Innovating For the Numerator

The National Academy of Engineering identified fourteen “Grand Challenges for Engineering” that must be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable, economically robust, and politically stable future. (see the full list here) The challenges are a call-to-action for solutions to some of the most pressing issues in the 21st century: identifying safe and clean energy resources; providing for human health, nutrition and security; restoring and reinventing infrastructure for urban habitation; advancing computing power and capabilities; and developing new tools for teaching, learning, medicine and scientific discovery.

We Were Once That Kid: Curious and Analytical

Although you’re now a grown up adult, you probably remember what your life was like when you were a child. I am referring to elementary school ages. We all can look back on what we were like then –somewhat naïve children. Imagine if you could go back in time and speak to yourself when you were that kid. What would you say to yourself? What advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?

More specifically, what counsel or warnings would offer that would better prepare yourself to leverage analytics, big data and quantitative methods to help organizations improve their performance? More importantly, what would you say to yourself that would lead to a more fulfilling career and job prospects than you have now?

Corporate Culture: Your Organization’s Response to Stress

Culture is how an organization internally responds to things going badly. Revenue did not meet targets; the product was late to market; the competition beat us to market, our cost structure is out of line; our quality is suffering; we’re losing customers and market share; our web site is a disaster and our user interface isn’t much better; we’re being out sizzled and out sexied.

So what is the response? Panic? Anger? Fear? Denial? Not invented here? Blame and finger pointing? CYA? Retrenchment into process and bureaucracy? Freeze everything? Fire everyone? Reorganization? An investigative committee? An acquisition? Fraud/cooking the books? Surround everyone with everything we’ve got?

The Importance of Liquidity

Global cash visibility has been a mantra for companies for many years.

No doubt it is a worthy goal, but then business has a lot of goals. Why should this one be treated as more important than others, say one like “global profitability”?

As the last few years have shown liquidity is as important as profitability; low profitability hurts, but lack of liquidity kills. If your company has been told by its counter parties that it has no / restricted access to the external capital markets then negotiating a price or terms will not be the key issue. In other words, not having “enough” liquidity (e.g. bank borrowing) could doom a company to becoming a second class one.

The Skeptical CFO

It came as a bit of a shock that some customers just weren’t going to pay you. For no good reason. I would ask if perhaps the delivery had been short, or was late, or something went wrong with the implementation, or they were trying to use it as leverage on another deal, or maybe they were having cash flow problems themselves. If so, we could work something out. No, it wasn’t any of those things, this was simply how they treated all their vendors, they’d pay us when they felt like it, or maybe they wouldn’t pay us at all.

Why Do Some CEOs Take More Risks?

Everyone has different attitudes to risk. Our individual judgments, interpretations and preferences influence the way we approach risky decisions. Sometimes, we can weigh the odds in a fairly rational, mathematical way. But when chief executive officers (CEOs) take big decisions such as acquiring another firm, it is very hard for them to know in advance how likely different outcomes are. Risk taking is not so much an economic calculus as an interpretive act.

GAO Issues Report Outlining Mobile Security

Mobile devices have become incredibly popular in the consumer and enterprise worlds, as more businesses begin to see the benefits of cultivating a strong bring your own device (BYOD) policy. Several reports have revealed that corporate expenditures, both capital and operational, can be reduced by allowing employees to bring in their own technology.

However, security remains a major question among those with executive jobs, as unsecured devices can spell disaster by way of data breach and loss of corporate information. It is the responsibility of a business’ decision-makers to ensure the integrity of all information technology (IT) operations, which can be mitigated through IT departments.