A Business Technology Place

How much are you willing to pay for internet service?

Viable options for satellite based internet service are getting closer! I read this piece from Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica on a peaceful Sunday morning and had a quick vision of internet service competition driving price down like what we’ve seen with cell phone service over the past several years.  Has Internet service become a consumer staple? You tell me if internet service matches this definition of consumer staple from Investopedia:

These goods are those products that people are unable—or unwilling—to cut out of their budgets regardless of their financial situation.Consumer staples are considered to be non-cyclical, meaning that they are always in demand, year-round, no matter how well the economy is—or is not—performing. As such, consumer staples are impervious to business cycles. Also, people tend to demand consumer staples at a relatively constant level, regardless of their price.

But internet competition is light to non-existent depending on your address. At my home, I have broadband options from Spectrum or traditional DSL. AT&T fiber internet isn’t available. Verizon Fios isn’t available to me either. 

Since I cut the cable TV subscription a few years ago my monthly internet fee has increased twice. But I’ve been ok with it because I know this is one utility that is heavily used every day. I consider the value my family receives to be worth the monthly price.

But I do wonder what internet service would cost if everyone had four or more providers with enough bandwidth to support at least basic video streaming. With competition and availability, monthly service prices should come down. It wouldn’t surprise me to see internet providers start to bundle content with their services like what T-Mobile has done with Netflix. 

So how much are you willing to pay for internet service? What do you think is a fair price for monthly internet based on the value you receive from it?

Onward and upward!

Onward and upward

Change.

Earlier this year I moved into a different job within my company. Same employer. Different responsibilities. Different direct reports. Different scope of work. I’ve been learning new procedures, establishing new relationships, and adapting to a different group culture. My travel schedule has changed, my work hours are different, and my in-office vs remote days are different. That’s enough change to make anyone wide-eyed each day!

Change is like the path unknown

Yet, despite all the adjustments in my life over the past few months, my personal and work missions have not changed. I continue daily to pursue connecting people together using systems and solutions. New routines don’t change that. That’s why it’s important to find and define those things in life that give us energy, motivation, and purpose. I believe defining and recognizing our mission provides the foundation for establishing life rhythms. These are the recurring daily and weekly actions that are completed for a purpose.  

The same journey.

Reflecting and writing about my life change has made me realize I’m still on the same journey. I’ve added a few new experiences and met some new colleagues. I discovered more about my existing friends, who I leaned on during the transition. But my direction is the same. I’m gravitating back to the same rhythms that brought me this far. Things like:

  • Start the day before 6am
  • Opt for the phone over email (and texting) when practical
  • Look for the business value behind technology solutions
  • Ask colleagues how I can help them be successful
  • Provide honest feedback to team members in the spirit of continuous improvement
  • Follow-up on commitments to earn trust and respect
  • Walk after dinner every day with my wife
  • Express gratitude for grace and love

If you have methods for staying on your true North and keeping your rhythms hold onto them. They will be your roadmap even when the scenery changes around you.

Onward and upward!

Photo Credit: bahahamelly via creative commons

Interactive Films, Data Mining, and Orson Welles

Will interactive films find a viewer niche?

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Netflix has was released last December as a choose-your-own-adventure film. If you haven’t read about or tried viewing the film, it’s worth your time to consider the implications for future video content delivery and marketing. Bandersnatch is an interactive film. Viewers are periodically presented with options during the film to choose a path for the main character. The remote control for the TV is used to select between the two paths. So while each option is filmed, only one is shown. There is no prescribed ending for the story. In fact, there are numerous paths and multiple possible endings.


I remember reading interactive books during the early 80s. Though I can’t recall the name of the books or the author, I distinctly remember choosing to have the main character in the book drink the sea water while stranded on a raft in a baking sun. The story ended on the next page as the character met his end with dehydration. I had to backup and choose again. I was devastated with the consequences of my choice!

I didn’t really enjoy those books and only ended up reading two of them. Likewise, I found Bandersnatch more of an annoyance than something intriguing and engaging. Maybe it was the story. Maybe the characters. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel the urge to continue to play the film to explore different options. I made my choices and moved through the film until I hit an ending and was done.

What’s really happening?

Netflix, as with other media content providers, shows viewers suggested selections of film based on an algorithm using meta data of content watched in the past (comedy, science fiction, thriller, etc.). I’ll admit, the Netflix algorithm is pretty good, as I usually don’t have to scroll far before I see a title or subject that I want to know more about and may want to view. When I’ve seen my wife scrolling through her profile the suggested content is completely different based on her past viewing selections.

Which leads me to wonder what more about me is Netflix determining with an interactive film like Bandersnatch? They can learn if I’m more prone to take a risk versus taking the safe choice. They can learn if I’m prone to choosing a path that will promote violence instead of walking away. They can learn if I would choose the blue pill or the red pill…….The choices would become limitless. Netflix is probably mining all the data on choices to make additional and more educated guesses on personalized content. This could lead to a much deeper level of understanding of who I am, my likes, dislikes, and tendencies. How many marketing companies would pay for that data?

Sure, there is angle here that says find a niche film-type that will keep and potentially attract more customers to Netflix subscriptions. But this move really gets Netflix deeper in the heads of the viewer. Personalized content will become richer. It’ll be like my cell phone listening to my conversation and then I see an ad for what I talked about when I open a browser!

Orson Welles replay.

Here’s an idea for Netflix if they want to spring a joke and cause their viewers to panic. On April 1st, release an interactive film and make the screen of the viewer go haywire as if they have been infected with a virus (think phishing). It would be like revisiting the War of the Worlds broadcasts that created the illusion the earth was under attack by aliens. I can see viewers flooding social media and calling Netflix telling them they’ve been hacked!

I expect Netflix to try more interactive films in the future as they learn from each film and fine-tune output and logistics. With more universal stories and a broader audience, they’ll see how easy it is for all us to willingly give over information about ourselves. Happy data mining to the marketers in the room.  

Onward and upward!

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/kUFSi7  Fork in the Road by Wonderlane via Creative Commons

Planting organizational seeds for a sustainable future

I’m in the process of repositioning to a new role within the same company. I’ve done this in the past, but never viewed the transition through a lean lens.  When this happened early in my career, I looked forward to the new job without giving thoughtful consideration to the previous job. Sure, I had documentation and notes I could leave for the next person. But I didn’t think about leaving a sustainable system.

That all changed when I was introduced to lean philosophy and thinking. The fifth lean principle is to pursue perfection. This is the principle that creates the basis for making continuous improvement and respect part of the culture and not just another management fad. Lean thinking identifies value and remove waste in such a way that practitioners view their work as more than a job. The work becomes part of a sustainable system that adapts to changing environments.


Ready to Spring Mike Lewinski via creative commons – https://flic.kr/p/e9Fj5B

Today, as I transition to a new role, I’m leaving a team of managers with a set of documented standard work that creates the foundation for continuous improvement. I’m leaving them with departmental metrics that support the mission of the group. I’m leaving them with a defined system for problem solving and root cause analysis that systematically snuffs-out recurring problems that prevent excellent service delivery. I’m leaving them with the foundation for growing leaders who understand the work by going to the gemba. This time, the role change is different. This time I see and care about leaving a sustainable system for the next leader to enhance and make better.

4 of the 14 principles of the Toyota Way promote long term thinking and people development. Read these four principles and imagine how following them can promote sustaining a company culture by respecting people.

Principle 1) Base management decisions on long-term philosophy even at the expense of short-term goals.

Principle 6) Standardized tasks are the foundation of continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

Principle 9) Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy and teach it to others.

Principle 14) Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement.

Pursuing perfection and continuous improvement is bigger than any individual. The big idea is to grow leaders so the system can survive management changes. If the system truly becomes part of the culture then the system will sustain itself and continue to grow over time. Of course I realize if new leaders are not versed in lean thinking then all of this may seem like foolishness to them. Therein lies the challenge for organizations in the midst of adopting lean. Grow leaders into elevated positions that understand the work and the system. Weave the system of lean into the culture so that it’s part of the core makeup of thinking.

The lesson in all this is to start planting seeds today for a sustainable system tomorrow. The seeds of long term thinking, standardized tasks, growing leaders, and continuous improvement are not only great ways to respect employees, but key to providing value to customers as well.

Onward and upward!


Have you found it?

Questions.

What do you want to do?

What do you want to be when you grow-up?

What’s your dream job?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

While the questions can be interpreted with different time horizons, they all focus on the core of who I am. These questions help me to think about motivators in my life as well as what provides emotional reward. The questions could be rephrased as “who are you, what gets you up in the morning, and why are you here?”

Answers.

I’ve heard some acquaintances answer with specific jobs or titles. They want to be a doctor, lawyer, pilot, etc. Then there are a group of friends who are motivated to switch their careers to something different. They may answer with stated goals to start a business or to go back to school to become a nurse. Others I know, answer in terms of what they don’t want to be doing because they haven’t determined what they do want to be doing. Someone once told me, “I don’t want to manage people. I don’t want to deal with their problems because I have enough of my own.” They were happy using their skills as an individual contributor.

My experience is our answer to the question will change over time as we learn more about ourselves. We determine what we do and don’t like. But over time, we also find more about what we value and what motivates us to work.

Meaning.

I’ve written in the past that I’m one of those odd people that went to college and never changed majors. I declared Computer Science as a course of study before I stepped foot on campus. At graduation, I walked across the stage to receive the paper with Computer Science written on it and I’ve been working in technology ever since. Here’s the thing, I loved my studies. I’ve loved my job assignments. I don’t feel like I’ve ever ‘worked’ because my days are filled with completing tasks I enjoy. I’m doing what I was wired to do.

Look for it!

As I’ve gained more experience (can I say matured?), I’ve adjusted my answer to the question “what do you want to do?” Now, I answer the question in terms of connecting people together with solutions provided by technology. It’s like a mission statement, “I connect people through systems and solutions”.  I enjoy working with technology components like servers, networks, and software. But I’ve come to realize what I’m really doing is connecting people with solutions to make their world a little easier. People are the ‘why’. Technology is the ‘how’. I still love to create. I love to solve puzzles. I love to experiment, dabble, and search for better ways of doing things (continuous improvement). These things make me smile. 🙂

Have you found it?

Have you found what gives you satisfaction such that you don’t consider working work? Look for it. Search for it. Find it.

Onward and upward!

Photo Credit: Larry Smith – Look! Via creative commons – https://flic.kr/p/c2yKFS