The Infosys Labs research blog tracks trends in technology with a focus on applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

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August 31, 2012

Leveraging 'Internet of Things' to improve Customer satisfaction at Retail Outlets

In today's retail world, competition is everything. Every store in a shopping mall vies for the customer's attention on its range of products. But what if one store's gain also meant gain for all other stores? Let's take a look at how 'Internet of Things' can help.

A novel idea that inspires to boost sales of retail outlets:

Don't we all hate waiting in the long queues at the super markets or food marts. Imagine if we could provide the outlet with our shopping list of products beforehand either online or through a mobile app. Later, simply just walk-in, collect our items and walk out or better still have them delivered to our address. Owing to 'Internet of Things', this can be achieved by a web application where customers can browse, select and add products to the cart. Then NFC technology could be used to help authenticate the user when he arrives to collect his merchandise. In case of home delivery, the deliverer's mobile can be used to authenticate customer's mobile via NFC.

But how does this help other stores? Most people visit malls not only to obtain items which they require but also to window shop and discover new products. The major constraint to this is time. Every minute the customer spends trying to get the products he visited the mall for, is a minute of time lost in discovering new items. Now, if the customer is given the items he wanted on arrival, it means he/she gets more time to look at other stores. This is a win-win situation for the stores at the mall.

Indoor tracking to increase sales:

With malls growing in size and number year on year, it has become so difficult to identify the many stores, their products up for sale and their location within the mall. Kiosks help only to a certain extent and usually have a crowd of people surrounding them. But with the use of Wi-Fi/Bluetooth based location triangulation and Augmented reality not only can patrons locate themselves on the Mall's map, but can also easily locate specific category of stores they might be interested in. In addition to this, advertisements can be displayed to the user depending on his location within the mall. Again, this can prove to be a smart method for stores to attract the right set of customers while increasing customer satisfaction. As an added benefit, customers too remain happy as they don't have to walk round and round a large mall trying to find what they need.

The above is just a couple of advantages among umpteen benefits that the usage of 'Internet of Things' and technology can bring to the Retail segment. There is a huge opportunity and innumerable possibilities; the only limit is one's imagination

Gamification and Intellectual Capital

In any knowledge enterprise, intellectual capital can be measured through Products, Patents, IPs, Papers, etc. and employee capital is usually measured through number of employees, their years of experience, educational qualification, achievements, etc.
What about employee achievements?

In today's enterprises there is no effective framework to measure and track employee achievements. Total experience, educational qualification alone may not help in arriving at true employee capital. Employee's accrued achievement in the enterprise over the years is important and should be captured.
It is important that tomorrow's enterprises place mechanisms in place to track and measure its employee achievements not for a year but for an entire employee lifetime. 
Using Gamification techniques to measure and track employee achievements can help build employee profile in the form of accumulated points, badges, and trophies. This can also help strengthen employee loyalty to the organization.

P.S - if you have missed our earlier blogs, you can read our take on Gamification here

 

 

August 29, 2012

Mobile BI

We have seen a big traction of work happening on smartphones these days. Every day some vendor or other keeps on coming out with newer technologies to make the smartphone experience an immersive one in consumer space. In enterprise space, lots of apps are being developed to help the users in the day to day work. As per Forrester Research, mobile workers are set to make up 73 percent of the workforce in 2012. These users can be executives who need real time data on the move to make key decisions, or employees who need data to do a particular kind of work. For example, for users on field jobs, some BI can be done to find out their availability and load, and automatic alerts can be sent out on regular based on their work completion time. Their positions can also be tracked via built in apps, so that new requests can be routed to the nearest users. 

Most of these things require some form of analytics to be performed on the data. For executives, this means having dashboards where they can access real time data and move around things as per their needs. This could be pretty useful when they are going for a high profile meeting and need absolutely the current data. For other users, this BI could be as simple as providing the list of inventories required to do a particular job depending on the parameters which are entered. Location based services have already picked up big time. As per Gartner's 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey, majority (53%) of organizations are set to deliver some form of mobile analytics by this year's end.

Now, when I say mobile BI, it may refer to any smartphone, tablet, phablet (phone + tablet) etc. which is capable of providing data on the go. Previously, laptops were the preferred means of getting this information. Laptop works on pull out scenario (unless obviously you write some custom code/tasks to get data on periodic basis). Smartphone/Tablet can be used for push in scenarios to get real time data on fly which can be further used to perform data analytics on the go.
Smartphone is a good candidate for operational mobile BI. For analytics and more interactive kind of experience, tablets/phablet is the best option available. Most of these devices fall under one of the two categories described below for data access:

  • Using the mobile browser to access data, similar to PCs - Application wouldn't depend on the type of device, but users will end up having limited capabilities. Mostly used for view only apps.
  • Creating an application designed specifically for the mobile device - Taking advantage of the APIs exposes by the device to design application to make use of the touch capabilities of the device.

Currently, there are many vendors who have come up with their own interactive apps which can be deployed on tablets/smartphones. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • MicroStrategy
  • PushBI
  • QlikView
  • Roambi
  • Tibco
  • Yellowfin
  • MobiWeave

Microsoft has plans to support browser-based applications such as Reporting Services and PerformancePoint on iOS (Apple Operating system) in the first half of 2012 and touch-based applications on iOS and Android (Google operating system) by the second half of 2012.

Vendors like MofuMobi and MobiWeave already provide capabilities for SQL driven mobile app development and providing report viewer and sharepoint viewer for Microsoft reporting and sharepoint services respectively which can be used on various devices.
With the announcement of Microsoft tablet, there is a good possibility of Microsoft introducing its own set of tools for mobile BI development on tabs and smartphones, same way it had done for developing applications for Microsoft Azure market place.

To summarize, Mobile BI seems to be the future of analytics and reporting, and as seen in Gartner and Forrester Research reports, it is already picking up pace and set to become one of high focus areas for any organization in not too distant feature.

August 28, 2012

"Gamifying" Software Engineering and Maintenance

Success of software development and maintenance life cycle activities are governed by several individual behavioral aspects like timeliness, ideation, participation, team work, enthusiasm, voluntary culture, co-creation, quality control, and more.
Apart from dealing with the complexity of software, managing behavioral and motivational levels of the team and getting tricky things done can sometime become a challenge.

You can use Gamification to make some of the activities exciting. Design your Gamification program in such a way that you find out what are the difficult or mundane activities, which activities need incentives to be completed on time, which activities can be completed through crowd sourcing and so on.

Some of the software engineering and maintenance activities that can be brought under the purview of Gamification are,
• Requirements - reducing change management
• Architecture modeling and Design -
• Coding - adhering to the established coding standards
• Reviews and Testing - detecting defects, fixing bugs
• Project Management activities - delivering project on time on budget
• Maintenance Tickets - closing tickets during maintenance phase
• Knowledge management - knowledge sharing within team

Almost all of the above activities can be brought under rewards based Gamification whereas some of the activities like Requirements understanding, Architecture modeling and design, Testing can be made exciting by playing simulation Games.
Interestingly Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 has introduced badges, leaderboards where a developer gets a badge based on his work and then he can publish that on his Facebook page.
Having Gamification ingrained as part of Software development process would help in dealing with motivational challenges.

ENDNOTES
[1] Visual Studio Achievements Program Brings Gamification to Development, Jeffrey Meisner
http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2012/01/18/visual-studio-achievements-program-brings-gamification-to-development.aspx

P.S - if you have missed our earlier blogs, you can read our take on Gamification here

August 23, 2012

Gamification Techniques!!

Hey Suds, I was pondering over our discussion the other day, and got a few more queries, would you mind discussing those.

Wonderful, go ahead my friend.

Sandeep: if I have to consider "Gamifying" a particular site or business process, how should I go about?

Suds:  At a very high level, you can look at adopting following steps,

·         Define your problem

·         Establish KPIs/metrics

·         Understand you user segment, and their respective drivers/motivations or lack of it

·         Do the necessary mapping of KPIs VS Motivational style.

·         Establish the right Gamification technique - rewards based, game based

·         Finally measure progress made on established KPIs, and feed it back in the loop

 

Sandeep: I was wondering what goes into selecting a specific Gamification technique?

Suds: As I mentioned to you in our earlier conversation, Gamification can be enabled either through a reward based program, or through engaging users by making them play relevant Games.

While selecting any technique, it is very important to understand the actual problem and the target audience/users of it. What are the motivational influencers of the target audience? Is it rewards in the form of money or recognition or both, and then accordingly design your Gamification program.

While selecting a technique, first figure out if the problem is about making a mundane thing interesting? OR Is it about encouraging people to collaborate/co-create? OR Is it about encouraging for doing more? OR Is it about making a complex workflow simple through story telling?

Just to put this in perspective, amongst the above ones, the first and the last can be realized through Games based design whereas the others can be resolved using rewards based program.

Sandeep: awesome, game based I can understand, however can you help me understand rewards based in little depth?

Suds:  yes sure, a reward based technique usually consists of,

·         Defining a scoring framework - how do you intend to award scores, etc.

·         Defining a badging framework - how and when do you intend to award a badge.

·         Establishing levels - what are the important levels you want to define as milestone to reward users

·         Establishing rewards framework - on getting to specific level, what do you intend to reward users with and how?

And most important is to establish configurability of each of the above element.

Sandeep: ok, got it, any specific care one needs to take while designing these rewards based program?

Suds:  Often, people take granted that introducing the reward based Gamification technique will yield result. Sometimes, it may not fetch the desired results at desired pace especially if the target user profiling is not done properly. Also at times, the points and badges are given without much participation and then it can start becoming counterproductive and your target audience can start losing importance and interests. Hence you need to carefully design these programs, monitor progress and keep bringing in fresh ideas to keep your audience engaged.

Sandeep: One last question, as I start to understand this better, everything is so much centered around end user, which means you have to have a solid user database, which in turn means, you must ensure user registers on the site. Frankly, I as a user hardly like to take a pain of registration.

Suds:  Right, I share your concern. Nobody likes to register on the site and give any details before starting to do any serious work. Most often, many users are just put off by the registration activity. To avoid this, you can leverage your social identify which you may have with any of the social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. or Microsoft Passport and provision your site to authenticate based on any of these trusted credentials. In fact you can then use your end users social presence to understand their preference, likings, temperaments, friends and family associations and establish unique targeted campaigns.

In Healthcare Innovation, One Size Does Not Fit All

  

Irrespective of which entity is primarily responsible for delivering healthcare in any country, some of the biggest challenges such entities face are the challenges of affordability, accessibility and quality. Developing and underdeveloped countries are grappling with issues related to accessibility and quality, while the developed countries are trying to contain healthcare cost which is rising faster than their GDP growth. Emerging and underdeveloped countries are facing severe funding constraints and issues of non-existent infrastructure of men, machine and material, whereas developed countries like the US are spending 17 percent of their GDP on healthcare, expense which is rising steadily. Longevity, rising incidence of chronic conditions, rising consumerism and changing lifestyles are contributing to the rise in healthcare cost. So, different regions in the world are manifesting problems of accessibility, quality and affordability in different ways.

 

The underlying context of these problems vary vastly by country and its economic development, prevalent business and payment models, regulations, attitude towards technology and usage of technology, education, and more. There are significant opportunities to innovate in every dimension of healthcare in all these contexts. However, one approach would not work for all and therefore innovations have to be contextual. To read more, click here 

August 17, 2012

Demystifying Gamification

Sandeep: Suds, what are you up to these days?

Suds: Gamification!!

 

Sandeep: ohh, Olympic mania, I understand.

Suds: Sandeep, my friend, am saying Gamification and not Games.

 

Sandeep: is it, i hear this term first time, what is it btw?

Suds: The use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications is Gamification.

First, let me give you the oxford dictionary take of this,

"It is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, and rules of play) to other areas of activity to encourage engagement with a product or service" [1]

As you may know, this concept is long existent and tried and tested in some segments like,

·         Airline Frequent Flyer, Credit card spends, Superstore chain purchase cards

·         Co-creation mediums such as Knowledge Exchange Forums (stack overflow, MSDN)

·         Nike+ website for defining and tracking runner programs

Unique things that exists across these examples is, it tries to retain and build its user/customer base through various motivation techniques such as

·         Building loyal customers by encouraging more transactions through reward process in the case of airlines

·         Building collective intelligence  by encouraging contributors alongside establishing experts

·         By helping you measure and track your running schedules and ran miles and then share those achievements with your network

Leveraging this time tested and proven techniques along with selectively bringing in fun element of games and applying it in the context of Enterprise is Gamification.

You can practice Gamification through,

1.       Designing and applying reward programs around a specific program/initiative

2.       By designing not so exciting (boring/mundane) applications in a Game play manner e.g. learning while playing games, etc.

3.       Or by combining the above two

 

Sandeep: ohh!!, Interesting, so what kind of potential problems it addresses?

Suds: It addresses concerns around customer loyalty, engagement, motivation to name a few.

Sandeep you know, it's critical to build a loyal audience and keep them engaged; otherwise fickle users quickly find another site or property to spend their time and attention. With abundance of choices, stretch on time, engaging and seeking attention of a user is becoming more and more challenging.

Driving user participation is a challenge especially with activities needing collective intelligence or co-creation (e.g. ideation, innovation, and learning)

·         According to Gallup survey in US in Oct 2011, statistically, over 70% of employees are disengaged at work and are costing billions of dollars in lost productivity, poor performance, and poor service to their customers [2].

These challenges seek for a need of a process, technique to solve problems of engaging audiences by making things interesting.

And believe me; Gamification helps solve this to large extent.

 

Sandeep: You sound really interesting, btw, has it been tried anywhere, any results to speak?

Suds: Yes, a lot. Here are a few examples

·         PCWorld used Gigya to add a social layer to their site to connect readers with social networks to let them share the links with social sites. Additionally, it leveraged Social Login for simplifying access for Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. users. This resulted in 40% jump in registered account. Analytics was used to display tracking referrals, user demographics [3].

·         Samsung deployed it on their US website to improve user interactions/participations by awarding badges, etc. for the blog, video, QnA content on the site [4].

·         Everyday Health uses it on their site to make users stick to their fitness program, helped in increasing paid conversions and life time user value by 5% and 20% respectively [4].

·         Dell implemented Gamification in their Innovation conference to engage with B2B customers to check their products, download content, promotions on social media, provide feedbacks and share social contacts through earning points and badges [5].

·         Ebay -How do you motivate buyers and sellers to operate at highest standard level and ensure transaction quality? Ebay uses game mechanics to improve sales and service levels on their site. As a "seller" points and badges are used to identify top sellers on the site. As a "buyer", feedback mechanism encourages seller to give great customer service and communication [6].

·         Starbucks coffee application rewards user with the Starts and Status levels. It also gives user incentive to keep playing. On reaching Green level, users are entitled for free refills on brewed coffee or tea. Social loyalty keeps user coming back for more "I shall Starbucks golden in no time" [6].

And there are several more,

Sandeep: Examples are great, but in these tough times when clients are not investing, what's it potential?

Suds: The size of the gamification market in 2011 was about $100Million and expected to grow to over $2.8Billion by 2016 - M2 Research report [7]

Gartner says more than 50 Percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will Gamify those Processes [8].

By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application," [8]

 

Sandeep: Is it relevant in Enterprise?

Suds: Gamification can be applied to almost any industry through channels such as marketing campaign, website/content portal, business services, online community to drive participation and engagement. It can be leveraged across enterprise to deal with various user engagement challenges,

Internal to Enterprise

       Innovation management - idea banks, Improving team culture, etc.

       Education and Learning - eLearning, certification programs, vocational training.

External to Enterprise

       Customer Engagement, Customer Retention - cross sell, up sell opportunities

       Health and Wellness - obesity programs, smoking cessation

       Public Policy and Government - Carbon credits, climate change, welfare reforms

 

Sandeep: That's quite a few areas, any recommendation towards adoption or prioritization for an enterprise?

Suds:  Although internal to enterprise and external to enterprise are two independent streams and can be pursued in parallel; however we recommend the incubation to start from internal processes/ initiatives and then slowly move towards external facing interactions. This gives the opportunity to learn from any internal lessons.

 

AdoptionLevels.JPG

Sandeep: Do you have a view in terms of which business will lead the adoption and which may wait and watch for some more time?

Suds: In my opinion, Entertainment, Media & Publishing, Retail is at the forefront of Gamification followed by Education. Other domains like Healthcare are slowly finding the relevance. Energy and Utilities, Manufacturing may watch it for a while. 

GamificationAdoption.JPG

Let me elaborate this in relevance to Retail segment,

Gamification can help retailers differentiate their message, engage more users and provide more compelling experiences.

In Retail, molding typical retail customer behavior of purchasing, visiting a web site or store or signing up for a newsletter  - into elements of a game where customer receive tangible or symbolic rewards for their participation in the game.  Gamification can be used at store shopping experience, interactions on company blogs, build and nurture community for product designs, engage customers through product reviews and so on.

RetailChannels.JPG 

 

E.g. Reward, Incentivize for driving usage of a specific channel such as email, web site, or phone

 

Sandeep: Finally, is it one size fit all, or any specific care one need to take while practicing this?

SudsVery good question, this is not at all a one size fits all strategy, but very organizational culture specific. However some of the best practices that I can suggest one should be factoring in while embarking on Gamification are,

·         For intra-enterprise scenarios, Gaming philosophy and design must align with the Organizational Culture

·         Gamification must suit to individual user interest and context driven, hence understanding the motivational and behavioral aspects of your various user segments is very essential for the success of this

·         Gamification should have ability to track, measure, and reward every user interaction

·         User experience should be immersive and should generate nothing less than WOW!!

Last but not the least, Gamification of any existing application should be non-intrusive and seamless which means the user should be able to carry out his usual activities, or tasks without any additional overheads.

 

Sandeep: This is very enticing to hear, thanks for enlightening me on this new trend.

Suds: Thanks for patiently listening Sandeep!!

 

ENDNOTES:

[1] Gamification definition: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/gamification

[2] October 28, 2011, By Nikki Blacksmith and Jim Harter

 Majority of American Workers Not Engaged in Their Jobs

http://www.gallup.com/poll/150383/majority-american-workers-not-engaged-jobs.aspx

[3] PC World case study

http://www.gigya.com/case-studies/pcworld/

[4] Samsung and Everyday Health - featured customer

http://badgeville.com/customers

[5] Dell case study

http://www.bigdoor.com/

[6] FEBRUARY 16, 2012 BY CARLOS GONZALEZ, Why the hype on #Gamificaiton? because it works!!!

http://mygamification.com/2012/why-the-hype-on-gamification-because-it-works/

[7] Wanda Meloni, Principal Analyst, Wolfgang Gruener, Analyst, M2 Research, Gamification in 2012,  Market Update, Consumer and Enterprise Market Trends

http://gamingbusinessreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Gamification-in-2012-M2R3.pdf

[8] April 12, 2011, Gartner Press Release,

http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1629214

 

August 9, 2012

Smart Farmers: The future of agriculture with 'Internet of Things'

 

Another failed monsoon, another drought hit winter ahead for our country. For a vast and populous country like ours, with ambitions to grow as an economic powerhouse in the flat world, it is a bit shameful that a vast majority of its people still depend on the south west monsoon as its primary source of food and income. Crops fail, and thus demand exceed supply, which in turn gets the prices to soar. As techies, we might crib about the rise in prices but our steady income helps negate them for the time being. But for the 600 million farmers scattered over the country, their whole livelihood is in danger.

How can this situation be prevented? Can information technology help avert drought like disasters and help sustain our country's economy? Internet of Things, a key new buzzword in the realm of emerging technologies, might have a say or two in this matter.


Smartness comes with optimization

One thing any farmer would think of is to maximize his harvest with minimizing his expenditure. How can we optimize a season long cultivation process?

A 24 hour, 365 day, comprehensive environmental and growth parameter monitoring solution could be the answer to this. With sensors at the ground level sending instantaneous data regarding humidity, temperature, light and the many characteristics of soil such as pH, moisture content, fertilizer content etc., one can monitor whether a plantation is growing with its ideal growth conditions. When any parameters go awry, for example, moisture content in soil goes down beyond a set limit, alerts can be raised to the farmer and he can be guided as to exactly how much irrigation is needed and where.

Resource optimization, process optimization, business optimization; all in one go, at your fingertips, powered by meaningful data and the insights surrounding them.

 

Smartness comes with flexibility

Consider you had a piece of land and wanted to cultivate a cash crop as an alternative source of income; consider it your first foray into life as a farmer. You however, do not have any idea on what to cultivate, how to cultivate and how to monitor it. In this case, you would need a tool which can answer these queries backed up by instantaneous and accurate data.

A comprehensive plant management and monitoring system complete with databases, sensors and web based dashboard fits the bill here. Plant databases can be made use of to select the best growing crop in relation to the climate and soil conditions, relayed back by sensors deployed at ground zero. Once a crop is selected, its ideal range of growth parameters could be used as the threshold for monitoring it. Alternatively, one can change the crop (if it's not needed any more) as soon as environmental and soil parameters are not conducive any more.

 

Smartness comes with predictability

The common factor in all stories where crops fail is that the farmer couldn't predict it at the sowing or growing period, until he realizes it's too late. Can the farmer predict the future so that he can take corrective action if necessary?

Our continuous ground level parameter monitoring solution, together with crop databases and accurate weather predictions could actually make this possible. Continuous monitoring of moisture content and pH in the soil can be used to calculate how many days the sown crops would survive without irrigation. This data with accurate weather reports would give the farmer a better idea as to whether he needs to change the crop or explore other sources of irrigation.

 

Conclusion

Internet of Things has a huge potential in the agriculture field, particularly with the water stress and weather changes predicted in the near future. It gives plants a tongue to speak to us, complain to us when it needs resources to grow; also it serves as an ear to the farmers, telling them what to change/add to get optimum growth for the plantation. Its potential is only limited by imagination; we can expect farmers to be very 'smart' in the near future.


August 3, 2012

Importance of Being Human

Unlike most living species on the earth, human beings are probably the most complicated of the lot. Not only are they the most intelligent species aroung, they are also arguably the most social and civilized beings.

As human beings grow from a child to an adult individual they also become rigid in their thoughts. The enshrining principles that guide an individual are the net products of that individual's immediate family, his/ her neighborhood (society / friends), the education system and access to other cultures (through technology or means of travel). Depending on the strength of each of these parameters the thoughts of an individual take shape. Organizations are also similar to human beings to a major extent. When the organization is small it's similar to a child where its mannerisms are extremely chaotic. Like a child an organization also assimilates all the inputs coming to it from its environment without laying any priorities. The organization lacks clear direction & goals and policies & procedures remain unclear. As the organization matures, similar to a teenager, it also develops clarity of goals and direction and there is a consistency in priorities as well-defined policies and procedures come up. The organization gathers stability at this stage. Finally, like a full grown adult who has his/her unique belief systems and thought processes, an organization has its own well defined values which result in distinctive culture. The organization has a high Performance (Outstanding, sustainable results) at this stage with a clear statement of mission that creates sense of esprit de corp. However, along with initial high performance comes rigidity of values as well.

<="#000000">The similarities don't end here. Just like human beings even organizations also face frequent survival issues and many of them die eventually. A brief analysis of the Fortune 500 list, from 1955 when it was first started, shows that of the 1950+ companies that have made it to the list, only 66 have been able to remain in it consistently. Only the fittest survive. Darwinian principles at WORK, one may say!!

There are many reasons that can be attributed to failure of organizations such as: Managerial errors; ill-informed decisions; Greed/risk; Availability of funding; Corporate culture; Hubris; Distance from reality; Creative destruction. While we may argue that Schumpeterian principles remain a major cause of the death of many organizations, where new innovations create new world order and destroy existing ones. However, a re-look at some of the other reasons mentioned above shows that most of the reasons for failure boil down to failure of people.

A look at the recent 2008 recession shows that out of the 20 biggest corporate bankruptcies ever filed, 8 were filed after 2008 and 6 of those 8 were financial services organizations. Financial Services unlike manufacturing are some of the most direct customer facing services. Add to that, the enormous amount of scrutiny that financial service organizations go through on a regular basis must ensure that they remain lean and fit. The question, therefore, is why did this industry perform so badly during the 2008 recessions? A larger question that we may also seek to answer is why do some organizations survive while the others die?

Financial service industries by their very own nature perform extremely complicated operations, absolutely illegible for the layperson (even with high qualifications). Crises such as Sub-prime lending crisis of 2008, the effects of which the world is still coping with, are so complicated that even the people who designed the mechanisms couldn't understand it. The Black-Scholes equation, the holy grail of investors was the core of financial markets. It opened up a new world of ever more complex investments, blossoming into a gigantic global industry. But when the sub-prime market turned sour, the darling of the financial markets became the Black Hole equation. The downside was the invention of ever-more complex financial instruments whose value and risk were increasingly opaque. Myriad organizations hired mathematically talented analysts to develop similar formulae and in the process created an industry which remained extremely opaque to the outside world.

However, what the smart people disastrously forgot was to ask how RELIABLE the answers would be if market conditions changed i.e. sentiments of people who had invested in those financial products changed.

Was an equation to blame for the financial crash, then? Yes and no. Black-Scholes may have contributed to the crash.  But the mathematical models grossly failed to represent reality adequately. The reality was considering PEOPLE in their complex mathematical equations.

What would Keynes, one of the greatest minds of 20th century, do in today's inordinately poor economic scenario? He would be extremely unhappy, for he was strictly against the idolatry of market economics, which incidentally most of the organizations seem to follow even today. As he described about the market - "the worm that had been gnawing at the insides of modern civilization... the over-valuation of the economic criterion". According to him the market was made for human beings - not human beings to serve the market. He strongly believed that nothing had value except the experiences of individuals.

 What do we learn, therefore, from the recent past as well as from the views of past century? It becomes extremely evident that organizations, how much ever smart they may tend to be, must consider PEOPLE at the core of their offering. Instead of making things extremely complicated and opaque it makes sense for smart organizations to SIMPLIFY their operations. Instead of equations driving them to deliver values, it should be experiences of individuals that drive them to success.

As elaborated in the initial paragraphs, organizations are a sum total of their own experiences, which at a later date lend them rigidity. Organizations become slaves to the same rules that they developed to generate high-performance. They forget the fact that it's not the rules that they are supposed to serve. Instead, it's the people who are to be served, and that is where rules must come from.

This is where organizations are dissimilar with human beings. While human beings have this unique capacity to express and read emotions and adapt themselves, most organizations are incapable of doing so. Thus, organizations must create FLEXIBLE systems, where they can read the emotions of the people they are meant to serve, LEARN from the people and ADAPT.

Flexible systems within organizations must also enable them to trash their own beliefs and challenge their own assumptions.

P.S: Scientific evidence shows Whales are more intelligent than Human beings. But is the self-described "Social Animal" human being ready to challenge its own beliefs????

 

http://www.preservearticles.com/2011102115886/are-we-the-most-intelligent-beings-on-earth.html

http://www.centerod.com/2012/02/3-stages-organizational-development/

http://www.dirjournal.com/business-journal/some-major-us-companies-that-went-bankrupt/

http://www.infosys.com/building-tomorrows-enterprise/Documents/smarter-organizations.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenmakovsky/2012/05/31/why-do-companies-fail/