Archive for the ‘Business Learning’ Category

Revisiting the (Learning) Paradigm: Think inside the box!

October 25, 2006

Sun Microsystems recently unveiled the elegant prototype of a evolutionary virtualized datacenter design named Project Blackbox.  In classic engineering design a blackbox is a small and inconspicuous module that records critical operational information that can be electronically retrieved during routine maintenance of after systems failure.  We’ve all seen footage of the NTSB searching for the elusive blackbox following a catastrophic airline crash. 

Well, Sun’s Project Blackbox is hard to miss.  It’s the size of a regular cargo shipping container but that where the comparison with a traditional blackbox dramatically diverges.  As distinct from its smaller cousin, Sun’s Blackbox is a fully functioning and self-regulating high-end datacenter that is optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies. 

According to Sun:  “Designed to address the needs of customers who are running out of space, power and cooling, Project Blackbox gives customers a glimpse into the fast, cost-effective datacenter deployments coming in the near future–where thinking out of the box means putting an IT infrastructure in a box.” 

In comparison to massive brick and mortar corporate datacenters, Sun’s Project Blackbox is easily transported, positioning and powered-up wherever the need for massive computing power is required by companies who do not have the space or funds to build traditional datacenters, or during civil emergencies or national disasters (to name just a few potential applications). 

Conceptually, Sun’s Project Blackbox is a direct challenges to the time-worn adage: Think outside the box!  Well, Sun has now proven that introspection and contrarian thought can revolutionize conventional wisdom on datacenter design and operation in the Participation Age. 

Perhaps Sun’s Project Blackbox can serve as a useful analogy for plug-and-play technology and reusable learning objects used in online course development.  We can now simultaneously think both outside and inside the box to create a whole new paradigm for design and learning.


UMBRIA Market Intelligence from Online Communities

October 4, 2006

During some research today on the topic of market intelligence, I learned about UMBRIA who pioneered the mining of data in online communities using proprietary natural language processing and machine learning algorithms. 

So what? (I thought).  Then I started to ponder how a process “that transforms the unstructured and chaotic data of the online community into actionable market insights account companies, products, issues:” could be used to prove the value and benefits of all types of online and mobile learning implemented by any company. 

I searched further on UMBRIA’s web site and read a number of FAQs and case studies.  The ah-ha moment came when I read: “Whether it’s tracking awareness, satisfaction, or the effectiveness of an ad campaign or new product launch, Umbria’s Buzz Report provides rich and robust insights into the attitudes and behaviors of your target consumers.”  I immediately thought of classic Level 1-2-3 evaluation techniques for training courses.  However, I also thought about the HUGE opportunities for evaluation and feedback that are currently being missed if a product such as Umbria is not being used to analyze company blogs, wikis, message boards, etc. for intelligence that is relevant to learning programs and performance initiatives. 

The training/learning and education markets are not currently listed as ones that find value in Umbria’s services.  My response is: Why not??

More Learning about China: IPv6 for the 2008 Olympics

September 26, 2006

Yesterday on CIO Magazine I read an article titled: China Builds a Better Internet which focuses on background issues and concerns as China’s Next Generation Internet (CGNI) project works to showcase a faster, more secure and more mobile internet at the 2008 Summer Olympics.  Read the full article here.  According to the article, the current internet standard is Internet Protocol network layer protocol version 4 (IPv4) “doesn’t have enough unique addresses for every would-be user in the world to connect tot the internet.”  On the other hand, IPv6 solves this problem. 

Initially I got the impression from the article that CGNI invented IPv6 (although the article did not specifically state this).  In order to satisfy my curiosity and to clarify any misunderstandings on my behalf, I researched  IPV6 on various sites including Wikipedia and Computer Weekly magazine in the UK.   I learned that IPv6 was invented at Xerox PARC in the USA and adopted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (which develops and promotes internet standards) in 1994. Some US Government agencies, including the Department of Defense, have set a deadline of 2008 for moving to IPv6 while China, Japan and Korea are all committed to it.   

IPv6 will reduce the cost of internet-enabling a vast number if internet devices.  So why then are many countries not jumping on the bandwagon to showcase IPv6?  Apparently the bottom line is that IPv6 will reduce the incremental revenue yield per customer and this will translates into smaller profits for internet providers.  What a dichotomy!  Let’s hope that China’s showcasing of IPV6 at the 2008 Olymoics will create such a groundswell of world-wide opinion that internet providers around the world will be “forced” to implement IPv6 networks that will definitely make applications such as virtual private networks, voice over IP, and peer-to-peer networking more powerful and manageable for consumers (the ones paying the bills!).

Identity Theft Learning: Vishing

September 11, 2006

Late last week I was introduced to a new term in relation to identity theft: vishing.  Wikipedia defines vishing as: the practice of leveraging Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to trick private personal and financial information from the public for the purpose of financial reward. The term is a combination of “voice” and phishing.” 

Recently USA Today and Internet News both wrote informative articles about vishing.  How many more identity theft scams with we be subjected to?  Why is it that the bad guys always seem to be one step ahead of the public in their learning about ways to cause havoc and ruin people’s lives? 

The more you can learn about both phishing and vishing, the more you will be aware of ways to protect yourself for online commerce and communications.  Once again, the old adage “buyer beware” takes on new meaning and significance as we become more connected in the Participation Age.

Tethered to Technology: Help or Hindrance?

September 7, 2006

I subscribe to numerous online magazines, many of which I only occasionally skim.  As I work in the high-technology field, I occasionally review the CIO ezine.  One article, titled: “Flag Your Waiter Wirelessly” on innovative uses for wireless technology caught my eye today. 

The Fatz Café restaurant chain based in South Carolina: “is deploying wireless technology to let patrons electronically communicate with their servers.”  The bottom line from a managerial perspective is that the technology benefits both patrons and restaurant staff so that workflow is optimized.  Patrons are squarely placed in the driving seat and apparently the servers have accepting the equipments as it has help them quickly recall the patrons and the time each order was placed. 

This looks like and easy win-win situation.  However, another way this view this situation may be yet another corporate initiative to squeeze every possible moment out of an employee’s work time in order to fast-track service and increase throughput, thereby maximizing profits.  I do not have anything against companies that provide outstanding customer service and optimize their bottom lines.  However, I do become somewhat skeptical when humans become further tethered to every piece of wireless or mobile technology that is available, ostensibly to make life easier, more enriching, and to enhance connectivity.  

I can definitely see potential abuses where patrons who are used to the fast food mentality of “you will have your meal in 10 minutes or its free” may bug the heck out of their server and create more pressure on restaurant staff.  In my opinion, eating in a restaurant is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing event.  Hopefully sanity will prevail and technology will remain the enabler and will not become the focus of our dining experiences.

Learn, Change, or be Obliterated: The China Price

August 22, 2006

I am currently reading “China * Inc.” by Ted C. Fishman.  This is a fascinating and eye-opening expose of how this Asian Tiger has become the world’s fastest developing economy.  Interesting reviews can be found at 

On of the most fascinating learning points of the book relates to the “China price”.  On page 177, Fishman states: “Over much of the business world, the term China price has since become interchangeable with lowest possible price.  The China price is part of the new conventional wisdom that companies can move virtually any kind of work to China and find huge savings.  It holds that any job transferred there will be done cheaper and possibly better.”  These are sobering points indeed. 

Over the past few years have you noticed the trend of how “Made in America” has morphed into “Made in x (pick and  South America country)”, which has in turn morphed into “Made in China”?  What can we learn from this gargantuan shift in the world’s manufacturing base which also has profoundly impacted people around the globe? 

Ø      The world is definitely a smaller place that is connected in so many ways.

Ø      No country has an undisputed right or supremacy over any employment group or industry

Ø      As the world shrinks, the importance of national industries and boundaries is totally diluted

Ø      China’s economic might cannot be ignored as it is dictating how the world’s economy is and will continue to operate

      Ø      Manufacturing industries must change at China’s lightning pace, otherwise they will be obliterated 

The more we learn about China, the more we will start to understand the economic, social, and political realities that are NOT being reported in our mainstream media.