business intelligence

Competing in Modern Business: Learning from the Hackers and Revolutionaries

Competing in Modern Business: Learning from the Hackers and Revolutionaries

The average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 has declined from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today, and we can assume that a large part of this decline can be attributed to technological innovation outpacing corporate agility. Corporations that are designed for the industrial age, where you can turn a profit doing one (or a few) thing(s) relatively well, are having difficulty adjusting to the rapidly changing technological landscape.

So, how do we promote corporate agility?
 

Google made waves in the modern world of business by pioneering (or, probably more accurately, perfecting and publicizing) this small-team method of management.  By creating multiple small teams, on which a single person may reside in different capacities, you create a non traditional management hierarchy and a more robust meritocracy.  Plus, you have the added benefit of cutting back on mob mentality and bureaucracy, while also boosting your response time.

In hindsight, this should have been obvious to companies the world over.  Smaller teams means less effort for more coordination, more accountability and transparency, and less mob mentality taking over. The evidence and historic precedence is there to support small team leadership, the only question is, how am I - a middle manager on the Island of Obscure Project Management - going to implement these philosophies into my every day life?  So, I'm going to close with three concrete and actionable steps you can take to start your career, if not your company, down a more productive path:

  1. Break up large groups whenever possible.  If you have a team of fifteen people working on a project, focus on creating smaller group meetings based on specific specialties before holding a larger group meeting.  For example, if you're implementing a new software package, host a small group meeting with the application developers and a separate meeting with the system analysts, before hosting a town hall meeting.
  2. Diversify your (employees') skills.  No one (not you or your employees) are mindless drones capable of only doing one thing repeatedly.  Stretch yourself and your employees by placing them in tangential roles on multiple projects.
  3. Promote employee buy-in. Make sure that your projects are not being dominated by one or two self-assured individuals; ensure that all team members feel comfortable contributing and, most importantly, feel that their contributions are valued by the other members of the team.

The Attention Economy and Marketing Warfare

The Attention Economy and Marketing Warfare

Patent and Trademark Law has been engrossed in the rise of e-commerce over the last several years and through a few recent cases (particularly  Allen v. IM Solutions, Inc.), has finally determined what we netizens have always known:  Websites and pop-up advertisements are a numbers game.

Unfortunately, this "numbers game" approach to advertising isn't isolated to just pop-up advertisements, but also spam e-mail, junk mail, and even the advertisements you see plastered throughout our nation's busiest airports.  In order to sell their products, marketers must determine a cheap way to reach tens of thousands of potential customers to find that 1% who fall for their hook.

Matthew Crawford recently wrote a op-ed on New York Times about the effect that the rise in advertising has on society during what is referred to as the Attention Economy. This faux economy is the attempt to explain the finite ability of modern humanity to focus our attention on specific items.  We can only focus on so many things, and in today's world we are increasingly being confronted with uncomfortable choices on what is and is not important enough to warrant our attention.

The Malware Business Model

The Malware Business Model

We hear a lot about various security or privacy problems throughout the world and we correctly fear for our digital safety; but we seldom stop to consider the intentions of these attackers and why our data is so important.  As I've mentioned before, the issues surrounding our digital culture aren't so much privacy as they are data ownership; and the first step to ensuring that you own your data, is to ensure that you own your computer.

We tend to think of botnets as being a collection of bots, or infected computers, that are nothing more than zombies. And while this may have been true at one point, this is no longer the case: bots are not zombies. The infection that haunts them is far more subtle than anything resembling a "zombie," and recognizing that you're a bot takes far more effort than most users are capable of exerting. Simply put: You can be a bot and never know it.

After all, the owner of the botnet is not interested in your computer: You are the tool being used to achieve a higher purpose. Keeping you oblivious keeps you from doing pesky things like reinstalling Windows or calling Geek Squad, so there are a lot of reasons for an attacker to be extremely subtle in their use of your computer.