Friday, January 24, 2020

RPA (Robot Process Automation) vs. APIs

APIs are always superior for integration.  

The only time to use RPAs (Robot Process Automation) are:

1. One or both of the systems to be integrated either lack an API, or the ability to call APIs.

2. The systems are legacy, and cannot be modified to provide/call APIs, or the cost of implementing an API is prohibitive given the budget or timeline.

The reason that APIs are always preferable is that the process is robust, consistent, and straight forward.  CIOs should always favor environments that work consistently, and correctly, with no surprises.

With RPAs, even with the help of today's AI, you are dealing with using software to replicate a human being interacting with a user interface.  Menus can change, be inconsistent among different screens, and screen renderings can be affected by network effects.  Creators of software interfaces designed and tested their software for use by humans, not automation.  Humans can quickly adjust to slight variations.

APIs, on the other hand, are designed specifically for bypassing human interfaces, and making software to software calls.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Perceptions vs. realities when doing business in Chicago in 2020

My latest column for the Chicago Business Journal:

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Big, New, Bold Ideas!

Start working on a big, new, bold idea by cleaning your desk and starting with a blank slate.

Just sit in an empty space, with clean white paper, and a pen!

But...Don't let the paper and the space remain empty for long!  Plunge in!  Start experimenting, writing, and thinking!  No cleaning up, second guessing, or self-editing!  Let your desk get messy and cluttered as you creatively work!

Then, once your done, either implement your new ideas immediately or throw them away!  Ideas and intentions decay exponentially. 

© 2020 Praveen Puri

For Success, Shrink Your Options

For creativity and innovation, we always hear that "you should keep an open mind", or "think outside the box".

But this is only half the story.  This is great for the experimental phase, where you test and iterate through ideas to find the best ones.

But, once you decide to execute, you need to shrink your box.  You need to focus on a few, high-quality, core ideas.  Otherwise, you'll get overwhelmed, spread yourself thin, and achieve mediocre results at best.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Be A Better Communicator

An important tip for communicating better in business is to avoid giving too much information. This is hard for many small business people and tech workers, because they are experts in their fields, and enjoy sharing their knowledge. However, many of the people they need to talk to don't have the same level of knowledge, and are focused on solving a specific issue. It is better to communicate only the information that the recipient needs. "Don’t deliver your information by the barrel, serve it by the glass." - Cam Barber

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Give Enough Value That They Can't Ignore You

People don't want to hear your sales message or an "informercial" that is 30% info and 70% pitch.  

Instead, you need to give them valuable content they can put to use - no strings attached.  

Then, you build credibility and can hopefully build a relationship with people so they think of you when they need your product or service

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Strategic Simplicity® and Customer Experience

Today, someone I know wrote about his experience organizing an event at a hotel.  He was forced to talk with six different people to get everything organized.

From now on, he is going to insist on one point of contact, or else he will go to a different hotel.

The lesson is that the hotel should do this proactively.  Instead of silos, they need to communicate together and present a simple, user-friendly front to customers to make their life easier.

As I always say, this is the Attention Scarcity Age, and people's time / attention are now scarce resources. Companies that follow this add value, increase brand value, and build fans.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Did You Know That The U.S. Has Actually Been Metric For Over 100 Years?

When it comes to distance, the U.S. is known for imperial measurements, like feet, yards, and miles. Not meters and kilometers.

But the truth is that, since 1893, we have been metric based.

In that year, the U.S. government officially defined a foot as 1,200 meters divided by 3,937. That means that the official U.S. foot is .3048006 meters.

The reason that this is news now is that, by 2022, the U.S. foot will be completely phased out.

Back in 1933, the international foot was invented.  It drops the last three digits, so it defines a foot as .3048 meters.

The difference between the U.S. and international foot became a big deal in land surveying, where you are measuring large distances.  So, beginning in 1959, the U.S. government started switching over to the international foot.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Monday, January 13, 2020

Mattel Finds Strategic Simplicity®

Toy designers at Mattel, maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, could once choose between 150 types of red.  Now, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Mattel eliminated about 1/3 of the reds, and are similarly streamlining other colors.

It's part of a new project to simplify their supply chain.

According to Mattel's chief supply-chain  officer, "Complexity is really a killer."

In today's age of disruptive innovation, constant change, and attention scarcity among customers, Strategic Simplicity® is critical to dominate your market place.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Team Performance Problems: How to Handle Information Hoarding

A common team performance problem that I've encountered is that, over time, some team members become experts at solving certain types of problems.  The other team members turn to them for help when they encounter the issue.

This becomes an issue if the employees hoard their knowledge under the mistaken impression that it creates job security. Since only they can solve the problem, and there are only so many hours in the day, they become a bottleneck in the organization.

The answer is for managers and HR to encourage these workers to take the time to document and share their knowledge with their more junior co-workers.The way to sell it, is that it creates a win-win situation for everyone: the organization develops redundancy, can get tasks done in a timely matter, the junior associates build their knowledge / skills, and the experienced co-worker benefits too.

By sharing information, they enhance their expert reputation, and they are still the first ones to be approached when there are challenging problems in their areas.  At the same time, they are relieved of having to deal with more routine tasks.  The result is that the expert also grows in his job by shedding mastered tasks, and gets to work on interesting new problems.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Fostering Greater IT Creativity

One of the main things holding back IT worker creativity is that they are so immersed in the systems they are currently supporting.  

They are very knowledgeable about the system's quirks and limitations, and this fixates in their minds, causing them to reject new ideas because they can't automatically figure out how they would work in their system.

The way to foster creativity, then, is to encourage them to use the blank slate technique.  IT workers need to pretend that their systems have been sold off, and they have an unlimited budget to create a new system from scratch.  Based on this, what would they create to improve the company?

The key is that, as they think of ideas, they can't start letting thoughts of the current system creep in.  They need to completely map out their ideas as if they can build any system they want.

Later, when this ideation phase is over, they can think about how to implement their ideas within the current environment.

© 2020 Praveen Puri