Seventhman Blog

  1. The Battle Over Internet: Intellectual Property vs Intellectual Freedom

    "cyber security"Who should control the internet?  Or more likely, who owns the internet?  Many months have been spent on talks about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), PIPA ( Protect IP Act ), CISPA ( Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act ), and ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)… and these are like miniature Pandora’s boxes with some unknown force to unleash, once opened.  In the name of internet regulation, the debacle is far from over.  Is it all about cyber security? Or, are we seeing the end of privacy?  In a world where data is shared in an information expressway, the very concept of freedom may just need to be redefined, especially when private and government entities will be allowed to monitor everything.  Are these bills an act of good faith.. or a silent threat?

    Don’t Mess With the Internet

    There have been a growing enthusiasm to fend off anti-piracy bills and more activists are signing up to defend Internet freedom.  Everyone who joins can decide to act and blackout their sites whenever a new threat is out.  In the age of the citizen influencer, one act ( or a single tweet ) can make a whole new world of difference.  Just take for instance the blackout SOPA movement that received millions of tweets on January 18th.  Yes, cyber threat is as real as the air you breathe and there are plenty of hack centers across the world who are trained to hack, phish, and steal.  Every day, citizens and corporations are vulnerable to phishing attacks, identity thefts and violations of Intellectual Property Rights.  Companies spend hundreds to millions of dollars in keeping data safe in an age that relies entirely on the Web.  We are more vulnerable than ever.  But, does protection come at the price of giving our fundamental freedom, the right to privacy?  We are walking a fine line here and though politicians are not technologists, we must educate our leaders on finding the best practices where it concerns the Internet.

    Information is the New Commodity

    There have been speculations that the new war will not be fought with guns and tanks, but of power over information freely flowing over the Internet… and whoever has control over it has the power.  It is a war between privacy and piracy, of security vs. sovereignty.  Perhaps, the Internet is now a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as the conflict grows between those who love the freedom, creativity and anonymity of the virtual world and those who are wary of  cyber criminals who manipulate data for their own nefarious means.  In an essence, we have an organized chaos that goes in circles and the growing ambiguity of terms used in bills that are meant to protect us from harm is alarming.  For example, you may have heard of SOPA and PIPA because of activists concerns and yet, have you even known the existence of ACTA and CISPA?  The lack of transparency and secrecy in drafting these is something to be worried about.  In simple terms, shouldn’t we, the people using the internet, be consulted before governments negotiate in our behalf?  The intent may be good, but what of the consequence?

    A Future Threat to Innovators and Job Creators

    Sometimes, I can’t help thinking that the Internet is lawless and it’s still a Wild West out there.. and even with countless bills, you can still find sites, here and foreign, violating copyright and other existing laws.  We all know that sharing information online spreads like fire and if you care about anyone copying your code, why post it in the first place?  Am I justified in my worry about these bills, of warrantless means of accessing personal data?  Maybe, huge companies can benefit from this open access, like an open invitation to technological espionage.  For startups and small businesses who are trying to compete, it may signal the end of innovation… and the beginning of closing our doors to creating new jobs.  It’s a chain reaction.  I may be wrong about it.  The potential for abuse is still there.

  2. Perceptions on Big Data: The Good and the Bad

    "big data trends"There have been many talks about Big Data lately and one can only wonder if there is a limit when it comes to the power of predictive data with all these analytics available.  Last time, I have blogged about creating big data initiatives for business success and yet, looking through the lens of an entrepreneur, there are still plenty of unexplored terrains where the topic is concerned.  Should we simply embrace the idea that big data is here to stay?  Is the trend reaching the peak of inflated expectations where matters of security is concerned?  At the end of the day, data gathered is not really the real business driver, but the insights and intelligence that rise from this.  It will always transcend beyond size.. to the impact these data will have, whether the raw volume of data is big or small.

    What You Should Know About Big Data

    With the influx of investors wanting to take a piece of the big data cake, it’s not a news anymore to find venture capitalists pouring millions of dollars into firms creating products whose goal is to manage this so-called big data.  Does big data mean big business?  It’s too soon to tell.  Right now, one thing is for sure: Businesses will always look for better ways to store, manage, analyze and integrate data to help them reach their goals.  With the advent of cloud computing, mobile technology and social media platforms – it’s all a matter of time when everyone gets more comfy with the idea that big data isn’t a hype, but a hope for those who are targeting global markets in a down-sized economy.

    Given this circumstance, you need to know that data these days can come from virtually anywhere.  The real value here is how you can capture what’s important and analyze it to drive efficiency to your business.  For this to happen, you will need to find the right person who knows how to work the tools of the trade, so s/he can come up with the right data, of filtering through the clutter.  This onslaught has surely paved the way to a renewed interest on predictive analytics, of finding value in an era of widespread data – to finding ways in solving big problems before it can happen in real-time.

    When Big Data Enters the Dark Side

    A couple of years back, big data is used by credit-rating companies in an effort to build a monster database about their clients.  Access to this rich customer data is like joining an elitist club.  Today, big data is more strategic.  Just take a look at Facebook who recently offered an IPO and is valued in the billions simply because it’s a big treasure cove of valuable data that will unlock the secrets of selling to a wider demographic.  I’d rather say ‘Welcome to the stalker economy’ and there’s no such thing as free.  People these days are willing to give out personal information in exchange of  free products.  Yes, technophiles may be excited about the potentials of big data, but it’s like appreciating carbon energy and its huge supply… until ice caps melt.  What we created as a gift may be our burden, and the cost may be higher this time.. where knowledge is concerned.

    We may argue for the customer’s sake as we use big data to drive a customer-centric business.  Yet, are we reaching the end of privacy?  Or more likely, will we risk our privacy to pay for the price of big data?  Knowledge do come with power and this time, it’s not really about the data we will gather.. but how we put it into use.  The risk may be higher and this time, there’s no turning back.

    Are you ready to walk the fine line between what’s right according to the data you’ve examined… and what you feel is right?

  3. Outsourcing and Job Creation: A Two-Way Street!

    "outsourcing"I have always wondered if the world today can survive without outsourcing and if it can, just how will the economy look.  Last year, I have asked a couple of folks if they think that outsourcing is a one way street ( see responses here ) and I’m amazed at the clashing insights I have received, and each answer has a point to make.  It’s pretty much obvious that the term ‘outsourcing’ is still a misnomer for many and the debate over this topic grows with favor ( and disdain ).  It’s not really a question of how emerging outsourcing destinations can become more attractive to investors, but more of a question on how to get jobs back to the U.S. – and if the latter is even possible to start with.

    Outsourcing: The Beginning of a One-Way Exodus

    Like many people who have asked the same question, they are inclined to think that outsourced jobs aren’t coming back, that unemployment rate will soar higher.  This may be said in the manufacturing industry where we see factories shut down and work is outsourced offshore to cut down on costs while staying competitive.  Should we blame the demand for a faster, cheaper and better product these days?  When customers demand the best value for the best price, most often, sacrifices are made and for this reason, repetitive tasks ( and a large number of it ) are outsourced and may never come back.  It’s simply a play of numbers, where lower wages and operating costs in developing countries tip the scales.  More American workers are out of work while outsourced work is reaching a saturation point. Before, it’s only low-skilled jobs which are outsourced overseas but now, we are experiencing a loss in intellectual capital as highly-skilled work is sought outside.  Is it lack of talent onshore that finally drives businesses to seek skills offshore?

    A Peek at Outsourcing’s Controversial Loophole

    While many fear that jobs won’t be coming back, there are those who say that offshore outsourcing is a two-way street.  In this age of globalization, many firms are doing businesses across the globe and this means creating jobs in first world countries too.  Just take a look at India’s Infosys with onshore facilities in the U.S.  Then, there are multinational firms who are insourcing as they do outsourcing.  Small businesses have also reaped rewards in finding help offshore so they can grow in a competitive market.  Not only can they control capital costs and increase productivity while reducing labor costs, but outsourcing helps them focus on their core business so they can start on new projects much faster than before.  Yes, there were failures along the way and yet, many are transforming their business model in a flat world.

    It All Comes Down to Cost, Quality and Time

    Going back to the question if outsourcing is a one-way street, I’d rather say that it isn’t.  In the end, it doesn’t matter where you source, for whatever investment is made will always come back in new forms ( jobs, companies, business opportunities ).  Perhaps, western media may be biased in educating people about facts where matters of outsourcing offshore is concerned.  Besides, there are other reasons why companies outsource and it is directly proportional to attrition rate.  We  should also be asking why people change jobs too.  Let us start asking ourselves how we can deliver the best service, a class-A quality product… in the shortest time at the right cost to satisfy our customers instead.. What do you think?

  4. Want to Succeed? Try Being Simple

    "art of simplicity business"Just because you need to come up with a strategy doesn’t have to mean that it has to be complex.  Success in business, sales, customer relationships… comes down to the new golden rule: SIMPLICITY.  Sometimes, the need to impress overcomes good judgment when it comes to creating an innovative product or service.  In the race to present the best features, we tend to overdo certain aspects, be it the use of jargon that makes our message hard to understand or vanity metrics that don’t add value to the business at hand.  Whether we talk or write about our business plans, products, services – we often forget to keep things simple.

    Creativity Can Mean Thinking.. Without the Box

    Whenever I’m in a room meeting with top consulting ‘gurus’, I often wonder just how big the box that they’re in.  Sometimes, the best way to come up with a business road map is to do away with the box and start on a clean slate.  Does it make you wonder why you spend too many hours in brainstorming sessions?  And most often, you get out of it more confused than ever.  It’s only human nature to love everything that spells complexity, not because we’re complex beings, but because we love drama – of coming out as the winning protagonist in some heroic tale of epic proportions.  All the praises and cheers after battling an eight-headed monster sounds greater than having to deal with a 100-legged worm.  All that glory is an illusion that at the end of the day, time is wasted on trying to unlock a door with a thousand keys when you could have simply turn the knob around and find out that it’s open all that time.

    Simplicity is More than Just Aesthetics

    We’ve seen the return of zen-inspired websites, of no-fuss design that makes it easier for readers to navigate a site.  But simplicity in business is more than just aesthetics.  Simplicity is innovation in its very basic, by solving complex problems in everyday life.  A great example of this is by looking at Steve Jobs and his Apple products, where simplicity of form follows ease of function – which became his most renowned legacy.  As he said to The New York Times, “…It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Then, we can look back at the “less is more” concept when it comes to design and no matter how streamlined a plan can be, it is a product of careful analysis and commitment to excel at every turn.  This may be the top reason why people will want to buy a simple product with a high value at a high price; it’s the benefit that counts.

    The Art of Driving Sales and Customer Loyalty

    Again, the answer is simple.. Simplicity is the best driver of them all.  Most often, I talk to customers about what makes them buy from an e-commerce site and it all has its roots in simplicity.  Customers are frustrated these days with technological gimmicks like having to scan codes to get discounts, waiting in line to get an exclusive invite and so on.  Why make things complicated when you can easily display the info in one place, no matter what the screen size is?  Why make it hard for people to find what you have to offer?  In the need to look cutting edge, we may forget to map where our customers make decisions when they visit our website.  There’s just too much clutter and before you know it, your bounce rate hits higher than 70%.

    Someone said that ‘if you build it, they will come.’  I’d rather say that ‘if you make it simple, customers will not only come.. but, they will share this fresh experience with everyone.

  5. Achieving Success: From Product Development to Product Launches

    "product development"Someone has said that the key to a successful product development is having a vision.. and those who succeed had a clear vision to start with.  In the need to rush and be the first to come up with something new, we often forget the value of a product vision statement – a brief note on what we want to accomplish, why it is important and what criteria do we set for success.  No doubt, product launches feel like rocket launches; exciting, mind-boggling and sometimes, rewarding.  What goes on behind-the-scenes has become an obsession lately, in the race for innovation through great leadership.  So I ask you, once and for all:  Can you make your ideas… happen?

    Product Development: From Repetition to Perfection

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.. and in the haste to launch something ‘innovative’, we may have forgotten old product development processes that worked.  Most of thriving brands out there know that iteration is a crucial factor to making a new product – from revamping old products to adding more value, or repeating time-tested systems in making sure that your raw idea turns into a viable product that customers will buy and love.  Just what made iPhone a phenomenal success these days when there are many versions of smartphones out there? Apple has repeatedly used effective marketing strategies, other than a systematic product development cycle. Think about it.  Besides, repeating actions that fail is like listening to a broken record playing the same track over and over.  You have to focus on what works and eliminate those that don’t.

    Technology-Driven vs. Consumer-Driven Perspective

    Most often, businesses tend to take on a technology-driven view on their product development, like the cost of production and vanity product specs, that they forget to take time to get to know their market.  Many hours have been spent in perfecting a product to make it look cutting edge that we forget to ask our end-users (customers) on how this product can solve their needs.  The result then is having less sales than expected, simply because we forgot to ask for feedback.  You may want to create the next thing in super eyeglasses that can magnify vision to the nth degree, but if it will give users a headache and a hard time using it, they might as well ditch it.  Any successful business out there will tell you that bringing an inadequately-developed product onto the market is as bad as presenting an overly-developed one.  This is why when you’re in doubt, you must proceed with caution and spend more time on the drawing boards so you can come up with a great product.

    The Secret Recipe to Launching Market-Leading Products

    It’s not really a big secret after all.  Not all ideas turn into fully-developed products with huge potential.  But those who did know that staying true to their course has helped them.  It comes down again to having a clear vision statement and validating it not only with an elevator pitch, but by clearly defining the requirements on turning your idea into a reality.  You must have the patience and perseverance to test your concept, make business analysis, do market testing and identify what needs to be improved on (quality assurance checks).  It’s all about efficiency, plus a solid grasp of the features and benefits of your product that will help you accomplish something that stands out.  Are you ready to make your idea… sell?

    “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”  -Joel Barker

  6. Synergy: Doing Business in Real-Time

    "synergy"It’s amazing to see the correlation between the rise in  remote work and the growth in virtual teams around the world.  A survey even shows that 77% of American adults feel that online meeting is on the rise.  When companies are in a boot-strapping mode so they can meet their business goals, just how can teams that are spread out geographically collaborate like they do in real-time?  Of course, online collaboration saves a lot on travel time and transportation cost, not to mention that participants are more focused meeting online than offline.  Even after years of working with virtual teams, I still face daily challenges in managing it and having an open mind is just a start.  The real question is:  How can you make your process work?

    When Real-Time Performance Feedback Counts

    If you’re working with people across different culture, you know that having a global mindset is the key to making everyone work seamlessly together.  Having a common language is not really enough.  You have to combine communication tools with real-time feedback to your team so they can learn and improve faster.  Most often, feedback come in a little too late and people end up with disagreements.  To engage your virtual workers, you have to give constant feedback that will encourage good habits and practices.  Thanks to online conferencing tools and social networks, this is not an impossible task.  I’m using Yammer to share constant updates with my team, to keep a friendly and healthy discussion, or when I need to implement a quick change.  Think of it as having your own knights-of-the-round-table in a click.  Slipping out a note of appreciation can work wonders too and yet, how many of us have sent a thank you note lately?  Call it your digital pat on the back and it’s time-tested to boost your workers’ morale, no matter how far they are.

    Keeping the “I” in Agile

    I.. for innovation, that is!  Just how can you mix quality time with real-time connectivity?  And if you can, will you create a synergy that will help bring you closer to your goals?  Creating a real-time feedback loop is a serious game that demands business agility, where people can excel at their skills.  Still, there are some who say that the Agile process is anti-innovation.  This can be true though if your user stories are not based on real scenarios that your business face.  The problem with online collaboration comes in when there are more than two users/players in the scene and most often, too much time is wasted on talking about things that are not related to the issue at hand.  To learn faster and come up with effective solutions of getting things done will require not only abstract thinking in a technological perspective, but innovative minds as well.  If you are transparent with your team about your plans and processes, you open the door to making better decisions for your business.

    Revamping Your Business Process Management

    With globalization, the demand to accelerate business processes to come up with real-time solutions is becoming a necessity.  In the name of growing a brand’s recognition and business profit, organizations will have to learn how to synergize by getting rid of information anxiety and empowering their team at all levels.  It will all come down to managing IT, the people.. and maximizing business value where tech is concerned.  These days, the fast will beat big and everyone will be forced to innovate.  Doing business in real time may simply mean alignment of strategies and performance feedback from day-to-day… and responding quickly to change.

    Are you ready to empower your team?

  7. The Hidden Power of Introverts: A Great Leader in the Making

    "power of introvert"What makes a great leader these days?  Does it have something to do with the willingness to take risks and invest in dreams?  Is it calculated by works of innovation?  Surely, there’s more to a great leader than what many dictionaries, blogs and online articles can ever define.  While great leaders harness the power of their dreams in making it a reality, perhaps, it’s that attitude that got them to the hall of fame.  More than just the willingness to work non-stop to achieving their goals, it may have something to do with the attitude.  This now comes down to a question:  Who makes great leaders: Introverts or Extroverts?

    Putting an Introvert in Charge

    Recently, I’ve watched a talk by Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts (as shared below ).  What struck me is that in this digital age, we live in a world of ceaseless noise and most often, the way to beat everyone else is to make sure that you are louder.  In this extroverted business world, just how can the silent ones survive and thrive?  Being outspoken and sociable is a must as we connect with each other, offline and online.  Still, what’s surprising is that research shows most of the thought leaders in their field are introverts, even in this era of social collaboration.  Perhaps, introverts make better leaders because of one thing: They’re more likely to listen and pay attention.  Those who everyone sees as a quiet and shy person may possess that reticent mind tailored to success.

    Introverted Leaders: A Diamond in the Rough

    Those who are not outspoken doesn’t mean they are dumb.  It’s an oversimplification.  On the other hand, if someone is quieter, that person may be more focused in doing his/her job well, making sure that everything is done properly.  This quietness is their strength because they know how to think first, before talking later.  Unlike extroverts, they learn through listening and their calm demeanor can help them become more focused on finding the best solutions.  These types are more likely to dig deeper in solving issues before moving on to new ones.  Whenever things go wrong or arguments heat up, they exude that calm confidence that makes them speak slowly, but reassuringly.  They may not be great at talking, but they take time composing their thoughts to come up with the best words to articulate what they have in mind.  In the long run, this kind of clarity helps an introverted leader gain more trust from his/her team – paving the road to great leadership.

    Stomping Out the Extroversion Bias

    Unfortunately, introversion is treated like some type of disease that children need to be treated from.  Our society even encourages us to take on the extrovert ideal, of becoming a charismatic, outspoken ( and nearly narcissistic ) person.  Being bold and gregarious has been our way of survival ever since the first humans lived.  Even in our modern offices, we conduct brainstorming sessions and encourage everyone to think loud.. and most often, the one who did the loudest gets the favor of the group.  Because of this bias, many introverts feel that there’s something wrong with them and they try their best to pass as extroverts.  They willingly give up time to spend in quiet, worthwhile activities so they can attend social events instead.  I have nothing against extroversion though, and I believe that a balance between the two is like Yin and Yang; also, introverts shouldn’t be put on a bad light just because they prefer to spend more time at home.

    Because introverts are at their best when they are solitary, the next time someone marked you as one, just smile and be proud… You have the makings of a great leader!