The Trend-setting Products of 2005

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_ KMWorld Magazine – The Trend-setting Products of 2005

When we first put together our list of trend-setting products three years ago, the IT landscape was pretty rocky. Seemingly well-conceived software solutions couldn’t find markets. Often desperate consolidation prevailed. Budgets were tight for vendors and their customers alike. So, we assembled an informal panel of analysts, consultants, editorial colleagues and users/customers to help identify some 50 companies that appeared to be well positioned to lead the way and a few loosely defined categories. In some cases, despite identifying innovative technology, we misjudged the marketplace.

An interesting list to look at, with some pretty cool companies ;-)

The amorality of Web 2.0?

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Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: The amorality of Web 2.0

But as the Web matured during the late 1990s, the dreams of a digital awakening went unfulfilled. The Net turned out to be more about commerce than consciousness, more a mall than a commune. And when the new millenium arrived, it brought not a new age but a dispiritingly commonplace popping of a bubble of earthly greed. Somewhere along the way, the moneychangers had taken over the temple. The Internet had transformed many things, but it had not transformed us. We were the same as ever.

I really enjoyed reading this article (was eating a chicken korma curry, so could take my time) and thought it was kinda in two parts. On one level he talks about how we’re hyping this whole web thing up into more than it really is, and on another level he’s pissed off ‘cos it’s becoming something that isn’t necessarily better than it “could” be… On both counts I agree in principle, but I disagree with the general tone of the article since I can’t think of a better way to make it better for everyone except to kill the hype and get on with it.

People have evolved consciousness, community and culture, for the greater part of our human existence, by sitting around a fire and talking to each other about their experiences. To a greater or lesser degree, blogging is a modern semblance of this ancient form of wisdom passing, which is starting to evolve into a community, and starting to spread around the globe by virtue of its ease of adoption. I honestly don’t think that a top down media dissemination model is best for everyone, as too few people and points of view control what people consume. I also don’t think that blogging should replace mainstream media, for obvious reasons. What blogging is, is a conversation, no more no less, and I think we should see it as such. In time, I think the blogoshpere will be a collection of voices collected around specific topics as communities, without the fire – it’s not going to replace the BBC, the New York Times or the Independant, but it will keep the gamekeeper from telling us there is no game, and it will enable people around the world to converse with each other. Surely that can only be a good thing?

As for Wikipedia, time will tell, but it seems that now more than ever, there is an opportunity for the likes of EB and WB to get involved in a way that makes sense to them as a viable business model, rather than being the proverbial old moose stuck in the headlights of emerging technology. Perhaps the smart move is to figure out how they can survive, co-exist and contribute at the same time? Another argument is that if you want to have something better than it already is, then get involved to make it better rather than pointing and complaining… That may be controversial to some, but lets face it, Wikipedia is probably not going to go away anytime soon, so it’s either find a way to make the information it contains more reliable or just deal with it.

As for consciousness, I’d rather my consciousness stayed in my head – I don’t want the machines to “rise”, and I don’t want to be so dependant on technology I can’t live without it. I want technology to be my slave and I want it to help make the world a better place too.

Innovate or Imitate…Fame or Fortune?

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_ Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing: Innovate or Imitate…Fame or Fortune?

Innovation drives our industry, attracts the best talent, attracts VC money, and wins fame for its leaders. Innovation leaders burst onto the scene, win early market leadership, but sometimes can’t sustain the pace. Why do “fast followers” often jump in later and make fortunes? Is management responsible for the success or failure? Or, are these innovation leaders acquired by larger players before they have a chance to evolve into successful stand alone companies?

Excellent article, following up from the post about Microsoft acquiring your company, which I can identify with in a few ways.

I suggest reading in full, but here are a few NB take homes:
* Build a well rounded management team early
* Value sales and marketing talent as much as technical talent
* React quickly to disruptive technologies or business models

What do you think?

The Rebirth of Enterprise IT

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_ Seeing Both Sides: The Rebirth of Enterprise IT

Small teams can be extraordinarily productive – often times more so than larger teams and organizations. The underlying platform and architecture has changed several times in the last 30 years and there is no physical product to distribute, thus end-users can be accessed much more directly. Is there a benefit to the incumbency and distribution might of IBM, Oracle or EMC? Absolutely. Does that mean there is no place for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in this industry? Absolutely not.

A good article on why there is still a landscape to find a niche on, in Enterprise software… Being a zoologist, it looks more like a discussion on primary, secondary and tertiary succession to me – point is I think that you will always have a consolidation in any industry, where there will always be the megaherbivores that attract all the attention by virtue of their size. But, don’t forget to consider the “lowly” smaller animals that may not be as large, but are just as capable of surviving.

Take home points for me were:
Going vertical – get good at something, then get better at it so that everyone with the same problem comes to you as they know you are the best. Send a

Software as a service – is the way forward. Make it easy for customers to try you out to find out how good you are. Lower their barrier to entry while making it cheaper for you at the same time. Besides, why print 1000 cd’s when you can one-click deploy to your whole server farm?

Use open source – Your barrier to entry is cheaper, and there are a lot of people around who have already developed good code (Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow), that you can build stuff on top of, and who are normally pretty happy to help out. Stand on the shoulders of giants. And all that stuff…

IT Needs to Get On Board With RSS – Computerworld

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_ IT Needs to Get On Board With RSS – Computerworld

I often like to say that the goal of an IT department is to stay off the obituaries page and every so often try and get in the headlines. RSS is exactly the technology IT needs to make some headlines, and now is a great time to start using it.

By now you’ve heard of RSS, or Really Simple Syndication [QuickLink 46266]. I’ve written in the past about how it can change the way business users aggregate and read information from the Web and give companies a new way to deliver their messages directly to customers.

Following on from an earlier post about web 2.0 stuff, this is a good call to action to people in IT that can make RSS work for their colleagues, customers and if you’re a service provider, their clients.

This is also worth remembering:
But there are things to bear in mind. RSS in and of itself is just another techie specification; its power is that it allows you to extend the dialogue that your company is having with employees and the outside world. And RSS is different from technologies such as e-mail, because the user is the one in control of whether to keep the dialogue going or terminate it; the goal is to increase your relationship and grow your conversation, ultimately leading to customer loyalty and of course a continued dialogue. Increasing RSS use is just a means to that end — and a way to help you get in the headlines for a change.

I think a lot of techies forget that normal people don’t look at technology and say “gee, cool, how long did it take you to do?”, but rather “what can it do for me? how does it make my life easier? how do I manage my information better?” etc etc When you can answer questions like those clearly communicating the benefits to the end user, then I think you’ve got something to talk about.

So lets concentrate on figuring out ways to make use of the cool technology we come up with for normal people, so that other people actually get to use it.
Code that sits on a shelf is sad code… and we don’t like sad code ;-)

How to speak at a tech conference

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_ Creating Passionate Users: How to speak at a tech conference

Some of the most vocal complaints have been about the lack of diversity in presenters, so I’ve asked
some conference organizers to help me come up with tips for those who’d like to speak at a for-profit tech conference. Please add your own as well, in comments or your own blog, because the more diversity we have, the greater the collective intelligence.

A good one if you’ve got aspirations of talking at tech conferences… or science conferences Chas…

Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body

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_ Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body

“We’re shifting to a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week society, and as a result we’re increasingly not sleeping like we used to,” said Najib T. Ayas of the University of British Columbia. “We’re really only now starting to understand how that is affecting health, and it appears to be significant.”

Let’s face it, we’re all from the same genetic stock that hasn’t altered much in evolutionary terms for the last little while. I’m pretty sure our genetic programming didn’t take into account CRT screens, email constantly on the brain and sitting in a chair all day long. when was the last day you took 5 minutes of every hour to walk around, get some water and get away from your computer?

I’ve found that I need about 7 to 8 hours a night to function properly. Any less is feasible, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to stay clear of the all nighters I used to do as a young lad learning the way of the web.

So this is a pretty interesting article, albeit a little patronising to anyone with any sense at all – you mean sitting in a chair all day, eating without exercise is going to make me fat? Come on!

A large, new study, for example, provides the latest in a flurry of evidence suggesting that the nation’s obesity epidemic is being driven, at least in part, by a corresponding decrease in the average number of hours that Americans are sleeping, possibly by disrupting hormones that regulate appetite. The analysis of a nationally representative sample of nearly 10,000 adults found that those between the ages of 32 and 49 who sleep less than seven hours a night are significantly more likely to be obese.

Nooo, they’re eating crap food, watching telly after bedtime, and not doing much exercise, that’s what they’re doing…

Tell me I’m wrong? ;-)