The Balance of Efforts: Core Competencies vs. Innovation

When operating a business there is a question that has to constantly be asked in order to remain competitive and successful: If we focus our efforts on our core competencies will we stay in a satisfactory place or can we pivot to new innovative business opportunities? In terms of core competencies I mean the “bread and butter” of a business. For example, for a long time E-Commerce was the core competency of Amazon, and brought in the majority of their revenue. Eventually there had to come a time where Amazon was in a comfortable place to invest effort in other channels of business. Through this shift they now have a main revenue stream through Amazon Web Services instead of E-Commerce.

There are a lot of different situations a business could be in when looking at the question of resource allocation. They could be in a hole trying to get out or doing extremely well and looking to expand their business:

  • Would it be better to focus R&D on our core competencies to improve them, or is it time to try something completely new?
  • Will our normal business suffer if we reallocate resources to new projects?

Flat out, running a business just isn’t easy. You need to decide when to keep feeding the fire and when to completely pivot to something different. Your companies Research and Development plays a crucial role in helping make the right decision, but at the end of the day a lot of it is chance and risk-taking.

Team Research Report: R4 Writing Suggestions and Change in Assignment

As many of you are aware, this website rewrite project is a project that is actually in the process of being carried out by all programs within CCIM. I was part of a meeting Friday with representatives from the different departments and programs and representatives from the journalism program that are running the project. I took a lot of notes on what they’re looking for so I wanted to share to see if this would help the class.

Writing Suggestions:

    • The flowchart diagram you should have gotten is helpful in looking at all the pages attached to the CICS department is very helpful. It’s the one we used to identify the 26 pages. We have been informed that we are not responsible for writing the pages for Academic Programs, Admissions, or Assistantships & Financial Aid. This puts us at 15 pages instead of the 26.
    • When writing ask yourself: What is the audience looking for? How do you give them what they’re looking for. It can be difficult now that we’re well into the heat of CICS to realize we have different perspective. What made you want to join CICS? What is a candidate looking for from us to get them to apply?
    • There should be a lot of focus on the About Us page to really get across the information we want about CICS
    • It also seems we have more control over specific design than I had at least understood before. We have a say if we want some things like tabs, accordions (menu type), photo placement, specific photos, and breakout boxes (for emphasis on specific information). A lot of this is covered in the documentation you were given.

Read this, consider it, and let your teams know.

Thanks everyone!

R&D to change communication in an industry — Construction

Research and Development is an area that requires attention and funding so that companies can maintain current business and find new ways to operate that separate them from competition. One of the most exciting ways that R&D can come into play is in changing the overall communication of an organization. Construction is an industry that’s generally late to technology. In terms of communication technologies this makes sense when looking at the fact that most new buildings have no WiFi available. With improvements in routing technologies and WiFi hotspot capabilities, as well as, improvements in smart mobile devices and cellular internet access, there are much more mobile business opportunities.

Procore Technologies is a company that is taking advantage of these opportunities and specifically the opportunities in the construction industry. There are many project management platforms out there that organizations use for task management within their business operations such as: Workfront, ServiceNow, and JIRA. Within a business these systems help move tasks from one area to another as needed, like in software development tasks can be moved from project manager to developer to quality assurance. Construction is no different in the sense that there is a general contractor on site then a lot of different sub-contractors doing things like painting, drywall, and plumbing. Communication in construction is key with all of these different entities, and unlike software development in some cases, everything has to be done within a certain order. Drywall can’t be hung before electricians get in to do the wiring within walls.

Procore has looked at the situation in construction and developed a solution that takes this project management/task management approach to the industry. They’re solution comes to help in a lot of ways with: project management, quality and safety, and construction financials. With all of the paperwork moving between trades and between the site and offices, this software helps make the process more efficient and fast. Check out a video at this link that shows how users can upload blueprint drawings: From the drawing a user could draw something marking, for example, a hole in drywall in a specific room and sending the repair as a task to a specific person. You can also read more about Procore as a startup in this Forbes article covering the business and its financial success: .

Read more about this company that used research and development in an innovative approach to change the way an industry operates.

Microsoft Project as a Planning and Scheduling tool

Microsoft Project is a tool that can be very helpful in a rolling out a project. I have interned with a software company where I ended up teaching my boss, a project manager for the business, how to use Project. Before that she was just using an excel spreadsheet to lay out all of the different tasks associated with our software deliveries and their current standing. Project can be tedious on the front end getting a project started, but in the long run it can automate a lot of the work you do and make changes for you. I also think there is value in learning Project because it is a similar system to many project management types of softwares you may run into in work such as JIRA or ServiceNow. Once you’ve learned one of these systems you can pick up others more quickly. While at Western Michigan I took some things from class that helped me very much in getting a project started on MS Project. I am going to lay out these few steps that put you at a great starting point before inputting any tasks into your project.

MS Project Startup (2016 version):

  1. On the bottom of your screen is a green toolbar. On the left side of the toolbar it says New Tasks: MANUALLY SCHHEDULED. Click that and select AUTO SCHEDULED. This will make it so that when you input tasks and their duration or mark tasks complete the overall schedule will automatically make adjustments accordingly.
  2. Then, go to Project > Project Information and set the start date of your project.
  3. Select the first task line so that it’s highlighted, then Format > (in the Show/Hide section of the toolbar) check the Project Summary Task box. This will create a Project Summary Task where you can name your project and the entirety of the project Start to Finish will be calculated.

Again, these three steps could just help to organize your project schedule a lot on the front end. Hope this is helpful to some!

ICS 698: My Introduction

Hello all,

My name is Quinn Sheridan. I grew up in Chicago, and will be returning to Chicago to work following graduation. I completed my undergraduate degree in Telecommunications and Information Management at Western Michigan University. I came to the Center for Information and Communications Sciences to expand on my leadership, technical, and communication competencies, and to put more of what I was learning into context through experiential learning. Through ICS 698 I hope to build on my competencies even further and gain more experience working in teams. I also feel this course will give me more valuable experience to be creative. I’m looking forward to working with you all again!

Royal Caribbean: Tech Giant of the Seas

The internet is a service that the general consumer is expecting everywhere in the world today. Smart Homes, Smart Cars, Smart Cruise Ships? Royal Caribbean is one of the biggest luxury cruise line companies in the world that has the largest cruise ships currently in existence. One area that they are raising the bar is in their technology focus.

In 2011, Royal Caribbean began work with O3b Networks. O3b is a satellite communication provider that works with telecom operators, ISPs, government entities, and enterprise customers. They operate medium earth orbit satellites which reside much closer to earth’s surface than the average satellite. This tight distance allows them to send a signal with much lower latency and much higher throughput. In assisting Royal Caribbean these satellites don’t send a general broadcast signal, they follow the path of a designated ship the whole way with a direct signal. Tech Crunch toured one of the ships and read a connectivity speed of 600 Mbps.








Latency & Throughput







With this exceptional internet connectivity at sea this makes Royal Caribbean the cruise line with the fastest internet. They advertise this internet as their Voom internet package. This is a game changer for a younger generation allowing easy access to social media, video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, online gaming, and Skype. This faster internet also helps to support the cruise lines mobile services like the Calendar app, which allows passengers to plan out their trip and schedule shore excursions and dinner reservations. Royal Caribbean is putting themselves in a league of their own.

Information Renaissance

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines renaissance as “a situation or period of time when there is a new interest in something that has not been popular in a long time” or “a period of new growth or activity”.

This definition is perfect in playing into the concept of the “Information Renaissance”. Right now we are seeing the rapid increase of internet of things devices. We as consumers expect the devices we are purchasing to have the ability to connect with the internet and to connect with each other. As the number of devices continues to grow exponentially, we are outputting extreme loads of “big data”.


This unorganized data presents an incredible opportunity for both consumers and businesses. A Forbes article referenced “All new John Deere tractors are equipped with sensors that can help the company understand how the equipment is being used, and predict and diagnose breakdowns.  But they’ve also put the sensors to work for the farmers, offering access to data about when to plant, where, the best patterns for ploughing and reaping, and more. It’s become an entirely new revenue stream for an old company.”

The information we are putting out there can be harvested in so many ways. Businesses that try to say that information is not a part of their business opportunities are just naïve.

Web 2.0

According to Web 2.0 is defined as “a second generation in the development of the World Wide Web,conceived as a combination of concepts, trends, and technologies thatfocus on user collaboration, sharing of user-generated content, andsocial networking.”

User Collaboration

With technological advances the world we live in has grown a lot smaller by presenting us with efficient opportunities to collaborate. We have tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box that allow us to store files and collaborate remotely. We are making moves more and more frequently towards cloud storage.

Social Networking

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines social networking as “the activity of creating personal and business relationships with other people especially by sharing information, personal messages, etc., on the Internet”. It is getting to a point where we don’t have to leave our house to make friends or business connections as referenced. We have our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to get our thoughts, pictures, videos, information out there. We even have tools like LinkedIn to establish a professional profile and connect with other industry professionals.

Web 2.0 is putting the world at our fingertips. We have the ability to accomplish so much with our interconnection by way of the internet. We can establish relationships and accomplish so much in easier, more efficient ways than ever before. As technology continues to improve we are only going to see more change.

Smart Homes

With the rapid growth of the Internet of things consumers are getting to a point where they don’t look at these smart devices as just commercial products, but as household commodities.

The Forbes article above defines smart homes as one where the lights, heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC), security alarm and other household devices can be automated and remotely controlled by a smartphone, tablet or computer. According to research from Statista, in 2020, the value of the global smart home market will reach $43 billion, nearly triple its value in 2014.

This has proven to be a big opportunity for businesses. A business, Vivint Smart Home based out of Provo, Utah specializes in smart homes. Instead of going out and individually buying smart devices at retail price, Vivint Smart Home gives their customers the options to pay a monthly rate from $40-$80 to get the free installation of multiple devices to make their home “smart”. This is great for the consumer in the sense that they’re getting free, professional installation of these devices and they are always being updated. The business is seeing its own benefits. In 2012 Vivint Smart Home was valued at over $2 billion, and just this past year they brought in $650 million in revenue.

There are so many impressive devices out there that allow us more security and control of our homes. From smart thermostats that track our location and adjust temperatures to coffee pots that we can program with brewing schedules on our phones, our homes are getting smarter and smarter. Live smarter, not harder.

Plagiarism in the work of a Scientist

Plagiarism is a growing issue in science today. Sometimes plagiarism is simply the mistake of not properly citing a source even though the intention was there. Sometimes we make mistakes. There are many tools out there today that you can use to check your work, and your colleagues work. Some of these services are even free, and will give you information on your papers after scanning them.

Plagiarism can be difficult in science because some of the research scientist do is not entirely original. It is okay to use the work of other scientists of the past. Maybe they hit a stopping point in their research that you are trying to break through, and you need to follow the steps they took to get there. Regardless of intentions or motives, recognition needs to be given to the professionals first performing the work.

This above article written in 2012 evaluates two computer scientists from the University of Kansas who published three articles that earned them an invitation to present “their” work in Sweden. Portions of all three published work were confirmed to have been lifted from other professionals works. The article references a number of cases indicating increasing frequency of plagiarism.

Stop the plagiarism. The tools out there to catch it are too successful today and aside from the ethical dilemma brought foreword in plagiarism, being caught can severely damage your professional image.