Business


My brain is still trying to process it. I’ve read around 20 articles on the subject, with different opinions and still can’t make my own.
The webcast portraying the event is available at novell’s website.

The thing is this: through god-knows-what legal resources MS and SUsE staff had made open source and proprietary patents somehow compatible. Of course this will go under serious scrutiny over the next months and some issues might rise, but the unthinkable has happened.

If Microsoft weren’t Microsoft I’d gladly say a huge step towards common sense has been made. That the OS and computer industries will benefit largely form this, that it was a bold and intelligent move. But Microsoft has it’s large personal record in taking advantage of such deals, whilst their counterparts loose enormously. The Apple Computer Inc. vs. Microsoft Corp. case comes to mind immediately.

Please list me on the sceptics list for this one.

To further support my scepticism while researching for this entry I came across an interesting entry on MS’s web, dated November 3rd, with a very subtle title: Migrate from Novell.

We have only seen the tip of the iceberg here, but something already smells fishy…

PS: Ubuntu is starting to look very interesting as a replacement for my SUsE 9.3…

Related Articles all around the web:

I had a good friend of mine to dinner last Sunday. We met at university, while I studied Music he was studying social communication, it is to him I owe having read some Kant and Heidegger. I guess it was time for me to pay back.

He currently works for the Argentine Airport Authority (Policía de Seguridad Aeroportuaria) searching for it’s public perception, terrorist news, smuggling and everything that might be of interest. I felt compelled to ask how he achieved this.

So, he tells me: I usually go to major newspapers pages and start reading around.

Panic.

Shock.

WHAT?

I had to ask if he had ever heard of data feeds. Luckily for me he had; this made the following rant easier for me. I brought the ThinkPad to the table and started to show him around sites like technorati and the like. I helped him to set up various searches and feeds into google’s personalized homepage (http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en) so he can access all of them from anywhere (he told me they switch computers at his workplace). Now he has some nice tabs set up there with all the usual searches and headlines from major newspapers in them.

He told me it was a major time saver, around 1 or 2 hours / day, and it only took me one hour to show him the “tricks”.

I can’t say I’m surprised that a government agency doesen’t train it’s people in such fashion.  But I have seen similar things on the private sector as well. I think I might start some tips & tricks blog in this regard some time.

I can’t help but wonder what new technologies I’m missing out that could save me some time every day.

Suggestions?

The odd thing about work is that most of the time you don’t get the chance to think about what you are actually doing. The good thing about vacation is that you can take a distance and see whats “wrong”. When working with fewer people than needed, and doing more things than I should; I usually find out that business as usual eat up the things I really want to do and the things I consider need to be done. It is the typical case of urgent beats important.

So how to cope with this? In an ideal world, I’d got a backup for part of the day to day work, so I could divert my attention to what I think needs to be thought. In the real world this is never going to happen.

The answer is priorities. My number one priority of course is what the company pays me for, my “real” job. That can’t change (unless my manager decides to switch my role). Then I have to choose from the gazillion things I want to get involved into and things I want to happen.

To make such choice there are several variables to take into account. First and foremost: is it useful? It makes no sense to waste time in something that brings no good. If something just isn’t worth the effort or no-one will “use it” you’re better off spending your time on more important stuff. The answer to this question might not be as easy as expected, since something that might look worthless can potentially set a base for further very cost-effective work.

Second question is: will it happen? I have a personal tendency to sort of radicalizing ideas, thus I have to be very careful with projects and ideas I want to boost, since they might not be very welcomed by the “corporate status-quo”. Two things must fall into place here. A) is the idea coherent with the overall direction of the company? B) can I market the idea well enough to those responsible? If the answer is “yes” to both, you’ve got a winner.

I’ve come to realize there’s no possible way to do everything that comes to mind. Try to cope with too many things and you’ll get none done. I like to call this the “nail” principle. Force applied into a smaller area is more effective (the same way that it’s easier to hammer a nail into a wall than it is to hammer a 10 x 10 steel plate into the same wall). It is quite difficult, since “ideas” are like children: they are hard to let go; but over time I’ve noticed I tend to like people who can discard their own thoughts and ideas fast when they realize they are not doable or not quite practical. On the other hand it is fundamental to stick to concepts you’re convinced will work and pursue them until they see the light of day. 

The important thing at the end of the day is to be sure you’re some steps closer to achieve the important goals, to take ideas to good ending, and that “everyday” to-dos don’t eat up all your time and creativity.

Sell this way and stick to it. Don’t even try to suggest something different. Stop. No, I said no!! Don’t think about it, its not going to happen.

So, what is a business model, according to Wikipedia, the definition given by Osterwalder, Pigneur and Tucci is:
a conceptual tool that contains a set of elements and their relationships and allows expressing the business logic of a specific firm. It is a description of the value a company offers to one or several segments of customers and of the architecture of the firm and its network of partners for creating, marketing, and delivering this value and relationship capital, to generate profitable and sustainable revenue streams.

In other words it’s what you have to sell, how you sell it, and who you sell it to.

What.
Of course the type of commodity you are trying to sell is going to define your how and your who. Its not the same to sell heavy industrial equipment, high tech medical appliances or cell phones. Your “audience” is different, the way they are going to buy is different, the way they are going to pay is different and the way you are going to deliver and support the products is different.

How.
You can direct sale. You can sale through partners, you can finance, you can take cash, credit or check, you can provide support directly or through a 3rd party (or provide no support at all, if you want a company to run out of business its not my issue), you can ship, you can retail. It’s a whole universe of possibilities out there.

Who.
The most important part of the trilogy. The fuel that drives everything. Customers. Business models aim to them, products aim to them and how we sell aims to our Target audience. Of course the segment we will sell to is defined mainly by our what and the success in appealing to them is determined by the how.

So out of the three parts in this trilogy our most variable item is the “how”, we have a set of products which we usually can’t change all that much. Then there’s the who, products limit this, and business models, pricing, payment methods and other “details” can limit this. You might limit your target customers purposely with your model, or it can happen by “accident” .

But where’s the tyranny?
We’re getting there. In most cases  companies instate a Business model that proves to be somewhat successful and stick to it. Sales managers fall in love with what works for them and if someone suggests anything a tad different they are accused for heresy (and usually burn in some sort of pyre as well).

The result this usualy yields is a static business model, which only changes due to external influences and not because of an inside desire or drive to change.

What then happens is that a business model then wears off, gets outdated and must be replaced once it’s not working anymore (does the word “loss” ring a bell?). Thus the model tyranny.

Get out of the circle.
Is there any way to avoid this? Sure is! The business model should be in continuous reinvention, evolving and changing, ahead of the events whenever possible. Thus, new things should be tried all the time, different approaches (hows) to tackle the same issue. Of course this can be both time and resource-consuming, so there must be no confusion about “evolution” and “just trying things out”.

The whole point is to change the set of mind. Keep asking questions:
-This works so far, but can it work even better?
-What things can be done to improve the different areas?
-What’s already showing to be outdated or less than perfect (or will become so in a short term)?

Its a whole different approach, regarding a business model more like a dynamic ever-changing part rather than a word carved in stone.