Statistics falls under the wisdom spectrum as it gives innate ability to understand and give answers to practical problems.  I am sure when Joseph and Daniel conducted the affairs of Kings they had a sort of statistical wisdom. Take for example Abraham Wald (1902- 1950)  worked on war problems during World War II. Wald invented some statistical methods that were military secrets until the war ended.  He was asked a probing question as to where extra armor should be added to airplanes. Wald studied the data of the location of enemy bullet holes in planes returning from combat. He then plotted the locations on an outline of the plane. As data accumulated, most of the outline filled up. He then came back with the solution and told them to put the armor in the few spots with no bullet holes. Wald said that is where bullets hit the planes that didn't make it back.

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Author: Sam Kurien
•12:37 PM
The software industry has been through high and lows up with the constant advent of new technological innovations and rapid changes in the global economic landscapes. SAP is the leading enterprise application software giant started by Hasso Plattner. The rise of Enterprise application industries started in early eighty’s with organizations needing one single software program that was capable of serving the multiple needs and functions of various departments. One single enterprise-wide application software means integrating applications that fused together for the smooth exchange and extraction of information. For example when customer services sold a product and got stock updated in the inventory by the warehouse people and the same data could be pulled by the Finance department. Enterprise Application software’s were designed exactly to do the latter mentioned processes seamlessly. SAP started by break away engineer’s Plattner and group build the company on strong engineering forte to build these types of applications that served large enterprise needs.

Samuel Tsang and Farhoomand have attempted to explain SAP’s platform strategy in the changing scenarios of the enterprise application software market to survive and sustain itself in the market competition. They give a brief overview of the impact of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) on the enterprises, the downturn in the ERP Market, and the new trends in software industry, the advent of service oriented architecture and pay as you go model of software services. The authors of the paper go to explain competitive strategies of SAP’s competitors like ORACLE, Microsoft, IBM and the new breed of companies from the east that pose as a viable threat to its market share.

SAP has traditionally enjoyed the high market share. The early eighty’s and early ninety’s enterprise software’s were considered complex proprietary and hard to implement software’s. SAP with its closed source software made high margins and capitalized its position in the market. However with the rapid changing trend of the technology especially with the advent of Internet and open source models SAP soon found itself in a sticky situation. This often happens to giants who have not effectively managed their structures and aligned their strategies with changing market scenarios. SAP soon found it would have to open its proprietary software products for open development and integration, lure in small and mid-size businesses and modify its ERP applications to be web based.

Bourgeois quotes “The development of organizational strategies is to guide organizational activities. They are key managerial functions and that guidance is accomplished through the effective co-alignment of organizational resources with environmental conditions” (Bourgeois, 1980, p 37). Thus strategy making lies in the skill and abilities of the managers who respond strategically in things that must be done to adjust to the environmental forces that impact their organization (Thompson, Strickland & Gamble, 2007). This involves dealing with all factors like political, economic, cultural, regulatory & governmental and technological innovations that happen from time to time. SAP’s position as a market leader was being challenged in all the above macro environmental factors with its interaction in the market place. The author will attempt to analyze from the paper SAP’s position using PEST.

The political landscape in the enterprise market was changing rapidly with SAP’s key arch rival Oracle. Oracle mainly served the database market and supplied functional software’s that supported the back office operations. SAP and Oracle both dominated the enterprise application software market but in different parts of it (Farhoomand, 2006, p.11). Oracle’s hostile bid on PeopleSoft in 2003 to acquire PeopleSoft clients which was a player against SAP was turned down but in 2004 the takeover was complete at $10.3 billion which affected SAP’s market considerably. SAP to correct its position attempted to take over Retek a retail software developer for about $500 million to align its portfolio but again Oracle strategically acquired 10% of Retek and later on purchased Retek for $670 million which in turn led to the development of Oracle’s business unit called Oracle Retail Global (Farhoomand, 2006, p.12). SAP’s market share was now being affected in the enterprise application market with Oracle’s key acquisitions.

Oracle’s also equipped itself in serving enterprise software’s as services for its clients, this was also a strategic attack on SAP’ high costing implementation thus economic spheres of SAP’s core business model was threatened. At the same time the economic landscape was changing rapidly with the rise of small and mid-size businesses, the largest software maker Microsoft quickly capitalized on this segment by implementing strategies and not directly engaging Oracle or SAP. Here again SAP was late in its strategy alignment of scaling down the ERP software’s to fit the business needs of small and mid-scale enterprises. In the 1990’s SAP also was caught up in failed implementation of its key products with large enterprises like Dell, Nestle and other companies who could not change or scale their business model to the requirements of SAP software’s.

In the cultural sphere SAP didn’t quickly realize the power of open source and independent developers that were providing enterprise wide solutions. Businesses were piece by piece stitching their needs by buying software’s from these types of vendors. Companies were increasingly adopting strategies by buying modules from niche software makers. Farhoomand states according to a survey conducted by Harvard Business School 60% indicated their companies had adopted the approach piece-meal software’s together to serve enterprise needs (Farhoomand, 2006, p.4). This approach benefited businesses as CEO’s increasingly were demanding from their Chief Information Officer’s return on investments on the corporate IT spending.

Technology factors impacted SAP heavily with the advent of the Internet. Organization’s found suddenly the need of becoming e-business ready with e-commerce and access information on the power of networked economy. SAP introduced mySAP.com a software package aimed to become a business to business portal. To catch up SAP engaged in acquisition strategies of e-procurement software companies. Another major change in the technology sphere was the rise of service-oriented architecture which was a framework of developing and integrating application through Web Services. This meant an application could be developed in .net, java or any legacy system and could be easily all integrated by Web Services. Traditionally Businesses bought technology solutions and had many systems running, the SOA model suddenly allowed talking between different systems to be easy and a matter of configuring the components. This was to greatly impact the Enterprise Application software giants as they would not only would lose a large market share but had to rethink their strategy implementations in coming up with a product that used this powerful model. SAP’s response to this came in a product called NetWeaver which was essentially a Web Service solution which gave enterprises’ the option of connecting their legacy databases and systems.

SAP’s main strategy involved in expanding and covering functionally related markets. SAP’s strategy involved in branching out to related areas like customer relationship management (CRM), product lifecycle management (PLM), supply chain management (SCM) (Farhoomand, 2006, p.9). The focus now changed from not just aiming at the large enterprises but small and mid-size business ($600 million or less). This fast growing segment meant coming up with these functional products and cutting down development time by acquisition of companies that already had a decent product that served these functional needs supporting examples would be SAP acquiring Light hammer Software Development Corp. in mid 2005 and TopTier Software a Silicon Valley startup in 2001.

To serve the customer’s in the mid-market segment SAP scaled down its ERP products and came up with mySAP All in-One and SAP Business One. Also introduced was the pay-as-you-go model which combined elements of hosted and on-demand services.

SAP’s major strategy change came with the appointment of Shai Agassi as the chief of corporate product development who came on board with the acquisition of TopTier Software. The strategy was to open up SAP the proprietary software so individual developers could write and make extensions to it. SAP’s introduction was with a new flagship product called NetWeaver as mentioned earlier in the paper it was a platform that allowed applications to be developed and accessed as Web Services running on different systems. NetWeaver was given away free to solidify and expand the use of the software with third party developers. The strategy was successful by 2003 as it brought customer support and strengthened its core for its full fledged launch in 2007.

The introduction of NetWeaver was a very important one strategically both platform wise and in the economic sense of SAP’s survival in the marketplace as it helped configuring itself not to just depend upon its core engineering strength but successfully attract tens of thousands from the developer community supporting its model. To make this more successful SAP hired George Paoline who helped Sun Microsystems market Java to come on board and he soon was successful in forming a network on 132,000 individual developers as part of SAP’s online network (Farhoomand, 2006, p.11). SAP was also influential in hiring away 200 top managers from competitors like Oracle, BEA Systems, and Siebel to join their company (Farhoomand, 2006, p.11).

SAP thus successfully integrated its core engineering strength by the introduction of NetWeaver and connecting individual developers from the external environment to develop extensions and tying in legacy software’s that existed within businesses. Businesses actively supported this open model as it brought their own IT spending down. The introduction of NetWeaver as a platform was important strategy as it was crucial for SAP to enter and penetrate the new small and medium scale enterprise customers as it was the biggest growing segment. During the economic downturn with dotcom’s crashing, SAP was able to leverage its strength of being an established software vendor which was reliable and customers turned to it for their needs. This gave also SAP sufficient time to catch up with the Internet Boom and bringing out key products like mySAP.com and building and scaling of enterprise portals that were web based to serve enterprise needs. Porter in his famous paper quoted “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value” (Porter, 1996, p.64). SAP has attempted to create this unique mix of value by the introduction of these products.

The Enterprise marketplace continues to be an interesting and a fierce battle arena as small players are challenging the might of the established giants. The feature rich application with simplicity at its core which increases organizational effectiveness and overall efficiency at the lowest cost will win and the organization that aligns its strategy to bring that into the market will be the final winner.

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien

Paper written for Platform Strategy for SAP

References:

Borgeouis, A.M., III. (1980). Strategy and environment: A conceptual integration. Academy of Management Review, 2(1), 25-39.

Thompson, A. Strickland, A., & Gamble, J. (2007). Crafting and executing strategy: The quest for competitive advantage (15th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Porter, Michael E (1996). What is Strategy? Harvard Business Review, 74, 6, 61-78.
Ali F. Farhoomand, Samuel Tsang (2006). SAP’s Platform Strategy in 2006, University of Hong Kong, 1-27
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Author: Sam Kurien
•11:13 PM
I recently was made aware that immediacy of objects, values and street innovation extend the product ideas that will be instrumental in making them universal. The lessons to be learnt are how do you design a product or a system that can be extended or be universally accepted. The proposed idea is to watch for ideas that come from the streets, reverse engineering, social re-engineering and innovative social uses of products or ideas.

For example to expand on this a cell phone owner in Uganda becomes an instant ATM. Strange Isn't it? People in Uganda use cell phones to transfer money and exchange minutes for cash. How does it work you may ask? So if you live in Kampala and have a cell phone and you want to send money to your parents in a small village a few hundred miles away you would buy a pre-paid phone card with minutes on it and transfer it to a person in the village where your parents live who has a cell phone. So from Kampala you would call this person and give him the card number transferring the minutes on your card. The cell phone operator on the other end who receives your call charges a 2-10% commission, collects the minutes and dispenses the remaining cash to the caller's parents.

Street innovation and extension of a  innovation or idea gives insights how the Ugandans use an everyday object like the cellphone in the absence of a sophisticated banking system. 

Thoughts?

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•10:53 PM
Design Strategy for a firm or project  is a complex process. Here is a video how innovation design consultancy firm "Continuum" approaches it in a film they produced called 'Resonance: A Film About Design Strategy.'
I like the concept of connecting insights to values and coming up with the right idea to produce a solution. BRILLIANT!

Enjoy!!

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Author: Sam Kurien
•3:27 PM
Enterprise Architects/IT Teams along with their business counterparts struggle with the idea of how to effectively engage the senior leadership regarding an application system that clearly does not fall in architectural/technology standard or simply the business standard. Recently talking to senior leader in our company his suggestion was – IT seems to have too much time on its hands to do a “What If” analysis. The comment didn’t catch me by surprise as the individual has hard time understanding not just technical but the business side of things too. A simple technique called FIT analysis can help in preparing a presentation for the senior leadership. The objectives mainly revolve around convincing the management about validating the IT road map for an application, make a strategic decision for better IT alignment and better maintenance of your application portfolios.

In Fit Analysis the first step is to always answer the question what is the business requirement or need that is trying to be met or in other words what is the problem we are trying to solve if its initiation of a project. Answering this question is an iterative task and covers more than one point on the vertical axis. The next step is to answer the question how the relevant business requirement fits or meets the technology standards in place, or if the organization is in transition towards a IT alignment roadmap the iterative process is carried out in asking the questions how “technical fit” is the application going to be. The result can be mapped out in a matrix quadrant with x-y axis.The result is four quadrants which are identified as “A” through “D.”


Quadrant A: High Business Fit but Low Technical Fit.

Projects or applications that fall into high business fit and low technical fit Quadrant A have a strong case from the business front but weak support or problerms in implementing on the technical front a good example here is at work we have a mission critical membership application piece written seven years ago, time to update it has long gone past but the lethargy of the management to change it or put substantial effort to revamp it lacks. On the other hand the code base is hard to maintain, is older technology and don’t meet upgrading or current IT standards. Sometimes an application or project may have a high business fit because the application owner or the project initiator has power of say or decision making but in reality the application may have a low business fit with other corporate strategies or a low technology fit that hinders standards alignment.

Quadrant B: Low Business Fit and Low Technical Fit.

Sometimes applications and projects fall into a category where it is a low business fit and a low technical fit. At work we have an application that does not have a monetary value or even a perceived benefit value, yet time and resources are spend sometimes behind these small applications. Support of replacing such systems in an organization is strong but again it hinges on who the application or program owner is. Traditionally the application remains without any measurement of the perceived benefit.

Quadrant C: Low Business Fit and High Technical Fit.

Applications and projects that fall into this quadrant do not have a strong business support but have a strong IT support because of its meeting the IT alignment standards. When this happens it becomes imperative for IT to do more detailed  "what if" analysis of how it affects the business ROI and find substantial reasons as to how it plays into the strategic positioning of the benefits matrix in the organization. The important thing here for enterprise architects is also to show how other functional requirements can be added or scaled to make it more relevant or congruent with being business fit.

Quadrant D: High Business Fit and High Technical Fit.

Applications and projects that are mapped into this quadrant typically have strong support from both the business and technology. This quadrant is the most comfortable quadrant for the EA. The EA does not have to worry convincing the stakeholders for undertaking such projects as most of the times they are mission critical.

Effectiveness of the Tool

This tool is most effective when this exercise is carried out in partnership with stakeholders or application owners most of the time senior leadership. The management is asked to plot or give their take on Business Fit and Technical Fit and rationale or reports they want to generate. The IT architect takes this rationale and along with the CIO  story boards the technical side and comes up with a model of how optimally can this application move towards being business fit and technical fit keeping IT alignment in mind. The plotted data will give how close the points fall to Quadrant D and then decisions are to be made are we going to go for it or not. Or go for it keeping strategic advantage in mind.

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:49 PM
I have long maintained the view that cost accounting is art and science. You can master the mechanics and science for a given industry or domain but the art is a debatable matter. Part of every cost accounting is the function of budgeting and it usually falls under two spectrum one is accounting for every cost possible and fix the costs and spend strictly around the allocated costs, but in real world we know this is sometimes not accurately possible so we operate within margins, this is my favorite method, the other is what is practiced in the industry most of the times that is to take estimated costs of the items and take an educated guess about things that you cannot account for or allocate x amount of resources add all of it and spend what you can afford as operations pan out.  The first approach when integrating technology as a strategic component becomes inflexible because in three or five year cycles corresponding maintenance and service cycles do not match with your cost accounting schedules. Also new initiatives and new projects cannot be thought of to react to market conditions. The companies that enforce the first method strictly are like elephants strapped under the weight of inflexibility and unable to innovate because of the fiscal straps from the CFO and the CFO wonders why IT solutions are not up to date. The other spectrum is where top dog has the final say what can be spend and what cannot be spend which also can stall innovation or it’s a hit and miss game. 
So Is there a middle approach that can marry cost accounting effectively with IT integration, alignment and new project initiatives.  The idea is to avoid shooting from the hip or avoid extreme control. My proposition is to develop the business analysis function in such detailed way that an organization can have a matrix system of decision making where all the details and outputs of a business analysis research plan can be plugged in and decision for  “yay” or “nay”. The CFO and the CIO are strategic members of this team along with the business analysts where infrastructure, cause/cost for project, market needs, market analysis, expected outcomes, expected returns and requirements strength are all producing outputs that determine significance for the pre-determined ratio of acceptability.  This ratio of acceptability is something the senior management decides in terms of overall profitability and direction they want the organization to move towards. I personally think this can be game changer but the catch is development of such an business analysis matrix that aligns with cost accounting takes time to develop along with the thorough process of a fine tuned business analysis machinery where we have expert BA’s collecting the requirements keeping the cost matrix system in mind. I would even go to the extreme of having a team of analysts that work on every strategic plan or project initiative the organization wants to embark upon.
Thoughts for today.
Sam Kurien
 
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Author: Sam Kurien
•10:26 AM
I am a fan of industrial design and architectural design...hey heck actually the design process in general fascinates me. Here are some pics of designs that have lately that caught my eye.



A touch surface designed by Hyundai based on the Microsoft Surface coffee tables. I like this one better as it brings the overall bulkiness and weight down. The form factor allows at least some leg space while playing the touch surface games or flicking info from your home server to your phone or vice versa. 




Ireland's new Convention Centre Dublin uses ingenius engineering and an omniscient mother brain to monitor and adjust itself. The result? Zero carbon footprint. Cool Design and is magical with different colored lighting. 




A skyscraper designed and that grows underground. I wonder where the parking lot is on this one. 


This bridge is coming up in Seoul, Korea. The design includes to have shops, museums, and small art shops. Looks cools from the outside but how do you stop and park midway? The side bulges are the answer where parking time is limited. So you got to buy fast and get moving. 


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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:25 AM
Data is the most valuabe corporate asset and protecting that asset is primarily a management responsibility. Data has become the raw material or information taht ensures the continuation of a buisness and hence data governance is a strategic function. Another reason for protecting that data is also profits as well as non-profits have found that it helps also in the competitive advantage to add value to all the services and product offerings in their stable. Without going into advantages of mining that data for strategic business value additions I want to delve on the steps that a profit or a non-profit may want undertake in protecting this important resource.

1. Get a Governnace department going or identifying the individual that will be responsible for all data governance functions. A strong leadership in this area makes sure that value of data is conveyed to all quarters of the organization from top down. This person is reponsible not only about conveying that value but implementing stewardship policies that govern this important asset.

2. Identifying the redundancies and cutting the cost. The second step may be identifying the redundancies of data that comes in and flow through and churns out into information for decision making or value addition. If redundancies can be identified and eliminated that will bring costs down in maintaining that data. Focus areas will be resulting in more ease of accessing and storing of information and operational efficiency among staff.

3. Calculate the value of data in terms of its relation to your P&L. This is a metric function that the governance guy is responsible for. The value of data just like any other corporate asset changes over time based upon internal and external (market) conditions. This value is calculated based on the cost of IT services internal users pay for and value generated by revenues in terms of support or valu-addition.

4. Calculating Risk is next important step because it is an indicator how data may be compromised, loses it value in the future or losing its relevance. The strategies in this step involved combing the previous two steps in knowing what are internal operational inefficiences as well as exteranl operational threats that may be a risk for the data you are governning. This step involves also in calcualting the probability of risk and management of risk in terms of using tools of business intelligence, analyzing trends, past envents forecasting and overall policy management.

5. Implementation of Controls. This step involves the operational controls that you put in place for the stewardship of data. No one is excluded every corporate citizen internally is responsible and answerable to these policies. Practice often states that policy making at the top level tend to break their own rules of data governance controls and hence set themselves up for a fall. Controls should be routinely evaluaed in processes, process flows, information gathring and dissemination and if creating a bottleneck review and change over.

6. Finally Moniotring the efficiency of your controls .The last step is overlapped by step 5 in the sense so much of data governance is more a organizatioal response behavior that boils down to individual following the policies of data stewarship. Monitoring the control in place is thus more than just reviewing of the controls, it revewing of the people and expressing corrective measures in behavioral changes. This is where data governance becomes more that about data security, compliance and managing or assessing or risk. It is a compsoite discipline that bridges organizational functions and starategic management to ensure organizations own continuity in the marketplace.

Thoughts on important steps for successful data governance.

Sam Kurien

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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:26 AM
Usually in Business organizations and especially in organizations where R&D is a separate department itself a tension persists on keeping the IT department away from any decision when it comes to innovation or process improvement. In short the IT department is generally seen as less of a help and more of a hindrance to innovation efforts. One of the main reasons is traditionally information systems are designed to impose structure on process, achieve pre-defined goals, produce metrics and minimize need for human interaction (in some case over maximize human interaction leading to nothing but "meetings").

While Innovation activities are highly unstructured and emergent, IT cannot be ignored or kept in isolation because IT can help in visualization tools, data mining efforts, uncover hidden relationships between data and create tools of knowledge management/information repository that so desperately is needed cross functionally but especially by the innovators within a organization. An organization that integrates IT and the innovation department to make Innovation 'IT enabled' brings a different level of empowerment to the organization.

Components of a IT enabled innovation department for a business organization consists of three components.

1) IT-enabled organization capabilities: This relates to combining IT assets (data, infrastructure and expertise) with non IT-assets (such as creativity of innovators, technological sophistication of top management,  ote enable the across-the-board business processes essential to developing and applying innovations.

2) Secondly organizations need a strong set of IT-based tools to effectively sustain the central activities required for innovation and to support the analytical & statistical work that scientists, business innovators, engineers and designers need to transform ideas into products, processes or services.

3) Finally organizations need a system of "Control" that allows innovation workers to access and use the IT resources effectively and follow a framework that is standardized as well as in some cases is flexible.

Historically research has documented that innovation can come through diverse quarters of an organization if encouraged appropriately consisting of individuals or teams drawn from geographically diverse pool of knowledge. This can be facilitated by bringinh IT in cross business linkage for input, recommendation and metric measurements against the standards of a implemented framework and also at the same time be flexible with variances coming from the innovation quarters. In practice however IT departments are usually seen as one lacking creativity and favoring standardization. I understand this as it helps in maintenance, reduce costs and improving the operational flow of IT support processes. So how then can we achieve a balance. Here are some suggestions:

Some ways to bridge this gap is bringing IT specialists on board the R&D or process improvement  teams and innovation meetings, another way is make IT specialists responsible for innovation-success metrics. For example firms like Du Pont and Archers & Daniels have their R&D department regularly interface with IT on tools they want to procure with a variance report from the organizational standard of Tools pool. IT then takes the requirement, analyzes the variance but is ever careful not to step on R&D effort to contribution and makes the approval process a collaborative effort. Interestingly these organizations have a VP of Innovation and on the organizational chart VP of innovation has a dotted-line reporting from the CIO.

My observations after reading lots and lots of case studies in varied industries in most cases - is an absence of innovation-facilitating IT governance practices a reason at the root of the problem. In practice some organizations put significant IT resources in the hands of business innovators or R&D, in some there is no IT resources allocated, in some it is shared resource working in isolation. It is here that IT Governance becomes of paramount importance in getting technology to be partnering innovator in the innovation process. The idea here is the specific mode of control (Governance) is not as important as its capability to facilitate routines and policies for addressing innovator's requirements and meeting those requirements for the overall benefit of the organization and its customers.

Thoughts on IT-enabled innovation.

Sam Kurien.
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:17 PM
Devising a CRM business strategy is unrealistic without a proper understanding of the benefits and opportunities of enabling technology and vice versa. In a recent survey Gartner group reports that CRM project have the highest failure rates in implementation but have the highest potential in terms of return on investment rates.

I want to talk about a study done by Peter Lin and Anne-Marie Corteau & myself which I find very relevant to find what are the critical success factors that are significant of CRM Technology initiatives. The study surprisingly revealed what should be apparently significant CRM impact for an organization is not that significant as perceived by many. The direct CRM impact as perceived by many are operational and strategic benefits arising out of CRM technological initiatives. Operational perceived benefits such as front-office efficiency and productivity in sales, marketing and customer support and service functional units to shorten sales cycle, marketing cycle, and customer support due to better employee productivity. Furthermore improved operational productivity means decrease in costs. On the other hand the perceived strategic benefits would be defined as the the tactical, opportunistic and competitive advantage a CRM implementation can bring in terms of churning of information into useful strategic knowledge base.

The authors put around 1000 questionnaires out to senior management and middle level managers across various industries. They used Iacovu et. al' research model (1995) with various constructs and frameworks that they borrowed to make the testing of 6 hypothesis involving 5 key critical success factors. CRM impact was the dependent variable and the 5 CSF's and their relational to CRM Imapct are depicted in the following figures:


The hypothesis were to calucate the significance (postiviely or -vely linked) of each factor contributing the CRM impact of technology on overall organizational effectiveness. Internal and external focus of the CRM impact were summed to see the overall effectiveness.



Of the 1000 questionnaires an intial 14.3% response rate gave us about 103 organizations that adopted some sort of CRM implememntation, 44 were non-adopters, 28 chose to concentrate only sales force automation and 31 preferred on the Enterrpise marketing application.  Without going into the details of all hypothesis, constructs, instrument and methodology used here is the brief summarization:

A component based software package developed by Chin and Fee (1995) was used to assess the measurment model and the structural model with confirmatory factor analysis technique. The PLS (partial least squares) statistical method was used for the analysis of latent vairable structural models involing multiple constructs with multiple indicators. PLS is a second generation multivariate statistical technique that allows the test of pschometric properties of scales us to measure different variables. With the structural equation modeling technique, the construct reliablity is mot most commonly calculated using rho (ρ) coefficient, a coefficient of reliabiltiy that measures how well a set of items measures a single latent construct.  The results were surprising H1 was not supported as there was a -ve and non-signification relationship between operational perceived benefits and cRM impact (path coefficient =-0.123, p>0.05), H2 is not supported as the strategice benefits perceived and CRM impact though positive was not yet significant as (path coefficient  = 0.065, p>0.05), H3 is supported since the relationship between top management endorsing and supporting CRM impact resulted positive and significant (path coefficient 0.255, p<0.05. H4 is not supported since the link between technological readiness and CRM impact is positive but yet nonsignificatn (path coefficent = 0.062, P>0.05). H5 is supported since the relationship between technological readiness and knowledge management capabitilities is positive and significant (path coefficient = 0.0631, p<0.001). H6 is also supported since the relationship between knowledge management capabilities and CRM impact is positive and significant (path coefficent = 0.486, p<0.01).  The proposed research model appeared to provide good power to explain 43.0% of the variance in CRM impact.

Interestingly the organizations surveyed were from a diverse spectrum (pharmacy, healthcare, technology, etc), and it was surprising to see that what perceived to be prime motivators for spending in CRM implementation did not turn out to have significant CRM impact whereas CSF's turned out to be technology readingess, knowledge management and top-tier support.

I wonder what would happen if each industry were to be studied separately in its own space. Would it reveal a different statistical result on the effectiness of organizations that spend tons of money in CRM technology implementations. The questions are open for research...

Sam Kurien

References:
Chin, W.W & Fee, T. (1995). PLS Graph Software v 2910208

Iacovou, C., Benbasat, I., & Dexter, A.S (1995) Electronic data interchange and small organizations: Adoption and impact of technology. MIS Quarterly, 19 (4), 465-485
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Author: Sam Kurien
•10:20 AM
iWell I decided to take a break from the Governance posts but not for long, just to put interesting stuff up here, I want to share two iPAD cases that I love...sorry like...like and so far the only two that have impressed me are Twelvesouth's BookBook & Dodocase. There are thousands out there but these two give a good old book feel.

Check out first:
http://twelvesouth.com/products/bookbook_ipad/

This one really looks like you are helping the cause of antique or collector books but you are secretly hiding a iPAD. This is the same company that makes the well known BookArc for the macbook pro and the iPad.

The other one is the well known San Francisco maker: 

If you want a good leather folio moleskin look that is sturdy and good looking even when it stands this one's for you.

Both cases are leather and look really cool. They are priced at $69.99 and $59.95. The price though little steep is worth it for its very clean and classic looks. The one advantage with the dodocase is the wood casing inside. Makes it a little bit sturdier when it stands, just a point I thought that made it a better choice between the two but all five stars for both in looks.

Tweet which one you like of the top two? Let me know.

Thoughts @ssnautilus...posted by Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:33 PM
I recently read Marino's paper (2004) which addressed the critical success factors for data governance by addressing the the 10 corporate oversights, I summarize & explain some of the important points that I found useful:

  • Accountability & Strategic Accountability: The executive leadership has a clear mandate to drive data governance process.  This means roles and responsibilities for various people in the organization that are involved in the data governance process be accurately defined. 
  • Standards: Data standards needs to be established. Corporate Data is a valuable asset that needs caring & defining which means it made for a purpose and that purpose determines and drives value.
  • Embracing Complexity: Data stakeholders are the producers and consumers of data hence the data stakeholder management is a complex process as data itself. Processes need to be implemented taht collects, churns and distributes this data to the right stakeholders.
  • Choosing Strategic points of control: Controls need to be put in place to determine where and when the quality of data is to be assessed and addressed. 
  • Compliance monitoring: Data management policies and procedures need to be assessed periodically in order to ensure that the policies and procedures are being followed.
  • Metrics: Definition of outcome specific data quality metrics is important for measuring data governance success.
  • Cross Divisional Issue: The data governance structure must be designed so that it includes participation from all levels of the organization to reconcile priorities, expedite conflict resolution, and encourage the support of data quality
  • Senior Management follows suit: Leadership should not be excluded and should follow the rules of engagement laid out by the data governance model/framework or DG team
  • Training & Awareness: Data stakeholders need to be aware of the value of data governance. The importance of data quality, its benefits, values need to be communicated regularly. 
I added the last two in the list because from the political and perception standpoint these points are considered lightly and eventually become primary reasons for the failure of implementation of Data Governance in organizations. From personal experience I have seen small as well as big organizations becoming comfortable on the last two points during the implementation of a data governance framework.

Thoughts @ night,

Sam Kurien

Marinos, G 2004. We're Not Doing What? The Top 10 Corporate Oversights in Data Governance, DM Review, September, viewed 12 August 2010
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:12 PM
Should IT or business drive the data governance programs in an organization? This opens a can of worms and possible debates in the academic and the industry. Practice in various types of organizations/industries be it in regard to  IT Governance or Data Governance differs exponentially. In most of the cases its absent, in some their is no differentiation as it is lumped as something the technology department does, in some organizations there are clear distinctions between corporate governance vs IT vs Data governance whilst in some each operate in isolation.

The COBIT framework incorporate financial reporting component from the COSO framework which implies that data quality is critical and important for preparing accurate financial reporting. The CEO's and CFO's are personally accountable for the credibility of these financial reports (thx Sarbanes-Oxely Act of 2002).  Therefore inherently it is the direct responsibility of the the Business functions to ensure the correctness, credibility, quality and validity of the data and IT is responsible for the infrastructure that holds, processes, data-mines and reports on that data. Here then lies our answers to the difference in IT Governance and Data Governance. IT Governance ensures that the IT infrastructure aligns with business objectives and utilizes cost effective measures to integrate technology with business functions. It thus becomes the pipe that connects flow of information for business heads to take decisions on. Whereas Data Governance is as Cohen(2006) defines "the process by which a company manages the quantity, consistency, usability, security and availability of data". I like the way Thomas G (2006) in her book 'Alpha Males and Data Disaster' defines data governance as the referring to the organizational bodies, rules, decisions rights, and accountabilities of people and information systems as the perform information-related processes. She appropriately puts it well saying "data governance sets the rules of engagement that management will follow as the organization uses data".

So it may be very confusing if Data Governance is sub-set of IT Governance? True and False, in some cases it is parallel in some cases it may fall under IT Governance function but primarily Data Governance is a management responsibility. The way I see it is Data Governance and IT Governance and overall Corporate Governance as smooth aligned gears rotating their processes & functions under a specified framework of exchanging information & reporting to fulfill the corporate governance objectives of the management. This in turns helps in adding value and better alignment/integration of technology, data and business functions.

Thoughts @ night on the reasons why the CIO is not just the bridge but a data streaming coaxial cable between business and technology.

Sam Kurien

Cohen, R 2006. BI Strategy: What's in a Name? Data Governance Roles, Responsibilities and Results Factors. DM Reviw, viewed 12 Jan 2007

Thomas G 2006. Alpha Males and Data Disaster. Published by Brass CAnnon Press, USA
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:30 AM
I feel IT Governance is the most an important function under the umbrella of the CIO. Since Technology Governance is a overarching organizational issue, the CIO comes in as a strategist with the unique ability to bridge the gap of the many business departments and that require technology and offer perspectives on solving business problems. In practice however there seems to be a lot of confusion in roles and responsiblities of a CIO  in the technology governance realm when compared to the CTO. The CIO is not your IT guy, web guy, or the techie that rescues you from the hole.

The key attributes that will be required by a person in the CIO role would be

Big-picture thinking

Big picture thinking is the ability to see the whole gammut of organizational operations and see, identify the broken processes or the lack of them and the need of integrating technology to improve efficienty of the bottom line of operations and streamline flow of information back to the senior management.

Capturing Market Share

A CIO role in technology governance becomes crucial because he is responsible for connecting the dots of communication between business functions internally and use a heavy dosage of business intelligence and market awareness and bring that data to the table for strategic planning and strategic decision making.
Auditing Risk & Security
Another key area I feel the CIO role in IT Governance is auditing risk and security of the databases, data in general, and the procurment & implementation of the technology strategies. A cost/benefit ratio analysis, ROI and other financial ratios and KPIs are important tools in the arsenal the CIO carries.

Misconceptions

But I thought the CIO was the head of the IT department?

The technology department is a operational entity but also a curcial strategic entity these days. Because of its operational nautre and its 60% responsibilities take the nature of executing and supporting daily technical needs of employees, implementing technology, building services etc, it still requires the guidance of the CIO to implement and make sure that these activities aim at increasing efficiency of the organization and satisfying current and future business needs & problems.  In many organizations based upon size there may be multiple operational IT managers and here is where alignment of solutions and operational efficieny and mitigation of risks should go hand in hand.

Why don’t other departments just talk to the operational manager(s) of IT?

Normally the technology department or operational project managers take in problems, build a new service from heads & personnel of functional depts like HR, Finance, Engineering, Warehouse etc and implement solutions in silos, or "one-off" solutions that are temporary fixes, workarounds because of costing issues. But these end up being expensive in the long run because of maintenance burdens, migration bottlenecks, and ultimately wastage of IT Resources. The role of the CIO becomes crucial here because he takes into account alignment of business needs, overarching business goals, future needs, and plans for scalabiltiy. These factors bring in skill sets the CIO offers to be the middle man broker between functional heads and technology. The final objective is seamless integration for seamless delivery of services using technology.

CIO's Involvment

A CIO's involvement thus in Technology Governance becomes less in operational & technology implementation but more involved in business strategy, revenue generation, business-technology process management, and being the completing cog in the entire customer relationship management. My intention here of using CRM term is intended at internal as well external customers and this includes all the partners who are involved in increasing the value chain. CIO's involvment is heavy in terms of strategy, critical data touch-points and information risk management.

My thoughts for the day,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:54 AM
I am planning to start a series of posts here that will enable me to get motivated on compiling and collating my thoughts on IT Governance from my dissertation research. It will also be an avenue to compile a body of knowledge in terms of maturity models and add vignette's and thoughts of industry experts, leaders, practitioners and the academic, blend and see what unique perspectives emerge. Who knows I may invite other writers in the field to contribute and see where it goes...

So to start off, What is IT Governance? 

IT Governance is an integral part of Corporate Governance a direct responsibility of the the board of directors and the executive management of the company. It is an integral strategic component of the corporate governance model  that consists of:

1. Leadership
2. Organizational Structure and finally
3. The processes that define within those structures

All these ensure that the organization's information technology and technology in general sustains and extends the organizations's strategies and objectives.

The traditional roles of IT being support function is disappearing as technology becomes vital component in the delivery of services and products but at the same time technology is also the component that keeps running the systems and processes of the organization. Hence the role of the CIO's and IT Director's is thus becoming more than technology experts but have the inherent need to understand business and its reach so as to marry the two for effective partnership to deliver the objectives of the senior management. The ideal candidates for Governance  position have to have the unique ability to add value to the overall services & offerings of the business, assess & mitigate risks, and be involved in the optimization of business processes through the use of cost effective technology solutions.

Having known this what is the role of the executive management?

These can be summarized as follows:

1. Comply with corporate governance recommendations.
2. Be driven by stakeholder expectation/perception of value
3. Adopt a suitable IT Governance framework and empower the individual over IT
4. Ask the Right questions
5. Focus on Technology alignment to business, partners, delivery of services and the management of risk.
6. Finally Measure performance in building capability and achieve goals.

Thoughts For The Day,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:06 AM
From my gleanings from Harvard Biz.. I am re-posting some good tit-bits on 3 tips for strengthening big picture skills, 3 ways to handle disruption and 4 things to empower your employees with:

The critical skills of seeing the big picture is really a right brain activity but also draws from the left in detecting patterns, relating narratives and linking the concepts that relate to your program or organization's mission and vision. The valuable 3 tips are:
  1. Identify Parallels: When faced with a new situation or project, ask yourself if it reminds you of anything. Are there elements that are similar to or relate to other situations in which you've been?
  2.  Expand your thinking. Look for non-obvious factors that may affect the situation. Seek out underlying causes or events.
  3. Articulate analogies.To communicate what you are seeing, use metaphors and analogies to which others can easily relate.
On the third point I want to emphasize is talk in narratives, tell stories, we relate with good stories and especially stories that inspire, teach a lesson in character and arise them from ashes.

Coping with the unexpected isn't just a good leadership skill, it's critical. Expect change and be flexible for change. Create a plan where you are not reacting to change but being proactive to change. Know with change comes disruptions and to minimize the effects of disruptions you response need to have three ways:
  1. Have a back-up plan: You may not always be able to rehearse Plan B, but you should have alternative approaches that can help get you out of a bind. In the absence of actual plans, mental flexibility can help you respond more quickly.
  2. Speed up communication: Information needs to move through your company quickly and efficiently. Find ways you can collect and disseminate data in short cycles.
  3. Instill values: Values help people know the right thing to do without being told or waiting for permission. They also bind a company together when surprises happen and therefore can help companies recover more quickly.
Harvard Biz quotes transformational leaders know and recognize that employees want much more than that. Here are the four things your people need to succeed with you and for you:
  1. Love.This may sound touchy-feely, but love simply means focused concern that is exclusively for that person's good. Show your employees you care about them and their futures.
  2. Growth.No one wants to be exactly where they are forever. Create a culture that allows your people to grow and expand.
  3. Contribution.To feel fulfilled, employees must know that they are contributing to the whole. Emphasize the ways that their work matters to the organization
  4. Meaning. We are meaning-seeking creatures. Share a vision that demonstrates that all of your employees are engaged in a larger purpose.
The caption for people who cannot read the fine print: "The leader always sets the trail for others to follow"

Forwarding thoughts @ssnautilus:

Sam Kurien

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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:17 AM
Here are the top 5 search providers, as ranked by Comscore for March 2010. Just for fun I’ve added % growth since January 2009.

1.Google13,996,000,00019%
2.Yahoo2,839,000,000-5%
3.Microsoft1,883,000,00058%
4.Ask719,000,00011%
5.craigslist685,000,00038%

I have been discussing with friends how though Microsoft waits to gear up on several fronts (developing secretly, waiting and watching), its a fierce competitor once in the space it enters. Just look at the  right hand column a 58% per cent growth is mind boggling. Smart strategies include in making Bing official on Yahoo and making Bing the official search engine on Windows as well as iPhones (Cover (60% of the mobile space). For Google and Apple getting things ugly didn't help but has given Microsoft the opportunity to propel forth forward in its penetration strategies.  Google is trying hard to diversify into gaming, TV and the mobile space the question is ...Is it too late? Or will it be over-spending and long term low return on investment. Personally I think the idea is how good can you leverage and converge search in those areas and how will you motivate people to use you. 

Classifieds advertising has always been vying space and a $40 billion plus market, it after all burns down to people finding a good bargain and a good trade hence ...craigslist is a not surprise on the search space here; I wonder what would happen if they did search as their primary business? Another surprising fact of this contender is Craigslist surpasses eharmony.com, match.com in the personal ad section. From a UI point of view craigslist is a anomaly for the feel-good designer but an example of a perfect functional site. A bare bone look and feel and the users still hunt for what they need. A 38 percent up ward growth from 2009 means something is being done right in spite of all the legal suits. 

Anyway my observations for the day!

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:10 AM
I have always been fascinated with the concept of open innovation, a few years (well many years) back while I was in B-School I read Tom Peters famous pictoral book 'Circle of Innovation' and ever since been arguing (with myself mostly) if - Is it innovation that sustains you in marketplace or is it better processes that nurture that innovation?. I am slowly beginnning to understand that its actaully a  balance of both and more importantly right timing. I say right timing because innovation at the wrong time is thrown out of the marketplace because the market is nor ready to accept that innovation.  Innovation at the right time changes the landscape of the society and brings financial success and sustainability to the company .  So what is open innovation? Since it has begun transforming global companies coming out with new products and been influential in bringing variety of strategic-operational solutions to organizational problems.

  Open innovation is creating a culture of participative management thinking and is rooted in the practice of knowledge brokering which is systemic approach to seek ideas externally from people from cross contextually from various disciplines and finding how combining them to your industry result into a innovation in the marketplace.

The idea here is the tap into people who are ready to share their experiences and most of them are ready to share that experience for free and this is a place where we generate ideas from the marketplace and leverage it back to the marketplace. It is more than just doing a survey , it is an ongoing active participation, knowledge brokering, knowledge storehousing, and then knowledge benchmarking. The on-going activity of generating experiences and ideas from the marketplace can go back in revising the benchmarks and knowledge sharing.

A closer look at the way forward-looking organizations use knowledge brokering to improve their business processes offers practical lessons for companies of all stripes and suggests how senior managers must adapt to thrive in a digital era characterized by increased collaboration.

Knowledge brokering offers companies an analogous capability. I suspect this idea must have come or pioneered by product designers in companies such as the design consultancy IDEO. In practice knowledge brokering is about forming project teams that initiate conversations with knowledge brokers—people willing to discuss their experiences to serve the teams’ needs—and then combine the external ideas with internal ones to improve these companies’ business processes. Sometimes the art of gathering or brokering this information can be tricky but is not rocket science by any means; a genuine interest to be a change agentp; a diplomatic front to seek good and the idea to give credit where credit is due will automatically enable you to gather these ideas.

Consultancy firm Mckinsey confirmed and reported in its study over the past four years,  the use of knowledge brokering among more than 50 teams they deployed at ten multinational companies in industries such as banking, consumer goods, high-tech products, shipping, engineering, retailing, and utilities. Each team used this approach to devise an innovative solution to a project assigned by senior management in areas including strategic planning, supply chains, sales and marketing, corporate social responsibility, and HR. When surveyed afterward, team members unanimously agreed that knowledge brokering increased the effectiveness of their projects—and two-thirds said it did so “greatly.” On average, it helped the teams design new processes twice as quickly as they would have expected to do by using conventional techniques.

Knowledge brokering is not copying but sharing ideas to innovate and bring that innovation when the market demands it or bringing it when the market is ready for it.

My thoughts for the day!

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•6:48 AM
Now that every blogger on the planet has reviewed the endless stories about the iPhone, I have decided to do a head to head honest comparison with HTC HD vs iPhone (I am sure this is done somewhere) but I couldn't resist putting this one in as my friends got HTC HD 4G and I am the lone iPhone player waiting in the wings to jump at the iPhone 4 but a wise man waits ...waits...waits and waits...and then writes a comparative review ...and then waits a little more...

I took eight sections concerned to me to make a good decision (Design, Screen Size, Cameras, Battery, Apps, Networking, Multitasking & Music)

The HTC HD known as HD on the widows platform, EVO as the android version at first look attacks the iPhone on the gorgeous screen size 4.3" compared to 2.32 inches of the iPhone of which you really only get 2.28, end to end screen and more real estate on the HTC makes it a winner when you want to fire up those YouTube videos and movies. Talking about movies HTC comes with two free Tranformers in HD quality ...IPhone (you got to buy them thru iTunes...bummmmerrrrrr...grrr!!) ---Winner - HTC

Design - Now this is a shady area (no offense aimed at you Glen!...(his nickname is Shady)) ...beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. The HTC sports a lot of plastic, but the new iPhone has lots of aluminum (shiny!!) like the first generations one's. Form form factor point of view iPhone clearly takes a win here, it is just better to hold, light weight flat glass surface. HTC HD & EVO though sleek in in its design, the hold  while conversing is not that good but the big screen makes up for it.


Screen Resolution

The HTC HD and EVO for android as mentioned earlier wins in the screen size but the iPhone resolution is higher with what they call as the new kind of display 'Retina Display'. Reso wise iPhone wins 960 x 640 vs 800 x 480. Personally on small screen higher resolution is not a big deal for me so I can live with the HTC's resolution.  Outdoor viewing HTC definitely has work to do... but I don't watch movies while driving or sitting on the patio....

Screen Size

HTC wins ...iPhone loses.

Cameras


HTC EVO has a 8 mega pixel camera, the widows HD version has a 5 mega pixel camera...I didn't understand the logic here though the android and windows versions have almost same specs except for the camera department. But the iPhone has two cameras...clearly a winner in this section, I want two cameras...with the future for video chat and skype, I wonder why no one thought of this one before....plus two points for Apple. The iPhone has a 5 mega pixel camera. (When will any one integrate a minimum 12 mega pixel camera with a zoom lens)

Battery

Battery life on head to head battle the Apple wins over in talk time, stand by time and even wi-fi internet browsing.  Though the HTC does well on the 3G network, Apple takes a stride here over the already strong 3GS network with first one to enter in 4G fray. It all now depends how AT&T pulls their end of the work. Apple wished it controlled the cell towers...! But the big advantage over the HTC EVO is the replaceable battery.



Apps

Apple emerges a winner at this moment with 200000 plus apps and a strong quality control against Windows Mobile 50000 apps and Android's 50000 apps. However this will change in the coming few months with the launch of windows mobile 7 and by the sheer volume of developers on the windows platform. The biggest win for the HTC HD is the integration of live and the access to all Microsoft Office live goodies...For this just one feature from an enterprise level point of view I will give the HTC to tie with the iPhone. But that said...iPhone has a lot of free apps a...lot compared to the windows marketplace.

Networking

HTC HD is a clear winner in this area. You can connect to all remote servers with remote desktop apps that come standard. The iPhone integration with Exchange seems to be seamless now,  connecting to servers is still a pain. The Apps are expensive in this arena for apple, unless Apple comes out with a free app that is easy to use and comes standard with the iPhone OS4.

Multitasking

We all know iPhone was late in this area but the way they implemented this feature from UI point of view is beautiful. The only addition I would like to have is a snap in feature where it shows me how much memory is being used by each app. From a UI point of view iPhone wins but from usage and historical point of view Windows mobile wins. So we have a tie here.

Music

Finally music! With 15000 plus songs in my iTunes, apparently iPhone ensures I will come back to them, but hmmmm though iPhone clearly wins in this area I know the nerds at the office always figure out a way to get free music and with expandable mico chip memories for the HTC that will flood the market they can go up to 64GB and 128 GB memory in the future. And the MACites can only hope the in the next year iPhone will come up with at least 64 GB memory for those music and video hogs. So the winner here again ....well I will give it a tie.

So we have three ties...4 wins for apple and 2 wins for HTC but I am guessing my friends will argue the three ties will have to go to HTC...well let the office arguments begin!!!

I am enjoying the wait.....

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:25 PM
One of my favorite yacht design and manufacturing companies is italian called CRN yacht. They launched a new web site and just like their yachts the user interface is really cool. Check out their website at http://www.crn-yacht.com/

Check out the 2D schematics of my favorite design in their line up - "Romance"
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:58 AM
I recently read a case study surprisingly coming from a little known (internationally speaking) hardware/software company from India called HCL.  Coming from India I knew HCL from its garage phase and followed its visionary leader Shiv Nader who was instrumental in taking this organization to good heights in spite of bureaucratic controls of the late eighties.

The management philosophy they follow is 'Employees First and Customers Second'. The attempt here was not to emphasize some HR satisfaction or motivate employees to do a better job by giving benefits or even just implementing good HR policies/practices but discover within the company how employees can add value to services. The ethos behind this thinking is brilliant because adding value to existing services or adding value to bring something new into the market encouraged innovation within HCL. Added value meant higher levels of achievement among employees translated directly to the end result being transferred to the market place as a company that brought value and innovation to customers.

'Employees first' was a indeed a revelation to me because I thought customers drive the company but its not that way, a customer will pay for added value, a customer is retained because of added value and employees are the one who are directly responsible to bring that added value.  Vineet Nayar has written a book on this theme and is worth reading and the catch statement is very true - "turning conventional management upside down".

My thoughts for the day.

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•7:41 PM
The future of online magazines is here...Check out Time magazine's new iPad App




And btw HTML 5 can do all this...(so says Steve!)

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:10 PM
Just saw a fantastic presentation and findings of Dan Pink on what motivates people and how we can build organizations that better serve for the larger purpose of common good. I like the term he uses 'Purpose Maximizers' as they are people who are motivated by challenge, purpose, and are drawn into building something bigger than themselves. For example one of my foremost passions and purposes is to build the kingdom of God and that may translate in my realm & passion  in terms of bringing education and a biblical world view to the customers that I serve. Though this may be the purpose that drives me I still need to pay the bills and provide for my family. But the latter becomes secondary in terms of achieving something great collectively and that really becomes a motivating force/factor when you get people who are like minded in executing this purpose. I follow Bill Gates foundation and at his last speech at Harvard and TED the challenge he has been throwing out to the brightest minds is 'how are we going to solve the biggest problems of the world?' rather than be driven by the objective of a successful career or making money. He propounds that financial success will come but when you are motivated to solve the larger problems, the world becomes a better place by your small contribution which becomes a part of the larger tapestry.

Enjoy the video you will understand the idea I am rambling about.


RSA_Animate from Sam on Vimeo.
Purpose Maximizers real motivation come from challenges, significance, and the drive to put a dent in the universe.

Enjoy!!
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