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Showing posts from 2012

Modern workforce requirements....at home

There has been a lot of talk about the skills shift in the labour market in Europe and USA. A big part of the simpler jobs are moving to robots, low-cost countries and are being exterminated by more excessive use of materials, standardization, computerization and better processes. There is a very interesting TED talk (Are droids taking our jobs) about how this trend will get more and more powerful.

But have you noticed that the same thing is happening at home? I mean can you even get all the stuff at home working if one of the parents is not a highly educated and experienced technician? For example when I was young the technical problem to solve was sharpening pens. Maybe you needed to sharpen a knife for that, but it was more about hands and less about brains. Now one must struggle with problems like Gmail is not working in a tablet because WiFi gets disconnected. Or reinstalling a telephone, because it cannot connect to the PC maintenance software anymore.
 Try to remember how many …

What is the problem with open data initiatives?

Many countries, including Sweden and Estonia, have started open data initiatives in the last couple of years. The goal of these initiatives is to open up publicly owned data for enterpreneurs who can develop services on them and well... make money. However, the success of these initiatives has been only moderate until now. I think the highest success has been with services offering public transport route planning and similar, but mostly the services are more or less only interesting toys. So why is the success moderate? I see several reasons for that:
- The data being opened (for free) is usually commercially un-interesting. It is not the citizen or business registrys that you get access to for free.
- Consumers in general are not willing to pay anything for e-services. It is the businesses that make money with e-services and who are also willing to pay for them.
- The institutions themself, like for example Stockholms Lokaltrafik and also Google, provide very good services on the ori…

How to avoid development?

All office workers and especially managers know that development and change are very uncomfortable. Changes like new products, new processes, new structures demand extra effort and work. There are usually many loose ends and many new things you need to think of. Perhaps a change would mean cleaning up the mess you currently have in the IT systems, technological architecture or processes. You probably might also need to talk to people that you do not know previously or maybe even don't like. All this is very stressful. So how you as a manager can silence that (annoying) guy with the new bright idea. How to kill the enthusiasm of creating new ways of working? Here are some ways how one can accomplish that:

It all starts by creating a process for incoming development ideas. The process must definitely not start with an e-mail or a phone call to you. No, no, no - that would have the opposite effect. Instead consider the following methods:
- Create a mailinglist for the incoming ideas …

About saving costs

Saving costs is something every organization needs to do now and then. Usually the focus is on training, travelling, personell, office costs and vendors. However, there are a few areas that usually are overlooked when cutting costs. As these are very important and big costs they definitely demand more attention from the managers.

First - "Projects that get 90% done.... but are not launched". A project that is almost launched is like an "almost goal" in football. The effort has been made - work done and money spent - but there is no use of it.  If you look around in your organization I am sure you can find numerous such things. For example:
- Strategies that were worked out by a team and left then laying in the shelf
- New products that were developed, but never introduced to the market
- Process development that was designed, decided on, but not implemented
In many cases the reasons for not doing the last bit are subjective. A person leaving or a change of mind of s…

How to be successful by using self-generating phenomenons

I have written before about self-generating phenomenons in estonian, but it is an important topic that could be discussed more. Self-generating phenomenons are really important development paths in business, technology, society and environment. Detecting or creating one might easily you a millionare.

First, what is a self-generating phenomenon. It is a process, technology or anything such that creates output that increase the process itself and that in turn increases the output. Let's look at some examples to explain:
Training and sports. The more people are into sports, the more sports shops there are in town. The sport shops want to increase their business, so they do advertising and sponsor sports events. The more advertising and events, the more people are into training and sports. The loop goes around until a logical maximum is reached and all the possible people who can be won over to sports are there.
Tourism. Apparently Stockholm is earning the most from tourism among the Sca…

Slim state, IT systems and the Internet

In Estonia the idea of "slim state" has long been a praised one. Relatively low taxes, minimal government and regulations are considered to be ideal. Until now this strategy has worked rather well .... in the sense of economical development. Estonian economy has been developing best among the post-Soviet republics.

 I would like to make the point that in the 2012 world a neoliberal governance might not be the most successful one and looking on other models could prove useful. As I am residing in Sweden now I have an opportunity to observe the differences between the relatively neoliberal Estonian and the relatively social-democratic Swedish society. I also suggest that modern IT technology, social networking, datamining, mobility and other technical+sociological developments provide many new opportunities for governing a society better than ever.

 Firstly I will define the problem.
 If one pursues a slim neoliberal government then the ideal is the absolut minimum of public se…

The strange case of real estate and banks

I must apologize from jumping out of the topic of IT and IT services with this post, but maybe there is something to learn from it for everybody. Including IT people. The topic I want to write about is the real estate market and ... how bubbled up it is. Especially the Swedish one.

To start up some facts, links and numbers:

- You can see the average apartment square meter price of different parts of Sweden at www.maklarstatistik.se. For Stor-Stockholm the average price is currently 34 826 kr/m2. That is approx. 3870 euros. The average means that it is something between 22 000 kr/m2 in the outer parts of Stockholm to 61 900 kr/m2 in Östermalm.
- The average netto salary in Sweden was 27 900 kr/m in 2010. It is a bit higher in Stockholm 31 700 kr/m. (But the SCB did not state if this is neto or bruto)
- The price of real estate in Sweden before the financial crisis (january 2008) was on average 18% lower than today. So there was just a slight glitch in the prices and then they continued …

Why teleconferencing is not de-concentrating the population?

In my last post I wrote how you can use different conferencing tools for multi-location collaboration. It is true that modern telecommunication tools have made it possible to work at home, to work with teams in different countries and different parts of the world. So the location of jobs should become less and less relevant. This should mean that the pressure to move to the nearest growth-city would weaken in time and we should see a trend of people moving to places where nature is closer and housing cheaper. But this is not happening! Why?
We still see jobs and people moving to growth centers - to Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn, rather than Paide and Kärdla.

One explanation for this is that telecommunications and IT enables not only working from distance, but also ruling from distance. You no longer need a local office or locally adjusted services. So paradoxically the better the communications get the more economical it gets to concentrate the jobs in the capital. Or what do you th…

How to use (video)communication tools in international projects

This list of hopefully practical and useful advice is based on my personal experience of running and participating in Nordic and Baltic projects. For five months now I have been working in Sweden and have been involved in projects involving Estonian, Finnish, Polish and Swedish team-members, people who are not only in different countries, but also in different cities, offices and cultures. By now I can state from my experience that it is possible to minimize travelling and run international projects with modern telecommunication tools. It is difficult, but possible. Here are a few subjective hints. I would greatly appreciate any advice and hints for myself and other "teleworkers" in the comments!

The tools.
One should use all the communication tools there are available. For example I use the following:
- Telephone
- E-mail
- Skype (calls, videocalls, desktop sharing)
- MS Live Communicator (calls, desktop sharing)
- Cisco/Tandberg videomeeting
- Telia Telemöte phone-conferenc…

How to move to Estonia Guide (for ICT consultants, specialists....but for others also)

The information in this post and the links were updated on 18th of July 2014.

In my opinion Estonia is a good place for IT specialists to find a job and work in! Especially in the situation when the (youth) unemployment is rising and in many European countries there is no sign of it easing. I promoted the idea to the Estonian IT companies in one of my recent posts. With this post I want to give my contribution to the exchange of talent inside EU. I hope this helps at least a few people.
 This post is definitely not an official guide, but more of a friendly advice. If you have any questions regarding moving or any important information that could help others then please comment this post!

 This post focuses on moving to Tallinn. Tartu, as the second biggest town in Estonia, is also an alternative with Playtech and Webmedia as the biggest IT sector employers there.

The first thing you need is a job.
 If you are an IT specialist with a university degree there is a good chance you can find…

Estonian IT companies and immigration

I acknowledge that with this topic I might wander to an area of strong emotions. Nevertheless I think this is a topic that should be discussed and there is a lot win-win opportunities here. I will start by a few background facts:

In 2006 a population analysis of Estonia was made that you can read here According to the analysis by the time I will retire somewhere in the 2040's the Dependency rate will increase from the current 47% to 70% in Estonia. This means that 30% of the population will be working age and all the rest will be either children or retired. Instead of 614 000 persons working we will have approximately 300 000 people in the working age, but approximately the same number (700 000) people depending on them.

So if we would like to keep the current level of pensions (a pathetic 300 euros/m), social support, education, roads, military etc we would have to double the taxes. In 2045 you will pay 66% social tax, 40% VAT, 42% income tax. So if your employer would pay out 10…

Gmail down...

For an hour now it seems that Gmail has been down for many users according to the Twitter feed. You can also follow the status here.

All Telia, Sonera and Elion e-mail services are up and running.

The disaster of Google Picasa

I have been a fan of Google's products for many years and have been using Picasa as a wonderful web gallery service. I am a paying customer buying storage from Google. But well ... not anymore. I just did a radical change and deleted all my albums from Picasa because it turns out Google has done some nasty changes in the service. Done them without any respect to privacy and without giving any choice to the customers. Here is how the thing now works:
- If you tag a photo with a person in Picasa and the person is in your Google+ circles then the whole album is opened to that person automatically.
- The person tagged can then share the whole album to his circles. Maybe even make it public.
- According to the new Privacy terms Google gets to keep all the photos with name tags and location tags, essentially saving the information of millions of people's life's, their whereabouts, friends....
- Picasa web albums is probably soon to be end-of-life and Google+ photos (web gallery …

Should you invest in Facebook or Google

When Facebook was down today some addicts might have felt frustrated, but in fact they saved time for other things to do. No work stopped. Actually we might have even experienced a sudden surge in office work activity.

If Google's services like Gmail, Maps, Docs, Translate, Books, Youtube or mind you - The Google Search - would go down then working or running errands would be seriously affected for many, many people. Probably for almost all of the 2,26B Internet users.

What does this say about the possibility to charge their customers by Facebook or Google? Would you rather pay for a "time-sink" or a service saving you time and helping you? Or is it more probable to stop using a service that is just fashionable waste of time or a service that helps you navigate to the place you need to go?

...but on the other hand
Drinking is also bad, but you will be able to sell beer until the end of mankind and....
...wasting your time on Facebook and computer-gaming is environmentaly…

Making the world flatter

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“The world is flat” was a book and an idea presented by Thomas Friedman in 2005. The concept of the flat world means that globalization has changed our world economics drastically by creating international and even intercontinental supply and support chains. Global competition between companies, teams and even people has made many things cheaper, ideas and innovation travel faster, but it has also caused jobs to move and the environment to suffer from consumption, logistics and travelling.

But how flat is the world really? Is it flatter in some parts of the world? How is the situation in the Nordics and Baltics? Here is my perspective to it and I hope to bring it some insight from my experience of moving on an international assignment from Tallinn to Stockholm.

Why a multi-national company should move people?
The reason is pretty obvious. This is the best way to get people to work together and share ideas and experiences. Videoconferences, telephone meetings and visits do help, but e…

3 Estonian IT innovations from December

E-services are among the most important sources of economical efficiency. In Estonia 3 small, but innovative e-steps were taken in December. Here is a small summary of them.

Firstly of course the population and housing census! The census will take place between 31.12.2011-31.03.2012 and hopefully all the inhabitants and housing of Estonia will be counted. During January it is possible to participate on the E-census and "count" your family and household through the Internet. This is of course much more efficient than having the interviewer visiting your home. By now over 190 000 people have been enumerated. That is approximately 13,5% of the population. The goal is to count more than half of the population over internet. One can follow the status of the census (and count yourself if you are an inhabitant of Estonia) here http://www.stat.ee/phc2011.
I participated on the e-census and it worked fine. Although there were a lot of questions, I was happy that I could answer them…