Thursday, December 22, 2011

Feeling The Anticipation Of Unknown Like In Spring 1989?

I am privileged to meet several interesting and inspiring people. Lately they have one thing in common. They talk about an upcoming change, that they are not able to define more precisely. Something is in the air. No one knows when it arrives and if it will be positive for us or totally not.

When the first wave of crisis came, we were joking about the good times that passed away and we started to prepare ourselves for the worse.  But nowadays it is different. People talk about second wave of crisis and they do not forget to add their odd feeling that it will be combined with some kind of transformation for all of us.

The death of Vaclav Havel and subsequent funeral spectacle in the streets of Prague intensified the feeling even more. Suddenly the everyday news about economical and political corruption was suppressed by a reminder of what ideals we have fought for in 1989. This retrospective view helps many people to pause and remind self, what they want from life and what definitely not. The realization is obvious especially for the younger generation, which takes the torch from the passing ones. They sincerely come to pay tribute to Vaclav Havel and don´t forget to show with their fingers the victory symbol, they do not forget to ring the keys, similarly as their parents did twenty-two years ago.  

The situation was however different at that time. We knew well what we want to fight for. We wanted freedom of speech and the same rights for everybody regardless of our origin or participation in a political party. We wanted to open borders and free the economy. We thrived to exchange the absolutistic governance of a communistic party for a true democracy.

People nowadays feel the transformation is on its way however concrete - generally accepted - formulation of what the change should bring us is missing. We are only at the beginning.

Vaclav Havel fulfilled his historical role. Even the timing of his passing away during the period of uprising discussion about the possible future arrangements is more than symbolic. People suddenly ask how much utopia there is in his claim of “Truth and love will win over lies and hate.” They remind themselves about their feelings from the beginning of the nineties, when the new opportunities opened up in front of them. Secretly they wish they would like to live it through once more. They would like to have again the euphoria and hope for the better future.  During the Velvet Revolution twenty two years ago they realized their own worth and the power they can have if they decide to use it to change the world for the better.  They used to have a goal that somehow disappeared during the last years. But their time still can come. Who knows?

It is very hard to anticipate what the future brings. With some exceptions – of course. I will never forget my university teacher (of Marxism-Leninism philosophy)  in 1989 who encouraged us on Wednesday, November 15th to come with candles to Albertov (in the center of Prague) on November 17th. He said there may be no lesson week after. And he was so right…

Regardless of what the future brings I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Very Peaceful, Prosperous, Healthy and Happy Year 2012!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Regardless of Personal Failures And Economical Crisis

The Czechs are in the most pessimistic mood measured during the last 18 years. At least according to a report from the research agency STEM. More than half of our population thinks that the situation will even worsen during the next five years. They are afraid of keeping their jobs, they are not sure if they will be able to take care about their family, in situation when they have to pay mortgages and when they have to cope with increasing living costs.

The suffering hits mainly the older ones, who are less sure to find a relevant job if things go out of the way in the current one. More and more people look for help at psychologists, who cannot always support them during these turbulent times. For jobless people it is becoming difficult to define long-term goals, and the general advices do not matter to them at all. They need to find new motivation to live fully, something very concrete, long-term, even though maybe small. They need to get the reassurance that something in life works for them well. They need hope that one small success can be replicated to magnify their self-confidence.

Everybody of us has the same opportunity to find the place under the sun on this planet, which would satisfy his/her needs. Even though sometimes the search for this place takes way too much time, even though it sometimes means that people have to get back to the roots of who they were before they started to feel the pressure of their surroundings, causing them to believe that they have to achieve or keep something very concrete, no matter what. There are many people who found the life fulfillment only when they escaped routine “lines” and only then started to do things that they truly enjoyed. They opened their small businesses, or they started to devote their precious time to others. They had to have a new goal, which they followed with passion. They had to adjust to the new situation. They learnt not to stick to money or job role, but to enjoy everyday life. Maybe they have realized that there is always somebody, who does not have so much luck as they have. Even small thing started to enlighten their day.        

Why some people are capable to live fulfilled life and others feel so empty? Why some of us wake up in the morning feeling the world is full of opportunities, available for them and the others feel pain of another day they have to somehow survive?

Happy people have one thing in common. They have lived through failures as well as successes. It was most difficult for them to learn to limitlessly trust their faith that they will achieve their envisioned goal - regardless of all the obstacles they faced on their journey, regardless of the fact that they one day felt burnt out and helpless. They were not afraid to step into the unknown. They continued to go fiercely for their dreams, outside their comfort zone. They explored new boarders. They personally grew (like a vintage wine) and this growth loaded them with additional energy and passion, it confirmed their life meaning. The more pitfalls they crossed, the more personal fulfillment they felt in the end.

The obstacles we face in life are not always a bad thing. We should be grateful for them as they stimulate us to action, they provoke us not to stagnate. The journey each of us chooses is only and only ours. We can choose between success and failure, fulfillment and emptiness, living or surviving.

Failures should be blessed. At least according to the successful author and marketing guru Seth Godin who said: My lesson was if I fail more than you do, I win because built in that lesson is that you get to keep playing, you get to keep failing, and sooner or later you succeed. The people who lose are those who do not fail at all, or who play so big they do not want to play again. They don´t try stuff. Only rarely the cost of failure is greater than the cost of discovering what works and what does not.”

How could we pass the torch of Seth Godin to many people who only know how to complain about circumstances and do not try to improve their situation, because of their fear of unknown? Despite the fact that they SAY they want to start over again (in work, personal life, in sport etc), they NEVER DO anything. They do not try to find a better solution for themselves.

It does not have to be like that. C.S.Lewis, the Irish author of The Chronicles of Narnia once said: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.“ Let´s follow his thoughts and throw away the fear of future. If we are not passing away, we always have a chance to start over again. We always can fill the cups of our life. Exactly as Roman poet Horatius appealed already 21 centuries ago “Carpe Diem”!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2012 = The Year Of Mastering Value Creation from Big Data

Every minute you are not using Big Data means a lost business opportunity. In an information society, information is money. The trick is to generate value by extracting the right information from the digital universe. Forrester, McKinsey, and IBM have all issued white papers or reports in the last months discussing the impact that the analysis of big data will have on business. We may be on the threshold of a major period of exploration of the digital universe.

Big data isn’t anything new. It is just getting bigger. As the price of analytic software, sensors and communication devices continues to fall to one-sixth of what it was in 2005*), mastering of big data starts to lose intelligence offices privileges and becomes mainstream thanks to rapid business exploitation.

Big data refers to the totality of information available - all data that might help create a more complete understanding about an issue or person or provide an answer to some question. „Big data technologies describe a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data, by enabling high-velocity capture, discovery and / or analysis,” as per the IDC study. It is about finding answers where there are yet to be questions.

Historically all kind of data was used to confirm or support decisions that had already been made (bar and pie charts), rather than to learn new things and discover the right answer. The volume and unstructured nature of so-called “big data” prevented much in a way of analysis. It was very time-consuming. It required the ability to assimilate many kinds of media and info sources. But nowadays we have computers that are close to being able to look at large amounts of different kind of data to provide summaries, make suggestions, as well as to draw real-time insightful conclusions.

In recent months all kind of Companies – mainly coming from pharmaceuticals, retail, telecommunications or insurance industries - have started to deploy big data strategies. They are shifting their organizations from using intuition towards making decisions based on using large-scale data gathering and analytics. Via easy to operate, immediate, sorted internal and external information from around the world, companies obtain insights that would otherwise remain hidden. Using those insights Companies are able to better shape their strategy, to better manage their risks, to better than competition anticipate moves of customers and industry and thus they are able to improve their overall performance.

According McKinsey research such progressive companies record measurable improvement in productivity and other performance measures: „A one-standard-deviation increase toward data and analytics was correlated with about a 5 to 6 percent improvement in productivity and a slightly larger increase in profitability in those same firms. The implication for companies is that by changing the way they make decisions, they’re likely to be able to outperform competitors.“

As the big data management tools will continue to become standard business enabler, future competitive advantages will be in the hands of those, for whom it will become a new type of corporate asset. These will be companies that have made a commitment to regard data need highly. They will be able to build a low-cost, reliable infrastructure for data collection and storage using digital assets. They will be not only able to capture more and better data, but they will also have the possibility to do a fundamentally different decision making. They will be able to use data timely and effectively across the whole organization, they will be able to drive the changes in organizations that are coming their way. They will test hypotheses and analyze results to guide investment decisions and operational changes. They will collect best practices for leveraging and extracting value from data. They will no more operate in internal silos, as they will use one collective info-net.

 “The ultimate value of a big data implementation will be judged based on one or more of three criteria (IDC study):
-           Does it provide more useful information?
-           Does it improve the fidelity of the information?
-           Does it improve the timeliness of the response?”

Upcoming period of the digital universe exploration will not be without its challenges. But it will represent a unique opportunity for those Companies who are up-to-speed and ready for fast adoption of new technologies. Huge flood of data and analytical opportunities will create more value for people who can be creative in seeing patterns and for people who can be entrepreneurial in creating new business opportunities that take advantage of these patterns. The success of many enterprises in the coming years will be determined by how the Co. will thrive in driving the required enterprise adjustment – not just on the technical site, but on the cultural, people site as well.

*) „Technology has helped driving the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing information down to one-sixth of what it was in 2005. Since 2005 the investment by enterprises in the digital universe has increased 50% - to $4 trillion.“ IDG study