The Digital Worker, Episode 1: Overview


For years and years, and since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, workers had only had one work scenario: Report to work at 9:00 AM, do the tasks assigned by your direct manager, and leave at 5:00 PM.

The advent of the Internet, and especially the recent proliferation of mobile data, have brought about another revolution, which we wouldn’t call the Information Revolution. That has taken its course since the invention of the first computer. It is handing over the keys to something new and disturbing. A combination of multimedia communication anytime, anywhere, social media, broadband network coverage, and devices that can handle unthinkable amounts of data in real-time, have made it possible for a new phenomenon to emerge: The Digital Worker.

The dynamics of ‘work’ have dramatically changed for a large sector of the workforce.

The ‘Digital Worker’ no longer needs to report to work at 9:00 AM and leave at 5:00 PM. He/she does not even need a traditional workspace: An office, a cubicale, or even a desk. All they need is a ‘machine’ and an Internet connection. Hence the new terminology: Anywhere, Anytime.

Teams can meet virtually. Projects may have members in Iceland, South Africa, India, Canada, or South Korea. And those are just examples to convey what ‘anywhere, anytime’ looks like.

How about products and services? Physical products that consumers request. How can that be achieved digitally?

A new e-Commerce model has emerged, which is called drop-shipping. The Digital Worker runs an online ‘store,’ which show products’ images, specs, videos, prices, and of course, digital cart and checkout facilities.

Customers place orders right at the digital store. In the background, suppliers receive those orders automatically, once placed, process and fulfill them on behalf of the Digital Worker, right to the customer’s doorstep. Read more about this model in a previous TWM post: How to Choose the Right Product.

To offer a service, Digital Workers must be highly innovative. Let’s take medicine as an extreme example, which has always required the physical co-presence of the patient and the heathcare provider.

Well, that is no longer a rigid requirement. Telemedicine has soften that need by allowing doctors and patients to communicate virtually, in realtime. Physicians can diagnose and prescribe remotely. On the farside of the spectrum, a surgeon would perform an operation via telemedicine, using virtual reality and robotics technologies. You can read more about telemedicine in a previous WTM article: Reaching Out to Patients: Telemedicine.

It is hard to comprehensively cover all aspects of The Digital Worker’s attributes, work environment, rewards and challenges, in one article.

In the next post, we will explore with you the last two aspecs mentioned above: Rewards and challenges.

Stay tuned.

TWM™

© Image Credit: Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

The Leader-Manager Entrepreneur


One of my favorite books on leadership is the late Stephen Covey’s: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey’s articulation is top-class. He convinces you that there are two almost independent spheres: One for the leader and another for the manager. Could one person juggle between the two? Covey didn’t particularly recommend that, stressing that a leader should not be consumed by the day-to-day details of the business. Rather, he or she should be totally focused on vision, mission and long-term objectives.

While this can be true in corporations, when it comes to small businesses and entrepreneurship, the lines between the two worlds become rather blurry.

One day, your main focus would be on the five-year strategy of your marketing plan, the next you find yourself under a desk plugging Ethernet cables, or sorting out receipts of recent purchases. And that is the beauty of the whole thing, of the one-man-show adventure. That’s how it starts, and sometimes, that’s how it continues to run. Having said that, I do strongly recommend starting with a credible partner, who would stick with you the whole journey. Loneliness could be tough when the winds are not behind your sails.

In the previous article, Risk and Reward: The Two Vital R’s of Business, we talked about how an entrepreneur must evaluate their RT before delving into the ocean of business on their own. Here we explore how that is tested on the ground, in the midst of it. Now you know how much risk you can bear in order to reap a reward you had seen before you started!

On the lighter side of things, one would need suits and overhauls in their closets. Black, shiny shoes and thick, sturdy work boots. Fine perfumes and grease-cleansing hand soap.

This is not living two personalities. On the contrary, this is extracting the best of your God-given talents and putting them on the line.

Switching between the two roles becomes natural over time. A new, well-rounded personality, rooted in a character of offering true value and sincerity, evolves out of the continuous interaction with challenges and finding intelligent solutions.

Another aspect of this dual responsibility/multiple hats dynamic is being able to focus entirely on the one task at hand, no matter how different the previous or the next task would be. For example, you could be in a meeting with business stakeholders to discuss your product strategy. While in that crucial meeting, you remember that afterwards you must take care of an urgent maintenance issue in the office. The stakeholders meeting calls for your leadership presence, while the maintenance problem requires handyman skills. Being able to focus and then shift is key here. You could think of other interesting and fun examples that fall into the same realm.

Is there a special training for such interactive talent? I don’t think so. The best training is on the job, by actually trying, making mistakes, and learning, till the pool of skills is honed to almost perfection.

Enjoy!

The Wealth Maker

Risk and Reward- The Vital Two R’s of Business


We are risk takers by nature, all of us, in varying degrees. But marching into the unknown is a human instinct that manifests itself in obvious, as well as mysterious ways. Every hour of every day we take risks. You may allow your mind to explore this idea and find examples. Traveling to a new country, hiking an unmarked trail, buying a gift for a loved one, tasting a weird- smelling food, going to war, getting married, asking for forgiveness, climbing the Himalayas, camping, skiing, driving, falling in love, leaving home, and doing nothing is also a form of taking risk, yet indirectly.

For the sake of our topic, let’s narrow down that endless list to just one: Starting your own business and deciding to become an entrepreneur.

Why do people leave the comfort and security of a guaranteed pay-check, and go on their own? For starters, that comfort has become unattainable lately. Downsizing, mergers, acquisitions, financial crisis, to name a few, have made job security a thing of the past.

But that is not the main reason entrepreneurs go out and face the world alone. It is something within each and every one, a calling if you will. I bet you’ve heard this before and you might be thinking: “OK, a calling, but what is the percentage of success of that calling? Show me the money!”

True, no matter how strong a calling was, and how enthusiastic the person would be, a business venture must yield financial results. In other words: Money 🙂

That’s why, before delving in the ocean of entrepreneurship, one must evaluate few traits that are vital to making that journey a pleasant and fruitful one.

So what are those traits? The first that comes to mind is risk tolerance. I’ve talked about this, giving it an acronym of RT in several posts about investing, and it still applies here, probably more so. A low RT isn’t going to help here. A very high one would result in taking too much risk, and again that is dangerously dangerous 🙂

We are looking for a healthy RT, which on one hand drives the entrepreneur to explore new, uncharted frontiers, most of the time alone and with little knowledge and tools, and on the other, keeps him/her aware of the potential challenges, and do enough research and preparation ahead of, during and after taking the risk. What is that called in plain English? Wisdom combined with courage. And in eloquent English: Courageously wise or wisely courageous 🙂

The heart of our discussion here is the following:

‘Risk and Reward are proportional: The more risk one takes, the higher the probability of reward. The opposite seems to be true, most of the time.’

Let’s start with a simple example: If you decided not to teach your four-year old child how to ride a bike, fearing the risk of injury, you denied him/her the rewards that come with riding a bike. One of them is innocent joy!

To get any reward, we must do something, right? And any doing involves taking a risk, no matter how small. That’s why they are related proportionally.

Raise the level of one, the other gets a boost. The challenge is to find that threshold where raising too much would result in unwanted results rather than rewards. And that threshold differs depending on the situation.

In the example above, rushing the learning curve increases the risk of injury. Taking the matter way too slow may delay the reward or even prevent it from happening.

We need to be patient with the whole process. We start by taking small risks and observe our emotional and mental reactions, just like building, you start with a foundation, then keep adding to it.

Another aspect of this building process is appreciating the results, no matter how small.

When it comes to building a new business enterprise, the principle would be the same, however, the application is different.

Does that mean you start with a tiny little venture then expand gradually? That’s one way to approach it. Say open an online store with only one product line, give it your best till it starts making profit, then add a second product line, and so on.

Nevertheless, if you know that your RT is high enough to get into bigger business adventures, especially if you know you have good financial and practical backing by trusted partners, then you may want to create a vision that would lead to more aggressive plans. For example, starting an eCommerce platform, where small business owners can open their one-product-line stores.

The web is full of tools and articles on how to assess your RT level. Here’s one, which I have no affiliation with, and can’t guarantee its results, but you may want to give it a shot, or look for something else in that line of tools:

http://www.moneycontrol.com/personal-finance/tools/risk-assessment-tools.html

In conclusion, know thyself before starting a new business. The time, money and energy spent doing that is worth the clarity that result from being aware where your next step will hit the ground.

All the best,

The WEalth MAker

Business and Technology: Allies or Adversaries?


Not long ago, trade was at the core of business: The exchange of value between the buyer and the seller, physically. People used to travel, on horseback, carrying their homeland goods, to distant territories. They would trade the goods they have with what the other country had to offer.

Nowadays, billions of dollars get exchanged everyday, across the globe, without anything physical being “traded”. The wonders of technology!

Millions go online to trade commodities they never own, or to bet on price movements of stocks, indices, currencies or commodities. What is being exchanged? Where is the value transferred from the seller to the buyer?

Has technology added an inherent value to business dealings?

Has it made making money easier or losing it faster?

A merchant in ancient times wouldn’t lose his shirt overnight. Today, a business may go down in days, due, in part, to a blind reliance on technology.

Technology is a tool, a means to an end. When a business adopts any new technology, it must “serve” the mission of that business. Failing to do so, is a sign of either picking the wrong technology, or not having the right expertise to correctly utilize it.

The other concern when it comes to entirely relying on the instantaneous availability of technology is the probability of the opposite! What would a business do in case of a power failure, a major software crash, a loss of connection to the intranet (the business’s own internet, sometimes called Virtual Private Network (VPN); a tunneled network that securely rides over the public Internet)?

Here are some guidelines concerning the “marriage” between business and technology:

  • What is the business about, regardless of “how” it’s going to reach its objectives?
  • Who are the “people”, human beings, whom will run that business?
  • Does this business need to rely “critically” on any technology? what is the percentage?
  • What is the technology strategy? One that is “derived” from the overall business strategy, not the other way around, even if the business is all about “making” technology. In other words, a hi-tech enterprise
  • Do we have, in-house, the expertise to select, procure, install, configure, test and run the technology we need, or do we need to outsource it?
  • Risk management: Document, in details, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to follow in case of a technical malfunction, no matter how small. The overarching objective is to keep the business running, at its best, and keep customers happy
  • Have we considered implementing five nines High Availability (99.999 % HA)? There is no such thing as 100% availability, but five nines is close, yet not enough, alone

The list could go on. Add to it what’s relevant and specific to your business.

This article is an invitation to be aware of the wonders of technology, its limitations, and the best approaches to utilizing it for the good of a business.

The author loves technology and comes from a scientific/technology background, yet the misuse of a wonderful tool turns it from being an ally to becoming and adversary…

 

The Wealth Maker