Home Credit

It’s been a long time since I carried cash. And more importantly, regretted that decision. Recently, with iPay introduction, perhaps even carrying a piece of plastic in one’s pocket will go the way of the Dodo. What hasn’t kept up with the times, at least to my knowledge, is the allowance economy between parents and kids. Kids still receive mostly cash for helping with chores or when they’re remitted tooth credits from fairies, etc. Why isn’t there, or perhaps I should ask, is there an easy payment system, which resembles credit cards, which parents could and would want to issue to their kids?

Wouldn’t it be great to have an Allowance Card, which would act like a secured credit card? Parents could easily add funds, kids could only use them with parental consent and perhaps there could be a way to restrict/control which merchants kids could shop from. This way, at an early age, we start teaching our kids how to manage a credit card account, which is not at all similar to the cash they’re first exposed to.

There are many issues here that I’m choosing to ignore, like privacy, security, accessibility, fees – the list goes on. But, I know that my daughter will likely use cash far less than I do, which is rare already, and that I lack a solid teaching tool to prepare her for the real economy.

Working On The Go

I’ve recently tried going cold turkey – traveling for business without a laptop – accompanied with just a smartphone and tablet of the common fruit variety (hint, hint). This left me feeling liberated on one hand from lugging a lot of heavy, bulky and power hungry hardware, but, on the other hand, with a sense that I was missing a lot of functionality. The basics of communication are covered, email, text, social media sites, all play very well in the tablet and smartphone arena. The coolness, newness, hype, call it what you will factor of purely using tablets and smartphones is still present but fading fast. So, essentially, what you’re left is a sinking realization that your laptop is not going away soon after all. I was still reaching for a “ghost” mouse and pulling my hair in frustration while trying to edit what seemed a simple spreadsheet. I found creating a diagram, despite the help from some polished apps, to be simply too laborious.

Conclusion. Traveling for business without your trusty laptop, mouse, and a suite of your favorite desktop software is like arriving at a vacation destination only to learn that the airline lost your luggage. Yes, off course, you will still get through it and have a solid time. But, you will be reminded, constantly, that you’re missing some comfy essentials that you’re just too used to, perhaps even slightly dependent on.


A few years ago, I found myself within a PMO of a large corporation struggling to defend my Calendar from the onslaught of daily meetings, many of which lacked a proper agenda, often inviting too broad of an audience and produced little in the way of decisions of the kind that could move an issue closer to its resolution.  The status quo was difficult to break – if you plainly ignored them, meetings would get rescheduled, if you tried to rush them along, they only got more heated and lasted even longer.

It was during this time that I created a mobile application, Price2Meet, to draw attention to this problem.  The concept was simple – Price2Meet was a kind of a meter, not unlike the one used by Taxis, clearly displaying the real cost of each meeting.  After all, meetings could and did starve time away from other activities.  I felt, perhaps naively, that Price2Meet app would spur the kind of meeting diet that would result in leaner projects, higher productivity, less noisy and more conscious communication.  Sadly, I overestimated the popularity and the ability of Price2Meet to become such a change agent.

Nonetheless, Price2Meet is still available for download on the Apple App Store.   Get your free download now and start cutting back on the cost of your meetings.

App You

What if business professionals custom tailored their skills in a way a software applications are designed to target a specific problem space? If you “app-ed” yourself, shrink wrapping relevant background, work experience, and professional skills to better appeal to a desired audience of potential employers and/or clients what would be the right approach to branding and marketing, keeping yourself up-to-date, maintaining an existing user base and knowing if and when to reinvent yourself.  Let’s talk about it…

There are off course many different types of software applications.  However, broadly, in terms of their application domains, I see internally developed/custom and externally-marketed/general-purpose applications:

Custom developed in-house to suit a specific internal need, applications of this type tend to be quite well adapt at solving a business problem within the confines of an organization.  Often, their life spans are long, releases incremental, and they’re notoriously resistant to change.  But also, quite often, they’re indispensable.  Quite similarly, business professionals with long tenures take on the same characteristics – powerful at solving a set of unique, specific problems, requiring a mastery of a particular field/domain.  They are often regarded and highly valued as SMEs, but also, over time, develop the kind of resistance to change and aging toolsets that diminish their broader relevance and appeal.

On the flip side, successful general purpose software applications gain face an entirely different set of requirements and challenges.  Initially, they’re regarded as a commodity and are often scrutinized purely on price, functionality and specifications.  They face stiff competition from established leaders and the newcomers.  Just as business professionals who move around as free radicals between organizations, filling a much needed skills and resource gap, are faced with a competitive market and difficulty in differentiating themselves.

So, then back to the dilemma – what is the right approach to model yourself – app you – as a business professional?  Do you laser in on a narrow problem space and go deep, but risk being too specialized and narrowing your appeal?  Do you instead broaden skills, constantly seeking and indeed welcoming change, ever vigilant of emerging trends, at the expense of becoming a jack of all trades and master of none?

It seems all too obvious to say that the balance lies somewhere in between these two modes – not too specialized, always relevant, but careful at chasing the hype.  Yet, on closer examination, aren’t some of the most successful applications found exactly at the polar ends of that spectrum?  Couple of examples come to my mind.

In the custom software arena, I’ve encountered a Claims Adjudication applications so tightly coupled to the underlying data model, so highly customized to suit a unique mix of clients, so heavily invested in legacy technology that it could never be effectively reused or re-architected, yet offering of the kind of a strategic advantage that’s afforded several decades of solid growth and elasticity in a highly regulated market.

WinZip comes to mind as a successful general purpose compression and archival tool.  I’ve personally used it for so long that it’s hard to even recall the initial time I came across it.  And, despite many alternatives, it maintains a broad user base and continues to reinvent itself and stay relevant.

The answer then is not quite so simple.  There appears to be no prescribed formula for application and career success.   In my view, neither approach guarantees career success nor offers a slight advantage.  Perhaps we all poses the capacity to succeed under either of these two paradigms.  And perhaps still we can transition between them with conscious effort.  Perhaps.