Art Yonemoto
Art Yonemoto is President of Yonemoto & Associates. He has been conducting Telecom (Landline and Wireless) audits for 21 years...
Read Full Bio >>

Art Yonemoto | March 26, 2014 |


What Connected Communications Professionals Can Learn From Spring Training

What Connected Communications Professionals Can Learn From Spring Training Like a utility player in baseball, enterprise technologists should work to make themselves more valuable within their organization.

Like a utility player in baseball, enterprise technologists should work to make themselves more valuable within their organization.

How is baseball's spring training a metaphor for the connected communications professional? What insight can we (or our colleagues, friends, family) gain as hundreds of players vie for one of just 25 spots on a Major League team?

One spring, when working in a large corporation, I asked a co-worker, a former Minor League Baseball player, who was the last, 25th, player kept by our local Major League team? He told me it was Player A. I asked if Player A was more talented than the other players who didn't make the team. Since this colleague knew baseball fairly well, he laughed and said, no. In fact, Player A was not very talented at all.

Then why did he make the team? After thinking about it for a while, my co-worker wasn't sure. Player A didn't hit for a high average, he only hit a few home runs a season, was a rather slow base runner, and he was only an average fielder. He was just a utility player.

Herein lies the answer. The player could adequately play all 4 infield positions and 2 outfield positions (Left and Right Field). He was learning how to become the 3rd string (emergency) catcher on the team. He was a decent switch hitter. His versatility made him valuable, as it gave his manager/team more options.

This veteran utility player was smart enough to know the financial difference between the 25th player (@ $500,000/year) versus the 26th player (and in the minor leagues @ $3,000/month). He worked very hard to become as valuable as possible, playing different positions, pinch hitting, providing a good attitude/leadership and mentoring younger players. The manager and team executives viewed him as a very valuable asset.

How valuable are you? And what is your "true" value to your organization or company?

Stack Ranking
The process of ranking the employees within an organization is called "stack ranking". Say there are 25 people in the organization. Which of the 25 employees is considered to be the "most valuable"? Not necessarily the most experienced, or the most highly paid, or the most educated, or the highest job title.

After picking the "MVP" (Most Valuable Player/Employee), the next step is to identify the 2nd most valuable person. Then the 3rd, the 4th, all the way to the 25th.

At first blush, it seems impossible to fairly rank everyone since there are likely different job functions. How does a "telecom" person compare against a "data" person?

However, this is no different than a baseball team. How do you compare the value of a pitcher with a 4.43 ERA versus an infielder with a .269 batting average? A baseball team is composed of a variety of players: pitchers, batters, fielders, etc. What a team is trying to do is to come up with the right mix of players to win a championship.

This is likely to be true about your organization. Do you have a skill set and experience that can be easily handled by someone else or even outsourced? Or are you "less dispensable," with some unique skills and experience that would make you hard to replace? Just like Player A, are there ways of making yourself more valuable?

"Stack ranking" has been a subject of controversy within corporate America; Microsoft and its former CEO, Steve Ballmer especially were criticized for rigidly implementing stack ranking as a method of evaluating employees. Certainly as a formal employee-evaluation method, stack ranking may be debatable. But whether a company creates a formal system of "stack ranking" or not, every company must to some extent evaluate its employees' value to the enterprise relative to that of other employees. This is necessary in order to understand which workers are indispensable in the face of potential needs to adjust to changing business conditions.

Improve your Ranking
How do I make myself more valuable? Remember the baseball metaphor? The last player kept on the team was an average player at best. But his edge was that he was the most versatile, allowing his team the best chances for success.

So how valuable are you? Here are just a few areas to consider.

How are you keeping up with the latest issues in the IT/Telecom industry? What do you read to keep up to date? What conferences do you attend? Do you ask questions at seminars, conferences, webinars? Do you try to "pick the brains" of experts (e.g. consultants)?

Are you able to work effectively with other groups within your company? Since we work with other groups (HQ, field, user departments, etc.), there are natural opportunities for misunderstanding. Have you developed a reputation of being someone who can work with others?

Are you able to talk and translate technical concepts/ideas to financial/accounting personnel? At some point, your projects will need approval from a financial person.

Are you able to articulate issues and solutions, in a way that adds perspective? Do you look at the "bigger picture" or do you get bogged down in the details?

Are you thinking "out of the box" and proposing some new and/or innovative ideas, especially in areas that can generate revenue, save money or improve productivity?

Are you willing to share with others? Or do you withhold information from others, thinking this will protect your job? While counterintuitive, being open and mentoring others makes you more valuable to an organization.

Do you go beyond what is expected? What can you do to exceed expectations?

Let's face it, we are so focused on our day-to-day issues and internal environment that it is easy to lose perspective. This baseball metaphor provides us an opportunity to step back and assess our value to our team. Just like being on a baseball team, our job/position/performance is constantly being ranked within our organization. Where do you rank and what are you doing to improve your ranking?

The Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) is an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.