When you’re in a class dedicated to evaluating processes, it’s difficult to not look at the world as one tangled mess of interwoven processes.
Today for example: a complaint.
I recently moved. I needed a new sofa. I ordered a new sofa. 4 weeks later, I’m still waiting on my sofa. And all I can think about (besides how uncomfortable my floor is getting…) is that if this company had a better order, routing, and delivery process that I would have my sofa by now!
However, there’s a tradeoff, and I realized that when I picked this company. Once the sofa is picked up from the manufacturing company and checked for imperfections, the way the company saves money is by only routing sofas onto trucks that are delivering other orders to a similar geographic area – thus passing their savings of shipping costs down to me, the customer. Of course, that means waiting longer. But, in order of priority, cost (and not time) was my number one concern. (Hey – I AM a student, after all!)
So in this world of interwoven processes, I guess I have to give credit to this sofa company. For a few hundred dollars less than going to a local retail store, I will be getting a sofa that has waited just long enough to make it onto a perfectly packed truck headed in just my direction. If it weren’t for routing systems, key relationships with freight shipping companies, and an efficient step-by-step delivery process, who knows where my sofa would end up.
Dear Sofa Company: I can’t wait for my new sofa, but thanks for ensuring it gets to me safely!
Do you have a process that you’d like to see updated? Leave your comment below!
Shameless plug alert …
I attend Temple University. I am a second year, full time MBA student concentrating in Information Technology Management (I guess you could have figured this out from this blog…) at the Fox School of Business.
MIS @ Fox is doing some pretty cool things these days.
Generated by an Association for Information Systems (AIS) publications survey, a number of rankings have put in the spotlight a handful of star Fox MIS department faculty for their quality of research. Namely:
- The research output of the Fox MIS Department has been ranked No. 1 in the world in the 2012. The department was ranked first for the period 2009-12, maintaining the leading position it has held for three years.
- Professor Paul A. Pavlou, director of the Fox School’s PhD program in business administration, is ranked the top MIS researcher in the world for the same three-year period.
- Fox Associate Professor of Marketing and MIS Angelika Dimoka, director of Temple’s Center for Neural Decision Making, was ranked No. 2.
- MIS Professor Youngjin Yoo, who directs Temple’s Center for Design+Innovation and is principal investigator on the university’s Urban Apps and Maps Studios, ranks 9th.
- MIS Associate Professor David Schuff, Fox’s director of innovation in learning technologies, is also on the top 100 individual list, at No. 85.
Being able to rub elbows with such keen minds on the topic of MIS is a joy and a great opportunity. With interests ranging from e-commerce and big data, to processes driving the evolution of new IT tools and systems, to even the influence of Web 2.0 on politics – these Fox faculty are passionate about what they teach.
Want to see more of the rankings? Full rankings are here.
Want to learn more about Fox and the awesome projects these professors are working on? See more here.
We all know it: the tech scene in Philly is hot right now. And I’m not just talking about the N3RD Street tech start-up corridor in old city. I’m talking about our entire city government.
Through MBA classes here at Temple and other special events thrown by the Fox School of Business’s Department of Management Information Systems, such as last year’s Big Data Conference, I’ve been blown away by the power and opportunity that transparency and access to data provides. When mixed with city government, that power and opportunity just explodes.
Check out Chief Data Officer Mark Headd (who I met last year from his speaking engagement at last year’s Big Data Conference – exciting!) “throwing the gauntlet down” in his radio talk with Maiken Scott about his desire for Philly to be the most transparent city in the country. (As an added bonus, Bob Moul, CEO of Artisan located off N3RD street, is featured in another of WHYY’s #innovateRT series on local tech innovators – another great Philadelphia tech leader to follow!)
What do you think about what Mark had to say about governmental transparency?
I admitted in a previous post that I am a cord-cutter. That’s right. I no longer pay for cable TV through my cable provider. However, I’m still stuck on internet charges (how else would I be able to write to you from the comfort of my own home, dear readers?!).
So, knowing that I’m stuck with my internet bill, I’ve been searching for ways to access some mindless TV entertainment – cheaply, and legally. Meanwhile, this year I used Amazon for all of my Christmas and holiday purchases, and I finally signed up for an Amazon Student Prime account to take advantage of the free 2-day shipping deal (don’t worry – this post is not an advertisement for Amazon…). In signing up, I noticed the benefits of the full Amazon Prime membership – including a quite extensive access to a large streaming instant video library.
On Reddit yesterday, I noticed this also popped up:
“Amazon has signed a licensing agreement with A&E Networks that will make TV shows from A&E, Bio, History, and Lifetime channels available to watch on Prime Instant Video, the company announced today.” (Read more here.)
While Prime’s library (currently at 33,000) is far less than direct competitor Netflix, I’m wondering what other content providers will start offering one-off access to TV channels. More and more I’m hearing the disgruntled rumblings of we – the cord-cutters – who want access to the channels and content that we prefer, and not the bundles of channels that we pay for but never use. I think that the age of pay-per-interest streaming content is upon us. I’m just looking for the best prices now.
What’s your take on Amazon Prime and their growing library of streaming content? What service do you use for fresh content?
As “Minority Report”-esque as it sounds, the capabilities of NYC’s new Domain Awareness System (DAS) are impressive. The system enables law enforcement a comprehensive view of the city through various sources of data (surveillance cameras, licence plate readers, 911 calls, etc.), which allows officials to quickly assess (and access) relevant information about potentially serious emergencies or threats. By using disparate data from various sources around the city, officials can connect the dots so as to “optimally deploy manpower.” This not only saves time and cost for the city, it also has the potential to reduce threats. Of course, it is very “big-brother” of NYC to adopt this system, but it is an example of Big Data at its best.
(P.S. If you’re a criminal wanting to fly under the radar, wait 30 days until your next spree. DAS purges its data every 30 days and you might be able to escape the patterns the city officials are looking for. Just don’t tell them I said so!)
A common misconception in the research phase of a consulting project is that “data” and support for a project’s hypotheses needs to come in the form of a specific numerical representation.
The phrase: “We need to support that with data,” or, “What do the numbers show,” typically translates into a scramble to find the X% of this, or the $XX of that. Finite numbers which show, prove, or otherwise represent a quantifiable outcome to a hypothesis are sought after. It can be a tricky process, especially if an industry outlook is rapidly evolving and even subject matter experts are hesitant to weigh in on the subject in specific terms.
This misconception that numbers are more “real” and “accurate” forms of data significantly discredits qualitative sources of data. In fact, these qualitative sources can provide robust yet precise details about many fluid characteristics of industry change.
Take the Stakeholder Analysis my team is conducting, for example.
The team has strengthened our industry and internal analyses by conducting University-wide interviews with key stakeholders
As part of the Fox School of Business’s full time MBA curriculum, students undergo a semester-long foray into consulting, called Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC), and work on a specific client project. My team’s client is attempting to navigate the quickly changing environment of higher education by determining how to best position itself in the online learning space. This question offers numerous opportunities to start digging into enrollment statistics, costs of comparable peer institution programs, and other quantifiable sources of data.
But what this quantifiable data is showing us is that the industry is headed for a significant and powerful change. We want to know how the client is prepared for this rapid change and what internal resources, frameworks, and mindsets might prevent widespread adoption of an online learning strategy. But the process to answer these questions is not as simple as looking at the client’s balance sheet and income statements; we won’t be able to gather insights from the enrollment trends by itself.
The team has strengthened our industry and internal analyses by conducting University-wide interviews with key stakeholders – from Deans of the internal Schools, to top-level Executives and Trustees, and (in our next phase) even students, alumni, and faculty of both traditional and pure online programs. However, the result of these interviews is an unstructured text-based output that is not easily scanned for trends, points of parity or difference.
How have we been able to find meaning in this qualitative data?
Overlay a quantifiable format over this unstructured data!
It’s not cheating, I promise. It simply will allow a meaningful and structured approach to combing through the data you’ve gathered – or, more appropriately, listened to – while on your stakeholder interviews.
And what we’ve found is very interesting. Sample static quotes include:
There will always be a market for a traditional campus. College is more than just going to class. People are willing to pay for this. Although a commuter population probably will gravitate towards online…
I do not know what we should look like, but it is not what we look like now.
My issues are not the same as the university. One size does not fit all.
Our faculty interest in online learning is at the beginning state. Right now they don’t know what is available. While we would like to have several people who experiment with online modality, we currently don’t have the staff to handle that component.
These sound bites give us insight into the current mindset of the client, and understanding that there are numerous stakeholders who wield significant power in any University-wide decision.
This internal voice could not have been heard through the story the financial numbers were telling us. We needed to go directly to the source, and listen – first-hand – to what obstacles and resources exist within the client’s control.
So, when you barrel into the research phase of a large project, remember:
- Data is Data: qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data
- Start with your Nearest and Dearest: the people around and associated with the client have strong opinions and first-hand experience about your research topic. They’re living in the client’s reality. Make sure to measure their stories in your research.
As the internet has gotten extremely fast, more and more customers have begun to stream digital content from their personal devices – from PCs, to mobile phones and tablets. Indeed, the natural monopoly that the cable providers have enjoyed over the years is slowly eroding. Today cable providers are facing competition from content delivery platforms (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc.) and some are even beginning to produce original programming and content.
The ability to deliver programming that was once exclusively distributed by cable and satellite providers is the next big opportunity in the market. However, there exists a strong hesitation with digital video and to finally “cut the cord” from cable providers. As customers become more and more frustrated with the limited programming at a high cost that they receive from their cable provider, soon a critical mass will shift to consuming purely digital content. However, as it stands now, the content that has not been passed onto digital video includes live sports and live news, and other premium content, which has been a large barrier for customers considering cutting the cord.
One potential business model is Aereo, which is an antenna-based subscription service which streams broadcast television to any internet-enabled device. With monthly subscriptions starting at $12 (and only in NYC), Aereo has already been sued by a number of large broadcasters who claim that Aereo redistributed their private content without acquiring appropriate licenses. For smaller technological companies to win battles against the broadcasting behemoths, they must not only provide customers a winning value proposition (the content they want for the right price) but also establish that the airwaves are open and free (thus skipping over the infrastructure landlines that cable providers build).
Until this critical mass happens, where customers find true value in the service provided over the internet waves, and cable providers lose footing to smaller third-parties who can provide the same quality of content for the right price, the digital video industry will not take off. There are many factors playing in on this tipping point; but as someone who has already cut the cord, I believe this tipping point will happen.
What do you think? Will you cut the cord in the near future?
The internet is a global resource for the benefit of the many.
The Executive Vice President and CTO at Afilias, Ram Mohan is an influential stakeholder in how the internet is organized and managed. Not only does Afilias own and operate the top seventh top-level domain (TLD) .INFO, Ram is also a non-voting board member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit entity dedicated to run the “natural resource” of the internet.
Because the internet infrastructure is not sanctioned by any government, non-profits such as ICANN define policies for how the “names and numbers” of the Internet should run, which involves a “bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model.” The result is a business model that reacts to a wide variety of stakeholder interests and is driven by a creative auction-like system of new TLD submission.
Afilias’s role in this process is very interesting. Not only did Afilias enter ICANN’s auction with 30 unique TLD submissions (an activity which cost the company $185k for each submission), the company also performs and manages all back-end services for any winning bidder in ICANN’s auction. If Afilias wins the bid for any of these 30 TLDs, it’s possible that the company could have won the managing rights to a large revenue generating activity. However, this depends on the demand for each of these new TLDs; will the public see the value in a .RADIO TLD? If it does, Afilias stands to make a large profit based on the business models their customers create for each of these niche TLDs.
On the other hand, Afilias’s managed services division is easily their best laid plan to take advantage of the structure of the internet. Without any upfront costs (such as the $185k per domain submission), Afilias will provide all back end IT services for the companies participating in ICANN’s auction. Based on their standing with ICANN, any company that wins a new TLD will use Afilias’s services on a subscription revenue model.
Knowing of this managed services aspect to Afilias, it’s confusing why the company would choose to participate in a costly auction for new TLDs. Even though Afilias entered the internet infrastructure industry with their winning bid on .INFO, that business model is less efficient than the managed services model they currently are running. The company is betting high on niche TLDs that they hope will spur demand in the marketplace, but knowing how widely used .COM is, it will be difficult to change buyer’s behavior and move to a different TLD. The stakes are high and the potential profits are large for a winning TLD (such as .ME), but the consistent revenue generated from Afilias’s managed services activities is sustainable.
Indeed, the internet is a resource for the benefit of the many. And Afilias has positioned itself to greatly benefit off of the internet structure with its managed services division. As long as more companies participate in building and growing the structure of the internet, Afilias is guaranteed to incrementally share the successes of this global demand.
What do you think about the future of Afilias … or even of the future structure of the Internet?
The concept of big data is not new. We live in a world where each person creates endless data streams, and each digital product and service creates waves of information trailing behind it; the “big”-ness of data is the fact that so much of it is created every day. However, as more and more data points are created every day, the task of making sense of it all becomes a daunting task. This creates an unprecedented opportunity for businesses and entire industries to generate new insights and innovations form exploiting this big data.
The Fox School of Business’s Institute for Business and Information Technology’s Big Data Conference engaged industry and academic experts to discuss two key topics: 1) the potential of big data and the controversies related to its definition and value, and 2) best practices and exemplars for applying big data to transform how we view the world around us. The conference was organized around specific, practical examples, best practices, and state-of-the-art applications that demonstrated business value. Subtopics included fraud detection, customer trends, safety and compliance, media impact, and others.
Big data has the potential to disrupt many established industries from healthcare, to governmental activities. This changing “technological” factor puts extreme pressure on many cross-industry forces. For example: as the barriers to collect data lower (by higher availability of inexpensive data-collection or data-interpretation systems), the rivalry within industries increases. This can be seen in the proliferation of social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, etc) which utilize “free” social data to understand buyer behavior. Additionally, big data changes the power suppliers have across various industries. In healthcare, electronic medical records put power in doctors’ hands to understand a patient holistically. By utilizing insights from big data, the healthcare industry becomes much more focused on the input of data in order to make the output (patient care) more efficient. This inevitably reduces unnecessary costs that are incurred throughout the process.
The conference was concluded with seven big takeaways. The first of which was to “view big data as a business opportunity.” The guests and speakers of the conference unanimously understand that big data is a powerful tool, but interpreting the data into meaningful and actionable opportunities is the next greatest step in harnessing the value of big data. The final takeaway was “think big.” Play-on-words aside, big data has big opportunities. Being able to cross-functionally and cross-industry collaborate with data collected at every point of the value chain puts much power in the end-user’s hands (the example presented in the Open Data Philly movement, a part of Data.gov’s initiatives). Businesses will want to position themselves in a way that allows them to think creatively and innovatively about what data to collect that will be meaningful to them in the future. It’s a game that involves looking around the corner and strategically predicting what information the business will need in the future. By arming itself with data, and the tools to capture, analyze, and store data, businesses can harness the endless opportunities of big data.
What do you think about Big Data? How is your company approaching the big opportunity of Big Data?