Salary Transparency

February 5th, 2008 | Categories: off topic, strategy

SalaryWages and salaries have traditionally been a taboo water cooler topic around the workplace. It’s almost as if people have something to hide. In large big corporations, bureaucracy and politics play a big role. But in smaller firms and start-ups this isn’t usually the case. Therefore, I see no reason why secrecy is such a big issue around money. Transparency would remove any doubt and provide a new motivation tool.

Salary transparency would flatten the hierarchy and create a whole new sense of culture. I think any small organization could benefit greatly from this. The ability to view co-worker salaries would force companies to compensate properly - based on experience, education, and performance - rather than politics and executive judgment.

Seriously though, why shouldn’t it be like this? Obviously, a 45-year old worker is likely to be making a lot more than a 25-year old based on knowledge and experience. But this provides motivation for the younger worker - something to strive toward. Performance should definitely be taken into consideration.

I bring up this point because it is one of the few examples of politics and bureaucracy in many small firms. So why not eliminate it? I think that all companies should post salaries on the wall, in clear view, for everyone to see. Revolutionary idea? Not really, but it would motivate employees to work harder and put the slack asses out of a job.

Northern Voice 2008

February 4th, 2008 | Categories: blogs, marketing, networks, off topic, social media

Northern Voice 2008It’s almost that time of year again. On February 22 and 23, Northern Voice will take center stage in Vancouver. Known as Canada’s blogging conference, the annual event has been bringing bloggers and technology enthusiasts together since 2005. 

Though marketed as a “conference”, participants prefer to refer to it as an “un-conference” - where accessibility and open discussions encouraged. Well-known former attendees include the likes of Robert Scoble, Anil Dash, and Tim Bray.

I had the pleasure of attending this wonderful event last year and it was a blast. I met many new faces and reconnected with some old ones. Plus, you can’t beat the price. Registration is only $40 per day, or $60 for both - a steal in the world of conferences. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend this year, as I have a family reunion happening at the same time.

In any case, I highly encourage anyone and everyone who is interested in blogging, web 2.0, social media, and technology in general to register for this event. Did I mention there is a pre-conference party on the 21st?… ;)

Microsoft’s Online Strategy: A Yahoo Acquisition

February 1st, 2008 | Categories: acquisitions, networks, social media, strategy

Yahoo logoWe’ve heard the rumours for months years. Enter… today. In an incredible turn of events (well, not really), a Microsoft-Yahoo acquisition may actually be in the works. To some, this is huge news. To the rest of us, it was only a matter of time.

Undoubtedly, Google is king in the online world. Yahoo is scared. Microsoft is scared. Now, they can be less scared, together. Both are lost with respect to their online strategies. Microsoft logoYahoo re-hired Jerry Yang in attempt to revolutionize the company. This never came to fruition. As for Microsoft, the Redmond-giant has always been lagging behind Google and Yahoo when it comes to online strategy. The software heavyweight is best known for arriving at the party too late and over-paying for mediocre properties. By joining forces, I think that Microsoft, in particular, is hoping that everything just ‘works out’ and everything falls into place. Unlikely.

Obviously synergies will exist. Costs can be cut and economies of scale can be leveraged. This will likely cause an HR nightmare, but business is business. If either wants to have a chance at Google, this may be their best option. This may be the last hurrah.

Microsoft stands to gain most from Yahoo’s search engine and ad platform. These are two areas where Microsoft has continually been playing catch-up and has never seemed to get a strong grasp on the market. That said, Yahoo is lagging behind Google in these areas in a big way as well. Another area where Microsoft stands to gain from Yahoo is with respect to brand. Yahoo drives a lot of revenues via its services. This is largely in part to excellent branding.

My biggest concern is whether current Yahoo employees will want to work for the sloth-like, monolith we know as Microsoft. My guess is that the cultures vary greatly and that post-acquisition syndrome may take effect.

For more news on the acquisition, check out:

Why Twitter Will Go Mainstream

January 31st, 2008 | Categories: blogs, marketing, networks, social media, trends

Twitter logoToday Mark Evans wrote a great post entitled “Taking Twitter Seriously”. In his post, he ponders whether Twitter can break through to the mainstream. Such a feat has proven very hard for most web 2.0 companies, and technologies for that matter. Even now, blogs and RSS are still just starting break the surface. Having said that, I think that Twitter has a better chance really good chance at achieving mainstream status.

As we all know, Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. Therefore, the technology is a subset of blogging - the main difference being the length of posts. These short messages take very little time and effort to produce. Sound familiar? Text messaging may ring a bell. The explosion of mobile may be a huge catalyst for Twitter. Other forms of posting do not bode well for mobile due to their length. Nevertheless, short status updates seem to fit very well into the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t seem like a huge leap of faith to conceive people transitioning from text messaging to micro-blogging.

Add to that the fact that social networks (most notably Facebook) have facilitated the evolution. How? Well, SN status updates are akin to Twitter. In other words, trying to explain Twitter to a newbie may prove to be difficult, but referencing the SN status update tool may help bring clarity to the process. After all, if people can relate to something they already know, it makes the education process much simpler.

The two aforementioned points around text messaging and social networks bring about a nice conclusion. The learning curve will likely be much lower than most web 2.0 technologies/servics. Adoption is much more likely.

Finally, the main reason Twitter may hit the mainstream is this: it relates to real people. This isn’t “pie-in-the-sky” technology. It’s actually useful and provides real value. The closer the connection with a given Twitter contact, the more important and pertinent their updates will be to you. Obviously, family members and close friends come to mind. The passive ability to check up on your close connections is extremely valuable. Establishing itself as the leader in the space will allow Twitter the opportunity to bring people closer together - a powerful concept.

What do you think about the future of Twitter? Do you think it has what it takes to break through to the mainstream? Or will the trend fall off and the service flounder?

The Perpetual Beta Concept

January 30th, 2008 | Categories: launch, marketing, networks, social media, trends

Pioneered by Google, the BETA concept is now commonplace in the new web world. Before reaching saturation levels, this concept was an actual useful process. Now, self-proclaimed “BETA testers” are none other than regular users. These people are not submitting bugs or providing feedback. It is at this point that any company should drop the label.

Sourcing the always trusty Wikipedia, we find that a BETA version is defined as:

“…the first version released outside the organization or community that develops the software, for the purpose of evaluation or real-world black/grey-box testing.”

Haha. This makes me laugh. How many users of web 2.0 BETA services actually partake in real-world black/grey-box testing? My guess is not very many. Therefore, the label no longer applies.

In theory, all products and services are always in BETA. They are in constant need of testing and debugging. There is no such thing as a perfect product.

A BETA period should last a specific period of time OR until any major bugs and kinks have been worked out of the system. But this isn’t the case. As I noted in the post title, the concept of a “perpetual BETA” isn’t rare. Many new products and services never leave the BETA stage. After all, once BETA version 1.0 has been released, why not market BETA version 2.0?

The obvious conclusion is that more and more company are attempting to leverage this label in an effort to create buzz and stimulate growth. I have a message for them: the fad is over. It’s not trendy anymore. You’re degrading and disrespecting the Greek alphabet. I beg you to stop. End of story.

Note 1: I wrote a similar post about that BETA invite system, which you can read here: Is The BETA Invite System Flawed?.

Note 2: I do understand that the actual term “perpetual BETA” does exist. But once again, I think many companies are abusing and misusing the term for marketing purposes.