Friday, March 27, 2009

Everyone's favorite topic

It looks like Twitter's going to finally start cashing in on its popularity. Twitter's preparing to offer enhanced services to commercial users, for a price. They haven't set a date, but it's expected that these services will be launched sometime in 2009. On another note, I think the evolution of Twitter's demographics has been really interesting. A year ago middle aged men were the biggest group of users on the service. This year, the largest group of users are now 18-34 year old males. It started out as a tool of the technocrati, and I think those roots are reflected in these demographics. I also find it interesting that the majority of users make over $60k per year, with 28% making over $100k. On the flip side, young people aren't using this service, with only 1% of their users coming from the 12-17 age bracket. By comparison, 30% of Facebook's users come from that age group. What does that mean for Twitter going forward, as those 12-17 year olds grow up? I'm also really curious about how the vast ecosystem of Twitter based applications are going to respond if twitter starts charging for access to their APIs? 

I know, enough about Twitter. Just one more thing: I wouldn't be surprised if the Twitter brand fades into the background, supplanted by the vast and growing ecosystem of apps and services based on their technology. I fully expect that "tweeting" will be the generic term for microblogging by the time those 12 to 17 year olds start entering the work force. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Evolution of the Printed Newspaper

In our Managing IT Strategies class, we have been discussing the evolution of the newspaper industry as it tries to transition from print to web. It seems that at least some local newspapers have decided to tweak their business models. Speically, four markets in Michigan will cease or drastically reduce their printed circulation and move to an online edition where the emphasis will be on reader input and community forums. It was announced Monday that starting in July, the 174 year-old Ann Arbor News will become, and will only produce printed editions two days a week. The Ann Arbor News has a weekday circulation of 45,000. The Flint Journal, The Saginaw News and The Bay City Times will also be reducing their daily printing to Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays only. In addition, these three papers plan to lay off 35% of their workforce.

Monday, March 23, 2009

“Do You Want Fries With That?” Outsourcing in the Fast-Food Industry

Outsourcing is commonplace in some industries, such as high-tech and services. However, one industry that seems like an unlikely candidate for outsourcing is fast food. Yet, several chains such as Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are either experimenting with the idea or have implemented the idea in their drive-through windows.

These companies see many advantages to outsourcing such as improved speed and accuracy of order taking, in addition to freeing up restaurant employees to do other jobs such as take payments. Another major benefit of outsourcing for the industry has been the elimination of the language barrier that sometimes occurs between a native English speaking customer and a non-native English speaking employee. “According to Hudson Riehle, SVP of Research for the National Restaurant Association, remote order-taking can shave drive-through time by milliseconds, which can add up to millions for the fast food industry.”

So the next time you go through the drive-through at your favorite fast-food restaurant, be aware that you may be speaking with someone half-way across the globe.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What do bacteria and ex-NFL coaches have in common?

Innovation and Execution. On February 28th, Boston University's MS-MBA Association and Consulting club hosted a dynamic panel of speakers during the BU Symposium event. The panel was enthusiastically moderated by Erik Molander, Innovation & Strategy Lecturer at BU.

The session was introduced with Chris Meyer's, CEO Monitor Talent, perspective on the future of management. Like bacteria, companies will succeed by adapting with the environment and self organizing. Greg Collier seconded the notion that innovation will come from diverse sources, stating Wikipedia's as an example where restriction failed and an environment of deregulation ultimately succeeded. In a contrasting view, Bobby Ray Harris noted the importance of having a small team driving decision making during a large implementation to avoid chaos and ensure timely delivery.

Could it be that different stages of the product/service delivery process require unique approaches? As we move our way down the development and installation funnel can we consider authority as moving from decentralized to centralized? What other factors are at play?