Archive for July, 2005

Strategize for business "health"–not just profits

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

The Japanese have for decades focused on the ten-year picture for their businesses. Years ago when for a short while I worked at a Honda car dealership, I was stunned to see two Japanese representatives from Honda visiting our used car lot to look at used Hondas that were 4 and 5 years old. Why? They wanted to see what things had gone wrong with them so that the cars they were building then would be sure to address those issues.

That’s attention to the big picture–unheard of at American automakers back then (and apparently still not important to some). Here’s a good article from talking about how companies are like people: you can be in good shape to run the race today, but what kind of shape will you be in to meet the physical challenges of ten years from now?

Very soon I’m going to be recommending audio and video sources that give extra dimension to the topics covered here. Look for this new feature later this week.

Wireless mobility new employee perk

Saturday, July 30th, 2005

Public access to wireless connectivity is not the rarity it once was. In fact, tech-savvy business people are beginning to expect it.

Capital One–they offer busness credit cards with miles that apply on any frequent flyer program, so they’re already a step ahead of many competitors–is now proving itself a forward thinker in the area of employee motivation.

Lots of companies have given their sales staff wireless laptops, but Capital One doesn’t think that’s going far enough. It’s gradually building wireless working conditions in for ll of its employees, says this recent Information Week article.

I love this part–Capital One isn’t putting a price on its initiative. They just know it’s a good thing to do–there’s plenty of information available about what today’s young (and savvy older) workers are looking for in job satisfaction. As always, money is up there, but it’s seldom ranked #1 in priorities, so Capital One execs are opening their eyes to other options that are easy–and fairly high profile, I might add.

If you want to be seen as a cutting-edge company and a cool place to work, you could hardly come up with a better way than creating a totally wireless working environment. That alone sets your organization apart–it bespeaks the kind of open-mindedness in upper management thinking that results in just what appeals to today’s knowledge worker–flexibility and freedom.

Small businesses without websites–save yourselves

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

RANKING 99. From Fortune magazine via the NAWBO SmartBrief comes these surprising statitistics about small businesses in America:

“…a snapshot of the nation’s entrepreneurial sector. Some revelations: While 6% of small businesses are open 24 hours a day, in the past three years at least 30% of small businesses have been closed 24 hours or longer because of a natural disaster; and although 81% of entrepreneurs plan to increase tech spending by 20% over the next three years, only 49% of small firms have a Web site.”

Surprising because so many of today’s entrepreneurs haven’t really grasped the power and reach of the Internet. Even if you think your business doesn’t need to be on the web–your products are sold by word of mouth or your services are too technical or professional, industry regulations too restrictive–you’re missing the boat.

Even professionals with tight restrictions on their practices are using the Internet to widen the universe of people who are at least able to consider using their services. At we have written websites for attorneys and CFP firms (certified financial planners)–two professions with the most demanding regulations and restrictions.

So if you don’t have a website, do yourself a favor: get a respected professional copywriter to write your copy, then hire a designer (prices here are all over the place). DON’T hire a designer and then try to figure out later what you should say in your pretty site.

And I’m telling you, if you think you can’t afford a website, you’re probably just not aware of the ways you can do this at extremely low prices. Call me or email me and I’ll tell you how to do it. JUST DO IT.

Technology tricky–but coming along

Monday, July 18th, 2005

Yes, I’m sure those of you who read this blog will be delighted to learn that after downloading a free trial copy of a highly recommended third-party program that’s supposed to make using my contact database on the Treo phone much easier and faster, the wonderful Documents to Go again started misbehaving.

So, seeing that I am out of town and not able to remove the program and synch it clear, I have decided to do my writing in the Memos program. Gets clunky, and I had to have Ellen email me the documents I wanted to work on so I could recover them from the mail server and copy them to a local computer, but okay, I got some work done anyway. But holy mackerel, what was I thinking by buying the Treo 650 when it’s so new? I’ve worked for enough software companies to know that you should never buy the first edition–it’s always full of bugs that the company didn’t have time to work out. That’s why software companies invented beta testing! They could get their customers to help them work out the bugs–but of course, the customers won, too, because they got the program for free. Oh, well.

All that being said, I am getting very attached to this Treo. I LOVE being able to pick up my email anywhere, anytime, without searching for wifi or carrying a laptop–it’s a way to be truly mobile without sacrificing the fast response we like to give our customers and prospects.

Now I just gotta make myself a regular reminder alarm to call my office phone regularly and check for messages. I get so carried away–feeling with the Treo email that I’m so “in touch”–I sometimes forget that people who are in a hurry tend to use the telephone.

Waste not–but do dump dead PC stuff appropriately

Monday, July 18th, 2005

Hey, Blogger! Just lost a post for no apparent reason… Grrr.

Okay, the post was about disposing of old PC equipment in an environmentally acceptable way. I know I regularly junk up my office because I don’t know exactly what to do with hardware I’ve outgrown.

Security is a huge issue these days. But did you know that tons of hard drives are discarded every day that still contain reconstructable mission-critical data? Okay, so you’re not a corporate giant whose garbage is patrolled by cybercrooks just waiting for your throw-aways. But they’re saying the day isn’t far off when it’s going to be so easy to pirate data this way that even the average Joe and Jane will need to be concerend.

So, short of taking a sledgehammer to your old drives like some guys do, what can you do? Check this out–lots of big companies must have figured out a profit motive for becoming recyclers because a number of them have regular programs in place. Check ‘em out here.

Technology triumph (?)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Well, I was able to use my Treo phone to write and send a photo-blog yesterday. It wasn’t perfect (lost my writing a couple of times–maybe I just didn’t know how to get back when I was forced to go and reactivate the wireless keyboard several times), but it did get through.

You are not going to believe this. The program Documents to Go, which comes on the CD with the Treo phone, was a critical reason that I bought the Treo. It has also been the source of all the aggravation I’ve been having with the phone operation. I can’t go over again how frustrating it has been (you can read previous posts if you like), but suffice it to say, the last PalmOne rep I talked to (who originally wanted us to go through the same damn process–including hard resetting which dumps all your data and extra programs–that we’d already been through multiple times) told me I could call DataViz (makers of the program).

Why no one ever suggested this before is hard to grasp–DataViz charges for support and I presume the reps were trying to avoid having the customer incur charges for something that should have worked in the first place. At any rate, Ellen called DataViz and the guy, who said he could tell us what to do without charging us (though if he walked through it with us he would have to charge) said, “Oh, we finished that patch ages ago. All you have to do is download the latest version of Documents to Go, and I bet we’ll never hear another word from you.”

… (a moment of silence) …

How does one react appropriately to this kind of lack of communication on the part of PalmOne and Verizon regarding serious issues with the latest version of their flagship product?

I haven’t decided yet. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share.

How depressing…

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Friend forwarded an email from a company that tracks, if you can believe this, how many jobs are being lost all over the world. You can even sign up for their newsletter and get dispirited on a regular basis.

And guess what, the U.S. isn’t the only country displacing huge numbers of workers. Here’s an item on Japan:

Sanyo Electric Co. |Consumer Products
Sanyo, the Japanese consumer electronics giant, says it will eliminate 15 percent of its global workforce, about 14,000 jobs, in a massive restructuring effort. Extensive earthquake damage to a semiconductor factory and slow sales of its core electronics products accounted for losses of $1.54 billion in fiscal 2004. 8,000 of the cuts will come in Japan where a significant number of factories will also be shuttered.
Candidates: 14,000
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 6, 2005

The company that does this tracking also offers helpful outplacement services, so I guess they’re not just being depressing. What happens to all these people? Do they all get reabsorbed into corporate America or corporate Japan? Not likely.

As I’ve said before, this is an age like the pioneer days of North America. Round up the wagons, gauge how much grub to bring, and strike out yourself across the mountains. It’s the only way around ‘em now.

Technology carries the power of thought

Monday, July 11th, 2005

It’s always a delight to hear the voice the person behind the story in formal news outlets. Those of you in Cleveland may remember fondly when Chris Thompson used to put out CrainTech–not only the knowledge but the character of the person illuminated the stories. He is missed.

Anyway, here’s a good one from this week’s Information Week e-newsletter:

Speaking of hope, Canada has joined some European countries in banning so-called “cyberhate.” This consists of Internet sites that propagate negative messages based on race, religion, and other factors.

I have to confess to being of two minds here. Part of me cheers any attempt to help kindness and tolerance win over hate and fear. But I also have to wonder about the actual oversight of this law. Who decides what is “hateful”? What line needs to be crossed before the anti-hate police come knocking at your Web server? When is any given sentiment “letting off steam”–and when does it become the “online dissemination of xenophobic propaganda,” in the words of the Canadian law?

And in a following story, they talk about how text messaging carried the day over jammed cell phones for communicating during the London bomb blasts. Ah, technology.

Have you ever beamed a document from one PDA to another? It still gives me the goosebumps, and I can see it happening with our very thoughts in the future. One day, we will discover the trick to focusing our minds in such a way that we can communicate with our loves ones–maybe even our business associates–across distances with only a chip in our heads.

Tech resolution? Almost

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

So at last. After a final 4 hours on the telephone (during which the Verizon reps–who are very well trained in customer service, by the way–persuaded me that I should not return my Treo phone)… After having spent hours and hours over two and a half weeks of working with reps who did not really know what to do–who mostly seemed just to blindly followed various sets of written instructions (much as I and my assistant and my tech guy had also done several times)…

After removing, re-adding, re-configuring, resetting, resetting, and then hard resetting and doing it again–and continuing not to solve anything–I came across someone (a PalmOne support rep named Anna) who demonstrated from the second moment I talked to her that, not only did she know what she was doing, but she was going to show me exactly what was wrong—-and, without question, fix it for me.

I almost can’t stand to write about it anymore because I’m so tired of it all, but I’m typing this entry from the famed often-failing machine and it seems to be working fine. I confess I was beginning to despair of that ever happening—-despite the hours, the multiple support calls, the endless efforts to remove, repair, reinstall, and so on.

I wrote the above last Friday. As of yesterday, everything on the phone itself is still working EXCEPT now the wireless keyboard–also made by PalmOne–will not work with the Treo. Have downloaded and reinstalled the latest keyboard driver at least 8 times over the last couple of weeks; the keyboard works right after each reinstall. But then I turn it off and go away and the next time I try to use it, the keyboard will not work.

Does anyone else have this problem? ANOTHER session on the phone staring me down on this first day back to work after a long weekend…