Customer Value Engineering™ reveals what matters most, says MercerMC:
“Customers often start a negotiation by emphasizing price and product features. These things always matter, of course. But buying decisions encompass many other considerations, such as reliability, service arrangements, certainty of delivery date, and the opinions of users inside the organization or expert analysts.
“Cumulatively, these influences may account for 70% to 80% of the purchase decision. That’s why there is gold to be mined by truly understanding the customer’s world.
“The Customer Value Engineering approach goes beyond market research to uncover what customers will value and actually pay for, link these insights with the economics of the business, and create a process for building consensus and driving rapid implementation. It combines four capabilities:
– Uncovering the drivers of demand
– Segmenting customers in a smarter way than traditional categories of size or demographics
– Modeling the drivers of business economics to determine whether a given move will make or lose money
– Creating dynamic, robust modeling of the strategy that can evaluate “what if” scenarios and rapidly turn strategy into action with a minimum of risk
Download the article >>
AOL, Warner Bros Team for Online TV– In2TV.
The channels are:
– LOL TV (comedies such as Welcome Back Kotter, Perfect Strangers and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper),
– Dramarama (Falcon Crest, Sisters and Eight Is Enough)
– Toontopia (animated shows like Beetlejuice and Pinky and the Brain)
– Heroes and Horrors (Wonder Woman, Lois & Clark: The Adventures of Superman and Babylon 5)
– Rush (action shows such as La Femme Nikita, Kung Fu and The Fugitive)
– Vintage (Growing Pains, F-Troop and Maverick)
Soon this will go global, and we’ll be able to watch TV from other countries on our “Internets.” Cricket, anyone?
Terry Heaton’s essay: TV News in a Postmodern World
“…driven by the very real demand of less time, we’ve begun the process of tasting that which is unbundled. We unbundle television shows by skipping the commercials with our DVRs. We unbundle CDs by downloading the songs we want. We unbundle the national media by subscribing to specific RSS feeds. The signs of a burgeoning unbundled media world are everywhere.”
What Terry doesn’t say: we are unbundling reality: our politics, our minds, our society, and our souls as well…
The kids told me it was Monet’s birthday today…
Springtime in Giverny- I cropped the picture for detail.
Take a look- Google Analytics gives you a free ride into the world of web behavior, and it’s integrated w/ adwords.
Here’s the pitch:
“Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. You’ll be able to focus your marketing resources on campaigns and initiatives that deliver ROI, and improve your site to convert more visitors…. blah blah blah
So what’s really going on? Here’s what: Microsoft used to own your desktop, but Google will own your universe. Google will learn how users behave across websites, beating Alexa/Amazon.com at its own game and setting the stage for the final fight with Microsoft.
Every website manager will sign up for free, and Microsoft can them make them part of their network- from Adsense, to Adwords, to the applications which will replace Office.
BTW, did I forget to mention that Google is also buying cable companies? I’m sure Microsoft is freaking out right about now. This is going to be a war.
MEMO to Microsoft: guys, open up!!
On the privacy front:
# We may use personal information to provide the services you’ve requested, including services that display customized content and advertising.
# We may also use personal information for auditing, research and analysis to operate and improve Google technologies and services.
# We may share aggregated non-personal information with third parties outside of Google.
# We may also share information with third parties in limited circumstances, including when complying with legal process, preventing fraud or imminent harm, and ensuring the security of our network and services.
# Google processes personal information on our servers in the United States of America and in other countries. In some cases, we process personal information on a server outside your own country.
Do no evil, Google.
And the award for the best Peter Drucker obituary goes to- Simon London of the Financial Times:
Peter Drucker, who has died at the age of 95, hated being labelled as a “guru”. But that is what he was for thousands, probably millions, of managers. Never mind that the dictionary definitions of the word range from “venerable” and “weighty” to “mediator of divine truth.” To Drucker, guru was synonymous with “charlatan”. He preferred to be known, he often said, as “just an old journalist”.
As so often in his life, he was indulging not so much in false modesty as in good-humoured self-mockery. For he was manifestly very much more than that.
To his many admirers, in Asia almost as much as his native Europe (he was born in Vienna) and his adoptive United States, he was the grand old man of provocative theory and thoughtful practice. He could always be relied upon to provide a helping hand through the latest trends in politics, society, economics, and especially business.
For people whose only exposure to his work was a single article or speech, his constant use of the quick insight, the aphorism, the analogy and the metaphor sometimes created an impression of glibness. But Drucker saw this as an occupational hazard of communicating clearly about complex issues.
From his early writing days as a journalist in the 1930s to the very last years of his life, with several professorships and three dozen respected books behind him, he continued to believe that the best ideas have to be simplified, often to the limit, in order to be effective. When criticised in the 1980s for writing a cursory newspaper article about “the five rules of successful acquisitions”, he grinned ruefully and pronounced in typically gnomic Drucker-ese: “My best ideas have only one moving part.”
That hardly did justice to the erudition and sense of perspective which underpinned his commentary. His cool, deliberate analysis whether of “pork-barrel” politics, post-communist economics, or a range of management topics from leadership to productivity, motivation to marketing was peppered with a constant flow of vivid references and parallels drawn from history, and from fields as diverse as medicine, music, even the nursery.
Talking about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation which occupied him powerfully in his later years, along with the growth of what he called “knowledge work” and management’s wider role in society he revelled in such observations as “for the first four years, no new enterprise produces profits. Even Mozart didn’t start writing music until he was four”.
Such bon mots were often more scurrilous, as in his remark that Friedrich Engels might never have made his seminal observations of the British working class if his sexual behaviour had not so scandalised his parents that they sent him out of his native Germany. Told in Drucker’s strongly accented English, such stories produced a mixture of hilarity and wonder in his audiences.
He was certainly “one of the last encyclopaedics”, as he was introduced at a conference a few years ago. His knowledge reached far beyond the world of affairs, deeply into literature, biology and even Oriental art in which he was recognised as an authority even by the Japanese.
One of the most thoughtful analysts of Drucker’s contribution to management, Alan Kantrow, says that “many of his ideas have become part and parcel of today’s commonsense understanding of business. He had a pervasive influence.” Though by no means all his ideas were original, Drucker’s real value, says Kantrow, lay in the rigour with which they were formulated. “One could learn more and more deeply from watching him think than from studying the content of his thought.”
For decades, many managers did just that. Whether they worked for Shell, Gillette, a British bank, a German engineering company, a large hospital complex, or a medium-sized shipping company, they paid repeat visits to sit at his feet, or buy his latest book. One such executive talked of needing his “Drucker fix” every two or three years.
Drucker’s reputation, among many practitioners and theorists alike, as the father of post-war management went back to two of his early works, “Concept of the Corporation” in 1946, and “The Practice of Management” in 1954.
The former, a study of the workings of General Motors, was the first detailed account of the way a large company operated. The latter contained pathfinding work on such varied topics as the key role of marketing; the importance of clear objectives, both for the corporation and for the manager; and the need to balance long-term strategy and innovation against short-term performance.
This early work laid the foundation for such basic principles of modern business as asking: “What business are we in, and who are our customers?” It dealt with the recruitment and development of executives, the proper role of boards of directors, the defence of profits as an essential foundation of future survival, and the development of the responsible and productive worker.
Only on the last of these counts did Drucker’s principles fail to be translated into practice. In a mid-1980s interview he called this “my most conspicuous failure”, grumbling that “only now that Japan has shown the way is it being taken seriously” in Europe and the US.
It was Drucker’s ability to examine complex issues in depth, while also relating them to each other, that had such a strong influence on the study of management. Yet this landed him in bad odour with most business academics. “He is vastly undervalued by most academics”, Tom Peters, the management writer and Drucker disciple, said a few years ago. In several years at Stanford University, first as a masters student and then as a doctoral candidate, Peters found that “Drucker wasn’t mentioned once. None of his work was on our reading lists”.
Things were little better at Harvard. Even though it offered him a professorship four times, Drucker chose instead to take up appointments at lesser institutions. Nor does Drucker rate much of a mention in most histories of management thought. All that is in spite of the fact that, as Peters puts it, “Drucker was the first to provide an intellectual framework to analyse the corporation”.
Drucker’s own explanation of his relations with academia was revealing, not only of his own character and that of the university system, but of the nature of high-class gurudom. “Earlier theorists wrote only for a small circle their jargon was often impenetrable,’ he said.
“I put together the bits and pieces of the jigsaw, including what was missing, such as the role of top management, strategy, management-by-objectives, entrepreneurship and innovation. I went to work on it and built a discipline. But I have a deep horror of obscurity and arrogance, so I presented it in a form that people could apply. I don’t believe in specialisation, and academia has always resented that.”
In the words of Tom Peters: “Drucker effectively by-passed the intellectual establishment. So it’s not surprising that they hated his guts.”
With the passing of the years, however, relations became a little less strained. Unlike most of the previous generation, several of the top business academics who came to prominance in the 1980s and 90s paid tribute to Drucker’s impact on their own work. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, of Yale and then Harvard, admitted to having been influenced heavily by Drucker’s early writings and praised his “remarkable” sense of being able to foretell the future.
Yet not everyone agreed. Despite Drucker’s protestations about the importance of small business, he remained identifed with the notion that the large corporation was the centre-piece of society. And, right to the end of his life, he was typecast as having an excessively rational view of the management process.
Moreover, despite his praise ever since 1954 for Douglas McGregor’s “Theory Y”, Drucker did not seem to fit comfortably into the school of enlightened motivation, which blossomed into management theories of worker ’empowerment’. He tended to use tell-tale phrases such as “the basic task of management is to make (our italics) people productive”. Peters, Moss Kanter et al would prefer the verb “encourage”. In the words of one long-standing student of Drucker’s writing, “he was always a bit too top-down”.
In one sense, Drucker could be accused of having lost something of his intellectual vitality in his earlier years. Today’s business community is searching for more advice on how to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation, and how to manage joint ventures and strategic alliances. Drucker was writing about such issues extensively right up to his death, yet his basic view, expressed several years ago, was “we already know how to do all that just organise yourself properly”.
Right across the management spectrum, he claimed, “the academic work that’s being done is on perfecting things it’s variations on themes we all discovered some time ago”. Business studies had therefore entered a long and rather sterile period, he argued. The main exception to this view of the rather arid future of management studies concerned management as a social function. “We have become a society of organisations,” he used to say, in what became a familiar Druckerism. “Yet who takes care of the public good?”
The need for much better management extended not only to private enterprise, he argued, but also to the public sector and, much more broadly, to the body politic itself. In a memorable phrase, he said “politics has become the theatre of the absurd, with politicians declaiming in front of an empty audience, just like the Comédie Française. There’s a new pluralism in society that we don’t understand but that we have to make work”.
In his last few years, Drucker felt increasingly in common, to some extent, with Britain’s Charles Handy that the major new challenges for management lie well beyond its commonly accepted field of operations. In the process of developing into “the distinct organ of our society” over the past 50 years, management had become intricately bound up with political, legal and social issues. It had, in other words, become “affected with the public interest”. To work out what that implied, for both theory and practice, would constitute the prime management agenda of the next 50 years, he forecast.
Peter Drucker might have ended his life a little weary of the “old” issues, as he saw them, but, half a century after his first breakthrough into management, he was still extending its boundaries with his customary energy and clarity of mind.
The article I mentioned in the previous post also mentions Nathan Myhrvold:
Nathan Myhrvold, part of Microsoft’s early brain trust and the former head of its heavily endowed research arm, founded Intellectual Ventures, a fund that he says spends “millions of dollars” annually to support individual inventors in long-term projects. Mr. Myhrvold started his fund about five years ago after he retired from Microsoft; he now backs about 20 inventors in such fields as nanotechnology, optics, computing, biotechnology and medical devices.
“As far as we know, we’re the only people who are doing this – which means we’re either incredibly smart or incredibly dumb,” Mr. Myhrvold said. “There’s a network of venture capitalists for start-ups that have created thousands and thousands of businesses, but very little for inventors.”
Mr. Myhrvold says that most public and academic grants are for investigating well-defined research problems – and not for backing, as he does, “an invention before it exists.” His staff of about 50 people files about 25 patent applications a month on behalf of inventors and his fund. He and his staff also help inventors refine ideas, pay for their time and labor and share ownership stakes in projects with them.
“We all love the goose that lays the golden eggs but somehow we’ve forgotten about the goose,” Mr. Myhrvold said. “This decade I’m hoping will be the decade of the invention.”
Intellectual Ventures is an invention company. We conceive and patent our own inventions in-house through a world-renowned staff of internal and external scientists and engineers. We also acquire and license patented inventions from other inventors around the world. Our network of invention sources includes: large and small businesses, governments, academia, and individual inventors. These inventions span a diverse range of technologies including: software, semiconductors, wireless, consumer electronics, networking, lasers, biotechnology, and medical devices. Our current focus is on developing our invention portfolio. Over time, we intend to market our portfolio on a broad and non-exclusive basis through a variety of channels including spin-out companies.
A new intellectual-property business model.
“Are U.S. Innovators Losing Their Competitive Edge? asks as article in today’s New York Times.
The article cites a report from the National Academy of Sciences which tries to ring the alarm: “Although many people assume that the United States will always be a world leader in science and technology, this may not continue to be the case inasmuch as great minds and ideas exist throughout the world. We fear the abruptness with which a lead in science and technology can be lost – and the difficulty of recovering a lead once lost, if indeed it can be regained at all.”
The report cites China and India among a number of economically promising countries that may be poised to usurp America’s leadership in innovation and job growth.
“For the first time in generations, the nation’s children could face poorer prospects than their parents and grandparents did,” the report said. “We owe our current prosperity, security and good health to the investments of past generations, and we are obliged to renew those commitments.”
The Industrial Research Institute, an organization in Arlington, Va., that represents some of the nation’s largest corporations, is also concerned that the academic and financial support for scientific innovation is lagging in the United States. The group’s most recent data indicate that from 1986 to 2001, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all awarded more doctoral degrees in science and engineering than did the United States. Between 1991 and 2003, research and development spending in America trailed that of China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan – in China’s case by billions of dollars.
Read the report. Here’s the TOC:
1 A Disturbing Mosaic
2 Why Are Science and Technology Critical to America\’s Prosperity in the 21st Century
3 How is America Doing Now in Science and Technology
4 What Actions Should America Take to Remain Prosperous in the 21st Century
5 Ten Thousand Teachers-Ten Million Minds
6 Sowing the Seeds
7 Best and the Brightest
8 Innovation Incentives
9 What Might the United States Be Like if it is Not Competitive in Science and Technology
BTW, the National Academy of Sciences also has this report available online: Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999)
Heck, just listen to what Peter Drucker had to say.
All is not lost, yet. But we took a wrong turn somewhere.
The article raises another point:
“The inventiveness of individuals depends on the context, including sociopolitical, economic, cultural and institutional factors,” said Merton C. Flemings, a professor emeritus at M.I.T. who holds 28 patents and oversees the Lemelson-M.I.T. Program for inventors. “We remain one of the most inventive countries in the world. But all the signs suggest that we won’t retain that pre-eminence much longer. The future is very bleak, I’m afraid.”
Mr. Flemings said that private and public capital was not being adequately funneled to the kinds of projects and people that foster invention. The study of science is not valued in enough homes, he observed, and science education in grade school and high school is sorely lacking.
But quantitative goals, he said, are not enough. Singapore posts high national scores in mathematics, he said, but does not have a reputation for churning out new inventions. In fact, he added, researchers from Singapore have studied school systems in America to try to glean the source of something ineffable and not really quantifiable: creativity.
“In addition to openness, tolerance is essential in an inventive modern society,” a report sponsored by the Lemelson-M.I.T. Program said last year. “Creative people, whether artists or inventive engineers, are often nonconformists and rebels. Indeed, invention itself can be perceived as an act of rebellion against the status quo.”
Which brings us to Richard Florida…
I just stumbled on to the best Peter Drucker interview ever. The interview aired on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 – so this is fairly recent stuff. It’s an hour long, but terribly important for us now.
In the interview, we find out what Drucker thinks about:
– US involvement in Iraq
– Roosevelt, Truman, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, a hint about Bush
– The Future of America
– Executive Pay
– Knowledge Worker Productivity
– The Knowledge Society
– The American College system
– Capitalism & Free Markets
– The Future of Government
– Cutting the Things that Government is Good At
– Power and its Limits
– The First Constituent – NOT the Shareholder but the Consumer (!)
– Power Sharing in the New World
– The Prosperity of Denmark and Holland
– Where the World is Going
– The End of Western Dominance
– Pluralism: Values and Co-Existence
– Information not Power
– 30 Rough Years Ahead
– America’s Return to Humility
The interview blew me away. Listen to it here
I also found a great print interview with Drucker with Forbes’ Rich Karlgaard. Here are some excerpts:
What Needs to Be Done
Successful leaders don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?” They ask, “What needs to be done?” Then they ask, “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?” They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at. They make sure other necessities get done, but not by them. Successful leaders make sure that they succeed! They are not afraid of strength in others. Andrew Carnegie wanted to put on his gravestone, “Here lies a man who knew how to put into his service more able men than he was himself.”
Check Your Performance
Effective leaders check their performance. They write down, “What do I hope to achieve if I take on this assignment?” They put away their goals for six months and then come back and check their performance against goals. This way, they find out what they do well and what they do poorly. They also find out whether they picked the truly important things to do. I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things. They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done. They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters.
Leaders communicate in the sense that people around them know what they are trying to do. They are purpose driven–yes, mission driven. They know how to establish a mission. And another thing, they know how to say no. The pressure on leaders to do 984 different things is unbearable, so the effective ones learn how to say no and stick with it. They don’t suffocate themselves as a result. Too many leaders try to do a little bit of 25 things and get nothing done. They are very popular because they always say yes. But they get nothing done.
A critical question for leaders is, “When do you stop pouring resources into things that have achieved their purpose?” The most dangerous traps for a leader are those near-successes where everybody says that if you just give it another big push it will go over the top. One tries it once. One tries it twice. One tries it a third time. But, by then it should be obvious this will be very hard to do. So, I always advise my friend Rick Warren, “Don’t tell me what you’re doing, Rick. Tell me what you stopped doing.”
The Rise of the Modern Multinational
The modern multinational corporation was invented in 1859. Siemens invented it because the English Siemens company had grown faster than the German parent. Before the Second World War, IBM was a small maker, not of computers, but of adding machines. They had one branch in England, which was very typical for the era. In the 1920s, General Motors bought a German and English and then Australian automobile manufacturer. The first time somebody from Detroit actually visited the European subsidiaries was in 1950. A trip to Europe was a big trip. You were gone three months. I still remember the excitement when the then head of GM went to Europe in the 1920s to buy the European properties. He never went back.
21st Century Organizations
Let me give you one example. This happens to be a consulting firm headquartered in Boston. Each morning, between 8 A.M. and 9 A.M. Boston time, which is 5 A.M. in the morning here in California and 11 P.M. in Tokyo, the firm conducts a one-hour management meeting on the Internet. That would have been inconceivable a few years back when you couldn’t have done it physically. And for a few years, I worked with this firm closely and I had rented a room in a nearby motel and put in a videoconferencing screen. Once a week, I participated in this Internet meeting and we could do it quite easily, successfully. As a result of which, that consulting firm is not organized around localities but around clients.
How To Lead a 21st Century Organization
Don’t travel so much. Organize your travel. It is important that you see people and that you are seen by people maybe once or twice a year. Otherwise, don’t travel. Make them come to see you. Use technology–it is cheaper than traveling. I don’t know anybody who can work while traveling. Do you? The second thing to say is make sure that your subsidiaries and foreign offices take up the responsibility to keep you informed. So, ask them twice a year, “What activities do you need to report to me?” Also ask them, “What about my activity and my plans do you need to know from me?” The second question is just as important.
Prisoner of Your Own Organization
When you are the chief executive, you’re the prisoner of your organization. The moment you’re in the office, everybody comes to you and wants something, and it is useless to lock the door. They’ll break in. So, you have to get outside the office. But still, that isn’t traveling. That’s being at home or having a secret office elsewhere. When you’re alone, in your secret office, ask the question, “What needs to be done?” Develop your priorities and don’t have more than two. I don’t know anybody who can do three things at the same time and do them well. Do one task at a time or two tasks at a time. That’s it. OK, two works better for most. Most people need the change of pace. But, when you are finished with two jobs or reach the point where it’s futile, make the list again. Don’t go back to priority three. At that point, it’s obsolete.
How Organizations Fall Down
Make sure the people with whom you work understand your priorities. Where organizations fall down is when they have to guess at what the boss is working at, and they invariably guess wrong. So the CEO needs to say, “This is what I am focusing on.” Then the CEO needs to ask of his associates, “What are you focusing on?” Ask your associates, “You put this on top of your priority list–why?” The reason may be the right one, but it may also be that this associate of yours is a salesman who persuades you that his priorities are correct when they are not. So, make sure that you understand your associates’ priorities and make sure that after you have that conversation, you sit down and drop them a two-page note–“This is what I think we discussed. This is what I think we decided. This is what I think you committed yourself to within what time frame.” Finally, ask them, “What do you expect from me as you seek to achieve your goals?”
The Transition from Entrepreneur to Large Company CEO
Again, let’s start out discussing what not to do. Don’t try to be somebody else. By now you have your style. This is how you get things done. Don’t take on things you don’t believe in and that you yourself are not good at. Learn to say no. Effective leaders match the objective needs of their company with the subjective competencies. As a result, they get an enormous amount of things done fast.
How Capable Leaders Blow It
One of the ablest men I’ve worked with, and this is a long time back, was Germany’s last pre-World War II democratic chancellor, Dr. Heinrich Bruning. He had an incredible ability to see the heart of a problem. But he was very weak on financial matters. He should have delegated but he wasted endless hours on budgets and performed poorly. This was a terrible failing during a Depression and it led to Hitler. Never try to be an expert if you are not. Build on your strengths and find strong people to do the other necessary tasks.
The Danger Of Charisma
You know, I was the first one to talk about leadership 50 years ago, but there is too much talk, too much emphasis on it today and not enough on effectiveness. The only thing you can say about a leader is that a leader is somebody who has followers. The most charismatic leaders of the last century were called Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini. They were mis-leaders! Charismatic leadership by itself certainly is greatly overstated. Look, one of the most effective American presidents of the last 100 years was Harry Truman. He didn’t have an ounce of charisma. Truman was as bland as a dead mackerel. Everybody who worked for him worshiped him because he was absolutely trustworthy. If Truman said no, it was no, and if he said yes, it was yes. And he didn’t say no to one person and yes to the next one on the same issue. The other effective president of the last 100 years was Ronald Reagan. His great strength was not charisma, as is commonly thought, but that he knew exactly what he could do and what he could not do.
How To Reinvigorate People
Within organizations there are people who, typically in their 40s, hit a midlife crisis when they realize that they won’t make it to the top or discover that they are not yet first-rate. This happens to engineers and accountants and technicians. The worst midlife crisis is that of physicians, as you know. They all have a severe midlife crisis. Basically, their work becomes awfully boring. Just imagine seeing nothing for 30 years but people with a skin rash. They have a midlife crisis, and that’s when they take to the bottle. How do you save these people? Give them a parallel challenge. Without that, they’ll soon take to drinking or to sleeping around. In a coeducational college, they sleep around and drink. The two things are not incompatible, alas! Encourage people facing a midlife crisis to apply their skills in the non-profit sector.
We have talked a lot about executive development. We have been mostly talking about developing people’s strength and giving them experiences. Character is not developed that way. That is developed inside and not outside. I think churches and synagogues and the 12-step recovery programs are the main development agents of character today.
Wow. And that was in print.
Again, don’t forget to listen to the interview here
Farewell Peter Drucker.
The biggest business thinker of them all is gone. Perhaps business will start listening to him now. A sad day.
from the NY Times:
Peter F. Drucker, the political economist and author, whose view that big business and nonprofit enterprises were the defining innovation of the 20th century led him to pioneering social and management theories, died yesterday at his home in Claremont, Calif. He was 95.
His death was announced by Claremont Graduate University.
Mr. Drucker thought of himself, first and foremost, as a writer and teacher, though he eventually settled on the term “social ecologist.” He became internationally renowned for urging corporate leaders to agree with subordinates on objectives and goals and then get out of the way of decisions about how to achieve them.
He challenged both business and labor leaders to search for ways to give workers more control over their work environment. He also argued that governments should turn many functions over to private enterprise and urged organizing in teams to exploit the rise of a technology-astute class of “knowledge workers.”
Mr. Drucker staunchly defended the need for businesses to be profitable but he preached that employees were a resource, not a cost. His constant focus on the human impact of management decisions did not always appeal to executives, but they could not help noticing how it helped him foresee many major trends in business and politics.
He began talking about such practices in the 1940’s and 50’s, decades before they became so widespread that they were taken for common sense. Mr. Drucker also foresaw that the 1970’s would be a decade of inflation, that Japanese manufacturers would become major competitors for the United States and that union power would decline.
For all his insights, he clearly owed much of his impact to his extraordinary energy and skills as a communicator. But while Mr. Drucker loved dazzling audiences with his wit and wisdom, his goal was not to be known as an oracle. Indeed, after writing a rosy-eyed article shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 in which he outlined why stocks prices would rise, he pledged to himself to stay away from gratuitous predictions. Instead, his views about where the world was headed generally arose out of advocacy for what he saw as moral action.
His first book (“The End of Economic Man,” 1939)was intended to strengthen the will of the free world to fight fascism. His later economic and social predictions were intended to encourage businesses and social groups to organize in ways that he felt would promote human dignity and vaccinate society against political and economic chaos.
“He is remarkable for his social imagination, not his futurism,” said Jack Beatty in a 1998 review of Mr. Drucker’s work “The World According to Peter Drucker.”
Mr. Drucker, who was born in Vienna and never completely shed his Austrian accent, worked in Germany as a reporter until Hitler rose to power and then in a London investment firm before emigrating to the United States in 1937. He became an American citizen in 1943.
Recalling the disasters that overran the Europe of his youth and watching the American response left him convinced that good managers were the true heroes of the century.
The world, especially the developed world, had recovered from repeated catastrophe because “ordinary people, people running the everyday concerns of business and institutions, took responsibility and kept on building for tomorrow while around them the world came crashing down,” he wrote in 1986 in “The Frontiers of Management.”
Mr. Drucker never hesitated to make suggestions he knew would be viewed as radical. He advocated legalization of drugs and stimulating innovation by permitting new ventures to charge the government for the cost of regulations and paperwork. He was not surprised that General Motors for years ignored nearly every recommendation in “The Concept of the Corporation,” the book he published in 1946 after an 18-month study of G.M. that its own executives had commissioned.
From his early 20’s to his death, Mr. Drucker held various teaching posts, including a 20-year stint at the Stern School of Management at New York University and, since 1971, a chair at the Claremont Graduate School of Management. He also consulted widely, devoting several days a month to such work into his 90’s. His clients included G.M., General Electric and Sears, Roebuck but also the Archdiocese of New York and several Protestant churches; government agencies in the United States, Canada and Japan; universities; and entrepreneurs.
For over 50 years, at least half of the consulting work was done free for nonprofits and small businesses. As his career progressed and it became clearer that competitive pressures were keeping businesses from embracing many practices he advocated, like guaranteed wages and lifetime employment for industrial workers, he became increasingly interested in “the social sector,” as he called the nonprofit groups.
Mr. Drucker counseled groups like the Girl Scouts to think like businesses even though their bottom line was “changed lives” rather than profits. He warned them that donors would increasingly judge them on results rather than intentions. In 1990, Frances Hesselbein, the former national director of the Girl Scouts, organized a group of admirers to honor him by setting up the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management in New York to expose nonprofits to Mr. Drucker’s thinking and to new concepts in management.
Mr. Drucker’s greatest impact came from his writing. His more than 30 books, which have sold tens of millions of copies in more than 30 languages, came on top of thousands of articles, including a monthly op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal from 1975 to 1995.
Among the sayings of Chairman Peter, as he was sometimes called, were these:
¶”Marketing is a fashionable term. The sales manager becomes a marketing vice president. But a gravedigger is still a gravedigger even when it is called a mortician – only the price of the burial goes up.”
¶”One either meets or one works.”
¶”The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are disorder, friction and malperformance.”
¶”Stock option plans reward the executive for doing the wrong thing. Instead of asking, ‘Are we making the right decision?’ he asks, ‘How did we close today?’ It is encouragement to loot the corporation.”
Mr. Drucker’s thirst for new experiences never waned. He became so fascinated with Japanese art during his trips to Japan after World War II that he eventually helped write “Adventures of the Brush: Japanese Paintings” (1979), and lectured on Oriental art at Pomona College in Claremont from 1975 to 1985.
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was born Nov. 19, 1909, one of two sons of Caroline and Adolph Drucker, a prominent lawyer and high-ranking civil servant in the Austro-Hungarian government. He left Vienna in 1927 to work for an export firm in Hamburg, Germany, and to study law.
Mr. Drucker then moved to Frankfurt, where he earned a doctorate in international and public law in 1931 from the University of Frankfurt, became a reporter and then senior editor in charge of financial and foreign news at the newspaper General-Anzeiger, and, while substitute teaching at the university, met Doris Schmitz, a 19-year-old student. They became reacquainted after waving madly while passing each other going opposite directions on a London subway escalator in 1933 and were married in 1937.
Mr. Drucker had moved to England to work as a securities analyst and writer after watching the rise of the Nazis with increasing alarm. In England, he took an economics course from John Maynard Keynes in Cambridge, but was put off by how much the talk centered on commodities rather than people.
Mr. Drucker’s reputation as a political economist was firmly established with the publication in 1939 of “The End of Economic Man.” The New York Times said it brought a “remarkable vision and freshness” to the understanding of fascism. The book’s observations, along with those in articles he wrote for Harpers and The New Republic, caught the eye of policy makers in the federal government and at corporations as the country prepared for war, and landed him a job teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
Writing “The Future of Industrial Man,” published in 1942 after Mr. Drucker moved to Bennington College in Vermont, convinced him that he needed to understand big organizations from the inside. Rebuffed in his requests to work with several major companies, he was delighted when General Motors called in late 1943 proposing that he study its structure and policies. To avoid having him treated like a management spy, G.M. agreed to let him publish his findings.
Neither G.M. nor Mr. Drucker expected the public to be interested because no one had ever written such a management profile, but “The Concept of the Corporation” became an overnight sensation when it was published in 1946. ” ‘Concept of the Corporation’ is a book about business the way ‘Moby Dick’ is a book about whaling,” said Mr. Beatty, referring to the focus on social issues extending far beyond G.M.’s immediate operating challenges.
In it, Mr. Drucker argued that profitability was crucial to a business’s health but more importantly to full employment. Management could achieve sustainable profits only by treating employees like valuable resources. That, he argued, required decentralizing the power to make decisions, including giving hourly workers more control over factory life, and guaranteed wages.
In the 1950’s, Mr. Drucker began proclaiming that democratic governments had become too big to function effectively. This, he said, was a threat to the freedom of their citizens and to their economic well-being.
Unlike many conservative thinkers, Mr. Drucker wanted to keep government regulation over areas like food and drugs and finance. Indeed, he argued that the rise of global businesses required stronger governments and stronger social institutions, including more powerful unions, to keep them from forgetting social interests.
According to Claremont Graduate University, Mr. Drucker’s survivors include his wife, Doris, an inventor and physicist; his children, Audrey Drucker of Puyallup, Wash., Cecily Drucker of San Francisco, Joan Weinstein of Chicago, and Vincent Drucker of San Rafael, Calif.; and six grandchildren.
Early last year, in an interview with Forbes magazine, Mr. Drucker was asked if there was anything in his long career that he wished he had done but had not been able to do.
“Yes, quite a few things,” he said. “There are many books I could have written that are better than the ones I actually wrote. My best book would have been “Managing Ignorance,” and I’m very sorry I didn’t write it.”
A while back Tom Foremski wrote about the rise of the New Rules Enterprise:
“There is a new kind of dotcom company that will emerge during Internet 2.0—this current and very distinct emerging phase of the Internet. I’m not sure what to call the new dotcom but I know what it is. It is a company that plays by the emerging new rules of the economy. New-rules companies will decimate established companies in many/most sectors but at varying rates.”
Here are Foremski’s 10 rules for the New Rules Enterprise
The first rule of the New Rules enterprise is that it is new, brand spanking new.
The second rule is it is staffed by a small group of executives that know the most efficient business processes for what the venture will produce.
The third rule is to stick as much open source/industry platform software and hardware onto the business processes as you can, creating a highly automated highly-efficient business venture with virtually free IT.
The fourth rule is to use as much web services IT as possible.
The fifth rule is you do not use venture capital–you and four others throw your credit cards into a bowl and work free for six-months to create the nucleus of the venture. It’s an atomic ventures world. It’s the $40k startup. When IT, and other infrastructure costs are so cheap and available to everyone then knowledge capital becomes the competitive differentiator—who is on your team.
The sixth rule is don’t put anybody on the payroll unless you absolutely have to.
The seventh rule is the venture does not go public, it stays private. It will have private investors/owners and those investors would be paid in dividends. By staying private newrules enterprises are a blackbox corporation. Competitors cannot peek inside because it is private and thus cannot benchmark their business model against it.
The eighth rule of the newrules enterprise is that there will be a lot of intellectual property that is not patented but is kept secret.
The ninth rule is don’t put anybody on the payroll unless you absolutely have to.
The tenth rule, and the most important, is that the newrules enterprise uses blogging techniques and technologies to market research/help produce and sell products and services that near-perfectly match the needs of their customer communities.
Guy Kawasaki says he’s “living proof that if you do one thing right in your career, you can coast on your reputation for 20 years.”
Don’t believe it. This is a man of action, and shares his philosophy in this Always-On article:
“I think the world is essentially divided into two groups: the prototypers, the people who build stuff, and the typers, the people who think the key to entrepreneurship and innovation is Microsoft Office. If you think that the key to innovation and entrepreneurship is Microsoft Office, something is wrong with you. If you’re thinking, “I have to write a business plan with Word; I need to create a pitch with PowerPoint; I need to build a 30-page financial model with Excel,” you’re on the wrong track. The key to all of this is to prototype, not type.”
“I look at that computer now and say, ‘My God, there are elements of crap in it that really embarrass me.’ It was a revolutionary product, don’t get me wrong, but we charged $2,500 for a computer that had 128K of RAM, and we were proud of that. We thought this was an ocean of RAM. And there was no software, no hard disk—which was OK because if you don’t have software, there’s nothing to copy to the hard drive. No color, no fast printing, no fast networking. What crap. But it was revolutionary crap. Don’t worry, be crappy. Ship it then test it. Don’t wait for the perfect world where chips are cheap enough and fast enough: Ship it; get your product out there.”
“Fundamental Shifts in the U.S. Media and Advertising Industries” – a report from the New Politics Institute.
• Extensive audience migration across and within media formats is driving major shifts in advertising spending, benefiting formats with targeting ability
• Advertisers are shifting ad dollars to digital media slower than they should given the cost and effectiveness of digital media
• The most innovative advertisers will utilize sophisticated direct marketing techniques (e.g., segmentation, targeting, etc.) and will adjust the digital marketing vehicle mix for each customer category
• Effectively creating “at scale” digital campaigns and integrating them into traditional marketing requires direct marketing skills that traditional marketers, particularly brand marketers, often lack
• Commercial advertisers are rapidly shifting dollars to internet advertising, in particular internet video, and are aggressively experimenting with new formats such as wireless and videogame advertising
Nobuo Masataka, a professor at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute and author of the monster best seller “Keitai wo Motta Saru (Monkeys With Mobile Phones),” argues that the proliferation of mobile phones has got young Japanese making monkeys of themselves, aping the behavior patterns of chimpanzees.
The primate specialist says the actions of the dearuki-zoku closely resemble behavior patterns in chimpanzees, which tend to travel in groups, walking around for a long time without going to any specific place, then eating and disposing of their wastes in the same place before bedding down on piles of grass whenever and wherever the inclination takes them.
Read all about it!
Another great leader. I remember reading Maverick back in ’94 and handing a copy to Riley Bechtel, the CEO of the company I used to work for when I started my career.
I’ve never forgotten Semler, and it’s great to see that he hasn’t changed!
One more thing: Semco’s annual rate of staff turnover is 2%!!
UPDATE: Here’s a longer post on Ricardo Semler and Workplace Democratization.
Here’s the best executive interview I’ve read in a long time. It took place back in 2003, but it reminds us why Southwest Airlines has succeeded where so many others have failed.
A few excerpts:
“We’ve never tried to lecture other companies as to how they should behave, what kind of environment they should try to create, because there are a hundred roads to Rome and you can get to Rome by any one of those roads. But our focus has always been on the well-being and the joy that we want our people to experience.
“I just always have felt that people should be natural in their behavior, that they should be able to derive enjoyment from whatever they do. When they derive enjoyment they tend to work together better, they tend to be more productive. One time a ramp agent wrote me, he said, Herb, I’ve caught on to what you’re doing, you’re making work fun – and home is work. Now, I’ve never repeated that to anybody because I thought that wouldn’t make me very popular in certain quarters but he did get it. And you know I don’t think that in order for people to be effective they have to act like automatons.
“We don’t hire a great many people in management positions from other airlines, but we have hired some over the years where we felt that the expertise was required as we grew. And it’s interesting to see their response because they get into the Southwest environment and for awhile they are like a new dog in town, just kind of sniffing around, because they want to see if this is legitimate, whether it’s genuine, whether it’s heartfelt. And after about six months, I would say, you get either one of two reactions: they feel liberated for the first time in their business lives and they say, “Hey, this is for real. I can say what I want to. I can joke. I can be friendly with people.” Or in some cases they say, “This makes me feel very insecure, the fluidity of it is daunting to me. I need a more structured environment than Southwest Airlines has in order for me to be comfortable.”
“one of the things that I want to tell you with respect to a mission statement is that a lot of people hire outside people to prepare their mission statements. My suggestion is that if you need someone outside your company to prepare a mission statement for you, then you really don’t know what your mission is and you probably don’t have one.
“the thing about it is that a group got together and said, We want to define spirit. And I said, I don’t think you want to do that. Because Wordsworth said, “It’s murder to dissect.” And I think it’s murder to dissect to take a concept like that and make it too narrow and make it confining and a strait jacket instead of as expansive as anybody wants it to be. So we’re not going to define it. As long as it’s a positive attitude, that’s the Southwest Airlines spirit. Don’t chain it. Don’t put it in jail.
“we’ve said we’re in the customer service business and we happen to operate an airline. But then any business is about providing great customer service to the people you serve. We just happen to be in one branch of the customer service business. And if you have a great customer service organization it doesn’t matter whether you’re flying people or selling steel or cleaning houses or whatever it might be.
“when we built this building I said give me an interior office because fundamentally bureaucrats scrap over space, which in and of itself I think should be somewhat meaningless, physical space. It’s the space between your ears that should be the important thing. So I did say, I want an office without a window, away from a corner.
Read the complete interview here.
We should all be so lucky to work with a leader like this!
From a report and survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Tata Consulting Services:
1. Business needs—and the kinds of knowledge required to fulfil them—have to be identified first before tools and processes are implemented. Many initiatives have failed where technology has dictated knowledge management (KM).
2. Successful KM is about shifting culture and behaviour—technology is an important element, but is subsidiary.
3. A basic mechanism in large organisations is also one of the most effective: keeping tabs on who knows what—and how to get in touch with them.
4. Though improving, KM tools are often too complicated: they have to be delivered in a way executives and staff want to use them, and to adapt to the areas/depth of knowledge needed by the individual.
5. Markets, customers, technology and competition are continually changing; knowledge gets stale fast. Is the KM framework able to handle change?
6. Can the organisation track whether kowledge is being acted on, and what value is gained from it? Even where knowledge flows quite efficiently round an organisation, companies can often do more to ensure information is acted on.
7. Is there a means to learn from experience — good and bad — and share that learning when a similar situation occurs? A vast amount of resource is wasted in corporations just by unwittingly repeating the same mistakes, or failing to repeat useful discoveries.
8. Who leads KM? Many large organisations now have a dedicated head of KM, or at least a high-ranking sponsor, to ensure the right collaborative environment.
9. Bulletin boards and web logs have begun to prove their worth to a range of organisations: they supply an instant exchange of learning or can be used by executives to communicate and keep their ear to the ground.
10. You can only get people to volunteer knowledge—you can’t force it. However, firms that provide forums, tools and opportunities for informal networking can encourage employees actively to share knowledge.
Full report here>>
ECOnomics: The Environmental Business Plan Challenge: GE and Dow Jones are looking for great business ideas that combine environmental innovation and profitability, because they truly believe that “green” business represents good business.
So if you’re a university student, an MBA candidate or a confident entrepreneur, submit your business idea and you could win $50,000. If you have an enterprise to help the earth, it’s time to get it off the ground.
Contest begins: Saturday, October 15, 2005 12:01 AM (ET)
Deadline for entries: Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:59 PM (ET)
Open to residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 21 years of age or older.
Enter here >>
To: Executive Staff and direct reports
From: Ray Ozzie
Date: October 28, 2005
Subject: The Internet Services Disruption
It is an exciting time, as we’re at the beginning of the biggest product cycle in the company’s history. In a week we ship new versions of Visual Studio, SQL Server and BizTalk Server. Later this month we ship Xbox 360. Next year we have a double barreled release of our two largest products with Windows Vista and Office “12”. It’s a great time for customers, our partners, and for those at Microsoft who have put so much of themselves into these products.
But we bring these innovations to market at a time of great turbulence and potential change in the industry. This isn’t the first time of such great change: we’ve needed to reflect upon our core strategy and direction just about every five years. Such changes are inevitable because of the progressive and dramatic evolution of computing and communications technology, because of resultant changes in how our customers use and apply that technology, and because of the continuous emergence of competitors with new approaches and perspectives.
In 1990, there was actually a question about whether the graphical user interface had merit. Apple amongst others valiantly tried to convince the market of the GUI’s broad benefits, but the non-GUI Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect had significant momentum. But Microsoft recognized the GUI’s transformative potential, and committed the organization to pursuit of the dream – through investment in applications, platform and tools – based on a belief that the GUI would dramatically expand and democratize computing.
When we reflected upon our dreams just five years later in 1995, the impetus for our new center of gravity came from the then-nascent web. With a clear view upon the challenges and opportunities it presented, the entire company pivoted to focus on the internet to pursue that ‘fully connected’ dream with support for internet standards throughout our product line: a web browser, server and development tools, and a service in MSN that was transformed into a web portal. Many things we developed in that era continue to fuel the growth of today’s internet: the technologies of AJAX – DHTML and XMLHTTP – were created in 1998 and used in products such as OWA.
In 2000, in the waning days of the dot com bubble, we yet again reflected on our strategy and refined our direction. After taking a more deliberative look at the internet and its implications for software, we came to the conclusion that the internet would go beyond browsing and should support programmability on a global scale. We observed that certain aspects of our most fundamental platform – the tools and services that developers use when building their software – would not likely satisfy the emerging security and interoperability requirements of the internet. So we embarked upon .NET, a transformative new generation of the platform and tools built around managed code, the XML format and web services programming model. At the time, it was a risky bet to build natively around XML, but this bet paid off handsomely and .NET has become the most popular development environment in the world.
It is now 2005, and the environment has changed yet again – this time around services. Computing and communications technologies have dramatically and progressively improved to enable the viability of a services-based model. The ubiquity of broadband and wireless networking has changed the nature of how people interact, and they’re increasingly drawn toward the simplicity of services and service-enabled software that ‘just works’. Businesses are increasingly considering what services-based economics of scale might do to help them reduce infrastructure costs or deploy solutions as-needed and on subscription basis.
Most challenging and promising to our business, though, is that a new business model has emerged in the form of advertising-supported services and software. This model has the potential to fundamentally impact how we and other developers build, deliver, and monetize innovations. No one yet knows what kind of software and in which markets this model will be embraced, and there is tremendous revenue potential in those where it ultimately is.
Just as in the past, we must reflect upon what’s going on around us, and reflect upon our strengths, weaknesses and industry leadership responsibilities, and respond. As much as ever, it’s clear that if we fail to do so, our business as we know it is at risk. We must respond quickly and decisively.
Since 1995, inexpensive computing and communications technologies have advanced at a rapid rate that even exceeded our expectations. It’s so very difficult now for us to imagine a world without the PC, the web and the cell phone. In the US, there are more than 100MM broadband users, 190MM mobile phone subscribers, and WiFi networks blanket the urban landscape. This pattern is mirrored in much of the developed world. Computing has become linked to the communications network; when a PC is purchased, it’s assumed that the PC will have high-speed internet connectivity. At work, at home, in a hotel, at school or in a coffee shop, the networked laptop has become our ‘virtual office’ where we file our information and interact with others. The broad accessibility and rapid pace of innovation in hardware, networks, software and services has catalyzed a virtuous cycle whose pace isn’t slowing. There has never been a more exciting time to be a developer or a user of technology.
Our products have embraced the internet in many amazing ways. We’ve transformed the desktop into a rich platform for interactive internet browsing, media and communications-centric applications. We’ve transformed Windows into best-of-breed infrastructure for internet applications and services. We’ve created, in .NET, the most popular development platform in the world. We’ve got amazing products in Office and our other IW offerings, having fully embraced standards such as XML, HTML, RSS and SIP. Our MSN team has demonstrated great innovation and has held its own in a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment – particularly with Spaces and in growing a base of 180M active Messenger users worldwide. The Xbox team has also built a huge user community and has demonstrated that internet-based “Live” interaction is a high-value, strong differentiator.
But for all our great progress, our efforts have not always led to the degree that perhaps they could have. We should’ve been leaders with all our web properties in harnessing the potential of AJAX, following our pioneering work in OWA. We knew search would be important, but through Google’s focus they’ve gained a tremendously strong position. RSS is the internet’s answer to the notification scenarios we’ve discussed and worked on for some time, and is filling a role as ‘the UNIX pipe of the internet’ as people use it to connect data and systems in unanticipated ways. For all its tremendous innovation and its embracing of HTML and XML, Office is not yet the source of key web data formats – surely not to the level of PDF. While we’ve led with great capabilities in Messenger & Communicator, it was Skype, not us, who made VoIP broadly popular and created a new category. We have long understood the importance of mobile messaging scenarios and have made significant investment in device software, yet only now are we surpassing the Blackberry.
And while we continue to make good progress on these many fronts, a set of very strong and determined competitors is laser-focused on internet services and service-enabled software. Google is obviously the most visible here, although given the hype level it is difficult to ascertain which of their myriad initiatives are simply adjuncts intended to drive scale for their advertising business, or which might ultimately grow to substantively challenge our offerings. Although Yahoo also has significant communications assets that combine software and services, they are more of a media company and – with the notable exception of their advertising platform – they seem to be utilizing their platform capabilities largely as an internal asset. The same is true of Apple, which has done an enviable job integrating hardware, software and services into a seamless experience with dotMac, iPod and iTunes, but seems less focused on enabling developers to build substantial products and businesses.
Even beyond our large competitors, tremendous software-and-services activity is occurring within startups and at the grassroots level. Only a few years ago I’d have pointed to the Weblog and the Wiki as significant emerging trends; by now they’re mainstream and have moved into the enterprise. Flickr and others have done innovative work around community sharing and tagging based on simple data formats and metadata. GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting are very popular low-end solutions to remote PC access and online meetings. A number of startups have built interesting solutions for cross-device file and remote media access. VoIP seems on the verge of exploding – not just in Skype, but also as indicated by things such as the Asterisk soft-PBX. Innovations abound from small developers – from RAD frameworks to lightweight project management services and solutions.
Many startups treat the ‘raw’ internet as their platform. At the grassroots level, such projects actively use standards such as vCards and iCal for sharing contacts and calendars. Most all use RSS in one way or another for data sharing. Remixing and mashing of multiple web applications using XML, REST and WS is common; interesting mash-ups range from combining maps with apartment listings, to others that place RSS feeds on top of systems and data not originally intended for remixing. Developers needing tools and libraries to do their work just search the internet, download, develop & integrate, deploy, refine. Speed, simplicity and loose coupling are paramount.
And the work of these startups could be improved with a ‘services platform’. Ironically, the same things that enable and catalyze rapid innovation can also be constraints to their success. Many hard problems are often ignored – the most significant of which is achieving scale. Some scale issues are technological and result from the fact that they are generally built on application server platforms rather than high-scale service platforms. But new services also need to build user communities from scratch – generally by word of mouth. Many fund their sites using syndicated ads, but have a difficult time transforming their services into higher levels of commerce. Some seek to incorporate client software into their user experience, but then need to reinvent software deployment, update, communications and synchronization mechanisms. User identity and cross-service interoperability mechanisms are still needlessly fragmented. Intuitively there seems to be a platform opportunity in providing such capabilities to developers in a form that retains the speed, simplicity and loose coupling that is so very important for rapid innovation.
Today there are three key tenets that are driving fundamental shifts in the landscape – all of which are related in some way to services. It’s key to embrace these tenets within the context of our products and services.
1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model.
Online advertising has emerged as a significant new means by which to directly and indirectly fund the creation and delivery of software and services. In some cases, it may be possible for one to obtain more revenue through the advertising model than through a traditional licensing model. Only in its earliest stages, no one yet knows the limits of what categories of hardware, software and services, in what markets, will ultimately be funded through this model. And no one yet knows how much of the world’s online advertising revenues should or will flow to large software and service providers, medium sized or tail providers, or even users themselves.
2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model.
A grassroots technology adoption pattern has emerged on the internet largely in parallel to the classic methods of selling software to the enterprise. Products are now discovered through a combination of blogs, search keyword-based advertising, online product marketing and word-of-mouth. It’s now expected that anything discovered can be sampled and experienced through self-service exploration and download. This is true not just for consumer products: even enterprise products now more often than not enter an organization through the internet-based research and trial of a business unit that understands a product’s value.
Limited trial use, ad-monetized or free reduced-function use, subscription-based use, on-line activation, digital license management, automatic update, and other such concepts are now entering the vocabulary of any developer building products that wish to successfully utilize the web as a channel. Products must now embrace a “discover, learn, try, buy, recommend” cycle – sometimes with one of those phases being free, another ad-supported, and yet another being subscription-based. Grassroots adoption requires an end-to-end perspective related to product design. Products must be easily understood by the user upon trial, and useful out-of-the-box with little or no configuration or administrative intervention.
But enabling grassroots adoption is not just a product design issue. Today’s web is fundamentally a self-service environment, and it is critical to design websites and product ‘landing pages’ with sophisticated closed-loop measurement and feedback systems. Even startups use such techniques in conjunction with pay-per-click advertisements. This ensures that the most effective website designs will be selected to attract discovery of products and services, help in research and learning, facilitate download, trial and purchase, and to enable individuals’ self-help and making recommendations to others. Such systems can recognize and take advantage of opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell products to individuals, workgroups and businesses, and also act as a lead generation front-end for our sales force and for our partners.
3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that “just work”.
The PC has morphed into new form factors and new roles, and we increasingly have more than one in our lives – at work, at home, laptops, tablets, even in the living room. Cell phones have become ubiquitous. There are a myriad of handheld devices. Set-top boxes, PVRs and game consoles are changing what and how we watch television. Photos, music and voice communications are all rapidly going digital and being driven by software. Automobiles are on a path to become smart and connected. The emergence of the digital lifestyle that utilizes all these technologies is changing how we learn, play games, watch TV, communicate with friends and family, listen to music and share memories.
But the power of technology also brings with it a cost. For all the success of individual technologies, the array of technology in a person’s life can be daunting. Increasingly, individuals choose products and services that are highly-personalized, focused on the end-to-end experience delivered by that technology. Products must deliver a seamless experience, one in which all the technology in your life ‘just works’ and can work together, on your behalf, under your control. This means designs centered on an intentional fusion of internet-based services with software, and sometimes even hardware, to deliver meaningful experiences and solutions with a level of seamless design and use that couldn’t be achieved without such a holistic approach.
These three tenets are causing a shift in the software landscape that started with consumers and is progressively working its way toward the enterprise – changing how software is monetized, how software is delivered, and what kind of software is ultimately embraced. With our presence in so many markets serving so many audiences, and with such a broad variety of products and solutions, we are well positioned to deliver seamless experiences to customers, enabled by services and service-enhanced software, including:
SEAMLESS OS – The operating system as it would be designed for today’s multi-PC, multi-device, work anywhere, web-based world. Enabling you to login using any of your service-based or enterprise identities. Deploying software automatically and as appropriate to all your devices, and roaming application data and settings. Permitting seamless access to storage across all your PCs, devices, servers and the web.
SEAMLESS COMMUNICATIONS – Communications and notifications – from voice to typing to shared screen; from PC to service-based agent to phone. Maintaining continuous co-presence with intimate friends and family; improving the coordination amongst individuals who need to work together by reducing latency and adding clarity through shared context.
SEAMLESS PRODUCTIVITY – Enabling you to create, find and organize documents and data among all the desktops, devices, servers and services to which you have access, and with all the others with whom you need to work, through ‘shared space’ products that are internet service-based, enterprise server-based and directly peer-to-peer. Working within and across homes, small businesses, virtual workgroups and enterprises.
SEAMLESS ENTERTAINMENT – Enabling you to create, store, organize, present, consume and interact with media of all kinds; accessing, caching and viewing it anywhere you like regardless of where the media resides. Gaming experiences that bring two or two million people together across PCs, devices and the web.
SEAMLESS MARKETPLACE – Enabling you to research, find, buy and sell whatever you want through a seamlessly integrated purchase, billing & payment & points, advertising & lead generation & sales management system designed to satisfy the needs of both buyers and sellers.
SEAMLESS SOLUTIONS – Enabling workgroups and businesses to rapidly create and customize any of a broad class of template-driven, semi-structured data-based applications and solutions that “just work” and provide instant value – whether using them from the web, from enterprise servers, or from mobile client PCs.
SEAMLESS IT – Enabling enterprises to seamlessly and cost-effectively manage many of the things they’ve classically done within their data centers – e.g. PCs, messaging, content and applications. The management experience might be wholly within the cloud, or with the cloud seamlessly integrating enterprise server assist.
In order to adapt to the requirements underlying these key tenets, groups must reflect upon their existing plans, and assess their designs in the context of the end-to-end experiences they need deliver in order to understand how services might make a substantive impact. Groups should consider how new delivery and adoption models might impact plans, and whether embracing new advertising-supported revenue models might be market-relevant.
In assessing where we are and where we need to be, some new efforts will surely require incubation. But in many areas we have 80% of the product and technical infrastructure already built – we just need to close the 20% gap. Following are but a few thoughts for each division intended to catalyze a “services-enhanced software” mindset.
Platform Products & Services Division
a. BASE vs. ADDITIVE EXPERIENCES – In MSN, and in Windows Update and software deployed by it, we have quite a bit of experience with methods and practices for getting innovations to market on a rapid cycle. In the form of a newly combined division, we should consider many options as to how we might bring user experience innovations and enhancements to users worldwide. Specifically, we should consider the achievability, desirability, and methods of increasing the tempo for both ‘base’ OS experiences as well as ‘additive’ experiences that might be delivered on a more rapid tempo. In doing so, we would better serve a broad range of highly-influential early adopters.
b. SERVICES PLATFORM – Through years of experience, the MSN team understands the methods and practices of building ‘internet scale’ services. The Platform team understands developers and has deep experience in communications and storage architectures. These teams must work together, benefiting from each others’ strengths, to develop a next generation internet services platform – a platform for both internal and external innovation. A platform with capabilities and an operations infrastructure that takes those services to a scale never yet seen on the internet – to our benefit, and to the benefit of our partners and customers.
c. SERVICE/SERVER SYNERGY – A tension has emerged between our products designed for the enterprise and those for the internet. Exchange/Hotmail, AD/Passport, and Messenger/Communicator are but three examples. All our enterprise clients and servers must interoperate with and complement our internet services. Our functional aspirations are generally “server/service symmetry”, but architectural considerations dictate that different implementations may be required to economically reach internet scale. We must quickly find the best path to achieve seamless user, developer, and administration experiences involving servers and services.
e. RESPONSIBLE COMPETITION – We will compete energetically but also responsibly and with recognition of our high legal responsibilities. We will design and license Windows and our internet-based services as separate products, so customers can choose Windows with or without Microsoft’s services. We’ll design and license Windows and our services on terms that provide third parties with the same ability to benefit from the Windows platform that Microsoft’s services enjoy. Our services innovations will include tight integration with the Windows client via documented interfaces, so that competing services can plug into Windows in the same manner as Microsoft’s services. We will compete hard and responsibly in services on the basis of software innovation and price – and on that basis we will offer consumers and businesses the best value in the market.
a. CONNECTED OFFICE – How would we extend or re-conceptualize Office modules to fit in this seamless model of connectedness to others, and to other applications? Should PowerPoint directly ‘broadcast to the web’, or let the audience take notes and respond? How should we increase the role of Office Online as the portal for productivity? What should we do to bring Office’s classic COM-based publish-and-subscribe capabilities to a world where RSS and XML have become the de facto publish-and-subscribe mechanisms?
b. TELECOM TRANSFORMATION – How should our investments in RTC evolve to serve not just the enterprise, but also fully embrace the concept of grassroots adoption? How can RTC begin as an individual phenomenon, growing into a small business offering with a level of function that they’d never imagine possible, growing into the enterprise? How should we utilize service-based federation and hosting to ensure a ‘just works’ experience for all users, whether or not an administrator was ever involved?
c. RAPID SOLUTIONS – How can we utilize our extant products and our knowledge of the broad historical adoption of forms-based applications to jump-start an effort that could dramatically surpass offerings from Quickbase to Salesforce.com? How could we build it to scale to hundreds of millions of users at an unimaginably low cost that would change the game? How could we re-shape our client-side software offerings such as Access and Groove, and our server offerings such as SharePoint, to grow and thrive in the presence of such a service? Could these rapid solutions encourage a new ISV ecosystem and business model?
Entertainment & Devices Division
a. CONNECTED ENTERTAINMENT – How can XBox Live benefit from interconnection with other services assets, such as PC-based and mobile-based IM and VoIP? How might both the PC and XBox mutually benefit from a common marketplace? Might PC users act as spectators/participants in XBox games, and vice-versa?
b. GRASSROOTS MOBILE SERVICES – How might the Windows Mobile device experience be transformed by for consumers by connection to a services infrastructure – in particular one enabled by RTC-based unified communications? How might unmediated connection to a rich services infrastructure transform mobile phones into a mass market messaging, media and commerce phenomenon?
c. DEVICE/SERVICE FUSION – What new devices might emerge if we envision hardware/software/service fusion? What new kinds of devices might be enabled by the presence of a service?
One perspective on this memo might be to say “This is in many ways is pretty close to what we’re already working on. What’s the big deal?” Or “We tried something similar years ago; why will we succeed this time?” These are understandable reactions. Many visions of the future going all the way back to “Information at Your Fingertips” contain elements of what has been laid out here.
That said, I have a number of reasons for optimism that we can deliver well on this vision. First, I know that Bill, Steve and the senior leadership team understand that Microsoft’s execution effectiveness will be improved by eliminating obstacles to developing and shipping products. The recent reorganization into three divisions is a significant step, and the division presidents are committed to changes to improve our agility.
Second, we are just now completing a wave of innovation that has never been seen in this company. 2006 is going to be an amazing year for shipping products, and many across the company will be ready to take on a new mission.
Third, regardless of past aspirations, this is the right time to be focusing on services for two specific reasons: the increasing ubiquity of broadband has made it viable, and the proven economics of the advertising model has made it profitable. It can be argued, for example, whether or not Hailstorm was the ‘right’ undertaking. But regardless, the effort would certainly have benefited from having a known-viable services business model for which to design.
Finally, I believe at this juncture it’s generally very clear to each of us why we need to transform – the competitors, the challenges, and the opportunities. As an outsider, I was repeatedly impressed and awed over the years by how this company’s talent has swarmed to effectively respond to huge business challenges and transitions.
That said, even when we’ve been solidly in pursuit of a common vision, our end-to-end execution of key scenarios has often been uneven – in large part because of the complexity of doing such substantial undertakings. In any large project, the sheer number of moving parts sometimes naturally causes compartmentalization of decisions and execution. Some groups might lose sight of how their piece fits in, or worse, might develop features without a clear understanding of how they’ll be used. In some cases by the time the vision is delivered, the pieces might not quite fit into the originally-envisioned coherent whole. We cannot allow the seams in our organization, or our methods of making decisions, show through in our products, or result in the failure to deliver on key end-to-end experiences.
Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges, and it causes end-user and administrator frustration. Moving forward, within all parts of the organization, each of us should ask “What’s different?”, and explore and embrace techniques to reduce complexity.
Some problems are inherently complex; there is surely no silver bullet to reducing complexity in extant systems. But when tackling new problems, I’ve found it useful to dip into a toolbox of simplification approaches and methods. One such tool is the use of extensive end-to-end scenario-based design and implementation. Another is that of utilizing loosely-coupled design of systems by introducing constraints at key junctures – using standards as a tool to force quick agreement on interfaces. Many such tools are not rocket science: for example, by forcing a change in practices to increase the frequency of release cycles, scope and complexity of any given release by necessity is greatly reduced. Another simple tool I’ve used involves attracting developers to use common physical workspaces to naturally catalyze ad hoc face-time between those who need to coordinate, rather than relying solely upon meetings and streams of email and document reviews for such interaction. Embracing change at a local level through such tools can make a real difference – one project at a time.
We’re off to a great start with many initiatives already under way – from efforts occurring now within MSN, to the IW services being launched imminently. We’re in a tremendous position to succeed, but doing so will require your belief, creativity, support, leadership, follower-ship and action.
This memo was intended to get all of us roughly on the same page, and to get you thinking. The next steps are:
1) I am working with the division presidents to assign, by December 15th, “scenario owners” – a role intended to improve our execution of key services-based initiatives through leadership. These leaders will provide an outside-in perspective in mapping out and communicating specific market objectives, while at the same time working with developers and others at the detail level to ensure expedient decision making and continuity. These individuals will be responsible for driving critical decisions such as feature re-prioritization and cuts while appreciating the business tradeoffs and impact of such decisions. They’ll listen. They’ll rapidly effect changes in plans to ensure execution and improve agility, even for scenarios that span divisions. Initial scenarios to be assigned ownership will include the seven seamless experiences described earlier.
2) Beginning in January these individuals will work with me and with product groups to concretely map out scenarios and pragmatically assess changes needed in product and go-to-market plans related to services and service-based scenarios. For some groups this will impact short-term plans; for many others on path to shipping soon, it will factor significantly into planning for future releases.
3) All Business Groups have been asked to develop their plans to embrace this mission and create new service offerings that deliver value to customers and utilize the platform capabilities that we have today and are building for the future. We expect both technical and non-technical communities to be increasingly engaged on the topic of services and service-enhanced software. As we begin planning the next waves of innovation – such as those beyond Vista and Office “12” – we will mobilize execution around those plans.
4) I have created an internal blog that will be used to notify you of further plans as they emerge. There, I’ll point you to libraries of documents that you will find interesting to read, and I’ll be experimenting with ways that you can directly engage in the conversation.
These steps are important and necessary, but not sufficient, for us to deliver on our aspirations. The most important step is for each of us to internalize the transformative and disruptive potential of services. We must then focus on the need for agility in execution, and take actions as appropriate where each of us can.
The opportunities to deliver greater value to our customers, to our developer and partner communities, and to our shareholders are significant. I very much look forward to embarking on this journey with all of you.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. this week launched what it is calling its first fully integrated campaign in years. The effort, “Wish Big,” includes television and print advertising, event marketing, in-store signage and cross-promotion activities, in-mall advertising, direct mail, online programs and public relations. [in Brandweek]
Maybe they need to just work on their strategy. Here’s what a recent article in the Chicago Sun Times had to say about that:
A Wall Street analyst gave voice Monday to rumors that Sears’ ballyhooed strategy of building new stand-alone stores is in trouble.
Sears is counting on its newest store, Sears Essentials, to compete with big-box rivals such as Target, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart, while also selling refrigerators, treadmills, lawn mowers and patio furniture.
Sears has denied reports that it is slowing or halting its plans to convert 400 Kmart stores into Sears Essentials stores within three years — at a cost of about $3.5 million per store. But Sears hasn’t yet announced how many Sears Essentials stores it will open in 2006.
Furthermore, two top Sears executives integral to the strategy have left or are leaving the Hoffman Estates-based retailer, Gregory Melich, an analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co., said in a note to investors Monday.
Catherine David, a former Target executive that Sears named to oversee Sears Essentials and two other stand-alone stores, left the retailer in September.
Sears hired David in July 2004 to turn around the struggling Great Indoors home-decor chain, which Sears had downsized a year earlier to 17 stores.
Sears also is losing Luis Padilla, another former Target executive and a merchandising whiz credited with putting the “chic” in Target’s “cheap chic” reputation. Padilla is leaving at month’s end, following Sears Chairman Edward S. Lampert’s decision to install his own top strategists.
Furthermore, Sears is investing less than its retail rivals in its stand-alone stores, and has cut its advertising by more than 40 percent, Melich wrote.
More than 50 percent of Sears Essentials stores are within five miles of a Target, a Lowe’s or a Home Depot, giving them tough conditions under which to compete, he said.
Other analysts have questioned the Sears Essentials format as unfocused and underwhelming.
“The store seems a hodgepodge of everything, and there’s no clear message to consumers about what to expect,” said Kim Picciola at Chicago-based Morningstar.
Maybe they need to outsource their management…
JSB and JH3 are right:
“Where value originates and who captures it will increasingly depend on the evolution of talent markets and the relative capability of firms (and nations) to rapidly develop and amplify the value of this talent. Product markets and financial markets will of course still matter, but the center of gravity for value creation and capture will inexorably migrate to global talent markets…” see The Only Sustainable Edge
The global talent war continues. Now, a McKinsey Quarterly article “China’s looming talent shortage” backs up Seely Brown and Hagel, making the following points:
– If China’s economy is to go on growing and its base is to evolve from manufacturing to services, it will require a huge number of qualified university graduates.
– While university graduates are plentiful there, new research shows that only a small proportion of them have the skills required for jobs further up the value chain—and competition for these graduates is becoming fierce.
– China must undertake a long-term effort to raise the quality of its graduates by changing the way it finances its universities, revamping curriculums to meet the needs of industry, and improving the quality of English-language instruction.
– China could emerge as a base for IT and business process offshoring, but unless the country addresses its looming labor shortage now the global ambitions of Chinese companies will probably be stymied.
It’s all about quality! The paradox:
China’s pool of potential talent is enormous. In 2003 China had roughly 8.5 million young professional graduates with up to seven years’ work experience and an additional 97 million people that would qualify for support-staff positions. Despite this apparently vast supply, multinational companies are finding that few graduates have the necessary skills for service occupations. According to interviews with 83 human-resources professionals involved with hiring local graduates in low-wage countries, fewer than 10 percent of Chinese job candidates, on average, would be suitable for work in a foreign company in the nine occupations we studied: engineers, finance workers, accountants, quantitative analysts, generalists, life science researchers, doctors, nurses, and support staff.
Read the article here. (registration required)
I must say I loved this ad from Sun. It’s actually fairly brilliant because it:
1) states Sun’s case in a humorous way,
2) highlights the different strategies the two companies are allegedly pursuing (innovation=Sun, low-cost=Dell),
3) beats Dell at its own game- price,
4) has an environmental angle,
5) tells us about the best server in the world!
6) trumpets open source messaging via Solaris…
I could go on and on.
Lucky for Sun that the NYT refused to print the ad, giving it even more buzz… All the news that’s fit to print, eh? They can print Judy Miller, but not an ad?
Well, the ad is on Jonathan Schwartz’s blog– which gives it that much more authenticity!
One more thing- will design and innovation rule the future of global competition? Sun thinks so.
I do too.
Interesting analysis from Forrester:
“The iPod video player doesn’t matter. Downloading episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives to computers barely matters. What does matter is the crack in the traditional television business model opened by the Apple/ABC deal to allow consumers on-demand access to current hit TV shows. Unwittingly, Apple is building the proof of concept for the video-on-demand (VOD) business model. Demands by cable operators to put the same deal on the VOD tier, rebellion by network affiliates, and greater availability of niche content will fracture the old business model.”
The story here.
From Marissa Mayer via Evelyn Rodriguez. Download here>>
Thanks for taking notes, Evelyn!
Small, Agile Engineering Teams
• 3-person units (like start-ups!)
• Unit is a project – they don’t have departments
• Unit is co-located (sit next to each other) also with PM
• Engineers work on project for 3-4 months, then transition to next project
• Very fluid
• With 180 engineers, they can work on 60 projects – so they can afford to invest
on high-risk, high-return projects as well. (They call high-risk projects “Googlettes”)
• Each project manager works with 9-10 people across units. For example, maybe a category such as “Enterprise Infrastructure”
• The technical lead in each unit of 3 is responsible for technical excellence of project.
– Very sparse, only what is needed in Product Requirements Document
– Eric Schmidt: “Late binding decision-making process”
– Evolves based on feedback
– Includes information on general market size, revenue in PRD but believe that “if you build something users use, there will be a way to make money”
• Large Projects
– Example: Enterprise Product – broken into logical modules, thus 4 units
(of 3 people) = 12 people
• Monetization teams
– Larry Page: “No such thing as a successful failure; if it is useful to people, later we can make revenue from it in a logical way.”
– Focus on providing value to user first.
– Then create team to execute the “monetization” of most useful products/services.
• Marissa (speaker) was on team to monetize search
– Created AdWords, etc.
This is very, very interesting. Beeg trouble for moose and squirrel, er, Microsoft!
From the Economist:
“For workers from poor countries who venture abroad to earn a better living, sending money home to relatives can be hugely expensive. Such remittances have become an important source of income in many developing countries, dwarfing other inflows of capital from overseas such as foreign direct investment and multilateral aid. But if the money is being sent, say, from America to Venezuela, charges can amount to as much as 34% of the sum involved, according to Dilip Ratha of the World Bank.
“Why are the poor so badly served? The easy answer, that people who have little money do not make suitable clients for sophisticated financial services, is at most a half-truth. A better explanation, this survey will argue, is that the poor have been hurt by massive market and regulatory failure. Fortunately that failure can be, and increasingly is being, remedied.”
Read the article here.
All I know is that when money trickles down to the poor, it usually gets siphoned off by a middleman, or the neighborhood mafia.
For every automobile, and maybe every product, there’s a threshold beyond which your ad budget is wasted.
That’s the premise of this startlingly clear analysis from Evan Hirsh and Mark Schweizer from Booz Allen Hamilton’s Cleveland office. They ask:
“…What if there was an optimal level of advertising spend for any given product — beyond which the money was completely wasted?”
“Economists often speak of “price elasticity”: When prices rise or fall, consumers respond by changing their purchase strategies. That is why price increases do not automatically lead to equivalent rises in revenues. The same kind of elasticity exists with advertising. For any given brand in any given market, there is a saturation point for advertising spend. Up to that point, increases in the ad budget will generate results; but once the market for a product or service is saturated, no matter how much a company spends on advertising, it will not produce enough added sales to justify the cost. The best possible budget places just enough ads to reach the saturation point, and not a dollar’s worth of advertising more. Companies that follow this principle will optimize their overall profitability because they will spend on advertising only what they can recoup in revenues.”
An important wake up call for marketing and advertising strategists everywhere. Download here >>
I keep getting emails asking me how “Double Loop Marketing” works. Here’s a quick explanation.
Let’s say a company like Texas Instruments wants establish itself as a thought-leader in the RFID marketspace.
In the traditional PR world, they could issue a few press releases, give a few speeches, write a few whitepapers, and then hope the media would cover them.
But what if TI decided on a “Double Loop Marketing™” approach?
What if Texas Instruments brought together its partners, industry thought-leaders, R&D professionals, VC shops, and senior executives in an online thought-leadership-based “double-loop” site to:
– Learn about the latest trends and technologies in RFID
– Define and understand the specific factors that contribute to improving strategy
– Develop recommendations for creating a RFID management discipline within your organization
– Present sample business justifications supporting strategic and learning investments in RFID
– Foster discussion of lessons learned from early adopters
– Disseminate news, events, and thought leadership articles on a monthly basis
– Create a framework for measuring performance and ROI
– Build a worldwide community of interested senior executives and target them w/ e-mail bulletins that include messages from TI and its partners
– Develop industry-specific campaigns promoting the community – including offline events, publications, and more.
– Build a members-only community of practice around the gurus and leading implementors
The site would include blogs as well, from industry experts and TI subject-matter experts.
Of course the cost of something like that is far higher than funding a blog or two, but its impact on the marketspace is far more potent.
By building a thought-leadership hub on RFID, TI establishes itself as “the one to learn from” and as I like to say: moves from “mind share” to “wallet share”
Blogs on the other hand are better suited to the voice of an individual. So if TI doesn’t have the resources to build the “big” site I mention, they can still play by allowing one or more of their subject matter experts to start blogging on the ins-and-outs of RFID.
Of course, great care must be taken to make sure that the expert actually does have something to say, and is not the mouthpiece for a veiled PR initiative. Scoble at Microsoft and Schwartz at Sun come to mind instantly, right?
Not enough? Here’s a slightly longer explanation of Double Loop Marketing.
The Amazon “Pages program” would “unbundle” books, by allowing customers to purchase and view the pages they want or need.
Amazon “Upgrade” will give customers the option to purchase a physical book and perpetual online access to the book. [I do like this idea- now I won’t have lug all my books around the world.]
When will this happen? Sometime next year… read about it here.
How does this compare with Google’s “Print Library”?
Here’s what the bloggers are saying:
“Suddenly the reason why publishers and authors are so pissed off at Google becomes a little bit clearer. They think that they’re going to be able to slice and dice their books, selling little pieces of the book as people want them. They’re taking a page from the entertainment industry — and, like that industry, they’re going to discover this plan won’t work very well. They’ve just added friction in the form of additional transaction costs, both mental and monetary to finding information.”
“Ultimately, it’s a very Long Tail idea, isn’t it? Allow people to buy stuff the way they want to, so that you can wring every last cent out of your content, by earning $1 from someone who isn’t willing to spend $10 for the entire book.”
“It’s figured out a way to please authors and publishers, spread around the money for everyone, and do the right thing for readers. Google should sit up and take notice.”
“It sounds intriguing – especially to folks who conduct research or who cite information. For example, I might want to cite a book in a blog post or an article or something, but not wait for the entire book (or even buy it). But to pay a nominal amount for access to a few pages – well, that might well be worth the cost.”
I’m kidding, but hey- now you can read Jane Austen and click on Google Ads at the same time!
Here’s the official line: “One of our goals for Google Print is to change that, and today we’ve taken an exciting step toward meeting it: making available a number of public domain books that were never subject to copyright or whose copyright has expired. We can show every page because these books are in the public domain.” more>>
I like it. They thought of it before Bill Gates.
Is this the “democratization of knowledge” Larry Prusak talks about?
I just dug this up from the archives:
Reminds me of paper television.
Siemens has announced a new color display screen so thin and flexible it can be printed on to paper or foil, and so cheap it can be used on throw-away packaging.
Prediction: ads on toilet paper… aargh, what are we coming to?