Internet’s Most-Read Stories (Infographic)

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Fast Company:

It turns out that the most-shared articles aren’t fluffy clickbait. Generally, they’re pieces that focus on grander themes: kids (“Schools Fail to Train Kids”), extreme wealth and poverty (“The World’s Poorest President,” “The Rich Alarmed by Homeless Jesus”), self-improvement (“What Mentally Strong People Avoid,” “How Not to Say the Wrong Thing”), God (“Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God”), and death (“Dying on Your Own Terms,” “Unmournable Bodies: Those We Kill Unknowingly”). Only some of the most universal aspects of human experience.

The visualization also reveals what types of storytelling are most engaging. Readers shared stories about other people’s lives the most when they were told from an intimate perspective instead of with impersonal statistics—as seen in the story of the life of Dasani, a homeless child from New York City, or a new mother who drove a Mercedes to pick up food stamps. If it’s not a personal, emotionally driven story, then it’s probably useful or service-y (“14 Habits That Drain Your Energy”) or entertaining (“Justin Timberlake Shows Us How Dumb We Sound When We Use Hashtags”).

Posted in Internet, World Wide Web | 1 Comment

5 Tips for Leading a Digital Transformation

SacolickDigital transformation is what drives new investments in information technology today and what may finally get the U.S. economy growing at a faster pace. But while we hear a lot about digital transformation today, the term is rarely defined. Instead, we typically get a list of the latest digital technologies to impact enterprises—mobile devices, social networks, cloud computing, big data analytics, etc.—and very little guidance regarding how to go about the desired transformation. An exception that proves the rule is Isaac Sacolick, a CIO who has made sharing (on his blog) practical advice about digital transformation an important dimension of his professional life.

First, let’s define “transformation.” Business transformation is about finding and successfully pursuing a new business model. IT transformation is finding out how to make IT a strategic lever for the business in addition to being a robust business infrastructure. Digital transformation is finding out what data can do for your business  (or non-profit or government agency).

“Transformation is a mindset,” Isaac Sacolick told me last week. He recently joined Greenwich Associates, a leading provider of global market intelligence and advisory services to the financial services industry, as its Global CIO and Managing Director. Before that he was CIO of McGraw Hill Construction, providing data and intelligence to the construction industry, CIO of BusinessWeek Magazine, a founder and COO at TripConnect, a travel industry social network, and CTO at PowerOne Media, providing software as a service to the newspaper industry.

With his unique background as both an entrepreneur and a senior information technology executive for companies who have made data the core of their business, Sacolick offers five tips for leading a digital transformation.

Define what digital transformation means to your business

“Digital transformation is not just about technology and its implementation,” says Sacolick, “it’s about looking at the business strategy through the lens of technical capabilities and how that changes how you are operating and generating revenues.”

He counsels starting at the top and looking at what the business is trying to accomplish, rather than focusing on the technology or how IT operates. This could be “a specific project or business initiative, a revenue growth objective, required costs savings or meeting competitive benchmarks.” Identifying what role the collection, analysis, and “monetization” of data play in these strategic initiatives is a key dimension of a digital transformation.

 

Establish a digital transformation process

If you don’t have a process, any talk about digital transformation remains just that—talk. For Sacolick, the process is Agile. A set of software development methods in which requirements and code evolve through disciplined and structured collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams, Agile has become an increasingly popular process for efficiently developing high-quality software applications.

But Sacolick practices and views Agile in a larger perspective, as a process for business and IT teams to work on digital transformation, “a collaborative, disciplined practice for executing.” It is particularly useful where there is a lot of uncertainty about what is required and what solution the team will end up developing. “Agile allows everybody to see both the forest and the trees but focus on the trees ,” says Sacolick. “It immediately puts business and IT in a room together and gets the team focused on the things that matter most.”

Initiate technology-based change

To do digital transformation right, IT has to be a source of innovative ideas and new practices driven by technology.  An Agile process allows the IT team to explore and experiment, rather than being “order takers” only following what the business thinks the solution ought to look like.

“It’s not unusual to get in the middle of development a requirement that the IT team doesn’t know how to solve,” says Sacolick. “They then embark on what we call ‘Spikes,’ exploratory projects of short duration used to research a concept or create a simple prototype. It gives them the know-how or the confidence to go do something new. A lot of innovation comes from that mindset—encouraging experimentation.”

IT’s role as an enabler of change and innovation, however, should not be limited to the structured Agile process used to develop a specific application or solution. “There are always inflections when new technologies are going to give a business a transformational capability and that’s where IT leadership has to be smart about looking for opportunities or disruptions to the business,” says Sacolick.

In Sacolick’s book, an IT organization always has to be on the look-out for what’s happening with new technologies, and present to business executives the implications for their company and industry.

In these IT-initiated discussions with the business, says Sacolick, “you have to go through the economics of introducing new technologies, supporting them and transitioning to them.” The upshot of the discussion could be “this is interesting but we can’t afford to do this now,” but Sacolick thinks IT should be ready to present both the implications embracing the new technology or tool but also of not adopting it in a timely fashion. It’s important to discuss the what-if questions, as in what if a competitor, possibly a smaller company which is not even on the competitive radar at that point, chooses to use the new technology to gain efficiencies or market share. “It’s important to have these conversations early before your competitors move and you are too far behind the curve,” says Sacolick.

Find the leads

“Find the leads” is Sacolick’s term for identifying the members of the IT team that will make the time to run with the digital transformation initiatives. It’s a challenge, because the IT organization is typically consumed by the management of the IT infrastructure. How do you channel the energies of the IT staff beyond day-to-day work (without resorting to the solution of the pointy-haired boss in a Dilbert cartoon, telling his staff: “If you come up with a good idea, I’ll let you take on the project in addition to your existing work”)?

Sacolick looks for individuals who are assertive and have leadership qualities. “More often than not,” he says, “once I throw them at these challenges, they start running with them and the things they were supporting tend to either go away or go to others in the group to handle or they bubble up and we start asking how do we solve this better—anything that is supported by a top engineer is not a good use of their time.”

Creating the right work environment for these IT leads is key. “Get them the tools to start,” says Sacolick, “allow them to fail a bit, give them time and cushion to work out the new technologies and challenges they trying to master.”

Establish a data-driven, continuous learning culture

A key to successful digital transformations is an IT organization that understands what data can do to its own successful performance. To become smarter about its operations, says Sacolick, the IT team needs “to collect meaningful data, convert it to metrics, look for trends, and prioritize improvements.” With practice, the IT organization becomes better and better at asking good questions about the data and deriving insights from it.

Learning from data is important, but Sacolick thinks even more important is sharing the learning. He sees it as the essence of collaboration, among members of the IT team and between IT and other functions. “IT teams that horde information, over-complicate things so that business users don’t understand how things work, or make it impossible for their colleagues to enhance their technical implementations, are impeding organizational growth and scalability,” he says.

And it starts at the top: “Leaders need to demonstrate collaborative practices so that they can be emulated by managers, teams, and individuals.”

5 Things to keep in mind if you want to succeed as a leader of a digital transformation while at the same time excelling as the custodian of your company’s digital assets.

Originally published on Forbes.com

 

Posted in Agile, Digitization, IT | Leave a comment

The FinTech Startups That Are Unbundling Big Banks (Infographic)

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From CB Insights:  “The graphic [above] details companies attacking bank services ranging from robo-advisers wealth management services like Wealthfront and Betterment to small business loan companies like OnDeck Capital and Kabbage to small business service providers like Zenefits and ZenPayroll, and many other areas.

…these emerging companies attacking Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi and banking more generally are not attacking them head on across multiple products. Instead, they’re attacking individual services & products (hence the term “unbundling”). Said another way, are banks going to be out-innovated and lose their edge not because of their incumbent, large competitors, but because emerging startups inflict upon them a death by a thousand cuts?”

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6 Bad Digital Habits and How to Overcome Them (Infographic)

Digital_BadHabits_Infographic

Source: Digital Information World

Posted in Digitization, Infographics, Social Impact | 1 Comment

Will the Apple Watch Give Rise to Bring Your Own Wearable (BYOW)?

Apple watchThe expectations for the official launch of the Apple Watch on March 9 are running high. Just like quarterly earnings estimates we now have a Wall Street consensus about how many Apple will sell this year: 14 million.

Most of the speculation is about how much the different versions of the watch will cost or what consumer applications it will or will not have. But what if the Apple Watch will shine mostly in enterprise applications? What if by the end of this year we will be talking about Bring Your Own Wearable (BYOW) as the new headache for the CIO?

Speaking to employees at a Berlin Apple store last week, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook “hinted that Apple is working on getting the Apple Watch into the enterprise,” according to 9to5Mac. Cook mentioned salesforce.com, but there’s also the partnership with IBM and potentially other enterprise IT vendors, and a few of the more than a hundred developers Apple has been working with to port their apps to the Apple Watch.

Yes, I know, IDC has predicted that “within five years, 40% of wearables will have evolved into a viable consumer mass market alternative to smartphones.” But what is the value proposition of the “alternative” to the computer in our pocket? That we won’t have to lose a few precious seconds taking it out of our pocket?

This is what we hear again and again as the explanation for why you would prefer to have your favorite app on the watch and not on the phone. It didn’t make sense to me when I read about it in Thad Starner’s (the godfather of wearables) 2013 account of developing Google Glass, quoting Larry Page: “Our goal is to reduce the time between intention and action.” And it doesn’t make sense to me today when I read about Tim Cook (In the 9to5Mac article) talking about using the Apple Watch to unlock hotel room doors. Reducing the time between intention and action maybe incredibly important when you search online, but does it really bother millions of people who are now used to the few seconds time-lag required for taking their smartphones from their pockets or wherever they put them?

It is in the enterprise, however, that the Apple Watch may find its true value. We can use the short history of the smartphone as a leading indicator for this possible trajectory for the new category of devices: smart watches.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, he told the Macworld audience that “every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” Today, we know that this typical high-tech hyperbole for once came true. But it not only changed the definition of a “personal computer” or what is “a phone,” it also changed the enterprise in ways unforeseen. Microsoft’s CEO at the time, Steve Ballmer, told CNBC: “It doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard.”

The communication device with a keyboard that appealed to business customers—and their IT departments—at the time was the Blackberry. We forget now how addictive and popular it was, but the “Blackberry Prayer” happened spontaneously anywhere a few business people gathered. It was soon replaced by the iPhone and other smartphones because employees revolted against corporate policies, using this new pocket computer in both their work and personal lives.

The convergence of work productivity and personal pursuits, brought about by the World Wide Web (“The Internet”), with the smartphone as its platform, defined a new era for corporate IT, one encapsulated by the acronym BYOD—Bring Your Own Device. At first, CIOs fought it tooth and nail. But they soon understood that if you can’t beat them, you better join them (and Blackberry was toast).

Are we going to see the same development with the smart watch, combining personal applications with enterprise-specific productivity enhancing apps, ones that it make sense to put on your wrist rather than in your pocket? Consider the following:

  1. Deloitte predicts that in 2015, 60% of all wireless IoT devices (a category much larger than smart watches) will be bought, paid for, and used by enterprises and industries. And over 90% of the services revenue generated will come from enterprises, not consumers. Will the smart watch ride on this possible wave of enterprise IoT applications?
  2. Enterprises have already been experimenting with other types of wearables. While Google may have changed its expectations and plans for Google Glass, it has expended its Google for Work program, according to Wired.
  3. Tim Bajarin on Google Glass: “Like most technology of the past, it will be the business and vertical market sectors that will be early adopters and flesh out usage models at first.” Is this also applicable to the Apple Watch?

After experimenting with wearables since 1993, Thad Starner says today: “My dissertation advisor once told me, ‘know when to re-invent something.’ He meant that a particular technology or technique needs the right environment to thrive, and the moment if they are successful, when everything is aligned for a technology to have impact, is often not when it is first invented.”

The Apple Watch will not be the first wrist-top computer. Is this the right moment for it to succeed, but not as a consumer-only, “fashion-first” wearable, as many expect, but as a specialized device, combining consumer with enterprise applications? Are we going to replace the Blackberry Prayer with the Apple Salute?

[Originally published on Forbes.com]

Posted in Apple, Internet of Things, Wearables | Leave a comment

CEOs Embrace Digital Transformation, Compete in New Industries

CEOs no longer question the need to embrace technology at the core of their business in order to create value for customers, but 58% still see the rapid pace of technological change as a challenge. So we learn from the 18th annual PwC CEO survey. It’s based on 1,322 interviews with CEOs in 77 countries, conducted between September and December 2014.

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Digital transformation is both a challenge and an opportunity. Digitization has blurred or even eliminated rigid industry boundaries starting with the media, content, and communications industries and now spreading everywhere. The new digital business world has no pre-defined boundaries, no industry-based rules or limitations.

Indeed, 54% of CEOs have entered a new sector or sub-sector, or considered it, in the past three years, according to PwC. More than half (56%) of CEOs think it likely that companies will increasingly compete in new industries over the next three years. Unlike in the past, when “unrelated diversification” was the business strategy of only large conglomerates, PwC found that 51% of the smaller firms (revenues up to $100 million) included in the survey, have entered a new sector or subsector, or considered doing so, within the past three years, compared with 64% of the largest firms, with revenues of over $10 billion.

What technologies CEOs think are the most strategic in facilitating the digital transformation of their companies and industries? Leading the list are mobile technologies for customer engagement (81%), data mining and analysis (80%), cyber security (78%), the Internet of Things (65%), socially enabled business processes (61%) and cloud computing (60%). Most interesting here is the inclusion of the Internet of Things, somewhat new on the scene as a business buzzword, but it’s possible that the survey respondents have either referred to what they see as its future potential or to the value they have already derived from established technologies such RFID and machine-to-machine communications.

The pace of digital transformation has a lot to do with the return on investment CEOs and their companies have enjoyed from the digital technologies they have deployed in the past. 86% say a clear vision of how digital technologies can help achieve competitive advantage is key to the success of digital investments. 83% say the same for having a well-thought-out plan – including concrete measures of success – for digital investments.

The majority of CEOs think that digital technologies have created high value for their organizations in areas like data and data analytics, customer experience, digital trust and innovation capacity. Surprisingly, however, most CEOs point to operational efficiency as the area where they have seen the best return on digital investment.  82% think value has been created in this area, with half of these CEOs seeing “very high value.”  The PwC report explains this finding as follows: “The transformation of cost structures is a symptom of the digital transformation that companies are undergoing as they align their business and operating models to new ways of delivering stakeholder value. Indeed, 71% of CEOs also tell us they’re cutting costs this year – the highest percentage since we began asking the question in 2010.”

US-CEO-Survey-Digital-Technology-graphic

It’s clear from these findings that digital technologies are used not only for generating new revenue streams from existing or new customers, sometimes in completely new lines of business, but also as tools CEOs used to automate existing work flows (and reducing headcount) and streamlining existing business processes. To make sure digital technologies are deployed for both expansion and efficiency, CEOs now understand that they need to take charge: 86% think it’s important that they themselves champion the use of digital technologies.

This is certainly good news and what’s driving the acceleration of the digital transformation of all businesses.

For more, check out these survey reports

http://www.pwc.com/us/en/ceo-survey/index.html?WT.mc_id=cs_us-hero-home_CEO-survey for the full report

http://www.pwc.com/us/en/ceo-survey/technology-impact.jhtml for digital technology-specific stats

[Originally published on Forbes.com]

 

Posted in CEOs, Digitization, Surveys | Leave a comment

Health Care and IT: The Long Road to Wellness

HealthCareIT_Cartoon“The development of our information processing industry is basically governed by longer term super-cycles… Analyses of what computational environments will facilitate can be mind-boggling. To offer just one example, health care delivery will be revolutionized by 1990, with most large metropolitan areas having implemented vertically-integrated health facilities coordinated by computer… [including] physicians’ offices, neighborhood health care centers, hospitals, university medical centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and home health care”–Gideon Gartner, 1978

“Health care lags behind other industries in adopting information technology by as much as 10–15 years… In 2020, a forecast of widespread use of computers in health care within 15 years might finally be valid”–Peter Goldschmidt, 2005

“As Medicare chief, [Dr. Donald M. Berwick] has pushed doctors and hospitals to adopt electronic health records, merge their operations and coordinate care to eliminate medical errors that kill thousands of patients each year. If his estimate is right, Medicare and Medicaid could save $150 billion to $250 billion a year by eliminating waste, which he defines as ‘activities that don’t have any value.’”–Robert Pear, “Health Official Takes Parting Shot at ‘Waste’,” The New Work Times, December 3, 2011

“The controversy and contradictions started when Thomas Eric Duncan first was admitted to the emergency department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Sept. 25. He told his nurse he had been in Africa prior to his arrival in the U.S. The information, THR officials say, was entered into the EHR, but the information somehow did not reach the appropriate clinicians. Duncan was then discharged from the ER that day, only to return to the hospital’s ER four days later, where he was then diagnosed with the Ebola virus. THR declined to comment further. The chain of events has sparked public debate amongst clinicians and IT professionals over whose mistake caused the failure to communicate Duncan’s critical travel history to physicians.”–Erin McCann, HealthcareIT News, October 6, 2014

“A 2013 RAND survey of physicians found mixed reactions to electronic health record systems, including widespread dissatisfaction. Many respondents cited poor usability, time-consuming data entry, needless alerts and poor work flows…  Even in preventing medical mistakes — a central rationale for computerization — technology has let us down. A recent study of more than one million medication errors reported to a national database between 2003 and 2010 found that 6 percent were related to the computerized prescribing system… The unanticipated consequences of health information technology are of particular interest today. In the past five years about $30 billion of federal incentive payments have succeeded in rapidly raising the adoption rate of electronic health records. This computerization of health care has been like a car whose spinning tires have finally gained purchase. We were so accustomed to staying still that we were utterly unprepared for that first lurch forward.”–Robert M. Wachter, The New York Times, March 22, 2015

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