Thursday, November 5, 2009

Personal Privacy

My friend voted for Bush and I came to know that he also likes Hitler. That's correct I have stopped talking with him and I have deleted him from my friends list!

In plain old times people had their own passions and hobbies and nowadays they can share it over the internet and they are developing them by other's help. It is the information era and IT has developed so much that nobody is aloof nowadays. This has increased accessibility to knowledge and can get answers to complex questions within minutes. The forums and social networking has made people across continents develop companionship and share their ideas.

Professionals get suggestion from all over world and this could be the starting point of universal brotherhood.

But what happened to our creativity. Man is a social animal and he has to change his likings and disliking according to the society. This has affected the social networking site also. You can trace the person's interest very fast through any social networking site and get to know about him. The people's choices and their belief are no longer private. In this information exchange era everyone is forced to follow the banal choices of the herd and which will inhibit creativity.

The haiku poems in Japan were started in tea houses, where the samurai and peasants would come taking pen names. This practice led to creation of haiku poems that are today most famous in literature.

Many people do not know that Henry Ford was a sympathizer of Hitler and that's why he helped Porsche to build Volkswagen. If it would have happened in the 21st century then Ford would have joined the Hitler fan club and this is against the common practice. His organization would have lost popularity.

So it is difficult to hide the sensitive details that affect us socially nowadays. The people's passion and nature are determined by their profiles and employers also look in to them. If there are strings attached to such networking sites then the originality of the members are affected and this would affect the creativity overall. Privacy is one of the key factors of creativity. There should be a way such that private details of the members should not be shared with people of no common interest. If shared then only the common details of the members should be shared. These make the members to be secure and must not feel threatened by his interests.

So there is a need for some kind of privacy policies set between members in social networking such that they are not open to everybody.



Wikipedia and Vandalism

 Wikipedia is one of the initiatives that try to make people to access all knowledge from a single source. The Wikipedia's information is contribution of people all around the world and it also has the capability of the publishing day to day news. It is one of the constantly updated content portals. It is also the easiest place to access information.
There are many wiki pages that share information on the internet for their users. Some of the wikis are owned by enterprises and accesses to the pages are provided by the organization based on their qualification. But Wikipedia offers editorial rights even to users who can create their account in Wikipedia, So a normal internet user with an interest can contribute or edit information in Wikipedia. Even though Wikipedia have administrator to validate the information that they receive from many users, these administrators need not be expert in those topics and their qualifications as admin is set by their active contributions to wiki.

The standard is set by quantity and not by the quality. The expert in the topic might be a mere user of the Wikipedia and chances are there that his views can be neglected by an administrator purposely.

The next threat is from vandalism, it is not uniform and it is erratic. Mostly new contributors are involved in such activities.

So there is need for validating content because the wrong information is spread over the internet by a nonprofit organization. More of this type of problems would decrease the credibility of the organization.


The above two problems can be controlled by setting restriction to new users, involving experts opinion and introducing credibility points.

Wikipedia should identify experts from all over the world in the respective categories and should set up a "close" network in between them. There should be an expert- to-expert interaction between them and if they reach to a consensus the output article will be error free. Expert should feel free to access the other person's work or share their views over the network freely.

New users who reads an article and wants them to be changed or edited should not be allowed or their change should be reviewed before they are published, this restriction can be relaxed for a repeating contributor. Finally users credibility points should be maintained such a way that it increases as the user provides with actual information and decreases as he provides baseless or wrong content. Providing wrong content may not be intentional but this method will certainly decrease the volume of wrong contents in the site.

Peer to peer rating can be published online in the site according to the credibility points. Details of the percentage of error free documents from the location where it is uploaded to average error rate or percentile of the error rate can be displayed to increase peer pressure that will make user to think before they upload.  For e.g

Chicago's Score: 80%

National Average: 83%

World Average: 78%    <or> Percentile of Illinois : 86



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Information in Healthcare

How can find the best deal in healthcare? Is it possible? Healthcare is one area where I cannot rely only on cheap deals, money does not matter here. I cannot buy insurance only from a company that offers it cheap, I have to take a lot of factors into consideration. What are the factors that I need to check? Most of the factors that I need is not / cannot be dollarized, there are lots of factors that satisfy convenience and there might be other providers without this action. If Health insurance is business to the vendors why the client/consumers cannot cannot reap financial benefit out of it. There are no "deals" website for the clients, where they can select the best insurance they can get.

These are the problems or I would say the consumers in health care industry lack. This gap makes the insurance provider more powerful than the buyer and if the buyer needs to be powerful then there should be considerable amount of competition and threat to the insurance providers in their market area. Campus care in UIC is one such monopoly for UIC Students, because students do not want to get into trouble when they are sick. I agree that buyers' needs are more important and this results in students making no choice at all. I am not commenting about the policies of campus care, but I want to know of a best option and where it will be available. The maximum information I can get is from the blogs that I read and those are just opinions and personal experience and they are not even suggestions.

There is a dire need that a consumer needs to select a health care for his own purpose and for this he needs a application that will dig into the web world with respect to his needs and give him a better deals. There are many advantages over this method.

Win-Win Situation

The most important benefit of website that digs the best deals in the net is that it accomplishes a win-win solution for the consumer and the supplier. If I am buying a ticket in Kazak or in Orbitz, I am not only going for the cheapest and best deal, I am also in a way filling the flight that will make the airline to operate in full capacity. To operate the airline in full capacity is one of the purposes of the reduction in fare. The deal website makes money out of ads and the patronage paid by the organization for making their ticket sell. So everybody is happy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thin email Client

One of the main problems in litigation readiness is to save mails and other is the duplication of mails in systems that affect the process. Employees store their emails locally and in the server also.

The problem is that emails are stored in two places and server spaces decrease day by day. Gmail has the ownership of all the emails in their server; likewise a company can also own the emails.

There is another problems in service based industry, while I was working with TCS I had two mail accounts, one is from TCS and other from my clients. I have to respond my clients through the client's account and TCS specified mail through TCS account. Here in this case though TCS is a stakeholder in the joint project, it does not have ownership or access to the emails that we sent to the clients and when I approached their Infrastructure maintenance people to add clients email to redirect to our server, they said that "according to policy of TCS it is not possible". Here the company's own email policy is a great hindrance to the litigation readiness.

One way is to create thin client based on the customer usage. Customer here refers to the employees who use the email system.

Based on the usage of the customer the thin clients can be designed. Employees more often send documents, spreadsheets and images as attachment. Gmail has made possible to attach an image on the body of the mail itself, if an efficient thin mail client can be designed such a way that drag and drop of the attachment is possible and some other rich text editing is possible then we can design a thin client email system.

I consider Gmail as thin client system, because I receive my mails for other IDs in Gmail along with my emails sent to my Gmail account. So I think Gmail as my email client and it can be opened from anywhere provided I should have internet connection.

My mails are all stored in one place. If this type of architecture can be followed in Companies then litigation readiness can be confined or concentrated to a single place and it will be easy for the organization to have control over all the mails.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

E-Discovery and IT policies


E-discovery is the process of mining the electronic data and produces the result as evidence during litigations. The FRCP act has been amended such that electronic data can be produced as evidence in litigations. This has considerably saved millions of paper and e-data can be retrieved easily by the tools available in the market.

But the question is about whether the tools are necessary or not to retrieve the document. The document retrieval process can become more tedious and the publishing or acquiring a document can take more time, so the answer to this problem is litigation readiness.

Being ready for litigation that is having the documents beforehand can save time and plays a crucial role in the case. But we have to predict which data saved is used for litigations. Saving all data makes us search in a single server instead of individual systems. The IT policies of the organization should be changed such a way that the data that are sensitive should be changed. A bottom-top approach should be formed so that identifying the sensitive data can be made easy.

IT in office

The IT infrastructure in offices has become outdated and there is a better IT structure available in homes than in offices. From my home I can chat with anyone and I can send voices and videos over the internet. The stringent policies in some organizations have blocked hi-fi and advanced technologies in the offices. Moreover the organizations encourage employees to work from their home and this increases productivity and decreases operation cost of organization. But the IT policies cannot be forced on the computers in employees house and IT policies that should be active over the employees is active only in a limited geographical area and the productivity can come from the computer that does not conform with the organization's IT policies. So there comes a situation where the IT policies are not being followed.

Email Retention policy

One of the greatest threats for any organizations which use emails for correspondence and communication is the storage space. Emails are easier, faster and they are electronic data. Emails are one of the main evidence in many litigations suites. They can be easily passed from one person to another and they have details like date and time when it reached and when the email was read. So the metadata for the emails can be easily formed and they can also be stored. In present scenario the emails are sent from anywhere and from any equipment be it cell phone, blackberry and they can be stored in many places. So they can be present in more than one place. Organizations have to save the emails for the litigation purpose and many organizations save it for 21-30 days only and this has created many problems. They cannot save all the emails because the storage space increases and it results in failure for any record management system in any organization. There is problem of storing more information in the server and the servers may become unstable due to this overburden of data. This could lead to loss of information. The hold everything approach will create the problem of data explosion. This problem has to be tackled by every IT/IS departments in each organizations.

Practical IT policy

Why should any organization have IT policies and was there any policies before computer came into place replacing the old information exchange tools such as letters and memos. After the advent of computer memos and mails are stored in many places and both the sender and receiver has the proof of sending and receiving the mail and they can access it anytime, before the emails the proof of receiving the mails are only their acknowledgment and they are not for every mail. But the sensitive mails are stored according to their acknowledgments. This is a example of bottom top approach to store the information of mails sent by paper. They don't store some mail to their friend for inviting them for lunch. So employee can easily identified the required documents for litigation and educating them on policies that hold for organizations data can be fruitful. So the tasks now to make policies on the data that are owned by the organizations.

I am working in an organization where the still correspondence is through snail mails. The employees also transfer their own letters, here one cannot force that non official emails should not be sent through the organization's mail account and this type of rules describes the IT-person as a dictator, So here the mails rather than system should be standardized. Official mails should have a header stating the type, priority and nature of the mail. That kind of mail should be stored by the email admin and they can be saved in separate servers.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Information Technology in Soap and Printing Industry

This is one of the interviews I had with a Marketing director of a regional soap company in India. The most amazing journey in India is train journey and we can meet fantastic people in such journeys.

Aircraft and Airlines do not provide such service. I was interviewing one of the marketing directors in a leading regional soap company in South India.

The whole point of my argument was about supply chain management in his "geographical domain" and I am still sure that he understood the term "Supply chain". Most part of his day he has to use his cell phone to place the orders and supply them the necessary amount of goods. Though there are leading suppliers, customers who are wholesalers and shop keepers prefer his brand.

There is an order procurement system that places order through SMS, but customers prefer to call him and place those orders. The person's work is very hectic but he has not realized how much money the company can save through e-orders. The soap manufacturer is a local brand and big shots like Wipro, HLL and Ariel are their competitors, but according to him they are keeping them in bay and this little company are not heavily capitalized. They manufacture with amount with last year's turnover. Supply chain management of the marketing team is not sophisticated one and they have a plant that builds according to the order. Since most of the wholesalers believe that procurement may take 2-3 days, the company could meet the demand.

For litigations and other problems, the marketing team is supplied with a cell phone that record the call in the cell phone itself, this phone they use for the personal use and official purpose. The call is recorded as per the judgment of the marketing official. According to the executive there were problems faced due to this type of orders and the dispute is arbitrated through this recording of the conversations.

From the above points I came to conclusions that there is a serious need in the industry to manage the supply chain to cut the unwanted inventory cost and people need some person in the other end to take the orders and they are not ready to place it to a 'machine'



--- More to come