Links for Oct 3 2010

Technology Consultant - Eric D. Brown | Image for link posts
  • 5 Things to Know Before Buying Marketing Automation by Carlos Hidalgo on MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog

    Quote: If you are thinking of automating your marketing, here are 5 thing to know before buying marketing automation.  If you have already purchased it, don’t worry, it’s not too late. These 5 tips can help you too.

  • The Enterprise Value of Social Software by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown – Harvard Business Review

    Quote: If executives are wary of cloud computing, they are flat-out skeptical of social software. When most non-IT executives hear “social software,” they stop listening at “social” and imagine internet-aided water cooler chatter. They fear the loss of worker productivity — digital technology provides a seemingly endless array of distractions in the workplace. Executives cannot help but lose sleep over the potential loss of confidentiality and expanded opportunity for airing personal grievances

  • Cluetrain vs. Madison Avenue by Valeria Maltoni on Conversation Agent

    Quote: I’ll make it really simple for you to see the difference. Fundamentally, this is a conversation about putting the human being first or putting the brand/idea first

  • The Journey of a Business Strategist CIO by Louie Ehrlich, Chevron on CIO Dashboard

    Quote: What’s the CIO’s world look like at that highest level? Most of our focus is external, on the market and our company’s customers. Our teams are business-oriented. We are true business peers in our relationships with other stakeholders. The most critical competencies we are applying pertain to market knowledge and external customer insight. The value that IT is creating at this level is competitive advantage, innovation, and better decisions, enabled through the application of rich business intelligence.

  • Education as a platform by Marie Bjerede on O’Reilly Radar

    Quote: Any and every education reform design is going to fail for two reasons. The first is that the problem is not one that is solvable by “design” in the traditional engineering sense — the education system, including all its human elements, is too complex for that. The second is that the system as currently built contains feedback loops that damp out change.

Factors affecting Productivity – IT, Management and Process

Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload

Interesting analysis today over on Jeffrey Phillips’ Thinking Faster Blog in an article titled “Productivity Barriers“.

Note: if you have an interest in productivity in this digital age, check out Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload (Affiliate Link)…great book.

In the article, Phillips discusses a recent newsletter from IFS (an ERP software vendor) that discussed the issues of usability of ERP systems. In the newsletter, IFS relates survey results that tried to, in Phillips’ words, understand:

…how much of a barrier the enterprise software most of us use everyday presents to becoming more productive

The research that IFS presented is quite interesting (click here to read the results on CIO.com). In addition to looking at usability, the research looked at productivity and asked questions around what factors caused a loss in productivity in the organization. The results aren’t surprising…results included things like (not in any order):

  • too many emails
  • too much work
  • lack of clear priorities
  • poor IT optimization
  • too many meetings

The survey respondents were than asked to supply factors that effected their own productivity and, again, the results aren’t really that surprising…results included things such as unclear objectives, not enough resources, too many meetings, etc etc.

What I found most interesting was Phillips’ take on the root causes of the above issue. He writes:

  • Unclear objectives/priorities – poor management strategic direction and communication
  • Too many meetings – poor management skills and time management
  • Too much work/Lack of resources – downsizing and “doing more with less”
  • IT not optimized/doesn’t work the way the company works – inflexible technology supporting a business that is required to be flexible and change
  • So, in my simple analysis, many of the issues related to productivity have to do with clear management direction and communication, and the ability to communicate what’s important. Additionally, in today’s market, flexibility and adaptability are just as important as established processes and operational excellence, but our technology, systems and processes aren’t designed that way.

Jeffrey Phillips’ hits it on the head.

Most problems with productivity today can be traced to a few factors (at least in my experience). These are:

  1. Poor Alignment of Information Technology and/or IT Process to the Business goals – If your organization needs to be flexible, don’t put in an inflexible IT system and/or IT process.
  2. Reliance on formal IT process – Process is good. Process is necessary. Create process to allow for flexibility, speed and change. Most processes today in the IT world do not follow this mantra. They are created and then their creators expect people to follow them closely with no deviation and no room for change.
  3. Poor Communication – Managers need to understand that in order to get the most of their teams, they need to clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations of the people in their teams. Without this clear communications, people will spend time trying to determine what they should be doing and/or who should be doing it.
  4. Poor Leadership – with good leadership, an organization can overcome many things. Excellent leaders will overcome poor process (by changing the process), poor alignment (by aligning IT and business), and poor communication (by ensuring communication improves).

Phillips’ analysis of the results of the IFS study were right on the mark….or at least they match up with my own thougths 🙂