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Just sharing a strategic information systems (SIS) plan I’ve prepared for Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha (AMPS) as part of the requirements for completing a strategic information systems course at UPOU last October.  Any non-profit organization with a similar purpose of teaching, promoting ideologies and philosophies, values, wellness-related, or personal life skills may be able to benefit from the study, especially if looking to get some information on the drivers, benefits to an SIS, as well as short and long term actions that can already be done to maximize the use of information technology to support organizational objectives.

Summaries:

Research Focus
The SISP explores how AMPS as a socio-civic non-profit organization can further utilize technology in a strategic way in order to advance its organizational objectives. (AMPS is a global organization present in over 80 countries but the scope of this SISP is targeted within the Manila sector (consisting of Southeast Asian countries)). The organizational area of investigation and exploration was the challenge of supporting Pracar (spiritual teaching) functions of the organization given the following key qualities/models adopted: volunteer-based, no-profit, no loss resourcing model, decentralized setup, and where no formal IT function is yet established.

Research Methods
Research methods such as desk research, interviews, and surveys were mostly conducted remotely in cooperation with organizational representatives. As a member of the organization since childhood and as an IT professional and consultant for over 11 years, prior knowledge and experience has also played a role in the research.

Results or Findings
Due to the limited amount of time, limited resources esp. without an IT function and the unplanned nature of the request, only high level information on the Pracar functions’ strategic objectives have been recommended. Key findings, in any case, are as follows.

While mission and vision statements have been defined for the Pracar function, more specific strategic objectives had yet to be defined. Whilst AMPS conducts quarterly organizational
planning functions such as Review, Defect, Solution (RDS) and Inspection, Review, Solution, Structure &  Solidarity (IRSS) conferences, strategic planning for IS has yet to find its way to being conducted regularly as well.

· AMPS has yet to fully recognize or take action on the need for and extent of possible benefits of the proactive management of technology for strategic purposes.
· There is no IT/IS function secretary and there is no IT-related coordination within the Manila sector IT administrators for the proactive management and sharing of IT resources.
· Various information systems are currently used by local offices for website publishing or ecommerce which indicates a recognition of IT’s utility to the organization, however, its maintenance continues to be a challenge.
· Based on the assessment of customer and external requirements, three Pracar processes have been identified as opportunity areas for IS/IT enhancement or innovation. (1) Yoga classes, online community and social engagement, (2) Training & knowledge management, and (3) IT asset management.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The complex, dynamic and fast pace of change of technologies and customer behaviour will increasingly require AMPS to conduct more rigorous planning, coordination and change management practices if it is to maximise opportunities and manage threats that external environmental changes may present. Some specific action items are recommended:

1. Recognize the need for an IT/IS function and develop an IS/IT secretary and/or committee which will include business-technology consultants or advisors to

a. investigate and explore possibilities to increase effectiveness, efficiency and generate savings beginning with developing an inventory of organizational and IT asset resources.
b. serve as SMEs for the organizational ‘business’ Pracar committee
c. facilitate pilot tests for the implementation of applications supporting the 3 opportunity areas identified within the Pracar function.

2. Agree on the criticality of and commit to conducting regular strategic IS planning. Obtain a strategic plan as the output of the organizational planning functions Review, Defect, Solution (RDS) and Inspection, Review, Solution, Structure & Solidarity (IRSS) conferences from which the IT/IS committee can work off from to support and enhance.

3. Take advantage of and generate quick and easy wins already by maximizing the use of online services for
(a) obtaining funding e.g. web services such as kiva.org, setting up online or electronic payment methods to accept donations from such as Paypal, GCash, or via sharing of bank account number information,
(b) getting volunteers for initiatives onsite or remotely e.g. sparked.com, volunteermatch.org

Appendices:
SISP_Frameworks-2011_by_GSFernando.xls
Appendix_C-ObjectDataModel
Appendix_D-Use CasesMindMap

More from: Russell Beattie, Engadget, MocoNews, PSFK and MobileCrunch.

I remember a quote saying that naming things give you power over them.

This might just be what has really happened with the official launch of SMS text payments.

So what happens when you can assign names (Text to Buy codes) to anything, to purchase?

There's the real opportunity.

With PayPal's plans finally coming through, I look forward to how they can further revolutionize mobile payments in comparison to how TextPayMe or our other Asian neighbors are doing it.

I had been nurturing an interest in the market and some more questions I sought answers for are as follows:

  • Where can SMS text payment really flourish in comparison to other payment methods?
  • What could be the best way to implement,
    a) without incurring expensive infrastructure or hardware costs?
    b) and at the same time helping ensure and fast-track adoption with merchants?
  • What bred success for Korea and Japan for mobile payments? How can we learn from them?
  • The Philippines has begun text payments but hasn't really taken off, what gives?
  • What are the security dangers with text payment method or the swipe method?

After research, analysis and more research, all I have are my ideas (maybe more on this later) in a mindmap, plans and attempted efforts to join in on the fun. This is inspiring, though, and I still hope to actualize my attempts somehow. :">

Opera launched its free Opera Mini (website, campaign home) browser yesterday. They have been aggressively focusing on the mobile market and is growing rapidly from a trial base of over a million users. Here are some fast facts:

-The browser: 50-100KB in size, supports J2ME (Java 2 micro edition) MIDP (mobile information device profile) 1.0 and 2.0 (The normal Opera Mobile browser, in contrast, has a footprint of 1-2MB).

Tech: Compressing Web pages by up to 80%. Opera Mini browser works through proxy servers that are currently hosted by Opera. The proxies translate Web pages into OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language) before sending them to the phone. OBML includes compressed images, and eliminates the need for the Opera Mini client to do error handling — since HTML is not a parsed variant of SGML, much of a normal browser’s workload involves handling non-well-formed HTML. The scheme compresses Web pages by up to 80 percent, according to Opera, resulting in both faster browsing and “dramatically reduced” data transfer charges.

Sample small screen rendering (SSR):

(left image – other browsers’ page rendering, right image – Opera’s SSR)

Support for AJAX, XML, Linux and embedded devices: Opera Executive VP Scott Hedrick: “We are already engaged in projects with many leading global brands to deliver Opera in new IPTV set-top box deployments, networked TVs, VoIP screen phones, and other entertainment devices.”

Opera says customers currently shipping devices with Opera browsers include NDS, Amino, Archos, Nokia, Thales, and Canal Satellite. Those shipping Opera-equipped mobile phones include Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Sharp.

-Competition: Meantime, Access, (acquired device OS and middleware vendor PalmSoft late last year) collaborates with partners towards 3G handset development and multimedia platforms for embedded devices while open source Mini-Mozilla or MiniMo, which received funding from Nokia, released MinoMo CE .012 last March 2005.


Have yet to try and surf the net through the browser. Opera’s technology means great news for users and internet companies in terms of cheaper data transfer rates and wider information access. With such better browsers in place, it looks like the transition from WAP to web browser may really happen in the next few years. More internet companies can make their way into the mobile market now, especially with the lesser effort needed for major reformatting of their websites to fit the mobile due to Opera’s SSR technology.

Discussion at Slashdot here.

So Google announced its mobile homepage today, and just recently I thought aloud of what the challenge to mobile companies would be as internet companies go mobile.

Nic Howell of Netimperative thinks that all this development is an assault, a preparation to muscle in on the lucrative global mobile content/entertainment market, while Carlo Longino from Techdirt sees it as Google’s effort to nudge telcos to become the face of mobile internet themselves.

Google wouldn’t comment on the new strategy, but Nic reports it’s currently searching for a wireless content strategic partner development manager, to be based in the UK, to lead the move. The key aim of its mobile content strategy, it adds, will be to develop a range of revenue-generating wireless content partnerships that will be carried out by both acquisition and syndication.

Carlo has rightly expressed: it looks like the carriers’ obsession with offering closed systems, separate from the rest of the internet may be coming back around and biting them. All due to the fact that that people will not use services not integrated with web services they already currently use.

Integrate or focus, I say, unless mobile companies do get acquired or is a candidate for a strategic partnership.

While Yahoo and Google further go mobile, talks between such internet giants including Microsoft and the telcos are still in progress regarding sharing the cost of operating broadband networks or ‘paying for the pipes’ telcos have invested in. Hopefully, it gets settled soon and charges do not get passed on to users, as British internet companies fear. It will ultimately need political support and intervention, as had been scheduled. We’ll see how that turns out.

Internet companies, in the meantime, will now share mobile companies’ old and continuing challenge to set-up business models that will work with the telcos. The mostly ‘free’ or advertising-supported applications of such internet companies do not always directly offer compensation to the network service provider, hence the challenge. Fortunately, mobile companies may have an immediate advantage being more familiar with crafting business models easy. But, when a compromise is finally set, mobile companies may be in for a rough ride if unprepared.

Beyond innovation, mobile companies should integrate and focus to compete.

Integrate. Mobile companies should be prepared to develop web services and adjust business models in order to complement pure mobile services. Internet companies have the existing relationships with media content players to easily become mobile content providers themselves. This, not to mention their advantage of having web services infrastructure already in place to provide more complete solutions for users. Long term, integrating also readies mobile companies for ubiquitous computing.

Focus. The mobile industry has gone through its own boom, bubble and bust. Lessons must have been learned. A focus on the essence of mobile services to help bring out its competitive advantage against or in cooperation the with the web and at the same time be of the most service to users will be best.

Both mobile and internet companies will have their fair share of lessons and adjustments as far as integration is concerned–internet going mobile and mobile services having web service counterparts. We will see telcos be tested with the movement for network neutrality led by internet companies while supported and followed by hardware vendors. At least finally, real and actual convergence may not be too far off and everyone, mobile and internet companies alike must be prepared.

The most successful mobile companies will be the ones that truly understand mobility and web 2.0. Ajit Joakar has posed important questions worth considering as he pondered upon the impact of web2.0 on mobility as well as why AJAX will be the hallmark of mobile web 2.0. Take a look at the article at mobile applications forum at Ecademy or at Sys-con.

Echoing a post from www.textually.org:

Netgear has announced a Skype enabled mobile which serves up free calls, wherever there’s a network connection, reports Stuff Magazine.Netgear Wi-Fi phone is pre-loaded with Skype’s software and to use it all you have to do is enter your Skype username and password and you’re away.

In addition to the phone, the Netgear RangeMax Wireless Router will be available for hooking up to your new phone.

There are currently only 10 working units in existence, but news on availability will surface some time in the first quarter of 2006.

This handset is mobile unlike those reported here.  There was also no mention of cost, except that it will be ‘very competitively priced’ according to NetGear.

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