Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I've learned about business

I just found out that my answer was chosen as one of the winners in a book giveaway done by online MBA. The book giveaway was basically answering the question, "What I have learned about business". I honestly wanted to win. The price was one out of ten of my favorite books (I got Drive by Daniel H. Pink). The answer explored some of deep feelings towards management and business. What I have learned about business are four things:

  1. LOOOVE! what you do: people talk about it, but it's true...if you love what you do, you never have to work for the rest of your life. For people that love their job, they can't think of doing anything different or stop doing it. I've seen this in open-source project. Programmers who work in open-souce projects don't get paid and love to work on it...for FREE! These type of people are motivated to their core. Best of all, they are contagious! They act as a catalyst when they work with a team. When someone asks me about my job, it is like comparing my son's feeling towards Iron Man. Yes, programming and management are my Iron Man :)
  2. Never stop learning: always have a thirst for knowledge. I have noticed this with my son (he's eight-years-old) and he absolutely loves anything with the solar system. He picks up any type of book, movie, or anything that has to do with this subject. I also noticed this with former CIO Tom Clark and also with my friend Alsonso E Rhenals. They enjoy what they do and take a great pleasure in learning new things. Also, people who I consider mentors, regularly send me a post, article, or call me regarding on something that they just learned (Tom and Alonso do that all the times); they have the child-like curiosity for learning.
  3. Become a great communicator: a clear direction goes a long way. I've seen this with many individuals in business and politics. HBR did an interesting article talking about this specific thing,
    Scrupulously avoid impeding progress by changing goals autocratically, being indecisive, or holding up resources
  4. Maintain a humble attitude: we sometimes take for granted that we spend most of your time at work and at times it might be very frustrating. The only way you can get in and out of work and keep your friends is being humble. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do. I have only met one person, my friend Alex Fontanez. I have never met anyone who thinks badly about Alex or anyone that doesn't think Alex is not humble.

So, there you have it, the four things that I have learned about business.

Cell Phone Operating Systems

Online MBA provided this very interested information about cell-phone OS.
According to the latest estimates by Gartner, Android is supposed to surpass iPhone by 2012 with 14.5% of the market. The other interesting information is regarding the Comparison of App Stores. As we all know, there are more than 140,000 available apps for iPhone compared to Android's 30,000. However, Android is more developer friendly with its $25 fee rather than Apple's $99/year fees.

Cell Phone Operating Systems
Via: Online MBA

STARS - transition management

The STARS model is a great guide for a transition strategy. It's hard to know when you need to make a transition in your company, but a greater challenge is to know what type of strategy to use when making the transition. I found a very interesting article in the Harvard Business Review (January 2009) by Michael D. Watkins named "Picking the Right Transition Strategy". The article's emphasis is with the "state" of the company.
Once you understand the state of the organization or initiative you've heading up, you can more effectively apply certain fundamental principles (several of them listed here) to ease your transition and increase your odds of long-term success. Your business situation should shape how you apply those principles.
Using the author's STARS model, leaders can figure out which state the company is in and, more important, how to tailor their strategies for organizational and personal change accordingly.

The STARS model stands for the five different states of a company:
  • Start-Up
  • Turnaround
  • Accelerated Growth
  • Realignment
  • Sustaining Success

Start-UpTurnaroundAccelerated GrowthRealignmentSustaining Success
Assembling the capabilities (people, financing, and technology) to get a new business or initiative off the ground
Saving a business or initiative widely acknowledge to be in serious troubleManaging a rapidly expanding businessReenergizing a previously successful organization that now faces problemsComing in on the heels of a highly regarded leader with a stellar record of accomplishment
Building the strategy, structure, and systems from scratch without a clear framework or boundaries

Recruiting and welding together a high-performing team

Making do with limited resources
Reenergizing demoralized employees and other stakeholders

Making effective decisions under time pressure

Going deep enough with painful cuts and difficult personnel choices
Putting in place structure and systems to permit scaling

Integrating many new employees
Convincing employees that change is necessary

Carefully restructuring the top team and refocusing the organization
Living in the shadow of the former leader and managing the team he or she created

Playing good defense before embarking on too many new initiatives

Finding ways to take the business to the next level
You can do things right from the beginning.

People are energized by the possibilities.

There are no rigid preconceptions.
Everyone recognizes that change is necessary

Affected constituencies offer significant external support

A little success goes a long way
The potential for growth helps to motivate people

People will be inclined to stretch themselves and those who work form them
The organization has significant pockets of strength

People want to continue to see themselves as successful
A strong team may already be in place

People are motivated to continue their history of success

A foundation for continued success (such as long product pipeline) may be in place

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Twitter is growing...BIG TIME!

As I mentioned before, Twitter is without a doubt a disruptive innovation in many different aspects and specially in premium text message/short messages (PSMS). As a definition, disruptive innovation is a term used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers. Twitter's traffic is growing by leaps and bounds. The latest statistics based on comScore are:

And based on the latest keynote by Twitter CEO Evan Williams, the numbers are simple staggering:
  • 105 million registered users and they add 300k uses every day
  • 3 billion API request a day (equivalent to Yahoo traffic)
  • 55 million new tweets every day
  • 600 million search queries every day
  • 175 employees
  • 75% traffic comes from third party clients
  • 60% tweets come from third party clients
  • 100,000 registered apps
  • 180 million unique visitors on (you don’t have to be a user)
  • FlockDB, their social graph database that they just open sourced, stores 13 billion edges
  • They started using "Murder" a new BitTorrent platform to transfer files during development. This reduced the transfer time from 40 minutes to 12 seconds
  • Made deals with 65 (telco) carriers
  • 37% of active users use Twitter on their phone (@ev wants this number to be 100%)

What does this means for those companies that have their core strategy based on premium SMS? To be honest, I'm not sure. I do know that if your strategy is to offer text messages to DJs or SMS through TV tickers, then that's no a good long strategy. And as I mentioned previously, neither is a "joke" or "horoscope" subscription for $6.99. The bottom line is that it is hard as it is to fight against a trend such as Twitter, but it is even a bigger challenge to change someone minds about a brand or a product. Currently, Twitter is the de facto of users to communicate their thoughts to the world using mobile phones.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

PSMS and Operators...c'mon lets get it together!

Last month T-Mobile deployed its 3PG (third party gateway) network to counteract the regulations of premium SMS (PSMS) making it harder to monetize from this model. One can argue that this is better for the consumer, but is also a great deal of headache for companies that build their strategy on PSMS. T-Mobile followed the footsteps of Verizon and AT&T. 3PG is a "billing platform" which provides a two phase charging (initiate/authorize & charge) to avoid spam or fraudulent transactions in mobile SMS.

The problem is that billing transactions in the US are through MT (mobile terminated) rather than MO (mobile originated). This means that if a customer wants to purchase a ringtone, the end-user will be charged once he receives the message/ringtone. This model, contrast to most Latin America and European market, has one flaw: spam. Individuals can potentially spam PSMS. The solution is through a validation process or a "two phase charging" process. This means that if the SMS has a tariff, it will be subjected to some validation.

As per December 2009 study, the US operator market share is composed with the following:
  1. Verizon : 31.2%
  2. AT&T : 25.0%
  3. T-Mobile : 12.1%
  4. Sprint : 12.1%
  5. Tracfone : 4.8%
  6. MetroPCS : 2.3%
  7. US Cellular : 2.2%
  8. Boost Mobile : 2.1%
  9. Cricket : 1.7%
  10. Virgin Mobile : 1.7%
  11. Others : 5.0%
Currently each of the top three operators have different platforms. Verizon has OIOO, AT&T has OPPC, and now T-Mobile has 3PG. All these platforms are different and they all tackle the same problem. In reality, all these operators are trying to develop a better mousetrap. Marketing companies are aware of this problems and agreed that something should be done. However, the operators or the government need to actually sit down and come up with some type of standardization.

In conclusion, marketing companies whose strategy are based on PSMS needs to really look at this model and considered if its worth it. In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins devoted an entire chapter on "confronting the brutal facts". Collins stated, that a "great" company cannot make a series of good decisions without confronting the brutal facts. At the end of the day, if you want to deal with PSMS you have to know that:
  1. You have to maintain different type of platforms specially if you just want to have the top three US operators
  2. The industry is becoming more and more regulated from both the carriers and the marketing companies to initiate campaigns
The choice is yours.