As this NY Times article shows, clever, innovative thieves can easily use technology for illegal purposes. And make it more efficient as well, looting thousands of ATMs of millions of dollars in a few hours. And they took advantage of outsourcing as well, both debit card processors and foot soldiers to visit the ATMs - what a business school case this makes.
10 May 2013
02 May 2013
Those of you out there of the geek persuasion might want to consider this a business opportunity.
29 April 2013
28 March 2013
More recent examples, of course, our friendly neighborhood Facebook, and Google, which has imposed "new, improved features" for REPLY and SEND on Gmail.
Google could be excused somewhat, since its staff of techies has no clue about ordinary people and the way they interact with software. Facebook, on the other hand, has no excuse.
Lest you think I'm leaving out some offenders here, one could also mention Microsoft and, perhaps the leading proponent of FascistWare, the folks at Apple.
I'm sure you have your own candidates. Seems to me time for the 99% to rise up in protest and demand that attention be paid.
19 March 2013
But sometimes they simply generate unusable, hard to dispose of waste, as noted in this NY Times article about cathode ray tubes (CRTs). And then the waste becomes society's problem, an "externality" in dry economic terms, which means a cost not to the businesses making money, in this instance, on flat screen TVs and monitors, but to the society in which those items are sold and used.
One solution is to add in the cost of disposal to the product, which is a noble idea, but sadly far too late to prevent the mounting CRT problem.
15 March 2013
How sad that all this creativity is wasted on flagrant consumerism rather than solving real problems, like extracting a budget from Congress, or children without medical care, or the impossible cost of education, or breaking up "too big to fail" banks.
23 February 2013
Just another indication, as if we really needed it, that the technology which is supposed to grease the skids of business and social interaction also creates frictionless transactions for businesses and criminals intent on invading your privacy.
15 February 2013
In addition, despite Japan's reputation as a technology-mad culture, it still views business as a personal affair. For example, the photo at the top of the article shows a typical Japanese office, with people crammed closely together, and writing things down. PCs are in use in Japanese business, but they have never replaced paper as a transaction medium.
This excellent HBR article, "The Right Mind-set For Managing Information Technology," by M. Bensaou and Michael Earl compares the Japanese person-centered and American technology-centered approach.
30 December 2012
But BD, as this NY Times article points out, is dependent on math, and we all know that way lies pain and suffering, such as caused by the Great Recession which was in essence a math-based disaster. In fact, many political policies are based on math with underlying assumptions, and look where that has gotten us.
Since at least the 19th century we have had a touching faith in math and science, believing it to be the truth. But what even the smartest guys in the room keep failing to understand, is that facts and assumptions are not the same thing. Much statistical analysis based on BD depends on assumptions, which are, at their best "educated guesses." So business decisions based on BD math could be completely wrong.
I don't agree that "intuition" is all that useful, but if the article is saying that BD math should be tested using common sense, then nothing could be truer. Spreadsheets are not "the truth" until after they are checked.
27 December 2012
So many people have such touching faith in technology, party because they have been told by the popular media, consultants, biz school profs, VCs, and various "experts" that The Cloud is The Next Big Thing. But technology fails, and the more dependent you are, the worse the effect. And outsourced technology, such as the Cloud, is no better than the people and processes that manage it. Of course, that is also true of the technology you own and manage, but once people outsource, they seem to lose sight of that fact.
In addition, complex technology, such as The Cloud, can fail abruptly because it is a Frankenstein monster, cobbled together from parts that aren't necessarily meant to work in concert, poorly understood in operation, and next to impossible to manage since you can only manage what you know.
Does this mean you shouldn't use The Cloud? If it is your best option, then you have no choice. But you need to plan for disaster, which Netflix and Amazon obviously didn't.
09 December 2012
Poor management, or no management, lack of sponsorship, unwillingness to change, big projects, no experience with big projects, all the Standish Group's CHAOS studies reasons for failure show up in the Air Force project, in many other Defense Department projects, many US government projects, and many corporate IT projects.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The Life of Reason, Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense, George Santayana (1905-06)
06 December 2012
All those who sing the praises of technology as an enabler of economic growth and endless good times forget (or ignore) the fact that criminals are not all stupid goons. As I have pointed out before (this will be on the test, students), almost every technology introduced in the late 19th and early 20th century has been used in criminal schemes. This doesn't mean I am (gasp!) anti-technology, just that I have a broader world view than the gurus, consultants, VCs, popular media, etc. who worship at the altar of "Technology Will Save Us."
30 November 2012
It isn't just stored emails that come back from the dead; there is the "Reply All" function that can create havoc, as this NY Times article shows. Ignorance of digital communication extends to lack of understanding about "Reply" vs. "Reply All," or at least to forgetfulness about the difference. This despite the fact that people spend an average of 15% of their work day on email.
The "Reply All" disasters have led some companies to ask people to forgo "Reply All," or to try to block the "Reply All" function. Even Microsoft is working to provide a "Reply All" block.
So think a minute before you reply.
25 November 2012
As I pointed out in earlier posts, criminals are sometimes smart people who use technology to commit crimes better and faster (greater productivity), create new crimes (disruption), and hide themselves from the law.
Now, as this NY Times article shows, prostitutes in India, thanks to cell phones, have become "independent entrepreneurs," disrupting the brothel business. but also making it much harder to control the spread of AIDs.
31 October 2012
It is sad how little common sense is applied to vital technology, whether personal or business. Laptops and smart phones can be lost or stolen, hard drives can die, power can fail. And yet, people continue to assume that nothing bad will happen to me, and ignore those few who warn about bad things - we only think about success here, not failure, so shut your mouth if you want to keep your job.
So get a surge protector, an alternate Internet access carrier, and by all means locate your backup power somewhere else than on a flood plain (even a platform a few feet high might work in many cases). And test regularly.
25 October 2012
Recently, however, other economists have questioned this faith. Bloomberg Business Week They point out that, in many cases, a technological advance is a one-time boost: the shift from animal to gasoline-powered transportation, for example, is complete (yes, electric cars and trucks are coming, but are unlikely to replace gas guzzlers).
They also point out that technological advances are the exception; long-term, history has shown anemic growth to be the norm, and it may well be the fate of the US.
24 October 2012
Such lame security, after all the examples where this has happened before, should lead to the firing of their CEO, CIO, and whoever is their head of security.
Technology can be hacked and/or manipulated, and that is a fact of business life. Yes, it might cost money and cause some inconvenience through store procedures. But companies like B&N prefer to take the hit because it literally doesn't cost them anything except some bad publicity. There should be a "security listing," like the Dow Jones, which rates companies for their technology breaches. If that hit their stock, then they might pay attention.
10 October 2012
Now it is digital teaching materials replacing textbooks that is causing "viewing with alarm." NY Times
It is true that there is no "one best way" for people to learn, and so options should be available. But textbooks are captives of "big media," and therefore wildly overpriced. And they are also subject to political and religious and moral pressures from fringe groups, so that Texas, for example, determines what goes into them, insuring that a lot of crap floats to the surface.
Yes, new technology isn't automatically better. But keep an open mind when you see new technology pushed back with "scientific evidence."
05 October 2012
In manufacturing the push for application of technology has been so intense that people have vanished as if a neutron bomb went off in the factory. And, as this NY Times article shows, technology has become so cheap and available, that small businesses don't have to hire. Combine that with outsourcing, which has turned millions of people into contingent workers, and the future doesn't look like the world of science fiction in the Golden Age, where technology makes everyone well off, but a world (also depicted in some SF) where most people live a subsistence life and the favored few live in gilded walled communities.
01 October 2012
And you aren't any safer by giving your private information to sites that supposedly make you anonymous, because they are just as insecure as the rest.
Yes, I'm on the Internet. But most of my private information isn't.
13 September 2012
In a monopoly, the business model is often "screw the customer" because there is no alternative. Apple (and I admit they are not the only ones who do this, but are among the worst offenders) has screwed customers over and over, and yet the iPhone-addicted lap it up. And they don't even understand the technology, as this very funny Jimmy Kimmel video points out.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, Adam Osborne said (not sure if this is an exact quote) "adequacy is sufficient." Obviously the iPhone-addicted don't understand this.
08 September 2012
There are so many problems with this business model that I don;t know where to start. First of all, they store the signal that opens the trunk, probably in a system that could be hacked by any 12-year old. Then they open the trunk remotely when the delivery gets to the car. This assumes that the signal will work remotely, that the delivery partner will be able to notify the company when they arrive and will close the trunk properly. And finally, it assumes no one will see items being placed in the trunk of an obviously empty car and decide to break into it.
A couple of years ago I saw lockers set up at my local BART station. Deliveries would be placed in them, and people would open their locker and take the item(s) on their way home. It didn't survive, but it was still a better and more secure idea than this one because it depended on old-fashioned technology: locks.
02 September 2012
In the earliest days of business computing, the devices were far too expensive for almost all companies, and the technical professionals who understood and ran them had huge salaries and were in very short supply. So companies were formed, starting in the 1960s, that bought computers and rented time on them. This is the way, for example, that payroll processing was introduced and the reason that ADP is such a big business today (the name originally was Automatic Data Processing).
So "Back To The Cloud" is really the sequel ;-)
26 August 2012
Some of the consequences of the need for tin include environmental devastation, worker injuries and deaths, and the usual pyramid of middlemen profiting off low paid labor - Bloomberg Business Week.
These kind of sad consequences occur throughout the life cycle of technology devices, up to and including the unhealthy state of tech dumps in places like China.
This is just one of the many dirty secrets of technology. The hype of technology offered by the media, consultants, gurus, and biz school, obscures the fate of people like tin miners and the environment of Indonesia and China.
21 August 2012
Robots have been used for a long time in simple, repetitive processes, such as welding in auto manufacture. But, as this NY Times article shows, industrial robots have become so sophisticated that they can replace people even in processes as complex as assembling devices such as electric shavers and solar panels, and in picking and packing items for shipment in today's giant warehouses.
These advances are especially ironic given that the US lost millions of manufacturing jobs to low wage countries such as China, since even there they are considering replacing humans with robots.