Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kennywood Day!

Pitt Fall, originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

This past Wednesday was "Kennywood Day" for our school district. Kennywood is a Pittsburgh tradition and historic landmark founded in 1898. Completely ingrained in the Pittsburgh culture, it's practically assumed that every school kid, township, borough and several companies will host an annual Kennywood Day.

Virtually every Pittsburgher visits Kennywood each year and many more than once. Many end up working there at some point. I currently work with at least 2 ex-Kennywood employees, one of whom is married to an ex-Kennywood employee. Having lived in other cities, I can think of no other amusement park as completely ingrained in a cities identitiy as Kennywood. (Well, maybe Hershey Park.)

This year was milestone year for my 6 year old son, who rode both the Phantom's Revenge and the Pit Fall for the first time. Despite being pretty quiet and shy, he's been a coaster nut since his first ride on the Jack Rabbit when he was 3 years old.

Sitting by his side as we plunged down the hillside at speeds up to 85MPH, I saw the amusement park experience in a new perspective. Not just about fun, dizziness and fried food, thrill rides present real tests of courage for our kids (and adults too, I suppose).

So as we sat at the top of the Pitt Fall and my son said to me "This is a great view dad," as I tried to pry my eyes open, or he bounced along saying "I must be the bravest kid in the whole world." after conquering Phantom's Revenge, I decided that there's a valuable lesson at amusement parks about the rewards that come from taking calculated risks.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Intel gets the Le(a)d out...

Intel's getting a lot of press for going "unleaded" as an environmental initiative, replacing the remaining o.o2 grams per chip with an alloy of tin, silver and copper.

As the trend graph above showing the price trend for lead shows, this is another in a line of decisions that could be driven as much by increases in the TCO related to producing it with lead as pure environmental stewardship.

While over the past several months the public may have reached a tipping point in terms of the conciousness of climate change, it appears that companies are approaching a cost tipping point where the cost of purchasing, using in production and remediating the negative aspects of materials with negative environmental impact is greater than the value that they provide.
Getting the lead out is still a bold move for a company whose approach is not usually heavy metal:

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Taint of Politics Indeed

The banner headline of One of America's Great Newspapers today reads: Taint of Politics colors city's Redd Up work.

The particular choice of the word taint by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is probably one of the most aggressive editorial choices in a long time. To paraphrase: It ain't the County Courthouse and it ain't the City County Building. [Insert teeanage boy giggle here.]

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Boomerangs Turn Green

Last week, IBM announced a $1 billion investment in reducing the energy consumption in its global data centers.

In a May 16 Business Green Blog interview Mike Arenth, Ariba's VP of EMEA, talks about both the barriers and practical steps that organizations can take to implement a green sourcing initiative.

Some interesting nuggets:
  • While sustainable procurement is a top 3 initiative for many European CPOs about half aren't really sure how to acheive it.
  • Spend Visibility plays a key role in finding the right targets and managing compliance with green sourcing initiatives.
  • Establishing and measuring the right key performance indicators in you Supplier Performance Management process increases the buyer and suppliers overall accountability.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Warren Buffett does Supply Chain

Think Supply Chain is important? So does Warren Buffett.

In this week's Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, the oracle of Omaha revealed that he had taken large stakes in the Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroads.

Warren, buying into the idea that high fuel costs and increasing highway congestion will make railroads a more critical, financially successful, link in the supply chain. For Berkshire, it's a $3.5 billion dollar bet on the financial strength of the railroad.

Maybe it's not the turn of the 20th century all over again, but it doesn't make me feel good if I'm managing a lot of transportation spend....

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'd Rather Manage Spend...

Painting The Tower, originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

than paint this tower.

This tower is connected to another just like it perched high on a hillside across the Allegheny River. The townhomes at the bottom of the photo are 3 stories high.

If you look closely about half way up you can see a man painting. If you look REALLY closely you might be ableto see 2 more men at the top where the wires connect doing the same thing.

Currently, a crew of about 5 guys is working to prep, prime and paint the tower to protect it from rust and reduce the eyesore factor at that end of our neighborhood.

One of many jobs I prefer a career in Spend Management to.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How much do you think IBM Spends on energy?

IBM announced that it was going to allocate $1 billion in investment on strategies andtechnologies to double the energy efficiency of their computer data centers. IBM, the world's largest operator of data centers, wants to double capacity without increasing the amount of energy expended. The benefit will not only accrue to IBM, but will become a service that IBM will sell to its customers.

IBM has a history of participating in environmental steward ship, but a $1 billion investment must have a return. I can only imagine how much IBM is already spending on energy and how much they expect the cost to grow for this program to be worthwhile -- not only as a conversation and spend management initiative but as a marketable service as well.

On another note...IBM has 53,000 employees in India, the largest country presence outside the US, mostly providing call center services.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Similarity of Sourcing Transport and Kidneys

Last week I posted about the the algorithm that killed Jeeves, the tongue in cheek (or foot in mouth depending how you look at it) billboard series by

Today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette features the work of Tuomas Sundholm, a computer scientist professor at Carnegie Mellon. Sundholm, in addition to being a former Finnish windsurfing champion, is the founder of Combinenet. Combinet is a niche competitor of Ariba that uses algorithms to optimize the solution of network sourcing problems, the classic case of which is transportation where many suppliers can potentially serve many destinations with varied degrees of efficiency. (They've been a landing spot for many ex-FreeMarketeers and publish Combinenotes if you're interested.)

Sundholm, not content to dabble in windsurfing and trucking, is now setting his sites on using algorithms to source kidney transplants by matching pairs of mis-matched buyers and suppliers...I mean patients and donors. Often an individual patient has a willing but incompatible donor, by using an optimization algorithm, Sundholm hopes to match patient/donor pairs to create networks of efficient matches, helping to alleviate the imbalance between the need for transplants and the supply of available kidneys.

Apparently he's got a pretty good Texas Hold 'Em simulation too.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Help Catch The Lackawanna County Flasher

Dwight K. Schrute, Commander of the Lackawanna County Taskforce (and Assistant Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin) is looking for information on the Lackawanna County flasher. Please call him at 1-800-984-3672 if you have any information on this pervert.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

"I have bare feet Mommy, but you have pig feet."

My 3 year old daughter to my wife after taking her shoes off in the car.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Algorithm That Killed Jeeves

During the last part of my commute (and by commute I mean 8 hour planes, trains and automobile odyssey from Pittsburgh, PA to Mountain View, CA) on Southbound 101 en route from SFO to Mountain View in a rented white chevy Malibu I passed an ambiguous blue billboard with the following inscription:

"The algorithm killed Jeeves."
So who's billboard is it? The Jeeves seemed an obvious reference to Ask Jeeves now But who is the "algorithm"? My guess was that the algorithm was Google whose patent filings for search algorithms are dissected by profiteering webmasters all over the world.
After a little Googling...I was able to determine (about 30 days after everyone else) that the killer of Jeeves was Jeeves himself. It turns out that the algorithm killed Jeeves and this is a stealth marketing campaign.
This one is a clunker to me. My web search revealed that I wasn't the only one that thought the billboard was a Google enterprise. If your marketing refers to killing a part of a brand that your closely associated with and makes people think of the top competitor and leader in market share in the market that you're in...your marketing might not be successful.

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