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Evaluating Technology Innovations

Managers need to assess different levels of technology innovation. On a large scale, managers in the mid-1990s had to assess the relevance of e-business and e-commerce to their organizations. For those that have accepted its relevance, there are smaller-scale, more detailed innovations to evaluate. For example, personalization technology is intended to enhance the customer’s online experience and increase their loyalty. For example, Silicon.com uses personalization to tailor information for IT managers. Online bookstores use personalization to tailor offers to past purchasers. While the benefits may be clear to media or e-tail sites, other managers will need to assess its relevance to them. A technique such as personalization requires a large investment in software and hardware technology such as Broadvision or Engage to be able to implement it effectively. How does the manager decide whether to proceed and which solution to adopt? Guy Galboiz, an entrepreneur and technology consultant provides insights that a manager may need if he has to evaluate several articles in the trade and general press which has highlighted an opportunity or need, and they then face a difficult decision as to whether:

  • ignore the use of the technique, perhaps because it is felt to be too expensive, untried, or they simply don’t believe the benefits will outweigh the costs.
  • enthusiastically adopt the technique without a detailed evaluation since the hype alone convinces the manager that the technique should be adopted.
  • evaluate the technique and then take a decision whether to adopt it according to the evaluation.

Depending on the attitude of the manager, this behavior can be summarized as:

  1. Cautious, ‘wait and see’ approach.
  2. Risk taking, early adopter approach.
  3. Intermediate approach.

Academics have identified a common process that occurs when new products are introduced to a market. This is the diffusion-adoption process and is represented by the bell-curve in the Those in trial new products were identified as innovators, early adopter, early majority, late majority, to the laggards.

Diffusion-adoption curve

The Diffusion-adoption curve can be used in two main ways as an analytical tool to help managers understand the adoption process. First it can be used to understand the stage at which customers are in adoption of a technology, or any product. For example, the Internet is now a well-established tool and in many developed countries we are into the late majority phase of adoption with larger numbers of users of services. This suggests it is essential to use this medium for marketing purposes. But if we look at WAP mobile phone Internet access we are in the innovator phase, so investment now may be wasted since it is not clear how many will adopt the product. Secondly, managers can look at adoption of a new technique by other businesses – from an organizational perspective. For example, an online supermarket could look at how many other e-trailers have adopted personalization to evaluate whether it is worthwhile adopting the technique.

Having the capabilities to respond to innovation are a strategic issue for businesses. For success these are some of the factors that have been identified:

Growth orientation – a long rather than short-term vision

Vigilance – the capability of environment scanning

Commitment to technology – willingness to invest in technology

Acceptance of risk – willingness to take managed risks

Cross functional co-operation – capability for collaboration across functional areas

Receptivity – the ability to respond to externally developed technology

Slack – allowing time to investigate new technological opportunities

Adaptability – a readiness to accept change

Diverse range of skills – technical and business skills and experience

 


New Business Channels Using the Internet

Channel structures refer to the way a manufacturer or selling organization delivers products and services to their customers. The simplest channel structure is a direct channel where the business deals directly with the customer without the assistance of any intermediaries. With more complex channel structures, intermediaries such as distributors and retailers are used. Think about buying car insurance – this may either be direct using the phone or the Internet, or indirect where it involves buying through a broker who will find the best deal.

“The Internet can dramatically alter the relationship between a company and its channel partners. This occurs because the Internet offers a means of bypassing some of the channel partners. This process is known as disintermediation or ‘cutting out the middleman’.” as explained by internet marketing consultant, Guy Galboiz.

Terminologies

Disintermediation

The removal of intermediaries such as distributors or brokers that formerly linked a company to its customers

Reintermediation

The creation of new intermediaries between customers and suppliers providing services such as supplier search and product evaluation

The other main options of changes to channel structures is reintermediation. Reintermediation is the creation of new intermediaries. One of the best known is Lastminute.com which sells travel and entertainment at a low price when suppliers such as hotels have inventory which they want to sell and are prepared to offer a discount for this. For someone buying insurance from a service such as ScreenTrade they can purchase by visiting a single web site to find the best price and offer rather than visit say 5 different insurers and then return to the one they decide to purchase. So here Screentrade is acting as a broker.


Understanding Human Resource Demand and Capacity

One way to survive in a no- to low-growth economy is to manage resources effectively at least cost. There are two options – one is managing the demand for resources and the other is how to guarantee that there is capacity and capability through the right and best fit resources for tasks or implementation. This knowledge is shared by Guy Galboiz, a top management consultant and entrepreneur.

Visibility into Resource Management Leads to High Value Return on the Investments

Top concerns of most executives are usually about the resources they have on hand – the lack of focus among the workers, improper utilization of manpower.  Management wants to gain better understanding on ways to maximize resources, minimize production losses and efficiently realize the goals that they set.

In a study conducted by Appleseed Partners and OpenSky Research entitled Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study, the state of resource management and capacity planning was made.

The study surveyed more than 600 global executives and managers responsible for the planning and utilization of human resources. While the study examined results and factors against the maturity of organizations, there are key issues to address no matter what your maturity is. There is absolutely no question that increasing maturity in an organization’s effective application in project, program and project management has been proven to make a long and lasting impact. It should not be ignored.

The study highlighted many of the common pain points, causes and business risks. Personally, working with a few clients recently, these completely resonate with their own experiences.

Human Resources Demand and Capacity Pain Points:

These were the key areas of pain that topped the chart:

  1. Constant change in availability and assignment
  2. Ineffective demand prioritization and governance process
  3. Not enough visibility into demand

Causes of Human Resources Pain Points:

While causes were quite varied, these three causes really highlight the need for practices and standards in human resources management, particularly at the project level.

  1. Lack of process maturity – ill-defined, ill-used
  2. Challenges estimating in projects
  3. Incorrect granularity of information on resources

Business Risks of Ineffective Resources Management:

The risks of ineffective resource management and capacity planning are clear:

  1. Lost productivity
  2. Wasting high value resources on low value projects
  3. Delayed time to market

These powerful insights would make any executive want to get on with improving resource demand and capacity to deliver. The first reaction may well be to immediately acquire portfolio management software. The benefits of implementing the right portfolio management software include:

  • Better prioritization discipline,
  • Ensuring the right amount of granularity in reporting on resource information, and
  • Being able to play out what-if scenarios.

 Getting Resource Management Right needed to Succeed in Challenging Global Market

Getting resource management visible, actively managed and using the information to make smart portfolio decisions will increase the capabilities to navigate the choices required in a global and challenging market.

Keeping it simple, developing right fit practices and processes is a clear first step. Wading into the swamp means doing it in bite size steps – ankles first, then waist deep and finally swimming wi