Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Measuring Training Programs: Cost Vs Benefit

For decades companies have been struggling with the real costs,
benefits and return-on-investment of training costs. With
increasing online learning opportunities, organizations are finding their focus shifting from providing costly onsite training programs to the use of new tools and technology now available. Companies need to understand and apply the business analytics in order to fully appreciate the effectiveness and impact that e-learning and training offers.

Companies invest large amounts of money, resources and time in
training. According to a 2002 ASTD State of the Industry Report
where over 375 major corporations were surveyed, companies spent
between one (1) and three (3) percent of their total payroll on
training. This translated to a per-person basis of more than
US $700 per employee per year. In cutting-edge companies that
significantly increases to US $1400 or more per person per year.

If training expenses are viewed as a percentage of the company's
profits, then the training budget could represent as much as
5 - 20% of the total profit margin. With increasing costs
associated with travel and lodging, as well as increasing costs
and expenses to register and attend meetings or to develop in-house training programs, training budget costs are undboutedly going to increase, which only underscores the need to justify its cost.

In order to effectively measure training programs, companies
are faced with three critical issues: efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance. Every major decision made regarding training falls into one of these three areas. Fortunately, each of these three areas can be benchmarked and measured.

The ASTD 2002 study reported that only one-third of companies
measured the effectiveness of learning and that 12% or less attempted to measure job and business impact of their training programs. Why? Interestingly enough the top reason why companies fail to measure training is that they lack the experience, tools and infrastructure to do so.

It is impossible to improve or effectively optimize the training
program if it is not benchmarked or measured. Training should be measured and evaluated just as companies measure productivity, profit or quality. There have been many scorecards, dashboards, algorithms or metrics developed for this purpose.

If one considers the total training investment per person in the
company (see above), the question is how much should they spend
on measurement and evaluation? One, five or ten percent? Looking back at the ASTD 2002 study of best practices, we find that most companies spend 40-50% of their total training dollars on content development, 8-10% on infrastructure and the remaining resources on salaries and facilities costs.

For many development of measurement and evaluation tools sounds like additional costs and expense to the organization. Companies who allocate a small, but fixed percentage of the training budget to this purpose will find themselves able to effectively measure the effectiveness for their overall investment in training. One study found that organizations who adopt this model, and who spend US $2-10 per employee on learning analytics reported noticeable improvements in the measurability and return on investment.

Companies will need to justify the costs associated with measuring learning by identifying the business impact and risk of not training its employees. This could be quantified by fines, or profit loss as a result of being out of compliance with laws or standards. Often times this can result in fines levied against the company or even lawsuits or other forms of profit loss.

In healthcare, for example, lack of compliance with correctly
collecting, coding and reporting cancer incidence could have far-reaching impact on budget dollars spent not only in the training and operational costs associated with the Cancer Registry department, but could also negate the costs associated with cancer program development and community outreach programs. Although program development and outreach programs have the ability to compete with the consumer's dollars, all this could be for naught if the required reporting is not done accurately and in compliance with the State or accreditation program standards. Training programs for the Cancer Registry can ensure that the data management processes are appropriately managed.

So, in summary, companies should be focusing on the development
and measurement of their learning programs. The investment in
learning analytics will outweigh the risks of inadequate training. Success for any organization will directly depend on their employee's understanding of their products, services, operations and policies. Employees must be thoroughly trained in compliance, standards, confidentiality, non-disclosure and other legally sensitive areas of the company. And, companies must be able to track and measure this using effective learning analytics.


You have permission to publish this article electronically, in print, in your ebook or on your website, free of charge, as long as the author's information and web link are included at the bottom of the article and the article is not changed, modified or altered in any way. The web link should be active when the article is reprinted on a web site or in an email. The author would appreciate an email indicating you wish to post
this article to a website, and the link to where it is posted.

Copyright 2005, M. A. Webb. All Rights Reserved

Michele Webb has 20+ years experience in healthcare, including Cancer Registry management. She actively promotes online learning opportunities for all individuals (eStudy4U) and a Blog (WeTrainU.blogspot) with current articles discussing online learning needs and a Cancer Registry training website.

Content Really is King

It is every affiliate's wish to have unique site content absent
of any re-write or editing restrictions, effectively content with an
"open license." Many sources do exist for content that can't be
changed, but there are very few sources which allow an affiliate to
manipulate the article and make it unique and specific to their
site(s). However, this trend could be changing in the near future.

There is a war between content sites and sites which purely provide
product lists. Google, for the moment, has clearly indicated that sites
providing unique content will prove victorious in the battle. This
means affiliates who want to compete on Google need to have unique
content for their sites or risk vanishing into that ever increasing
special black hole Google seems to reserve for affiliates.

where does an affiliate get unique content from? Some affiliates can
write their own, but it's generally a minority that has the time or
desire to do so. A few pay for content to be produced by freelance
writers on networks such as Elance (www.elance.com) or by professional copy writing services such as InfoSearch Media (www.infosearchmedia.com).

are lucky enough to get content from their merchants. That is until the
merchants realize that distributing their own content is only a short
term gain for long term oblivion. The content’s value is diluted and
degraded due to being repeated and copied to a point where the merchant
loses control of it. Affiliates absent of the gratuitous merchant turn
to sites such as Ezine Articles (www.ezinearticles.com) and ARA Content (www.aracontent.com)
where the content is free, but can't be edited or changed. In most
cases, content provided from these sources must also retain links
and/or credits to the author as well as the source site.

obvious solution is to have merchants develop content specific to their
affiliates, no credits required, no back links requested (well other
than affiliate tracked and tagged ones that is), the right to edit,
cut, slice, dice and the expressed permission to generally edit the
content to make it unique.

The niche of "open license" content has but a few players in the arena. For example, Wikiepedia (www.wikipedia.org)
while not a merchant, does allow articles to be re-written; however,
this permission does come with a few strings attached as they apply a
fair number of requirements in order to use the content. Various Affiliate Management firms now provide in "open license" house content development for their affiliates. These services should place them as leading contenders in
the affiliate content arena. At the end of the day though, each individual
affiliate still needs to sit down and work out how to make the content
unique to them if they want to win their battle with Google.

Article can be used with permission of Chris Sanderson as long as the signature and in place links are left unchanged. Chris Sanderson is an Affiliate Marketing Manager based in Bangkok Thailand with AMWSO.com and the owner of Xaap.com.

How to Hire The Right Web Design Firm

Regardless whether you manage a small business, charitable organization, or Fortune 500 company, choosing the right web design firm can quickly become a full-time research project. With thousands of design firms to choose from, what factors truly determine which design firm is best for your business?

The primary considerations for choosing a web design firm are:

* Price

* Customer service/access to support

* Credibility indicators of the design firm

* Portfolio and design experience

* Other services offered (domain renewal, hosting, SEO)

* Turnaround time

Let’s take a closer look at each consideration in detail, and explore how to identify and qualify the right design firm.


Like many products and services we purchase, both personally and professionally, deciding on a web design firm can often come down to price. But the value of the services rendered is really what’s important. A $200 web site usually turns out to look, feel and perform like a $200 web site.

The price of your site’s development will depend on three factors: the features of the site, the amount of content, and the service options included with the design package, such as hosting.

Because pricing varies by firm, here are several principles to use when determining the validity and value of a web design quote:

* Does the quote state one all-inclusive price for the entire project?

* Is there a reoccurring monthly fee for hosting?

* Is the site custom-built, or is it customization of an existing template?

* Is there a separate fee for content development, such as writing sales copy?

* Is domain registration/management included in the package?

* Will the firm provide multiple design concepts, prior to actual development?

It’s important to compare quotes from at least three firms to, determine the value of the services offered. Looking for the best value is important in a competitive service market.

Customer Service

There’s nothing worse than signing with a firm that offers a great product, only to find out they are impossible to contact. Consistent, open contact with your web design firm is important for ensuring success before, during, and after your web site is developed.

Throughout the design process, you may identify text, photos, or contact information you’d like to change before the site goes live. If you have immediate questions regarding your site’s development, you’ll be glad to have immediate contact with customer support staff by e-mail, telephone, or live chat.

If you are limited to e-mail technical support, consider other firms that offer a wider range of customer service options such as telephone and live chat support. E-mail is great for convenience – when it’s convenient.

Credibility Indicators

Identifying “credibility indicators” can help ensure a firm is trustworthy, and will be around after your deposit or full payment is sent. Credibility indicators include, but are not limited to:

* Toll free telephone support

* 24 hour customer service

* Better Business Bureau affiliation

* Human e-mail address contacts

* Google PageRank of 2 or above

* Presentation of a hard-copy quote/design contract

Design Experience/Portfolio

Does the design firm have experience in working with similar types of businesses? Even if a designer doesn’t have a web site in their portfolio related to your industry, the firm you select should have a strong working knowledge of how to develop an effective site for your business type. Product and service web sites are not the same. Your designer should have a plan of action for developing a site that reaches the maximum number of prospective customers in your target market.

A few good questions to ask about a firm’s design experience include:

* Does the firm offer a number of diverse, finished web sites available for review?

* Will the firm conduct research regarding my competition?

* Will my web site highlight the features, benefits and value of my product or service?

* Has the firm outlined a plan of action for creating an effective site, start to finish?

Design experience need not always relate to the type of web sites the firm has previously developed. If you have a specific look in mind, ask the firm if achieving a similar design is possible. The ultimate goal is to know you’re going to get a tangible benefit out of your site through effective, affordable web design.

Additional Services

Many web design firms offer design, but do not provide other required services such as hosting and domain name registration. Ideally, your web design company should be a full-service firm, offering at least basic hosting, domain registration and search engine optimization services tailored to your needs. Research each firm to determine other key lines of business, so that any future expansion of your site will be seamless as your business grows.

Turnaround Time

An effective website should take 30-60 days to go live, from the start of production. Unless you’re offering hundreds of individual products or services on your web site, the entire development process, start to finish, should take no longer than 60 days. Turnaround time should include:

* Upload of your web site to the hosting provider

* Configuration of any scripts or forms on your site

* Domain propagation (accessing your web site and e-mail via yoursite.com)

Hiring the cheapest, fastest, or most elaborate web design firm does not always equate to hiring the right web design firm. A limited amount of front-end research can save time and money in the long term, and maximize the sales revenue from your web presence.

Jim D. Ray is a seasoned web developer and president of Web Presence, a national web design firm serving the small business market sector. To learn more, or for a free quote for your own web site, visit the Web Presence at http://www.web-presence.net.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Design vs Content: Who is KING?

Well it is not Elvis, that's for sure.

I am a firm advocate of good design but most of the time people tend to interpret design as amazing graphics and astounding visuals they tend to forget that design is the culmination of every aspect of good and effective presentation into one.

We all know that design and content have equal importance in regards to websites but if you must choose which one is immediately important, which will you choose, design or content? If you?re going to prepare an entire web marketing strategy on which of these two shall you focus on more? Why? Please defend your answer?

During my early days (around 1997), when I was still studying/learning to develop webpages, websites with astonishing visuals never fails to impress me and I?d always ask myself this, ?Man, how did they do that great graphic?? I will spend countless hours surfing the net collecting every graphically and visually orgasmic websites I could fine and I?ll try to imitate and recreate them with photoshop (Photoshop 4) and if I can?t recreate them I?ll scour the web for tutorials on how to make those visuals. Man, if I were paying for my internet connection I would be dead broke by now. It was a good thing that my internet access was free. Anyway, back to the discussion. Then it hit me, after saving a screenshot of those awesome website, saving all those wonderful wallpapers and all those banners and images, in my mind a very simple question was formed, ?When was the last time I visited these websites again?? the answer was simple, once or never. After, analyzing my thoughts I finally noticed that most of these sites offers nothing but visuals. I had spent countless hours browsing these websites and I was only looking at their visuals, why, because that was all they have. That was the only thing they can offer, visuals. I finally realized that the websites I regularly visit like Yahoo, Web Monkey, Web Developer Virtual Library, and now google doesn?t have all these WOW factor thing, they don?t have the bells and whistles of those extraordinary websites. All they have and all they offer was information, tons and tons of information. They never bothered to develop their look and their feel, what they developed was their content, their information database. Millions of people or millions of potential clients, buyers and opportunities go to these websites not to look at their remarkable visuals or presentations but to acquire what everybody need information and people pay a lot of money for information. A father will pay millions of dollars just to get some information about his long lost child but this same father would not pay anything more than 10,000 or even 50,000 USD just to look at a design, he won?t even pay at all.

Content development is in a much higher level than Design Conceptualization, Creation and Development. Yes, design will capture your visitor?s immediate attention. All the wows, oohhhsss and overwhelming appreciation of the design will follow it but after that what? I for once is very irritated of websites which will make you wait 1 minute for you to download their 3 minute intro just to find out later that the information you are looking for is not there. It does not only irritates me, it also makes me mad as hell because I?ve wasted 5 minutes of my time for nothing and I believe that almost all internet users especially those on dial-up have the same sentiments as mine.

Content makes the big bucks. Here is another analogy. It is like a commercial ad on TV, they?ll hype a product with visuals, graphics, amazing videos, cool sounds and they?ll even get your favorite star to endorse it but in reality it is just as good as the next product. If you ever seen that TV ad for a brand of powdered laundry soap where the speaker just places the cloth stained with grease on a basin of water and just poured some of their product and left it, and after an hour she?ll be back and it is already clean without any effort from you. I tried it, using the same product but it didn?t work. I even left it longer. It didn?t remove the grease from my shirt but it did remove the color and the grease is still there. I?m not saying that the product doesn?t really work, what I?m saying is, it is all hype just like a website with all the hype. If you have a website that has all these bells and whistles, have you ever wondered how many potential paying clients have pressed the back button or have typed in a different URL just because they can?t wait to load your website, just stop for a while and think of the dollars that you easily could have raked in only if your site loaded just a nanosecond sooner.

Websurfers are an impatient breed. Very few will actually wait until your elaborate design loads. Only those that are interested in your design will wait and look at it and who are they? They are not the paying public, they are not the CEO?s, they are not the business people and they are not the people who have the dough to pay for your services, skills and talents. They are not the people whom you are trying to sell your service to. Then who are they? They are designers, artist and creative people who are just there to steal, copy and plagiarize your hard work.

Content is KING. In fact, it is a GOD. A website with good and well thought out content can and will survive longer than an extravagantly designed one. A lavishly designed website will bring in immediate traffic but they are not quality traffic. They could even be just one time visitors but content, fresh and new (am iterating), will drive not just new visitors but will bring in more visitors which could become potential users of your site and once they become users and get hooked on your site then the big bucks will not be very far behind them (hopefully).

About The Author

Romelo Jimenez Itong is a Philippine-based web designer/developer with years of experience designing and developing websites for US and other international clients. Visit http://www.romelo.com for more information.


Content Ever be Profitable?


1. Content Suppliers

The Ethos of Free Content

Content Suppliers is the underprivileged sector of the Internet. They all lose money (even sites which offer basic, standardized goods - books, CDs), with the exception of sites profering sex or tourism. No user seems to be grateful for the effort and resources invested in creating and distributing content. The recent breakdown of traditional roles (between publisher and author, record company and singer, etc.) and the direct access the creative artist is gaining to its paying public may change this attitude of ingratitude but hitherto there are scarce signs of that. Moreover, it is either quality of presentation (which only a publisher can afford) or ownership and (often shoddy) dissemination of content by the author. A really qualitative, fully commerce enabled site costs up to 5,000,000 USD, excluding site maintenance and customer and visitor services. Despite these heavy outlays, site designers are constantly criticized for lack of creativity or for too much creativity. More and more is asked of content purveyors and creators. They are exploited by intermediaries, hitch hiker sand other parasites. This is all an off-shoot of the ethos of the Internet as a free content area.

Most of the users like to surf (browse, visit sites) the net without reason or goal in mind. This makes it difficult to apply to the web traditional marketing techniques.

What is the meaning of "targeted audiences" or "market shares" in this context? If a surfer visits sites which deal with aberrant sex and nuclear physics in the same session - what to make of it?

Moreover, the public and legislative backlash against the gathering of surfer's data by Internet ad agencies and other web sites - has led to growing ignorance regarding the profile of Internet users, their demography, habits, preferences and dislikes.

"Free" is a key word on the Internet: it used to belong to the US Government and to a bunch of universities. Users like information, with emphasis on news and data about new products. But they do not like to shop on the net - yet. Only 38% of all surfers made a purchase during 1998.

It would seem that users will not pay for content unless it is unavailable elsewhere or qualitatively rare or made rare. One way to "rarefy" content is to review and rate it.

2. Quality-Rated Content

There is a long term trend of clutter-breaking website-rating and critique. It may have a limited influence on the consumption decisions of some users and on their willingness to pay for content. Browsers already sport "What's New" and "What's Hot" buttons. Most Search Engines and directories recommend specific sites. But users are still cautious. Studies discovered that nouser, no matter how heavy, has consistently re-visited more than 200 sites, a minuscule number. Some recommendation services often produce random - at times, wrong - selections for their users. There are also concerns regarding privacy issues. The backlash against Amazon's "readers circles" is an example. Web Critics, who work today mainly for the printed press, publish their wares on the net and collaborate with intelligent software which hyperlinks to web sites, recommends them and refers users to them. Some web critics (guides) became identified with specific applications - really, expert systems -which incorporate their knowledge and experience. Most volunteer-based directories (such as the "Open Directory" and the late "Go" directory) work this way.

The flip side of the coin of content consumption is investment in content creation, marketing, distribution and maintenance.

3. The Money

Where is the capital needed to finance content likely to come from?

Again, there are two schools:

According to the first, sites will be financed through advertising - and so will search engines and other applications accessed by users.

Certain ASPs (Application Service Providers which rent out access to application software which resides on their servers) are considering this model.

The recent collapse in online advertising rates and click-through rates raised serious doubts regarding the validity and viability of this model. Marketing gurus, such as Seth Godin went as far as declaring "interruption marketing" (=ads and banners) dead.

The second approach is simpler and allows for the existence of non-commercial content.

It proposes to collect negligible sums (cents or fractions of cents) from every user for every visit ("micro-payments"). These accumulated cents will enable the site-owners to update and to maintain them and encourage entrepreneurs to develop new content and invest in it. Certain content aggregators (especially of digital textbooks) have adopted this model (Questia, Fathom).

The adherents of the first school point to the 5 million USD invested in advertising during 1995 and to the 60 million or so invested during 1996.

Its opponents point exactly at the same numbers: ridiculously small when contrasted with more conventional advertising modes. The potential of advertising on the net is limited to 1.5 billion USD annually in 1998, thundered the pessimists. The actual figure was double the prediction but still woefully small and inadequate to support the internet's content development. Compare these figures to the sale of Internet software (4 billion), Internet hardware (3 billion), Internet access provision (4.2 billion in 1995 alone!).

Even if online advertising were to be restored to its erstwhile glory days, other bottlenecks remain. Advertising encourages the consumer to interact and to initiate the delivery of a product to him. This - the delivery phase - is a slow and enervating epilogue to the exciting affair of ordering online. Too many consumers still complain of late delivery of the wrong or defective products.

The solution may lie in the integration of advertising and content. The late Pointcast, for instance, integrated advertising into its news broadcasts, continuously streamed to the user's screen, even when inactive (it had an active screen saver and ticker in a "push technology"). Downloading of digital music, video and text (e-books) leads to the immediate gratification of consumers and increases the efficacy of advertising.

Whatever the case may be, a uniform, agreed upon system of rating as a basis for charging advertisers, is sorely needed. There is also the question of what does the advertiser pay for? The rates of many advertisers (Procter and Gamble, for instance) are based not on the number of hits or impressions (=entries, visits to a site). - but on the number of the times that their advertisement was hit (page views), or clicked through.

Finally, there is the paid subscription model - a flop to judge by the experience of the meagre number of sites of venerable and leading newspapers that are on a subscription basis. Dow Jones (Wall Street Journal) and The Economist. Only two.

All this is not very promising. But one should never forget that the Internet is probably the closest thing we have to an efficient market. As consumers refuse to pay for content, investment will dry up and content will become scarce (through closures of web sites). As scarcity sets in, consumer may reconsider.

Your article deals with the future of the Internet as a medium. Will it be able to support its content creation and distribution operations economically?

If the Internet is a budding medium - then we should derive great benefit from a study of the history of its predecessors.

The Future History of the Internet as a Medium

The internet is simply the latest in a series of networks which revolutionized our lives. A century before the internet, the telegraph, the railways, the radio and the telephone have been similarly heralded as "global" and transforming. Every medium of communications goes through the same evolutionary cycle:


The Public Phase

At this stage, the medium and the resources attached to it are very cheap, accessible, under no regulatory constraints. The public sector steps in : higher education institutions, religious institutions, government, not for profit organizations, non governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, etc. Be deviled by limited financial resources, they regard the new medium as a cost effective way of disseminating their messages.

The Internet was not exempt from this phase which ended only a few years ago. It started with a complete computer anarchy manifested in ad hoc networks, local networks, networks of organizations (mainly universities and organs of the government such as DARPA, a part of the defence establishment, in the USA). Non commercial entities jumped on the bandwagon and started sewing these networks together (an activity fully subsidized by government funds). The result was a globe encompassing network of academic institutions. The American Pentagon established the network of all networks, the ARPANET. Other government departments joined the fray, headed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) which withdrew only lately from the Internet.

The Internet (with a different name) became semi-public property - with access granted to the chosen few.

Radio took precisely this course. Radio transmissions started in the USA in 1920. Those were anarchic broadcasts with no discernible regularity. Non commercial organizations and not for profit organizations began their own broadcasts and even created radio broadcasting infrastructure (albeit of the cheap and local kind) dedicated to their audiences. Trade unions, certain educational institution sand religious groups commenced "public radio" broadcasts.

The Commercial Phase

When the users (e.g., listeners in the case of the radio, or owners of PCs and modems in the case of the Internet) reach a critical mass - the business sector is alerted. In the name of capitalist ideology (another religion, really) it demands "privatization" of the medium. This harps on very sensitive strings in every Western soul: the efficient allocation of resources which is the result of competition. Corruption and inefficiency are intuitively associated with the public sector ("Other People's Money" - OPM). This, together with the ulterior motives of members of the ruling political echelons (the infamous American Paranoia), a lack of variety and of catering to the tastes and interests of certain audiences and the automatic equation of private enterprise with democracy lead to a privatization of the young medium.

The end result is the same: the private sector takes over the medium from "below" (makes offers to the owners or operators of the medium that they cannot possibly refuse) - or from "above" (successful lobbying in the corridors of power leads to the appropriate legislation and the medium is "privatized"). Every privatization - especially that of a medium - provokes public opposition. There are (usually founded) suspicions that the interests of the public are compromised and sacrificed on the altar of commercialization and rating. Fears of monopolization and cartelization of the medium are evoked - and proven correct in due course. Otherwise, there is fear of the concentration of control of the medium in a few hands. All these things do happen - but the pace is so slow that the initial fears are forgotten and public attention reverts to fresher issues.

A new Communications Act was enacted in the USA in 1934. It was meant to transform radio frequencies into a national resource to be sold to the private sector which was supposed to use it to transmit radio signals to receivers. In other words: the radio was passed on to private and commercial hands. Public radio was doomed to be marginalized.

The American administration withdrew from its last major involvement in the Internet in April 1995, when the NSF ceased to finance some of the networks and, thus, privatized its hitherto heavy involvement in the net.

A new Communications Act was legislated in 1996. It permitted "organized anarchy". It allowed media operators to invade each other's territories. Phone companies were allowed to transmit video and cable companies were allowed to transmit telephony, for instance. This was all phased over a long period of time - still, it was a revolution whose magnitude is difficult to gauge and whose consequences defy imagination. It carries an equally momentous price tag - official censorship. "Voluntary censorship", to be sure, somewhat toothless standardization and enforcement authorities, to be sure - still, a censorship with its own institutions to boot. The private sector reacted by threatening litigation - but, beneath the surface it is caving in to pressure and temptation, constructing its own censorship codes both in the cable and in the internet media.


This phase is the next in the Internet's history, though, it seems, few realize it.

It is characterized by enhanced activities of legislation. Legislators, on all levels, discover the medium and lurch at it passionately. Resources which were considered "free", suddenly are transformed to "national treasures not to be dispensed with cheaply, casually and with frivolity".

It is conceivable that certain parts of the Internet will be "nationalized" (for instance, in the form of a licensing requirement) and tendered to the private sector. Legislation will be enacted which will deal with permitted and disallowed content (obscenity ? incitement ? racial or gender bias ?) No medium in the USA (not to mention the wide world) has eschewed such legislation. There are sure to be demands to allocate time (or space, or software, or content, or hardware) to "minorities", to "public affairs", to "community business". This is a tax that the business sector will have to pay to fend off the eager legislator and his nuisance value.

All this is bound to lead to a monopolization of hosts and servers. The important broadcast channels will diminish in number and be subjected to severe content restrictions. Sites which will refuse to succumb to these requirements - will be deleted or neutralized. Content guidelines (euphemism for censorship) exist, even as we write, in all major content providers (CompuServe, AOL, Yahoo!-Geocities, Tripod, Prodigy).

The Bloodbath

This is the phase of consolidation. The number of players is severely reduced. The number of browser types will settle on 2-3 (Netscape, Microsoft and Opera?). Networks will merge to form privately owned mega-networks. Servers will merge to form hyper-servers run on supercomputers in "server farms". The number of ISPs will be considerably cut. 50 companies ruled the greater part of the media markets in the USA in 1983. The number in 1995 was 18. At the end of the century they will number 6.

This is the stage when companies - fighting for financial survival - strive to acquire as many users/listeners/viewers as possible. The programming is shall owed to the lowest (and widest) common denominator. Shallow programming dominates as long as the bloodbath proceeds.

From Rags to Riches

Tough competition produces four processes:

1. A Major Drop in Hardware Prices

This happens in every medium but it doubly applies to a computer-dependent medium, such as the Internet.

Computer technology seems to abide by "Moore's Law" which says that the number of transistors which can be put on a chip doubles every 18 months. As a result of this miniaturization, computing power quadruples every 18 months and an exponential series ensues. Organic-biological-DNA computers, quantum computers, chaos computers - prompted by vast profits and spawned by inventive genius will ensure the continued applicability of Moore's Law.

The Internet is also subject to "Metcalf's Law".

It says that when we connect N computers to a network - we get an increase of N to the second power in its computing processing power. And these N computers are more powerful every year, according to Moore's Law. The growth of computing powers in networks is a multiple of the effects of the two laws. More and more computers with ever increasing computing power get connected and create an exponential 16 times growth in the network's computing power every 18 months.

2. Content Related Fees

This was prevalent in the Net until recently. Even potentially commercial software can still be downloaded for free. In many countries television viewers still pay for television broadcasts - but in the USA and many other countries in the West, the basic package of television channels comes free of charge.

As users / consumers form a habit of using (or consuming) the software - it is commercialized and begins to carry a price tag. This is what happened with the advent of cable television: contents are sold for subscription or per usage (Pay Per View - PPV) fees.

Gradually, this is what will happen to most of the sites and software on the Net. Those which survive will begin to collect usage fees, access fees, subscription fees, downloading fees and other, appropriately named, fees. These fees are bound to be low - but it is the principle that counts. Even a few cents per transaction may accumulate to hefty sums with the traffic which characterizes some web sites on the Net (or, at least its more popular locales).

3. Increased User Friendliness

As long as the computer is less user friendly and less reliable (predictable) than television - less of a black box - its potential (and its future) is limited. Television attracts 3.5 billion users daily. The Internet stands to attract - under the most exuberant scenario - less than one tenth of this number of people. The only reasons for this disparity are (the lack of) user friendliness and reliability. Even browsers, among the most user friendly applications ever -are not sufficiently so. The user still needs to know how to use a keyboard and must possess some basic acquaintance with the operating system. The more mature the medium, the more friendly it becomes. Finally, it will be operated using speech or common language. There will be room left for user "hunches" and built in flexible responses.

4. Social Taxes

Sooner or later, the business sector has to mollify the God of public opinion with offerings of political and social nature. The Internet is an affluent, educated, yuppie medium. It requires literacy and numeracy, live interest in information and its various uses (scientific, commercial, other), a lot of resources (free time, money to invest in hardware, software and connect time). It empowers - and thus deepens the divide between the haves and have-nots, the developed and the developing world, the knowing and the ignorant, the computer illiterate.

In short: the Internet is an elitist medium. Publicly, this is an unhealthy posture. "Internetophobia" is already discernible. People (and politicians) talk about how unsafe the Internet is and about its possible uses for racial, sexist and pornographic purposes. The wider public is in a state of awe.

So, site builders and owners will do well to begin to improve their image: provide free access to schools and community centres, bankroll internet literacy classes, freely distribute contents and software to educational institutions, collaborate with researchers and social scientists and engineers. In short: encourage the view that the Internet is a medium catering to the needs of the community and the underprivileged, a mostly altruist endeavour. This also happens to make good business sense by educating and conditioning a future generation of users. He who visited a site when a student, free of charge - will pay to do so when made an executive. Such a user will also pass on the information within and without his organization. This is called media exposure. The future will, no doubt, will be witness to public Internet terminals, subsidized ISP accounts, free Internet classes and an alternative "non-commercial, public" approach to the Net. This may prove to be one more source of revenue to content creator sand distributors.

About The Author

Sam Vaknin is the author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" and "After the Rain - How the West Lost the East". He is a columnist in "Central Europe Review", United Press International (UPI) and ebookweb.org and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com. Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

His web site: http://samvak.tripod.com

Grow Your Business Using B2B Emarketplace - Part II

Selecting the right emarketplace

Although, IT spending has been staying flat for the last several
years, corporate spending in e-business is gaining significant
ground and at present surpasses 20 percent of overall IT budget.

This means, more and more businesses are undertaking ecommerce
initiatives, and as a result increasing sales, streamlining
business processes and dramatically boosting productivity.

Most experts agree that average business, which is slow in
adopting e-business applications, risks loosing its competitive
edge to their more progressive rivals.

Emarketplaces provide with a great opportunity for small to
medium size companies to test online business for a minimal risk.
This is due to the factor that the e-business applications that
come along with an emarketplace membership package are
prohibitively expensive to develop in-house by most companies,
and require large professional workforce to operate. As an
example: product content development with required attributes,
suitable for e-business, itself might feel like a daunting task
for most offline companies.

So, as a company, what should be your first step in starting
e-business through emarketplaces?

Naturally, out of hundreds of emarketplaces available today,
you have to find one that matches all your requirements.
Choosing right kind of emarketplace

In best case scenario, if yours is a large enough company,
you should build your private emarketplace with all the
necessary features specific to your business. The potential
of having your own emarketplace is amazing!

- Ecommerce will add value to your existing business transactions

- Your present suppliers will be able to post most updated information on their products via e-catalog and their storefront

- You can build community from your present buyers and supplier, or invite members on the Internet

- Real time marketplace will allow you to take quick buying and selling decision

- Both buyers and sellers can contact you through Instant Messaging System

- Your entire supply chain process can be managed from one place

- You can issue real time purchase tenders with either limited access only to your community members or open to public

- Sell your stock lots through online auction

- Brand you emarketplace and establish your company as a serious online player within your Industry

However, as I mentioned earlier, if you are not a very big company,
you will probably be better off with a membership in an established

If you are a manufacturer, wholesaler or a buyer of certain
industry specific products or services, your best choice would be
a vertical emarketplace that caters specially your industry. For
example: if you buy or sell fish, you should look for an emarketplace
that deals with this product only. Another thing that you should
keep in mind is how geographically limited your business is. If you
buy and sell fish within the locality of your state or region, if
available, get an emarketplace that works in your region.

Totally different story, if you carry large number of products
from different industries; for you a horizontal marketplace that
cater a range of industries is a better choice. If you are an
international trader involved in import or export, you should select
a global emarketplace, which has members from the countries you
deal with.

Features that are must

A good emarketplace amasses various features in order to facilitate
smooth transactions of business deals. However, there are some key
attributes that are absolutely necessary for any emarketplace to
become successful; and as a prospective member you should look for
these features and characteristics while choosing an emarketplace
for yourself.

Product catalog based on an industry-standard classification system
While it might not look so important from the surface; to have
accurate, well-defined and timely-updated product content is
extremely crucial for any online business. Since you have to
integrate your product catalog to the aggregated electronic catalog
of the emarketplace, which could be a very complex task, you should
make sure that the classification system that they have is widely
used online; and if necessary you can use same product content with
other emarketplaces or e-procurement applications.

The best option, as I believe, is based on The Universal Standard
Products and Services Classification (UNSPSC), which is a global
coding system that classifies products and services. This
categorization scheme covers the broadest collection of industries
and commodities available today, and designed to facilitate
e-commerce transactions by providing geography-independent common
nomenclature system.

Product search capability within the marketplace and e-catalog
Members of the emarketplace should be able to locate any product
or service, whether in the auctions, marketplaces, or in the catalog
with ease. Advanced search function should allow finding required
items using precise query.

Supply chain process, i.e. request for quote, quotation, purchase
order, billing system, etc.
Efficient supply chain management is the number one strategic priority
for many businesses. In 2001, Cisco System alone had to write off
US $2.5 billion in excess inventories due to poor management of its
numerous outsourcing contractors.
E-marketplaces can help streamlining your supply chain process if
the required features are embedded in their system.

Directory of members
Usually most emarketplaces incorporate a searchable directory of
their members. The members get an added opportunity of creating
new business relations and increasing sales thanks to this feature.

Product content adding and editing interface
In order to make product content adding and maintaining easier
for sellers, the marketplace must have an uncomplicated tool.
The tool could be a wizard-based combination of simple forms.
To integrate larger catalogs speedily and efficiently the
emarketplace should have XML based interface.

Ability to promote products and services
The process of posting an offer for sale of a product or a service
on the marketplace should be simple and easy but sophisticated
enough to create dynamic offer, offer with time limit, variable
pricing based on quantity, etc.

Apart from the above mentioned functionalities that facilitate
conducting e-business, other key characteristics of a quality
e-marketplace should include:

Simplicity – An emarketplace should be easy to learn and use.
Large Community – The quantity of members should be big enough,
so that new participants can expand their business.
Flexibility – Emarketplace functions should be flexible enough
to modify or add with new features when necessary.
Neutrality – The emarketplace should be an unbiased venue for
both sellers and buyers. No member should have any privilege
at the expense of others. Providing an open and transparent
market for all the participants is an important constituent
of the value proposition of an emarketplace.

Cost of doing business through e-marketplace

In general, thanks to the large member base, e-marketplaces
charge a reasonable subscription fee if you would like to
participate in it. Many emarketplaces also charge a nominal
fee for each trade made using their facilities. Other costs
involved, that you should consider, are internal workforce
needed to handle business via emarketplace, catalog
integration and maintaining, etc. In any case, the cost of
doing business through emarketplaces is negligible for most
businesses compare to the gains they make.

Get your partners involved

If you just build a corporate website and don’t spend
required time and money to promote, it won’t bring any
business. Same goes for emarketplace! Mere participation in
an emarketplace also will not produce any significant
benefit if you don’t convince your existing buyers and
suppliers to work with you through your chosen emarketplace.

Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of Rusbiz.com. He has Ph. D. degree in Information Technology. Dr. Kabir has over 12 years of experience in International Trade and has worked as an advisor to several government projects. You can contact him at mailto:nowshade[at]rusbiz.com, http://ezine.rusbiz.com, http://www.rusbiz.com

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spyware Removal Programs - Get Your Computer Back!

When you have a computer, one of the most frustrating things is going to be spyware. These are programs that actually download themselves onto your computer either through viruses or other programs, and they collect data about you and about what you are doing online. These programs can actually be quite bad for your computer and for you as well, so it is important to know what you can do in order to stop them from being a problem. The first thing that you can do is make sure that you are finding the right spyware removal programs.

Each computer that you have that is attached to the internet should have spyware removal programs. These are programs that are downloaded onto your computer by you. Usually, they are programs that are constantly running on your computer. When they detect spyware, they get rid of it for you.

They can work with your virus protection software. Spyware removal programs are very important because they will help you make sure your computer can continue to run smoothly and run well for you. This is going to be the best way that you, yourself, have of actually taking care of your computer and making sure that it can continue to run well for you for many years to come.

When you are finding programs for removing spyware, there are a few things that you need to remember. First of all, check to see whether the programs are programs that you have to run on your own, or if they are programs that are going to be constantly running for you.

You want to be sure that you can have spyware removal programs that are always running so that your computer is always going to be protected. This is a very important thing for you to remember. You also want to be sure that you know what the actual process is for the spyware removal programs. Knowing this will help you make sure that you are able to get the most out of your computer at all times. It is important for you to keep track of this so that your computer can run smoothly for you and you will not be susceptible to viruses.

Click Here to see the top ranked spyware removal programs online and how other people have used them to get their computer to its optimum level.

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