Books2Byte – October 2004
|Do you have the `owner’s mentality’? A new growth model helps you develop just this.|
A NOBEL laureate leaves the company and initiates a chain of events leading to the development of Silicon Valley. That’s the story of Bell Labs and Dr William Shockley you’d read in Joel M. Shulman’s Getting Bigger by Growing Smaller, published by Pearson Education (www.pearsoned.co.in) . This is a book that “introduces a new concept called Strategic Entrepreneurial Unit (SEU)”, a new growth model because “growth through acquisitions is often a recipe for failure and traditional approaches to organic growth inevitably run out of steam in large corporations”. SEU relies on the use of intellectual property, distribution mechanisms, or human resources within the parent organisation, even “while it resides outside the traditional arena of R&D.”
A few more examples are listed in a section titled `if only they had stayed … ‘: National Cash Register lost a senior vice-president named Thomas Watson, and he went on to establish IBM. Digital Equipment allowed Robert Ryan to leave and form Ascend Communications that he sold to Lucent Technologies for $23 billion in 1999. General Magic was worth $160 million when eBay was worth $11 billion; it was Pierre Omidyar who left General Magic as a software engineer to found an online auction house that became better known as eBay.
“Individuals who work for others often don’t experience an `owner’s mentality’,” observes the author. “There is nothing wrong with this approach,” because ownership comes with financial risk, responsibility and commitment. The new SEU approach, that the book explains in detail, creates “an opportunity for entrepreneurs to experience an owner’s mentality.”
A model to try out?
With capability comes complexity
Want to `build and maintain a robust e-business infrastructure’? Read Oracle Application Server 10g Administration Handbook, written by John Garmany Jr. and Donald K. Burleson, and published by Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Co Ltd (www.tatamcgrawhill.com) . The intro doesn’t mince words: “The Oracle Application Server 10g is a large and complicated software that is hard to learn and sometimes confusing to use.” But, “with capability comes complexity.”
I turn to read what the authors say about `performance tuning’, because it is `the most important area of administration, optimisation, and high availability’. The job is not over by doing a perfect installation and configuration, because poor performance may have its roots in faulty tuning. “Oracle database backend has more than 250 initialisation parameters, each Application Server 10g component has many interrelated parameter and configuration settings, and each server has dozens of tuning options.” That should make the system look like a mammoth cockpit! “Tuning any one of the components is challenging by itself, but when you consider the complex interactions between them, there can be an overwhelming amount of tuning activity.” There are two approaches, advises the book: reactive and proactive. But first remember that every system has a bottleneck. “The best approach is to identify the component that is the bottleneck and then drill-down and identify the component resource that is responsible for the latency. The bottleneck may be hardware related (CPU, RAM, disk I/O, or network shortages), or software related (locks, latches, or contention).”
If your bottleneck lies elsewhere, it could be a block in DB administration knowledge that Garmany and Burleson can help clear.
User: “I used to hear a squeaking noise from my computer all these weeks… ”
System support: “You never complained till now!”
User: “No, it stopped only this morning.”
Monday, Oct 04, 2004
It’s time for `knowledgement’
|Management is not enough, unless it manages knowledge too. Some insight into how one reaches beyond data and information for some practical gyaan.|
MANAGEMENT is not enough, unless it manages knowledge too, so much so it may not be long before we start talking about `knowledgement’, as a new science. There’s this `K’ everywhere, but Ian Chaston focuses on one important function of enterprises in his book Knowledge-Based Marketing, from Response Books (www.indiasage.com) .
As taught in school, IT staff glibly talk about the difference between `data’ as something raw, and `information’ as processed data that adds value. But the author pushes data and info to one side, and looks at knowledge as the other major contributor to productivity.
Knowledge resides within the organisation, either located in the minds of the employees or codified and stored in an organisational repository such as a company policy manual, he explains. “Information can be considered as a component part, but not the whole, of knowledge.” How so? Because knowledge is also dependent upon “the commitment and understanding of the individuals holding such beliefs.” It has a perspective and influences actions; it is “usually context-specific”.
In the discussion of e-commerce technology, the book cites a segmentation model proposed by R. Lord for the UK audience with 7 types: Cybermum, the middle-aged woman with teenage children, and working in a caring profession; “she enjoys using e-mail”, yet reads magazines.
Gameboy, the teenager living at home, accessing the Net everywhere, and hooked onto online games. Cyberlad, the twenties single, Net-ty with interests in girls and sport. Hit `n’ runner, the middle aged with a successful career; he accesses the Net at work, but doesn’t view it “as a source of entertainment”. Cybersec, the senior secretary who is computer-literate; she uses the Net at work and for purchases.
Infojunky, the middle-aged, married, and with children, and “spending probably an excessive amount of time searching out new sources of information”. Net sophisticate, the late twenties guy “verging upon being a techie and probably still lives at home”.
E-business impacts the organisation’s knowledge platform, points out Chaston. “Once buyers and sellers become electronically linked with each other, the volume of data interchange dramatically increases as trading activities begin to occur in real time.” The knowledge platform that your company has must be capable of handling newer forms of knowledge exchange, instantly.
Don’t miss this unless you want to miss out on knowledge.
Flying geese can leave you with bleeding edge
A FEW weeks ago, the West Bengal Chief Minister spoke about a 120 per cent growth in the IT sector, and also how the State was gearing up to take advantage of the recently-signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and Thailand. So, when another WB, that is, World Bank (www.worldbank.org) , discusses in a new publication how the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in Thailand has accelerated “effective integration” of value chains, there is something of immediate interest. The book, Global Production Networking and Technological Change in East Asia, edited by Shahid Yusuf, M. Anjum Altaf and Kaoru Nabeshima, observes: “New ICTs enable lead firms to ask much more of established suppliers in terms of rapid response, design collaboration, lower costs, and close monitoring.” Leading Thai firms exert pressure on their suppliers to adopt the latest IT tools – “to improve quality, facilitate tracking of in-process inventory, and streamline order and reorder process”.
Elsewhere, the book refers to the `flying geese’ strategy of Japanese firms – where older, less profitable developed suppliers are allowed to migrate to their developing neighbours. They groom suppliers in East Asia “for inputs that are becoming commodities or are subject to great demand volatility.” What happens in countries at the receiving end of flying geese? Low profitability due to technological gap of many generations behind the leading edge. “Countries that have relied on this strategy for development find themselves on the `bleeding edge’ of many markets, stuck in low-profit and volatile sectors”. Examples are low-cost PCs, monitors, scanners, power suppliers, batteries, keyboards, DRAMs, apart from “mass market apparel and footwear products”.
In the meantime, leading edge players are busy with “high-end computers and servers, communications equipment, software, logic semiconductors, and high-fashion apparel and footwear.”
Returning to Thailand discussion, Web-EDI systems are used for the traffic of data shared between automobile assemblers and suppliers, in the area of design and development, and at the mass production stage. Efforts are on to increase bandwidth because of “the advent of design-in approach”.
But there’s a paradox: “Despite the improvement of ICT networks in Thailand, it will be difficult for suppliers to reduce their inventories of parts and raw materials.” Reason? Because stocks are maintained to guard against production equipment failures, and “Thailand does not have sufficient people with the skills needed to repair production facilities.”
Useful read for those who want to help our manufacturing reap the benefit of networking.
“I say a happy systems guy… ”
“But this one was quitting!”
Monday, Oct 11, 2004