November 2006 Archives

This is a striking assertion.  In the Financial Times today, Francesco Guerrera in New York, Richard Waters in San Francisco and Rebecca Knight in Boston, quote the chairman of Wipro, Azim Premji,as saying:

"...the US faces a more acute skills shortage in information technology than India, blaming failings in America��s education system and restrictive immigration policies."

�There is a scarcity of IT professionals in the US,�� Mr Premji told the Financial Times. �Engineering is not growing talent, and that is a cause of concern.��

He said Indian groups would confound expectations of a looming skills shortage in the country and continue to draw on lower-cost, highly trained graduates to retain their technological edge.

Recently the news has been that India would face a shortage of talent, but, India is investing in its educational infrastructure and graduating many more engineers than in the US.  This imbalance will cost the US dearly.

"Bill Gates, Microsoft��s founder, has been warning about the evaporation of interest in computer science at US universities for more than two years.

Jeffrey Immelt, GE��s chief, told a Washington audience in January that the US was on its way to becoming �the massage capital of the world��, with more students graduating in sports sciences than electrical engineering. "

The Threat of Climate Change

The Washington Post publishes a good compilation of articles on climate change.  The most recent article I noticed today indicatess that the large energy firm's are bigging to accept the evidence of global warming and may be ready to act.

Energy Firms Come to Terms With Climate Change

While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.

This is a good review of web sites where you can publish videos.  I have been looking for a good site where i can upload mpeg-2 videos and share them with my family.  MPEG-2 formated videos are harder to share because it is a format primarily used in DVDs and create large files.  Anyway, I am still searching.

Where can you publish your video clips online? This mini-guide of online video sharing sites should give you a good reference to find your preferred online video publishing outlet. Photo credit: Stephen Coburn Online video sharing sites allow anyone connected to the web to easily upload digital video recordings so that these clips can be viewed by other people. Online video sharing sites have become a high in-demand online type of service because they allow small independent publishers the ability to publish video files of almost any size without problems. Normally, bloggers and other small independent publishers have only a limited amount of space on their web service provider server to upload additional files to be published on their web...
[Robin Good's Latest News]

Don Tapscott published a number of books about web commerce in the early 2000s.  HIs new book is a solidly researched piece on how computer aided collaboration is changing business.

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything is due to be published within the next month or so. The copy on the website is a little hype-y, but the research behind the book is very solid, and their thinking about intellectual property, collaboration, innovation is deeper than their promotional copy indicates.

Today, encyclopedias, jetliners, operating systems, mutual funds, and many other items are being created by teams numbering in the thousands or even millions. While some leaders fear the heaving growth of these massive online communities, Wikinomics proves this fear is folly. Smart firms can harness collective capability and genius to spur innovation, growth, and success. A brilliant primer on one of the most profound changes of our time, Wikinomics challenges our most deeply-rooted assumptions about business and will prove indispensable to anyone who wants to understand the key forces driving competitiveness in the twenty-first century. This groundbreaking work is inspired by a nine million dollar research project led by bestselling author Don Tapscott and sponsored by some of the world’s largest companies. Wikinomics builds on this research elucidating a new age where thanks to the Web 2.0 masses of people can participate in the economy like never before—creating a TV news story, sequencing the human genome, remixing their favorite music, designing software, finding a cure for disease, editing a school text, inventing a new cosmetic, or even building a motorcycle. You’ll read about:
• Rob McEwen, the Goldcorp, Inc. CEO, former investment banker, and gold mining newbie, who used open source tactics and an online competition to breathe new life into a struggling business cobbled by the rules of an old-fashioned industry.

• Flickr, Second Life, YouTube, and other thriving online communities that transcend social networking to pioneer a new form of collaborative production that will revolutionize markets and firms.

• Smart, multibillion dollar companies like Procter & Gamble that cultivate nimble, trust-based relationships with external collaborators to form vibrant business ecosystems that create value more effectively than hierarchically organized businesses.

[Smart Mobs]

One of my colleagues sent me a link to an article in Harvard Business School Working Knowledge about a book which is very relevant to my current work in innovation.  The book discussed in this article is called The Medici Effect.  The author, Frans Johansson, explores how individuals, teams, and organizations can create ideas at the intersection of different fields, cultures, and industries.  In the book he describes extraordinarly creative connections that innovators have made. These examples are explored further in his weblog, Stories from the Intersection: Stories about breakthrough insights at the intersection of fields, disciplines and cultures based on my new book The Medici Effect.  He has been writing and discussing his ideas since 1984, so his ideas are well supported.

The CFO takes on a more complex task

CFO's are taking a more activist role in business strategy and corporate governance.

Custodian of stability and partner in strategy

CFOs face higher expectations and a mandate to restore trust. At the same time, they are being asked to support business strategy more actively through such techniques as scenario and risk modeling. As a result, CFOs are in a brighter spotlight and on a faster path up or down the career ladder.

How are CFOs managing these new roles and expectations? To better answer that question, Mercer and Russell Reynolds Associates recently conducted more than 60 interviews with CFOs and stakeholders.

A variety of external pressures including new regulations have affected the CFO’s relationship with the board (where interactions have become more intense, with boards adamant about not being surprised) and auditors (who have grown more rigid about discrepancies and less willing to commit themselves on controversial issues).

See full Article.
[Governance Focus]

Financial Wizardry

According to the Financial Times the capital markets " is in the grip of an innovation wave that is leading to the creation of numerous new products."  On 15 November, the FT published a review of new financial innovations entitled Financial Wizardry that compiles articles on innovations in deritatives and other financial products.

Innovation strategy: Fast iteration

FYI from the Innovation Weblog;  the objective is to fail fast: do it, test it, fix it.

One way in which a number of companies have successfully innovated is to take a fast, iterative approach to designing and rethinking their products and services. This article from User Interface Engineering describes how it is standard operating practice at Netflix and Google to constantly improve their websites and to launch new services, then quickly learn from user feedback.  By analogy, there are innovation lessons here that most companies can learn from.

A class action suit was filed in Iowa claiming that Microsoft had used its market dominance to discourage other software developers from producing applications that would have been superior to Microsoft's products.  The Des Moines Register reported on November 2 2006, in an article entitled "Microsoft judge tosses 'loss of innovation' theory" that Des Moinse lawer Roxanne Conlin brought a new type of damage claim called "loss of innovation".  She claimed that she was basing damage claims of $450M on "denial of free choice and loss of the benefits of software innovaiton" against Microsoft.  The $450M estimate is based on the damage done to Iowans who purchased Microsoft products between 1994 and 2006  and the absense of innovaiton in markets in which Microsoft has a commanding share.

Lack of innovation has an even more tangible cost with this kind of law suit.

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