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Thursday, October 31, 2013

100 Best Quotes On Leadership

100 Best Quotes On Leadership

A great quote can provide personal inspiration and can be used to educate others; in my book Employee Engagement 2.0 I open every chapter with an enlightening quotation. Below are my top 100 leadership quotes of all time. (Have a favorite quote that didn't make my list? Share it out in the comments section below!)
  1. A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. —Lao Tzu
  2. Where there is no vision, the people perish. —Proverbs 29:18
  3. I must follow the people. Am I not their leader? —Benjamin Disraeli
  4. You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
  5. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
  6. Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. —Warren Bennis
  7. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. — General George Patton
  8. Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
  9. A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  10. You don't need a title to be a leader. –Multiple Attributions
  11. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
  12. My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence. —General Montgomery
  13. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. —Peter Drucker
  14. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead
  15. The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground. —Sir Winston Churchill
  16. The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. —Warren Bennis
  17. To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less. —Andre Malraux
  18. He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. —Aristotle
  19. Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. —Brian Tracy
  20. I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. —Ralph Nader
  21. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. —Peter Drucker
  22. Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus
  23. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  24. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. —Theodore Roosevelt
  25. Leadership is influence. —John C. Maxwell
  26. You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey
  27. When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  28. Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. —Harry S. Truman
  29. People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell
  30. So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work. —Peter Drucker
  31. The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes. —Tony Blair
  32. The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It's got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet. —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh
  33. The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. —Kenneth Blanchard
  34. A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible. —Polybius
  35. A great leader's courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. —John Maxwell
  36. A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter
  37. The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. —Jim Rohn
  38. Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton
  39. A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —Douglas MacArthur
  40. A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward. —Ovid
  41. No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. —Andrew Carnegie
  42. Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower
  43. The leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist. —Eric Hoffer
  44. Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. —Brian Tracy
  45. A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. —Max Lucado
  46. Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. —General George Patton
  47. As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. —Bill Gates
  48. All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership. —John Kenneth Galbraith
  49. Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you'll be criticized anyway. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  50. Don't necessarily avoid sharp edges. Occasionally they are necessary to leadership. —Donald Rumsfeld
  51. Education is the mother of leadership. —Wendell Willkie
  52. Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. —Stephen Covey
  53. Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. —General Colin Powell
  54. Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths. —John Zenger
  55. He who has great power should use it lightly. —Seneca
  56. He who has learned how to obey will know how to command. —Solon
  57. I am reminded how hollow the label of leadership sometimes is and how heroic followership can be. —Warren Bennis
  58. I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. —Herbert Swope
  59. If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities. —Maya Angelou
  60. If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. —Benjamin Franklin
  61. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams
  62. In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. —Thomas Jefferson
  63. It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself. —Latin Proverb
  64. It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. —Nelson Mandela
  65. Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead. —Ross Perot
  66. Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. —Vince Lombardi
  67. Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. —John C. Maxwell
  68. Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy
  69. Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day. —Jesse Jackson
  70. Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise. —Woodrow Wilson
  71. Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. —Norman Schwarzkopf
  72. Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. —Colin Powell
  73. Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts. —Erskine Bowles
  74. Leadership is unlocking people's potential to become better. —Bill Bradley
  75. Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. —Tom Peters
  76. Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. —Stephen Covey
  77. Never give an order that can't be obeyed. —General Douglas MacArthur
  78. No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent. —Abraham Lincoln
  79. What you do has far greater impact than what you say. —Stephen Covey
  80. Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. —Chinese Proverb
  81. One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. —Arnold Glasow
  82. The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on. —Walter Lippman
  83. The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision. —Ken Blanchard
  84. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. —Harvey Firestone
  85. To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult. —Friedrich Nietzsche
  86. To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. —Pat Riley
  87. True leadership lies in guiding others to success. In ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well. —Bill Owens
  88. We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity. —Marco Rubio
  89. Whatever you are, be a good one. —Abraham Lincoln
  90. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  91. A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops. —John J Pershing
  92. A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. —John Maxwell
  93. There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage. —Fuchan Yuan
  94. I am endlessly fascinated that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn't. —Dee Dee Myers
  95. A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men. —Stephen King
  96. My responsibility is getting all my players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back. –Unknown
  97. A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. –George Patton
  98. The supreme quality of leadership is integrity. –Dwight Eisenhower
  99. You don't lead by hitting people over the head—that's assault, not leadership. –Dwight Eisenhower
  100. Earn your leadership every day. –Michael Jordan

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Tips For Battling--And Even Embracing--Procrastination

7 Tips For Battling--And Even Embracing--Procrastination

It doesn't have to hurt so much. In fact, some procrastinating can lead to productivity.
There are days when business owners just don't feel like working--especially solopreneurs who work from home. With no one watching over your shoulder, it's easy to let hours--or even days--of unproductive time evaporate despite our best intentions.
Here are some tips to help you overcome daydreaming or the doldrums of TV watching, surfing the Net, playing with your dog, and doing anything but work.

1. Don't beat yourself up.
Procrastination can have positive impacts, such as giving you time to recharge. Relaxation plays an important role in productivity, but feeling guilty about relaxing will destroy any chance of achieving the full refresh that comes from shifting gears. Embrace whichever mode you are in to maximize its impact. When it's time to relax, really relax.
Procrastination can also be a serendipitous way of stalling a project that needs some further percolation before completion. Often holding off on a client proposal means I will run into someone with new information that shifts my approach and enables me to seal the deal.
The same is true with articles. After a decade of writing for publications, I've finally accepted that when the article doesn't flow, it's better to set it aside and try again later. Inevitably by doing so, an idea will click and then it will just flow.

2. Create a real deadline.
Some procrastination experts suggest you create a self-imposed deadline to inspire action. The problem is that if you set an artificial deadline, it's pretty easy to give yourself an artificial extension. In the midst of procrastination versus action, an illegitimate deadline will lose every time. To the contrary, if a client is expecting completion, there is no choice but to get it done and entrepreneurs will stay up all night to make it happen. It's a disciplined few who will pull an all-nighter to accommodate self-imposed, fake timelines.
So, if you really want to light a fire under your behind, reach out to your client, mentor, colleague or accountability buddy to ask for a quick phone call to discuss an element of the project. Commit to sending the completed information prior to the call.

3. Change your environment.
Nothing shifts your mojo better than forcing yourself to be "on" by stepping into public in a professional capacity. It's easy to lounge in pajamas with your laptop and while away the day at home, but once you have a scheduled meeting, networking coffee or public outing, voilĂ , you can motivate yourself to turn into being a high-productivity superstar. Once you return, you'll be in business gear and hopefully inspired to get to work.

4. Tackle projects from a different angle.
Break projects down into the "next step." This is a tip I learned from David Allen's book Getting Things Done. So rather than have "Sales" on your to-do list, break the overarching tasks into actionable steps. For example:
  • Define the target buyer.
  • Create a list of target buyers. Be specific so it's easy to take action. For example, "locate VPs of business development at investment firms" or "conference planners specializing in associations" or "dentists within 100 miles"
  • Research warm connections to them.
  • Reach out to contacts to ask for warm intros.
  • Follow up with leads and so on. This provides a more task-oriented approach to a to-do list rather than sitting down to a seemingly insurmountable vague ideal of achieving sales, which would make anyone who doesn't like selling procrastinate.
5. Refer to a procrastination low-energy to-do list.
Create an entire list of nice-to-do-items for when you're not in the mood for the important stuff. This will give you fun or low-energy activities to do when the rest doesn't flow while still keeping you on track for productivity and ensure you aren't completely wasting your time. For example, reading industry magazines, organizing folders on your computer, rearranging your filing cabinet, exporting and reviewing your contact lists on social media. The list of activities that can be included on your low-energy list is endless.

6. Shift the Habit.
What is your go-to procrastination habit? Do you turn on the TV? Let the blinking red light on your phone divert your attention? Surf the Internet for random musings? Play squeaky-toy catch across the living room with your dog? There are so many ways to distract ourselves from our to-do lists.
Recognizing your patterns and shifting your approach to procrastination could have an impact on your productivity. For example, if your go-to is watching TV, opt to read a book on business instead. If you surf the Net or social media feeds and next thing you know hours have passed (how does that happen?), set an alarm for a reasonable amount of time for surfing.
In June, Fast Company ran a series on the movement to #Unplug. This prompted me to turn off notifications for emails on my BlackBerry. This small change significantly impacted the number of times I was interrupted during the day, allowing for a more focused work experience.

7. Initiate force.
Ultimately it's up to you to make things happen. If a task is on your to-do list and is legitimately important to move your company forward, then you need to take action. According to Newton's Law of Motion, you'll need to create a force stronger than your procrastination mode to get you moving on the right track. Sometimes it's just opening the word document and committing to writing the first paragraph. Block out distractions around you, and once you get started, there's a good chance you'll keep going.
Procrastination plays an important role in productivity. Yes, sometimes you have to dig deep and just get the work done, but other times a little distraction is a good thing. It's important to know the difference, accept the ebbs and flows of productivity, and embrace the moments away from the heavy lifting that business ownership demands. It's like when your dog brings you his favorite squeaky toy and drops it at your feet. How can you resist and not take a little fun time away from the computer? My dog just did, and I, for one, can't resist.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Think enterprise software is complex? Check out the licenses (SAP & Oracle)

Think enterprise software is complex? Check out the licenses

It's simple economics - and you're the simpleton


Analysis Enterprises shouldn't be surprised to discover they're having trouble understanding their enterprise licensing agreements. While Oracle, SAP and other big players publicly tout transparency and fairness in their licensing and pricing policies, customers often disagree when they get to the bargaining table or open the results of an audit.
Oracle and SAP are in unique positions as the two biggest and most respected enterprise software companies in the world. Combined, they account for more than 40 per cent of the worldwide ERP market. No other enterprise software vendors offer software lineups that are as broad and deep as those of Oracle and SAP.

And with billions of dollars invested in R&D every year, customers of these two firms have come to expect a steady stream of technological innovations that give customers real competitive advantages, such as SAP's HANA database and Oracle's Exadata database appliance.
Customers of Oracle and SAP appear, by and large, quite happy with the functionality delivered by the vendors' wares. But there is a darker side to working with the software giants. Depending on which vendor you're dealing with, you may find the licensing agreements to be extremely complex, rife with vague terminology, inflexible to changes in business structure, or subject to capricious levels of enforcement.

SAP licensing: 'Vagueness' and 'irregular enforcement'

SAP's licensing model is, ostensibly, quite simple. The company lays out the basics in a 26-page white paper, "Licensing SAP Software," which is available on its website. The company says the customer is able to pay for only the SAP software that they use. But the reality is usually something different.
At a high level, SAP sells its flagship Business Suite in two main ways: packaged licences and named-user licences. It's all perpetual licensing with SAP, which offers subscriptions only for two solutions: the SMB-targeted SAP Business ByDesign suite, and CRM OnDemand.
An SAP customer will start by licensing the "enterprise foundation" package, which includes the core SAP ERP software (ERP Financials, ERP HCM, and ERP Operations), at a pre-determined price. On top of this, customers select various "enterprise extension" packages (generic business functions like payroll), industry portfolio packages, and line-of-business portfolio packages.
Each of these packages (except for enterprise foundation) is priced based on a "business metric," which could be anything from the customer's revenue, the number of employees, the number of processor cores the software runs on, or the number of invoices sent out daily. Analytics, mobile, and database products are separately priced, and have their own restrictions. SAP HANA is priced on the amount of memory it can use.
Every user that needs access to the SAP package is required to have a named user licence. SAP sells three main types of named user licences: professional, developer, and employee. The differences in the licences depend on the level of access required and the amount of time they're going to spend working in the SAP software.
Chris Hughes is a SAP licensing expert with Flexera Software, a software licence management tool vendor. In his position, Hughes has an in-depth understanding of the different licence types that SAP uses across its products, and helps customers to minimise their SAP licensing expenditures.
"One of the bigger challenges in SAP licensing is that the licence models are very vague and open to interpretation," Hughes says. "For instance, a professional user licence would be defined as somebody who performs operational duty on the SAP system, whereas the limited professional licence - which has substantial cost differences from a professional licence - is really defined as someone with limited operational actions. That definition of 'limited' is very open to different interpretations and different customers will look on that in different ways."
The vagueness is definitely a challenge, Hughes says. "We're starting to see a trend of SAP being more specific in their contracts, but still have a ways to go before the vagueness goes away."

It's your data, but…

The other big challenge facing SAP customers is something called indirect access. SAP defines indirect access as occurring when a user or product accesses data stored in the customer's SAP system through a third-party interface. Examples of this could be an Oracle Hyperion BI application sucking data out of the customer's production SAP database, or serving data through a Microsoft Web portal.
While the data belongs to the customer, it is being "processed" by SAP software, and therefore SAP demands compensation any time it is used outside of the SAP environment. It may surprise customers to find they don't have the freedom to use their data in any way they like without paying SAP for the privilege, but that's likely because they didn't carefully read their licence agreement.
Licensing experts claim SAP used to look the other way when its audits found customers violating the indirect access provisions of their licence agreements, although SAP disputes this.
While customers own their own data, it can be difficult to determine how many licences would be required for all downstream consumers of that data.
But in recent years, according to the licensing experts and users we spoke to, SAP has started to crack down on indirect access, by charging customers for additional licence fees for indirect access. This has angered SAP customers who have been asked to pay millions of dollars to buy additional named user licences as a result of indirect access discovered during audits.
"SAP customers can get some surprises in an audit situation, where they thought they were following the process, they thought they had a very accurate understanding of their licence position, and suddenly they're being charged for thousands of users that run on this other system that is loosely connected to SAP," Hughes says. "This is a clear area of focus for SAP, and for customers going forwards, it's an area of fear and uncertainty."
The fear and uncertainty over SAP's licensing practices was on full display last fall, when the UK & Ireland SAP User Group conducted a survey that found 95 per cent of SAP customers found the company's software licensing policy "over complicated". In response, the head of SAP's UK business pledged at last fall's TechEd 2012 conference that it would clarify and simplify its licensing models.
SAP defends its licensing and pricing schemes as fair, and says it's taking steps to make its licensing policies simpler and more transparent. Broad-strokes generalisations about weaknesses in its licensing scheme are not possible, SAP says, because each customer's situation is unique. Further, SAP questions the comments made by licence optimisation vendors, saying they're trying to "drum up" business for themselves.
In particular, SAP says named user definitions must be broad in scope because they cover user activities that are role-based, and not function-based. As for indirect access, there's just no "there" there. "The idea that indirect usage is somehow 'new' or a change in practice is simply not true," the SAP spokesman says. "Indirect access is not a new topic at SAP, nor is charging for it a new practice. These terms have been in our contracts for many years."
There's also growing pressure for SAP to publish its full price list, as its rival Oracle famously does. While SAP doesn't publish its prices, the company seldom varies from its internal price list when its salespeople close contracts, according to Upper Edge Consulting, a licence optimisation consulting firm that SAP hired to validate its pricing practices. The same cannot be said of Oracle, Upper Edge experts say.

Oracle licensing: A question of trust

Oracle's licensing model is similar to SAP's in several ways. Users of Oracle applications, such as E-Business Suite, must pay a fee based on various business metrics, and also must have the appropriate number of named user licences, what Oracle calls "End User Plus," for most people who work with Oracle software.
Oracle's technology products, such as the database and Fusion middleware, are priced differently. With these products, Oracle mandates processor-based pricing models. Virtualisation further complicates Oracle's processor-based licensing model, especially considering the differences that Oracle recognises between "hard" partitioning and "soft" partitioning. Servers virtualised using Xen-based OracleVM on x86 or Sun's LDOM T-series hypervisor-based OracleVM on SPARC can get the discount of "hard" partitioning.

According to Oracle, every other hypervisor - including other Xen-based hypervisors - can deliver only "soft" partitioning. Here's the catch: "soft" partitioning customers must license the Oracle product for all of the cores on the server, regardless of how many are actually used to run the Oracle application.
Oracle's software licensing model is "one of the most convoluted and complex" models in enterprise software, says Dave Blake, president and CEO of UpperEdge Consulting, which advises clients in enterprise software licensing issues. Some of that complexity stems from the acquisitions that Oracle has made over the years. Those models haven't been shifted to a company-wide standard, he says.
"Where their level of complexity comes in is how they tend to stray from their public list prices and metric pricing," Blake says. "I think Oracle has done a pretty smart thing outwardly facing, as far as declaring that they're fully transparent to the market by posting their list prices for their applications as well as their technology products to their website. Anybody with a web browser and an internet connection can go and download those list prices.
"Where complexity comes in, on the transaction side, is they tend not to present or propose standard template transactions that are based on those list prices," he says. "It's a little bit of a shell game in the sense that they publish their list prices, but 90 per cent of the transactions that we see tend to have custom bundles, custom quotes.
"They develop custom bundles or custom enterprise bundles for their respective pricing which then allows them basically to throw out the price book."

Aggressive business practices on the spot

The business practices of Oracle's sales team raises other concerns for Oracle customers. For example, Oracle is known to price entire custom bundles according to a single business metric, says Jeff Lazarto, an UpperEdge principal. "The challenge for companies is that, as their revenue increases, whether that's related to the value they receive from the Oracle products or not, they're now subjected to additional licence fees as their revenues grows," Lazarto claims. "Not only that, but their maintenance fees increase as well."
By and large, Upper Edge has found customers to be happy with their Oracle products. Products such as Exadata are driving real value into businesses, but what causes fear and uncertainty among Oracle customers are the licensing agreements, Lazarto says.
The inability to modify some of the existing licence agreements - to terminate licences or maintenance for individual products in a bundle - is another thorn in the side of Oracle customers, Lazarto says. "It's an all-or-nothing scenario," Lazarto says. He admits: "They do grant you the licence to terminate, I'd say, three products you didn't deploy out of 20, per their agreement and their policy. But then they have the right then to go back and re-price all of the remaining products, because in essence, you broke up the bundle. So they need to re-price what's left of the bundle, and re-price maintenance as well."
Oracle sales people have also been known to encourage customers to change their licence metric when renewing maintenance, Lazarto claims. For example, the Upper Edge consultant shared the story of a long-time Oracle database customer who licensed the product on a per-user basis (a very favorable licensing method), but said they were convinced to change their licence model to per-core pricing - Oracle's current method of pricing its database - during maintenance renewal negotiations.
"Oracle uses a very heavy-handed negotiation to get people to change their licence models," Lazarto claims. "I'd say one of the common complaints [from customers] is they just feel they're locked into Oracle at times. It's very difficult to break out of it."
That lock-in is a source of enormous revenue for the $37bn software giant. Oracle famously charges new application customers an annual maintenance fee equal to 22 per cent of the initial licence value. These maintenance fees are recorded in the "software license updates and product support" accounting bucket, which brought Oracle $4.2bn in its third quarter of fiscal year 2012, or 47 per cent of its total revenue. Oracle executives have referred to the maintenance revenue as its "birthright," but it's not always cigars and rye for its customers.
Blake recommends that Oracle and SAP customers read their licence agreements closely, make careful note of access rights, and do not be afraid to demand better terms from the vendors. In many cases, getting input from licensing experts, or even using software, may reduce licence expenditures significantly, and reduce the risk of unbudgeted increases and nasty little surprises going forward.
Oracle and SAP have compelling software, but it comes at a cost that may not be apparent at first blush. "If you listen to the press from Oracle and SAP, what they're touting is that they're being more open, they're providing more information to their clients and that the complexity of their models their pricing decreasing and simplifying," Blake says. "What we're seeing in fact is the exact opposite. Their models are getting more complex, and they're getting further complicated by various deployment models."
Oracle could not be reached to comment for this article.®

Friday, October 11, 2013

Launching an MVNO 'requires strong business planning' | Industry News | MDS

http://www.mdscem.com/industry-news/industry-solutions/launching-an-mvno-requires-strong-business-planning/801618632/

Launching an MVNO 'requires strong business planning'

1st August 2013
There are many advantages to be had through launching a new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model and an increasing number of companies are showing interest in such a venture as they attempt to improve their portfolios through the additions of telecoms and cloud computing services.
MVNOs that launch and manage a mobile offering in the communications marketplace can look forward to a service that is able to control cost and risk, while also ensuring faster time to market and delivering improved customer experience and maximised revenues.
An important consideration, however, is how an MVNO can be set up properly. MVNO-dedicated website Prepaid MVNO reports that a strong business plan is essential in this regard. A good understanding of the commercial or consumer mobile telecommunications market is a prerequisite, as this will give firms a better idea of which service offering is best for them to pursue, while it will also indicate which operating model is the most appropriate.Various factors will play a part in determining the focus of the business plan, with these including main assets such as brand, value proposition, distribution channel and customer base.
When establishing an MVNO, firms that already boast a sizable customer base and existing distribution routes have an immediate advantage. Those that have a brand that is widely seen as being trusted will also have a head start - and couple this with a billing operation and these firms are in a strong position to make a success of offering a telecom product.
There are plenty of examples of pure-play MVNOs having made a success of things after being developed from a standing start, however, with these tending to place a greater emphasis on basic matters such as tight cost controls, innovative products, the bottom line and competitiveness regarding product and pricing design.
Prepaid MVNO explains that in addition to setting out a workable business plan, companies have to make sure they understand the classification or type of MVNO that they wish to progress with.
Contacting potential mobile network operators represents the next step, who will run a few checks on a firm before taking them on as a customer. Building a business plan that is solid and effective is particularly important here - and companies and network operators can work together to ensure the strategy is workable and beneficial for both parties. Likewise, focus will be placed on any opportunities that can enable a firm to build up its customer base - should it not already be particularly large - to enable the project to gather pace and yield results quickly.
With the launch of an MVNO, there is the chance to make the most of the opportunities arising due to the fact traditional mobile voice and messaging revenues are continuing to decline.
Through strategic commercial partnerships, MVNOs can come up with convergent market offerings that bring together mobility, cloud computing and over the top services - and combining telecoms and IT- See more at: http://www.mdscem.com/industry-news/industry-solutions/launching-an-mvno-requires-strong-business-planning/801618632/#sthash.0nWNcec9.dpuf

BBC Documentary: Steve Jobs - Billion Dollar Hippy



Uploaded on Dec 16, 2011

Steve Jobs Biography:
Broadly considered a brand that inspires fervour and defines cool consumerism, Apple has become one of the biggest corporations in the world, fuelled by game-changing products that tap into modern desires. Its leader, Steve Jobs, was a long-haired college dropout with infinite ambition, and an inspirational perfectionist with a bully's temper. A man of contradictions, he fused a Californian counterculture attitude and a mastery of the art of hype with explosive advances in computer technology.

Insiders including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, the chairman who ousted Jobs from the company he founded, and Jobs' chief of software, tell extraordinary stories of the rise, fall and rise again of Apple with Steve Jobs at its helm.

With Stephen Fry, world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and branding guru Rita Clifton, Evan Davis decodes the formula that took Apple from suburban garage to global supremacy.


Bio:
Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 -- October 5, 2011) was an American businessman and inventor widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution. He was co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Jobs was co-founder and previously served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios; he became a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney.

In the late 1970s, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak engineered one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series. Jobs directed its aesthetic design and marketing along with A.C. "Mike" Markkula, Jr. and others.

In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of Xerox PARC's mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of the Apple Lisa (engineered by Ken Rothmuller and John Couch) and, one year later, of Apple employee Jef Raskin's Macintosh. After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets.

In 1986, he acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd, which was spun off as Pixar Animation Studios. He was credited in Toy Story (1995) as an executive producer. He remained CEO and majority shareholder at 50.1 percent until its acquisition by The Walt Disney Company in 2006, making Jobs Disney's largest individual shareholder at seven percent and a member of Disney's Board of Directors.

In 1996, NeXT was acquired by Apple. The deal brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and provided Apple with the NeXTSTEP codebase, from which the Mac OS X was developed." Jobs was named Apple advisor in 1996, interim CEO in 1997, and CEO from 2000 until his resignation. He oversaw the development of the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad and the company's Apple Retail Stores.

In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Though it was initially treated, Jobs reported of a hormone imbalance, underwent a liver transplant in 2009, and appeared progressively thinner as his health declined. In August 2011, during his third medical leave, Jobs resigned as CEO, but continued to work for Apple as Chairman of the Board until his death.

On October 5, 2011, he died in his Palo Alto home, aged 56. His death certificate listed respiratory arrest as the immediate cause of death, with "metastatic pancreas neuroendocrine tumor" as the underlying cause. His occupation was listed as "entrepreneur" in the "high tech" business.

Steve Jobs Lost Interview 1990 - A must watch for any entreprenuer



Steve Jobs is a perfect icon for the the modern entrepreneur. A orphan from middle class America living in Silicon Valley becomes a global icon.

"We didn't build Apple to be a company, We started it to make computers for our friends."

7 secrets to success of steve jobs

12 Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Guy Kawasaki

The 7 Types Of People Who Never Succeed At Work

ForbesWoman
9/18/2013 @ 11:03PM |202,442 views

The 7 Types Of People Who Never Succeed At Work

There are an endless amount of characters in the workplace.
There's the lady you find in the break room, always on a diet and commenting on your weight (God help you if you are proportionate, she will eat you alive). The guy who shows off way too many baby pictures of his not-that-cute-kid. The girl who stays in her office with the door shut, even during fire drills. And the dreaded over-talker who never gets the hint (which might explain why that one girl stays in her office).
We all play roles in our workplaces, many of which are unique to only our office. But there's a standard cast of characters as well. You can find varieties of them anywhere you go, but they all share the same skill sets. They are the ones who will succeed and the ones who will fail.
In lieu of filling you with fluffy "this is what a successful person looks like" talk, I thought I'd take the opposite route. The following is a list of people who stand out for all the wrong reasons. Fair warning: If you don't know who this person is at your office, it might be you.
The Gullible One.
If I've learned anything over the years, it's that you should never believe everything a company says. Don't believe them when they say they don't expect layoffs (the mere mention of that word suggests they're on the way). Don't believe that they've offered you the highest salary they can. Don't believe them when they say they can't negotiate your raise. And definitely don't believe them when they say "this year has been really bad, but next year you're going to get hooked up on that promotion you want!"
When a boss, HR rep or recruiter (or anyone playing a role in your career and financial success) states something that makes you tilt your head to the side and think "huh…that seems sketch," don't just accept it.
As I've said before, the car dealer will act like he can't budge on a number. But if you stand up and start walking to the door he'll automatically find a discount for you. Companies are in it for the bottom line even when they're negotiating things with their employees. They want to encourage you to stick around while also finding a way to save money. And it saves them money to give you a smaller raise, to skip a round of promotions, to make you work through Christmas. Don't fall for it.
The Groupthinker.
Groupthink is a psychological problem that runs rampant in workplaces. Even more if you've got a large population of "longtermers" in a corporation. Groupthink is why technology isn't updated, why policies are outdated, why there's no new blood (or ideas) on a team, why you hear the sentence "you can't do that, that's not how we've always done it!"
It's easy to spot these people, especially if you're new to a company. They sit in clumps together and they make bizarre statements in meetings, they do the same things every day and they complain when their life is disrupted by something (or someone) new.
If you fight against a mass of groupthinkers, you run a high risk of failure, persecution, derailment and tons of frustration. But if you engage and join them, you will become stupid and possibly unmarketable for your next career jump. Take your pick.
The Fearful One.
People do ridiculous things when they're scared. Just ask anyone who's died in a horror movie (I mean, who drops the phone and runs up the stairs?!).
Fearful people will cause you serious amounts of trouble at work. If they're scared of getting fired, they will find a way to point a finger at you. If their project is failing, they will suggest your role was to blame. Drowning people will grab whatever they can to keep their head above water. Don't stand too close and become that object.
And don't become the drowning person. If you ever feel worried about something at work, you sense something bad coming your way or you screw up big time, avoid the fear by taking some action. Talk to someone, your boss, your mentor or a peer to get information that will quell your fears. Or fess up and find out immediately what repercussions are headed your way for the screw-up so you're not worried about the unknowns. Do whatever you need to do in order to avoid becoming the fearful one.
Apathetic Guy.
The other day, a friend of mine posted a message on Facebook FB +4.87% stating her frustration that people keep calling her upcoming maternity leave a "vacation." She mentioned a litany of things that have to be done while you're on maternity leave (none of it sounded remotely vacation'ish). She referenced this because she felt judged and persecuted for her decision to take the time off.
Consider now the single person. If you haven't been in this demo for awhile, you might not be aware of this, but single people are also victims of workplace apathy. I've actually heard the sentence, "You can stay late tonight to finish this, right? I gotta get out of here and it's not like you're going home to a family."
Hashtag awkward.
Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone feels judged and misunderstood every once in awhile. And everyone feels the sting from these moments. Show some compassion even when you're having trouble putting yourself in their shoes.
Don't be the apathetic coworker. The grass isn't always greener, even though it may appear so.
The Sore Loser.
Anytime you're successful or experience something great in life or your career, I guarantee you that someone somewhere will doubt that you earned it the good 'ol hard-working way. That someone somewhere is the sore loser.
A sore loser will think you got that deal because you've got an important last name. Or that you were hired because your Mom sits in the corner office. Or that you simply got lucky (literally and figuratively).
You can't stop a sore loser from thinking what they want and you can't convince them out of their opinion. The only way to battle a sore loser is to make sure they're not right (it might surprise some of you ladies that yes, business can indeed be conducted outside the bedroom!).
Update: It's been called to my attention by several female readers that the comment above was offensive and diminishes the hard-earned success of females in the workplace. I realize now it was a poor example and misrepresented the very reason I have this column. It wasn't my goal to suggest that women are perpetuating a Mad Men-era stereotype and that men are absolved of their roles in these scenarios. While it exists, this in fact is NOT a common problem in the workplace. I mentioned it as merely a side note to emphasize the importance in making sure "Sore Losers" are not making accurate accusations by carrying yourself properly in the workplace.
Use your connections and your network to get ahead, but do your own dang work. Show results. Then the sore losers will disappear one by one.   
Malicious Gossiper.
There's harmless gossip and then there's malicious gossip. Harmless gossip is…harmless. But you must avoid the malicious gossiper completely. In fact, put large amounts of space between you and this person.
Assume that since they're willing to share really bad information with you, they're sharing it with other people. They're kind of like the flu.
If you run across a malicious gossiper and they start talking, whatever you do, don't agree with them. Because the next thing you know, your sentence of "Oh, I agree with you – I bet she totally slept with that guy to get that job" will be shortened to "So and so just told me that so and so slept with so and so!" And voila, you're screwed.
The Apologizer.
I recently attended an event where several startups were invited to pitch. One woman stood up to sell her idea to a room undoubtedly full of millions, a big opportunity for a small company. She looked sharp and ready. But then she opened with, "Don't worry, this isn't a crappy website that does blah…"
Well shoot. For the remainder of her presentation, I assumed her website was crappy.
The Apologizer will discredit themselves as soon as they open their mouth. They will start a presentation with qualifying statements like the one above or they will ask for a raise by saying, "I know we don't have a lot of money, but…" They lose these deals because they show a massive lack of confidence in the statement, regardless of topic.
You don't necessarily have to avoid this person. Just don't be this person. The company pays you a salary because they think you're worth it. You have every right to be in the room and to be having that conversation right then. Why act like you don't belong there?
Repeat the following statement as many times as you need to before you have an important conversation or make a presentation: Be confident, not cocky.
Then own the heck out of it. Your career depends on it.

Singapore's Newest Billionaire Made $2.1B Fortune From Nothing

Forbes Asia
|
8/27/2013 @ 7:37PM |77,014 views

Singapore's Newest Billionaire Made $2.1B Fortune From Nothing

Goh Cheng Liang is one of Singapore's best-known and least-celebrated tycoons. He has neither featured in any rich lists nor ever talked to the press,  save for a one-off interview in 1997.  Yet some of Singapore's most prominent landmarks, like the high profile hospital Mt. Elizabeth and the Liang Court shopping mall at Clarke Quay, have been built by this reclusive businessman.
Liang Court Complex (Source: Wikipedia)

Goh never went to school. He was born to a poor family in a one-room tenement in 1928, one of four siblings. As a boy, he sold fishing nets and worked in a hardware store, learning business skills that were to shape his destiny. In 1949, when the British were auctioning off surplus stocks from World War II, Goh bought all the barrels of rotten paint for a song. With a Chinese dictionary of chemicals in hand, he went about mixing solvents, pigments and chemicals to make his own brand of paints called Pigeon. The following year, the Korean war broke out and an import ban landed Goh a whopping profit windfall.
Business was booming when an opportunity to tie up with Nippon Paint of Japan surfaced. Goh took the plunge with a 60-40 holding in a joint venture called the Nipsea Management Group. From nothing rose a paints conglomerate whose Nippon brand is today a household name in Asia. The Nippon brand now sells in 15 countries outside of Japan with some 15,000 employees and factories in 30 locations. Its annual turnover stands at $2.6 billion. Son Goh Hup Jin oversees the company run by professional managers.
Goh's career has been the gritty journey of an entrepreneur. He never missed an opportunity to create, build and sell businesses to unlock their value. Over the years, he invested some of his profits from the paint business into property by building shopping malls, hotels, serviced residences, as well as a retail distribution business with Japanese partners, a contract manufacturing electronics business, specialty packaging, logistics, a food manufacturing operation in America and even a mining company in China! When his U.S.-educated son, Hup Jin, set about professionalizing some of the group companies and taking them public, Goh carved a parallel private empire with his longtime partners and employees under Yenom Industries. It owns serviced residences, gold courses, marinas, hotels and housing developments in Gulf Habour and elsewhere.
Over the years, Goh has been selling his stake in the publicly listed companies. He sold his 59% holding in Liang Court for $175 million to Pidemco Land in 1999. The $1 billion electronics service maker Omni Industries was sold to Celestica CLS +0.82% of Canada in 2001. Mt. Elizabeth was sold off, too. More recently, along with Crown Holdings of the U.S., he is taking listed Superior Multi-Packaging private.
Goh has come full circle, retracing his steps to his core competency in paints. Early this year, he made a $751 million bid for an additional 30% stake in Tokyo-listed parent Nippon, but quickly retreated in favor of growing the Asian business. He still makes news, though more for his generous endowments to scholarship funds, cancer research and education through the Goh Foundation, rather than his business moves.

New Facebook Marketing Research Shows What Works

New Facebook Marketing Research Shows What Works

social media researchAre you wondering what works with Facebook and what's a waste of time?
Do hashtags make a difference?
What about sponsored stories?
There's recently been ton of research to understand how Facebook marketing is helping (or hurting) businesses.
Here are five noteworthy Facebook findings we uncovered from the latest published research.

#1: 78% of U.S. Facebook Users Are Mobile

Facebook is at the center of a sizable shift to mobile. In the U.S. alone, 78% of all Facebook users (just shy of 100 million people) logged into their Facebook accounts via mobile this year (TechCrunch).
Research from eMarketer predicts that this number will continue to grow and by 2017, 154.7 million Americans will be using Facebook on their mobile devices.
facebook mobile users 2013
The future of Facebook is in mobile.
Key Takeaways:
Mobile and social go hand in hand. If your target audience is in the U.S., you should follow Facebook's lead and adapt a mobile-first strategy. Here are a few tips to optimize your Facebook page for mobile users:
  • Take a look at your Facebook page on your mobile device to see what others are seeing (Public view, not Admin view).
  • Since the mobile experience doesn't show your complete timeline, highlight your best content with a pinned post.
  • Photos are the best-performing post types on Facebook, so be sure to add colorful, interesting images to all your posts, offers and ads.
  • If you have a local business, encourage customers to check in on Facebook at your location (more on that later!). Mobile searchers tend to make local buying decisions (e.g., where to eat, where to shop, etc.). Recommendations and check-ins from mobile users' friends appear first on their mobile devices, making it a fantastic tool for word-of-mouth marketing.

#2: Paid Ads Improve Reach and Post Performance

According to the 2013 Social Rich Media Benchmark Report (ShopIgniter), promoting your Facebook posts with a paid ad increases organic and viral reach significantly but reduces click-throughs.
This is true for all post types (video, offers, photos, links and questions) except status updates. In the case of status updates, unpaid posts have a much higher reach than paid posts.
facebook posts paid ads reach vs ctr
Promoting Facebook posts with paid ads increases reach but reduces CTR.
Key Takeaways:
Paid ads make a big difference on Facebook—at least in terms of reach and impressions. But before you start investing in Facebook ads, think about your target audience, focus on your marketing goals and understand how different post types perform when they're promoted with ads.
Paid ads are used for promotional content, which by default draws less engagement than non-promotional content. If you're more interested in driving brand awareness or increasing your customer base, then by all means use paid ads because of their viral nature.
But if you're trying to build your email list (you'll need folks to click through to a landing page), then paying to promote the post might be a waste of cash, according to the research. And don't forget, whenever you want people to click, give them lots of images!

#3: Negative Feedback Hurts Conversion

Facebook doesn't have a Dislike button. However, users can show their aversion toward your content by hiding it from their news feed.
More research from ShopIgniter shows that negative feedback—which includes the following actions by users: Hide Post, Hide All Posts, Report as Spam, Unlike Page—increases (hurts conversion) the more you add paid media to your posts.
average negative feedback rate
Negative feedback increases as paid ads are applied to most post types.
The chart shows the negative feedback rate for paid and organic Facebook posts. Longer bars are bad as they indicate higher negative feedback.
Key Takeaways:
  • For most post types except links, negative feedback increases when paid ads are used.
  • As far as paid posts go, notes are most disliked (hardly anyone uses them anyway), followed by video.
  • Although photos are popular on Facebook, not all photos are created equal. As a marketer, you should know exactly what your audience's preferences are by posting photos they will enjoy, like and share. If you're not sure, do some A/B split tests with various images to find out.
  • The 'Question' is king—You can't go wrong with asking questions on Facebook. At best you'll get lots of responses, and at the very worst you'll get little or no negative feedback.
  • Surprisingly, Facebook Offers generate less negative feedback than links! That's because everyone likes a good deal, even if it 'interrupts' your news feed through an ad.
  • The best thing to do is mix up your posts. Try both paid and unpaid versions of the same post type. At the end of the day, only your Page Insights can tell you what will work for you and what will not.

#4: Facebook Hashtags Are NOT Working

According to EdgeRank Checker, Facebook hashtags have done nothing to help with additional exposure for your brand. In fact the opposite is true.
The research indicates that posts with hashtags are not only less likely to go viral, but also make people less likely to engage with the content.
facebook hashtags failing
Facebook hashtags could actually be hurting, not helping, your brand.
Key Takeaways:
EdgeRank doesn't tell us why Facebook hashtags are failing. We only know that people are not clicking them. Here are some possibilities:
First, for a lot of people, hashtags feel out of place on Facebook. There's even a Facebook page called "This is not Twitter. Hashtags don't work here" where 15,000 fans are making a strong case that what works on one platform doesn't necessarily work on another. They argue that hashtags on Facebook "interrupt the flow of communication and people tend to abuse them."
Second is perception. Before the official launch of hashtags in June of this year, people or brands who used hashtags on Facebook were perceived to be clueless. Other users figured they didn't understand how to use Facebook. There have also been complaints that status updates with hashtags are nothing more than automated posts created by lazy marketers on Twitter.
So based on the research, if you want your fans and their friends to share your Facebook posts, you may want to avoid using hashtags or at least do a lot of your own testing to see if they're helping or hurting your brand.

#5: And the Highest CTR Goes to… Sponsored Check-in Stories!

Sponsored check-in stories, where users are shown an ad in their news feed for a place they previously checked in, received by far the highest click-through rate (CTR) among all ad types and sponsored stories.
The Facebook Ads Benchmark Report (Salesforce) shows that at 3.2%, this CTR is even higher than sponsored like stories, which are very popular with marketers.
average ctr of sponsored stories
Average CTR of sponsored check-in stories trumps all other ad types.
Key Takeaways:
Sponsored check-in stories are used to reach your fans' friends on their news feed. High CTRs could be indicative of peer influence. When a Facebook user sees (on her news feed) that her friend has checked into a particular store, she'll be curious to learn more about that location and will probably click through for more information.
As the owner of that business, you want to encourage more people to take the same action, so you'll pay to highlight the original action of checking in.
So if you're thinking about building a local fan base, engaging and rewarding customers, or reaching your customers' friends, why not design a campaign around the check-in stories that your customers are generating? Fair warning—sponsored check-in stories are very expensive (in terms of cost per impression or CPM), but the investment could be worth it if more customers come to your store and buy your products. It's something to think about!
Your Turn
What do you think? Which of these trends or insights do you agree or disagree with? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker
Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She helps business owners craft content that sells. Her blog provides healthcare industry content marketing advice. Other posts by »

Monday, October 7, 2013

Unleashing the Power of Patterns – From Pascal to Predictive Analysis

Patterns are powerful. They're in numbers, public spaces, and hidden in sales data – and recognizing patterns in the world around us has been changing how we think for centuries.
 
 
"It is not certain that everything is uncertain," French mathematician and scholar Blaise Pascal noted in the mid-1600s. And I suspect Pascal's penchant for patterns helped lead him to this liberating philosophy.PascalTriangle1small.jpg
 
The relatively simple arrangement of numbers known as Pascal's Triangle contains many numeric patterns, such as triangle numbers, binominal coefficients, and the celebrated Fibonacci sequence. Pascal spent considerable time studying these patterns, finding in them information he could apply to real-world problems.
 
While analyzing a popular gambling game, Pascal used the numbers to identify the possible combinations that could result from tossing a pair of dice a defined number of times. By studying the frequency of specific combinations, he was able to determine the likelihood of any single event.
 
This was much more than a mathematical mind game. It helped pioneer the theory of probability, a concept that altered future thinking about everything from economics to decision making.
 
A Pattern Language for Design
 
Patterns, of course, are not found solely in numbers. Three centuries after Pascal, a group of architects and academics from the University of California led by Christopher Alexander hoped to establish an entirely new approach to architecture, building, and community planning. They researched human living spaces and found recurring elements of design and associated human behavior.
 
City steps always seem to become public gathering spots. People gravitate to living spaces that have natural light from two sides of the room.
smallsteps.jpg
In all, Alexander identified and connected 253 timeless patterns, which formed "a pattern language" that architects and city planners could use to discuss and solve design problems that we encounter over and over again. A Pattern Language, published in 1977, has inspired architects and builders ever since.
 
And the impact of innovative thinking was again felt far beyond its original context. The book's ideas have been particularly influential in the development of object-oriented programming, user interface design, and the SimCity video game.
 
Predictive Analysis Goes Mainstream
 
We may be at another watershed moment when the ability to recognize patterns will revolutionize conventional thinking in the business world. Predictive analysis is all about identifying and interpreting the patterns found in often vast amounts of historical and current data.
 
Companies that accurately predict developing trends and future consumer behavior are better able to identify new opportunities and avoid risk. Predictive analysis is no longer just the work of scientific and government supercomputers, but a dynamic business tool.
 
Database technology based on in-memory computing and advanced analytics now make it far more feasible for companies to recognize and act on the patterns contained in their big data. Democratizing predictive analysis will profoundly affect the breadth and complexity of business challenges that companies are able to tackle.
 
Insight in Action
 
Some companies are already using this combined technology to unleash the power of patterns. eBay Inc., for example, looks for patterns, or "signals," in more than 50 petabytes of data. By separating the retail signals from the "noise" across tens of thousands of variables, eBay gains an advanced understanding of what's happening in its virtual economy and can identify immediate selling opportunities.
 
The signals are just the beginning, according to David Schwarzbach, VP and CFO of eBay North America. The real benefit of this technology is that "great people become exceptional at what they do because of the speed at which they can interact with the data," Schwarzbach said in a recent video.
 
Italian restaurant services and catering group CIR food is another example, providing food services to more than 33,000 international companies and smallergirl.jpgpublic institutions. CIR produces over 75 million meals a year, including many intended for hospitals and schools.
 
CIR is analyzing school enrollments and patterns of student absenteeism. With this very granular understanding, it can significantly reduce waste across its supply chain and feed more people. And who knows, one of those school children could be the next Pascal or Alexander.
 
Pattern detection is powerful stuff. But is today's use of predictive analysis and patterns just the latest validation of Pascal's belief that not everything is uncertain?
 
It may actually be evidence of an even more radical notion: It is not certain that anything is uncertain.
 
Join me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.