Posts Tagged ‘Collaboration’

The Challenges of a Digital Artisan in the 21st Century Workplace

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

A recent article on top technology trends talks about “wiki-work”, which describes today’s seamless internet-facilitated creation and distribution of work, and the “porous workplace” where mobile technology enables work to be carried out in any location and at any time. Trend spotter, Howard Tullman, believes that these and other trends will contribute to a future where more people will piecemeal their workloads, working multiple freelance jobs instead of one full-time position. “By 2020”, Tullman claims, “40% of the U.S. population is going to be acting as free agents.”

This projection aligns with the concept of the “digital artisan” that we have defined in our previous blogs; an individual who is adept at leveraging digital capability to create, enhance and deliver high quality products or services in small quantities, tailored specifically for select customers and markets. In other words, it’s the antithesis of today’s world of mass-production and mass-markets.

For me, however, Tullman’s forecast arouses some concerns and prompts me to pose the following questions: if 40% of the population becomes freelance by 2020, what will the overall economy look like? Will large companies still dominate the economic landscape? Will mass-production and consumption still be the drivers of economic growth? What will be the role of Wall Street in this new world? How will labor law and human resources operate? How will people transition into these new roles? And how will society and the ecosystem evolve to support them?

I’ve also recently been reading about the new Catch 55 – a derivative of the famous Catch 22! Catch 55 refers to the requirement for employees to now work beyond the traditional retirement age, primarily due to dwindling pension funds. This is becoming complicated, however, at a time when companies are being forced to ease the 55+ year olds out of their positions as the younger generation – which is cheaper to employ – push for promotion and the top jobs.  Again, this is something that we have written about – with the loss of the older, more experienced worker goes a wealth of tacit or aggregate knowledge that corporations traditionally hold so close to their chest as proprietary capability. This loss of know-how is effectively released out into the collective where it can, potentially, become fuel for the fire of competitors or new entrants.  The question then arises – how do these 55+ year olds transition into a new world where the corporate workplace considers them too expensive to hire, even though they invariably bring valuable experience-based capabilities and a keen desire to continue working for at least another 10 to 15 years?

Having been one of those 55+ year olds who made the transition from corporate life to free agent / freelancer / consultant, I can attest to the challenges that this brings, and in particular the acquisition and application of new and practical skills. Aspects such as learning how to sell and market yourself,  building a pipeline of work, ensuring that projects are in various stages of completion and execution to maintain a continuous cash flow, dealing with large companies that often delay projects, don’t pay or delay payment – all these are taken care of by others in a corporate environment. There is clearly an opportunity for a new type of agency to emerge – one that seeks and feeds jobs and projects to this select group of freelancers, and leverages their talents to meet corporate requirements. In a report by Vistage “The Future of Work”, this concept is referred to as “Going Hollywood”,  where in movie making today a different set of actors, directors, screenwriters and producers are brought in each time to fill the necessary roles, versus the days when large movie studios controlled the whole process.

One final thought that comes to mind is that, if 40% of the working population is going to become free agents with no guaranteed employer or income, then credit bureaus, mortgage companies and banks will have to drastically rethink and readjust their perspectives on how they assess people for loans and mortgages, or otherwise the future implications for home ownership and wealth creation, as well as the building industry, appear pretty grim.

Since collaboration is now the name of the game, the social networks and communities that have rapidly emerged over the last 5-6 years should now be evolved into broader learning and support mechanisms for today’s digital artisans, to ensure that this group of individuals acquires the necessary skills, support and training to make a smooth transition into the 21st century workplace.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

BlackBerry and JC Penney: Two Giants That Have Lost Their Way?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

What do BlackBerry and JC Penney have in common? Possibly more than you might realize.

1. Both missed the shift in their industry.

2. Both changed leadership.

3. Both implemented radical change.

4. Both achieved less than impressive results after this change.

5. Both implemented change following agitation from Wall Street – even though Main Street reacted neutrally or negatively to the change.

JC Penney even went as far as to hire the retail guru from Apple, Ron Johnson, as its new CEO to turn the company around but, in so doing, the needs of the customer were ignored. The introduction of tablets at point of sale, a relaxed dress code for the sales staff and the removal of coupons and store cash registers confused the target shopper – a very different shopper to the one found at the Apple store. The application of technology in this case was not the issue. The crucial question overlooked was whether the benefits of that technology outweighed the resistance to adopting it; in the case of JC Penney they did not. Not only was there resistance from the customer but Ron Johnson failed to gain the collaboration of staff and management, which proved to be a critical mistake.

Sales of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system based products – the Z10 and the Q10, and most recently the Q5 – are down as BlackBerry has lost significant market share to Apple, with its sleek and easy to use operating system and beautifully designed product. It was BlackBerry’s misconception that its superior new operating system and good design would enable it to reclaim its former position in the market. The reality was that BlackBerry started as a technology but developed into an experience. In the early 21st century the device became widely known as a “CrackBerry”, referring to the excessive and obsessive email-checking by its owners, for both business and personal use. The technology was convenient and secure and, most importantly, BlackBerry had become a trusted household name.

BlackBerry’s demise, however, was not just related to the fact that the operating system did not evolve; it put too much focus on the consumer and lost sight of its valued customer base, the corporate IT customer, whose growing desire was to access both their corporate digital networks and their social media networks on the same device, but this was ignored by BlackBerry. The infamous “BlackBerry outage” was the final straw and violated the trust that former loyal consumers had in the BlackBerry experience. RIM, as it was, was an engineering company that had no idea how to continue to design experiences and now, as “BlackBerry”, does not have the marketing knowledge or clout to rebuild consumer trust in the brand.

Both companies tried to emulate Apple in a classic “best practices” way but failed to understand that the Apple store and its devices were designs that embodied feelings and experiences, and created by a man with exceptional vision; someone who posed questions such as “how do we reinvent the store?” and “how do we do things differently on a phone?” Steve Jobs never just produced a “me too” product.

So, what’s the walk away? Wall Street hates failure but, more than that, it’s terrified of change. Both however are essential for innovation and creativity which are cornerstones of modern day business success. Wall Street’s demands for continuity of performance can ultimately result in giants being brought to their knees. What’s more dangerous is that when Wall Street sees these giants falling they demand a change of leadership. This new leadership is then faced with the challenges of innovating and risk taking to enhance performance when, in reality, all Wall Street wants is to preserve the status quo. JC Penny and RIM, as well as Motorola and Nokia, are prime examples of this. Apple looks as if it is unassailable at this point of time but calls by Wall Street activists to withdraw cash from the company will ultimately weaken its ability to take the risks that are necessary to sustain it going forward.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

How Networks and Components Have Forged the Growth of Mobile

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Mobility at the core of consumer electronics industry growth has been a predominant theme of 2013 International CES in Las Vegas. Keynotes given by both Verizon and Samsung emphasized that the foundation for the growth of mobile is based on two intersecting forces:  the power of the network to connect and deliver data, and the integration of components such as application processors, solid state memories and displays into ever more efficient devices.

Both Verizon and Samsung stressed the need for partnerships in order to continuously evolve the consumer experience. In the case of Verizon, they showcased how their partnerships with the NFL have created increasingly compelling and interactive sporting experiences, with Ford they have developed a more seamless driver experience via the SYNC project, and together with the healthcare industry they have blended network bandwidth, secure cloud capability and data analytics to root out fraud.

Samsung talked about their cooperative development partnership with ARM to develop the Exynos 5 Octa chip which increases performance twofold and reduces power consumption by 50%, which in turn enabled their partner Electronic Arts to develop better games, such as “Need for Speed”, for mobile devices. They showcased their solid state memory for servers that HP is using to reduce power consumption in data centers by combining 2800 servers in a single rack. This will help cut the estimated 167 billion kilowatt hours per year that the 34 million servers on the planet consume by approximately 20%. The final, and most dramatic, technology that Samsung unveiled at CES has the potential to change the reality of design for devices as we know it: their new flexible OLED display technology allows screens to be bent back and forth, and means that device size will no longer be determined by the display. With this new technology, flat surface devices made of glass could very soon be a thing of the past!

All of these keynotes were part message and branding, and part showmanship and one-upping the competition. Samsung concluded their presentation by talking about their Hope for Children Foundation that is currently working to help 2.5 million children in Africa receive technology-enabled education. They referenced their cooperation with the Clinton Foundation and then introduced President Clinton as guest speaker. In his powerful address Clinton urged the industry to embrace technology and to take a lead in helping solve global issues, such as climate change and inequality, by breaking down boundaries and creating opportunities for a better world. An inspiring close and one that shows the reality of the global Digital Renaissance we are living and experiencing.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Catalyst Technologies and their Global Impact

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In this third blog we look at the implications of the catalyst technologies we identified in our last blog, and determine why they have become so important. In his book “What Technology Wants” Kevin Kelly identifies that “the ever thickening mix of existing technologies in a society create any supersaturated matrix charged with restless potential”. We have written extensively about the digital world which is the combination of technologies that are shaping our world and digital life which is the effect that these technologies are having on everyday life. Kelly again reinforces our perspective when he says that we as a society are “symbiotic with the technology” and that as fast as we invent technology, we change our behavior and become dependent upon it.

Instant Markets

The current global economic turmoil did not come about by accident, but is in fact a consequence of today’s society being able to instantly communicate and share information. In other words society has changed behaviors and has become increasingly dependent on converged technologies. The use of internet trading platforms, for example, with Twitter users virally sharing the latest snippet of information is compounding the application of sophisticated trading algorithms (flash trading). The fact that the U.S. is now leading the way in the deployment of 4G mobile Internet makes the realities of the 2008/2009 Wall Street collapse pale into insignificance as the next wave of technologies facilitate “anytime, anywhere, anyhow” trading and speculating based on viral information.

Controls Lag

More recently the global LIBOR banking scandal, on top of the Euro crisis, points to the fact that we as an international society are struggling to come to grips with and learn what control mechanisms will work in this volatile and real-time world. Compounding this is the problem that we have not yet come up with a common language to document the necessary global beliefs and values that are required to guide policy regulation, monitoring and correction of this 24/7 digitally trading world.

Inextricable Interdependence

The U.S. has struggled to interpret the current rapidly changing and unpredictable global situation, mainly because it finds it hard to accept the fundamental changes that have been occurring on its own soil. A recent Financial Times article identified that the U.S. is now significantly more interdependent on the global economy than it was 31 years ago, at the outset of the shift to Digital Renaissance 2.0.

At that time, in 1981, the U.S. was a relatively closed and self-sufficient economy as measured in terms of trade of goods (import/exports) as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product. U.S trade represented only 21% of GDP and was made up of 10% exports and 11% imports. By 2012 this had grown significantly to approximately 32% of GDP – exports accounted for 14% of this and imports 18% – putting the U.S. on a par with the global average as an open economy.

Consequently the U.S. belief in self-reliance and independence now needs to be replaced with the realization, not only in terms of stock market indices but also as an economic reality, that it is inextricably tied to the Euro crisis, the emergence of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the struggles in Africa.

Collaboration & Knowledge

The original Renaissance in Europe resulted in the disappearance of principalities and kingdoms, and ushered in the emergence of a nation state, which was followed during the industrial age with the emergence of overlapping market states. The question is how will the world evolve and will market states be the future societal organization? There are a number of theories about the organization of society going forward (Philip Bobbitt, David Ronfeldt, are two such theorists and this article compares their position with those of others). Regardless of which theory prevails, it is highly likely that in the world of Digital Renaissance 2.0 networking, collaboration and knowledge will be critical components of its underlying architecture. It also seems probable that global communities, digitally connected and potentially proactive, will coexist alongside and within hierarchical organizations, both in government and also in industry.

Ren 2.0 Man – Techno Artisan Craft Society

Digital Renaissance 2.0 was founded upon four enabling technologies and was exponentially accelerated by the catalyst technologies that released the restless potential of other technologies, such as cloud computing and Web 2.0. Ren 2.0 is now embracing a raft of emerging technologies, like NFC, voice recognition and kinetics, which are giving rise to business models not previously conceived. For instance 3-D printing is enabling designers / entrepreneurs to create new product concepts from digital files more rapidly and cost effectively than ever previously thought possible. Coupling this capability with global internet access and mobile commerce, Ren 2.0 now allows others to market this product concept globally.  Personalized products for the “market of one” are created by transmitting customized product specifications to printers anywhere on the planet and in close proximity to the consumer. To a large degree these hybrid technology and commerce systems facilitate the reincarnation of the craft society that got lost in the industrial age. These techno artisan craftsmen are in many respects the Digital Renaissance 2.0 men/women of the new digital era who are living, working and trading in global communities of trust, practice and purpose.

In prior blogs we have discussed the concept of “digital agents of change” and shown how critical this role has become in today’s digital business world. In some respects we all now need to become digital agents of change for the global society, or to use the words of Mohanda Gandhi “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Five Essentials for Business Success in the Digital World

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Digital technologies are forcing an unprecedented pace of change for business. If you don’t get on board now, you risk being left behind! To determine whether your business is on track to becoming a Digital Business, you need to ask these five questions:  

 

 

  1. Do you proactively monitor the industry changes that are affecting your business?

Use web based tools to help track the impact that converged technologies are having on all aspects of your business, such as customer behaviors, new suppliers, technology trends etc. This approach will give you a holistic perspective of your industry and enable you to identify strategic options ahead of your competition.

 

  1. Do you encourage collaborative behaviors within your organization?

It is crucial that your company provides the tools and environment that enable the sharing of knowledge and information in order to tap into one of its most valuable attributes – the tacit knowledge of your employees.

 

  1. Do you regularly engage with communities external to your company? 

It is essential to adopt a digital mind set and rethink how your business can more effectively engage (interact, listen, learn and co-create) with the rapidly growing collective knowledge base outside of your company in order to understand changing customer requirements, generate new ideas and gain important feedback.

 

  1. Do you disrupt your business model?

Traditional business models, tools and methodologies do not adapt well to the opportunities and threats encountered in today’s digital world. First you need to understand how the individual elements of your existing model work together and then take full advantage of digital technologies to create a disruptive new business model – before your competition does it for you!

 

  1. Do you inspire your employees to bring innovation into the workplace?  

You need to encourage your employees to leverage the mobile and social technologies that they use in their everyday lives to generate innovative ideas that will enhance, simplify and accelerate the business processes within your company.

We at KeySo Global have developed frameworks and tools that can help you rapidly adapt to changes in the digital environment. We have assisted companies by designing and implementing development programs that produce dynamic digital strategies. Contact us at 847-478-1633 or info@keysoglobal.com  to set up an initial meeting and we’ll help you discover your digital path to success!

 

The digital paradox: 5 questions to address

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

We identified in our last blog that CEO’s face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to new digital technologies and adopt social media but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability?

Good inter-departmental collaboration is crucial, and we addressed how social media strategy shared across a company can act as a catalyst for change and engagement. Another more critical problem that organizations have to wrestle with is that their resources have been stretched thinly as the severe economic conditions of the last three years have forced them to focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Processes and systems have been tightened at the same time that personnel has been slashed, resulting in fewer people having to take on more.

The crisis occurs when these fully stretched, 100% loaded systems need to be fundamentally changed in order to adapt to new business model requirements brought about by the digital economy. It’s one thing to introduce a new system but if you don’t have the time and resources to provide the training and support to upgrade and develop necessary staff skills and knowledge, the business will likely implode.

No one is saying that this change is easy but it’s possible to plan and manage this transition effectively with forethought and assistance from external expertise. The key is for companies to have a clear vision and game plan that they can share, communicate and implement internally in order to be able to make this transition run smoothly.

The following are 5 initial questions that you should be asking as you consider embracing digital technologies and adopting a social media strategy for your business:

1. Is your organization structured to engage your customer base and respond proactively to your customers, or will it be you who has to react?
2. Do you have policies to guide & enable your staff to interact, monitor and evolve the message that you want delivered with social media?
3. Will your new digital business strategy and IT systems be architected to allow Marketing to have flexible best-of-breed tools, and at the same time enable integration into existing information solutions that ensure secure data storage?
4. What process will you use to capture ideas from social media , incubate them and determine future strategies?
5. What training & support will you provide your workforce to be better able to listen, analyze and use the information gathered, and at the same time cope with this change?

By considering these questions and having a strong game plan in place when embracing digital technology, it will mean reduced overload and more efficiency for your workforce, as well as more flexibility and adaptability for your organization. Once you involve your staff in the process, show them how simply the end result can be achieved and the benefits to both themselves and the company as a whole, they will be more willing to participate in helping you achieve this goal.

The ultimate outcome of these questions and decisions will be a transformation strategy to move the existing one dimensional business model into the multidimensional digital world in order to take advantage of the opportunities enabled by convergence technologies. Would you like a better understanding of these opportunities or do you need help addressing the challenges associated with this digital transformation? We’d be happy to assist you – just contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC