|Volume 3: No. 17|
Corporations are hot to capture comprehensive databases about their potential customers, but the rules may soon change. Futurist Donald R. Libey predicts that pods of about ten non-competing companies will share their databases in order to learn specifics about individuals. (Overlapping linkages would force databases to record who told what to whom, so that only certain inferences would be available to other companies. Interesting problem.) Individuals will probably be given veto power over their own dossiers, perhaps permitting their grocery purchases to be reported but not their videotape rentals. Consumers will eventually order from merged product databases and will pay through centralized billing services. [Mitch Betts, Computerworld, 12/2/92.] Libey also advises IS executives to use AI to analyze buying trends.
Michel Bauwens has written The Cybrarians' Manifesto, recently published in Business Information Review (4/93) and popularized by Tom Peters (4/12). Bauwens's company outsourced its information brokering, reducing 200+ full-time librarians and strategic-information gatherers to about 15. Librarians are product-centered instead of client-centered, and are often viewed as clerical workers. Bauwens would like to see "cybrarians" integrated with project teams, providing connectivity with both traditional and networked information sources. Document providers such as CARL's UNCOVER, Epic's ArticleFirst/ContentsFirst, and Faxon Finder can replace corporate libraries, but cybrarians are needed as gateways to the services and as filters for the information. [Michel.Bauwens@dm.rs.ch, PACS-L, 4/20/93.] (Cybrarians could just as easily be market researchers, information brokers, journalists, or net surfers.)
A typical Fortune 500 company has 10 top executives (at $500K-$1M base salary), 40 senior executives (> $100K), 70 upper middle managers ($80K-$120K), and 2,000 white-collar jobs (without stock ownership), for a workforce of 20K. Executive base pay has remained fairly stable since the 1950s, but risk and reward have been amplified. It's easier to make $1M quickly (in as little as six months) and it's easier to get fired. [Edward O. Welles; Inc., 1/93, p. 52.]
Robotics company Odetics Inc. (Anaheim) has a 5% employee turnover rate and an average tenure of 7 years. CEO Joel Slutzky keeps workers happy with open communication and involvement in corporate decisions. He even took their advice and cut his pay by 10% last year, as part of a suggestion program that cut 50 planned layoffs to just 19. [Orange County Register. SJM, 3/21/93.]
Email makes it easy for customers, employees, and developers to communicate with the president of a company. Timeslips Corp. (Essex, MA) formalized this, setting up a special "idea" database with annotated product suggestions. More than 100 such ideas have been incorporated in the latest release of Timeslips, and the company is working on a new product sparked by a suggestion. [Leslie Brokaw; Inc., 1/93, p. 76.]
Bottom Line/Personal is touting its I-Power system for improving business operations. It's based on getting each employee to submit two suggestions per week. Management at each level must respond promptly with action, small rewards, or at least acknowledgement; profit sharing also helps. Boardroom, Inc. claims it has tripled sales (with no staff increase), boosted morale, nearly eliminated turnover, pushed profits "through the roof," and built up a long list of worthwhile project suggestions. Teamwork has become the norm, employees love their work, and everyone feels connected to the company. [Martin Edelston, BLP, 12/30/92.]