This last week end was an extraordinary one. Why? Because there were two celestial events, one which had been forecasted some time ahead, but the other was quite, quite unexpected.
An asteroid with the size of about 50mwide (Asteroid 2012 DA-14) had flown past the Earth, and its path was even closer than that of some articificial satellites. If this asteroid had collided with the Earth, it could likely have triggered a catastrophic event that would have quite dire consequences. Fortunately, its orbital path did not include a collision course with the Earth this time, and it just passed us by uneventfully.
The other event, on the other hand, was quite unexpected, principally because the flying object (a meteorite) was only about 17 m wide, quite dark to observe in the night sky and only burned up brightly when it entered the Earth's atmosphere over the Chelyabinsk region next to Kazakhstan. About a thousand and five hundred people were injured to some extent because the meteorite had created a shock wave (very high air pressure) during its descent and cause not a few windows to shatter, somewhat akin to a nuclear explosion about 20 to 30 km above.
So what is my point?
In business, we may be able to catch trends through observations and monitoring the markets, etc. However, sometimes, we may be caught unaware from seemingly small events which may seem innocuous and below our radar, but which may have a very significant effect after all. We should beware of small events that could snowball into something much larger, much more significant.
The upcoming issue of the Harvard Business Review (March 2013) will feature on on the future of advertising. Advertising is an aspect of Marketing which allows a product to be publicized. The general public needs to be made aware of the offerings of a company before sales can be generated; if there is no awareness, then how is the customer to know that something is available and being offered.
One of the HBR blog video from this edition is entitled: "Why Some Ads Go Viral and Others Don't", where Prof.Thales Teixeira from the Harvard Business School, talks about some techniques that could be used in making memorable advertising videos.
Another article I found fascinating is "How to Calculate the Value of a Like". The author, Dan Zarrella wote his formula of calculation of VOAL (Value Of A Like) as such:
L/UpM x (LpD x 30) x (C/L) x CR x ACV = Value Of A Like
L (Total Likes): The total number of audience members connected to your social media account. On Facebook, these are Likes of your page, and on Twitter, these are followers.
UpM (Unlikes-per-Month): The average number of fans who "unlike" your social network account each month. On Facebook, this is an "unlike," and on Twitter, this is an "unfollow."
LpD (Links-per-Day): The average number of times you're posting links, and potentially converting links driven from your social media account. On Facebook, this is the number of posts you're making, per day, that lead to a page on your website. On Twitter, this is the number of times, per day, you're Tweeting these kinds of links.
C (Average Clicks): The average number of clicks on the links to your site you're posting on your social media accounts.
CR (Conversion Rate): The average conversion rate of your website, from visit to sale or visit to lead. This can be an overall average, but for increased accuracy, use the conversion rate measured from traffic coming from the social network you're calculating.
ACV (Average Conversion Value): The average value of each "conversion." In this context, a "conversion" is the action you've used to measure CR for. It could be average sale price or average lead value. For increased accuracy, use the average conversion value of traffic coming from the specific social network.
Fascinating. I will have to try this formula some time, to see if the VOAL (Value Of A Like) is something which works for me. In fact, Dan also gave a link to a VOAL calculator. So, for you marketers out there, if you are interested, try this formula out
One of the things I often do when I visit a client's office is to size up the office decor and environment. This usually tells me something about the culture and perhaps even the values of the organization.
In a similar vein, it is instructive to see how the desk of the CEO of an organization look like, as it will give you an idea of the person. In this article from the Business Insider, we take a peek at the desks of some very successful people in the corporate world.
I can attest to this because, I have personally come across the desk of the CEO of a certain local company which was a real mess (imagine piles of books, pieces of notes, scrolls of engineering drawings and who knows what else pile a foot high on the desk in one huge clutter). According to one of his staff, it was an 'organized mess' as the CEO was able to find whatever he wanted whenever he wanted from the pile on his desk, provided no one else disturbed the clutter.
Well, to cut a long story short, a few months later, the local company got into a big legal mess when the structure they were building collapsed and they got fined by the regulators. It was only by good fortune that no one was hurt.
So in essence the desk, or whatever the workspace that the CEO uses can tell a story about the organization's culture and values.
I was reading through my weekly dose of AAAS news feed and came across this editorial written by Norman R. Augustine, formerly of Lockheed Martin Corporation. He was writing about the future of American higher education, and that universities need to adapt and prepare themselves for the future. Already there are signs of great tectonic shifts in American higher education: witness the MOOCs which are coming online now (I am referring, of course to Coursera and EdX).
Imagine having the collective academic knowledge delivered online for free, or maybe mere fraction of what it would cost to attend a real-world university. Not only that, almost anyone with an Internet connection, and a willingness to go online and go through the coursework, makes all these so accessible that higher education may become ubiquitous in the future. This would indeed make higher education more level, but also then it would mean that the nations/ countries / territories where Internet connectivity or broadband availability is better would benefit more.
The editorial from Science Magazine is reproduced below:
Science Magazine, Science 25 January 2013:
Vol. 339 no. 6118 p. 373
Norman R. Augustine
Norman R. Augustine is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
CREDIT: CARL COX PHOTOGRAPHY
Recently, a highly regarded newspaper publisher, perhaps thinking of dinosaurs while speaking of his own profession, remarked to me that "We are all dead; some of us just don't realize it yet." He is of course not alone in his lament: Remember videocassette recorders, carbon paper, and mechanical typewriters? Various writers have warned that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.
Which brings us to what may be America's greatest asset after its democracy and free enterprise system—and also the most resistant to change: its higher education system. Indeed, with the exception of religious institutions, it is difficult to think of any more intransigent entity. The canonical student, professor, book, blackboard, and piece of chalk have survived for centuries as the ingredients of pedagogy throughout the world.
CREDIT: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/ G. GRULLON/SCIENCE
But then came the technological revolution, accompanied by declining U.S. financial support for higher education and the advent of globalization. Given those pressures, one could postulate that, for example, the university of the future will have no library because students will carry it in their pockets; and that there will be no classes, as adaptive, interactive, computer-taught sessions will have taken their place. Lectures will be provided, courtesy of distance learning, by a few world-class professors located around the globe. Biometric identity verification will permit examinations to be held far away from any campus, with instant grading accomplished by teaching-assistant computers. Universities will operate 12 months a year. Departments will cease to exist and tenure will disappear, the victim of mounting financial pressures. The great state universities, responding to continually reduced government funding, will become quasi-private institutions, with most unfortunately lacking adequate endowments. For-profit firms will be created to conduct examinations based on course material placed online without charge by the world's most renowned universities and will award certificates of completion. Players in intercollegiate athletics will be unionized and highly paid, as are their coaches today, and perform before small crowds that serve as studio audiences for multimedia productions. And many more individuals will be able to afford what passes for a college education.
Awful? Perhaps. Possible? Probably. The lack of face-to-face interactions among students and faculty will certainly diminish the educational experience. But with tuition now ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 per year, all but the wealthiest of parents and students may get used to the idea. Most damaging will be the further bifurcation between the wealthy and the poor, with children in the former group attending the best campus-based institutions that manage to survive and the others relegated to a computer screen. Even today, the best predictor of the extent of a child's education is its parents' educational level (and, implicitly, wealth).
Technology is good, but it is important to control it so as to benefit and not harm higher education. This will require that national leaders recognize the enormous return from investments in research. It will also require state leaders to embrace the huge payoff realizable from supporting higher education. And it will require university leaders to better control the cost of education. Also urgently needed is a rethinking of such matters as the balance of emphasis on research and teaching in our great universities; the balance of academics and intercollegiate athletics; the sustainability of universities serving as a backstop for a failing precollege education system; the efficacy of U.S. immigration policies, particularly as they affect students; and the impact of the 15-hour study-weeks revealed by recent surveys of university students.*
When I became the chief executive officer of a large aerospace company, the Berlin Wall had just collapsed. Had I been told that within 6 years 40% of all the people in the industry and three-fourths of its companies would be gone, I would have said, "Not possible." It happened.
This is Amy Webb, and her husband, Brian. They are happily married.
I read this from Amy's essay, which she contributed to the Wall Street Journal Online entitled: "Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart". It is an endearing essay on how she managed to find her husband online using reverse-engineering technique in order to get her ideal man.
If only we were all as smart with Amy in analyzing life's problems, using methods like reverse engineering in order to solve them!
National Geographic has recently launched its 'Education' portal for teacher and educators. You can reach it by clicking on the link that I provided.
It is about time, too, as National Geographic has a very strong branding in educating the public about geography with its flagship magazine, and the various documentaries, and it should be strongly involved in public education.
Geography is not just an academic subject that you study in school in order to get a sufficiently good grade to go on to university. On the contrary, it is a subject matter which is very much alive, and I hope that the resources made available on this portal will be useful for our students and general public who want to learn more about the world around us.
When the workplace stinks because of a co-worker's flatulence, what WOULD you do? When I read this article on HRM Asia, I could not help but laugh aloud. This guy who has what he claims to be a lactose intolerance, giving off gas in his work place? Could he not just run down to the men's room before the release of noxious gas that irritated his co-workers no end?
To think that his co-workers had become infuriated with the flatulence problem, even to the extent of making a log of the date and time of the noxious gas release was really funny. You would have imagined that it posed a health hazard to his co-workers.
So the question is: what would you do if you had a co-worker who has a gastrointestinal problem which results in him or her releasing gas in the work place? Would you complain to your supervisor or HR manager?
According to the Business Insider, Facebook is NOT the largest social network on the Internet. Nope. It is NOT the largest social network. If you want to be able to reach the greatest number of Internet users, you would need to use.....
....yes you got it right, the good old Email.
It so happens that this is one of the oldest tool on the internet. I can still remember being given my first internet email account when I was an undergraduate back in 1981. It was an account created on the DARPA network at MIT. I was able to receive email messages from across the continent, California. In those days, the email was basically ASCII text messages, without all the embellishments of graphics, gifs or flash animation.
Now, in 2013, email is still being used as a primary tool in communication, whether social, commercial or on government business. I expect that it will remain the primary tool as well as choice for communication over the Internet for many more decades to come. Typed text is very compact, unlike video or sound files, which take up a bigger chunk of bandwidth.
Long live EMAIL!!
January 03, 2013 by Hiroshi Mikitani (blog on Linked In)
"Failure is not fun. When it happens, it’s hard to pick yourself up the next day and go back into work.
But push through, because your prize is waiting for you.
Failure is the foundation for success. That’s an old Japanese proverb. Embrace the attitude of implementing improvements soon after a failure, to make that proverb a reality.
Failure will show you just where you went wrong. It will show you the reasons for your difficulties and the things that you still need to address before you can succeed. In the process of failing, you no doubt noticed what was going wrong as it happened to you. Good for you. That’s your to-do list going forward. You now know what needs fixing.
Failure is only a true failure when it does not lead to improvement. If you are back in the game quickly, making improvements, you have not failed.
Pat yourself on the back. You have learned something. Your success awaits."
This blog by Hiroshi is a gem of wisdom and one where in today's modern world of business and entrepreneurship, we learn to pick ourselves up after a business failure, dust off ourselves and move on.
When we are able to do this, we have the capability to surmount adversities, then we will be able to move along, learn from our mistakes and make improvements. We live to fight on another day. Some people give it a name: The School of Hard Knocks.
So, congratulate yourselves when you have failed, because you would have learnt an invaluable lesson.
The article from The Guardian that I read this morning about kicking the can sounded amusing. As a child I suppose, kicking the can down the neighborhood streets would have been a fun past time for many children, but now, used by journalists to mean something else in the context of putting off politically difficult decisions that have great impact on the global economy to the future takes on a much more serious tone.
I would rather the journalists use another, much more acceptable analogy for this. How about punting the political football? The way difficult decisions are being put off like 'fiscal cliff' and 'debt ceiling' till the eleventh hour, the amount of tension that it gives to the markets & the media frenzy that it drives, makes a football game a better analogy.
One other thing the same article mentions is that the media has an influence on how the politicians who have to make such decisions, some of them being unpopular ones, actually delay making them. Quoting from Uncle Ben in Spiderman's first movie: 'With great powers come great responsibilities'. Lets just hope that news media organizations use their great influence on public opinion in a responsible manner.
It's the start of the new year. 2013 looks to be an interesting year ahead, and I have been reading up on some forecast made over the trends of the past year.
Enough of that.
I have recently subscribed to the online version of the McKinsley Quarterly which I will append the link to interesting articles from time to time.
The first one that I am attaching is a link to an article on protecting information in a cloud environment. Hope you will enjoy the read.
From: HRM Asia
When Dilbert creator Scott Adams asked people for joke job descriptions he got more than he bargained for with hundreds of responses. Here are 16 of the best:
It seems like these days, online security and privacy is a topic which is always in the news and with social media sites like facebook allowing us to control the type of personal information that we want to share with the rest of the world, we may feel a sense of security. The questions is: is our privacy really secure?
Sometimes, if we are not sure of the controls, we may inadvertently allow access. This is especially so if the controls are complicated, use confusing language or if we did not truly understand the implication.
Most of us would, I suspect, also not place too tight a set of restrictions on access controls, as this would mean the loss of functionality. Location services has to be turned on, if you're using map apps, otherwise it not be of much use in locating your present location.... also, tracking of misplace handphones such as the 'Find iPhone' apps would not be of much use if you did not turn on the location permission.
This Business Insider article discusses some drawbacks when users have control over their se
So Microsoft has launched its Windows 8 operating system and the Surface Tablet. A few of the tech reviewers have been giving their comments and they don't seem to be flattering to Microsoft. It looks like its going to be a struggle for Microsoft to push their way into the tablet business, what with two other giants, Apple and Google, dominating the arena.
This is a comment from Tab Times about Microsoft's debut of their Surface Pro.
Another one from Mashable was titled: "Opinion: Microsoft’s Astonishing Windows 8 Boondoggle".
Of course I realize that Microsoft has taken a lot of flak over the years from many quarters for the various parties, customers, tech reviewers, even regulators, and still survived it all. However, in the coming decades, as tablets become more prevalent and take over the PC as workhorses in the workplace, the Microsoft dominance will wane. It is struggling to keep re-inventing itself, to maintain its relevance in the future, and it would be interesting to see what new ideas Microsoft can come up with to go ahead of the tech curve.
I occasionally read the Harvard Business Review blogs and gain some insight into practical issues. Just today, I picked up an article on companies jumping onto social media bandwagon to resolve customer service (or rather customer complain issues). The article makes real sense... more like commonsense when you think about it.
The HBR blog can be accessed here.