Investing in Tomorrow 2.0

First off, I’d like to thank @MissRogue for pointing out this article last week in her Twitter feed.  Made me think a lot about how we do business currently, and maybe how we should be doing business in the future.

It would appear to me that the current investment model focuses on the predicted performance of organizations.  Once funds are granted, the investor is provided some share of the organization allowing them some say in how business will be conducted.  Investors are then repaid based on the performance of the organization in the form of dividends or selling their interests at a profit.

The problem I see with this model is that the organizations are complex organisms full of potential but dependent on the motivation of individuals.  Measuring this risk is difficult due to the number of influencing factors.  Incorporated entities also have the option to fold up shop with no real impact on the executive or responsibility to the investors.  As such, this model lends itself very well to large, established enterprises but makes it very difficult for the smaller new guys

The paradigm showcased by Rafe has the investor investing in the individual, and their potential.  Allowing the investor to take the funds and spend them as they see fit, these funds become closely tied to the success of the individual.  Risk here is controlled by the attachment to the individual since it is tied directly to personal assets.  As well, one would assume and investor believes in the individual and in the individual’s potential.

This sort of Utopian people helping people mentality might just be a pie in the sky dream, but there is some proof now that people are doing it.

And if people are looking to do it, I’ll offer 7.5% ARP on $500,000 with a $2,500,000 buy out!  😉


Can Enterprise Computing Not Be For Enterprises Anymore?

Let us go over some numbers :

  • a small business is defined as an organization with fewer then 100 employees
  • there are over 8.1 million small businesses in the United States
  • they accounted for over 52% of all retail, 46% of all wholesale, and 24% of all manufacturing sales in the United States
  • they reported an average $3.6 million in revenue, representing a $29 trillion* market segment
  • they reported an average IT budget of $70,000, representing a target market of roughly $567 billion

Having had the opportunity to speak with a number of small businesses over the last few months, their primary concerns seem to coincide largely with the concerns I have heard over and over again from big business.  They need to have better integration between their systems and with their customer or partners.  They need to have better visibility into how they are performing on a hourly, daily, weekly, monthly basis.  They need to be able to standardize processes and automate as often as possible.  They need to be able to all of this so that they can compete with the big guys.

The problem they run into time and time again is cost.  With the licensing of most Enterprise Business Systems starting at $50,000 these systems are priced well out of reach of what should be defined as the average business.  After adding professional services, training and hardware, investment in these types of projects and products is next to impossible.  So I pose the question :

Can Enterprise Computing Not Be For Enterprises Anymore?

With the current state of the technology this seems the only way to go, and here is why :

  • Cloud Computing has removed the stress related to technology overhead.  Businesses can commission and decommission systems on an as needed basis.
  • Mobile computing devices like the iPhone and iPad provide internet ready devices in a simple and intuitive format.  PoS, inventory, and record management just got simpler.
  • Community development tools a la Rypple and ArisAlign are bringing like minded individuals together to discuss and solve complex issues.

What small businesses need are companies that are willing to help build communities and cooperatives around Enterprise Computing.  They need the next killer app to be scalable to address their needs.  And most importantly then need these solutions to be within their price point.

A $567 trillion market seems like an awful thing to walk away from.

* I am aware that the GDP for the United states was $14 trillion in 2008, I am working off the numbers provided by the Small Business Administration, The International Data Group, and The Yankee Group


My problem with writing…

I don’t know what it is.  Give me a topic and an audience and I can talk about it for hours.  But give me a forum to write about it and I often have trouble even starting.  I have been trying to start a personal blog for roughly four years now.  I have 10s of posts at various stages of completion, but have never pulled the trigger to actually show the world what I think.  Last night I got to thinking why that is and it dawned on me that we are conditioned this way.

Every writing exercise I have completed to date has been judged.  Essays, papers, reports, projects.  All of these are graded, often harshly, in order to classify thoughts according to a curriculum, message, or third party goal.  Free thoughts are often critiqued which in my opinion discourages the activity in general.  Why would we say what we are thinking if it is going to be attacked?

I would not propose that critique is not required.  It helps us clarify our message, hone our skills and promote communication.  I just think that the manner in which we do it is flawed.  I feel that communication skills should be made a priority in our schools.  The growing trend to self directed learning and job training is horrendous.  Young people need to understand the importance of community and communication.  The growth of social networking technologies in business I think reiterates this fact.

So I guess my problem really is not with writing.  It is more of a problem with how writing is encouraged and taught to us form a young age.  Be that as it may, something still has to be done about it, so where do we start?


BPM is NOT a Technology…

I have been reading a number of blogs, wikis, user groups and forums lately on the topic of Business Process Management (BPM) and am shocked to see how many still treat BPM as if it was a technology.  It would appear that many still see BPM initiatives as IT projects focused on system to system integration, workflow automation, and performance monitoring.  I guess it should be no surprise then that fewer and fewer of these initiatives are being undertaken, given that the Business is being kept out of the loop and they are the ones with the budgets and being asked to change how they operate.

In my opinion, BPM represents the greatest possibility for stakeholders (business, IT, executives, customer, user) to come to together to work on improving organizational and operational performance.  BPM is a design approach where everyone should be getting involved to clearly define existing processes, and work together to determine the best way to move forward.  A full featured Business Process Management System (BPMS) should empower the group to perform this task collaboratively, with as little signal loss as possible (Lombardi’s Teamworks, Software AG’s webMethods).  Proof that this is moving towards a collaborative activity can be found in the recent tools to support team based BPM work (Lombardi’s Blueprint, Software AG’s AlignSpace).

I just ask that we, as a group of subject matter experts, try to keep our terms in check.  Writing out of context like this only confuses people not fully versed on the topic, there by ruining the credibility of all parties who touch on the subject.  Worse then that, it makes it difficult for organizations to make any progress when they spend the beginning of meetings arguing semantics.

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