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Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Daniel Pink on Motivation

January 28th, 2011 Comments off

I recently read Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, in which he contends that right-brain thinking and those capable of it will rule the world.  Tasks like typical accounting work are increasingly being outsourced or replaced entirely by computers.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have even contemplated taking a drawing class of all things to strengthen my right-brain skills.  It was with this mindset that I stumbled upon a TED talk by Pink where he discusses motivation and incentives.  These are areas where companies have failed miserably of late — many contend that the recent economic collapse was really a failure of incentives (read The Big Short for a good summary of these kinds of things or watch the 60 Minutes interview with the books’ author).  Pink reveals that typical carrot/stick rewards system work only in very narrow circumstances and are not applicable to knowledge workers.  In fact, performance drops when higher rewards are offered.

This is fact-based analysis but are businesses getting the message?  Some are…like Best Buy where ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) has been embraced and the idea of measuring performance by the length of time someone has their butt in their chair is seen as laughable.  Or Google where 20% Time is a tactic to make engineers more engaged but also to allow creativity to flourish that will result in new products. But how many other firms have gone this route?  How many will fail because they don’t recognize the shortcomings (or don’t recognize them soon enough) of their own beliefs about management and incentives.

Outsmarted by Apple: Nokia Looks to Recover the ‘Magic Dust’

December 23rd, 2010 Comments off

It seems like certain industries like airlines, automakers, and mobile phone companies get a lot of attention in strategic management accounting.  This is with good reason as they each tend to highlight several things we discuss.  In terms of the mobile phone companies, the timelines have become so compressed between product introduction to obsolescense that we get to see things happen in months that in the past would have taken decades.  Think about the most recent mobile phone you have purchased…is there any chance that the same model will be on the shelf a year from now?  Doubtful.  Fortunes change quickly and none have been impacted more than Nokia.  Faced with game-changing competition from Apple and Google, this Finnish company is attempting to stay relevant and the next year or two are going to be critical in terms of whether the company will once again dominate the marketplace. 

German magazine, Der Spiegel, does a nice job outlining the challenges faces and the path Nokia has taken to arrive at this point.  You may read more at this link: Outsmarted by Apple: Nokia Looks to Recover the ‘Magic Dust’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

Did Google Arm Its Own Enemies With Android?

November 16th, 2010 Comments off

Photo credit: neeravbhatt.com on Picasa

Smart phones are one of the hottest consumer products these days.  Preferences change and technology advances seemingly overnight.  A piece I found today at HBR looks at the popular Android phones that run on the Google operating system of the same name.

What isn’t obvious is that Google’s strategy in developing the Android operating system for phones was to drive traffic to its advertising centered around its popular search tools since that is where Google makes its money.  In doing so, Google made their software open-source and, as such, allowed handset makers to use it free of charge and also allowed others (as is common with open-source software) to modify the software to suit their needs.  This has turned out to be a threat to Google instead of an opportunity.

The first signs of trouble brewing came out of China. Earlier this year, when Google looked like they were going to withdraw from China altogether, a number of Open Handset Alliance manufacturers realized they could be left selling smartphones in China without access to a number of key smartphone services that Google had traditionally supplied. So they started to look for replacements to Google’s services. The open-source nature of Android made that possible. More recently, Baidu, the internet search engine that has successfully challenged Google for ownership of the Chinese market, has taken an even bolder approach. It’s reportedly in negotiations with a number of smartphone manufacturers to remove all references to Google, and replace them with Baidu.

That was bad news. But what should really have Google concerned, however, is that there are instances of this fight being moved to domestic soil. Microsoft recently negotiated with Verizon that some of the Android phones that ship to Verizon customers will have Microsoft’s Bing, not Google, as the default search engine. And the manufacturers are getting in on the act too: Motorola recently released a new phone, the Citrus, based on Android, but shipping with Bing.

Time will tell whether or not Google can salvage enough from Android to benefit from the endeavor, but this may be a case where unintended consequences spell doom.  Highlighting and learning from botched strategy is as important as looking at the successes so this will be an important development to watch as things progress.

Read more:

Did Google Arm Its Own Enemies With Android? – James Allworth – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Why is Google buying wind energy?

July 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Here is a short piece I heard this morning on MPR that talks about environmental initiatives at Google which include buying wind energy.  Listen to the audio at the link below for more detail and for a discussion as to why Google would do this.  Mainly it boils down to making business sense in that some customers will use Google primarily because they are doing things like this…or at least that is the opinion of the person from CNET that is being interviewed.

Interesting to see companies enter “non-traditional” areas like this I think.

Most news from Google involves stuff like search ads, web services, mobile computing. The occasional Buzz or Wave, perhaps, that is a little confusing. But at the very least, no matter what Google does, it always involves a computer in some way. Well, not any more. Google has begun investing in wind power. This week, Google agreed to buy 114 megawatts of electricity from an Iowa wind farm.

via Why is Google buying wind energy? | Episodes | Future Tense with John Moe | American Public Media.

Pricing of $0 and the Internet

October 11th, 2009 Comments off

CBS Sunday morning had an interesting feature this morning about the expectation by consumers that things should be free online and the opportunities and challenges that presents for companies marketing products on and offline.  Consider newspapers — now that they have given away news for so long can they ever effectively charge for it?  Something has to happen because they are bleeding money right now and can’t sustain the reporting staffs they have for much longer.

Here is a link to the written article…I couldn’t find a video to embed but will update this post if I do.

Succeed by Free, Die by Free

July 7th, 2009 Comments off

A thought-provoking piece by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks was brought to my attention via Twitter today.  Cuban’s take on things is that companies that basically give away their product will only be competitive in the short-term until someone else with a better widget or at least better marketing comes along and knocks them from their pedestal.

For Google, who lives and dies by free, we don’t know who their BlackSwan company will be. But we all know it will happen don’t we? The only question is when. Of course, Google knows it as well. Which is exactly why they invest in everything and anything they possibly can that they believe can create another business they can depend on in the future. They are spending incredible amounts of money in search of the “next big Google thing.”  When their BlackSwan competitor appears, they won’t be in a position to compete with the newly presented model, particularly if it’s free based because their ecosystem has bloated to the point where they can no longer create anything for free.

Mark Cuban: Succeed By Free, Die By Free.  Mark Cuban.  July 5, 2009. paidContent.org.