Defining a Market Driven Company

November 7, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Financial, MBA 

This isn’t a normal blog post but rather me sharing a paper I recently wrote to describe to a superior what it means to be a ‘Market Driven’ company. It is a long read but I think the information is applicable to many people regardless of title or position in a company.

Defining a Market Driven Company:
Describing Characteristics of Market Driven Companies for Your Superiors

Colgate has declared, “Our mission is to find needs and fill them, not make products and sell them” (Day, 1999, p. 8 ). These words and similar slogans are often used by companies to emphasize and reassure the customers and employees that the company is market driven and customer centric. Unfortunately these slogans are just words and being a “Market Driven” company means and takes much more than regurgitating the CEO’s PR gem of the month. In order for a company to be market driven it is important for the whole company to be on board and actively seeking to remain market driven. The culture of a market driven company is an ongoing effort on several fronts including relationships, exchanges, internal knowledge and competitors.

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Cutting Edge Technology in Higher Education

April 3, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bluffton, MBA, Tech, higher education 

This paper will address two different technologies which when applied correctly in any place of higher education could result in a better experience for the students as well as an improved efficiency for the administration of a institute of higher education.  The first technology which could provide a radically better experience for students is RFID or radio frequency identification tags, which could replace the plethora of IDs, cards and keys which universities currently unload on incoming first year students.  The second piece of technology has already proven itself useful in numerous areas and we can expect it to be used in teaching and administrating in higher education in the near future.  The use of wikis have become a part of everyday life for many people who turn to Wikipedia on a daily or weekly basis to find out anything from how long it takes an eyelash to grow back to Mark Twain’s real name.  The software which powers Wikipedia is called a wiki and it is an easily edited web document, making it the perfect candidate for a policies and procedures manual.  This ever changing representation of the day to day functions of a department or job title reflects the current position much better than a static three ring binder tucked away in a bookshelf does.

In order to convey the improvements RFID technology will bring to the life of students I have created a short video, which showcases life at Bluffton University after I get my RIFD chip.  See it Below.

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The benefits to students will also provide additional efficiency to college administration.  By consolidating keys, ID cards and network logins to one RFID tag the administration time and energy will be cut down enabling the university to better serve students.  The tracking ability of RFID tags will enable the university to track traffic patterns on campus to determine popular areas and plan accordingly for campus utilization and expansion.  RFID technology has already been used to save time by taking attendance in California, though it was cancelled due to privacy concerns (Greenfield, 2006 p. 56).   In order to allay some of these concerns, Bluffton University would provide students the ability to turn on and off certain features which would interfere with privacy as well as anonomizing usage statistics to further protect the privacy of it’s students.  Finally the ease of use and cutting edge technology could draw more students to Bluffton University (pg 56).

Another piece of technology which Bluffton University and higher education institutes could put to good use is a piece of software called a wiki.  A wiki can easily replace the out of date policies and procedures manual of the organization as well as providing a way for departments and positions to track how reports are run and on what schedule certain tasks need completed.  At Bluffton University I have started a wiki for the advancement services department which will be tracking how I do my job so that I can better track who requires what reports at what times.  The wiki will also account for special handling instructions and tracking which had previously been relegated to the back of employee minds and worn sticky notes.  Wikis can be easy to use and many free services exist which are easy to start and roll out for even the most technophobic employee amongst us.  The many benefits of this dynamic format clearly showcase the need for organizations to roll out wikis in day to day business and as a policies and procedures manual for the organization with certain users who have the ability to edit it.

These new technologies can improve the efficiency of the university and save money as well.  These savings and enhanced experiences will allow Bluffton University to remain competitive in the experience it offers students and the price of education.  As Bluffton University has made classroom technology part of the student experience, RFID and wikis are the next step in providing a revolutionary and affordable college experience.

Geeksquad and the Web: What Happens When Consumers Stops Being Polite And Start Being Real!

March 27, 2007 by Josh · 2 Comments
Filed under: Bluffton, Customer Service, MBA, Tech 

As part of my ongoing MBA classes at Bluffton University I have spent the last several weeks collecting blogosphere and mainstream media references to Geeksquad, the computer repair arm of Best Buy. I will share some of the information I found through and technorati, as well as providing a summary.

Technorati Mentions Per Day:

Keep going for links and more

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Utilizing RFID and Web 2.0 Services in Higher Education: A First Look

March 20, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bluffton, Lifehacks, MBA, Tech, higher education 

The new influx of cheap and revolutionary information technology into the business world has the chance of greatly changing even businesses with the most stringent budget. The beauty of the ideas behind the web 2.0 movement is that the barriers to entry are small which results in often free or very cheap services that even the ivory tower of education can take advantage of. Another implementation which can be undertaken and in some ways led by higher education is the use of RFID tags and ubiquitous computing. This paper will discuss the additions which could be made to Bluffton University in order to fully leverage ubiquitous computing and the many new social networking features and web 2.0 services. I will focus on two main areas, the student experience and the advancement division which impacts alumni as well.

The use of RFID tags at Bluffton could drastically change the way students interact with the entire environment. These RFID tags could be used to monitor their class attendance and could be used as an identifier when checking grades or scheduling classes. This is similar to an initiative which started in California to monitor classroom attendance in order to cut down on teacher administrative time (Greenfield, 2006 p. 56). The program did not succeed due to privacy concerns, which raises an important point. Privacy is an important part of our everyday lives however if the information stored on the RFID chip is protected adequately and it is a unique identifier but not one that can be used to access other student information in the primary campus system by an individual then some fears can be put down. For example each student has an RFID tag which ties to the campus system, however the access to the system is only allowed when a trusted reader reads an RFID tag. The RFID tag would not contain the student’s ID or the student’s Social Security Number. Other additional steps would be taken to safeguard the individual’s information. The other concern is that students could be tracked across campus (pg 56). This is a harder problem to solve, in that to fully utilize the RFID solution it would be not only linked to classroom attendance but to student meal plans, their door locks, and campus vending machines. This would blanket the campus in RFID readers raising privacy concerns. This is loss of privacy as we currently know it is also discussed in Everyware by Adam Greenfield (2). The question is, whether we will give up this privacy and whether an institution should ask its employees and students to do so. Overall the benefits far outweigh the negatives in this instance form my experience as a student, this relies greatly on the trust one has in the system using an RFID system though, and could not easily be transferred from Bluffton to a random organizational body and retain the same level of trust. An added bonus to implementing such a system is that RFID’s use in the University setting at this early stage is that manufacturers and backers of RFID could be convinced to cover implementation costs in order to study the system and use it as a showcase of RFID on a campus.

This is my personal vision of how RFID tags could change the university experience.

When you arrive for your freshman year at Bluffton you are handed your ID card which is equipped with an RFID tag, you are also given the option of implanting one on yourself. This tag is linked securely to a central serer and it can perform many functions. First off it is how you get into your dorm, and how you get into your dorm room(no more lost keys), after your first week the dorm room has gathered a significant amount of metadata on your in interactions with the “smart” in room technology form the phone to the wall mounted television, the server even knows not to auto on the lights when your roommate is fast asleep and you just got back from all you can eat Pizza at Luke’s. Now when you are in a friends room your tag tells the room phone you can be reached there and the switchboard automatically routes your calls with a personalized ringer to that room. This can happen on any campus phone, though you have the option of disabling certain phones or blocks of phones from having your calls routed to them.

Its lunchtime now and you and your newfound friends head over to Marbeck to get something to eat, you are really thirsty so you stop in the lobby and use your tag to purchase a bottle of water with your “Beaver Bucks”. Once you get to Marbeck you are “swiped in” by simply walking through line, your RFID chip did all the work, and soon you are on your way to enjoying some “fresh” pizza.

After lunch you head to Bob’s Place the student union on campus to get a Edy’s Ice cream sundae with your RFID tag once again and sit down at one of the computers. Your are automatically loged into the network with a mirror image of your desktop, this is available on any campus computer with your info being stored on the network. You check out your classmates for Intro to C, and realize you better get to class, with the RFID tags being used for attendance even your busy professor knows who is late.

These are just a few of the conveniences I could think up off the top of my head relating the use of an RFID tag or similar ubiquitous computing solution on a University Campus.

Paul Rademacher made by merging two freely available sets of data and Google Maps’ API to create a simple interface for browsing craigslist home listings on a map for ease in finding a home you want, in a location you want (Tapscott, 2006 p. 184). Bluffton University could leverage the open API of Google Maps to show alumni where they can find other alumni in order to meet new people in an area they recently moved to or to reconnect. This would need to be done on an opt-in basis for alumni to respect privacy wishes. Bluffton could also use Flickr’s open API to create a photo sharing site for alumni and students of Bluffton. This would be a low cost way of providing a popular service to our constituency. The low cost of this option makes it even more attractive.

Bluffton could also make use of a internal wiki as a policies and procedures manual. This wiki would allow for several super users to edit the main content but would allow any faculty staff to add to the page in order to transfer knowledge regarding specific situations and or procedures. This practice is similar to the eureka database developed at Xerox to share information. Departments can also use wikis to document the set up their own policies and procedures manual to track tasks which require a specific set of actions in order to be accomplished correctly. I plan to begin using a wiki to document how certain mailings and activities are performed, not only for myself but for others who do similar work and for someone who will eventually do my job.

These are only a few of the ideas Bluffton can initiate and benefit from. The ideas range from easily implemented and cheap to pricier and more involved editions. In any case Bluffton should pursue the use of open APIs to create better services for the students and alumni it serves.


Greenfield, Adam Everyware, The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, New Riders Press, 2006

Tapscott, Don, Wikinomics, Portfolio (Penguin Press), New York 2006

These ideas are currently only at Bluffton University in my head, we don’t plan on implanting students with RFID tags or attaching them to ID cards, though I think that under the right circumstances they could drastically improve the college experience.

IP Sharing Leads to Riches for Goldcorp!

March 13, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bluffton, MBA, Tech 

Check out this interesting story of how Goldcorp shared their intellectual property regarding geology on property they owned to avoid bankruptcy and make millions.

Goldcorp and IP sharing

Blockbuster’s Electronic Networks

March 13, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bluffton, Customer Service, MBA, Tech 

Electronic networks are pervasive many companies at presently and are used to aid in efficiently running the company. Electronic networks are defined by John Seely Brown in two ways, “First, they help deal with cascades of information that many people find so threatening. Second, they promise to handle many intricate human tasks.” (Brown, Duguid 2002 p. 36). These electronic networks are made up of agents that perform many actions. As a frequent movie watcher, I am a subscriber to Blockbuster’s online movie rental program as well as a member at my local brick and mortar store. I will detail some of the agents in use by blockbuster and offer some suggestions for agents which would improve the overall experience of renting movies from Blockbuster.

Blockbuster currently uses an agent which deals with the complex amounts of information regarding my movie ratings, and comparing them with similarly rated movies, and looking at the movies they also rate highly in order to provide recommendations to me. The problem with these agents is that they understand the rules but cannot impart judgment into a decision which results in a weakness for the overall electronic network (Brown, Duguid 2002 p. 53). These problems trouble all recommendation systems currently in use, and companies are actively pursuing new methods for recommendation agents. Netflix, Blockbuster’s competitor, has even offered a reward for a member of the general public who creates a new and improved recommendation method. This is similar to Goldcorp’s method of finding new gold deposits by sharing company intellectual property (Tapscott, Williams 2006 p. 10). The Netflix contest has already resulted in many entires, many of which are already improving on Netflix’s recommendation system by more than 6%.

Blockbuster also uses an agent as part of their brick and mortar store to let customers know when they have overdue movies. The agent is similar to the chatterbot described in The Social Life of Information with the information supplied by a store rather than by a chatting customer (Brown, Duguid 2002 p. 36). The agent isn’t perfect in that is will sometimes call a renter after the movie has been returned, however it performs its task well and negates the need for a human to remind someone that a movie is late. This system is also backed by a postcard system to inform users if they have a movie which is close to the purchase point of a late fee.

One part of an electronic network which would be beneficial for Blockbuster to add would be an agent or process in the system which reconciles in store rentals with the online rental history of a user. This would perform several functions the most important being the removal of in store rentals from the rental queue, in order to avoid duplicates reaching the customer. Another added benefit would be for the recommendation system to view a larger rental history which is actually a twofold benefit. A new system could look at movies rented but not rated and some calculation could be performed on that, the history could also be used to prompt the user to rate more movies hence improving the overall recommendation system.

The use of agents at Blockbuster as parts of their electronic network have improved both the customer service by providing recommendations, and the efficiency of Blockbuster by automating many tasks and handling complex datasets. Without these networks it would be very difficult for blockbuster to contend in the online movie rental system.


Tapscott, Don, Wikinomics, Portfolio (Penguin Press), New York 2006.

Brown, S. J. and Duguid, P. The Social Life of Information, Harvard Business School Publishing


Sony and the Blogosphere: Missed Connections

March 6, 2007 by Josh · 2 Comments
Filed under: Bluffton, Customer Service, Games, MBA, Tech 

“Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.”

20th of 95 Theses from the Cluetrain Manifesto

Sony has come under much scrutiny in the past year and has illustrated that they do not understand how to communicate on the Web as we know it today. They have been also been the subject of many blog posts regarding their products, hacking them, reviewing them, attacking Sony practices, and much more. Sony has often taken a strong arm approach to dealing with information they do not want shared, and they have taken an even stronger approach to users modifying their hardware, or criticizing their business practices. To highlight these problems I will further discuss Sony vs. Homebrew on the PSP, Sony and its Rootkit, Sony vs. Kotaku, and Sony vs. blogs on the PS3.

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Google v. Wikipedia Workplace Structure and Management Styles

March 6, 2007 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Bluffton, MBA, Tech 

*This is the first part in my postings for the MBA program I am currently in. The course covers information technology in relation to a variety of topics.

Google and Wikipedia are both pioneers in the information industry and are revolutionizing the current market for information gathering and information sharing. These two companies share similarities but the management styles and philosophy surrounding these companies varies greatly.

Google has revolutionized searching on the internet and information finding for people of all walks of life. Google provides a new way to cultivate ideas internally and utilize the power of creativity. At Google, employees are able to utilize 20 percent of their time to pursue projects which interest them (Vise, 2005, p. 131). This practice was garnered from the ability of professors to utilize one day of their work week for academic projects (p. 132). Many of Google’s new features have been started as employee projects. These projects have lead to increased branding, market share, and profitability for Google. The projects have become integral to Google after being worked on by employees during the 20 percent time, includes Google News, Froogle, Google Reader and many more which are part of the Google Labs portion of Google (p. 137). This method of fostering innovation and creativity has helped Google better live up to its mission, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” ( The top down management structure of Google contains rigid scrutiny for projects by Both Larry and Sergey account for the success of the 20 percent projects which become public tools (p. 138).

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