Warren Savage On: The Power of Information
I have never been one of those people frozen to make decisions because of the lack of enough data to make a “safe” choice. I’ve come to trust intuition and experience as important allies when faced with dealing with the unknown.
In fact I’ve seen the ability to be comfortable with certain kinds of ambiguity as a key trait in good organizational leadership.
As one rises through the ranks of management, the higher one goes, the more comfortable one needs to become with the unknown in order to lead others through the wilderness of situations where no one has gone before.
Nonetheless, data is extremely valuable and an asset that should always be sought and used as a manager’s most important tool for decision-making. However, good data is often hard to come by.
“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”
This paragraph succinctly predicted the future of the digital age of the internet era to come, which led to things like Linux and the open source spreading like wildfire once the technology was in place to share it. With the flattened world we live in today, information moves around the world to millions of people instantaneously. We are now deluged by information like never before and Anderson paraphrases the essence of Brand’s observation even more succinctly:
“Abundant information wants to be free. Scarce information wants to be expensive.”
This column excepted, there is a lot of noisy information out there. As discrete bits, it’s rarely useful until aggregated in a sensible way. News agencies and research organizations have done this for years as a way to consolidate information into newspapers and reports where the abundant free information is packaged in a way that is valuable.
In my own field of interest, semiconductor intellectual property (IP), there is a new endeavor that I am involved with at the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) that may prove to have a similar useful purpose.
As everyone in the IP industry is well-aware of, suppliers and buyers spend considerable time on the legal contracts that define the use terms, warranties, and liabilities associated with licensing these products. It is often the most contentious stage of the commercial negotiation where each side’s lawyers try to extract the most favorable terms from the other.
In the end, there is always a compromise towards the middle and what I have seen over the years is trends to various sorts of “norms” for different aspects of the negotiation. IP suppliers see a wide range of customers to which they repeat this tortuous negotiation and IP buyers see a wide variety of supplies in a world where there is significant amounts of IP being transacted.
The trouble is that no single company has a sense for the industry norm and as a result operates in an inefficient, expensive information vacuum.
The GSA’s IP Working Group has recently announced to the GSA membership a quarterly survey to its members that allows buyers and sellers to disclose in summary and anonymously the key terms that they have accepted in license agreements for the past quarter. The results of the survey will be made available to participants of the survey to enable them to compare themselves to the industry at large.
Interested parties are encouraged to visit the following link for more information and access to the IP Licensing Best Practices Survey.
I believe the aggregation of such information on a global scale will be enormously helpful in providing real data that can streamline the negotiating process by establishing a living repository of actual data that can serve to show the “best practices” in the industry without divulging any confidential data. It may break the gridlock of “information islands” between companies such that everyone can benefit from making “abundant information free” and at the same time adding value by adding the scarce commodity of organization to that data. Time will tell.
Warren Savage, President and CEO of IPextreme,is a well-knownand published authority in the field ofsemiconductor intellectualproperty.
He has a long history of pushing the envelope of designmethodologyfrom his work in fault tolerant computing at TandemComputers inthe 1980′s and driving reliable design methodologiesintocommercial practice at Synopsys for its DesignWare IP productinthe 1990s. Much of his thinking became embodied in the seminalbookon IP reuse, the Reuse Methodology Manual.
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