Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Everything competes with everything…

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

I think it’s easy to think narrowly. It’s easy to think that if you’re in the restaurant business, you’re not competing against the car business. But, if you think about the fact that people have finite disposable income, then money spent on food, is money not spent on cars.

I think, with the advent of the internet the world has gotten smaller, and the advent of high-speed internet, the world has gotten EVEN smaller.

Now, in addition to competing for our disposable income, they’re also competing for our attention. People are no longer constrained to watch media on the air frequencies they can receive. No, not even bound to the programming their cable providers can provide. People now have unfettered access to media from the ENTIRE world. As great as this is towards furthering mankind’s understanding of one another, and appreciation of other people’s cultures. This introduces some very interesting problems.

Content producers, while partly, want to share their media with the world, also are businesses, and businesses exist to make profit, otherwise, they’d be called a charity. This is problematic because before, they only had to worry about competition from other air frequencies, possibly other cable channels… but now, they have to face the ENTIRE world.

I think, this is great for society as a whole, but I can see how this is bad for businesses, losing their grip on that geological monopoly.

The world is getting smaller, and sure, the landscape is getting tougher, but at the same time, before, you were the king of a small hill called your country, now, you can be the king of the world. If properly managed, your domain will reign much further than before, and perhaps, you can even profit greater than before; IF managed properly.

Project Constraints and Project Selling

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

There are 3 things you can control about a project, time, resources, and features. Of the three, you at best can control 2.

Which is why I propose for projects to have the following creation and definition flow:

  1. Feature gathering
  2. Resources / Budget constraints
  3. Time / Delivery constraints
  4. Project planning, project options, packaging, pricing
  5. Investigation
  6. Execution

 

  1. We want to under to undergo feature gathering first, because how can you size something with unknown dimensions?
  2. We want to know what are the budgetary constraints to the project, since we limited resources, we’ll have limited options, and we’ll have to live with the consequences of having limited resources.
  3. We want to know when the project needs to be delivered by, often times, if it’s something that needs to be rushed, then over time might be necessary, or perhaps more resources.
  4. This is where we plan the project and price out the project. I think it makes sense to allow the client to control 2 of the 3 factors of project planning. Once we know what the client is willing to give up, then we can go ahead and structure the deal around it. I’m sure with the resource allocation any venture can be profitable.
  5. During this phase we need to figure out exactly what is entailed with the project, and whether or not we can properly take on the project.
  6. During this phase we basically get it done.

This flow seems to make sense to me, if a person knows a better flow, let me know because this is the flow I’ll stick with for now.

Sell Reputation

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories–Ethos, Pathos, Logos.┬áToday, we’ll talk about ethos.

When you’re trying to persuade a customer that your product is worth more than another person’s product, you will invoke one of the three. Substantial investment will be made mostly on the logos and ethos front. In modern day-terms, logos will be data, reports, forecasts and etc, whereas ethos will simply be reputation.

I believe perception and reputation is a good form of investment, because if you want to convince your customers that your product is worth more, you’ll have to employ one of those 3 methods. You can logically convince a customer, and they’ll provide you with logical prices.

The key is to focus on the illogical. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and your evaluation will be based on what they perceive. Sometimes, it can be lower, sometimes it can be accurate, and sometimes it can be higher. The fact that it can be higher gives you a great opportunity to capitalize on the differential.

You can sell logic, or you can sell reputation, and even empathy. If you had to choose one, I’d think reputation would have the most potential for irrational profits.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Nobody in this world can do EVERYTHING, but there are specialist in everything among us. Just like free-trade theory, if specialist engage in work trade, both parties benefit.

This is why it’s important to understand the things you are reasonably capable of doing, and things you aren’t. Then you can harness other people’s specialties.

This is a critical step. If you are under the impression that you’re the specialist in everything, then you’ll come to the conclusion that all work, in order to be completely efficiency, must be undergone by you. This is simply not scalable.

Sure, perhaps in a single person’s man-hours, it might be more efficient, but it will ultimately result in the project taking much longer to deliver than necessary.

None of us is perfect, but it’s the concept of working together to achieve a greater goal that’s been at the core of civilizations’ success and prosperity. Learn to lean and learn to lead.

The Ten Commandments of Project Management

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Following at least these 10 commandments will be a big step towards becoming a well-respected, trusted, and optimal project manager:

  1. Always treat the person that’s working with you with respect.
  2. Always assume that your team is working as hard as they can, as fast as they can, and as well as they can.
  3. Always ask how long things are going to take, never assume.
  4. Code WILL break, it’s just a matter of WHEN.
  5. Describe tasks so even a person who’s never been on the project can figure it out.
  6. Angry, sad, and annoyed team members are non-optimal team members.
  7. The larger the project, the longer the estimate, the more likely it is for the estimate to be wrong.
  8. Anger is a sign of losing control, and not a sign of assertiveness.
  9. Let your team do what they do best, remove obstacles that can get in their way, provide support whenever possible.
  10. Always recount the things your team members did, and thank for the efforts it took to get it done.

There’s more to management than numbers. There’s more to communicate than words. There’s more to life than just work. A project manager is a person placed in a very important role, a bad PM can spell the death of an entire project, a good PM can be at the heart of it’s success. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and learn to harness their strengths, and try to reinforce their weakness. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar. A happy team is an efficient team, and you’re often times that’s exactly what you want.

Invest in Your Business: Time is Money

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Everybody knows time is money, but it seems to be a very important concept that seems to escape a lot of developers’ mind as we strive towards code utopia. One of the strengths of developers as Larry Wall, the father of Perl, has put it, is laziness. We’re willing to go through great distances to save time in the long run. We invest into infrastructure so that we can benefit from it in the future. This causes us to obsess over frameworks, languages, plugins, coding standards, documentation, and so on.

One key thing to remember as a programmer is: “time is money”. The ultimate law of an employee is that you must bring in, in one form or another, more money than you cost. If that’s not the case, the company can quickly go out of business, or you become a burden on the resources and less of an asset. Sometimes, as a developer, we need to take a step back, and think “What does business what? What does business need? What WILL they need? How are the investments I’m making going to further that?” Often times, the code infrastructure investment doesn’t.

For example, if we decide to port the javascript over from one js library onto the next, and it cost the entire development team a couple of weeks to port, a week to test, and another week to put out all the fires that occurred because of the port. To developers, they might think, “Yes! Now everything is on a more modern javascript framework, we might get more cool stuff for free from now on, or it’s less likely to break. We can do javascript faster now!”

From the business standpoint, “We just lost a month worth of development time, and ALL these bugs just came out of nowhere! Our competitors just launched X! We need to gain ground!”

As developers, we need to understand that we’re playing a support role, a significant support role, but a support role nonetheless. We need to be more of an asset and less of a liability. We’re helping to keep a ship sailing. When we make our time investments we need to not only make it from our the perspective of making developers lives easier, but also whether or not that type of investment is even an option for the business. As a developer we are often times protected against all the business craziness so we can focus on our work, but at the same time, I do believe that exposure to such business requirements can help us better align how we use our time a bit more appropriately. At the end of the day, if the ship sinks, what good are all those technology investments we made?

MVP Minimum Viable Product

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Most Valuable Player? That’s what I originally thought, but in the start-up space, it means “Minimum Viable Product”. The LEAST you can do, to get your product to market.

The concept behind MVP is to test and collect data as soon as possible, saving time and resources. To construct a MVP, what you need to do is dream up your product, and the trim the hell out of it. You have an apple? Give me the core. You have an apple core? Give me the seeds!

The reason why you want a MVP, most likely, is for data collection and idea demonstration purposes. Often times, people have an easier time understanding your product if they can see it, or interact with it. Out of the two, interaction is often the best. We can try to explain things in all sorts of ways, using all different types of lingo, but the minute one interacts with the product, they’ll know in their own words what it does.

After your MVP is released and has fulfilled it’s role, and if the fates have decided in your favor, then you go ahead and tack back on all the things you’ve trimmed one layer at a time, until your dream comes to fruition.

That’s what MVP is all about apple seeds and fruition.

Re-purposing of the Internet

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Once upon a time, there were web pages where people went to find out things about a company. Thanks to web portals that aggregate this information, such as yelp. These web pages’ purpose is no longer the same.

You used to go to a restaurants webpage to get information on when the restaurant open, directions on how to get there, form an option of the restaurant and menu, but that was then. Now and days, we just use Yelp.com to check out the hours, review, and address. Then we use another aggregation site such as Google maps for directions.

The remaining question is “What do we now use a restaurant’s homepage for?”. For now, until we get an aggregate website for restaurant nutritional information, it’ll probably serve that purpose. In addition to presenting a single location to land on for discounts, company information, history, and etc. Until those subjects get aggregated too. Once everything is aggregated, the web site will more or less become a portal that directs the user to the information they’re seeking to an off-site location.

Ads on Sites

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Congratulations, you’ve finally created a popular abode for the denizens of the web. I guess the next step is attempting to monetize it! Chances are you’re thinking about putting ads on it.

One import thing about putting ads is that you’ve obtained your current positioning by putting content and users first. While it’s great to use the above heat map from Google Ads, it’s also very import to note that they’ve specified to think about how your users use your site, and to also put your users first.

There is a diminishing marginal return on ads. More ads do not mean more money. In fact, it might negatively impact the revenue on other ads, so it’s very important to take the placement, saturation, user-base, and usage of your site into account before placing ads willy-nilly. The heat map is used more as a “guideline” more so than the end-all-say-all of ad placements.

Your site is valuable to advertisers because users go to it; the users find it valuable for it being what it is. If you change what your site ultimately is, your user-base might react negatively to it, and your site can no longer be as effectively monetized.

Finite Customer Pool

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Decreasing pool of customers

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about businesses-to-customer and business-to-business relationship. I came to the realization ultimately, even if two industries are not competing in the same market, they are still competing against each other. They simply might not have realized it yet. Am I saying that if you work in the restaurant business, you’re also competing with the guy who runs the jewelry business? Yes. Is Disneyland competing against book publishers? Yes.

The truth that is easily forgotten is the fact that every business is taps into the same grand pool of consumer residual income and time. This resource is finite. No matter what the activity, they must decide how many hours to allocate to it. No matter what they’re spending their money on, they must still make cost-benefit decisions from that pool of limited resources.

The web has changed a lot of things. It has allowed storefronts to not compete against the shops in their immediate proximity, but draw crowds from places great distances away. This means that not only are they competing with their immediate neighbors, they’re potentially competing with a company half the world away.

The web enables companies to compete globally, this means more customers, and this also means more competition. They can be making 10 folds what they were making yesterday, and then for weeks have no customers. For example, in “The Search” by the CEO of Wired Magazine, he cites a case of how a shoe company was making money hand over fist because they were the first link on Google for shoes. Then their link lost its place and instantly, the company lost that revenue flow. The modern age provides a lot of potential for income, but also comes with a higher potential for volatility.

Companies need to keep track of their industry, what type of product they’re selling whether it is luxury, or normal goods, whether they make their money locally, or non-locally, and whether or not their consumers still have the time and money to spend on their products. They’ll also need to make sure they maintain even better customer relationships because there are simply more options out there. With all this competition amongst producers, it’s a great time to be a consumer, unless that producer is paying your bills……