Friday, December 31, 2021

What's Gonna Be Hot in 2022? Web3, blockchain-based web sites that are decentralized... and more

In the coming new era, navigating the web may no longer require logging onto Facebook, Google, or Twitter. Instead, web sites are decentralized. Imagine it as a kind of bookkeeping where many computers at once host data that's searchable by anyone. It's operated by users collectively, rather than a corporation. People are given "tokens" for participating. The tokens can be used to vote on decisions, and even accrue real value.

Blockchain is a driving force of the next-generation Internet, what some refer to as the "Web3." The Internet we use today predominantly builds on the idea of the stand-alone computer. Data is centrally stored and managed on servers of trusted institutions. The data on these servers is protected by firewalls, and system administrators are needed to manage these servers and their firewalls. One might recall that blockchain is the tech that undergirds Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Experts say, in the best case scenario for Web3 enthusiasts, the technology will operate alongside Web 2.0, not fully supplant it. In other words, blockchain-based social networks, transactions and businesses can and will grow and thrive in the coming years. Yet knocking out Facebook, Twitter or Google completely is not likely on the horizon, according to technology scholars.

For those surfing, nothing much will change on the surface of the Internet. If "Web 2.0" was a frontend revolution, Web3 is a backend evolution.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Consulting is About Adding Value - So Do Yourself a Favor and Ease Your Own Pain Points with On-Demand Expertise

Since the late 1980s, “consultant” might be considered a dirty word in the business world. But in actuality, there are plenty of solid reasons to hire a consultant for your next project. With today’s uncertain market conditions, any organization should seek to improve efficiencies and explore new opportunities. For a commercial concern, that means looking for a competitive edge, increasing revenues — and positioning the company to stand out.

A primary benefit consultants can provide is temporary expertise, on demand, as it were. Retaining a consultant on a per project basis limits the financial and operational risks. Of course, if you as the client find value in a consultant’s outputs, you can continue to use their services on a repeat basis. If a project is not brining value to your organization, you need to reconsider. 

But how do you measure this value? Tangible value is usually easy to measure: it often is realized as cost reduction, or an increase in income. Intrinsic value, however, is more complicated. How do you appreciate the impact of a culture and diversity project, or process improvement, or system optimization? Using social sciences methods, many have succeeded in measuring intangibles such as client satisfaction or employee performance. When the benefits of a project correspond to the desired outcome, we can easily say the effort is successful. 

For strategic change, consider why a consultant should be considered a valued member of your team, long-term. Long term success requires careful strategizing: with a plan, you may succeed. Without a plan, you won’t succeed.

Finding and selecting the best consultant suited to specific needs is half the battle in the successful completion of a project. Consider when it make sense to hire outside consultant:

When executives or other decision makers do not have enough expertise or experience in solving certain complex issues.

When many stakeholders are involved and the risk of failure is high, having an outside perspective and coordination can alleviate concern and mitigate risk.

When staff are not trained on solving specific problems, or don’t have available bandwidth to work on special projects outside their routine work.

Often, organizational knowledge is limited to specific  products and service. Consultants bring value in that they often have solved large numbers of problems in different industries. An experienced consultant relieves an organization of many hassles. As a professional, consultants can get to root causes and find avenues of success in the most optimal time. Importantly, this can be at a much lower cost as compared to hiring a full time employee to do the same job. 

Every organization can benefit from improving their performance. And at some point, we all encounter problems outside of existing expertise. An external advisor with specialized expertise can get an organize past a sticking point, find efficiencies in work processes, and open doors to new opportunities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Automate More, To Increase Productivity. Makes Sense, But Why Don't Organizations Do That More Often?

 By now, most organizations should understand that automating processes does more than just make work go faster. Besides decreasing the overall cost to undertake tasks, workflow automation can help the staff avoid wasting their energy on repetitive tasks -- such as sending emails and following up on leads or generating documents. This frees them up to execute more productive and important tasks. 

Aiming to implement automation enables staff to avoid insignificant, repetitive tasks. They can shift their focus to value-oriented functions such as innovation in the development of new ideas and processes. Organizations that automate business processes change their workflows by reducing mundane activities and increasing team productivity. By automating business processes, companies can improve their processes, shorten business process cycle times, and maximize efficiency. The automation of processes completes tasks that were previously manual.

A good strategy for automating business processes can help maintain control over processes, reduce  errors, improve communication, and improve quality. Let's face it: repetitive and boring tasks can be frustrating, which leads to lower employee satisfaction. The use of automated processes in knowledge work processes can help a company produce higher quality deliverables and increase profits. For this reason, using technology to automate processes can help increase efficiency, productivity, and stabilize levels of quality control.

With tools that enable decision makers to monitor every step of the process without checking in with every employee, process automation enables staff to hone their precise role. The processes and tasks for which staff are responsible become streamlined, demonstrating one of the major benefits of workflow automation: it takes a lot of the pressure off staff. Think of when there are a lot of operational tasks that need to be done.

content creation workflow improves productivity

For example, when a team member needs to work through a list of ten items, chances are there are one or two tasks that one might dreading doing. When these tasks are automated, it provides relief for everyone and lightens the workload. Another great workflow automation benefit is that companies can hire more remote workers and keep their expenses down.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Choose a Job to Make Yourself Content

We work a lot. Too much, probably. One often muses, when will the post-scarcity world come into being? In the mean time, people should pursue a work life that is rewarding. But wow? 

One approach to to purse "earned success," which gives someone a sense of accomplishment (see Seligman, whose studies show this strongly predict happiness at work). Combined with professional efficacy -- when you are effective in your job, you are more committed to your occupation, a measure of job satisfaction -- we can aim to more likely enjoy the fruits of our labors, beyond a paycheck. Employers who give clear guidance and feedback, reward merit, and encourage staff to develop new skills are better choices if someone wants to boost those feelings. Look for a boss who acts that way -- and if the reader is in a position of authority, be that kind of boss.

Happiness may not only be a consequence of success, but also a cause. Essentially, we argued that the presence of frequent positive emotions (such as joy, happiness, and contentment) may precede and even promote career success. This past year, we returned to the literature to determine whether more recent findings continued to support our hypothesis. What did we discover? It turns out that the wealth of evidence indicates that happiness is indeed a critical precursor to success.

Are happy workers more likely to perform well -- and succeed in the workplace? It appears so. When a person is prompted to experience positive emotions, they set higher goals for themselves, persevere at challenging tasks longer, view themselves and others more favorably, and are more optimistic they will succeed. People induced to feel happy also demonstrate greater creativity and productivity than those who are driven to feel less happy. 

Employers are better off creating environments that authentically increase workers’ happiness. One way to do this might involve giving employees the option to engage in positive activities designed to enhance well-being, such as performing acts of kindness for co-workers or expressing gratitude to customers.

Read more over at The Atlantic.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Autonomous Cars... Unfortunately Not Gonna Solve Real World Problems

Once, people thought fast highways would improve efficiency and erase traffic congestion and accidents. After these highways were actually built, however, induced demand quickly clogged them up, as people took advantage of the new roads to make new trips that they didn’t make before. Futurama -- not the show, the exhibition -- made this point.

If -- a big "if" -- autonomous vehicles do eventually arrive, they risk introducing a more dangerous version of the same phenomenon. Not only will efficient autonomous motorways tempt people to drive further, but the ability to work -- or even sleep -- while travelling will make people think much less of a long commute.

Cars might also become less energy-efficient as they’re modified to meet the demands of users. Electric vehicles carry heavy (and in the case of Lithium Ion batteries, more dangerous) their power supply with them. Passengers may run them at higher speeds because the cars themselves may be safer, but this consumes more energy due to aerodynamic resistance. Car manufacturers may also begin to design larger vehicles to accommodate mobile offices. 

In the autonomous vehicle utopia, we are told self-driving cars will be shared, rather than owned privately. Admittedly this would be a more sustainable option, but, unfortunately, people get attached to their cars. They like having a vehicle that is instantly available, that they can use as a mobile storage locker, and that signals their social status. While Uber, Lyft and other services show people appreciate the convenience of summoning a lift from an app, it is doubtful such services will replace private vehicle ownership.

One model being explored in Europe sees the autonomous vehicle collect you up on your way to an appointment, more in the style of a last-mile shuttle for public transit. It would move slowly but comfortably, picking up multiple passengers on its way to the local transit hub, where you would board a fast and efficient light rail line. You would still arrive at your destination with time to spare.

Of course, in all likelihood, autonomous vehicles will only become a niche product. Watch the video...