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Showing posts from April, 2020

Covid-19, Demographics, Risk Analysis and Mobile Apps

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Finally, it seems we have accumulated enough data from Covid-19 cases to focus in on how we can properly and strictly protect our vulnerable populations and reopen our economies.  We know that if a person has underlying health problems* they have a far higher risk so need additional protections.  We know that people over 65 years old and people living in long-term care facilities are more at risk.  In fact, the most recent update from Idaho's Covid-19 statistics show 58 of the 60 reported deaths occurring in individuals 60 or older.  If a person does not fit any of these three high risk categories, then their risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 is small.  This data seems to suggest that giving different guidance to different segments of our population may have merit.

A Pandemic Inspired Tsunami of Channel Switching

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In Boise, Idaho our local downtown retail chocolate shop, “The Chocolate Bar” transitioned into a chocolate factory and direct delivery service seemingly overnight as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We have also seen other stores quickly reacting.  Costco now limits the number of shoppers inside their stores, while dramatically ramping up online ordering with home deliveries.  Whole Foods is now providing three ways of shopping locally: in-store shopping, online ordering with drive through pick-up and online ordering with home delivery.  All of these new and expanded options represent fast transitions to new or additional sales channels. Fast transitions, or what military strategists often refer to as “fast transients,” are the ability to quickly transition from one position to another.  Today we are seeing examples of fast transitioning across many different areas including retail stores, restaurants and businesses as they attempt to meet their customers where they are.  I

Ahead of the Curve - Pandemic Responses and Business

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“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be a more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." ~ Warren Buffet Ever since the pandemic has taken over and dominated our lives, everyone seems to be talking and writing about “curves.” Not just the shape of the curve, although important in the context of flattening, but also getting ahead of it.  Here are three recent headlines that demonstrate my point, “Was Your State Ahead of the Coronavirus Curve?”, “Getting Ahead of the Curve — in Hopes of Flattening the Curve”, and “How Did Germany Get Ahead of the Curve?” What does ahead of the curve even mean? I did some research.  It means, “When one is more advanced than others, or ahead of current thinking or practices.”  More research into the origins of the phrase led me to the classic Bell Curve model used to visualize data showing low, average, and above average performances.  If you are “ahead of the curve” you ar

Business-as-a-Service a Resilient Response to Pandemics

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Ecosystem Platforms I have spent nearly 30 years in and around Silicon Valley.  I have worked for small start-ups, medium sized and large established technology and services companies.  Looking back over my high-tech career and the careers of my peers, it seems our skills and expertise overall have easily transferred across different companies, roles, industries, technologies and solution categories.  For the most part, at least in the high-tech industry, business is business. At the highest level all businesses have similar processes.  They need products and services to sell, customer acquisition processes, customer success processes, front and back-office systems and operations to keep track of everything.  All of these processes and systems must have experienced experts supporting them.   Over the course of my career I have spoken with dozens of venture capitalists and angel investors.  In no case did these investors express an interest in spending money on the basic b

Using Data and Deming in a Pandemic

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Throughout history military leaders have wrestled with the “fog of war" - the desperation of not knowing critical information.  Information as basic as where are my forces and where are the forces of my opponents?  We face similar information needs today in our battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus. “The ultimate purpose of data is to provide a basis for action or a recommendation for action,” wrote the revered quality improvement consultant W. Edwards Deming.  Today, in our battle against the COVID-19 virus, we are struggling to make informed decisions because of our own lack of data.  The absence of information both paralyzes decision-making and forces us to expend enormous amounts of time and energy defending against all kinds of scenarios that may not in fact be relevant.  We just don’t know.  Think about a scenario of being lost in a dark forest at night with all kinds of strange sounds and dangerous predators lurking about. How would you defend yourself? Which way

Protecting Our Global Economic Network from Pandemics

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The word pandemic comes from the Greek words “all” and “people.”  It is a fitting title given to the COVID-19 disease that crosses all people groups, economies and continents without respect to ethnicity or status.  It has a way of pulling back the curtains and showing us what makes the world run. Pandemics travel on our community’s economic and transportation networks. Because pandemics are international travelers, they disrupt our global economic networks, which are the sources of much of our economic prosperity today.  

Post-Pandemic Risk Strategies for Supply Chain and Procurement Leaders

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In this interview supply chain risk management expert Joe Carson shares strategies for addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and preparing for the next one. ************************************************************************ Kevin Benedict Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS View my profile on LinkedIn Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence ***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Six Degrees to Contagion - Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Small World Networks Seventeen years ago, in 2003, Professor Duncan J Watts, published a book titled, “Six Degrees, The Science of a Connected Age.”  In it he wrote the following warning, “In a world spanned by only six degrees, what goes around comes around faster than you think. So just because something seems far away, and just because it happens in a language you don't understand, doesn't make it irrelevant.” Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people in the world on average are only six or fewer social connections away from each other.  It has been proven time after time to be true as the famous Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game has demonstrated and the study of the  small world networks phenomena.  What this means is you are only six or fewer social connections away from a person living in Wuhan, China where the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak first emerged.   More thoughts from Professor Watts, “When it comes to epidemics…we are all connected by short

State and Local Supply Chains Challenged by the Pandemic

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In this episode, I get to interview Brian Utley, CEO and Founder of Periscope Holdings , about the unique challenges government supply chains, especially state, city and local are having during the COVID-19 pandemics.  Brian shares how government-centric supply chain ecosystems are working together to solve these issues and to develop new strategies. ************************************************************************ Kevin Benedict Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS View my profile on LinkedIn Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence ***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Pandemic Resilience is Knowing When to Quit

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Thomas Edison “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be a more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." ~ Warren Buffet Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties.  It doesn’t, however, require you to return to a previous state.  Often the fastest way to recover is to quit and start again.  Think of a jeep climbing a steep muddy hillside.  Mid-way up the hill, tires spinning it comes to a stop.  In this situation your choice is often limited to staying in the same spot spinning your wheels or quitting and trying again.  Life often provides us with similar choices, and the COVID-19 pandemic will force many businesses to face this decision.   Let’s talk about the role quitting plays in resilience.  As a youth I was taught that with enough hard work, belief and long hours anything could be accomplished.  Now as a veteran high-tech executive with thirty plus years of experience

Ecosystem Commerce and Pandemic Supply Chains - Interview with TCS Expert Rich Sherman

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In this episode, I interview Rich Sherman, Senior Fellow at the Supply Chain Centre of Excellence at TCS.  He shares his insights on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on global supply chains and what can be done in the future to make them more resilient, adaptable and redundant.   ************************************************************************ Kevin Benedict Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS View my profile on LinkedIn Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence ***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

The Steps Required to Stop and or Live with the Pandemic

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Common Good We have all learned a great deal about living with and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.  Not everything for sure, but enough to start sketching a plan for the guaranteed next one.  We don't ever want to be in a situation again where we must decide between our lives or a functioning economy.  We also recognize that both COVID-19 and poverty have their own associated health risks, so let's try to balance both concerns. A working plan seems to be emerging from the fog of war.  It isn't fun.  It requires isolating those that feel sick, those that test positive, and those that are in contact with those that test positive. This plan is also written without due consideration for individual liberties.  It is simply a list of what works to stop the virus from spreading, while keeping the economy functioning long enough for effective treatments and vaccines to be developed and "herd immunity" achieved.  An implementation of this plan, however, would ne

Pre-Pandemic Assumptions and Presumptions

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Over the last 3 years my wife and I have become avid backpackers with many adventures under our belt.  One of the biggest surprises I learned during my time in the wilderness was how often I make wrong assumptions. It was mid-July and the lake we were backpacking to was still frozen over and the trail was covered in deep snow.  I had assumed warm mid-July weather would have cleared the trails.  Another time after fishing in a high mountain lake, I looked at the map and saw the trail passed directly above our location.  After over an hour looking for the trail we realized it didn't exist.  My assumptions that maps are updated regularly and accurately reflect the reality on the ground were wrong.  I can't tell you how many times I have learned that the obvious shortcut doesn't save you time. We all make assumptions.  We assume something is true or certain to happen, without proof.  We also make presumptions.  We presume ideas are true, and then use them as the basis

Flattening the Curve of a Risky Future

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Today, in the midst of round one of the COVID-19 pandemic, I received an email from Delta Airlines sharing their efforts to make travel safe and normal. What will normal be post-pandemic?  Will society be comfortable going right back to flying all over the world again?  The thought of spending time in crowded airports, attending conferences with tens of thousands of people in one room, sitting in tightly packed business meetings and sitting elbow to elbow with coughing strangers on planes fills me with anxiety.  I don't think I am the same person that I once was.  I suspect most of us aren't. As the pandemic and resulting economic anxieties extend further into the calendar and deeper into our mutual psyches, our habits will be altered - some temporarily, others permanent.  Just as our grandparents (and great-grandparents) before them developed a propensity to save and to be financially conservative as a result of experiencing the Great Depression during their formative

A Faustian Bargain Involving Privacy, Pandemic and a Functioning Economy

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Will the price of controlling current and future pandemics be our privacy?  Will societies, at some point, be willing to strike a Faustian Bargain and give up their privacy in return for a functioning economy?  A Faustian Bargain is described by the encyclopedia Britannica as a " pact whereby a person trades something of supreme moral or spiritual importance for some material benefit, such as knowledge, power, or riches ."  Some countries have already made that bargain, and as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, more societies will be forced to confront this decision.   In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, privacy  looks to be one of the values required in the Faustian Bargain to keep an economy functioning.  The other option is to offer up life itself - a serious topic for another time. South Korea, widely praised for their fast and efficient COVID-19 response and control, passed legislation in 2015 after a deadly MERS outbreak that gave government authority to coll