Why is IT Always an Issue?

“IT sometimes forgets that we are a car company, not a tech company.”

I’m not quite sure how many people have heard a similar statement from clients (replace car with any product). Never before had I heard a statement that so neatly wraps up the issues and frustrations that I believe many people have with IT.

IT ComicWhat’s the core of the issue? IT is seen as a blocker and difficulty rather than an enabler. Why can’t things be simpler, or easier? Why does it take so long to do what I do now in excel with a few clicks? These are all valid questions. The easy answer? You don’t understand what we are accomplishing here and the implications of what you’re asking, delivered in an appropriate tone.

At the end of the day results are what matter. There isn’t a 100% clear solution to the issue of IT organizations and departments consistently not meeting expectations, but in order to keep clients and customers happy there is one clear action that can be done. Communicate with the client and don’t surprise them with bad news. There are countless articles on how to solve this communication divide and deliver bad news, but at the center of any project or product people delivering intangible software products need to shift the conversation from “can’t be done” to discussion of what can. At the end of the day, explaining how something can’t be delivered is not a conversation that will create a situation where any part wins. What will, is establishing realistic and deliverable goals that will assist in solving the pains of the client.


Clear communication from IT

IT may not be the business of a company, but IT should be the ones opening up new paths for a company to walk down. Not obfuscating the path to a smarter and more efficient business.



What’s Facebook Good For?

Facebook, the worlds biggest social network. Facebook’s main uses for most people include yelling at others over opinions, sharing baby pictures, and other equally important activities that include content from people and companies around the world. The big question, and one that Facebook’s currently trying to make visible, is what are the other uses of Facebook?

For Marketing

There are two main user groups of Facebook for marketing, the first being large companies and the second being individual entrepreneurs running small establishments. It is a completely free way for small businesses to establish an online presence, and for large companies it is another outlet in which they can interact with consumers. With that in mind, anyone who maintains a Facebook page for an entity other than themselves must be aware of both the positive and negative results that can occur.
Thunderbird Facebook Page.PNG
Thunderbird Coffee, a local coffee shop, has a page that is being used effectively. Thunderbird uses this to engage with customers, put a human face on their business, and promote special events which are designed to draw in customers. A small business can use Facebook as an effective and low cost way to get in direct contact with clients. For the larger companies Facebook is a risky way to generate buzz and business. Does the good word of mouth outweigh the negative word of mouth?
American Airlines

For Learning

Facebook appears to have its sights set on making Facebook a resource for professional groups and distribution of articles. While the distribution system is not yet stood up, there are a number of career orientated professional groups that are present on the site. These professional webpages are similar in look and function to LinkedIn groups, with the quality of comments and content being the differentiator between the two.
I joined the below SAP group and found many of the comments on the page were individuals plugging themselves or something that they are looking to sell. While this is just one instance of a professionally orientated group on Facebook, the intent of Facebook has traditionally not been for professional purposes. From this experience, it appears that Facebook is going to have to shift the culture of the user base if Facebook hopes to compete with LinkedIn.
Facebook Group Joined.PNG

From Publishers Point of View

Creating a page for a company or organization is extremely easy. Logging in with my personal account and creating a page for a fictitious company took no more than five minutes. This may part of the explanation as to why there are so many poor examples of pages and posts from presumably professional organizations. Unfortunately, while easy to set up, to access some of the features present in these pages, such as analytic dashboards, a page must have 30 likes/follows. Regardless, for a real company Facebook is an excellent platform for advertising and direct company to customer interaction.
Customer Interactions Facebook
Outside of the business interactions with customers and personal non-professional interactions with friends, Facebook is limited in functionality. It will be a while before Facebook is anything more than an add platform, but Facebook definitely has the ambition and the funds to evolve into an entirely different company than it is today.

The Successes (and Issues) with Snapchat

Before I start this, full disclosure, I’m highly skeptical of the current valuations of some of the new social media companies. Of all of these, I find it hard to believe that Snapchat’s valuation is accurate at $16 billion. While it makes sense that owning the medium where people place there eyes for hours a day is worth a large value as a marketing platform, how can that high of a valuation be justified? Looking at the balance sheet of Snapchat, it appears that companies are willing to pay to get advertising in front of Snapchat users, but not nearly enough to justify the valuation. This brings me to the next question. How does a phone app that a $16 billion company was founded on look and perform?

Snapchat Landing Page

In order to answer this question, I started by signing up for an account. All things considered, they do have a nice landing page and signing up was easy. Download the app, enter an email address, and get started. I created the handle mgreis25 and was instantly opening the app on my phone and inviting to connect with friends who already had Snapchat. The user interface is intuitive, with five simple buttons that are used from the main screen to interact with the app. Straight off the bat there are two main things that make this app a cool and innovative experience.

The Good:

Screenshot_2016-02-11-20-38-42.pngThe first is the medium. The fact that people are interacting almost entirely through pictures and videos makes the communications more relatable and engaging. With over 90% of people in the US having smartphones, why don’t consumers and businesses orient pictures and video into more communications? A five second video is much more illuminating than a 140 character Tweet.

The second big feature delivers more than a twitter hashtag will ever be able to. The ability of the Live Feed compilations to show an event that is currently happening and bring you into the moment to see all the craziness, or ordinariness, at certain events is truly unique. This is unlike anything that I have experienced on a social media platform to date.

The Bad:

The big issue I see with Snapchat is the fact that the content is not permanent. After viewing the Snapchat, you cannot save for viewing later. Did you like what you just saw? Well you won’t be able to view it ever again. While it makes sense considering Snapchat’s somewhat scandalous origin, I’m not a fan.

The Future:

Taking into account the humble origins of the app, the founders and creators need to realize that in order to appeal to a wider market they need to remove the auto deleting post feature. Let the people keep their Snapchats! By having the sender choose whether the receiver is allowed to keep the Snapchat, they will be able to retain the original functionality while gaining new users who want to keep the content that is shared and received.
Snapchat DemographicsThe users of this app are primarily between 13-25 and majority female. There has yet to be a foot hold established in the older user demographic. The younger demographics appear to be using this app the best. I have yet to find/hear of a review of the content Screenshot_2016-02-09-18-55-26older users are posting, but older individuals are generally not too fond of Snapchat. Considering the secretive nature of Snapchat content sharing, the entities who are truly using this medium effectively as a marketing platform are the companies that are paying big money to be featured within the app underneath the Discover and Live sections. Snapchat is extremely proud of some of the successes that they have had, an example being the marketing for Fast and Furious. If a user clicks on the bottom right menu, they are lead to feeds for different live events and business entities. Once inside a corporation’s Snapchats, the user has the ability to watch a slew of videos and easily share with friends in one swipe.

Snapchat is a slick application for younger users and can be an effective marketing platform for high paying corporate customers, but I don’t think that valuation of $16 billion is reasonable. With Snapchat retaining no content from the users and only allowing for large companies to broadcast their message, the company is limited on how many paths it can take to generate revenue. Whereas Facebook allows for small businesses to advertise locally by paying on an ad-by-ad basis and gathers vast amounts of personal data, Snapchat does not allow this. At best I see the company rapidly losing value unless the business model changes drastically, becoming a shell of its former self. At worst, Snapchat may die as the user base ages and has less interesting content and time to share with one another, reducing the user base.





Why Linkedin?

The question is simple, why use Linkedin? Whether searching for a job or not, there are a few key advantages that this website offers . Having a purely professional conduit through which you can tell who exactly you are and demonstrating actual work examples certainly offers benefits when searching for opportunities.

Work Example

In addition to the benefits of offering the benefits of a professional face in whatever industry you may be in, Linkedin creates an area where you can instantly jack into the accomplishments of past colleagues and see what these people have been up to. When logging into Linkedin this weekend, and deciding to update my profile with the latest information, I went on a bit of a…connection spree? The two primary people who I connected with where people who I respect for their quality of work, and ability to deliver successful results. These two individuals were Steven Gole and Raj Mani who I work with at my current company.

Recent Linkedin Connections.PNG

With this wealth of information about who worked where and how people’s careers have advanced, there is one big question…how do I get my dream job at a company I would love to work for? Well, thankfully Troy was here to help. The career path that Troy took mirrors similar stories to what I have heard from other managers and directors. In order to progress up the corporate ladder, especially in the tech sector requires the ability to wear many different hats. Troy progressed through Google by bouncing through different roles, mostly at Google, and as of now is a Technical Program Manager. Troy's work experienceGoogle seems to require a technical background in software or electrical engineering, or similar technical backgrounds…although Google claims that college education and grades have little bearing on their hiring.

The groups that I chose to be a part of are centered around my professional interests. The focus of these groups are around Enterprise Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence, with the most active group being Big Data and Analytics. These groups have already provided insights into what other companies are doing and where the data industry is going before the knowledge is published regularly in articles. The saying “everything that can be invented has been invented.” seems to hold true in the data warehousing industry, and hopefully I can build upon the experiences of others.