Etikettarkiv: Business

Is Microsoft the Global Police Force?

Right or wrong Microsoft is pushing their cloud solutions and I’m sure they are good, or at least no worse than other cloud solutions on the market. What I wonder about though is the strategy behind the commercials, it’s all very nice and worthy to be the cloud solution behind big public events. However, what I don’t understand is why Microsoft are so proud over their Digital Crimes Unit, or proud might not be the right word, but personally I would think twice before publicly and globally market the fact that a privately own company has taken on a global police role. While I can see the need to keep up to speed and even anticipate threats, it’s always good to be able to stop attacks on a cloud solutions. But posing as an alternative, private, police? Has the support for and belief in the police force sunk so low that companies retreat to their own cyber crime solving units? I’m not speaking about research and monitoring, I’m speaking about Crime Units that helps find criminals – all according to Microsoft’s own words. Public Private Partnerships, PPP, is a fairly usual way for the public sector to work with the private sector and it can be a very good for all involved. But I personally believe strongly in the so-called state monopoly on violence. I am certain Microsoft’s Crime Unit finds cyber criminals, I mean it’s their job, but what happens then? Are these criminals reported to the national police force in the country the criminals are found? Microsoft deals with them themselves? And what in the eyes of Microsoft constitute a crime? It’s not a subject for a commercial, true, but I’m not so certain that I find this approach of Microsoft’s reassuring.

Annonser

The Disenfranchisement That Isn’t

They are disenfranchised

we’ve heard it more and more in various political analysis always in relation to the so-called grievance parties and their voters, think UKIP, Front National, Sweden Democrats, Vlaams Belang, and even if they are not parties – Trump and to a certain extend Sanders (although for his voters it’s more “quaint but unrealistic”). It’s an argument which has been repeated with higher and higher voices and more and more intensely. You know, like we all do when we are trying to convince ourselves that something we doubt are really the gospel.

I started with looking up what disenfranchised means, and Merriam Webster defines it as

to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially :  to deprive of the right to vote

in other words, in the original meaning it is a conscious act of someone that puts another person in the position of disenfranchisement. But in the criticism I have read is has come to mean a group of people that seemingly have removed themselves from [mainstream] society.

However, my question is – have they? In the latest Edelman Trust Barometer their results show an increasing trust divide towards businesses and governments. Neither, it is felt by the large majority, deliver. Personally, when it comes to politics I agree. More and more I have the sense that [national] politics is kindergarten for overpaid party players that has been elected, not so much based on competence, but because they turned up and that doesn’t dare to take real responsibility. The difference is that since I belong to the informed public, as defined by Edelman, aged 24 – 64; college educated; in top 25% income per age group in each country; report significant media consumption and engagement in business news; my criticism is more likely to be seen as well-informed and to the point while someone not from this group saying the same will be considered as disenfranchised.

Again, I ask, are the voters that vote on these “grievance parties” disenfranchised? Maybe they have looked at their society and see a reality where their worries are not listened to, where they have increasing difficulties in finding jobs that makes ends meet, where ghettos are on the rise, where jobs are moved elsewhere and where politicians, whom frankly often should know better, seems to be locked in endless wars of power instead of doing what they where elected to do – deliver a society of [relative] inclusion. Based on this maybe, just think the thought, these so-called disenfranchised voters have made their analysis and decided to protest almost the only way we can protest in a democratic society – by casting our ballots.

But what happens when they turn up, and don’t forget, grievance parties often get their voters to turn up and vote in a much higher extent than traditional parties, and decide to exercise what at the same time is their citizen right and obligation? They are reproached for voting on the wrong party. If that was me treated like that, I’d be raving mad in white linen. And not only that, I’d be even more convinced that I am right.

So, my advice, to the mainstream parties, should they care and bother – if you want to bridge the widening gulf of distrust meet the grieved electorate and show, with measurable actions and without retreating into populism I mean e.g. globalism is here to stay; that you take their world view seriously and continuously and not just when it’s that time in the election cycle.

Networking yourself [to a new job]

I’m following this Coursera MOOC on “International Leadership and Organizational Behaviour”, #ILOB and I quite enjoy it. Although I don’t really know about the academic endeavour and value with these classes new learning is always positive.

Today’s lecture is about the Impact of Social Networks on Organizations and Groups, it speaks about different types of networks – strong vs. weak, closed vs. open etc. But I wonder, does it (= networking) work? And if you find yourself in a surrounding aka network and you’re the odd man out what good will a network be to you? In my own situation e.g. it is no secret that I’m looking for a new job and that I come with a good experience and competencies to execute in the jobs I apply for. Only I seem to exist in some Boy zone, that is Brussels public affairs in IT, and even if I turn over backwards I will never be male so I literally don’t fit in. This is not a criticism, it is stating facts of human nature, I believe that the correct academic term is Homophily, i.e. we bond easier with people whom are similar to ourselves. But with result is that unless we dare to go outside the famous box our network will look as ourselves. From a sheer business point of view that while a closed network like this will offer good ways to collaborate, higher trust etc., closed networks like these will also see lack of innovation, high redundancy in competencies and so on. Of course, I understand that there are two in any connection and I am entirely open to the fact that I’m the weak spot in any [future] relationship. Then the question is – what does that say about me? Maybe I haven’t invested enough in my network? Possibly. Like so much in our lives networks are earned, it could be that I haven’t earned my network. On the other hand none of “my” contacts have just landed in my lap.

I’ve always been a firm believer in “keeping shut and getting the work done” and that this will eventually pay off in more interesting jobs, tasks and better remuneration. Yes, I admit there are limits to my altruism and both the landlord and myself like the concept of paying the monthly bills in full, every month. An old-fashion concept I know, but one that I like because well, it works. But no, not so. Apparently I have to look at my wide network as a strategic asset. Dear me, these a people I’ve passed a good time with having coffee or so, but now they are suddenly an asset. I find it all a bit disconcerting, because while I don’t mind helping out as much as I can myself when someone asks for help I dislike the notion of being an asset. And if I dislike this it is easy to assume that so does my counterparts.

So while I understand that No Man is an Island I’m remain a bit uneasy of the concept of regarding my fellow human beings as assets. And to balance the giving and taking. Or am I maybe over thinking the art of networking?

“It’s nothing personal” – “Please don’t take it as a reflection of your competencies” ‑ so they say

When applying for jobs one must grow rhinoceros hide and learn to accept rejection after rejection. Of course I get disappointed when I get a no, I mean I applied for the job. At the same time, it goes without saying that in a hiring process the company should identify and hire the person they feel can do the job. Identifying the right candidate is after all the goal with any hiring exercise, no question about it. And in a hiring situation there are more concerns to take into account than I can being to understand.

However, the thing I find hardest to handle are the comments that comes with the rejections, the ones going along the line of “It’s nothing personal and please don’t take it as a reflection of your competencies.”

You know what? With the risk of sounding like Donna Corleone, this IS personal. We are talking about my competencies, my experiences. It is me, myself and I that is weighed and found too light. I am the one rejected, not the competition. Of course I accept the message. There is after all not much else to do.

Is flat lining our languages the way forward to better understanding?

I used to love to read magazines like the Economist and Vanity Fair. I loved their elegant language, these fantastic four syllable words that read like poetry had I ever been a poetry reader. The writers and writing had personality. Every time I put down these (and other) magazines I had learned a new word and gained new insights. But lately, meaning the past couple of years, when I read these and other articles, I find the language flat, lacking identity or just plain uninteresting only based on their writing and use of language.

Of course, with better knowledge of English the level of understanding is higher and better that’s a wonderful part of life, we can master what we set out to learn. But maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss? English is a wonderfully forgiving language and it accepts us linguistic mongrels with grace and good will. But when I speak with my English mother tongue friends they all bear witness to having simplified their spoken English to suit people like myself, i.e. someone that has studied English in school as a foreign language. While I appreciate their efforts getting their message across, and that they make an attempt to include e.g. me in their conversation, I at the same time find it sad. Because lower standards rarely complies with moving ahead and for me, one way I learn is to be around someone more skilled than me. And I don’t think I’m unique in this way.

I am not talking about a manual or cooking recipe here, because manuals and cookery books should be basic and straight forward. I am talking about [written]mass media that I do think have a responsibility towards “their” language, their readers “at home” and the “foreigners.”

Am I naïve? Am I looking for elegance where elegance can’t be found? And is this flattening maybe something good that will bring about better understanding?

Equal pay, ICT industry, men, women and profiling

The so called gaffe by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his statements about women, pay, and the pay gap and some of the opinion pieces penned as a result made me wonder. I frankly don’t think that Mr Nadella thinks that women should be paid less than men, but I do believe that he (unfortunately) might be on the correct side of history when he says that women often can be more uncomfortable in asking in any job related situation than most men.

John Fortt has penned a good opinion piece about the situation where I think he is on to something. In the piece Mr Fortt asks if meritocracies can be biased and he gives #Netflix as an example, from personal experience I can only answer that “Yes” and that includes Netflix.

But the basic issue that needs to change isn’t so much the payment practises as such, they are only the result of the basic flaws and symptoms on the sickness – that unless you as an employee is recognisable by the high-tech recruiter you will not even get hired so forget about getting the pay you deserve.

In my business and city, all one have to do is to take a look around and you start singing the old James Brown song “This is a man’s world” but without adding the following praise to women. There are so many organisations representing the [ICT] industry that only have men hired, or only men at the senior levels, it is frightening. Saying the industry is a bit of a lad is an understatement of the century. So, based on the fact that we women doesn’t even count enough to get hired, why do we even bother about the payment scales? I am not saying it isn’t important and that they need to be adjusted, but if we as women doesn’t even count in the work force? So sorry, people, let’s start with the basics and see to that we as women count, get hired and that our competencies count as much as a men’s so we get hired, then we can deal with the payment scales.

How Netflix almost ruined EU Net neutrality

Now when the debate sparked by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ blog post on net neutrality “Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality“ has died down and the European Parliament have voted in favour of Net Neutrality and against specialised services, I’d like to take the opportunity to vent my grief a bit. What I say in the header is a tall order, I know. But it is not far off.

First of all, as you might know, when I discuss companies or persons in my blog I don’t mention them by name. This is for several reasons, first of all there is an element of the Golden rule, second the industry is rather small and I hope to continue work in it, and, in the case of Netflix, I don’t want to come across as a disgruntled almost employee. Although, I remain rather unimpressed by Netflix’ EU hiring practises. Further, I think that Netflix doesn’t take their responsibility when it comes to making it simple to be legal on-line seriously. Nor do they go far enough in their actions. This time I felt it was warranted to mention names simply because anything else would have complicated the text beyond means.

But I digress.

In my everyday job I work as Policy advisor to a Member of the European Parliament concentrating on issues like net neutrality, e-commerce, telecommunications, cloud computing to mention a few. This is why I can speak with some certainty of this process since I was involved behind the scenes. And yes, I am a staunch defender of Net neutrality.

I am not going to go into the debate at heart here. The point I hopefully will make is to highlight a view that I often see from US-based companies with EU branches; there is seemingly little or no insight that points of view put forward in the US might affect EU legislation. They also join forces with their EU corporate counterparts in not entirely realising that the European Parliament actually is a parliament with powers and influence.

In his post Mr Hastings made a case for net neutrality and against specialised services, but instead of business, he based his argument on fees for traffic. In his text Mr Hastings state that if telecommunications companies get their way we might not see a new Skype or indeed Netflix again because the fees charged would stop any new ideas from being implemented. Had he stuck to this argument I don’t think there had been any debate; no one wants to be accused of stifling competition, hamper value creation and stop new business from happening.

”Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.” The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu.

But in any case, the impact this ill-timed post had across the Atlantic, where a vote on Net neutrality and Specialised services was taking place, was that it gave the telecommunications companies in Europe wind under their wings and they started to lobby for their point of view; that there is no such a thing as a free lunch, and users must pay for bandwidth. Nothing of which is questionable; but it isn’t the question at hand. Rather the real issue is freedom of doing business. Weaker Net neutrality would make it more difficult to run any business on-line. If the vote had gone a different way Mr Hastings could have had to seriously review his expansion plans for the EU. Is that really what he wanted? This attitude towards the European Parliament is something I frequently see amongst companies, EU & US alike. It is getting better in EU companies, but many US companies whose activities’ spans both sides for the Atlantic seems blissfully unaware of that the European Parliament actually produce legislation that have impact on their business. And if they consider it, they seem to think it is some toy Parliament and when you want to lobby it you just send employees with little or no leverage with the C-suite. Or a VP is coming and is expecting the Parliamentary calendar will change to accommodate them.

Is there really no-one within Netflix that has any view on legislative developments outside the US? Because, the state of net neutrality in the EU will affect Netflix business. Is there no-one that could have advised Mr Hastings to hold off the post to a better time? That maybe a better way to push net neutrality is to speak about preserving, maybe even augmenting, freedom to do business? And is there no one that can enlighten him about the importance of the European Parliament? It governs over 500 million citizens which makes it one of the biggest parliaments in the world. 80% of national EU legislation emanates from the European Parliament. OK, someone say; this post was published on Netflix USA Canada blog and was not at all aimed at EU. This is correct and true, but even if all business is local, corporate standpoints for international corporates rarely are. And if someone high-profiled like Mr Hastings speaks on a relative controversial issue this will have repercussions far beyond what one had identified from the beginning.

The Telecoms Single Market proposal (the proposal that was voted on) will now be reviewed by the Council of the European Union. The Council representatives are expected to adopt a final position on the Telecoms regulation later in 2014. Personally, I hope that the Council maintain the safeguards to protect net neutrality and prohibit network discrimination in Europe. This includes ensuring that this principle can be effectively enforced. Achieving this has not been easy, and in case Netflix wonders, the battle isn’t won. In in the meantime, in the relative vacuum that will be during the election period, we are certainly not helped by blog posts of the likes of Mr Hastings.