Timothy Vasko

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The Death of Employer/Employee Paradigm in the Digital Age

August 3, 2016 19:21

With the proliferation of connectivity, the measure of “an hourly wage” has become irrelevant. If a business can’t afford the national average for a particular task, the employer can simply go online, and find an equivalent skill set in a less developed economy with lower hourly wages. Not only has the world gotten more competitive – it has become more flat as to the wage scale. This is why “hourly and salary” no long make any sense. In the next years, I predict the minimum wage will evaporate, and benefits will be provided in new ways to those who earn them.

Employment, like business, is facing ‘disruption’. Just look at Uber. Electronic access to employment base is a new reality, a global experience, that is shaping the linked, global, economy. Every individual, business owner and government needs to embrace the possibility, instead of fear the future – because, the future is here, and it has only begun to emerge.

Not only will employment continue to go to the most efficient, cost effective, productive place, and people, regardless of geography. But, as with the beginning of the industrial age, when machines were feared, today we fear further automation, through the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Like the industrial revolution, however, these fears have been overstated. Human’s are not yet obsolete. Humanoid employment won’t diminish. We don’t have to “fear the (mechanized) reaper,” or the wages in other countries. We have to embrace what else a productive thinking sentient human being, no matter of country, race, culture, language, gender or wage scale, can do. People can no longer go to work and park all or a portion of their brain – or park their butt, in an office chair. Nor, can they say they are “working from home” and not do productive work. It’s become to easy to identify what productivity is, and when something’s not getting done.

Humans are getting better, more productive, with technology advances.

Sure, there is more competition as a result. It is compelling us to become more creative at problem solving, and use more of our brains. In short, it is taking out the “slack” of inefficiency, and compelling everyone, every business, every government go get smarter, better, and do more things that are of more benefit to, well, everyone.

Need to grab a ride easier than the outdated taxi system allowed? Great! Uber it!

Need a less expensive place to sleep than a $400 a night hotel room in San Francisco? Hop on AirBnB and snag that spare room.

Need a transfer from Canadian Dollars to Indian Rupees immediately, to pay someone overseas? Fantastic, use TransferWise or the recently acquired XOOM (bought by PayPal), instead of the age old banking wire system!

All of the examples above demonstrate how the internet age has brought better service, at a better price point. It’s the same with wages and employment. The trick is the platform – how employers engage on the platform. How employees make their time more valuable and productive. And how “sharing” the wealth is formed and divided. These will form the new basis of “job security” – on a global scale.

From the most basic work, to the most complex, what technology is telling us as employers and employees is, get smarter, better, more productive and faster. Those who embrace this dictate will drive the next generation of stream-lined business. Those who don’t, will falter and eventually fail.

This goes for employees, business leaders, entrepreneurs and entire countries. Get smarter! It’s time to change your systems. It’s time to adapt, to become more in line with today’s reality. Adopt a Global Integrated Platform (G.I.P.) mentality that enables engagement on many levels, and establishes a new “sovereignty” of nation and state, one that can be integrated into a truly global economy. The protectionist mentality of the old system will fall. Ditch the old way of thinking, find new ways of productive creation, for both the employer and employee – supporting the effectiveness of the business and then nation, is the way to evolve on the global landscape. And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Every business, no matter how large or small, can incorporate the balance between making a living and living life.

It’s happening already, it’s simply not well organized in our companies or personal lives yet. There is still that tension between work is work, and “time off” is all about me. These are leftovers from the industrial revolution. The “employer - employee mentality” won’t give up easy.

But, the innovators of platforms, when you go to Google, or Apple, or Twitter, the “office” is more like a “welcome home” than a set of cubicles with miserable environments. And there are successful companies that don’t even have “offices” any more – completely virtual enterprises that blend cultures all over the world, where gatherings are by web conference.

These companies are seeking to blend what “life” is – since the better part of our lives is spent working, it should be an experience we love and enjoy, rather than a grind we dread every day. And “flexibility” is a responsibility all need to embrace – from the business to the employee, to the Governments and bankers who deal with both.

Every one, every business owner, every person who works for a company, is “on the front lines” in some way today. Employer-Employee relationships built for production lines, manufacturing and the industrial age, are giving way to a new era of intelligent, and committed engagement. More than ever before the competitive landscape is bigger and more effective.

This is all happening because of the platform we currently call the Cloud.

Today, employers who embrace and provide platforms on the Cloud for work, and even snappy, fun, environments “when and if” employees show up to the office, will succeed more and more. The idea, however, of the flexibility to work from anywhere, to an employee who works for a company that has a platform that allows this sort of work, means, too, that that same platform can be open for business and employment anywhere in the world.

Mom always said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Sorry, mom, but thanks to the internet, yes I can. Want to work from home or from a hotel room at any time, day or night? If your employer has a system to allow you to do that, you love that flexibility. What’s the trade off ? We’ll that means you now have about 4 Billlion other possible candidates for your job from every wage scale, and a giant talent pool to compete with! So, you better be effective, smart, and really WORK to make your work the best you can, for your employer – or guess what? Someone else will.

The idea of being an employee, then, is to engage 100% in the future of your primary employers platform. When the going gets tough for the business, which it always does, you don’t just skip ship, you stick it out and become better, make that business better. That is how to earn “job security”. Become smarter, more valuable, supportive and committed. Then, not only will the employee earn and learn more – the business they work with will thrive and consider them irreplaceable.

The next organizations we form, will not require “work hours” or even “pay by the hour” – but “pay by the engagement” and “work accomplishment.” The Employment office is rapidly being replaced by digital platforms like UpWork and Fiverr. Economics, at various levels, in the cycle, will be based on outcomes.

What does this mean in real dollar terms? A $50 an hour job, is a $96,000 income. If that job, at the basic level can be done for $24,000 somewhere else on the planet, then what innovative, special talent and effort, creative work, does the employee bring to the employer to make that worth a factor of 5? So the $96,000 wage, actually is a value of $120,000 when the work is done during the year.

Are you faster? Did you find a new way to do something, produce something, that can be replicated and delivered to more customers or clients? Did your experience become such that you can do the job in 25% of the time it would take someone else? Are you helping expand the outcomes of the work you do (deliver it better, to more people, for more revenue to the business), or are you just doing the job and leaving it to the business to figure out what to do with your work?

And employers, are you always looking for a way to improve the access to your work force, your customers and clients, your products and services, through your platforms? If you aren’t, you’ll pay more in wages, deliver less to your team and customers, than your competitors. Think Blockbuster vs. Netflix. Who has more “employees” today? What made that possible?

The platform! Instead of employer/employee, it’s time to think about platformer/platformee.

New business models will look a lot more like video game platforms “Worlds” where resources and players operate on different levels, with different rights, tools and permissions. The most skilled players (platformees) will become critical and rise to be the top players of the game. The most successful games (platformers) will have designed a World that will attract devoted platformees.

Revenue, will be split in creative new ways too – based on productivity, performance and delivered between the platformer and platformees at the various levels. Accounting, as we know it will change (see my prior blog post “The End of Accounting”), and, so too, must the Government concerns, programs and operations of agencies that were part of the Industrial Revolution, that “protect workers rights”.

There is no “think tank” that can solve the climate change issues in the world, it has been recognized from climate to human equality, there needs to be global effort, cooperation across borders, and platforms that work together. This is as true for employees, employers and governments who value their economic engines of business, as it is for the air we breathe.

Global trends show us that the Platform is more important than anything else in any business. Competition, no longer, is defined by geography. It is defined by how easily one can reach beyond geography to access resources, be it human resources, raw materials or finished good, globally.

This is just the beginning. When we look at the H.I.T. (Human Intelligence Tasks) today that the Millennial have to compete for, from far and wide, to find an “acceptable wage” - the next generation will have to compete with AI (Artificial Intelligence) workers that achieve things, without health care benefits, without “time off” and for a fixed cost, do as much work as the processor speeds allow – which are increasing exponentially.

We need to recognize that our employment systems, our ideas of what employment even is, has been stripped away, and is falling further and further behind. The Global Platform is already here. And, that Platform, composed of exponential intelligence and opportunity, will become more and more available. The world we live in will be more and more automated, available, and recreated, or created, over and over again, by technological advances.

“Platformers” who are today’s employers, will maximize resources, and build their business operations better – it is what must happen for a Platformer to stay relevant and in business. Platofrmees, then, must adopt a new level of thinking and engagement, to be relevant, important, and to rise to the upper levels in the age of the Platform.

Our systems, understanding of what is “employment” and what it is to be an “employer” must change too. It’s no longer the “owner – employers” world. And there is no longer room for the “hourly wage – employee rights” systems that were critical during the industrial age. It is the engagement, access and platform generation that will shift all of these outdated mind-sets and systems that have supported them for the last few hundred years.

Everyone is connected - will you use this power for good or evil?

May 26, 2010 07:35
For better or for worse, it has been proven over and over again in the last two years that everything and everyone in the world is connected.Of course, we are all connected in the online ecosystem, plugged into each other with social networking sites, search engines and blogs. The unprecedented scale at which we freely share information about ourselves has given rise to a new concern - are we are too connected? Do we really want people to know all about everything we're doing all the time? We are connected economically, as we all learned too well during the economic meltdown. Seemingly unimportant defaulting mortgages in the US began piling up, and all at once, people began to realize the bad debt had crept into the whole system like a cancer - weakening the entire global economy; causing job losses from Detroit to Denmark. The environment connects us all - the volcano in Iceland reminded us of that too - one tiny place disrupted the whole world - stopping people, goods and money from making the journeys we've come to rely on for our survival.Almost everyone now recognizes that the world is now, and forever Connected in an economic, environmental and social ecosystem. Then again, many of the corporations, regulators and businesses of the world, small and large. but mostly large, already knew this. Some of them abused the ecosystem for wealth and gain at the expense of everyone else. These companies and individuals - the Goldman Sachs, the Bernie Madoffs of the world - have been decidedly internally, individually motivated. They used the forces of regulations, legal manipulations and governments to create their profits -while the rest of the world was the unaware participant - duped into helping, and then left to clean up the mess. To be blunt, this stinks! Nobody likes to be tricked, but the recent chaos has a bright side - people now understand that we have to overcome a crisis. We understand, at our roots, we have to build a solution. We have to reclaim our connected ecosystem and make it our own. We have to use the interconnected nature of the world and turn it into a tool to help all of us, not just a select few. We have shape the connected ecosystem into a Connected Market Space. A business today, in any sector, exists for the purpose of rapid response - transmitting candid, accurate information to all sides - not just inside the organization. This is more commonly known as the triple bottom line - people, planet, profit, or the "three pillars". The triple bottom line is about being truly, a custodian of this planet - a business seeking to profit, should be finding positive connections and fulfilling a purpose. If you are in any kind of business you will affect other people - so the responsible and smart thing to do is to connect to the world in a positive way. It's not hard create a Connected Market Space and use the ecosystem for good. The Connected Market Space is, at its meaning, the connection of any enterprise, to any market, with accurate, open and honest information. How do you know you're really connected? It's not just about advertising and using Twitter - it's about making meaningful connections that make the world a better, more useful place. When is a business using its power for good? A business in the Connected Market Space demonstrates that: Clients and business know more about each other
  1. Clients and business can trust each other
  2. Each party has accurate information
  3. Everyone can carry on a conversation
  4. Everyone can complete a transaction safely
When you're connected responsibly, positively and fulfill a purpose, no matter what you do, you're using the power of the Connected Market Space.

Why Google Isn't "Everything": How to beat Google PPC

October 5, 2009 07:18

The latest and greatest online buzz marketing tool seems to be Twitter. It's all the rage. Business guys like me are wondering though, will it stick? Obviously, no one really know - so a better question is this: Does it matter to your business?

In today's economy - especially in sectors like Real Estate, Mortgage Banking, or Health Care - transition, uncertainty and economic challenges facing the future of said sectors make business models look more like a Rorschach Test than a Harvard MBA based case study.

So what are businesses doing? Spinning around all of the "buzz" and spending on Google AdWords at rates that make the coffers of one the behemoth burst and Google's stock prices soar. That's good for those of us that bought Google at $275 - but it doesn't do much to answer the impending marketing question - "Is Google all there is? If not, how do I use the other avenues?"

Here are some answers to both of these very relevant questions:

To the former question, I answer a resounding NO. Google is not all there is. The bottom line is Google has the best interface and was smart in bringing Google analytics to the market (to be sure, they are smart about a lot of things...), but Google doesn't have all of the answers; either for business or in search engine marketing (SEM). If they did, Facebook, MySpace, MSN, Bing, AOL, Yahoo and Twitter wouldn't have exploded such as they have.

The reality is Google has a good business model and a better search technology engine. But their business model of auctioning off AdWords and content placements is under serious attack - and for good reason. It's EXPENSIVE! And the more competition that gets on with the model, the more money Google makes. This is all great for Google, but bad for you advertisers out there. Why? Because, your costs rise, which takes away from your ability to get visibility and make profits (and that is just basic MBA stuff).

Now with Facebook gaining mainstream acceptance - I was in San Francisco this weekend at a dinner party of 40-somethings - all talking about who they were finding on Facebook. And when I got home, I mentioned to my 19 year old daughter this trend. She said, "Uh... yeah, Dad. Your generation is the only one that's not on there yet." She then proceeded to direct me to myparentsjoinedfacebook.com ... OH CRAP! Again, good for us parents and marketers - bad for the kids. (Hmm... If you parents out there are running "Facebook" what do you do? This is a site where the kids used it to "converse" - to do what kids do - and now Mom and Dad can virtually "listen in?" Beyond my point for now).

So, how do you use Facebook to market? We'll there's a way to place ads there too - as well as on about 5 other major engines! So, today, you'll need to go back to the basics and get out of the Rorschach mentality where it's black and white on Google, but you can't quite tell what the picture is going to get you. Other than increasing advertising spend, of course.

Today, the Connected Market SpaceTM is moving at lightning pace. Unless you are an expert in SEM and internet placements, you'll need tools and services that drive you across platforms. It is the only way you'll be able to truly pinpoint where your customers are. Remember Google only provides broad-based search. What are those people that make up your market looking for? The answer is pretty simple - you don't know But, they will tell you if where they are building their Connections. So, are you there, where your customers, prospects and buyers are building their "connections"?

If you are stuck just on Google AdWords, you're getting, at best, a 1-in-7 chance (not to mention the international options for engines you've not even heard about) of being seen. What if, for the same budget, you could connect across all engines? That's what we've been building for the last five years of our ten year history with the Connected Market Space.

So Twitter, and Facebook, and Google and Bing away! Ever notice when a company name becomes a "verb" it is where the market is at?

In the next two weeks we'll launch our broad-based Connected Market Space tools that extend Google to reach across all the existing and evolving platforms. These are confusing and exciting times but the picture of where things are headed is pretty clear.

Google is an inkblot on the overall canvas of the internet. And there are many versions of "what you see and what your market of customers, prospects and buyers see..." there is no one version, there is no one engine - there are, instead, many connections. Businesses in any sector that connect to this picture of new media marketing using SEM are the next success stories in the making.

Cheers, Tim

It's Just Smarter Marketing To Connect (1 of 2)

August 10, 2009 06:48

Do you still pay $3.00, $5.00, $10.00 per minute for international phone calls? Ever hear of Skype?

Of course if you were a business person who was paying $5.00/ minute for a phone call (if you still use the phone at all with email, SMS and your Blackberry in hand) you'd be working for the Government and have an unlimited budget. Oh wait, Governments are cutting back and getting smarter too...

So, I've been wondering how our Google is so much like the old AT&T (before the Break-Up), the old telephone monopoly which, to make a sale, to be in business, made you list in the yellow pages (EXPENSIVE), and pay the toll - the AT&T tax to use the phone.

Then, some brilliant Senator from Colorado (Timothy Worth actually) spoke to my University class way back in the early 80's about how AT&T was going to be broken up into the "Baby Bell's". How far we've come. I can't tell you the last time I've spent money on an overseas call for more than a few cents - or for free.

Today, the equivalent of getting your message out in the most expensive fashion possible is Google. I've heard it called the "Google Tax" that we small businesses are paying - in our business, we've been a big payer since 2000 of the Google Pay Per Click advertising - and you know what? It's gotten tougher, more expensive, and more difficult to deal with this equivalent of the old AT&T daily. What does a marketer do?

Books have been written (you know when a book is written to manage anything, PPC especially, or how to trade stocks, it's no longer an innovation) on how to manage this. Now, just last week, Microsoft and Yahoo announced a Joint Venture that's sure to challenge the Google dominated market.

Here are some frightening facts - did you know that:

  • AOL gets their ads served from Google Adwords
  • CNN & the Wall Street Journal are all part of the Google Network
  • MySpace is also part of the network (however this Rupert Murdock owned Company does have their own internal advertising as well - but it is much more expensive and required a much larger commitment than advertising as an individual on Myspace using Google).

That leaves some independents like:

  • Microsoft Bing
  • Yahoo - Now JV'd with Bing
  • Facebook
  • Craigslist
  • Twitter

Let's call these the "Baby Bell's" as an analogy and Google as a comparison to AT&T. What happens when Google "cuts you off" - it's like when AT&T severed your phone line in the '70's and '80's for business. If Google is all you've got, just like AT&T, you're out of business.

In 2007, there was a major change in the Google algorithm designed to "force" advertisers to use more AdWord placements and drive up revenues.

(Read the story (http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/012706.html - and the webmaster blog thread here http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3281124.htm ) or do your own search (best done on www.BING.com or www.Yahoo.com to find the stories)

It ruined many businesses - of course Google denied the tactic.

According to Harvard Business School Press - "It's time to stop going Google Ga-Ga..." - don't believe me? Just read the article.

As an internet business person - a professional responsible to help businesses succeed on the Net with their connection tools and marketing; and, as a former University Professor dating back to 1997, (today an invited key note speaker this year to Faculty of Business University Students); I have to voice my opinion, and my agreement with Bill Taylor's article published by Harvard. There is more to the world of technology, connections, search (yes search) and business marketing today than Google.

Don't get me wrong, there is a place for Google and AdWords - but it's not the only place. And in a tough market, if you as a business person are not looking for smarter solutions, well you may as well be paying $10.00 a minute for your international phone calls too.

Today, if you want to succeed, you need to stop just "Googling" and start "Connecting" smarter - it's time to enter The Connected Market Space. Reducing your costs and your risks of a "dead phone line".

Here is what "Google" is doing to drive shareholder profits - after a 50% stock drop and unprecidented lay-offs:

"Google hired a new vice president of financial planning and analysis, Francois Delepine, who sought to standardize and more tightly manage the budget process. Finance teams started allocating more new hires to groups that generated the most revenue per head, say people familiar with the matter. To better predict revenue, the company implemented quotas for ad-sales representatives and tied the pay of more employees to performance, these people said. Different departments were required to budget the same amount for the same item, whether it was a server computer or a business-class ticket to Europe."

The question is - do you want your business to be on the receiving end of higher costs and cram downed credit terms (if you have them) - with Google's drive for profits?

The problem you face is that Google has made it so easy to use just Google (just like picking up that phone line and knowing it would always give you a dial tone - right?). The other problem is that Google is just another big company with big company drivers and challenges. The real catch for Google is how they will "do no evil..." as their founders started out saying. Unfortunately, today's economy does not support their original philosophy, nor does their business practice. And that is a risk (which we've seen from our clients perspective) that we are trying to help with. Just cramming down does not build a better business - innovations made Google. With Bing, Yahoo and Facebook - and with our ability at our company to Connect our business clients with the Connected Market Space - innovation will again be a driver rather than basic business profit models at the expense of all else - namely relationships that built Google in the first place. Those relationships are all of us - small business people.

At CMAEON, we're working hard to bring the ease of getting your business connected into the entire web - which is what competition is all about. Connected advertising back where you can afford to market and "syndicate" your message across the entire web.

The good news is that with The Connected Market Space - Google may not like it - but we are committed to connecting markets - so we've launched the Connected Market Space PPV engine starting with our Realestock domain - and we can do it for any business. I encourage you to pit us against your AdWord campaign and see what the power of Connections can return in leads, prospects and customers for your business.

I came up with this little saying that I just have to include: Just to Google - Isn't Frugal! "The Connected Market Space is everywhere you (and your customers) want to be..." (Oops! I think that's taken...)


PS: We do take American Express ... J

Lost Connections: How The "Sharper" Brand Lost its Market Connection

July 24, 2008 06:33

I'm in a cab at 58th & 7th in NYC - broke my Bluetooth Jawbone headset. No worries - it's hanging by wires, still working - sort of, if I hold it just right. Anyway, I bought the extra protection plan from the retailer who sold it to me - Sharper Image.

"Drop me off on 51st". - I figure I'll stop in at the Rockafeller Center Sharper Image and get a replacement. I walk to the Bank of America Building - I find the Sharper Image sign - and the image in the blacked out windows tells the story - the one time leader, high end brand, is closed for good. What happened?

About two years ago, before we narrowed our focus on the Connected Market Space technologies to the Realestock.com for the Luxury Real Estate Sector. we were approached to use our platform by the Sharper Image. The entire CMAEON Team and I were excited. We were one of the "lucky" recipients of the final RFP process. We presented our 1to1Connect - MRM3 Product (the predecessor to our newly released 1to1REAL) to the internet marketing Team at the Sharper Image. When we discussed how to make connections, drive these through to the entire organization and "start the conversation marketing online". we were surprised to see blank stares. "all we want to do is sent out big e mail blasts". was the response. Our advice that "spamming your customers with generic information is a bad idea... fell on deaf ears. We were practically begging the people charged with bringing the brand to customers on the web to listen to what they were saying themselves. "you're the Sharper Image. You have the edge, you need the edge, you need to be a leader, not a follower using old generic distribution of information - you need to have conversations with your customers on the web" Nothing.

For the retailer, who was once viewed as the innovator of gadgets for "the people who have everything - but this . Crowd", we were stunned that they could have so much foresight in the past and fail to see the future. This was all happening while the Facebook Kid was still in his dorm room conjuring up social networking - before Rupert Murdoch had myspace. Granted it was early advice - or was it an early warning. I should have shorted the stock then and there!

"Hey pull over". I said to the cabbie - I was rushing to JFK to catch my flight, but we passed another Sharper Image with the lights still on. "Final Close Out Sale - only 12 days left ", written in big yellow letters in the window. "Hey Buddy, I can't stop here - what ya wan me ta do ??##**" HONK! Yep, I'm in NY - "Just go to JFK"

I looked at my dangling wires and snapped the Jawbone back together once again to make a call. Hey there's Brookstone - they seem fine, I thought.

I wondered how many more of these big brands we will see falter - I'll focus on Realestock.com - our Connected Market Space for the high end global real estate market - where we can make sure our clients and the customers are connecting on fronts "wires in tactâ" in the Connected Market Space.

So much for my extended warranty - I think I'll buy my replacement Bluetooth Jawbone on line - I hear they have a newer model that's smaller and less ugly anyway. Any suggestions of where to shop?

Generation Gap: How I View the Computer as a "Boomer" - How My Son Views the Computer as a "Millenial"

July 21, 2008 06:32

My Son turned 20 the other day - he's a great guy - I'm a proud Dad. I was talking to him "man to man" about social networking on the web.

"You know what makes you different than me?", I said. "Other than the fact that I'm 6'1", and handsome...", he responded - ok, a little humility is in order. "Yea, other than that - I mean online", I said.

"I'm a guy who's spent his whole life using the computer to work - it's been a means to an end for me, for the baby boomers. We don't see it as entertainment, really, not at the deep levels of our psyche. Our generation started out with green letters on screens - and we sat there to accomplish something with the computers - take it from me PONG wasn't that fun!

Your generation sees it as fun. You started, at about 5, with a Mac. There you were, a little guy drawing pictures on kidpics. Then you graduated to some fun, interactive video games. Along came the teen years and Napster and Kaza music downloads - then it was Myspace and Facebook. For you, it's all been social, a blast, fun, a way to connect with friends.

When I get on the "puter" I'm always trying to accomplish something and get off - like leaving work. It's a means to an end. It can be something I want to do - just like I bought my beautiful sailboat online. I searched and searched - then I bought. Now I want to go sail - so I use the computer to find ports, find parts (lots of parts), and spend even more money!

And I do love looking for RealEstate on line -on Realestock of course (I'm not too interested in all the MLS based sites, I want a vacation home). I like to search for the next great vacation spot for the family. But, when I'm done, I want to book it, buy it and go off-line and use it. I want to get on the screen and get off. For me the network is satisfaction that I've seen comments, commented, that I've searched and asked questions, that I've done the job -even if the job was fun - vacations, real estate or buying a luxury item.

Your generation, you and your oldest sister (don't even get me started on your little sisters and "Webkins" - that's a whole other generation and discussion) will sit there and howl and laugh and use emoticons ... LOL. You guys are up and comming - but let's face it, my generation are the ones inking the checks for the millions to buy these lifestyle items like properties, resort getaways, yachts, cars and jewellery.

You'll post stuff on each others "Wall." You'd just as soon talk online, or on SMS than on a phone. It's your social basis. My generation uses it for our lifestyle now, to find stuff - answers to questions about stuff, talk about stuff, lifestyle stuff. We get on and then go do other stuff, off line. Just like when we have done our work use of computers - we've been ingrained this way from our careers."

Social networking is for the midlifespace has escaped most sites online so far. Even with sites like "Linked-in.com" - it's been about linking to other "work related" resources. I think our generation finds the computer interesting, fun and informative to find stuff on-line. In fact I think we like to work at our job of having a great lifestyle this way, using our computers - it's our comfort zone.

We need better tools to do it, more easily, and it's not Facebook. We think and network differently, in a more objective oriented way. We are interested and engaged in these big lifestyle decisions we are making - like buying our dream home, second home, third home, our golf/spa vacation.

It's like the jewellery I wanted to buy for my wife. She found it online. She even showed me the picture (strategically around February 10th before my business trip to New York) I couldn't remember the name of the designer - but I remembered it was Tiffany's. So I went to the store in New York and told them. They the took me online and we searched together. "That's it," I said. I recognized the picture. It worked - I was a hero on Valentines Day this year.

So whether it's your dream sports car or yacht, Jewels or a Penthouse in Manhattan - fun is part of it, for sure. But, I bet you one thing, our generation is online because, in the back of our minds, we want to make a decision based on what we found, what we discover, comments. We want to make the right decision, and when we're ready, we'll buy. Let's face it, we've been doing this a long time - it's why we can have the lifestyle we want now!

I keep this in mind when designing Realestock with my Team. And we see this at work everyday with savvy searchers and buyers around the globe. Find a luxury piece of real estate - become an exclusive by invitation only member, and get the real scoop. The people on Realestock are there, because they will, eventually, make some very big lifestyle and investment decisions. Like the single largest online generated sale to date on Realestock.com- a $5mm estate. And the inquires and conversations in our exclusive community reach upwards of $18 million.

I'd love to have feedback on this line of thought and some ideas of tools any of you searchers on Realestock would like to see. I'll make sure to take it very seriously, and take it to our programmers and design team.

NO FREE LUNCH - How Open Source Goes Away for Business

January 18, 2008 06:26

Sun to buy MySQL

The old adage, "you get what you pay for" never has really applied to technology. Sometimes business pays tons of money and gets nothing more than a big tax write off. Sometimes developers are nearly free or actually free (for love of the innovation in an 'open source' spirit) and the returns are astronomical in productive tools and value to the world. It is hard to tell, who or what you'll get - that only comes with experience - at painful price. It's a school I've personally paid dearly to attend (don't try this at home. Unless you hope to get into the tech business - get some help!)

I've found Open Source environment full of value and complexity - and just as much cost as the so called "MS Rich Licensors" of technology. There is example after example of "free" open source platform based systems that take off , and probably more that are poorly used for a client and cause nothing but chaos.

I've had more than one CEO (or CFO) commiserate with me over their tech horror story. Most recently a $50K deep cut that is still to heal because a "friend" created a web site (everybody has a friend "...in the web site business" sounds like a bad Tom Shane commercial) that is barely operable and held together by bit and bite bailing wire (an open source based build). And this is a BIG company with global presence!

This is like a broken record to me when I hear it - and they are stories that go back to 1999 with the $27mm SkyMall technology debacle, when the then CEO called me to come "see what we've built and tell us how to use it ..." a move that pulled me away from the comforts of my second career, University Professorship, and into this crazy rollercoaster of technology for a try at a third career (third times the charm!). The only thing that seems to change are the numbers and the years ... I even wrote a book BIPED in hopes of helping CEO's understand that - it just ain't that easy.

The untold [because they are just too embarrassing on both sides] stories of the Oracle, IBM's and SAP failures that run into the often tens or hundreds of millions for enterprise software gone wrong abound. Harvard has a couple of case studies (I'm sure that eliminated out of the early days of Sieble Software) that claimed 56% of CRM never goes live or work. Real experiences that end like the one full $8mm spent implementation with an un-named vendor (YEP a big guy - the biggest), by a company in Toronto, who, after 3 years, deemed it a waist and a complete write off.

Of course the clients who don't know what the want or need are a big part in helping these debacles - but that's really the "experts" fault too The "oh and we could do this and this and this..." (knowledge and possibilities grow and abound in those early creative sessions and versions - how do you think versions in software came about?) that often comes when requirements are gathered and releases are developed create an unending cycle of not only scope creep and spending - not to mention mass confusion that ends up in the customer account department or Executive Office with a formal name, "Client Expectation Management".

At CMAEON I developed the BIPED (Business in Process Enterprise Design) 7 Step Process to handle this very challenge in techno - business babble. Now after years of installs following BIPED, our process is cyclical and refined so that both the customers and the developers are in "sync" on what we can do today - and what should wait for tomorrow. And guess what - it not only works, the "platform" behind the scenes is irrelevant - MySql or MS SQL - the only issue is, can it do what it should, and what does the future look like for the businesses model and objectives. That's what the technology confusion on "open source" vs. "Microsoft (usually it's Microsoft as the target)" always seems to miss. Because the true cost isn't the platform, its making that platform perform like it is expected and needed.

We'll Sun's acquisition of MySQL is certainly an smart and interesting move - and it just points to the fact that, no matter how FREE a software platform is, it still comes down to the basics question - "what do we want it to do - specifically - today, and how do we get it to do that ..." I guarantee Sun isn't buying MySQL to offer it for FREE - it's a tool with a heck of a market base of customers now - that will need services and support.

And that's no FREE Lunch.

PS: MS SQL and .Net sure look a whole lot less expensive now - lets see how the tech guys sell against Microsoft now that MySQL is owned by another giant

PPS: Hats off to the MySQl guys - way to go on creating value in the world folks ... congrats!

"Tech-Knowledge-E™" Part 1: Expertise on evaluating SaaS (Software as a Service in Web 2.0 - 3.0 vs. the Lake Wobegone era of Software

January 16, 2007 06:23

I recently observed an RFP process that used the standard "old school" methods to replace some seriously outdated marketing systems. It was interesting to see in action the classic "definition of insanity" - expecting different results by doing the same thing over and over again. As Einstein once spun it, "we can not solve the significant problems we face today at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them".

One of the fundamental issues to consider in applying new technology, in a new market made up of "long tail" consumers, is the significant difference between software and SaaS (Software as a Service) technology.1 This means the hosted infrastructure, used by thousands of connected market participant companies vs. installed software and infrastructure behind a traditional firewall with traditional IT departments residing inside the classic corporate structure.

Today"s changing market is driven by the consumer. It is a market of economic expense based upon the cost of a company NOT deploying the solutions that will keep them from falling behind the communication curve with the consumer, rather than the actual cost of the solutions that they deploy. Whenever I see a firm that has a market position trying to "update" their legacy technology, I look to their competitors and see a wide open door to steal away customers and market share.

The firms that continue to try to quantify the cost of technology under the total cost of ownership model (TCO) don't realize the fundamental shift that technology is making in distribution. The irony is I see this happening in firms that have evolved because of innovation in technology in the first place. These firms hit critical mass and then the MBA thinking kicks in (like the MBA thinking I was fed before nearly anyone knew what the Internet was). They seek innovation in spreadsheet comparatives of TCO rather than focusing on the economic profit and costs of acquiring partnering with an SaaS company whose business model and mandate is to update, test and try to drive more business to their customers. In our case, unless we can figure a way to help our customer drive more transactions, our revenues go flat but if we push more business and more transactions through we pick up dimes and they pick up dollars. We both win. And so do today's picky, choosy consumers who expect dynamic thought along with the products they purchase.

I first heard of the economic business model in the oil patch. A very wealthy, very wise, very old Wildcatter said to me when I was just a pup, "Son, I don't care if you get a dollar and I get a dime - so long as I always get my dime." What oil wildcatters have always understood is that it doesn't matter what the well costs to drill if you hit a gusher and the "dimes" come flooding in. Show me a conservative oilman, I'll show you a farmer with one rig churning up and down and a crop of corn. Show me an independent that looks for the dimes and partners to find them, and I'll show you Armand Hammer.

In technology, the paradigm has shifted to an economic model that is adaptive: profitability of the platform (POP) rather than the old TCO model. In other words, a traditional software install, over a three year period, remains static with "versioning" upgrades (again a feature set determined by the programmers and we all know what economic and marketing geniuses program designers are). This is a defensive model where CFO's rule and innovation stagnates.

At the same time, the likes of Google, iTunes, Amazon, Netflix are throwing up a new approach to the market, based on marketing and process technology to capture the elusive audience (as are the competition in your business). Follow the model of these companies and what you won't find is static technology, installed on internal servers, at a static cost. A representative pool of one approach is like drilling one well in one location and expecting it to be a gusher. The name of the game is innovation. And the only way to innovate today is to partner with companies and consumers that have coinciding interests that drive your business. Static "TCO" measurement is no longer a viable approach to the consumer or business market - the spreadsheet evaluation of cost only is as dead as the eight track and vinyl is to music. What is needed is an approach that is consistently adaptive, widely disbursed and customized like an exploratory oil program, where the risk is shared. This is the domain of SaaS and the transactional based pricing business model of technology. In the oil patch, if indicators are good (using well logs - like market stats on the net), you drill deeper, go for it. If not, you make a change, explore elsewhere, get a new lease and go to where the oil will flow and where the customers are biting.

In technology, consistent adaptation can only happen where there are constant new users of the system in a dynamic environment. The SaaS platform should be regularly modified, updated and deployed to all of the users on the system and where there is motivation to do that. Your firm benefits from an SaaS model when the SaaS provider benefits from your increase in business.

After you are live and installed, SaaS providers have to go find other dynamic firms who have the "next great idea" and integrate that into the platform. It's like a free flow of constant market research and R&D ideas and tools for your business to deploy - front end and back end, with options, API's and services. That's how the companies that are kicking proverbial butt do it. Go to Google Labs and see what they are working on right now. Google has such an audience that they can't be considered a statistical pool of one. Most companies don't have that kind of following however, so they need to find the innovative pool that captures the collective consciousness of the market in another way. A good SaaS provider that is aggressive and innovative is the answer for the rest of the world.

SaaS model systems and tools are deployed fast as compared to traditional software projects. The great ones are regularly market tested as demanded by the market and succeed. The ones that don't meet the objective criteria, as determined by the market, adapt or stagnate (like traditional software). If you're using the right platform - you'll never see the bad stuff, only the economically viable and best of the best will rise to the surface for you to deploy.

Yes, this makes comparing traditional software tough for the firm when trying to make a technology decision. But again, if it were a market that could be run solely by CFO's, programmers, and operations managers, everything from books, records and movies to medications and contact lenses, mortgages and real estate could be laid out on a spreadsheet and the evolution and transitioning to new business models from upstarts would have no life.

PS: In recognition of the spreadsheet, CFO's and costs - I am not suggesting that the spreadsheet analysis be thrown to the wind, just make sure you add in the economic columns to the model that includes the all important innovation dividends that drive profits!

1 I highly recommend the book "The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson for any CEO or marketing manager

Happy Holidays - A Look Back at Connecting during 2006: Three Observations, Predictions for a New Year

December 18, 2006 06:21

Observation - Prediction #1 of 3:

As I wind up my year, I am thinking about how connections that have evolved further in 2006 will change our future forever as new Connected Market Spaces emerge for business.

These last few Blog entries of the year are my favorite observations, books I've read, and offer a fond farewell to a wonderful year 2006 - with sights set on 2007 and the opportunity to deepen our connections with our markets, our customers and clients we here as some things that will creating more value than ever in the future and my thoughts:

Health Care 2006 to 2007 & Beyond: Views, connections and prediction #1

In Healthcare in America this was the first year of Medicare Part D. A feeble attempt at supporting medications for the elderly, but an attempt none the less. Forget about the fact that the Pharma Industry successfully navigated the waters by preventing the US Government from negotiating prices for medication (a coup compared to Canada and the rest of the world that offers their citizens health care support). Forget about a system doomed to fail as the realization first hit Ma and Pa America by surprise in the pocket book.Medicare Part D redefined the term "doughnut hole" which became a hole in thousands of American's wallets. This was the year when Mrs. Jones, and millions like her, first found out that she they were going to have to pay more for their prescription medications than she had with her favorite Canadian "global" pharmacy. None the less, Medicare Part D was, as clumsy an event as it is and has been, a clear acknowledgement of change on the horizon in the way prescription medications, and yes health care in general, in America and globally will evolve.

With the event of Part D, I predict that connections will grow globally. A clear understanding is percolating like a good cup of Starbucks Christmas brew. A clear understanding has been born in Ma & Pa America. When Lipitor costs $300 per month in the US and $60 per month in the UK, any simple math will shows that Medicare Part D will not work long term. A good cup of coffee beats a watered down knock off any day. Global pharmacy is here to stay like Starbucks $3.00 per cup - any one can now calculate that the cost of meds should be market and demand driven rather than inflated simply due to geography.

Starting in December, we have brought the Connected Market Space live for the global Pharmacy - www.Pharmocracy.com Beta live. As the community of pharmacy standards grows, the prescription market will grow in its connections (rather than contentions) between the industry leaders and the consumers. A general leveling of prices will pave the highway of efficiency in health care rather than a San Francisco Lombard Street like zig zag between global pricing strategies and geographic based consumers that has existed for decades for the same medications globally.Watch as the Global Pharmocracy evolves in its connections for prescription medications while industry giants discover that it's better to travel the straight road and deliver better health care and, it is a clear path that's always good for everyone's health or financial bottom line.

A few books on the topic you may enjoy:

Written by a fellow speaker friend of mine on the subject of Global Pharmacy, "The Whistler Blower" - Peter Rost, MD ,may help you form your own opinion. Peter and I spoke on the circuit for a few years regarding the evolution and need for change in pharmaceutical practices.

For a view from the other side, CEO of industry giant Pfizer - Hank McKinnell, Chairman & CEO of Pfizer, Inc. delivers, "A Call to Action: Taking Healthcare Back for Future Generations". An account by this "Canadian" come American CEO (a man from our own little island of Victoria, BC) - Mr. McKinnell takes the corporate view of pharma and health care into account. You can buy it on Amazon new for $19.84 or $0.46 - does the price difference of the book reflect the views or the spread on pharma margins?

"The New Health Insurance Solution" by Paul Zane Pilzer. Are you familiar with Health Savings Accounts? if Americans get to keep some of the money for retirement if we stay healthy using HSA plans, wouldn't we always want the best value for our medications? Yet another indicator to ponder as you form your view of this evolving Connected Market Space in Health Care.

Connected Market Space Defined

November 20, 2006 06:17

The connected market space is the space, every space and place, in which you operate. If you're like many of us, you take your personal space with you where-ever you operate.

Just yesterday I had a client tell me he had to write 17,000 words for a new program. So he jumped on a flight from NYC to Frankfurt and back-away from the office, kids, house and staff, to get the job done. I totally understood his logic. I carry two long life batteries for my tablet PC (my new littel Oragami UMPC), that gets me from coast to coast, so I can work uninterrupted as my iPod shuffles through sounds that keep out the white noise and surrounding conversations - it's my 30,000 foot office and view space.

The connected market space is more about how you work and get information, consume and produce knowledge, than where you work. Most importantly, it's how and where the value you need is provided to you and is perceived by you. And your customers, clients, employees, the individual stake holders you connect with daily are exactly the same. The connected market space, is how we live, and it's the technologies we use to create it. So, it should be obvious that the organizations that open their operation with a Connected Market Enterprise process are the ones we read about winning in their markets every day.

It's not hard to understand, for most entrepreneurs, that connections are the life blood of our businesses. What's hard to understand, for most CEO's and managers, is the way these connections have extended from the day of a hand shake, to the equivalent in the global market space created by technology - a blog, an AdWord click, a site visit, an e mail request, and yes an airplane seat with a blackberry, tablet pc, laptop or iPod.

After a decade of technology introductions at a blinding pace building this reality, the biggest questions I get asked are, "how do I apply all of this stuff to my market . The answer is easy. Unless you live in a closet (in which case you won't ask the question in the first place), look at your personal experience of how you work, alone, with your team and the most brilliant business people you connect with daily. You know a lot more than you think you do about creating a Connected Market Enterprise.

The definition is really quite simple. The Connected Market Space is where (where ever, how ever.) we do what we do.

The Connected Market Enterprise is the tool sets you establish and use to connect to your markets - those customers and clients that drive our businesses. The only question left, then, is how well how well you use technology to do what you and your organization does best. And that's what we figure out every day at CMAEON in helping create connected market space platforms for our clients.

Every day I'm watching and working with brilliant CEO's, CIO's and Marketers to use technology to really connect and build that virtual handshake - define that 1to1 relationship and build lasting connected market spaces within their markets, with their customers, clients and alliances - I love the challenge, I love my job.