Howard Dean

Dean is one of the the US Democratic party candidates. What has been unusual about his campaign is how he is using the Internet and technology for his campaign. WSJ has the story behind the “Dean Surge”. The current status: “The campaign’s e-mail list now stands at 450,600, including 120,000 from the Meetup deal. Mr. Dean hopes to have 900,000 by year’s end and enough money to follow President Bush’s lead by opting out of public financing for primaries. He’d still be far behind Mr. Bush, who has raised $85 million so far, but opting out would free Mr. Dean from spending limits and give him an advantage over his Democratic rivals.”

Fast Company has more.

Wider View of Weblogs

InfoWorld has an interview with Anil Dash of Six Apart, the company which makes MovableType and offers the TypePad blog hosting service. Some excerpts:

The three markets are marketing communications; inside the intranet it’s kind of knowledge management; and then the third market is nanopublishing.

We have a long-term vision, which is something I generically describe as the micro content client. Basically it says that all types of micro content are equivalent. Whether they’re e-mail messages, instant messaging messages, Weblog posts — even Usenet — [they] would have one unified API and pieces can be shuttled between all the different contexts that you’re in. I think that’s something where everybody likes to talk about the underused power of the desktop and grids. One thing that might be useful in applying those ideas to Weblogs and managing Weblog information is that the computers can be used to make connections and apply context to the data that’s being handled. But first I think we [need] to have a critical mass of data before people start to make clients around it. So in the short term you’re going to see integration with e-mail clients and instant messaging, whatever people are using today.

The Innovator’s Solution

Clay Christensen is back with his new book – “The Innovator’s Solution”, a kind-of sequel to “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. Boston Globe writes in an article on the book and the author:

[The book] is intended as an answer to the question Christensen posed six years ago: How can business leaders create sustainable growth for their companies at a time of continuous change and innovation? Christensen and Raynor set out to demystify innovation so that established companies can capitalize on changes and deliberately create disruptions. Among the tactics they recommend:

– Target only customers and markets that are unappealing to established competitors.

– Pursue customers at the low end of a market or, even better, “nonconsumers” who don’t even use a product.

– Help customers find simpler, more cost-effective solutions, rather than inventing new problems for them to solve.

– Be impatient for profits, but patient for growth.

– Work on new ways to keep your company growing while it is still robust .

Financial Times had an article on Christensen recently. A quote from him, which captures the essence of his solution: “The power to capture attractive profits always shifts to the activities in the value chain where the immediate customer is not yet satisfied with the performance of available products.”

Forbes has an excerpt from the book:

How do you create products that customers want to buy–ones that become so successful they “disrupt” the market? It’s not easy. Three in five new-product-development efforts are scuttled before they ever reach the market. Of the ones that do see the light of day, 40% never become profitable and simply disappear.

Most of these failures are predictable–and avoidable. Why? Because most managers trying to come up with new products don’t properly consider the circumstances in which customers find themselves when making purchasing decisions. Or as marketing expert Theodore Levitt once told his M.B.A. students at Harvard: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

Much of the art of marketing focuses on identifying groups or segments of customers that are similar enough that the same product or service will appeal to all of them. Managers need to segment their markets to mirror the way their customers experience life–and not base decisions on irrelevant data that focus on customer attributes. Managers need to realize that customers, in effect, “hire” products to do specific “jobs.” That’s one reason why retail formats like Home Depot and Lowe’s have become so successful: Their stores are literally organized around jobs to be done.

Speechwriting Tips

HBS Working Knowledge writes about how to prepare for a speech:

Phillip Khan-Pami, a coach and competition-winning speaker himself. Khan-Pami suggests beginning by identifying your core message: “When you have completed your presentation or speech, what will people remember? What will they take away with them, to apply and change their ways, and one day perhaps even thank you for? What one sentence will correctly sum up your entire presentation? That’s your Core Message…Make no mistake: Your listeners will take away a core message of sorts. They will carry away an impression of what you were saying. It may be complimentary, it may be less so. It may be about you and your delivery, or it may be about your content. If you want them to receive and carry away the right messageyour Core Messageyou must first identify what you believe it to be and write it down.”

Once you’ve developed that one-sentence summary of what you want to say, you’re ready to brainstorm supporting ideas, arguments, anecdotes, and information. Then, Khan-Pami advises, test everything you’ve come up with against the core message. Ruthlessly eliminate anything that doesn’t support your message.

The article provides a number of formats to structure a speech:

  • PREP, which stands for PositionReasonExamplePosition: The idea is that you state your claim (which should sound a lot like your core message) and then give your reasons for it. Follow that with a compelling example, and close by restating your position.

  • PastPresentFuture, which takes the storyline of your idea and presents it in chronological form.

  • ProblemCauseSolution. This structure works well for business arguments and situations. You state the problemdeclining sales, sayand then analyze the cause. You follow the analysis with your recommendations for a solution.

  • AIDA, which stands for AttentionInterestDesireAction, works best when you’re trying to persuade someone of something. First you grab their attention with a statistic or anecdote or claim that is sufficiently surprising to take your audience away from its concerns to yours. Then you raise the audience’s interest by stating the benefits of the position you’re advocating.

  • Tellx3, which, despite its trendy appearance, is actually the most conventional of structures. It stands for “Tell ’em what you’re going to say, say it, tell ‘ em what you said.”

  • Cellphones as Debit Cards

    SiliconValley.com (via AP) has an article on how “major credit card companies and several banks have been working for a year to enable South Koreans to pay for everything from groceries to gasoline by cell phone.”

    “We are conditioned to think that a credit card is a plastic rectangle,” said Cho Eun-sang, a senior manager at Harex Infotech, among the first companies to develop the technology. “But it is actually the data on the strip at the back, and data can be stored anywhere.”

    Instead of handing over credit or debit cards that get swiped, users type their passcode on the phone keypad, point the device at a special receiver on a checkout counter and press a key. It’s as simple as operating a TV remote.

    The phone shoots the card data in an infrared beam or radio waves. No signature is necessary. For small payments at vending machines, the passcode isn’t even required.

    Transmissions are encrypted and secure, and subscribers who lose their phones can get them disabled within seconds by informing the credit-card company.

    Lee Jong-hyun, an assistant manager at SK Telecom’s mobile-finance division, envisions cell phones that also contain club memberships, a driver’s license, ID card, airline frequent flier card – essentially everything people carry in their wallets.

    “In the future you only will have to carry one handset,” Lee said. “It will be your window to the world.”

    The Rationale for BPO

    Business process outsourcing is hot, and India is at the heart of this trend. Knowledge@Wharton has an interview with Peter Bendor-Samuel, founder and CEO of Everest Group, a consulting firm in Dallas, and Michael Quinn, president of Strategic Management Solutions. The issue being discussed: as global supply chains of information are forged, what impact will they have on corporations?

    Bendor-Samuel: It has been my experience that firms outsource processes for the following reasons:

    1. To save money Most of our clients who are seeking to leverage labor arbitrage are looking to achieve total process savings between 35% and 70%. This is much higher than traditional outsourcing arrangements where the cost savings often were in the range of 15% to 25%.

    2. To increase focus on their core business.

    3. To improve the service they are receiving from the process.

    4. This improvement comes in three forms:
    – Improved quality intrinsic to the service itself for example, service level agreements (SLAs) around the time it takes to answer a call or the accuracy of the data collection.
    – Improved business impact or the improvement in service as experienced by the users of the service for example, improvement in end customer satisfaction (in the case of call centers) or the reduction of working capital as a result of a better F&A process, which signals greater efficiency.
    – Improved strategic impact. This will come in some sort of breakthrough in cycle time gains or competitive positioning.

    Quinn: India still has the best mix of breadth and depth of labor with strong English language skills and extremely well educated people.

    Bendor Samuel: Clearly at this time India has the largest capability for English speaking labor arbitrage and has the most significant momentum with organic in-country firms. We do not expect any other nation to seriously challenge India for U.S.-based business over the next two years. For Europe, we expect Eastern European nations to emerge as destinations of choice, although at a higher cost point to India.

    Quinn: Call-center activity is becoming almost a commodity and there is an expectation that whoever is considering outsourcing is first targeting some aspects of their call centers. Other service activities like account opening/maintenance, fulfillment, and inquiry resolution are also gaining momentum. We have already seen domestically and now internationally the various HR functions and basic accounting (payables, receivables, expense reporting) being outsourced. Now we are seeing more complex and time sensitive accounting functions (legal reporting, intra-day reconcilements, fund accounting) being teed up for possible migration.

    Quinn: Firms are becoming increasingly comfortable with the concept of outsourcing and as they are successful in migrating simple functions, they begin to understand the “power” of rethinking their processes. Technology continues to become faster and cheaper, providing virtual real-time access across thousands of miles.

    New Microprocessors

    WSJ writes about the flurry of announcements expected from companies like Transmeta, Centaur, Sun and Fujitsu, all aimed in large part at taking on Intel. “Though aimed at different markets, the new chips illustrate common pressures that are reshaping competition in the semiconductor industry.” The focus is on chips for laptops and servers.

    I was thinking: what if Intel reintroduce the 486 or Pentium 1 processors at the heart of thin clients? These machines could be the ones for the emerging markets, and if the chip were to cost less than USD 10, it should be possible to build the computer (excluding keyboard-mouse-monitor) for USD 50.

    TECH TALK: SMEs and Technology: New Technologies and Trends (Part 3)

    5. Wireless: Perhaps, the biggest visible technology revolution is happening with the proliferation of wireless networks. GSM and CDMA networks are making cellphones available to millions who were previously deprived of telecom services. Across countries like China and India, millions of new users get connected every month. WiFi promises to be next revolution, creating an envelope of hotspots which can be used for both voice and data services. SMS (Short Message Service) has been the surprise communications hit of the past few years. While so far it has been used mainly for person-to-person interactions, its use for employee-to-server interactions can create the foundation for real-time enterprises, as it has the potential to bridge the information gap. Event notifications can be provided instantaneously to people anywhere. In the coming years, cellphones will evolve into smartphones capable of providing voice, data and video services over ubiquitous wireless networks.

    6. Instant Messaging: The other communications revolution is happening on the computer in the form of instant messaging. These short, sharp, chatty exchanges are providing an effective alternate to spam- and virus-ridden email. From connecting employees in real-time across locations to allowing enterprises to offer customer support, IM has, almost like SMS, made its way with its own vocabulary into mainstream consciousness. The new releases of the instant messengers also support video via webcams.

    7. VoIP: The Internet as backbone now provides the perfect platform to carry voice. Voice-over-IP is the next big disruptive force in the world of telecom. A recently launched serviced called Skype connects people with real-time, landline-like quality via the Internet. Even before Skype launched, voice-over-IP has been used to dramatically slash cost of communications. The other thing to watch out for is voice-over-WiFi. Dartmouth College is already providing such a service to students across the campus. For SMEs, the benefits are near-zero cost of telecom and pervasive connectivity.

    8. Google: No other service has become as useful in daily life as Google. With its promise to find accurately anything out on the Internet, it has become the first stop for finding information about people, businesses and any other topics. In fact, search engines, which for many were the first stop in the early days of the Net, are once again coming to the fore. For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Google also offers the promise of cost-effective advertising. It is the small advertisers paying a few cents per clickthrough which have propelled Google to nearly a billion dollars in revenue in a short period of time.

    9. Social Software: The next information revolution will be centred around the information refinery, powered by RSS (Rich Site Summary), an XML format for syndicating microcontent. Weblogs and Wikis are the unlikely partners in this emerging category of social software applications which help people work better in groups. In fact, personal and group knowledge management are increasingly becoming critical aspects in the real-time enterprise. The differentiation across organizations is likely to come less from their physical plant and machinery and more from their information plants and refineries.

    Tomorrow: New Technologies and Trends (continued)

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