Transportation, get it right, get it fast! (lol)

Hello every one!

This is just a little heads up regarding the fact that our Thesis is coming to an end, and I would like to know if anyone out there is interesting in me (or us depending on Ambre’s position on this topic) keeping the blog alive with articles and news!

This post is mainly here to get to know what the public wants 😀 As long as I get a few “Wants”, I’ll keep it fed with articles! 🙂

Meanwhile, the article you all wanted to read on Transportation is very well resumed in this short video!!!!

Hope you laughed 🙂

See you soon!

Most innovative companies in 2013

Click on the picture to find out who they are:

3005275-poster-1280-173-mic-1-nike

 

Consumer Electronics Show has opened its doors again in Las Vegas!!

The CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show is a show dedicated to the world of high technology and various innovations in the field . Over the years , CES has become the most important gatherings of this style as are the Computex or IFA. This show takes place early in the year in Las Vegas, where manufacturers , journalists and enthusiasts of new technologies come together for a week.

This year is not less than 3000 exhibitors showcasing their latest 7 to January 10. Hundred and fifty thousand visitors are expected in the aisles where the connected objects (toothbrush, bracelet measuring sunshine) are honored.

Connected objects ahead as the big stars of this year with the Internet for Objects, ready to be marketed.

Show organizers have organized Las Vegas areas involving products for children, seniors or household : in the fields of health, robotics or ready-to-wear technologies.

“It is also an exciting as well as a terrifying time, because we will see lots of new and cool things” said Will Findlater, editor of Stuff magazine that deals with consumer electronics. But there is a lot of ground to cover and lots of things to see. To have a clear idea of new trends, one will have to put on roller skates as there are too many things to see. ”

The icing on the cake: the car without a driver. Among the exhibitors in Las Vegas, there is always more manufacturers and automotive suppliers that make the public discover the latest innovations in electronics embarked on cars.

Not all gadgets will be shown in Las Vegas, as the giants of smart-phones and tablets often prefer to present their innovations at exclusive events rather than having to face the melee of Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.

But the show should be worth the trip.

It is usually a great occasion to see Consumer Goods and have an idea of how these goods could be later implemented into businesses and find new purposes.

If you have had the opportunity to go there, please do not hesitate to contact Ambre or myself! 🙂

Cheers!

The impact of new information technologies on businesses (the end)

For Jacques Bughin, director of the Brussels office of McKinsey & Company, it is the freedom that characterizes the new world and guides, the transformation of the orthodoxy of business with new technologies.

According to Bughin, they would shift from actual value (left side) to other values (right side)

Strict separation between the members of a company and its customers -> Partnership in co-creation.

The possession of assets determines the competitive advantages -> the open and active “orchestrated”.

  • The business creation in traditional markets -> global creation.
  • Pay for the value and talent -> free access to value.
  • Search the success of mass -> some niche markets (“minding the tail”).
  • Ready-to-use, standardized products -> Products that improve with use.
  • Power of the mass -> Empowerment radical.
  • A full-time employees in a hierarchical structure -> everyone can be an employee at a time T.
  • Mass production, standardized – > Business in real time.
  • “Management in the guts” -> Science management.

Crowd-sourcing, the new labor standard

Process outsourcing work through “open calls for proposals” to users – or crowdsourcing – is being spread as a technique to quickly and effectively find relevant and innovative solutions to business problems.

Crowdsourcing is a business model in itself. For example, a company like InnoCentive, Inc. is a virtual company based on employees scattered around the world, which plays the role of broker between “researchers” confronted with problems of research and development and “solvers” that offer solutions tailored to the specified criteria. It is not about getting answers for free, but to make the right people work at the right time on the right issues. This company appears in many ways to be shaping the future:

  • Transparency is total: almost all of its financial information is available to all and employment contracts do not contain clauses nondisclosure or non-competition.
  • Employees are assessed not only on their results (i.e.: their impact on the markets of the company), but also on their “social skills” and their leadership ability.

What is particularly striking in InnoCentive is the heart of the company’s business (offer innovative ideas) is made by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

According to John Seely Brown, Deloitte Center for the Edge, technology could be used as “reflection amplifiers” improving the employees’ productivity, based on the model of Dashboards for online players of the now famous video game “World of Warcraft” to assess their performance.

According to him, such self-assessment and feedback tools are a promising future, they are highly motivating and supporting employees in their individual effort and training to improve their practices.

Towards the end of the traditional business

The urgency to reform seems obvious. The always connected world, where torrents of information flows continuously, can fear the creation of a nightmare when you read an interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, published by McKinsey Quarterly in September 2008:

“For senior executives, a balanced life is no longer possible. I’d love to have one, but the fact is that the world is passing a comprehensive step: since I am supposed to sleep while a crisis necessarily occurs somewhere on the planet, I still have not found the solution to my insomnia problems.”

Technology cannot transform the workplace alone

The acquisition of new technologies should be thought globally, taking into account the existing IT infrastructure, but also business processes.

Apparently, companies are not able to take full advantage of the latest technologies acquired.
The reason? For 79% of companies, this is due to the obsolescence of their existing IT systems, according to a study conducted by Ricoh. But more importantly, 78 % of firms invest in new technologies before they fully control the hardware features they have. Technology should not be considered a panacea, because it cannot transform the workplace itself. Technology and processes are linked to one another and should evolve accordingly.

A close relationship

The study shows that companies evaluate their technology and document processes (the flow of information through a company) separately instead of considering these two elements as being connected to one another. The efficiency is dependent of one another. Only 53% of organizations said they assessed their technology management process every six months or every six to twelve months. Companies must assess their sensitive processes and technologies to maximize their operations as much as possible, by adopting a holistic approach.

A gap in investments

Indeed, only a thorough understanding of how the processes work would allow a better approach towards identifying problems and finding solutions. But integrated technologies can have an impact on working methods, transforming their mobility and flexibility. Technological innovation will continue at an unprecedented pace and companies must respond today to remain competitive. However, the study shows that there is currently a gap between technology investments in favor of the front office (sales and customer service) and those to the back office (finance, HR and marketing).

Many companies equip primarily the front office of new technologies, but fail to integrate the back office. This may have implications for the management of processes and generating various risks such as congestion, unnecessary duplication of efforts and gaps in the security business.

Time to conclude

As we have seen together, technology is present everywhere. In every company, business, job, technology is now a multifunctional tool which power has yet to grow to its full potential. Whether you own a multinational like Eric Schmidt or a small company that sells gloves, technology is needed and requires to be adapted to every present and future need. Technology can be personalized in ways we could not have suspected a few years ago, with the advent of mobile technology (phones, tablets, etc.) being designed to fit the end user.

This evolution of the technology is possible and yet to be seen thanks to the amount of information we have at our disposal. Collecting, processing, dispatching information has become the core of Information Technology and has in many ways redefined the way individuals behave themselves in their everyday lives.

Technologies not only impact the workplaces, but on a much broader scale, they obsess companies fascinate consumers and surprise governments. They are disruptive technologies, as were back in their time the steel, electricity, the internal combustion engine or electronics. Speaking of disruptive technologies, McKinsey has defined that they must simultaneously meet four criteria: the speed at which they are diffused in the economy, the extent of the economic impact in terms of employees concerned, the effect in terms of productivity and finally the transverse innovative impact this disruption leads in other scientific and industrial sectors.

It can be expected that the mobile Internet, automation of knowledge and the Internet on objects, leveraging their mutual effects will have the most drastic effect on the productivity and efficiency of the global economy as a whole.

Back in May 2013, Google and NASA had announced they had purchased a product manufactured by the Canadian company D-Wave, a quantum computer (Scientific American and Nytimes).

A quantum computer developed by D-Wave Systems.

According to preliminary tests, this machine would be able to solve most problems 11 000 times faster than conventional supercomputers. This gain in speed could reach a factor of 50 000 for more complex calculations. The current machine works on an already phenomenal 512 Qbits but NASA plans to bring this power to a huge 2048 Qbits.

If the performance of this quantum computer is confirmed, it is our whole civilization that will be changed. Indeed, it will become possible with such machines to perform calculations, modeling and simulations that are at the moment totally out of our reach. In biology, for example, we could simulate the evolution of structures and more complex phenomena. We could also design new therapeutic molecules.

If these quantum machine keep their promises, artificial intelligence will become a reality, be shared and accessible to all and it will be possible to operate with an efficiency almost inconceivable today, the immense cognitive resources available on the Internet. Such a control on today’s resources would completely reshape the boundaries we actually know on our workplaces, lower the hindrance to share information over a network, make the designing of projects easier, pushing people towards an objective faster.

The technologies have yet to finish to surprise the world and the companies that use them.

Great change awaits. It is up to the decision-makers to grasp the opportunity to adapt and revolutionize their own environments.

References

Innocentive (2013), At a Glance. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.innocentive.com/about-innocentive

McKinsey (2013) Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/disruptive_technologies

McKinsey (2011) Eric Schmidt on business culture, technology, and social issues. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/strategy/eric_schmidt_on_business_culture_technology_and_social_issues

McKinsey (2011) Google’s CFO on growth, capital structure, and leadership. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/corporate_finance/googles_cfo_on_growth_capital_structure_and_leadership

McKinsey (2008) Google’s view on the future of business: An interview with CEO Eric Schmidt. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.timewarner.com/sites/timewarner.com/files/ckeditor/public/files/googleviewonthefutureSchmidt_2008.pdf

NYTimes, (2013) Google Buys a Quantum Computer. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/google-buys-a-quantum-computer/

Ricoh (2012) 79 % des entreprises ne sont pas en mesure de tirer profit des nouvelles technologies du fait de l’obsolescence de leurs systùmes informatiques existants. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.ricoh.fr/a-propos-de-ricoh/news/2012/20121016livreblanctechnologie.aspx

Scientific American (2013) Google and NASA Snap Up Quantum Computer D-Wave Two.  Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=google-nasa-snap-up-quantum-computer-dwave-two

 

New technology as a driver of business transformation (the end)

During this blog thesis, I had the chance to come across a load of information on new technologies. Thanks Internet and thanks to all the researchers that spent time giving their perspectives on this actual topic.

Even If I tried to find a clear definition of New Technology at the very beginning of this blog, I’m sure there is much more to come and the last definition that I would give is surely the one that L’internaute offers. New technologies are “Advanced Technologies or new technics of information and communication.” Let’s keep it wide because by taking a quick look at what’s going on at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, there will be soon way more things to talk about.

Joseph Schumpeter, significant economist and political scientist already in his century considered that technological innovation was critical in any company and raised it as “the most powerful driver of economic transformation”. This is what I have been trying to look at during my research.

The first point that became clear in this blog is the importance of the consumerization of IT, which refers, as defined by Avanade to: “a market trend in which technology first adopted in the consumer space enters the workplace. This form of technology populism has swept organizations globally as employees take on a greater role in choosing the technologies with which to do their jobs ».

In the global survey made by Avanade on new technologies at work, various insights were given on that topic. Mobility for instance was raised as the new norm, with a surprising increase of mobiles and tablets entering the workplace. According to Juniper Research, there were over 150 million smartphones and tablets used in the enterprise in 2012 and this figure was expected to more than double to 350 million by 2014. What is even more interesting is how companies react to that new phenomenon. Avanade’s January 2012 study of the consumerization of IT reveals that business leaders support the shift from content consumption to the use of core enterprise functions on personal devices. Indeed, 65 percent of company leaders said creating content or accessing business applications is an acceptable use of personal devices at work.” Companies began investing on those new collaboration tools and had to rethink and adapt their business processes. In the global survey made by Avanade, they reported that 71% of the surveyed companies had changed at least one business process in IT management, sales & Marketing, HR, or customer services. Many executives are taking step to leverage the role of new technologies.

But then the debate stopped at who should take the reasonability of driving the change and implement new technology at work. To this question, answers are quite different, if you look at it from the perspective of Avanade, what came out is quite clear, 51% of the respondents cite IT teams as the ones responsible to take care of “creating and supporting new styles of work that include the use of consumer tablets and smartphones for both basic and advanced business purposes. Only 28 % cite the Human resources teams”. Even though, IT and HR are cited here. From my personal point of view and my research, you first need somebody who is convinced by the project and who will as well take the employees onboard with him, that’s in my opinion, when CEOs and senior executives should take the lead. However, during my research I want across different forms of leadership/governance models when talking about social media management. In the paper called “The impact of Social Media on C-level Roles”, four different alternatives were given in which Chief Information Officer and Chief Marketing Officer had prevalent roles.

models

 

In the Model D, in which the CEO had the most important role is my perspective on that topic.

Finally, what is the real impact on the business?

  • Sales: “Greater value from collaboration technologies. 73% more likely to report improved sales and new customer acquisition through the use of their collaboration tools.”
  • Profits: Companies that put in place consumer technologies, implemented policies and new business processes to drive the change saw positive impact. “54% were more likely to report increased profits than businesses not leveraging these technologies, policies and processes”
  • Agility: Similarly, companies that embraced the change are quicker and more active than others. They get more innovative.
  • Job satisfaction: These benefits are not only quantifiable with time and money but they can also be measured in terms of quality indicators. For example, companies that redesigned how the job is done have many more satisfied employees. In terms of statistics, “37 % of these companies are more likely to report improved employee satisfaction “. They also revealed that creativity and problem solving skills were even more present and noticeable.

Concerning the interviews I could drive, the most important benefits were:

  • Better customer service
  • Better access to information
  • More efficiency
  • More security
  • Improved confidentiality

To conclude this final article, I will present my recommendations in terms of new technology implementation. This is a summary of what I was able to take out from the research papers, the interviews, news, and other sources of information:

Be clear on the objectives and plan it ahead  

There are numerous of examples when new technology is not taken seriously or implemented with unclear goals. From what I could see, you need to be really precise on where you want to go as well as what is the next step and how you are going to build this project.

Drive the change and choose the team

In the research, I could see many perspectives on who should take the responsibility of implementing new technology or who to convince to succeed.  As for me, I would definitely go for the CEO, obviously helped by the IT Officer as well as the Chief Marketing Officer. Implementing a new tech is much more than one single project, it’s a corporate project, every single employee has to be onboard, and this is where boundaries have to be crossed. And then, build a team of champions to carry the project (Implementing New Technology, Harvard Business Review, 1985):

  • “A  Sponsor” – usually a fairly high-level person who makes sure the project receives financial and manpower resources.
  • “A Champion” – A Salesman, Diplomat and Problem-Solver for the innovation.
  • “A Project Manager” – who oversees administrative details
  • “An Integrator” – who manages conflicting priorities and molds the group through communication skills.

This team will be presented as the referees of the project, and as a consequence, they will take away some of the concerns that employees could have.

Sustain your resources

Many examples have showed that companies tend to invest a lot at the beginning of the projects to buy a certain technology for instance but many fail because they didn’t forecast at the correct scale what comes next. The idea at this point is to sustain your resources which means that after launching the project, after changing your business processes, you are still able to have experts to help you out when needed and make the investments to train your employees and other expenses that may come.

Put collaboration at the heart of your project

What seems to be very important for many managers and from all the studies I could read is the collaboration between teams, developers and users for instance or even marketing and IT. From the very beginning you need people to be engaged and ready to move along with the project, to have everybody onboard to succeed. For instance, ask your teams or even representatives to be there when choosing the software. Obviously, they will feel involved but also it will counteract any concern that they could have and you will be able to adapt the technology to their needs.

Another important point is to involve agencies or experts from the outside of your company to support you during this transition.

Train and Support

What is also really compulsory is to train your employees before, and during the project. You need them to be committed and feel confident about this news change. This training comes along with the experts that need to be present, as well as the action of the management teams and finally as of the interaction between all. Sharing best practices is also a key point on the road to success. Finally, a point has to be given to the existence of plan Bs if the technology had to fail, once again to make sure the business keeps running but also to forecast any resistance behavior from the employees.

Monitor progress and assess performance

Last but not least, the team in charge of the project has to assess the performance and monitor progress. Clearly, this needs to be done once again with the teams; to be able to adapt, if necessary, the technology or the business processes to business and users’ needs.

final

 

References 

L’internaute. Dictionnaire Retrieved 04/08/2013, from http://www.linternaute.com/dictionnaire/fr/definition/technologie/

Avanade. (2013). Global Survey: Consumer Technologies  are Changing Long-Standing Business Processes and  Work Cultures – And Impacting the Bottom-Line In Avanade website. Retrieved October 1st 2013, fromhttp://www.avanade.com/Documents/Resources/work-redesigned-research-findings.pdf

Mary Meeker. (April 12, 2010). Internet trends. In Morgan Stanley. Retrieved October 27, 2013, from http://fr.slideshare.net/krishnade/morgan-stanley-internet-trends-report-2010

Avanade. (2013). Work Redesigned, a strategy for seizing new opportunities. In Avanade website. Retrieved November 6th 2013 from http://www.avanade.com/Documents/work-redesigned-pov-avanade.pdf

Annie Evans. (August 13th 2013). TOP 10 CHALLENGES TO TECHNOLOGY IMPLEMENTATION. In Navigator Compass Learning. Retrieved November 17th 2013, from http://navigator.compasslearning.com/technology/top-10-challenges-to-technology-implementation/.

Dorothy Leonard-Barton / William A. Kraus. (1985). Implementing new technology. In Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 27, 2013.

Groupement pour la Modernisation du SystĂšme d’Information Hospitalier. (2003). SystĂšme d’information de production de soins: analyse des expĂ©riences des Ă©tablissements de santĂ©. In SynthĂšse de l’étude. Retrieved November 10 2013, fromhttp://www.anap.fr/uploads/tx_sabasedocu/01_SIPS_SYNV1.pdf.

SUJATA K. BHATIA,. (2013). Development Tech. In Harvard International Review. Retrieved December 27, 2013.

P. Candace. (December 2011). The Impact of Social Media on C-level Roles1,2. In MIS Quarterly Executive Vol. 10 No. 4. Retrieved December 19, 2013.

Banke, Palle. (2004). EMPLOYEE-DRIVEN SCENARIO- involving employees in developing and implementing new technology. In Workspace design. Retrieved December 19, 2013,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of technology: Dissection of an institutional project (ELAN) With a special witness: Dominique Hamel

During my research on new technologies, I had the chance to come across a really important project that has been rolling up for various years now. It’s a national contribution to modernize French hospitals. More concretely, decisions were made since april 2010, to make information systems in hospitals more efficient, and particularly in terms of quality and security of treatments. The government translated that effort into a new plan called “StratĂ©gie HĂŽpital NumĂ©rique”. This plan aims at creating priorities on a 6 year time span, mobilizing all the concerned actors by accompanying health care establishments to transform them with new technologies.

But before even knowing anything about this program, I found a study summary on information systems in health care establishments made in 2003 that revealed the problems that were existing already at this time and were later going to be addressed. This study was made within 20 organizations both public and private, from different sizes and different focus.

Here is a list of the main issues that I could take out from this field study:

  • Unclear definition of objectives and  functional projects’ scopes
  • Conducting projects must be improved and must take into account how to manage the change
  • Functional coverage difficult to deploy
  • Technical difficulties mainly related to the integration and the non-standardization

Along this study, I also came across the key success factors that were raised by the spokespersons:

  • The need for external support in terms of project management: whether at launch phase or at definition for a particular step (study of existing needs…) or for regular monitoring (evaluation, board, performance assessment), the skills and the “outside view” is considered as an essential asset for any institution
  • The involvement of users from the very beginning:  mobilizing actors directly involved in the project from the start is key, their participation to choose the software for example is a guarantee of success
  • The appointment of referees in departments to support and assist: often this role is played by users mobilized during the definition of the project. We must be aware, however, that these people, usually resources “business” (nursing, medical secretaries, doctors …) not occupy their “job job” while they are “references”; it should be considered to replace them and provide the relevant budget.

At the end of the day, after reading about these studies and governments programs, I got interested and I wanted to know more about how was the situation at a local level at the hospital of my city, more than 10 years later.

I found some pieces of information on a project called ELAN and I wanted to get to know more about it. Then I contacted a senior manager, Mrs Dominique Hamel from the CHU de Rouen, the local hospital, and I had the chance to ask her few questions.

Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit more about your company?

I’m Dominique Hamel; I’m a paramedical senior manager at Rouen Hospital (CHU Rouen). This establishment is a university hospital with 2500 beds and 9000 employees.  It’s a regional reference in the healthcare sector included in what we call, Le Grand Paris.

Could you describe the new technology (software, IT system…) that you had to implement and explain the project?

This project called ELAN is about the implementation of a new IT tool to gather on numeric files all the medical prescriptions as well as the care plan for each patient. It’s a new information system in terms of care production necessary to manage the prescriptions, care plans, patient records, appointments, administrative tasks and emergency.

What were the objectives of this new tool?

  • – More security against mistakes
  • – Traceability
  • Clarity
  • Fluidity, information sharing and efficiency
  • Work in real time
  • Confidentiality and liability for users

Who is part of the project?

Everybody.

  • Doctors
  • Health managers
  • Pharmacists
  • Secretaries
  • Customer reception
  • IT

How people reacted to this new technology? Were they motivated or reluctant to this change?

Most employees were concerned about change itself and how this whole thing was going to happen. They were feeling unsafe.  However, now that this tool is widely used and people are used to it and trained, they wouldn’t go back to the old versions.

What were the challenges of this project?

  • Cost
  • The design of the software
  • The implementation
  • The rise in operating missions
  • Multi – locations project
  • Train and support employees

Did you create new processes when integrating this new technology?

Yes, obviously we had to do it and in real time. We always have to adapt to improve the system and creating new processes is part of enhancing the performance too.

What were the outcomes of this change? What impact did you notice on patieny satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and the overall performance?

  • Security
  • Accuracy
  • Time Saving
  • Better access to the information

 References

Hopitaux de Rouen. (March 2012). L’informatisation de la prĂ©scription. In Echanges Magazine n°64. Retrieved November 15, 2013, from http://www.calameo.com/books/000050332cbf634273a34.

Hopitaux de Rouen. (December 2012). Notre systĂȘme d’information. In Echanges Magazine n°66. Retrieved November 15, 2013, from http://fr.calameo.com/read/000050332eedf0b6e2207

Groupement pour la Modernisation du SystĂšme d’Information Hospitalier. (2003). SystĂšme d’information de production de soins: analyse des expĂ©riences des Ă©tablissements de santĂ©. In SynthĂšse de l’Ă©tude. Retrieved November 10 2013, from http://www.anap.fr/uploads/tx_sabasedocu/01_SIPS_SYNV1.pdf.

MinistĂšre des affaires sociales et de la SantĂ©. (December 9, 2013). Les systĂšmes d’information des offreurs de soins. In StratĂ©gie HĂŽpital NumĂ©rique. Retrieved December 15, 2013, from http://www.sante.gouv.fr/les-systemes-d-information-des-offreurs-de-soins,9076.html.

Christine Viarouge / Martine Dechavanne. (2009). PROJET IPSoins : INFORMATISATION DE LA PRODUCTION DE SOINS. In L’informatisation de la production de soins est lancĂ©e. Retrieved November 20, 2013, from http://www.chu-montpellier.fr/fr/PDF/dossier_obj_IPSoins.pdf.

 

What it takes to implement new technology successfully. Between Theory and Practice.

“Ms. Leonard-Barton is assistant professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, where her research focuses on the development, transfer, and implementation of new technologies in U.S.Canadian, and European companies. Acclaimed author and speaker, Dr. Leonard has long been a thought leader in the field of knowledge management and innovation.

Mr. Kraus is a consultant in technology and systems implementation for Corporate Engineering and Manufacturing at General Electric, where he works with GE’s operating businesses on the human and organizational issues involved in the implementation of microprocessor-based technology.”

Together, they wrote a really interesting article on how it is to implement new technology; this paper was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1985. In this post, I will make a summary of this article in order to get the main insights described by those two authors.

As we have seen through the different posts that I made on implementing new technologies in companies, there are many steps to go through to launch this kind of project.  “Introducing technological change into an organization presents a different set of challenges to management than does the work of competent project administration,” this is how this paper begins, putting weight on your back to prevent you from those various obstacles to face. Usually, project managers are more equipped by education and experience to drive “the innovation’s development than to manage its actual implementation”. The two authors of this article tried to expose as clearly as possible the different challenges that exist when implementing new tech and propose recommendations to go against those challenges. The findings were derived from their combined research and consulting experience with more than 20 large multinationals corporations and with 70 organizations with General Electrics.

 A dual role

Managers that take care of the technological change within companies seem to have a dual role as they often play two missions. According to Ms Leonard-Barton and Mr Kraus, managers are at the same time technical developers and implementers. What they suggest is to take the problem with a marketing perspective instead of a selling point of view.  In fact, for this type of task, adopting a marketing perspective in a new technology’s design phase will boost user satisfaction.

Managers will be encouraged to accumulate more information about users’ needs and preferences. It will as well, encourage managers to make users more involved and committed from the early stage of the process which would as a consequence enhance the match between users and the new tool.

As an example, they described what happened in an electronic office equipment company. They created a “user design, group”, in other terms they let users try out the software when it was still at a prototype stage. Users were able to test the new tool on the same computer that program developers were using. At the end of the day, what they could see was a real information sharing between the two teams, users were able to communicate about their concerns and comments. As a consequence, the product design was improved and would potentially match even better the users’ expectations.

Secondly, from a marketing perspective, you would normally take into account the fact that you have to help the organization to receive the new technology. Many organizations fail because they were not able to see the importance of this pre-launch preparation. The investment, as well as the innovation’s technical superiority don’t always guarantee acceptance from the team members. The investment has to be well sustained during the complete process.

Finally, from this marketing point of view, it facilitates the smooth transferring of ownership of the innovation to the final users. On another level, “implementation managers must develop a repetitive framework to guide decisions about when and how to collect needed information from all groups affected by the innovation”.

An example is given of a manufacturer who implemented a shop floor control, many details were being analysed.

For instance:

  • “Observe the current job routine.
  • Pay special attention to those parts of the work that require users to make decisions or seek information.
  • Discuss with workers what they found frustrating or rewarding about their work. Examine how the process in each department relate to each other”

Multiple Internal Markets

The first point that was brought to our mind was a finding from this article: “the higher the organizational level at which managers define a problem/need, and, the closer the solution of problems/needs are seen by end-users, the greater the probability of success.” Besides, top managers and ultimate users must believe in the innovation to make it work, but marketing the idea to these two groups requires very different approaches. The Implementation Managers have to prepare their internal marketing plan and see the new technology from the perspective of each group. They can finally plan an approach to both accordingly.

Secondly, as described in this article, it’s almost compulsory to “develop “ownership” of the technology. The meaning of this term depends largely on the scope of the project. Although it is patently impossible to involve all users in the choice and/or development of an innovation, tbat is no excuse not to involve their representatives.”

Promotion vs. hype

Innovation itself  is great but not enough and this is exactly what this article tries to explain, managers should not be over-selling their new systems. In the contrary case, this would raise expectations far higher than the actual performance and potential users will grow disillusioned when over-sold technology performs below expectations.

In order to promote the project, it might be really useful to conduct a pilot operation before introducing the technology on the field in order to prove technical feasibility to top managers as well as serve as a credible demonstration model for other units in the organization.

As a consequence, 3 main questions have to be asked when preparing testing projects:

  • What is the purpose of the test? (experimental or demonstration?)
  • Where should I locate the pilot site? ( among the most innovative users or at the worst performing unit?)
  • To whom is it made for?
  • Who are the opinion leaders?

The many and the one

In order to make it a huge success, you have to compose the management team by including:

  • “A  Sponsor” – usually a fairly high-level person who makes sure the project receives financial and manpower resources.
  • “A Champion” – A Salesman, Diplomat and Problem-Solver for the innovation.
  • “A Project Manager” – who oversees administrative details
  • “An Integrator” – who manages conflicting priorities and molds the group through communication skills.

Legitimate Resistance to change

Resistance usually arises when mistakes are made or issues are over-looked in the implementation process. Managers must anticipate opposition – The most common reasons being the fear of the loss of skills or power and the absence of an apparent personal benefit.

Many companies are seeking to re-train their workers or upgrade their skills.  For instance, “Teach Supervisors how to instruct hourly workers about the new technology.” “A good implementation plan should try to identify where a loss of power may occur so that Managers can anticipate and avert any problems arising from that loss.”

“An innovation must offer an obvious advantage over what it replaces or its potential users will have little incentive to use it.   Managers must make the benefits of the technology visible to workers through encouragement from Supervisors as well as through explicit and timely feedback on how the innovation is affecting workers’ output.”

And finally, hedgers in an organization are individuals who refuse to take a stand against an innovation and can affect the future of the new technology when they are a key link in the implementation plan. The implementation Manager should:

  • ž“Persuade Top Management to take some kind of quick symbolic action in support of the innovation” (memo, speech, minor policy change)
  • ž”Help Managers at all levels send out the right signals.” (Increase the emphasis of the symbolic action of top management.)
  • “Bring the criteria used to judge the performance of innovation users into conformance with the demands of the new technology.”

opinion leaders

References

Dorothy Leonard-Barton / William A. Kraus. (1985). Implementing new technology. In Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 27, 2013.

Knowledge Management (KM) tools

The knowledge Management is the use of a range of tools, methods and modes of organization to facilitate the conservation and sharing of knowledge across the enterprise. The rise of Web 2.0, concept encompassing social networks and practices of the new interactive internet, reformed the traditional approach of Knowledge Management as practiced hitherto.

While Web 2.0 is passing on Web 3.0, we see the “semantic web” opening a “common framework allowing data to be shared and reused across various platforms, applications, enterprises, and community boundaries.” (W3.org, 2013)

The challenges of KM:

In business, a staggering amount of knowledge, skills and expertise remain totally unknown and therefore inaccessible. It is unfortunate to always come up against the same problems without knowing they have already been solved in the past or that an employee has the saving expertise. Knowledge management has the purpose of identifying and aggregate the static and dynamic knowledge to facilitate access.

The Knowledge:

Knowledge is actually a set of structured information on a subject, oriented and validated by rules or by experience. The so-called “explicit”, and thus formalizable computable knowledge represent only a small share of the total global knowledge.

The principle of KM:

The exploitation of knowledge, the ultimate goal of the Knowledge project management, has three main phases:

  • Identify and capitalize on the knowledge …:  Storing objects of knowledge, as proposed by the EDM (Electronic Document Management) is only one aspect. It should not overshadow the management of exchange flows between people who produce and use them.
  • … to better share …: Access to various documentaries for all bases, but also the development of a mapping profiles to quickly identify experts and interact with them through communication tools and impromptu sharing operational quickly.
    (See for example, Groove Virtual Office Groove Network, Ray Ozzie’s company – now Microsoft: Microsoft Office Groove 2007)
  • … in a spiral of continuous progress: In all cases, the knowledge management is part of a continuous improvement dimension. Knowledge definitions and profiles will be updated continuously, the experience of each contributing continuously to the common learning, benefiting all. Capitalization and knowledge sharing are not disjoint and are expressed along a continuous spiral of progress.

One of the typical examples of KM successful tools is the EDM, it consists in:

  • Information Storage: once scanned, documents are stored and indexed according to rules determined in advance.
  • Access to Information: they are then available, under a thematic, research by keywords or full search.
  • Document Exchange: the exchange facility offered by dematerialization is not the only advantage. At the same time, several callers can work on the same document from different places.

Also, all documents do not deserve to be transformed. It is best to work through project studying precisely the contribution of each document. All documents do not share the same lifetime. Some specific documents, subject to legal constraints, for example, require special treatment. In all cases, the estimate of the value of the document once digitized serves to define the necessity of dematerialization. The calculation of the full ROI is essential.

During my last working experience, I also had to build Business Intelligence on competitors as well as the company’s own products. Daily monitoring of competing products, ongoing projects or analyzing market trends are now full-fledged activities of companies. If the internet facilitates a bit this analysis, it is also a good place for hearsay, wrongful information and false leads. Strategic and technological intelligence is a job in itself. It is indeed a hint to extract meaning from the mass of information available.

Using the right tools

Extracting critical information has indeed become the challenge of the moment. With the proliferation of publications, blogs, RSS feeds or twitters, the one charge has his hands full soon enough. While it is essential that each organization each prospects about its specialty, strategic and technological intelligence remains however a trade. The business intelligence manager, a true lookout, is experienced not only in the handling of tools, but also to identify and detect informational sources.

Principles of Business Intelligence

  • Collect information: the information collection is a targeted approach. Only specific themes will be explored. The axes of exploration are closely aligned with the priorities of companies.
  • Format the information: before being distributed to the recipients, the information collected is cleaned, intersected and shaped. Noise suppression is not an easy task.
  • Distribute information: information rebuilt, with added value, rich in meaning, is distributed to the respective recipients.

Technological and economic intelligence is booming. New analysis and research tools, statistical, linguistic, semantic engine, intelligent agents are responsible for assisting the day before. Once domesticated, they are of valuable use. Technological monitoring should also target monitoring tools!

A good example of monitoring tool is Google Alert. Anyone can choose to receive mail alerts for specific keywords when they pop on the Internet.

References

W3.org (2013). W3C Semantic Web Activity. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/

Interview with Patricia EscĂĄrzaga on implementing new technology in SME

patricia escarzagaCould you present yourself and tell me a bit more about your company?

My name is Patricia Escárzaga, I’m the administrative manager of a Mexican company, the name of the company is Hospitales y Quirófanos del Golfo S.A. de C.V., founded in 1989.  The company buys and sells medicine for hospital purposes and disposable hospital materials. HQ meets the demands of governmental hospitals, private practice clinics and hospitals, drugstores and business people focused on the health sector.

Could you describe the new technology that you had to implement and explain the project ?

We work with 3 different programs Sistema Administrativo empresarial (SAE – corporate administrative system ), Comptabilidad integral (COI – integrated accounting) and NĂłmina Integral (NOI – integrated wages system ) which are implemented to control the company’s administrative and accountable activities.  We also use internet to send and receive invoices, to send quotations, to participate in governmental tenders, to have access to our bank account information and make transfers. We also operate with a commutator which includes 6 phone lines to communicate between departments and to external phones.

Why did you do it ?

Because they were necessary tools for the company to operate better at an administrative level.

Who were the team members and how they helped you?

SAE is a IT costumized system that keeps track of the products in the warehouse, sales, purchases, etc… This system was implemented around 1994 because we came to know of it through one of our business partners at the time. The person in charge of implementing it was an IT system technician and a team from an external company that we hired to do the job.

How people reacted to this new technology? Were they motivated or reluctant to this change?

People reacted well because they felt that it would help them to do their work. Our employees immediately realized how much effort was saved as well as time in our operations. It took our staff less than a month to learn the new system.

What were the challenges when launching the project?

There weren’t real challenges, the training was thorough, we were assisted right after the IT systems was set, and when we had no personal consultants to help us out we had complete manuals. The investment for both the equipment and the project was already contemplated, so that didn’t generate challenges either.

What would you change if you had to do it again?

I would change the codification of the products, I would choose the codes with a different and more logical structure rather than random letters and numbers. At the time every provider had a specific number even if the product was the same. It was a code for the same product but it would be different depending on the supplier which didn’t make sense. That was a bit complex and not relevant for the business.

What was the cost of the implementation?

Can’t remember well, at the time it didn’t represent much because we had 2 other partner companies, and we split the costs between the three of us. We had independent operations and distribution areas but we carried the same company name.

Did you train your team members to use this technology?

Yes we did, and we had assistance from the technician for a while.

Did you plan ahead how you wanted the technology to be used and who could use it?

We pretty much left it in the hands of the team project manager. At the time we were not aware of how much our collaboration and observations would have been beneficial.

Did you create new business processes?

No, in reality we just automatized and saved our time.

How did you monitor the progress and assess the performance of this new technology?

Efficiency was a big progress indicator. We also had a better control on the stock and money flow.

What were the outcomes of this change? What impact did you notice on sales, customer satisfaction employee satisfaction, creativity and the overall performance?

The customer service was better, we would work faster. Sales increased, we were more accurate and had a better overview on the business’ activities.

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Supply Chain Management (SCM) and IT

Over the years, Supply Chain Management is probably the sector of business that has been the most efficiently coupled with technology and still goes through revolution periodically. If the absolute pursuit of cost reduction has been for a long time the main triggering factor for reorganization plans, it is however inseparable from the requirements of regularity and flexibility of supplies and workflow.

Issues of partnership and cooperation have become crucial for the competitiveness of enterprises. Technologies simplify trade with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) the Extranet, SCM (Logistics Management) and marketplaces.

The four main functions of SCM:

  • Collect information:  SCM requires updated information (orders, forecasts, capacity) collected from ERP and trading system …
  • Process information: specialized APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling) tools cover, among others, the functions of forecasting, scheduling, extensive planning and supply management. Other monitoring tools on the ground as the SCE (Supply Chain Execution) complete the panoply of the Managers.
  • Dispatch information: the information is dispatched to all internal and external stakeholders.
  • Measure performance: the system of Supply Chain Management is part of a dimension of continuous improvement.

The conditions for making a successful supply chain

  • Supply chain must be in perfect harmony with the business strategy.
  • Supply chain must be aligned with customer needs.
  • Supply Chain, when properly designed, is a growth or an element of differentiation faced to the competition.
  • Finally, the supply chain must be adaptive. Customer needs change, markets change constantly. It is about being reactive to all the levels of all links in the chain. A single angle has to be considered: the overall performance of the chain.

All of these criteria gather into one single entity, enabling their combination and exploitation: Information technology.

The core of the Supply Chain Management

Companies are now engaged in a large-scale outsourcing policy. Virtually all functions are now likely to be subcontracted. This refocusing on the core business meets an obvious issue of cost. But the quest for cost cannot be the sole criterion for differentiation. Smoothness and regularity of supplies and work-flow are equally important.

The power of the customer

With the advent of a competitive and exacerbated climate, the power of customers over suppliers has skyrocketed. To capture and engage customers, suppliers must keep the prices low, innovate and be especially fast. A seamless cooperation between all partners involved in the production process is the only solution and only attainable with the participation of technology.

Cooperation

With the development of information technology such as Supply Chain Management, this cooperation is now feasible. The information systems of different partners can be interconnected and communicate closely.

If, as a client, I can see the manufacturing capabilities of my supplier, and if my supplier can in turn, know my present and future needs, we can both work and deliver quickly and well to customers, control production costs and secure our respective margins. Thanks to the broad use of IT, there has been a switch from a general climate of distrust to a climate of extensive cooperation.

Trust and information flow from one end to the other customer chain suppliers, reduce inventory while ensuring fluidity and consistency of the manufacturing process. It then becomes possible to give to efficient partners in terms of cost / quality / availability, any kind of task, including those with high added value like designing. Supply Chain Management and Logistics Management will manage the flow and complete control of the extended chain.

Sharing information

The information is widely traded, shared, explained and documented. It is precisely the quality of information flows that provides the essential anticipation to end delays and disruptions to supplies penalizing the entire customer supply chain. It is also the wealth of information exchanged which makes the transition flexibility both in production and design.

Software

The choice of software SCM Supply Chain Management is of crucial importance. Well managed, it can become a lever for competitive advantage. He has to facilitate the flow of information (Business Intelligence), anticipate, be flexible and adaptive to not hamper innovation without delay and interconnect information systems partners.

Traceability

Traceability requires special care. Quickly said, traceability is nothing other than the reverse path from the finished product in store or at the customer until the exact identification of each of the basic components used in its manufacture, procedures and means of production. (Solutions: marking, RFID …)

Conclusion

As the complexity of doing business increase and consumer loyalty becomes harder to achieve, SCM technologies are being explored by companies who are looking for a competitive advantage and operational efficiency. It is evident that Supply Chain Management and IT are intertwined in more ways than we can imagine and along with a reliable solution, it is possible for companies to establish leadership over competitors and gain assets easier.

References

Supply Chain Brain (2011). How Technology Can Ease Supply Chain Management and Mitigate Risk Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://www.supplychainbrain.com/content/general-scm/business-strategy-alignment/single-article-page/article/how-technology-can-ease-supply-chain-management-and-mitigate-risk/

Prala (2009) Information Technology and Supply Chain Management. Retrieved on January 6, 2013 from http://prala.hubpages.com/hub/INFORMATION-TECHNOLOGY-AD-SUPPLY-CHAIN-MANAGEMENT

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