Thursday, July 9, 2009

Back Inside the Wire...Strategic Trends Observed

FOBS has more or less returned to base after gathering intelligence and observing business operations.

My wife called me the other day and asked me what emerging business trends I knew of, or that I felt would be important to watch for...some are obvious, some are emerging and clouded in the fog of business warfare, some are guesses...

Trend 1: Collaboration. This social and business practice is the most productive and threatening activity to a number of social and business norms and value systems. From production, compensation, valuation, to marketing, innovation, and governance, collaboration is an emerging system of values, rules, expectations, pitfalls, advantages, etc. The Gordian knot of collaboration is how to work together with others while challenging and changing the value systems that are threatened by collaboration.

Trend 2: Global Resources. An old trend, but with new emphasis and character, is global resources. This is not outsourcing (e.g. call center in Mumbai for Florida marketing company). This is what is know in military parlance as strategic depth; it is also an example of collaboration. By globally resourcing your product, service, or capability, you provide flexibility, innovation, diversity, and alacrity to your corporation or entity. By collaborating with global resources, you can draw upon a variety of knowledge, skills, abilities, and ideas, 24/7/ compress the response time of your activity or service toward/for others. By globally positioning your company or entity, you are able to hive to your dilemma and come up with creative solutions - with ideas left over for the next contingency.

Trend 3: Geographic Redundancy. This is similar to, but distinct from, global resourcing. Geographic redundancy is the deliberative act of planning for failure by dispersing your resources, cloning those resources again, and drafting and practicing a continuity plan. This is what is known in government circles as continuity of government, or in business and other entities as continuity of operations. Even if a business or entity backs up a capability at a single location, that single location is vulnerable. Moreover, the contingency plans for executing a backup plan are more often than not practiced, or even written up in the first place. Thus, most businesses or entities have only one location to house their capabilities, do not clone this capability, do not geographically disperse this capability, and do not have any standard operating procedures on how to execute continuity of operations. This will change as there is a confluence of the need to disperse capabilities and the need to access services and products from anywhere, at any time, with a variety of devices or modalities.

Trend 4: Decentralization. Again, a by-product of collaboration, but a distinct concept, is decentralization. Decentralization for business is the act of dispersing responsibility, accountability, and freedom of action. Again, not a new idea or concept, but the emergence of decentralization in successful business models means that the organization does not become paralyzed by an executive's ego; incapacitated by top-down edicts far removed from the sales and accounts-receivable reality of the marketplace; and promotes the shared responsibility, accountability, and rewarding of those within that node of the business or entity. Think Cisco or any special operations unit - regardless of rank, they are responsible for a successful outcome far removed from the interaction/edicts from higher management/headquarters.

Trend 5: Niche vs. Ecosystem. The previous four trends are necessary or sufficient conditions for trend five, based upon the acceptance/declination of those trends. A business or entity at the end of the day must decide whether to tackle a piece of the need, or address the entire system in which the need is addressed. Thus, either you are going to provide a specific, niche, solution to part of the problem, or you are going to address the entirety of the problem - niche vs. ecosystem. Think iPhone apps vs. Amazon, or sniper system vs. specialized unit. By deciding on whether you support or reject the following four trends, you will most likely support a niche or ecosystem approach to a problem or need. This is the emerging, bifurcating, trend in business - solve it all or solve a specific portion.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Going Outside the Wire...

FOBS second mission: Conduct an Intelligence Gathering Mission outside of the FOB.

At some point, to gain insight into the environment around the base, you will have to plan intelligence-collection missions outside the base and head out beyond the wire...

...thank God my wife's and my family lives in Seattle, and that we grew up here.  Imagine if FOBS had to relocate back to Oklahoma! I ventured outside the FOB today and started talking with business/technology innovators.  There is a reason why Seattle was named Fast Company's City of the Year (Issue 135, May 2009;,0).  I heard the innovation, witnessed the optimism, and read the entrepreneurism that thrives here.  Like an old military Field Manual, Seattleites are posting blogs (Seattle Urbanspoon founder offers bootstrapping advice:
; Seattle serial entrepreneur post five reasons not to quit startup efforts:,twittering, and facebooking each other to encourage technological creation, business acumen, and financial survival within this difficult economic environment.  There is a reason why I know I will go native again in Seattle and be among my people - technological entrepreneurism is just like unconventional warfare - under the most severe conditions, people innovate in order to survive and increase their chances of success. FOBS experienced that in spades today.

In yesterday's post I spoke of SCRs, and how much business intelligence/data they have access to, and how they could use that information to suit their own ends.  However, I was reminded today that SCRs can be the connective tissue in the business community, utilizing technology to create collaborative space, allowing competitors to work together, thus allowing new products and services to be created. 

FOBS is going to bring this insight back inside the base and analyze the information...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strategic Consultancy Reconnaissance*

Forward Opinion Base Sollom's (FOBS) first mission: Strategic Intelligence.

In combat, a commander tasks units to gather information from the "battle space," so that the commander may make informed decisions and take calculated risks based upon their assessment of the enemy's known and perceived capabilities and intentions.

Before FOBS was even set up, I started gathering strategic information on Seattle's "business space." To borrow from a must-read book for business leaders, "The Mission, The Men, And Me," by Peter Blaber (Berkley Caliber, 2009), I listened to the people on the ground - I gathered intelligence on the patterns, trends, assessments, and guesses from Seattle's corporate leaders and lieutenants. What's my strategic assessment of their collective strategic assessment? They need more information.

What information do they need, and why? Can someone start a business, or change the direction of one, with new strategic business intelligence - can they simultaneously conduct business intelligence analysis and business operations? Yes, and the trend, the pattern, that is emerging is strategic third party technology reconnaissance (STPTR).

STPTR is where a third party vendor technologically integrates vertically and horizontally into their first party host corporation. You read business technology content describing Customer Relations Management (CRM) or Communications as a Service (CaaS). This is the technological equivalent of Big Four Accounting (or Big Three) consultancy - but with more intelligence and operational integration.

Consider a public corporation wants to modify or create a business line. Much like government, they outsource to a third party contractor/consultancy. That third party consultancy, in the emerging technology space, now offers content creation, human resources facilitation, marketing and branding, and legal management of the above. The third party consultancy becomes a division of the first party company.

Thus, technology becomes the fulcrum upon which business intelligence is gathered, stored, and disseminated. Although business intelligence is not new, the integration of bundled consultancy services is an emerging trend. How profound is this, what are the unintended consequences of such an emergence?

Consider hiring a STPTR that is integrated into your rival's business model. What is to prohibit the STPTR from transferring the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired, funded, and supported by your rival into your business? After all, the technology, staffing, patents, branding, etc., of the STPTR is the STPTR's and not your rival's. Say a bunch of Yahoo emeritus executives start a STPTR as a strategic stop-gap to Microsoft efforts to acquire them. Instead of going to a head hunter, or a consultancy, the Yahoo execs use the STPTR as a trojan horse to integrate into Microsoft operations, and their STPTR is later hired by Google, Linux, IBM, or Cisco. How can you separate Microsoft's technology from the STPTR's technology? Who do you regulate, tax, award patents, sue, acquire, negotiate with, etc?

So, who are the strategic technological Captains of business, the Bill Gates', or the CEO of a new STPTR? Unconventional business warfare at its best and most unpredictable...Machiavellian computing anyone?

*Post-script: A reader suggested that I change the STPTR acronym for stickiness. Thus, to better reflect the subject, I'll change the acronym to SCR: Strategic Consultancy Reconnaissance.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Forward Opinion Base Sollom is now flying the flag


I realize that I don't have any readers at this point - this is more for historical archival purposes. The name of the blog - Forward Opinion Base Sollom - is a take on the U.S. military lexicon to name forward operating bases in combat zones. The bases, usually named in honor of fallen fellow soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, act as a fire bases, logistical way points for scaling men and materiel in times of increased combat, and a location for troops to rest, refit, and rearm prior to the next planned, or unplanned, mission. It is an Alamo; it's is a temporary safe haven. There is even a social and physical classification of the base itself - e.g., those who stay inside the base the entire time of their deployment are known as fobbits, of Lord of the Rings lore.

The reason for the apropos, is that I envision my blog as an unconventional take on social, technological, political, economic, and military matters of the day. Where my content dovetails with other bloggosphere content, I'll consider that mutually supporting fire - in military jargon. Where I differ, I'll consider it an FTX (or live fire exercise) - you have a difference of opinions and facts, you better have the ammo to back it up. Either way, I invite you to my outpost of unconventional thought.