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February 28, 2008

Ethics Day

Random thoughts from ethics day. There were so many different questions, that are so iffy that if you say one thing, it can really contradict another. An example of this is the "blogger terrorist". On one hand people are entitled to their freedom of speech as laid out in the Constitution, so that anyone can write whatever they want wherever they want. Blogging behind an anonymous title enables anyone to do just that. In some respects this is a good thing, certain people that are typically to shy or timid to come out and say something, are able to do so with the defense of no one really finding out who they are. This also gives people in a unique position, say an executive of a company, that ability to go write a blog somewhere that lets someone know what he.she thinks of the company without anyone finding out . (they hope) On the other hand, I believe that this needs to have some sort of limit on it, but have no idea where and when to draw the line. With such anonymity the public can write down some harmful, discriminating, or even incriminating things. For example, from the bus crash that happened lately. Individuals from one of the Minneapolis suburbs wrote a blog behind a anonymous name that told that the driver of the van should be killed how it should be done. This sort of blog to me signifies "terrorist". Freedom of speech or not, a person should not be able to do or write such harmful things without some kind of consequence or accountability. I'm sure everyone can agree, it was a horrible tragedy that people will not soon forget, but remember that when that lady left her house that day, she wasn't set out to do what happened. That is why it is called an accident. To have that sort of shield is a double edged sword. As we talked about in class and as I just mentioned. I firmly believe, that yes people should be able to write whatever, but we need to take accountability for what we write, especially if we expect others to be accountable for the actions that are being written about. There should not be that disconnect between the two.
This is something that people will continue to debate for a long time to come. In our society, no one wants to be responsible for anything. I'll state right now, that I guilty from time to time too. Its just that so many people that you talk to have excuses or it was so and so faults why this happened. In certain cases, yes someone else caused it, but you were still there whether by choice or not. Where are we going to place the blame and who's going to take it? Again where to draw the line?

February 24, 2008

Missed Day

I wasn't able to make it to class on Thursday to listen to Kurt from Thomson. I wish I would have been able to, but due to a horrible bus/van crash in my hometown Tuesday afternoon I did not. What ended up happening was that a van ran a stop sign and crashed into a school bus, filled with innocent kids, sending the bus tipping over onto and oncoming pick-up. Upon impact with the pick-up four kids were either trapped immediately or soon after due to injuries passed away. The ages of these kids were between 8 and 14. There has been a lot of publicity given to my hometown and former high school by the local and national media.Obviously, we would want this for a much different reason, but I am surprised and glad that the media has been involved and respectful throughout the entire process. I have watched numerous news programs in the last week, and found that even the anchors back up here in Minneapolis, are getting emotionally involved. Its such a powerful story of tragedy that in some way, ever person can see them being on that bus, or their children being there.
What made this whole story difficult for me was that I personally know the two brothers that died in the crash. Before this last weekend, I had only known them basically as an acquaintance. They are the younger brothers of one of my close friends. He had just gotten married last Saturday, with a wedding that seemed to go perfect and the two were so full of happiness when my girlfriend and I went out for supper with them on Sunday night. The next day, they flew out to Mexico to enjoy their honeymoon and get away from this cold weather. Then on Tuesday afternoon, he had to receive a phone call that his little brothers had passed away. There was nothing anyone could do. They had to wait to get a flight out of Mexico, which was no easy task, and had to wait an entire day to find one. Finally, they were able to arrive here in Minneapolis Wednesday night. My girlfriend and I decided that the only thing we could do, is drive them back home. When they got in the vehicle with us, it was weird because they didn't know any details of the crash. Tessa and I filled in all the blanks, since we had been watching and reading the news nonstop since the tragic event. After that was done, we continued to ride in silence for the next two hours. What can you say? I think just by having us in the vehicle made them feel better. Seems that I learned that it doesn't alway have to be a comforting word or hug that helps someone. Sometimes it is just being there. Now since Wednesday, a community wide service was held that over two thousand people attended to show their support for the families involved. Even our governor and senate members were able to be in attendance. Tim gave an awesome speech, filled with real words of understanding for the families and the community, and not some speech furthering his own political agenda. Next Coleman gave his speech, that was just as difficult for him to give as it was for us to hear. He has already lost his daughter and son to tragedy and was someone that could say, "I know how you feel." Since the service, people are trying to get back to their routine and get their lives back in order. Kids returned to school, community members back to work and the media back to the breaking stories of the cities. This tragedy has brought to light many advantages of being from a small town. This community wide support that people are showing is incredible and can not be matched up against anything. In addition to the community and citizens of Minnesota sending their support, flowers and cards have come from Alabama, New York, and California from schools and parents that just want to help. One of the most touching stories I've heard in the last few days was about a gentleman who drove up from Iowa to personally deliver flowers to each of the victim's families because he too has lost his children in a tragic way. All of these events, have brought together families and communities across the country. While one week ago, we were celebrating the joining of two people, this week we will be mourning the passing of two young people from that same family. My hope is that this does not dampen their joy about their future together, but take in stride and become even closer through it all. It is always hard to have those you care about hurting and you know you want to help, but can't do much. One just has to remember to be there for them, sometimes that's all you can do. Through all of this, the community reaction makes me proud to be from a small town were everyone does know everyone and everyone cares.

February 23, 2008

eCommerce

What does the consumer want now, efficiency or intimacy? I never really thought about how this transformation has taken place over the last 5-10 years. When we first began using the internet, it was all about how to get the information we want, how to buy a product, and how quickly can it happen. Now that we are used to this, we have begun to want more. Not only want more, but expect more as well. We want more customized interfaces that remember out last purchases and recommend things that might be of interest to us for next time. This type of intimacy takes away the depersonalization of some computers. This makes many people feel that ok, there is someone on the other side that is actually paying attention to them and looking out for their best interests In reality all this is in the computer recognizes certain items and makes suggestions based on prior buying habits of other people.
I know from my own experience that having the computer remember your information and suggesting other items really helps out the consumer and brings to light thing that I might want, but haven't been exposed to yet. For example, I bought the Bourne Ultimatum online and Amazon suggested to me that I might be interested in other spy movies as well as a book written by the author that the movies were based on. The website sucked me in and I read the Jackson Directives which turned out to be a fantastic book that I never would have been exposed to if I had just gone into a store and bought the movie. This type of experiences adds to my online shopping experience, where I am more likely buy from there again in the future. In addition I am still going to go to the store and buy other movies but I will now be inclined to go online and make a purchase. My final insight to the entire eCommerce movement in that it adds more to our entire internet experience. This change over the last few years, has really helped the internet change and grow into something that we seem to rely on and trust to do all of our business.

February 20, 2008

Open Standards

Open standards was a topic that I initially had no idea even existed. Yes, I have used things like firefox, but didn't know that there was an entire community out there that is working in their spare time to give me free software. Also, the other topic was that of the RF ID chips. When I came home after class and talked to my roommate about it, he wasn't in awe at all. The reason being that he has worked with them at his internship for the last year. He began to describe all the cool things that they can do and how beneficial they can really be when used to their potential. Again, I've been taken back by at one time, you feel like you are the one that has some technological savvy, then you learn about something that has been around for years and you've never heard of. Many of the new items that were shown in the power point about what IBM is currently with super doctors is just incredible. The other one that intrigued me that they of controlling your house to the optimum temperature and controlling the amount of emissions your house gives off.
So many of the things that we can do and are going to be able to take advantage in the future is exciting and scary. Exciting for the future, new developments and innovative toys, yet scary for more stuff for us to rely on and where does the development end, and should it. Innovation is a wonderful thing that evolves not only use but the entire world. Each day people are coming up with inventions try to make life better and easier for each other. What will be next?

February 18, 2008

EA Presentations

This was a very interesting project for a group of our size. In most groups that I have been in, the number of people is usually maxed at 5, whereas here we had 8. I think this had a negative effect on the group in that after jobs were delegated out, they became "pillared" as we talk about in call. What I mean by becoming pillared, is that people focused on doing only they job and not gaining a full understanding of what message we were trying to convey. Since this seemed to be left out of the presentation, it was a technical based message that we gave, rather than one of adding value and our distinct competitive advantage. It is very easy to fall into that trap, since the information is all given directly in front of people on a website, but it mastering that information and being able to explain that information to the client that will set a company apart.
After watching each of the presentations, it seemed that everyone sort of missed the mark, when trying to capture the audience. Again, these last few sessions have been focused on adding value to clients, in essence sales. This was the same situation I was encountered with when selling insurance. As with the EA software, it is a commodity and everyone is basically selling the same product. It's the value that you the person give to the product that differentiates it from the next. I think this is important to learn how to add value, not only if you are going into a sales role, but for everyday life. In whatever job we have, we are constantly selling ourselves to be the best worker that they have, and how we add value that is more that they person next to you. If we fail to do this in aspect of our work, we will be passed up or let go all together. It is a sad truth, but in today's economy with a somewhat tight job market, one can no longer sit do their job and excel, we need to make sure that each day we are impacting the value added bottom line of the company.

February 11, 2008

CRM

What is that guy from Microsoft's founding picture doing today and who is it?
CRM is so important in today's business world. It really focuses on what the costumer's wants and needs are rather than that of what the company wants to do. The key to success is to identify and meet those needs and wants before anyone else. It is also important to keep in mind that one needs to be continually updating these wants and needs because they are changing daily, as is evidenced by the constant innovation companies try to have to meet these.
Also from lecture, I thought that the BPM slides were very informative in that is makes a the entire process become known to all. It helps identify where they are issues and bottlenecks in the systems so they can be worked out accordingly. The slide in the BPM value proposition help visualize where value is being added into the daily processes. Here were they talk about the first step of adding value is understanding what we are trying to accomplish, then once you have the information, you can design and execute way to meet needs. Once that is done, as I mentioned before, the need to be continually evolving and optimizing the process in your business in order to stay flexible in the workplace and become a leader in your given industry.

ERP

The lecture on ERP was a very informative lecture that made it clear how the technology could help streamline a business's process and there make a huge impact. The potential for ERP to help take different function areas and combine them by making the information fit down to one way of doing things. Having this centralized knowledge that everyone has access to helps the company in several ways. The first is now that people are doing more work that they are typically used to performing, some are taking on the addition responsibility and becoming better at their jobs. Other, however are becoming less efficient and the work cumbersome because of the new ways of doing things and this change also an a impact on what they do daily. The articles really "hit the nail on the head" when the costs of each can be minimal to very expensive. Each implementation differs from the next with the culture of the company. I would agree with the one article that describes different way s to implement. The one that I noticed was the big bang, where you just throw it in and make everyone learn together. The company I did my internship did this, as they went paperless and you could really tell how people had difficultly going outside their box and learning the centralized process and how things are to be done. One year later, I can really tell the benefits are beginning to apy off as almost everyone is on the same page and understands why the change was necessary. Seeing this implementation happen and then read about it was quite shocking in that it was obviously not the way to have something go over smoothly, but it is working out now. The sink and swim saying is right, in order to survive in the business place, one needs to be able to swim when necessary.

February 3, 2008

Creating Value

As we discussed the sales relationship competencies it brought to mind another class that I have taken in my undergraduate career. In this other class we read several books, beginning with Goleman's Emotional Intelligence. Most of the aspects are a little vague as this was several years ago, but I do remember how he placed so much emphasis on what makes you a star. In our situation, special. He really focused in on how any person has the potential to be a star and hone in on your personal competencies. I think reviewing this book, relates to much of what we found out from the surveys that were taken of the executives.
In addition to Goleman's book, we also read a book about leadership, that was written by Fujishin. This book covered many of the competencies of a leader and many of the aspects of a group. When describing a group, he illustrated how each person assumes different roles and really make you look at how you can benefit a team versus being a detriment. I personally believe that it is important for anyone in today's potential workforce to read a book like that or at least learn about these different roles and how they function, so that they make the most of the future group projects. Once I read the book, you then begin to see how true it is and can adapt to your group's specific characteristics. Another book we read was Fish. It seems that this book was very straightforward and many of the topic covered in this book are double up in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. The last book I read was entitled True Professionalism; which was given to me by the place I did my internship. Here again, the book talks about several characteristics of successful people and how to be perceived as a professional.
After reading all these books, I think that I have gained a better understanding about how to adapt myself to a certain group, work more efficiently, and most importantly point out some of my weaknesses. I felt this was a huge learning experience for me. It seemed it gave me an advantage on interviews because it made me aware of what my competencies are and how I could focus on them to help them see that I could be a "star".