Anything that is worth copying will be copied, so how do you establish an advantage? By building something that cannot easily be copied or bought.
Don Dea's insight:
Lean Business Model: Unfair Advantage
So what is the unfair advantage we seek in serving investors who are dissatisfied with the traditional private equity model? We see three advantages that may be hard to replicate:
Avondale managing directors and VPs collectively have decades of experience partnering with management teams to build and grow businesses. If we can bring businesses that want to grow but require capital and management transformation to our investors, we will be uniquely positioned to support them.
We are unconstrained by the traditional PE fund structure. Therefore, we can better align ourselves to investors' goals without pressure to make or wind down investments on a particular time scale.
Our cost structure is such that we will only make a profit when our investors do. Compared to the traditional PE business model, this is a very risky choice for us to make. However, our incentives, both in finding good acquisitions and profitably growing the heck out of them, are highly aligned with our investors, which will enable us to form very tight partnerships.
An organization can either build its own platform or infrastructure (least common), join with other groups to build a shared platform (more common), or use existing infrastructures (most common). To decide on the most prudent route, your organization might do an audit of your capacity and needs for a storytelling infrastructure.
If you're thinking about starting a new business, you can test it out with this five-point checklist.
Don Dea's insight:
Is your idea grounded in personal experience?
Founding and running a business is like writing a book. It's impossible to write a book that doesn't come from your personal experience. You can't push something out of you that is not inside of you to begin with. The best business ideas come from what's inside you. Henry Ford was an avid mechanic before he developed the assembly line. Bill Gates was a programmer at a young age. Donald Trump's dad was a very successful real estate entrepreneur so Trump was immersed in real estate from birth (too bad his Mom was not a hair stylist).
The core technology behind our company's software products is a system that converts financial statements into easy-to-understand narrative reports. The genesis for this kind of system came about when I was working with business owners and realized that they were good at running their businesses but could not read financial statements. I identified something in my own experience that was a problem then created something to solve it. Good ideas have to come from something within you: something you've seen, something that frustrates you or someone you know really well, something that you want to improve. That's a given.
Developing the ability to convert data into the fuel for ambient intelligence is an ambitious challenge. It requires technology to understand context, derive intent and separate signal from noise. Building out a comprehensive platform that can enable this kind of ambient intelligence is a whole company initiative that we are uniquely qualified to undertake.
Are software companies doomed? Mostly, yes. While large enterprises persist in wanting to install and run software in data centers behind their firewalls, approximately none of them love the current enterprise sales model that has them dickering over massive discounts on overpriced license and maintenance contracts.
“At this point, no breach has been confirmed, but an investigation is underway,” the statement said. “Goodwill Industries International is working with industry contacts and the federal authorities on the investigation.” The agency said it would “work proactively with any individual local Goodwill involved, taking appropriate actions if a data compromise is uncovered.”An unusually high number of fraudulent purchases tied to cards used at its thrift stores led authorities to contact Goodwill on Friday about a possible data breach.
Mobile has increasingly become the go-to device to fulfill a consumer need. What's tomorrow's weather? Is the flight on time? Where's the nearest store, and is this product cheaper there?
Whatever the question, consumers increasingly expect the answer to be on the phone. This is the mobile mind shift: The expectation that you can get the information you want, right there in the moment when you need it.
The new battleground for customers is in this mobile moment—the instant in which the customer is seeking an answer. If you're there for them, you’ll gain their loyalty; if you're not, you'll lose their business. But while both entrepreneurial companies like Uber and huge corporations like American Airlines are winning in this mobile moment, the majority of firms still think "we’ll build an app" is the solution to serving customers in their mobile moments.
Mobility is one of the most transformational trends in the modern enterprise. Smartphone and tablets have changed how employees fundamentally use their computers, which means the entire notion of enterprise productivity and software development must be rethought. Many companies are on the forefront of the changing enterprise, but as companies catch up, the target moves yet again.
Despite its importance, most organizations still experience tremendous challenges when selecting an enterprise mobile platform. The reason organizations struggle is based on an incredibly simple factor: fragmentation. In order to address these challenges, we believe the enterprise mobile market is heading for a level of consolidation that will produce what we call the third generation enterprise mobile platform.
If we chop off the top and the bottom of the market, that leaves a “middle class," which is extremely poor, struggling to make any kind of money. About 22% of developers earn between $100 and $1000 a month off their mobile apps. The higher end of that scale isn’t bad for hobby developers, but professional app makers can’t get by on that. VisionMobile draws an “app poverty line” at apps that make less than $500 a month, leaving 69% of all app developers in this category.
As a CIO, you're likely more focused on the proverbial big picture with respect to how IT can best support business strategies. Still, you need to stay abreast of the wealth of new tech tools, techniques and platforms which are building a buzz among your employees. After all, not only will you earn techie points for recognizing the assortment of emerging lingo referencing IT approaches and resources, but demonstrating the capability to discuss why they matter. Toward this end, we present 10 up-and-coming best practices, tools and platforms from the tech advisory board for ThoughtWorks, a software design, creation and delivery company. They are currently featured in the most recent edition of a regular report called the "Technology Radar," which is now in its fourth year. Through the report, ThoughtWorks hopes to encourage more forward-spinning information sharing among tech professionals. "Having a radar helps people think about which technologies they should investigate (and) when to be more or less aggressive about adoption, (making) for more intelligent decision making," says Neal Ford - See more at: http://www.cioinsight.com/it-strategy/enterprise-apps/slideshows/10-emerging-it-techniques-tools-and-platforms.html/#sthash.jV3VcflB.dpuf
The goal of the Bibliotheca project is to print a Bible that you'll want to read cover to cover.
Don Dea's insight:
The idea behind Bibliotheca is simple: What if we printed the Bible as if it were just another long book? Instead of trying to cram the 726,000 words of the New International Version of the Bible into a single volume, Bibliotheca splits it up into four attractive hardcover volumes, two each for the Old and New Testament. This is designed to make the typographical layout roomier and more psychologically approachable. Couple that with the adoption of a larger, custom sans serif font, line lengths optimized for readability, and the abandoning of verse numbers, and you have a Bible that wants to be read like a short story collection-- even if its page-to-text proportions are based on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (and they are!).
This notebook is engineered with tear-producing chemical compounds.
Don Dea's insight:
Notebook company Magnus Ferreus has apparently engineered paper infused with onion compounds and is about to unleash the product on the stoic, serious, and unsuspecting Japanese. Just as when your knife slices into an onion, the scratching of your pen against Onion Note paper will release the tear-inducing chemical irritant, propanethiol S-oxide. Give it a try, but keep some tissues handy or you won't be able to read a single word on page.
If companies today are truly serious about being leaner, flatter organizations, with less hierarchical structure and less bureaucracy, then they need to realize that they must change the way they do business. Because organizations that really want to become more autonomous have to develop outstanding frontline leadership. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a company …
Don Dea's insight:
At some point, businesses have to realize investing in talent has a positive impact on the bottom-line. This means creating a training and retention strategy is a necessary part of a business strategy.
One of the wonderful things about MOOCs is that they don’t force students to be in a particular location in order to ‘attend’ class. Especially if you’re looking for a course that will help you gain a specific skill, MOOCs allow students access to teachers and other experts they might not have otherwise. The handy …
Don Dea's insight:
MOOCs, Skills, and Jobs
By 2020, there will be around 900,000 tech jobs in the EU
Employers are looking for workers with web and app design skills, domain-specific skills, programming languages, and Android and iOS
Student demand is highest for courses in web design, HTML5, Android, Java Script, and CSS
Current professionals consider MOOCs to be the best places to learn these skills
Students want certification for the skills they acquire – this is often a challenge for MOOCs (with assessment logistics, etc)
Some of the specific skills that employers are looking for might not quite have a ‘massive’ audience (though I’d add in ‘yet’)
Many institutions cite the high cost as a barrier to offering MOOCs
One of the core elements to a company’s culture is how they refer to the people who work there. Are they called “employees” or “associates”? Or maybe something else like Disney’s “cast member”? I’ve worked for companies that have used both terms. So I don’t consider one to be better or worse than another. However, I …
Skype also made screen sharing free for all group video calls, which is a key for businesses that collaborate remotely. So even as it looks to compete against popular consumer-oriented tools like Google Hangouts, Skype's focus on appeasing the enterprise shows that Microsoft still knows where its bread is buttered.
Disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that. It doesn’t explain change. It’s not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity. It makes a very poor prophet.
Where software used to be written from scratch in a highly complex and lengthy process, creating new products is now often a matter of choosing open source components and stitching them together with code.... The complexity of today’s software lies less in the authoring, and more in ensuring that the new software will work across a diverse set of operating systems and platforms right away.
Encourage people to do something for its own sake, not for its benefits.
Don Dea's insight:
The implications of this finding are significant. Whenever a person performs a task well, there are typically both internal and instrumental consequences. A conscientious student learns (internal) and gets good grades (instrumental). A skilled doctor cures patients (internal) and makes a good living (instrumental). But just because activities can have both internal and instrumental consequences does not mean that the people who thrive in these activities have both internal and instrumental motives.
Show me a mistake-free leader, and I'll show you someone hiding from the real issues confronting the business: people and strategy.
Don Dea's insight:
Even in our data-driven world, selecting and then executing a strategy is like walking through a minefield on a fresh lava-flow blindfolded. There’s a high probability that somewhere between choice of path and the journey down that path, you will misstep with painful results. Assuming the essence of the strategy is sound, often, you can recover, adapt and proceed from execution missteps. These non-fatal errors are powerful learning experiences, teaching you and everyone around you how to spot gaps, fill in blind-spots and redouble efforts to get execution right.
There are two realities here: One reality is that Hadoop, the open source software platform managed by the Apache Software Foundation, doesn't threaten yesterday's data warehouse workloads, and it won't anytime soon—or ever—even though a zero-sum data infrastructure market makes for good reading. The other reality is that for reasons of cost and flexibility, more and more enterprises are moving to Hadoop.
The question is: Will vendors like Oracle, Teradata and IBM be able to embrace and extend Hadoop in time?
More than half of US consumers (59%) say their television set is being transformed into an overgrown monitor for viewing content they select from an online device, according to a recent report from Adroit Digital.
Men and young adults are significantly more likely to say so than women or older adults: 69% of men surveyed agree that their TV set is becoming a big monitor to display digital on-demand content, compared with 51% of women. Also, 63% of people age 18-24 agree, compared with only 47% of people age 45+.