Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Magical communication experiences

Have you noticed there are a lot of weird phenomenons enabled by communication technologies that we accept as normal:

- People walking on the streets and talking to themselves is absolutely OK. We know that they are using their handsfree, but it looks kind of funny, doesn´t it?
- People chatting with customer-service bots....that are essentially robots that learn, is just fine. Sometimes we even don´t know that they are robots. There goes the Turing test.
- Having a videocall with a latvian in Norway while being an estonian in Sweden is just everyday ordinary work. Nothing special in that at all. We actually do expect that to be almost free of charge.
- Sitting on a train no-one reads books anymore, but many are doing work - chatting with colleagues, setting up meetings and writing e-mail.....a bit makes you wonder that why are they travelling to work anyway.

Are people already having video-parties? I mean drinking beer in different cities, towns or well...houses and having a Skype or Hangouts connection open.

This post is inspired by the UC EXPO where most of the best unified communication providers are demonstrating their newest and finest solutions.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Magical shopping experience

We live in a time when magic is possible for everybody. Here is one magical thing you should try out.

 Go to a supermarket that offers self service buying: like Selveekspress or Coop self-service. Buy the groceries you need and try to do it without talking to anybody. Afterwards reflect what happened.

 Here is how I would explain what happened. You walked into a place of abundance, took whatever you wanted and walked home. You only had to beep a "magic card". It was pretty much like living in a garden of Eden....but way better, because in Eden there was only food on offer.

 What is even more amazing is that many people, actually most of the people working in offices get power to their "magic cards" by....talking, writing and drawing. Not lifting heavy stones or digging ground, but sending e-mails and doing Powerpoint presentations.

 Isn't life great and magical! :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Will Gazprom have the fate of Kodak?

If you have not seen this TED talk from Al Gore about the Climate Crisis then I would recommend it. Surprisingly optimistic!

Al Gore makes the point that we can be optimistic because renewable energy solutions are on the verge of becoming cheaper than fossil energy solutions. Is the situation in the energy sector similar to the situation with film and digital photography in the beginning of the 21st century? I would be optimistic and say Yes. Here are some arguments I would like to add to this discussion:

- When comparing fossil and solar-wind energy then besides the cost of the energy production it is also important to note the costs of grid. As most of us can read from their energy bill the grid costs stand for more than 2/3 of the whole cost - with the current low energy prices. Grid companies are usually huge monopolies, powerlines are expensive and therefore the costs of the grid will not go down. However, with a solar-wind-wood production unit and a battery one can get off-grid and skip the costs. It is definitely the winning solution in places where there is no grid.

- Price decrease of solar, wind production units and batteries has been linear if not exponential. We always underestimate exponential progress.

- If usage of renewable energy grows on the expense of fossil energy then soon the fossil fuel installations start becoming more expensive per kW and support of the technology exclusive. Think buying a film camera and finding a studio to print photos from films in 2016.

- Fossil fuel energy production is really expensive. Think of the huge infrastructure, tankers, pipelines and so on. If we would add to that the costs of the environment, land and water used....well then there would not be a business case in it at all.

So if the turn-around from fossil to renewable happens fast enough then there is maybe hope afterall. And investing in the oil industry or in the East-Estonian "cooking oil from oil shale with no care of the environment" is something one should consider with big skepticism.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A radical idea about public TV

TV business like all media business is in the middle of a big shift and the players in the market need to adapt.
Public TV (like YLE in Finland, SVT in Sweden or ERR in Estonia) serves a mission in our societies and is key in supporting democracy and culture. To keep up with this and provide un-biased information the public TV programs should have good news, debate programs, documentaries and similar. On the other side thanks to the decline of linear TV it is soon no longer necessary to fill the whole day with a program and it will be enough to just publish news and programs. This means that the public TV-s can skip showing movies, shows, series and entertainment. I would actually say that showing entertainment on public TV serves no purpose on supporting democracy and therefore can be considered as unfair competition to the private TV channels. Is should be stopped. We should stop spending taxpayers money on entertainment on public TV and stop competing with the private channels with, in essence, governmental dumping.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dangers of using SCRUM, Process management and especially RACI model

I have seen and been involved in designing processes and writing role descriptions in different organisations. Sometimes the work is really concrete and useful, sometimes it can become really high-level and filosofical.....time consuming, expensive and restricting. Here are some comments I would like to make on the issue:

-The level of detail needed in the models indicates how bad the relations and teamwork are in your teams. If it is on the level of "I take care of the technology and all around it" then you have a good team.

- Detailed and popular models like SCRUM and SAFe are necessary in teams where there are new members and or members from different organizations or cultures. The familiar methods make co-working easier when there is no time to build trust.

- Detailed role definitions and methodologies are dangerous. Even the most detailed descriptions and models do not take into account all the possible scenarios and it can easily happen that everyone does their tasks perfectly, but the system goes down or the development does not deliver. (MOKK - Minu osas kõik on korras / Minun osaltani kaikki on kunnossa)

- Detailed process models and role descriptions turn organizations into bee-hives: very effective in a status quo environment doing the same thing over and over again, but totally unable to adjust if change is needed.....and change as you know is a constant in modern business.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Helping organizations perform

During my career I have helped many organizations to improve their performance. Mostly in product development, but also in service provision and occasionally also in sales. I have worked with big companies like MicroLink, Elion, TeliaSonera, Eesti Telekom and others, but also with small startups. Currently I am implementing Lean Startup methodology and thinking in Sonera in Finland.

Now if there is one thing I would like to point out in improving performance it is that there is no one thing that makes it happen. There is no ONE tool, method or process to boost organization's performance. No one silverbullet. Naturally there are good methods and tools like:
- Getting customer insight with www.recommy.com
- Lean Startup for product development

- Coaching, Time management training
- Process management, etc.
But each one of them itself does not make it. You also need to work with people getting along, economical constraints, mindsets and traditions that have produced un-effective processes, legacy systems, bad overview of data, etc., etc. Sometimes the office setup creates problems or there is a core IT system that makes everyone hate their job.

So improving the performance of organizations means usually implementing a lot of different things, building different relations in the organization, getting the right decisions and methods in place. Usually the task of finding the performance bottlenecks itself is a detective endeavour that takes many (face-to-face) meetings, trying out things and finding the walls by hitting your head against them.

Any thoughts? Write me at mart.ridala@pilveraal.ee

Friday, September 18, 2015

Huge remote working test in Finland

The Finnish trade unions organized a huge remote working test today. In order to really test the limits the office workers were forced to work from home by totally shutting down public transport in Helsinki. Even some kindergartens were closed to test how working from home can be arranged with children jumping around. The ones opting out of the test could do so only by losing their days salary.

The results showed a huge success! Video- and telemeetings went up, traffic went down. There were virtually no trafficjams and all the work got down. The environmental impact was huge as the nation used substantially less electricity and gas.

As a result of the success the Finnish government is planning to launch a program to promote teleworking and move people away from Helsinki to towns were they actually could afford their own home.