Technology surges and spirals in unexpected ways. For those trying to foresee where the next technology push will come from and what it might mean for facilities, the task is tough. Nonetheless, insights on even small shifts in technology can boost productivity and help control costs. So, Chief Geek Joel at geek.com offers these technology predictions for 2003:
Floppy disks will die. Recently, Dell announced that it would include a floppy in its high-end desktop if the customer specifically requests it. Watch for the floppy to give way to built-in Flash readers on PCs. Users can write to it, just like a floppy, and it’s nice and small for transporting.
A Palm OS-based PDA for $50. There’s no reason a licensee can’t out a Palm personal digital assistant (PDA) out for $50, unless licensing fees are too steep. At $50, even people on the fence who don’t think they need a PDA would pick one up.
A Pocket PC device for $100. As Palm continues to try to win the market for PDAs, a Pocket PC licensee will release Pocket PC for $100. It will be very basic but will sport a color screen and an secure digital input/output (SDIO) expansion slot. It will be aimed at the lower-end Palm market.
Smartphones take over. 2003 will be the year of the smartphone, which combines the functions of a pager, phone and PDA. Current models cost upwards of $400. But as mass production takes off and carriers start subsidizing the cost, new models will sell for $200-300 by the end of 2003.
Interviewing for Passion and Ethics
Corporate ethics are a hot — and touchy — topic, but the issue has relevancy beyond the board room. Companies getting serious about ethics want to know more about the ethical climate throughout an organization.
Ethics interviews help company executives better understand the way employees really feel about a company and its ethics, according to ethikos magazine. Among the types of questions companies ask during such interviews:
- Do managers and supervisors bring up ethical issues often?
- How do you define ethical issues?
- What is your opinion of the company’s ethical climate?
- Do you feel free to be as ethical as you want to be at your job?
- If you could change on thing about the company, what would it be?
Unlike written surveys, ethics interviews are designed to generate debate and give employees a chance to air their feelings.
Improvement, Step by Step
When U.S. manufacturers began to lag behind Japanese competitors in the 1970s, they quickly adopted a concept critical to Japanese business success — Kaizen. Now, the concept is finding its way into a growing number of maintenance and engineering operations.
Kaizen requires constant and incremental improvements, paired with waste minimization. Its goal is to provide high-quality, low-cost, on-time delivery of services by using a process-centered problem-solving method, not the traditional American paradigm of results-oriented solutions. Successfully achieving Kaizen is not contingent on massive restructuring or large capital spending, but rather on incremental improvement using wisdom gleaned from all levels of the organization.