Friday, June 17, 2011

How IBM Changed The Way We Think!

IBM celebrates its 100th birthday today!

I remember the late 70's and programming in Cobol and or Fortran, having to deal with punch cards, chads, and where you had to haul around boxes of these punch cards for simple programs. 

I remember the database we used, SPSS, or what was then, Statistical Package For The Social Sciences.  I did not realize that the keypunch machines, the computers, and the database were all owned by IBM!

I remember taking a class, Scopes And Methods Of The Social Sciences, which for me was one subject that totally defined my future;  this eventually led to statistics, and eventually expected utility theory.  I remember that the program I ran for the basis of my thesis at Vanderbilt University took three days to run; a program on one simple floppy disc took three days to process!

To this day I cannot help but look at studies that I read and question the results, the methods, and or think of possible additional studies that are warranted. 

Every problem can basically be laid out like a Fortran flowchart.  Laying out a product line list for next season?  You can build a flowchart that details out what markets and what  what products will serve those markets.  Flowcharts can isolate production and inventory problem areas.  Internet advertising and social media greatly benefit from a flowchart, a map of how one can anticipate programs working and then analysis the data from your results to determine if the relationships one anticipated were what one achieved.  

Flowcharts are great way to anticipate problems and to being proactive to these problems when they occur.  If one were to layout a flow chart of the upcoming healthcare changes that are part of "Obamacare" one would realize that the analysis would provide not only a blueprint for action but also provide areas to seek change and innovation for future cost savings.

If you run a business, or a department, if you manage sales or advertising, you should right now, layout a flowchart of how you "know" the flow of work evolves and then actually go through the actual process, step by step, and I assure you that you will find that you missed 20% of what actually is involved in running your company, department, or managing sales or advertising.

As I have been seeking out funding for my business I have studied quite a few of the ideas and or businesses that are getting funded.  I have heard the terms, "changing the world," "disruptive," and "revolutionary" used over and over by the folks that are selling new ideas and those buying into these new ideas.  Hula Hoops and Pet Rocks were world changing, disruptive, and revolutionary in their time too!  

One consumer centric, Web 2.0 pioneering company that I have studied extensively is now attending trade shows and wholesaling to retailers.  I cannot help but wonder, if you are a community based company should you not be putting your money into growing your community?  Rather than attending trade shows maybe you should be promoting art and design in schools?  If your existence is based upon the concept of a community then shouldn't you be investing in growing that community?

If you are getting $20 a shirt on the internet, selling to a multi million person community then how does going wholesale to retailers, where you will get, at best $8.00 a shirt, benefit your brand?  Wouldn't you be better served, considering that trade shows are expensive, why spend $20,000 to $30,000 to attend a trade show to open up a sales channel where you will "lose" $12.00 a shirt?  Wouldn't you be better served investing in developing the future of your community?  

Right now the trend in human resources is not to hire older job applicants and or individuals that have been unemployed for longer than six months.  Of  course, there is some logic to this trend, but if you think about it, if the average baby boomer has had 11 jobs during their most productive work years that works out to 2.36 years per job.  If all employers begin to hire only employees who are currently employed then the biggest issue for employers is that fact that they are facing a dramatic increase in their turnover rate.  If the unemployement rate for college graduates is roughly 5% then obviously this trend is going to effect those employees most critical to ones operation.

Why not hire those who have been unemployed?  They would obviously be more loyal and thus more productive.  Why not hire someone over 50 if right now you are only retaining employees for 2.36 years on average?  The reality is that it takes 6 to 8 months for an employee to adapt and become productive and at 2.36 years of employment you basically get a years worth of benefit before the employee focuses on seeking their next opportunity.

Thank you IBM!  Happy Birthday!

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