All economic forecasts for 2009 look, well, challenging.

Remember that tough times don’t last, tough people (and businesses) do.

So add these to your New Years resolutions, and have a very Happy New Year!

* Measure IT, And Manage IT

Treat your investments in IT the same as you would treat an investment in new facilities, new production lines, or new warehousing.

You won’t spend money on those and just hope they generate a return.

So resolve to look at IT expenses the same way.

* Start The Conversation

Many SMB’s are unsatisfied with their current IT services. They may be an in house team, or external service provider. (or maybe even your sister’s friends oldest son)

I know that you meet regularly with your senior financial and operations staff to ensure that the trains are running on time and to plan.

And in many SMB’s the largest expense you may have is tech. So why are you not having those conversations with your IT team or provider?

* Your Web Site, You Need It

The majority of smalls businesses research on the web before purchasing. Yet paradoxically, many SMB’s don’t have their own web sites.

See a problem here?

So resolve to get a web site up and running.

Three small things that will help you start understanding where your tech dollars are going. None of them is difficult, they just need the same discipline you have already put into other parts of your business.

So get started to a happy and prosperous New Year!

UPDATE;  The creative Commons Owner objected to using the image embedded in this post, so I have removed it. The original image can be seen at the below URL

Happy New Year !!!

Photo Credit

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OK, this rant is a little off topic.

Now I understand that software vendors work hard to reduce the possibility of theft of their software.

But on-line activation is a pain in the ass.

On-line activation is when the software you purchase will not work, until it phones home to the vendors servers to validate the licence information.

Why do I detest it?

When an employee leaves my organization, I have to have the software de-activated before reassigning the licence to the new employee. That is time consuming.

And in this case – I had an employees computer physically die.

This means a telephone call to get the licence transfer.

Like everything in business, time is money. If it takes an hour of my time getting that changed. That is an hour of lost productivity.

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Book Review; Disrupting Class

December 29, 2008

Disrupting Class

Disrupting Class

Being a member of a family of past and present educators, I picked up Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton M. Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson, and Michael B. Horn.

If you have any responsibility for learning, inside or outside of the education system, (i.e. Human Resources or training staff)this book is worth a read.

The text applies Mr. Christensens’ disruptive innovations theories to the (primarily Western) education system.

The book does not require familiarity with his previous books on disruption, but I found knowing them was beneficial in understanding – in depth, the disruptive innovation context that the authors are describing.

My only issue would be that major projects are often late and cost more than they should. So in the student centric timeline estimated by the authors, I would extend that timeline until all boomers are retired, and even the first waves of Gen-X retireing.

Maybe then we see the much needed context changes described by the authors.

 

Gas Prices

Gas Prices

You cannot listen to the radio, watch TV, or read a paper and not hear about the Detroit Bailout issue.

Even the blogosphere is adding their points;

Mark Cuban, Ron Ulrici , Jody DeVere, Tim Walker and probably hundreds more.

But all the rhetoric looks only at the supply side, or the manufacturing side.

Its Supply and Demand

Last spring GM was quoted as saying that even with incentives, they could barely sell small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt

Then gasoline hits 4 dollars or more per gallon, the Honda Civic became the best selling car in the US.

Then October and November of this year, 2008, gasoline prices fall back down to $2.00  or $2.50 per gallon, the Ford F-150 full size pickup is back at number 1.

Every type and size of vehicle lost sales as this financial crisis has worsened, but the segment that fell the least was the full sized SUV.

Pavlovs’ Dogs

If you have the option of selling a cup of coffee for .99 cents and making a couple of pennies off the top, or selling that coffee for 4 bucks and make boatloads – what would you do?

Ring the bell, get a treat

Absolutely no plan, no bailout, no restructuring will work if the demand side of the equation does not change.

So spend the money on the bailout.

Then add 30 cents a gallon as a gas tax.

The bailout will be paid for in no time by people who insist that they need a Lincoln Navigator or Hummer to shop at the mall.

All references were from the print edition of Automotive News

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Photo Credit; Chip Bennett

Margaret Maloni has a short post on CIO Zone  simply titled Mental Telepathy.

The post looks at business complaints about the lack of response, or communication from IT.

Some Samples (visit the post for more!);

I have to camp out in the IT manager’s office if I want to speak with him or her. They never answer the phone and they do not always answer my emails.

The system was unavailable this weekend and we were processing some critical customer orders. Nobody told us, are we supposed to read their minds?

Unfortunately this is more common than it should be. And it is usually because IT is stuck in a reactive, firefighting mode.

And I’ll Bet You a Paycheck

As a business manager in the small business, medium business space, are you saying this about your IT provider?

If you answer yes, I will bet that the reactive, firefighting mode of IT is due to one or more of the following;

The Takeaway

You know that old definition of insanity?

The one that says insanity is doing the same thing in the same way every time and expecting different results?

You want the end result to change?

Change the input.

Try a different way.

Think I missed one? Please let me know!

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Watch Your Domain

December 22, 2008

A great warning by Bill Sweetman on his sweetmantra blog.

If you are not worried about your web presence for your small /medium business yet. You should be.

Your web site is your new business card (at an absolute minimum)

You don’t want to lose it because you let it expire and somebody else takes it.

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Alan Weiss has an excellent  post on his Contrarian Consulting blog about his penchant for not following advice. (which is why he is the contrarian consultant!)

Outside of his not following advice, there was one nugget I wanted to share;

….consensus…..mechanisms are employed in the misguided belief that if enough people can agree on something it’s probably accurate and true

You know the drill

You go around the boardroom table a dozen times.

There is always some issue or point that someone believes leaves their own interests out.

WIIFM

Yes, What’s In It For Me.

If there is no one in that room with the authority to make the decision, the wrong people are in the room.

If you are an owner or manager in the small business space, and if it important to your business, forget about consensus.

The overall benefit to the business must win.

Make the decision

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