Category Archives: Management

Free open source software dives into a blue ocean of uncontested market space

What is open source software? It is the product of a movement to provide end-users with complicated software free of charge. Even more interesting, most open source software programs have vibrant communities of developers that freely contribute to the software, adding to its value by improving stability and extending functionality.

Whether you knew it or not- you already have had extensive experience with open source software. Open source CMS projects like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal have permanently changed the appearance of the web, helping millions to make websites.

Open source means business

You may be thinking: Blogging tools? Well that is no big deal- but an open source CMS isn’t all play. Magento is making major space in the ecommerce realm, enabling quick deployment of legitimate web-based storefronts. Magento isn’t just a front-end website builder either, it has tons of features on the back-end for business administration, including sales reporting, invoices, a shopping cart, a lots more. (Ask me to create a login for you on my Magento demo site.) Non-profits are able to use open source distributions like civiCRM to manage donations, track customers, and keep in contact with stakeholders.

The wild success of other open source customer relationship management tools like vtiger and SugarCRM sends a strong message to proprietary software CRM firms. Those two programs alone may be what prompted Salesforce.com to brandish a “No Software” crest with their logo.

Small and medium organizations are not alone moving into open source space. Heavyweight corporations are implementing open source tools, slashing IT costs and redefining how traditional software companies compete. New database and server management systems are now almost exclusively based on open source’s champion Linux. Even the most proprietary of software firms like Citrix and Oracle are releasing once vigorously protected software in accordance with demand for open source.

Even government, in all its glorious efficiency, has battled declining tax revenue by turning to open source through Open Office.

What is the driving force behind open source?

Cloud computing lends tremendous liquidity to the open source frenzy. Firms like PHP Fog may enable faster uptime, while rock solid hosting firms like MediaTemple and Rackspace make web serving easy. Demand for hosted software/services will continue to rise with the proliferation of feature-rich open source software distributions.

The practice of taking something really valuable and sharing it with others – sounds noble but impossible to sustain. Still somehow open source momentum seems unstoppable. And don’t be fooled, there is money to be made in open source. Loads of it- Just examine the synergy between Red Hat and JBoss. (JBoss was also the target of lucrative acquisitions.)

Ready to get on board? You can find lots of open source software at Sourceforge.

Try your hand at a CRM implementation: Locally host SugarCRM’s community edition. Mac users can use MAMP, Windows users can use XAMPP and be running in 15 minutes.

7 Steps to unlimited free questionnaires

Gathering primary research about your organization is priceless. Good organizations conduct research. Great companies do it often.

How closely are you listening?

Every business owner has three goals for research:
1. Get the maximum number of responses
2. Get real-time feedback
3. Do it all for free

Right now Google is the only service to meet these criteria (to the best of my knowledge). One of my professors asked me how to do this, so in response:

Step-by-step instructions for conducting unlimited free research:

Step 0:

Get a Google account.

Step 1:

Go to docs.google.com

Step 2:

Create a new form.

Step 3:

Create your questionnaire.
Put a lot of consideration into this step. Consider getting help if you have never done this before.

Step 4:

Save & view.

Final questionnaire will be some variation of this:

If you are satisfied with the final product, email the link (your browser’s URL when viewing the survey) to your customer database.

Tip: Use an HTML email to send the link. Here are some sample HTML templates from Mailchimp for a professional look.

Step 6:

Go back to docs.google.com. Select your new survey. Sit back and count the responses.

Get early feedback if you like.

It will look like this:

Step 7:

When you are satisfied, close the questionnaire by unchecking “accepting responses” in the form tab.
Now export to excel. Analyze. (Or send to a geek who can analyze for you.)

Bonus:
If you want to make the survey even easier to access, embed it in your website. This will make an easier destination for traffic to find & complete your questionnaire: Ex. www.yourdomain.com/survey

Atrium – Make Your Team Collaborate Like Never Before

Atrium will change the way your people collaborate


This tool has it all. Document sharing. Instant messaging. Calendar interoperability. Everything your organization needs to work together more seamlessly is bundled in this distribution. This Vimeo doesn’t do it justice:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/10283561[/vimeo]

If you still aren’t convinced it’s powerful, would you be persuaded if I told the the White House uses this?

Read here for the details. If you want help with deployment, contact me.

Does Oklahoma seem more crowded?

Census Reveals Oklahoma Population on the Rise

Did you notice the lines at Walmart seem a little longer lately?
Traffic seem a little heavier during rush hour?

As a matter of fact, the population of the state of Oklahoma increased by 8.7% over the last decade. While still behind the regional average growth of 14.3%, Oklahoma has proven to be the home-of-choice for Americans from the Northeast and Midwest.

Growth was primarily concentrated in urban areas, while the population of many rural areas shrunk, an indication that Oklahomans are becoming increasingly more domesticated. Most notably, Canadian and Wagoner counties ranked in at more than 25% growth.

I’m curious, what are local businesses doing to accomodate this growth rate?

Michael Porter on Corporate Social Responsibility

Michael Porter seeks to redefine capitalism.

Porter, whose theory has shaped much of what business schools teach about competitive advantage and business strategy, is a cornerstone in B-schools as well as the boardroom. His work simply cannot go unnoticed.

Even if Porter’s work could go unnoticed, current events like hedge fund manager John Paulson earning a $5 billion profit are tough to ignore. Society is asking if business people are responsible with their profits.

In response, Porter is now asserting that business must seek to build “shared value” as an alternative to maximizing SHAREHOLDER value. He believes there is a missing link between a company’s success and social progress, making statements like:

“Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community.”

Because Porter is such a widely renowned and widely accepted thinker in business, this message from Porter in an era where such strong political tension lies between the left & right will lead to a violent split in business theory.

Two outcomes seem possible:

-Traditional businesspeople will categorically reject Porter’s “shared value” and defend profit.

-Progressive businesspeople will embrace “shared value” and levy it in to regulate profit.

Read Porter for yourself and find out where you stand:

Cheers to the star entrepreneurs… for now.

Article review:

Reinvent Your Business Before It’s Too Late
by Paul Nune & Tim Breene – Harvard Business Review

“Sooner or later, all businesses, even the most successful, run out of room to grow. Faced with this unpleasant reality, they are compelled to reinvent themselves periodically. The ability to pull off this difficult feat and to jump from the maturity stage of one business to the growth stage of the next is what separates high performers from those whose time at the top is all too brief.

The potential consequences are dire for any organization that fails to reinvent itself in time.”

Even in this tough economy, many businesses are thriving.

This review is for you, top producing, star performing business owner.

If the status quo of your business seems great to you, cheers. Remember the good times, because they won’t last long.

Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth Revisited” describes the three roles every business owner plays: Technician, Manager, & Entrepreneur. Technicians are skilled at executing the daily affairs of the firm, while managers oversee and plan in an orderly fashion. If the manager and the technician live in the past and the present, respectively, the entrepreneur lives in the future. He is responsible for working “on” the business, not in it. Gerber strongly believes a true entrepreneur craves change.

And change is the essence of what every organization must do in a business world where entropy is the law, not the exception.

While many businesses perform well during periods of economic expansion, others return performance that is negatively correlated to periods of economic recession. In other words, the recession has done a lot of good for some businesses. If that business is yours, let your celebration be short lived. The economy will change soon, be sure your firm is ready to accommodate that change.

Regardless of how your business is performing today, there is a strong case to be made for implementing a strategic plan for change tomorrow. If you are one of many business owners feeling very optimistic about your firm’s current position, be on your guard against complacency.

The market always demands change.

What pirates know about leadership

Wikileaks.org is systematically unveiling a database of secret diplomatic communications.

Now under scrutiny: Diplomacy.

At the time this article was written, 553 of more than a quarter of a million confidential communications have been posted online and in plain sight.

Julian Assange, the website’s founder, is on the run from law enforcement and tops Interpol’s most wanted list.

Even Mike Huckabee, the conservative Christian former governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful said that anything less than death would be “too kind a penalty” for those found responsible for the leak. Assange has strategically chosen a nearly impregnable web hosting service in Sweden that has shielded the site from being shut down. These defensive actions may have paid off- the government is exploring ways to shut the site down. Amazon even had a brief hosting stint while Swedish servers bolstered their systems. Meanwhile, a team of hackers attempts to cripple the site.

Hold, please. What? Hackers want to take down Wikileaks?

Aren’t hackers like the…Disney Movie style…. Pirates??…. Who instead of stealing rum in the Caribbean… steal electronic stuff on the web? Aren’t they our modern information age thieves?

Yet in the case of Wikileaks, these hackers (embracing the nickname “hacktivists”) used their evil powers to undermine Assange.

What about the leaks could be so egregious that even information bandits are assaulting fellow villains, seeking reprieve for diplomats? Keep in mind- this group of diplomats has the one of the lowest approval ratings in history. According to Monday’s Rassumssen report:

“Voters (80%) overwhelmingly believe that most members of Congress are more interested in their own careers than in helping people.”

You would think that the public would love to embrace information that exposes diplomatic corruption. After all, Wikileaks isn’t the only group trying to take down Washington. The Tea Party seriously impacted the political landscape in November and threatens to reinvent our political establishment.

So why has Wikileaks failed to do what the Tea Party succeeded at doing?

Allow me to suggest one key reason for all the backlash against Wikileaks… A key principle to guide any organization.

Even pirates hate chaos.

Wikileaks.org reeks of chaos. They are on a mission to destroy, not to repair or rebuild, American Diplomacy.

What pirates seem to understand that Julian Assange and the wikileakers do not is that humans rally behind leadership – even corrupt leadership.

Regardless of whether these leaks and the corruption is legitimate or not…. Isn’t the point. Throughout history, humans have rallied behind leaders.

If a change needs to be made to American diplomacy, Assange & the Wikileaks staff would likely be far more successful investing time and money campaigning for a political office.

As for those of us who aren’t involved in politics, but instead are involved on a daily basis in different types of organizations-

Don’t use chaos as a catalyst for change.