Monday, September 29, 2008

Can we ever trust the system?

While it may not be the majority, it is clear that all too many people in any branch of "the system" are ineffective or harmful. Legislators often pass laws without considering the unintended consequences or which are driven by lobbyists for special interest groups. Neither they nor their staffs have the deep expertise to address all the key issues of today - from finance to technology. Meanwhile regulators are also influenced by the industry they regulate or lack the tools, expertise, and resources to be effective. Business, if uncontrolled, will sell unsafe food, pour toxic chemicals into lakes, falsify accounting to ensure large bonuses, or take advantage of the consumer. The justice system is seriously flawed. Education and health-care systems do a poor job of serving their consumers. Journalists have done a poor job of investigating and explaining many of these issues.

As a result, there has to be a balance of power, Civil servants cannot run business, but business cannot operate without oversight. Ultimately, the best oversight is that which we ourselves exercise. We can only do that if we have transparency and can see what is happening in each area. Shining a light on these activities is the only way to ensure that this happens.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How the Marketing Executives Networking Group is seizing the Web 2.0 initiative

The Marketing Executives Networking Group, founded in 1995, had its first web presence in 1999, when Yahoo Groups first became available. Since then there have been two steadily more powerful web-sites, with the latest hosting an immense amount of information. As the organization has become first National and now International, technology has become critical in allowing members to connect and share information. For the past couple of years the group has been working on a new Web 2.0 site which makes interaction much easier. When it is implemented at the start of 2009, it will be superior to that in use by any other, for profit or non-profit membership organization in the world.

Keeping ahead of technology is critical. MENG recognized the day that the current web-site was implemented three years ago that we had to plan to have a new web-site.So the first year was spent identifying improvements which the members would like, the next on sketching out an outline of how to get there, and the last on identifying technology and resources to implement it. This kind of pre-planning is required.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How to make a business online community succeed when most fail

Deloitte carried out a study of 100 corporate online communities. 35% had fewer than 100 members, and only 25% had more than 1,000. Many businesses, and that includes non-profits find the allure of an online community for customers or members irresistible, but they actually rarely succeed.

They usually do not fail because of a failure of technology, but a failure of genuine community. If there is no community in the first place, it will not get better just because there is an online mechanism. However, if there is a strong community, whether a Remedy User Group or the Marketing Executives Networking Group, then technology can play to reinforce the existing characteristics of the group.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fixing the financial crisis - what is the next crisis?

There has been an epidemic of forgetting of the fundamentals. So much has become one big shell game. It seems likely that Washington and New York will, at least for a while, recognize that without focus on the basics, else is just an illusion.

However, there are other crises looming. Most recognize that health-care is one such. Why does the US spend more on health care as a % of GNP than any other Western country, fail to cover so many, and get worse results than virtually any other? Beyond this, the US has a failing infrastructure. We need roads, bridges, power transmission lines, railroads, airports, and schools. This country has failed to keep up. Politicians have continues to mortgage the future and it is essential that they get out ahead instead of only reacting to circumstances.

Business people have to know that ultimately, it is their own actions which make success or failure. Whatever the situation, some businesses prosper and some struggle.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Six ideas to change the game and succeed in the current economic malaise

Most people are well aware that the US, and indeed, Global, economy is under pressure. In the US unemployment is rising, the budget deficit, both Federal and for most states, is growing, the balance of trade is moving increasingly negative, and income inequality is growing. Companies are responding by hunkering down. While some of this may be necessary, there are steps, which during each cycle, only a few companies take. Here are six ideas to position a company for the future:
  1. Invest - in technology which will improve quality or reduce costs in the long-term
  2. Retain the best people by being generous, not by assuming that they have no-where to go.
  3. Hire managers over 55. As Baby Boomers retire, there is a looming shortage of managers. Older managers stay longer, take less time-off and fewer sick days, and need less training and supervision.
  4. Solidify vendor relationships. Make sure that when the economy booms again, your best suppliers are not tempted away.
  5. Build your brand. Your brand or your reputation are vulnerable, but good management and judicious investment will return much more than you anticipate.
  6. Fill the innovation pipeline. After an economic slow-down, demand for existing and new products increases dramatically, Position your company to meet this demand.