Saturday, December 7, 2013

Meningitis and College: Parents need to Act

Parents with college age kids. Do you know Meningitis? There are two outbreaks going on now, one at Princeton and one at UCSB. There is a vaccine, but only for one type - Type A. There is one for Type B (see link) that Princeton is racing to offer. Meningitis can be very deadly and some that get infected loose hands or feet, but they live. Note, a Lacrosse Player at UCSB just lost his feet, and that is something that the University has failed to tell parents about in their communications (our son goes to UCSB).

Get to know this infection. It can be a matter of life or death.

Meningitis and College
Most of the cases of Meningitis occur at College, when your student lives in a Dorm. Students in Dorms live in closer contact, which often lack stringent cleaning in common areas.

Also, educate your student about NOT sharing cups (ever). This is a vital part of stopping the spread. Also, help them understand the symptoms and not to wait to seek treatment (it can attack very very quickly).

Parents and Meningitis
Finally, as a parent, you have some due diligence to do when searching for a college. If you have a high schooler, when you are doing your due diligence, you need to find out how often and how well the dorms are cleaned. There is a correlation. 

For students that live in off-campus housing and/or a fraternity or sorority house, infection rates are lower because the students are not in such close proximity. So, my advice is to do the following:
  1. Due better due diligence on Dorm Selection. It might impact your final selection of a College or University.
  2. Ask questions if Dorm cleaning is being enhanced. How often are common areas in the dorm cleaned?
  3. Find out if the Medical Center near Campus is trained on recognizing Meningitis.
  4. Vaccinate your Student (state law in NJ, PA, CA). Look at the new vaccine for Type A.
  5. Get your student out of the dorms after freshman year.
So don't mess around. Get smart about Meningitis. Start now and find out about the dorms at any college you are seriously considering. Educate your student too. Use common sense. If when on a tour, it doesn't look like the bathrooms are that clean, think twice. 

EDITORS NOTE: I dealt with this in the early 2000s at Penn State (I was House Corp President of my Fraternity). The University President at the time, Graham Spanier, didn't want to offer Meningitis shots at a reduced cost (like other Big Ten Schools did). So we got the PA Legislature to make it a state law to require them. Our brothers at Sigma Chi were all encouraged to get shots and we never had an issue...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Poaching: The Dirtiest Play in Sports

This post is all about poaching in Sports. As a youth coach for a competitive boys team in Northern California, I see it all the time. I even have a coach from another team who scouts my practices. He sends his son to talk to a player he wants to recruit. It is one thing for a player to go tryout with another team, but for a coach to recruit a player in-season, it is beyond unprofessional.

I say this because poaching, as all Coaches know is dirty. There are rules against it. Great coaches don't poach. Now we come to College Sports and the NCAA. They just made it allowable for Coaches to 'poach' players from the disgraced Penn State Football team.

Wait, the football players did nothing wrong. A bunch of Penn State officials, decided not to report a Coach named Jerry Sandusky to the Department of Public Welfare in 2001. The players on the Football team were not involved, but the University was. Many alums are still in dis-belief, but the fact remains that Penn State officials participated in a cover-up that allowed a child molester to operate freely for years (link to the Freeh Report).

The NCAA has headed into new dark waters, by ruling on Penn State without a hearing. That will all get sorted out in time. As a Penn State Alum, I'm willing to deal with most of what was handed down, except for the part that allows teams to recruit (poach) players without having to give up one of their own scholarships.

What we have here is a culture, promoted by the NCAA, of big time college sports and a win at all costs philosophy. Calling it open season on Penn State Football players is unprofessional and at best unethical.

Since I've been an alumni advisor and a fraternity house corporation board member at Penn State for 25 years, I work with students all the time. The thing I always stress is staying focused on classes and graduating.  Football players are still students first, athletes second. It bothers me to see institutions, such as major Universities, putting themselves first, by using a loophole to try to steal players under the guise of a punishment by the NCAA. It is still poaching. I will note, that if a player wants to transfer, I don't view that as poaching, since the player initiated the contact.

So for all the Division I Universities, such as USC (which still is working off their own NCAA sanctions) and their Coach Lane Kiffen, I will politely suggest that you back off. Leave the Penn State student athletes alone. They will have a better chance of graduating at Penn State. I'll also call out the University of Arizona, whose Coach Rich Rodriguez is also making overtures. So for now, the major Conference that is playing dirty is the Pac12. Last time I checked, USC and Arizona have their own problems with graduation rates.

Ask any professor at any University and he or she will tell you that there is a lot more to their institution than Football or Basketball and winning. Unfortunately for many College Administrators and Alumni, they have forgotten that College is about learning and getting a college degree. It isn't about winning at all costs. Student Athletes are students first. Division I University Presidents and the NCAA have forgotten that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tech Titan SAP buys SuccessFactors for $3.4 Billion

Announced on a Saturday, this deal signifies that the Tech Titans may be loosening their purse strings to make acquisitions that help them with long term growth (see a related Aragon Research First Cut on SuccessFactors). For SAP, this signifies that a growth via acquisition strategy may be a long term play for them. Note that for others, such as the IBM Software Group, this strategy has worked successfully for years.

Aragon Research will be doing a full First Cut with analysis of this announcement, which was announced today, December 3rd, 2011. It is clear now that there is a trend that has Talent and HCM Suites appear to be coming together (see Aragon Research First Cuts: Talent and HCM Part I and Part II).

One thing that we will be looking at long term is how well does Enterprise Learning fit inside a Talent Suite. In Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for example, Web Content Management never really got absorbed as part of that Suite (note, Aragon Research covers Learning as part of its Knowledge topic).

In the short term, this will put some pressure on remaining providers of Talent Management Software (Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba Software, Silkroad, Sumtotal Systems, Taleo, Ultimate Software, Workday) on what they do:

1. Remain standalone;
2. Combine forces with another Talent or HCM provider;
3. Get bought by a bigger tech titan (ADP, IBM Oracle, SAP).

Regardless, this may signify that with the better unemployment numbers that just got issued in the US, that it is a good time for large enterprises to loosen their purse strings and make some acquisitions.

Stay tuned for our Aragon Research First Cut early next week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Brother is Monitoring your Cell Phone

Depending on your device, your cellular carrier (or others) may be monitoring all of your activity on your cell phone. In a story that was broken by Trevor Eckhart and reported by Wired and others, it appears that a Mountain View, California based firm, Carrier IQ has an app that is installed on millions of phones. It tracks everything, the numbers you dial and the text messages you get. Watch the video below and see for yourself.

It appears that Carrier IQ's tool is used by Carriers to test their network etc. The big problem is that it is an app that cannot be turned off or opted out of by users. This is Big Brother at its worst. We don't know who else has access to this data.

Wireless Carriers like Verizon are distancing themselves from this and there has been no mention yet from phone manufacturers. This story is going to get bigger. Stay tuned....

Friday, November 18, 2011

A New Cisco

I've covered Cisco for years and this week attended their Collaboration Analyst and Partner Summit in Miami. While Aragon Research will be publishing a First Cut with our Analysis of their new product announcements, this blog post is about the changes I see occurring at Cisco.

Cisco really only started to make the true shift to Collaboration Software after it bought WebEx and it took a while to get the integration done. Cisco pioneered HD Video with its Telepresence offering and now it is poised to take that to the masses. Cisco has also innovated too. It's Enterprise Social Networking offering, Cisco Quad, was developed internally and is now deployed globally at Cisco.

CEO John Chambers has been the lead evangelist for Collaboration at Cisco, but that is changing. This week, Cisco SVP Barry O'Sullivan's General Managers were focused and on-message. The messages were integrated and so were the products.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to motivate a workforce and today I see a very motivated Cisco team that is ready to deliver their Collaboration vision to their customers. Since there were customers at the event this week, it was nice to see them start to tell the execution story.

What I see emerging is a new Cisco, leaner and more focused. In fact, I spent time with one of Cisco's  Account Managers, Matt Coleman, who brought one of Cisco's flagship customers to the event. Matt has the passion for Cisco Collaboration and it is clear that his customer does too.

Finally, what should have been the opening video at Cisco's event was shown at the end. It takes a lot of guts to show Executives doing a Rap Video (see below). You need to watch it several times, but the messages are as compelling as the video is entertaining.

What I see is an inkling of a new Cisco that is beginning to emerge. It isn't all about hardware anymore.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Social is the new KM

People are getting Social Media, Social Networking, Learning and Knowledge Management (KM) mixed up thanks to a few misleading blog posts by two of my former colleagues at Gartner. Or are they? If you read the responses at HBR, you will see that people are calling them on it. To be fair, Jeff Mann does get it and his blog is also counter what was being said (see his blog).

First, on taxonomy, here is how I explain social terminology to clients. 

Social Media is generally viewed as the public consumer grade sites, microblogs, forums etc. where discussions or chats take place (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Youtube, Second Life). Using Social Media to market your products and support your customers is a good use of these mediums. 

Using Social Media to talk about your work is a bad idea, mainly because so many people are listening, including bad people that want to steal the intellectual property of the firm you work for. In fact, one of the research notes my firm recently published is titled, "Facebook is not a friend of your Enterprise". 

Social Networks, particularly Enterprise Social Networks are private communities, which when implemented properly with identity and access control, are safe places for people to share information, connect with people and accelerate the pace of knowledge dissemination at a company. Many enterprises are still formulating their social networking plans. They have deployed customer communities to build brand loyalty but often the internal social network is still a few steps behind.

On Knowledge Management, when Social Networking (an internal or external community) is done right, with certified profiles of people (what they are trained or certified on), and with the ability to collaborate with others informally, lots of great things start to happen. First, people in remote geographies connect with others, they solve problems and influence each other by the content and comments they share. Often there is an acceleration factor that kicks in, because the pace of interaction is faster and wider.

From a learning perspective, tying formal learning to informal activities, related content and discussions, is now referred to as Social Learning. It is real and it does work. There usually is an ecosystem manager that facilitates the correlation of formal training with some of the informal content, but at the end of the day, the Social Network, as it gets used more and more, becomes the Knowledge Network. People can search it and find what they need.

Since I've actually overseen the development of Social Networking platforms and also deployed Social Networks, I recently conducted a short poll of some Sales Execs who had been using one of the Communities for over a year. My simple question to them was this: "what do you use to find the information you need to do your job now?" Their answer was "we just search the network (community) and we find what we need". 

So, in reality, as an Enterprise Social Network gets used more, it will evolve into a Knowledge Network. People find what they need to do their jobs or they can ask someone in the community who can point them in the right direction. It is self-curated and self-sustaining, with a little help from the community manager and IT.

Hopefully, this has helped to clarify things. Social Networking and Social Learning are the new KM. We are covering Knowledge as one of our key topics in our Workplace Service at Aragon Research.

(Note: Jim Lundy is the Founder and CEO of Aragon Research.  He founded and led the Social Software and Collaboration team at Gartner and oversaw the Corporate Learning coverage for ten years).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The War for PeopleSoft is over: Someone forgot to tell Workday

In the year before PeopleSoft was bought by Oracle in a hostile takeover in 2005, there was a huge amount of drama in the marketplace (about whether the deal would go through due to anti-trust laws) and even Gartner was in the mix.

Oracle did succeed in buying PeopleSoft and most of the Senior Executives at PeopleSoft ended up leaving the company. Today, PeopleSoft is a successful part of Oracle and at Oracle OpenWorld last month, CEO Larry Ellison did a nice job of telling the Fusion story (the integration of a number of legacy products into a common platform). Oracle Fusion looks good and because of that and Oracle execution in general, Customers feel a lot better about Oracle than they did back in the day. The battle for PeopleSoft is over, Oracle won.

However, when you hear from an upstart called Workday, which features former PeopleSoft executives Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, it sounds like the battle is not over. Workday is doing some great marketing (particularly with press and analyst influence), but as always with marketing and spin, you have to separate the facts from the fiction.

Today, Workday is still a pre-IPO start-up. Oracle is a Titan. Besides PeopleSoft, over the last few years Oracle has gobbled up Siebel Systems and most recently Sun Microsystems (this week they announced a $1.5 Billion deal to buy RightNow).

It used to be easy to bash Oracle, but times have changed and Oracle is bringing its A game. They make a compelling argument to the Enterprise CFO to consolidate and go with an all Oracle Suite. On top of that, Oracle also is launching their own Public Cloud.

Ripping out core HR is easier said than done, particularly when Oracle now has  Oracle Social Network, a full Social platform that integrates with its HR Suite. So, let the war of words continue and we'll see how both providers fare in the land of execution.