Tagged: data

The importance of Storytelling

imageedit_2_9709146890Storytelling is a fundamental part of every great brand, business or institution. Every great brand or business has a story and that story connects to the emotions, the characters, the values of the people that live that product or business every day. Storytelling is always been a part of leadership. It is just now we’re overtly talking about it as a tool that leaders can use as opposed to just an aid in our brand’s and the products that we give to people. Storytelling says it’s not about the list of things we have to do, it’s about the connection that we give to people about a piece of information that we’re trying to share. A good story at its essence is simply conveying a message that has logic.

Here are the top 5 reasons storytelling is important for modern leaders:

#1. Storytelling can inspire people to act in unfamiliar, ambiguous and often unwelcome, ways. Tedious cascades of numbers or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even logical arguments for making the needed changes usually won’t do the trick. It is effective story telling that works, if done effectively.

#2. Good storytelling can act silently on our conscious mind. When we hear a story that touches us deeply, our lives are immersed with meaning. As listeners, we have transmitted to us that which matters. Once we make this connection, once a sense of wonder has come upon us, it does not last long, and we inevitably fall back into our everyday living, but with the difference that a radical shift in understanding may have taken place.

#3. Most business leaders are honestly bored with 90% of the conversations they have in a day. They sit at meetings and have power point after power point, and they have meeting after meeting, and they have to do list after to do list. And they’re looking to be inspired. If you have a compelling story, something that is of interest, something that has a connection then people are going to listen no matter what the medium is.

#4. Storytelling is by far the best way for leaders to communicate with people they are leading. It is inherently well adapted to handling the most obstinate leadership challenges of today – igniting change, communicating who you are, enhancing the brand, transmitting values, creating high-performance teams, sharing knowledge, taming the grapevine, leading people in to the future.

#5. Last but not the least; storytelling translates dry and abstract numbers into compelling visuals of a leader’s goals. Although good business cases are developed through the use of numbers, they are typically approved on the basis of a story—that is, a narrative that links a set of events in some kind of causal sequence, something that connects with the listeners and has depth.

At the end of the day, everyone tells stories. The stories that get repeated over and over—and become a part of an organization’s or business culture and/or heritage, and these can come from the CEO, a manager, a new hire, or anyone in between. All you need is to have context, logic and connection.

Enterprise Search

Enterprisesearch Search is the technology through which information and/or data is retrieved with an organization generally through an intranet platform. The information can be presented in any form or format – such as links, documents, emails or simple data. Enterprise search is a boon to the modern corporate environment as it gives easy access to information, increases business performance and contributes towards optimizing the workplace. The quality of enterprise search results is dependent upon the description of the data by the metadata. The fundamental concept of an enterprise search is very much like that of a web search engine i.e. it indexes data and documents from a variety of sources such as: file systems, intranets, document management systems, e-mail, and databases.

Content Awareness – Push and Pull model

The core functionality of enterprise search depends on content awareness or “content collection”, that uses a push or pull mechanism. In the push model, a source system, more like a master repository of information, is integrated with the search engine in such a way that it connects to it and pushes new information and/or content directly to its APIs. This method is used in the case where real-time indexing is important. In the pull method, the enterprise software gathers or collates content from varied sources using a connector such as a web crawler or a database connector. This connector typically pulls the source with certain intervals to look for new, updated or deleted content, and presents data to the user.

The 3 key benefits of enterprise search:

1. Business Intelligence: Enterprise search is now acting as the bases of business intelligence i.e. data and information is becoming easily accessible and available for better business decisions.
2. Social: With the advent of enterprise search capabilities, social features are also getting more and more important. Enterprise search capabilities are now also providing features for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
3. Big Data: Volume and Variety of the data we have to process also needs a new approach. Enterprise search is contributing towards Big Data tools and constantly feeding information into a larger pool/database. Modern organizations are also tracking data and information related to employee behavior and preferences, with the help of search keywords and criteria.

The Future:

Enterprise search products that offer an improved user experience and mobility along with the prospect of a low cost of initial entry will continue to be deployed and used strategically. Corporations and active users of search technologies are already seeing evidence from major players, innovators, and relative startups that the information access setting is changing radically to meet business requirements. It is estimated that Enterprise Search industry is growing at 15-20% per year, and will continue to grow. The current state of enterprise search is modular and fragmented. A successful search platform should be coherent and have the ability of represent more mixed data. The convergence of search and text analytics is definitely a corner stone for next-generation (enterprise) search engines.

So the future of enterprise search is changing dramatically and the technology is here to stay!

The GROW model

GROWIn order to run a profitable business one has to be good with managing people and the key to managing people is effective coaching and mentoring. As an entrepreneur, you might come across numerous instances in your daily lives where you find yourself directly or indirectly coaching people. Coaching involves making sure your people set realistic objectives and achieve those objectives in desired manner. By effective coaching you can help them make better decisions, solve problems that are holding them back, help them develop new skills which would eventually progress their careers. There are many coaching methods that one could adopt. A specific method of coaching might suite a leader, whereas the same method would not be favorable for another leader, who might be dealing with a different set of people and objectives.

In the early 90s many leaders saw the need to structure a formal and effective method to coaching and objective setting. They eventually came up with the GROW model (or process), which is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring coaching or mentoring sessions. It was developed in the United Kingdom and was used extensively in the corporate coaching market in the late 1980s and 1990s. Even in the present day work cultures, coaching is some way or the other related to the GROW methodology.

The word “GROW” is used as an acronym here and stands for:

G – Goal
R – Reality
O – Options
W – Way forward

So to put it in simple words: while coaching and setting objectives for someone, treat it as a journey i.e. first, you decide where you are going (the goal), and then establish where you currently are (your reality). You then explore various routes (the options) to your destination. In the final step, you establish the way forward i.e. prepare yourself for the journey and plan your next move. This method is a simple yet effective way to coach and helps people think more realistically.

Many a times, leaders get into discussions with their teams, where they bombard them with information, facts, steps, plan etc, but lack this simple framework. The most effective way to use the GROW methodology is to align the basic coaching framework with your firm’s objectives. For example if you were to help a team member set objectives or deliver a desired result for your company, you would first need to discuss and set a clear cut goal, examine the current reality, evaluate the options and plan the way forward. Finally, decide on a date when you’ll both review the progress.

This method is highly effective even while setting personal goals and objectives. The core of the framework is that it helps one think and channel their thought in a more structured method, rather than get into a haphazard information dump. As with many simple principles any user of GROW technique can modify and apply a great deal of skill and knowledge at each stage but the basic process will always remain the same.

How important is your DATA?

DATAAn entrepreneur should be comfortable with and knowledgeable about the data that leads their organization. It is always important to know if the data that you work with, governs you or do you govern it!

We all have a notion that numbers (DATA) speak for themselves, but are we actually sure about the facts we are looking at?

The data litmus test – Answer “yes” or “no” to the following statements:

– When I receive a report, the first thing I do is scan through all the data to see what the report is telling me.
– I make sure my presentations and papers are full of charts, graphs, and tables.
– I diligently read all the reports that I receive, in order to figure out the answers.
– I use standard, corporate reports to make decisions and take actions.

If you answered “yes” to more than three of these statements, you would be surprised that you might not be as effective as you think, and therefore your DATA is governing you.

A good business owner would thoroughly understand their businesses and the story that is unfolding within it. They combine their understanding and intuition with data to create a complete overall objective. Well, good entrepreneurs would always know that DATA is just one of the many inputs used to make effective decisions and take action.

Here are a few tips to govern your data:

1. Never look at your data blindly: Always use a question or hypothesis to guide your search.

2. Try to build your own reports: Most corporate reports are created by someone whose job is to make reports, not run your business. Those reports are often generic and not geared toward the decisions and actions you must take.

3. Ask the right questions: There is no such thing as an absolute, “right,” or “complete” set of data. Ensure that you’ve asked the right questions and that your data leads to a logical solution.

4. Deduce and recommend. Figure out what the data means and share that. The sooner you can get to passing along a recommendation or interpretation, the faster you will move to decisions and actions.

5. Never forget the big picture. Any data you look at is just a piece of the full story. Instead of looking at the data in isolation, figure out how it ties to the bigger picture of your business.

Last but not the least, never be bias with your DATA and try to keep it in check. Use your bias to generate questions rather than determine answers. At the end of the day it is all about leading your data correctly, rather than letting your data lead and make decisions for you.

Top web analytics tools

web analyticsAnalyzing your website visitor data is as important as planning for a new business model or marketing initiative. Web analytics gives you insight about your customers and how they behave when they are on your website. Vital elements such as traffic sources, demographics statistics, click through rate and behavioral data can be analyzed with the help of web based analytics tools. Marketing initiatives and product launches can also be planned based on this fundamental data. With the coming of smart devices and cloud computing, web analytics has become one of the most researched topics on the internet.

Here is the list of the top five, easy-to-use web analytics tools:

Google Analytics: The leader of the game! Google analytics is detailed, comprehensive, easy to understand and for the best part – FREE! With the help of this tool, you get to see what keywords are bringing the most visitors to your website pages and what aspects of your designs or display are turning them off. This tool will generate a report for your website that includes information about visitors, traffic sources, goals, content and e-commerce.

KISSmetrics: This is the second best tool available on the web. More graphical in display, KISSmetrics helps you analyze website visitor behaviors change over time, identify patterns and see the most typical and recent referrers, among other stats. It offers a “Timeline View” of visitor activity in an easy-to-understand visual format. They offer a 30 day trial for first time users.

Clicky: When it comes to analyzing data and displaying graphical reports, Clicky is considered almost at par with KISSmetrics. One of the unique aspects of Clicky is that it generates real-time results with powerful segmentation, and offer smart device apps for data on-the-go. Clicky also offers an inbuilt Twitter keyword monitoring system.

Crazy Egg: This web analytics tool uses the science of heatmaps to generate visitor data and behavioral pattern reports. This tool helps you see where visitors click and how they use your site, which helps you make good redesign choices. It also offers other inbuilt tools such as scrollmap, confetii and overlay. All these tools give instant insights about where your visitor clicks while navigating your website.

Mint: This tool is easy to use with plain and simple display options. It offers a fresh layout that offers a great user experience. Mint is recommended for first time users of web analytics, as this tool is priced at a onetime upfront fee of $30 only.

Social engineering is the art of psychological manipulation

Social engineeringSocial engineering in its most basic form is described as the art of psychological manipulation. It is generally associated with the context of security where a person is manipulated to perform a certain action or divulge confidential information. It could also be something as simple as breach of trust, confidence trick or a simple fraud.

There are many forms of social engineering and are generally associated with human decision-making. These acts typically occur when “bugs in the human hardware,” are exploited in various combinations to create an attack.

Here are a few to watch out for:

Phishing:

By far the most popular social engineering technique, it is an act of fraudulently obtaining private information. Usually, the phisher sends an e-mail that appears to come from a legitimate business—a bank, or credit card company—requesting “verification” of information and warning of some dire consequence if it is not provided. The e-mail usually contains a link to a fraudulent web page that seems legitimate—with company logos and content—and has a form requesting everything from a home address to an ATM card’s PIN.

Pretexting:

It is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to engage a victim in a way that increases the chance the victim will reveal information or perform certain actions. It most often involves some prior research or setup and the use of this information for imitation (e.g., date of birth, Social Security Number, etc) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the targeted victim. This technique is used to fool a business into disclosing customer information as well as by private investigators to obtain telephone records, utility records, banking records and other information directly from company service representatives.

Baiting:

This technique has been widely used in developed and underdeveloped countries. It uses physical media and relies on the curiosity or greed of the victim. Typically, the attacker leaves a malware infected floppy disk, CD ROM, or USB flash drive in a location sure to be found (elevator, bathroom , sidewalk, parking lot), gives it a legitimate looking and simply waits for the victim to use the device.

Tailgating:

This act involves an attacker, seeking entry to a restricted area secured by unattended, electronic access control, e.g. by RFID card, simply walks in behind a person who has legitimate access, hence the term “tail” gating.

With the coming of technology and systems, it is highly important for all entrepreneurs to secure their business and day-to-day transactions from such acts of confidence tricking and fraud. As a business, have you educated your employees recently on what information is safe to divulge and to whom they can divulge it? Understanding social engineering techniques can help you develop a plan for how to protect your business. Recognize the signs and protect yourself before it is too late!

GaN is changing the WORLD

Gallium nitride or more popularly known as GaN is a wide band gap semiconductor material generally used in bright light-emitting diodes ever since the 90s. GaN is developing rapidly around the globe to transform many aspects of modern day life. The material has special properties that are also been tested and used by the defense and military of many countries around the world.

We might not know but we do come in contact with GaN in our day-to-day lives. A simple instance is the answer to the typical mobile user “Can you hear me now?” The efficiency and resistance to heat and electronic interference of microwave amplifiers built with GaN enables broader and far more reliable cellular coverage, while reducing the need for cooling fans required by older cell phone tower technologies. In fact according to a South Korean company that makes GaN-based radio frequency and microwave components, U.S. carriers could save approximately $2 billion per year by using GaN technology for their wireless infrastructures.

Another popular example is the Blu-ray disc: As we all know Blu-ray discs can hold more video and audio data in comparison to the traditional DVDs. The data packed into the Blu-ray discs are in the form of tiny groves or pits. The tiny, highly accurate Blu-ray laser beam – powered by GaN-based violet laser diodes – can accurately read these hyperfine pits or groves. GaN technology enables higher resolution for the crystal clear imagery modern movie viewers have come to expect.

GaN is rapidly propelling innovation across numerous industries around the world. Product manufacturing start-ups and large enterprises looking to innovate and conceptualize new products would be way ahead of the game if they understand the true potential of using GaN within their development and business model. We are heading towards an era where future innovators, investors, engineers and scientists will be finding new ways to apply GaN technology into our iPhones, iPads and other digital devices, bringing the networked world to consumers’ fingertips more quickly and effortlessly.