Panic Check

•January 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a switchpoint to put in that decision map for service consultants.

1) You can hunker down and think ‘when systems start to fail, people will need our services again, quiet down and wait it out’.

2) Take a stand against ‘lowball’ strategies and be a quality leader.

A good strategy will include elements of both, however, I think it helpful to get these alternatives ‘on the table’ so that strategic decision making is clear and options are as well defined as possible.

A Case in Point

•January 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In accordance with my previous post, and to illustrate the point I’m making, here is an example. Note, this is the kind of solution that would have been ‘ok’ 10 years ago. Please understand, this isn’t the fault of the site owners here, it’s a poverty of features available for them to work with. Now undoubtedly, there may have been an option that they missed to accomplish this task more elegantly, and Twitter.com may be on it’s heels in regards to the suddenness of it’s rise in users, but good design is crucial to business value, that means living up to potentials.

Exhibit A: ReadWriteWeb Please do follow this link to their site. ReadWriteWeb is a quality site, but look at this kludge their have been forced to offer…

Based on those lists, and reader suggestions in comments of other companies that should be watched, we present to you a list of 50+ Twitter users who work at Semantic Web companies. If you find this sector as interesting as we do, you might want to add some of these people to your microblogging community. You can click through the arrows in the iframe below to scroll through all the accounts and add the people listed. RSS readers who’d like to see the list should click through to the full post.

Mashery

A handful of these are company accounts, but most are accounts from individual employees. Want to suggest anyone we missed? (We know there are lots we’ve missed!) Let us know in comments. You can also meet the RWW crew on Twitter.

Exhibit A: ReadWriteWeb

Hold Off On That Handheld 2.0

•January 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Yet another reason to stall that handheld purchase.

With so much instability in the market due to;

1) impending Sony Pre opening,

2) impending Google Android opening,

3) overstock from a slow holiday season,

4) emerging netbook sales eating into the smaller handheld market,

it’s hardly time to commit. Let these competing forces drive prices down a bit. You’ll be glad you did. Besides, with the market so unstable, shady businesses run rampant. As an Engadget blogger writes,

Okay, we don’t really know what’s going on here, but a "Shining" phone that looks almost exactly like the original version of the Kogan Agora Android phone just popped up on Alibaba with a three-day delivery time and a 100-unit wholesale price of $240. Of course, the Agora was just delayed indefinitely, so this could just be nothing; contracting design and development out to faceless Chinese manufacturers like Kogan’s doing is pretty much a deal with the KIRF devil, and those are definitely renders on the site, not actual pictures. Still, we’re dying to see a flood of non-G1 Android handsets shake up the mobile market, and if getting stoked over sketchy Asian copies of semi-vaporware Australian phones is how we have to get our kicks, well, we’re looking for new friends with an extra 24 grand and a healthy sense of forgiveness.

You Will See This Material Again

•January 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

IT has it’s subcultures. However, there is one source upon which each depends. That’s money. Until our brains are able to organically connect to the Internet with all the proper filters and controls, we will need at least some technology to interface with it. These technologies come at costs, a subject too complicated for this post.

Social media is in a bubble, inflated by uncertainty and doubt benefits about how the technology will affect profits and losses. Unfortunately for the boldest of the social media advocates, Twitter and similar ‘revolutionary’ technologies are anything but, and time is marching inexorably forward toward the conclusion that the mobile texting phenomena is actually a techo-step backwards in terms of signal/noise ratio.

The real first wonder of the web was contextual hyperlinking, the progenitor of where we get the term ‘web’ to describe the International Network, the Wonder of this age.

Where social texting falls down is it’s inability, so far, to offer business value that is not already adequately covered by email and instant messenger clients, who’s price it cannot beat, since both are free for all intents and purposes, and who’s feature set is much more rich.

Try it for yourself and see. Compare your twitter stream with your email stream and your instant messenger stream. Look at the features available to each and objectively rate the business value of each. It should serve as a good reality check.

And as this blogger at Small Business Trends notes,

Words like tweets, re-tweets, trackbacks, comments, links, rss feeds, feed readers, news alerts, community members, community forums, conversations, vigilantes, blogtrolls, stalkers, spambots … organic SEO, are the words of an unintelligible language outside the echo chamber of social media experts.

And therein lies the rub. An industry built around the power of conversation, authentic conversation … speaks only in its own language.

Re-evaluate That Handheld Purchase

•January 21, 2009 • 1 Comment

 

A less-than-stellar holiday season means that extra inventory is on hand at cellular phone retailers. In response, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson have cut the price of some of their most expensive phones. Could this be the start of a price war?

Tom Byrd, who leads device-pricing research at CCS Insight, was quoted by Reuters as saying, "Our researchers have seen significant price cuts in Europe by the major handset vendors as 2009 begins. This reflects the highly competitive pricing environment we have been predicting for this year."

This post at Information Week might get you to think twice about spending precious cash on that handheld. As well, the Sony Pre release is upcoming, and if reviews of it’s dominance of at CES are any indication, it’s going to be a big pebble thrown into the pond as well. This is a good time for small businesses to wait-a-while before dropping a bundle on handhelds. There’s plenty of software tech to consider first or reconsider for new plans for your ERM or CMS capability.

Opera: Pitching Hot Rods in the Economy Class

•January 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Gulp, here we go again. The European Commission is accusing Microsoft of unfairly dominating its competition by bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows OS. Yup, the very same argument heard in the US courts more than a decade ago after Netscape saw its 86% market share plummet in the face of a bundled IE. The commission, which already fined Microsoft $1.35 billion for anti-competitive practices in early 2008, has published the following preliminary view on the matter:

“Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.”

Microsoft has 8 weeks to reply to the charge.

Of all sites, this commentary from Engadget. I know that the U.S. DOJ successfully, more or less, prosecuted this case in the 90s against MS and the EU want to make sure justice is done. It’s unfortunate, really, that the economy is in such dire straits as it makes this kind of ‘isolate the winner’ kind of stuff more palateable. I’m not for a draconian business productivity software market run by Shoguns in Redmond, but neither am I for a market in which companies are rewarded for stifling innovation by using the government to excuse their lack of product R&D.

Apple developed an entire operating system to function on both new and legacy equipment that ran on closed-patent hardware in a matter of about 5 years. OS X has so little in common with OS 9 and it’s predecessors that it can rightly be called an entirely new OS. They did it by taking advantage of open-source BSD internals and putting their world-class interface designers to work building a GUI that is both elegant and functional, then sold it with a mind to maintaining a reputation for quality and stability, and have not failed to deliver on that promise.

There is NO reason any other company could not repeat that success. Open-source developers for the BSD and Linux platform continually beg for venture capital to make BSD and Linux better competitors against Microsoft. Red Hat has done very well, but it’s only one company. Sun does a small volume of it’s OS and business software, but it’s focus is primarily on other markets.

It’s time company budgets are held to the light of reason.

If your R&D budget for developing competing OS and business software is low, so that your company is not even IN THE COMPETITION for integrated business, OS and internet browsing solutions, why does it deserve unfair protections against a ‘standard-equipment’ type vendor like MS?

MS isn’t trying to sell you custom hot-rods. Opera is. They really aren’t the same market.

Instead of declaring battle against consumer choice by forcing people to use custom hot-rod parts on their business computers, perhaps they should spend a little more time hiring quality R&D people so that they, too, can offer economy-class products to an economy-class market.

They say, ‘Let justice be done though the heavens fall.’

Indeed.

 hot rod

XML Application: RSS

•January 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

NewsGator has an article about RSS that is worth a read,

First, let me get this out of the way – RSS use in the enterprise is definitely alive and well. But it’s not in the obvious places. No one is writing articles talking about how their desktop feed readers are revolutionizing the way they do business. No one is talking about how they’re retiring their Exchange servers because so much content is delivered via RSS instead of email (and in fact, email is alive and well). No one is saying “if I only had Google Reader behind my firewall, I could save millions of dollars.” Few companies even say their users are clamoring for some sort of enterprise RSS application.

There is a pretty good reason for this lack of clamor. Although Reinacker isn’t motivated to say so in this article, it’s important to remember that RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is an XML Application, and as such, it was designed, as ALL XML applications are, to fulfill exactly this function. To quote Wikipedia,

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages.[1] It is classified as an extensible language, because it allows the user to define the mark-up elements. XML’s purpose is to aid information systems in sharing structured data, especially via the Internet, [2] to encode documents, and to serialize data…

The takeaway from this is that RSS isn’t quite ready to replace email, but, it is proving that XML and it’s derivatives, including RSS, the new Microsoft OpenXML formats and the plethora of other XML based standards being used for data interchange, is truly an effective next-generation alternative.

The main thing holding these XML-based standards back from replacing email entirely is the sunk cost of development into what may soon be considered legacy email based systems. XML is simply capable of doing more with less, and as the power and functionality of XML formatted data focused clients improves, they will replace or transform business communication.

The day may sooner than later come when email-based communication will be something your Microsoft Outlook software does not include by default, but will only be available as a free add-on for ‘legacy-based’ systems.

Because, again, of the sunk cost of email development, that day may not come in the next four Quarters, but if the pace of RSS and XML based applications does not abate, it might not be long after that.

The first thing to look for may be conversion services that convert incoming email into your preferred format. Some of these exist already and I’ll cover them in a later blog.

Thanks for reading.

 
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