How could anyone miss the uproar across the media outlets this week with the release of the news that the National Security Agency (NSA)
Granted, according to news reports, the data was simply 'meta-data' such as what number you called, when, and for how long. But as a (former) Verizon customer I am concerned. Not that I have anything at all to hide - but that it was going on at all.
In an increasingly digital world I shouldn't be surprised.
Now, I don't want this to turn into a 'black helicopter' blog - but should we seriousely be asking ourselves some questions at this point? Should YOU be asking youself some questions at this point?
I was having dinner wth some friends the other evening and conversation centered on the eerie tactic of having searched for a product online - and then having banner ads about that same product displayed to us on other websites.
This seems to stem not from the search engine you use but from the ISP you use. Everyone has a vested interest in gathering and warehousing data about both your activity and mine.
It is called targeted selling.
Knowing your patterns mean that predictive analytics and start a very precise (surgical strike) ad compaign delivered to you.
You enter a store and the camera at the front doe (using facial recognition software) immeaditely identifies you, pulls your purchase history, analyzes what you typically buy and how often, and then makes a few quick decisions about you:
1. It knows what you typically buy when you come into the store
2. It knows what you nhave purchased in the past (albeit not recently)
It then sends you specific coupons for the items you purchase infrequently to tempt you to buy today. These coupons are delivered to your smart phone becuase you registered your mobile number with them to get $5 off your purchase one time.
Big data and analytics are the future - but we need to pay attention.
I have to admit that I stubbed my eye when I ran across this point of view in a recent magazine article about a tech upstart Nir Zuk from Palo Alto Networks (PAN)
The comment came from a recent article which focused on Zuk and his management style.
The quote (in context) is:
August 2011 the board brought in Mark McLaughlin, an executive at security firm Verisign, to be its Wall Street-friendly CEO. Zuk, now chief technology officer, doesn’t manage anyone and acts as the firewall against bureaucracy. Even though the firm is adding 100 employees per quarter, Zuk refuses to hire project managers. “They don’t produce anything,” he says. “All they do is coordinate. The people who do the work should coordinate.” It’s nice to know that success hasn’t changed Zuk one bit
Now at first we can take offense to an incendiary statement like this - then we have to consider the source.
Most new California-based tech start-ups are running on pure creativity, imagination, and energy drinks. They probably don't have to manage limited resources too much because they are in a pure, euphoric growth mode.
I don't hold Nir Zuk's comments against him (nor take them too seriously). Just consider the source.
Project management is a vitally necessary skill that has built pyramids, bridges, buildings, and space shuttles and has grown by leaps and bounds as a discipline over the last several decades
Project management allows us to maximize the utility of limited resources.
So, it's nice to know success hasn't changed project management very much either!
Big Data Is Watching You!
Technology is making our lives easier and easier by the day. As a result of simply getting out of bed in the morning - we are generating more data about our selves than at any point in human history.
All of this data is adding up to a treasure trove of yet untapped value on which we haven't even scratched the surface!
Case in point - I went through the self check at a grocery store last week. Simple items: gallon of milk, feta cheese, bagels and Cocoa Pebbles (don't ask) and as I scanned each item I placed it in a plastic bag which is on a scale.
I scanned the milk and placed it on the scale and an alert was displayed on my screen. So I scanned it again. Finally the cashier came over, looked at the screen, and told me that the milk carton was not full and that she would get me another one.
How did she know? When I scanned the gallon of milk the computer knew how much the container should weigh and it weighed less.
Talk about things that catch you off guard!
We have so much data that is is now being dubbed 'big data' and the seismic impact it is having on our lives might not even be popping on our radars.
Who do think knows about flu outbreaks first? The Centers for Disease Control (in Atlanta), the typical Primary Care Physician, or Google?
Google can catch what terms people are searching for and draw conclusions faster than almost anyone else in the world. They literally monitor billions of search terms and trends.
Think for a moment again about your daily routine. Get up, make coffee, turn on the television for background news, etc. etc.
Each of those activities creates a digital data fingerprint about your electricity consumption. These patterns are watched and used to build a profile of you.
Think I'm wrong on that?
How close have YOUR Amazon recommendations been lately?
Walmart recently performed an analysis of its data and found that just prior to storms people buy more of two items: flashlights and Pop-Tarts.
No one yet knows why but storms seem to push up demand for strawberry toaster pastries. The next time you see a display of them at the store entrance you'll now know why - and to grab an umbrella.
I wonder what Cocoa Pebbles is telling Meijer about me (other than my sugar ladden, adolescent diet).
In the coming weeks I am going to explore how Big Data is impacting our lives and its implications for project management.
Give Your Team $100!
Let’s face it. Our paychecks are lower after we came back to work in January. Although the economy is looking up – things are still tight.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could spontaneously reward your team members by giving them $100. . . . each?
But budgets are just as tight at work as they are at home.
But there is something else you can do. (No, I am not proposing anything illegal here)
There is something you can give your team members, randomly and impulsively that is the same as giving them a hundred bucks. . .
What is it?
Sincere and genuine compliments.
Managers too often slip into a mode of being the “boss” and not passing out compliments or hearty congratulations to team members.
A recent survey pointed out that managers privately feel they are giving away their ‘power’ or reducing their ‘boss-ness’ but complimenting team members too much.
A sincere compliment given to a team member when a good job is done, rewarding a team member for a going the extra mile, for doing something above and beyond the average and everyday . . .
Has the same effect on that team member of giving them $100 because they feel appreciated and acknowledged.
Now they may not be able to spend your compliment like they could a $100 Starbucks card – but the goodwill you will build with your team member and with yourself is worth more than $100 . . .
And it all starts with you.
It’s Okay – Don’t Reply!
Happy 2013 all!
We all know that there are numerous annoyances in the workplace (especially as we are more sensitive now as we are all returning to work). One of my pet peeves has always been the folks that hit ‘reply all’ to an email message.
Well I happened across this utility that may solve that problem and significantly reduce the likelihood of it happening. The utility is free and is from Microsoft and it works only in Outlook.
Here’s what it does.
When you load this Add-In it gives you a feature that will let you disable (or grey out) the reply all button for an email message that you send. Now you have to select this option before you send the message.
Imagine this – you send an email to a group of recipients and can be assured that the only way to respond is directly to you – they can’t click the reply all button.
Now there is also an option (I assume is for privacy sake) that will also disable (or grey out) the forward button as well thus inhibiting someone from easily forwarding your email message.
Is it foolproof? No, people can still copy the text and paste it to a message or recreate a list of recipients by hand.
But by taking away the easy option (or button) – how much email traffic do you think this could cut down?