Seventhman Blog

  1. Can Big Data Save Our Planet?

    "big data save planet"March 23rd marked another historic event across the globe as countries participated in Earth Hour 2013.  What has this to do with my post today?  I am a big data enthusiast and my eyes are set on how big data will be the biggest driver in sustainability to date – that is, if security is combined with clean technology.  Imagine the vast potential on how big data can provide a solution that doesn’t only power businesses, the people.. but the entire world.  Can big data save the planet?  Definitely.  There must be a middle ground somewhere where security won’t be compromised in the name of cost.  We are getting closer each day in managing large streams of data in a safer environment that runs on projects utilizing a clean energy ecosystem.  It’s a tough challenge to take, but the initiative is growing.

    Big Data Saving Lives

    It’s not news that big data saves time and money.  But, what seemed like a hype can actually save lives.  Imagine a huge city that uses high volumes of information that help reduce fatalities on roads.  This is already happening in Edmonton.  In times of emergencies, people have been using social networks to reach out.. or unite for peace in major uprisings.  Thanks to big data, real-time data is more flexible, allowing a two-way street for both businesses and consumers.  Medical researchers have been using information that helped them aggregate data faster so they can come up with treatments against deadly diseases.  Big data is also harnessed in programs dedicated to collecting data about the environment for scientists around the world to help in economic and political decisions that will reduce negative effects against the planet’s rich bio-diversity… and the list goes on.

    Why the Long Wait?

    According to this recent survey on Big Data and the Public Sector, real-time big data can save the government at least ten percent each year.  Law enforcement can gain a lot when tools will help them develop models that can predict where crimes are likely to occur.  Insights from volumes of data can help connect the government with the public – making sure that its citizens voices are heard so that key services can be improved, which comes with a higher satisfaction rate.  But just like the vagueness of the term ‘cloud’ – big data is also wrapped in controversies where people are primarily concerned about their data falling into the wrong hands.  It’s already annoying how user data is used to target ads based on their online behavior.  No one wants to feel this vulnerable when we hear of security leaks and hacks every week.

    Big Data in a Changing World

    You don’t have to be big to make a huge difference in the world.  While ROI is still a major concern for those who are investing in big data solutions, the mere fact that it can save lives should make sense as to why it should be adapted.  Organizations should rethink how they perceive the relationship between business and IT.  The Web runs on data and for us to know what the world needs in terms of using data for the common good – one has to integrate efforts across political, technological and cultural perspectives in a transparent manner.  It’s not just about finding developers who can build the backbone for this data that matters, nor relying on data scientists to analyze data itself.. but, it’s all about finding new ways in exploring data that have never been tried before.

    It’s a long way.. and we’re surely getting there!

  2. The Greatest Challenge a CIO Has to Face

    "cio"For quite some time, I have been pondering about the current talent shortage that many businesses are complaining about.  Is it really a lack of people who fit skill-wise.. or personality-wise?  For the same reason, CIOs should spend more time thinking about human resources so they can bridge the gap between innovation and strategic initiative. When there is a need to manage people to perform their best and increase opportunities in corporate profitability, perhaps it’s high time that the CIO and HR executive work head-to-head over a cup of coffee.. and brew a plan that will advance the company’s business goals to create results, for real.

    The Paradox: Integrating IT with Business

    Thanks to the rise in cloud applications, CIOs are taking a more strategic role in the business side of things, rather than simply sit back in the tech department.  Sooner, every CIO will be equipped with ways to merge IT and business so s/he can make plans that will drive revenue, solve customer pain points and fix persistent business issues.  While the HR has  a treasure cove of data about workers lying dormant in the system, the CIO has the analytic skills to unearth value out of these data.  To deal with managing talents, having a scientific approach will turn businesses into game changers.  The CIO may just find the crucial piece that connects value creation and innovation.  But the real challenge is how to make everyone think that IT is not a separate entity from the entire business.  This time, we have to shift the focus on IT tasks to relationships.  Simply put – just because you’re not writing codes don’t mean you are not adding value on the table.

    With High Risks Come High Rewards

    Maybe I’m asking too much.. but CIOs who are adopting mobility these days are also the ones who are facing high rewards – with greater risks.  Those who embraced the idea of telecommuting are seeing better results, with happier employees as a plus.  While it’s totally fine to be cautious about mobility, being resistant to change is not.  If you take longer than the rest to moving things forward, you will be left behind in the race.  With the recent reports on China’s cyber-espionage, the outsourcing industry hit another dent where data security is concerned.  Still, adopting mobility in the workplace is on the rise to meet end-user demand.  How can we do a better job for our talents and make sure we attract new ones?  This is the question everyone in business has been asking lately to make sure they increase speed, agility and productivity – while improving their brand value, customer loyalty and competitive advantage.

    The Quest for Continuous Improvement Begins

    Where do CIOs go from here?  The only way to improve is to actively measure what works and what doesn’t.  The issue is not much about identifying problems, but the quality of new solutions being run.  At some point, you have to check if your KPI (key performance indicator) is up-to-date.  Data on job candidates alone are not enough to identify the key element to their success.  You have to anticipate their needs so you can plan programs that will improve their job satisfaction and keep attrition rate closer to nil.  Money alone is not a great motivator so you may have to revamp what will have a greater impact on your bottom line – then, draft incentive structures based on what exactly makes them perform best.  You can’t take the back seat this time hoping that things will improve soon.

    If you want to have a clue about what’s happening – you have to be in the game.  This is the ONLY way.  It’s high time to match your IT portfolio with your business strategy.  The Good News?  It’s achievable.

  3. The Telecommuting Case: Innovator or Disruptor?

    "telecommuting"Just when the flames of Yahoo’s telecommuting memo is slowly dying, we hear Best Buy adding more fuel to the fire.  I can’t resist not to jump in and make a case for telecommuting.  Last week, I wrote about Employee Appreciation Day and how flexible time can become the highest motivator for your people to do their jobs well.  Guess what?  A case against working from home is posted on the Web, saying that such activity is not only counter-productive, but a creativity killer as well.  While I’m not against research, they have forgotten to mention that collaboration technology is improving and more employers are saving valuable money that would have been spent on travel and office space.  Do they have the most current study on work patterns?  If innovation is said to happen in those unexpected moments when you bump into someone from another department, then.. there’s simply no need to plan team huddles to brainstorm an idea as it can happen in a snap, right?

    It’s Not the Distance

    For over two decades of having worked with remote teams across the globe, I would say that it’s not an issue of where you work — but how you manage your team to produce the best results.  By management, I’m not talking about micromanaging or this destructive habit of trying to make marionettes out of your team.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with remote work and it can even help you attract top talents to your brand.  But at some point, telecommuting has to be managed because the potential for abuse is still there.  Honestly, if someone’s consistently producing great work – I don’t really care much if s/he’s working from Jupiter or Mars.  If they can’t do their job well from a distance, what makes you think they will do better when they’re only six feet away?  But, each time I hear someone saying that s/he has the right to telecommute, the problem is always about how things are being managed from within; not telecommuting.

    Remote Work: It’s Not Picture-Perfect

    Like working in the office, telecommuting has its share of benefits and drawbacks.  One thing’s for sure though – employees are happier when they are given a chance to be home-based.  This is why they were aghast when Yahoo’s Chief announced that telecommuters report back to the office by June.  Those who are running a work-at-home program can do well if expectations are clear from the very start – from defining the job scope to deadlines.  There is a major difference between working from home occasionally and doing it all-year round though.  Managers may just not be readily available when you need instant help.  Then, there are also issues on data security, poor performance evaluations and lesser promotions for people who work from home.  If you ask why people still clock in from 9-5, they might tell you it’s all about that good ol’ feeling of how your colleagues think highly of you even if they don’t know what exactly it is that you do.

    The Reality of Working from Home

    Did you know that majority of corporate America spends telecommuting hours – only after they have worked in the office?  That’s time spent on checking emails and writing reports after office hours.  The truth is that managers are still glued to doing the old way of things, that your commitment and productivity is measured with the time you spent in the office.  This is why they want to see you and are leery of those who are out of sight.  Also, they are having difficulty measuring how well you have worked if you do it out of the office.  While there are tasks that will benefit more from face time, the future of work tends to shift from this as people are finding balance between regular communication and working as one.  Digital tools have yet to solve the issue on how to get things done when work becomes more complex.

    There’s no doubt that we will see better technology to make telecommuting seamless.  The question is not much about which platform to use – It’s more on how the company culture support autonomy.

    Do you think that telecommuting is the future of work?  I leave you with that question.

  4. Making Everyday an Employee Appreciation Day

    "employee appreciation"You might have missed it.  But just in case, March 1st is officially the Employee Appreciation Day.  Have you shown your team how much you value them lately?  While money is important, it’s proven that recognition works better in motivating your people to put their best foot forward.  Last time, I have shared with you Magnetic Outsourcing tips that will help you attract and retain top performers in your company.  This time, I will share with you simple ways on how you can run a lean business with ways you can reward your people without having to spend a dime.  Your employees are the lifeline of your business and making them feel good will always reflect back on your brand, where customer interaction is involved.

    Putting More Value on Your Team

    While your employees are crucial in making sure that you’re in the business of keeping customers loyal to your brand, engaging in scare tactics may backfire sooner than you think.  I’ve seen teams fail because people were made to fear taking risks.  Competition may be great for a short time, but it can create division in the long run.  Where do you strike a balance?  Simple.  You can try:

    1.  Sincerity

    There’s nothing bad with praise, only that when you give it indiscriminately – it looks cheap.  Instead, keep it honest. Your team had a difficult day completing a hard task so give praise publicly.  Send in a word of thanks, a note.  Value each person’s contributions and point out how each one have contributed to the team’s success.

    2.  Flexibility

    If thousands were enraged with the recent news of how Yahoo’s policy had put a lid on working flexible hours, you should know better.  So long as your people don’t abuse this privilege, it can build trust and stronger work relationship in the long run.  Flex time is always the easiest to give with most to gain.

    3.  Making Work Fun

    Try to be creative in thinking of weekly events that can boost your team’s morale.  Just because you’re working in a virtual setting doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate in real-time.  There are plenty of online tools out there that can bridge this gap.  If you’re sending out a monthly newsletter, try featuring your best workers for a change.  Be creative!

    4.  Reward Ideas

    Just because an idea didn’t work doesn’t mean that it should stop your team from producing new ones.  Why not host an annual award for the best idea?  Even if it’s not implemented, this can stimulate innovation and positive mindset among your team.  Also, if you need to correct an action, please coach privately and fix the problem without judging the person.

    5.  Ask for Feedback

    The best way to make your employees feel that their time and efforts are appreciated is to listen to what they have to say.  Besides, it’s tough to be always in control so turn the tables this time and let everyone take a vote in the decision-making table.  This way, you can open communication channels.

    Then, there’s the usual perk – in cash or in kind.  At the end of the day, it’s all about appreciating those who made a difference to your business and to your customers, of those who contributed to your success.  It doesn’t hurt to take off a few minutes each day to send out a meaningful compliment, without the BS.

    ** and to my team, Many Thanks… for working with me, through thick and thin.

  5. Achieving Your Business Goals in 3 Simple Steps

    "goal setting"Sometimes, I wonder.. if money isn’t everything, then, why are we in business in the first place?  If there’s one thing that sets apart a successful person from someone who’s not – it’s achieving goals.  Success can mean a lot of things to different people.  It can mean building a fortune or enjoying life with having just enough.  Whatever your purpose is, having long term goals is like the fuel to keep the fire of motivation burning as it helps you complete those short term goals.  This leaves you with a question then:  How can you achieve bigger goals and make a huge difference in this world?

    Success: Journey or Destination?

    If success is having worthy ideals that motivate you to progress towards these goals, it would be right to say that achievement is a journey to realizing more.  You simply don’t stop.  In fact, it is our innate nature to discover new territories and conquer the unknown.  This challenge is what drives the human spirit, to push oneself to the edge and learn new things.  This week, I have been in a state of introspection as I ponder on those far-fetched ideas that sounded odd, unrealistic.. until someone dared to make that giant leap.  But then, new inventions don’t always drive innovation.  In fact, last week’s #custserv chat had swerved into the topic of the iWatch and it was fun to read people’s comments on the subject.  Is this idea too ambitious.. or downright absurd?  We’ll have to see.  For now, we have to ask ourselves if we can turn our vision into action.

    What Do You Want to Achieve?

    This is the only question you have to answer.  It doesn’t matter what timeframe you’ve set for yourself.  This year, you can’t simply row your boat in every possible direction.  You have to focus.  You need to steer your way to progress and be strong enough to:

    1. Acknowledge

    Talk to your team and to your customers.  You have to face reality and assess the current state of your business.  This is the only way you can find ways to improve what needs fixing and amplify what’s already working.

    2.  Be Very Specific

    You need to sit this one down and think of your goals – short term and long term.  What exactly would you like to achieve next week, month, in a quarter or in a year?  The key here is to reach those shorter-term goals to help you move towards achieving those longer-term goals.

    3.   Divide and Conquer

    Divide those huge goals into smaller ones and you may even assign small teams to work on it.  Here’s where you gather ideas and collaborate with each team on the baby steps needed to achieve these goals.  Identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats about the steps you are about to make and when you do – never be afraid to test it.  You may fail and it’s totally fine; it’s part of the whole learning process.

    It all comes down to balance then.  Set your goals too high and you may simply lose hope if you fail.  Set it too easy and you will become complacent.  It is your confidence, energy and drive that will help build a momentum around your vision so you can gain the results you want in the shortest time possible.

    In the meantime, celebrate those baby successes as you journey along the path to realizing those bigger goals.

     

  6. Magnetic Outsourcing: Attracting & Retaining Top Talents to Your Brand

    "magnetic outsourcing"Building a magnetic brand that attracts top talent may come easy to some, but retaining these gems is still a work-in-progress for many.  For those who are into outsourcing, the toughest challenge of them all is how to foster innovation given a diverse team to work with.  Recent studies have found that diversity is a key driver to innovating your workforce, where people from various backgrounds are encouraged to share and develop new ideas.  Money alone is not the greatest motivator in attracting top talents when competition is fierce in today’s global market.  If you want significant changes to happen, you simply have to keep these top talents from leaving to where the grass looks greener.  Is it even achievable where outsourcing is concerned?

    What Does It Mean to Be ‘Diverse’?

    Businesses have to compete on a global scale this time and diversity means working with people from different cultures, education and languages.  Think of it as creating a melting pot of the East and the West, helping you gain better productivity and business growth.  By working with a diverse workforce, they help you define your product for certain demographics – which is great for targeting your market.  It also helps your customer service perform better because they are more culture-sensitive.  Overall, if you’re wanting to expand your business overseas, you have to open your doors to change.  It’s crucial for your business strategy to hire, develop and retain these talents.

    How Do You Attract Top Talents and Keep Them for Good

    The outsourcing market can be volatile and attrition rate is high, especially when you’re working with creatives who are always on the search for something stimulating.  You may not hire a person for life, but you can extend his/her stay, starting with:

    1. Hiring the Right Person

    Don’t just look at a person’s CV and see if s/he fits skill-wise.  Consider personality-wise.  Those whose values are not aligned with yours will be saying goodbye soon.  Try initiating small talk and you’ll learn a lot in less than 60 seconds.

    2. Build a Tribe

    People work well if they feel that they’re part of a community, of something bigger than their current job titles.  Just because you’re working in a virtual office doesn’t mean you can’t achieve this.  There are plenty of social enterprise tools out there to keep communication lines open.

    3. Make Work Fun

    You don’t have to spend on expensive rewards to keep your team motivated.  Trust them to do their job well and you’ll be surprised just how far they’ll go with their skills.  Be flexible enough to have an open workflow, allowing your team to work from anywhere, anytime.

    4. Polish Those Diamonds

    And I meant, those diamonds in the rough.  In a down economy, it is easier to find highly skilled folks who, with a bit of your help, can develop core skills that will be beneficial to your business.  These can be people who got laid off from jobs they’ve had for years or those with great experience but lack the formal credentials to go with it.

    5. Be Found

    Word spreads faster than the speed of type these days if you simply do your best.  Show people what it’s like to work with you – for example, you can have a fun video interview of those who work for you.  Having a solid brand message also helps attract superstar talents out there… and next time, you don’t even have to post an ad; they’ll be knocking on your doors.

    Like what they say, ‘It’s not all about the Benjamins…’

    **and if you need help in finding the right talent for your team, simply ASK

  7. Big Data or Big Lies?

    "big data myth"Would you agree if I say that 2013 is the year of big data?  There were talks on big data last year and now, it’s the center of data analytics as we know it.  Both private and public sectors alike would want to tap into predictive analytics, of having access to information that can be used not only in growing business and customer base, but also to enhance homeland security, law enforcement, finance, health care and a whole lot more.  The race is on in finding value in the vast volume of data, like ripe apples ready for the picking.  We’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg and we haven’t unlocked big data’s fullest potential yet.  One can only ask if outdated policies can really keep up with these new technologies (soon?)

    Responding to the Big Data Challenge

    Are Fortune 500 companies making big data investments like some digital gold rush?  One thing is for sure, business decisions are now data-driven and they need to measure what they want improved.  Simply put, data is everywhere and the world just got bigger as we see structured and unstructured data proliferate online documents, websites, social media, mobile and relational databases.  To be highly productive where big data is concerned will mean finding the right data scientist to interpret things accordingly.  The issue here is not so much about a lack of talent where big data initiatives are concerned, but organizational alignment – of making sure that business and technology will work together for a common goal.  This is still a work-in-progress among many who are trying to manage data and create an environment with the greatest probabilities of success.

    Big Data, Bigger Myths

    Just as there’s huge enthusiasm over big data, there are those who call it a hype.  I was just reading this post by Matthew on how President Obama really beat Romney – and it’s curious to see bias in the interpretation of data presented.  I’ve been following all these talks about the big data buzz and compiled these myths as follow:

    1. Size matters – Not really; bigger volumes of data doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable.

    2. You Have to Know Hadoop – while this open-source Apache software is great for working with big data, you don’t need to master it just for you to leverage customer data to improve your business ROI.

    3. It is Unstructured – which is not really accurate.  Big data is multi-structured as it can come in any (and many ) forms

    4. It’s only used for analyzing social feeds or user sentiment – which big data can do, but it has more to offer than that ( This article on Forbes shows you other ways of using big data ).

    5. There’s an Ultimate Solution – The complexity of big data shows us that there’s just no silver bullet to solve it.  You need to have a dynamic environment to effectively collect, manage and draw insights from big data

    If you collect quality data, you’ll get quality results.  While these myths abound, let me say this: Knowing is Better than Guessing.  Like it or not, big data is here to stay.  It may be a tough road to take as you switch from information overload to focused data.  In the end, everyone wins.  Just take a holistic approach, be open to new data patterns and integrate the old into the new.

    Then, reap bigger rewards..