Life Cycles For Carnivores

I thought this was interesting-funny in terms of the the food life cycles for us carnivores:


For meat, it’s:

“From farm to fork.”


And for seafood, it’s:

“From boat to throat.”


Either way, we end up eating it. 


Just plain hungry or only the strong survive. 


Vegetarians and vegans can ignore this post. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Strategy, Blue and Red and Successful All Over

Blue_ocean
Recently, I was reading about something called “Blue Ocean Strategy.”
The notion is that in pursuing differentiation, an organization’s aim is “not to out-perform the competition in the exiting industry [and to fight it out turning the oceans blood red), but [rather] to create a new market space or a blue ocean, thereby making the competition irrelevant.”
While I like the ocean’s metaphor and agree with the need for organizations to innovate and create new products and services (“blue oceans”), I think that competition (“red oceans”) is not something that is inescapable, in any way.
In profitable industries or market spaces, competition will enter until supply and demand equilibrium are met, so that consumers are getting more or less, the optimal supply at the requisite demand. The result is that organizations will and must constantly fight for survival in a dynamic marketplace.
Moreover, as we know, any organization that rests on its past successes, is doomed to the trash heaps of history as John Champers, the CEO of Cisco stated: It’s “easy to say we’re the best…we don’t need to change, but that’s exactly how you disappear.”
In essence, while we may wish to avoid a duke-it-out, red ocean strategy, every successful innovative, differentiation-driven, blue ocean strategy will result in a subsequent red ocean strategy as competitors smell blood and hone in for the kill and their piece of flesh and cut of market share, revenue, and profit hide.
To me, it is naïve to think that blue ocean and red ocean strategies are distinct, because every blue ocean eventually turns blood red with competition, unless you are dealing with a monopoly or unfair competitive environment that favors one organization over any others.
The key to success and organizational longevity is for innovations to never cease.  When innovation dries up, it is the moment when the organization begins their drowning decent into the ocean’s abyss.
So as with the lifecycle of all organizations, blue ocean strategies will eventually result in red oceans strategies.  Once this occurs, either the organization will leverage their next blue ocean strategy or bleed red until their body drains itself out and dies off—leaving the superior organization’s blue ocean strategy to carry the day.
Together, blue oceans and red oceans—drive the next great innovation and healthy competition in our dynamic, flourishing market.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to freezingmariner)

A Word Indeed

The information in your smartphone and managed by your telecommunications carrier is available and accessible to others with today’s tools and following the right processes.Bloomberg BusinessWeek(29 March 2012) reports on a new tool for law enforcement that captures your data from smartphones.It is called the Cellebrite or Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED).

As the video describes it works with almost every mobile device out there–over 1,800 of them.

And when attached to a smartphone, it can extract everything from your call log, emails, texts, contact list, web history, as well as photos and videos.

The forensic tool can even retrieve deleted files from your phone.

Your smartphone is a digital treasure trove of personal information and the privacy protection afforded to it is still under debate.

The article cites varying court opinions on “whether it’s fair game to examine the contents of a mobile phone without a warrant,” since it is in the suspect’s immediate possession.

According to law enforcement sources quoted in the article, “we use it now on a daily basis.”

Aside from the contents on the phone itself, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 September 2012) earlier reported that telecommunications companies are also storing your personal data for various lengths of time.

For example, detail call records and text contacts are retained for up to 7 years and phone location information indefinitely, depending on the carrier.

This data is available too under the processes specified in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

While the technology is constantly getting better for us to electronically manage our information and communicate with each other, the reach and life cycle of digital information can certainly be far and long.

As we should all by now know, working remotely, digitally, in cyberspace, and encrypting, deleting, or even attempting to destroy data files does not ensure their ultimate privacy.

In that respect, both digital and non-digital information are the same in one very important facet and that is as we all learned early in life that “a word once said cannot be taken back.”

Toward A User-Centric Government

My new article in Government Executive is out today. Called “Too Big To Succeed”–the article talks about the importance of simplifying and organizing large, complex organizations, such as government, to achieve transformational and valuable change. The article is anchored in the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Law of Large Numbers.Although the article doesn’t use the term user-centric government, this is exactly the point and continuously driving forward with advanced technologies can help us make the leap. Hope you enjoy reading! Andy

Life Perspective

Cycle_of_life

I saw this picture and immediately feel in love with it–it is so simple, yet so brilliant.

Like the 6 days of creation and then G-d rested, this picture illuminates in 6 panes of shades of black and white, the cycle of life of man and woman, and then stops (rests).

From carefree children to growing young adults, love and marriage, old age together, loss and loneliness, and finally together again–returned to the earth and I believe in the after-world.

The tree on the left overhangs and follows the path of the couple; it grows, matures, and seems to whither along with them–this is mother earth clearly sheltering and closely intertwined with its children.

The connection between people and earth, between one person and another, and between this world and the next…the whole of life’s existence and purpose seems to be expressed here.

The meaning and purpose is inherent in the cycle itself–throughout our growth, we experience trials and tribulation–and our mettle is tested and proven until it ends or perhaps begins again.

The overall story is of time marching on, and we but mortals experiencing so much–growth and decline, connection and separation, pleasure and pain–yet never escaping time’s grasp.

This is the cycle of life and G-d is ever at the helm.

To me, this picture brings perspective, understanding, fear, and peace all at the same time.

(Source Photo: here)

>AOL DNR

Aside from the new digs, AOL has put a long-whiteboard along the hallway with the phase “AOL is cool.”

But as the article says “Nothing is less cool than professing one’s coolness, of course, especially if you’re an Internet dinosaur evoking a bygone era of dial-up modems.
AOL was one of the hottest tech stocks in the 1990s, only to go down in one of the worst mergers in history to Time Warner.
AOL’s market capitalization peaked in December 1999 at $222 billion and now is at $2 billion.
In 2002, AOL Time Warner was forced to write-off goodwill of $99 billion–at the time, the largest loss ever reported by a company.
Let’s face it, AOL is not the same company it once was–it has become a shadow of its former self.
And it is flailing, trying desperately to reinvent itself, most recently with its purchase of The Huffington Post.
In my mind, one of the big problems is that rather than recognize that AOL is over, dead, kaput, and that it taints whatever it touches, it just keeps reaching out to more and more victims.
AOL needs to shut down as its former self and restart under a new name with a new identity for the new technology world it is entering a decade later!
If it really wants to “expunge the ghosts and start fresh” then it needs to relinquish the past including the AOL moniker and become a new company for a new age.
Dial up modems are long gone and not missed, thank you.

(Source Graphic: Wikipedia)

>What’s Next For Microsoft, Google, And The Rest Of The IT Industry?

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Published in Government Technology

By Andy Blumenthal

We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.” — Madonna



For some people, like Madonna, the “material world” represents a society where people must pay to get their way. To me it means the mortal world, where we are born, live, try to thrive and ultimately pass the baton to others. 



Mortality isn’t limited to human beings, but is also a property of organizations. Several articles have appeared about it lately in mainstream and IT publications. Industry analysts are looking to Microsoft and Google and wondering how they, like other technology organizations, will master the competency of, as Computerworld puts it, “Getting to next.”



A curious irony runs throughout these conversations. Microsoft and Google are seemingly on top of their respective games, dominating the market and earning tens of billions in revenue per year. Despite being at the pinnacle of the technology industry, various industry watchers have noticed, they appear unable to see what’s the next rung on their ladder. It’s almost like they’re dumbfounded that nobody has placed it in front of them.



Consider, for example, that Microsoft dominates desktop operating systems, with approximately a 90 percent share of the market, business productivity suites at 80 percent and browser software at 60 percent. Google similarly dominates Internet search at about 64 percent. 


Everyone is asking: Why can’t these companies find their next great act? Microsoft launched the Kin and dropped it after less than two months; Bing has a fraction of Google’s market share in search; and Windows Mobile never became a major player as an operating system. Further, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out, the Xbox video game system, though finally profitable, Microsoft will likely never recoup the initial investment in research and development.



Similarly Google gambled by acquiring the ad network DoubleClick in 2007 for $3.1 billion, YouTube in 2006 for $1.6 billion and the mobile ad platform AdMob in 2009 for $750 million. But so far, as Fortune noted, Google hasn’t seen significant benefit from these purchases in terms of diversifying its revenue stream. “The day is coming when … the activity known as ‘Googling’ no longer will be at the center of our online lives. Then what?” said The Wall Street Journal.



From the perspective of organizational behavior, there’s a natural law at work here that explains why these resource-rich companies, which have the brains and brawn to repeatedly reinvent themselves, are in apparent decline. All organizations, like all people and natural organisms, have a natural life cycle — birth, growth, maturity, decline and death. 



To stay competitive and on top of our game, we constantly must plan our strategy and tactics to move into the future. However, organizations, like people, are mortal. Some challenges are part of life’s natural ups and downs. Others tell us we are in a decline that cannot be reversed. At that point, the organization must make decisions that are consonant with the reality of its situation, salvage what it can and return to the shareholders what it can’t. 



In other words, eventually every organism will cease to exist in its current form. During its life cycle, it can reinvent itself like IBM did in the 1990s. And when reinvention is no longer an option, it goes the way of Polaroid. 



This is similar to technology itself. As a new technology emerges, time and effort is spent further developing it to full capacity. We optimize and integrate it into our lives and fix it when it’s broken. But there comes a time when horses and buggies are no longer needed, and it’s time to face the facts and move on to cars — and one day, who knows, space scooters?



Going back full circle to the human analogy: People can reinvent themselves by going back to school, changing careers, perhaps remarrying and so on. But eventually we all go gray. And that’s fine; that’s the way it should be. Let’s reinvent ourselves while we can. And when we can’t, let’s accept our mortality graciously and be joyful for the great things that we have done.