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Thursday, November 30, 2006

SaaS & The Enterprise Software World

eWeek has a coverage on the emerging on-demand vs on-premise model of business applications. The article while noting the rising subscriptions of salesforce.com points out that Oracle differs from other on-demand players in its definition of software as a service. It's not about multitenant software—the practice of putting each company's software installation on a shared architecture—or subscription licensing where users pay for software on a monthly basis. It's about whether or not Oracle takes the responsibility for hosting and upgrading a user's software. Nicholas Carr attacks established players of overlooking the potential of SaaS as it may affect their existing streams of revenue.
As I highlighted earlier,SaaS needs to immediately address amongst other things:
Integration Choice: Provide multiple paths and methods to integrate seamlessly through web services, which helps remove any location constraints.
– Customization Choice: Go beyond providing a richly configurable environment by providing an architecture that supports customization (e.g., user interface) within the context of a multi-tenant environment.
As I wrote recently, the biggest risk that can hurt advances could arise from a mismatch between the hype, adoption and actual benefits. To be fair, it is still not a settled issue whether the TCO calculations of SaaS are better than on-premise applications. Even in the case of simple(as in less complex) applications deployed across the enterprise and accessed by multiple users, cost benefit comparisons between the models are still a matter of debate and inference. There's also a lingering feeling amongst business users that buying cheap may not be necessarily the best option - particularly in a fact changing technology arena. A clear trend on cost benefits when using the SaaS model is yet to emerge. As a result, the usage driven subscription cost of SaaS applications can tilt the tables and hence the cost advantage scenario looks somewhat blurred.
There may not be a single right answer to the on-demand vs. on-premise argument. The answers would be specific to organization al needs, but doubts about the economics of SaaS applications still remain. With passing time, on-demand applications may increase their share, but the range of increase shall remain an open question. The application architecture, schema, the business model including dealing with channel partners and switching costs for existing customers are major impediments. Overwhelming organizational changes would have to be managed in the transition to on demand model-It is highly unlikely that existing software vendors could manage the transition smoothly. It is also too early to make a conclusive call on whether the software vendors are going be more comfortable with annuity revenue stream not to speak about the hit professional service firms may be forced to take – In all, not a very easy path lay to embrace Software-as-a-Service model.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Open Source Model : Changing Contours

Am in KL today to join Gartner's Jim Longwood in the Geosourcing meet today here at the Ritz-Carlton, I just came across Unisys executives prediction that in 2007, enterprise open source will evolve . Amongst their predictions:

1.Architectural approaches to open source will begin to predominate

2.Specialized stacks will drive a new direction for business applications

3.SOA and standards will close the gap between legacy and open systems

4.Open source providers will boost SI and channel distribution strategies

5.The smart money will be on driving business growth and innovation.

Unisys points out few have the in-house expertise to manage and integrate legacy systems and open source stacks to lay out elegant architectures.Even fewer open source software providers have the enterprise expertise to help them. Increasingly, enterprise customers will turn to systems integrators (SI) who can give them the blueprint to create and manage an infrastructure aligned with their business strategy that integrates appropriate open source elements and optimizes their performance. The predictions include the rise of a differentiated open source stacks for specific purposes, such as business intelligence, content management and output management. Each specialized stack will constitute a ‘black box’ – a plug-and-play; minimally configurable building block designed to fit naturally in modern data center environments and accomplish a single job from the outset. Such solutions are essential to ease IT management’s concerns about having to focus on integration of open source components instead of developing and managing innovative systems to support growth of their businesses. Clearly some of the predictions can also be seen as face saving to blunt criticisms.

To me the more I read predictions on open source, the weakness of the open source system becomes so clear to me – but I like the idea that Sun’s Simon Phipps brings out,"Some people are inclined to look upon open source as end in itself - a major shift to a "new paradigm." In reality,it's nothing more than an improved means towards an end: businesses paying for computing systems at the moment when their value is unfurled”. Admitting that employing commercial open source does not necessarily represent the great revolution anticipated, he adds that in reality, it's working out to be only a small change, because most enterprises still prefer to rely on competent vendors to act on their behalf in open source communities rather than trying to build, develop, and support custom applications wholly on their own. The open source evolution looks more and more interesting!!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Google Checkout & Privacy Concerns

With the world witnessing a massive change in the online retail world,Google is pushing Google Checkout. The much publicized near online merchant portal initiative (the sheer number of participating online merchants show the power and reach of Google) is coming under fire with John Battelle exposing its weakness. Mr.Battelle begins his assessment by asking the right questions –“Google" will appear by the charge on your credit card statement. Your card number will not be shared with the seller." Why on earth would anyone want this to be the case? To lose your relationship with the buyer? What information *is* passed back to ToysRUs? What rights do I have to that information, and to know how it's used between Google and the merchant? . He spots this clause in the online agreement –“...Transaction information - When you use Google Checkout to conduct a transaction, we collect information about each transaction, including the transaction amount, a description provided by the seller of the goods or services being purchased, the names of the seller and buyer, and the type of payment used”. While Google is making attempts to make the mechanism more charity friendly, revelations like this could make positioning a tougher choice for Google. Also for the more analytical mind – imagine a scenario where Google can process commercial patterns through Google checkout and integrate that with the powerful search logs – mind boggling. When AOL released its search log, the true value of such data became so obvious. John Battelle then highlighted that the aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. It lives in many places, but three or four places in particular hold a massive amount of this data (ie MSN, Google, and Yahoo). This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind - a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially And it has the potential to be abused in its own way. I am sure that things would change over a period of time and its unlikely Google would continue to keep the processing mechanism as the same and would definitely strive to improve and make it look more professional and foolproof. To be fair, one needs to study how Google’s privacy policy compares with the likes of PayPal – but for now the mood is one of caution.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Changing Face Of Online Retail

With the shopping season in full swing in the western world –the online retailing is expected to grow several times faster. Amazon to a lesser degree and walmart.com to a larger degree had major outage issues last Friday. One or two other online retail sites also reported some problems. ComScore Networks, an internet information provider, says online retailers expect the biggest sales ever on “Cyber Monday”, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, when millions of Americans take advantage of high-speed internet in their offices to hunt for presents. During the first 19 days of November, total retail spending online reached $6.35 billion, a 23% increase compared with the corresponding period in 2005. ComScore predicts that online retail consumer-spending for the two months to Christmas will exceed $24 billion, up by almost a quarter compared with last year.
Blast Radius, a UK based firm has come with a detailed comparative experience study of online retailing emphasising the total customer experience including the parts of fulfillment chain covering door deliveries. The report finds that Amazon.com tops both the US and UK markets. The interesting study shows that retailers dominate the US list while the UK list has place for people like Dell, Apple and HP. Notice that Dell, Apple , in rankings are ahead of HP & Marks & Spencer.
The report's key findings indicate that overall online shopping experiences have improved over a period of time. So many retailers are now adopting industry–wide best practices for design and usability that they are now challenged to truly differentiate them based on customer experience. Some key trends that offer opportunities to create differentiation are: creating a seamless experience across all channels and stages of the shopping experience, enabling and encouraging customer participation to offer new value to shoppers and innovating based on unmet customer needs. Many cross–channel retailers recognize and are striving to provide consistent customer experiences; however the report finds that this is one area that poses many complex logistical issues, particularly for those that use rich media catalogs as marketing tools. Many of the major multi–channel retailers post rich media catalogs online, but do not allow customers to click through and purchase items online.
The Scene in UK is different : Lee Feldman, Blast Radius' Chief Creative Officer finds that investment by online retailers tends to focus on what they care about most, securing the sale. This attention is at odds with what the customers focus on, what happens after they have made a purchase. This 'service disconnect' is critical and reveals a short sighted view of the customer based on immediate revenue collection where real value is gained from long–term relationships. The study also spots notable deficiencies in online service:
Return/Refund policies not stated up front
Lack of flexibility to schedule deliveries at convenient times and slow deliveries/product availability (after the order is placed) – Deferred deliveries/Event based delivery not provided for
Unbranded packaging vs. branded packaging, branded collaterals, good branded email follow ups (Amazon, Dell and Apple's packing was clearly branded whilst ASOS included a full colour catalogue with the delivery; Maplin and QVC provided additional information in the box and followed–up orders with subsequent mailers. These e–tailers also routinely used strongly branded, if third party, logistics operations. In sharp contrast there were those where brand presence was negligible through a 'white van, brown box' approach).
Read the good reports here.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Web 2.0 : The Way Forward

Bill Thompson in an excellent essay writes that the time has now come to decide whether to put our faith in Ajaxified snakeoil or to look beyond the interface to distributed systems, scalable solutions and a network architecture that will support the needs and aspirations of the next five billion users. Pointing out that we must not be fooled by the cool sites and apparently open APIs, he says that most of the effort is – literally – window dressing.As he sees it, Web 2.0 marks the dictatorship of the presentation layer, a triumph of appearance over architecture where Ajax is touted as the answer for developers who want to offer users a richer client experience without having to go the trouble of writing a real application, but if the long term goal is to turn the network from a series of tubes connecting clients and servers into a distributed computing environment then we cannot rely on Javascript and XML since they do not offer the stability, scalability or effective resource discovery that we need. He is spot on that there is a massive difference between rewriting Web pages on the fly with Javascript and reengineering the network to support message passing between distributed objects, a difference that too many Web 2.0 advocates seem willing to ignore. He warns that to realize the vision of network as the computer it is a real danger if we stick with Ajax as the mantra. While agreeing with Bill, i think that organizations need to study how to integrate web 2.0 initiatives with other value focussed IT initiatives. Nicholas Carr in an article titled "The Amorality of Web 2.0", Carr slammed overeager Web 2.0 proponents as hyper-hyped.The problems of Web 2.0 may have more to do with human nature, and less with the qualities of bottom-up, online media. After all, the postal system has junk mail, the phone system has 419 scams and telemarketers, and stock markets constantly attract cons. Earlier in response to his criticisms about Web 2,0, I wrote that Nicholas carr has rightly picked up the holes in the Web 2.0 hype - but cut the rhetoric, I do believe in the idea of Web 2.0 and that its time has come – for the simple reason that the web has to see advancements and it has to begin to impact normal life in more ways & means that what it is today and I do not subscribe to the media vs blog battle and that the media is losing the battle – the media may be seen to be losing as like other industries it has not looked in terms of cutting costs through means like offshoring, globalization – theres no one single global newspaper, global TV channel – also it has faced maximum technology changes in its ecosystem. – But to say that the web has threatened it to the extent of killing is wrong – as this note shows, adaptation is the key to succeed – online Wall street journal earns more than print version. So in essence it is just good models always win – with or without Web 2.0. I strongly beleive in the potential of Web 2.0. As I see it with mashups transcending known frontiers, Web 2.0’s impact shall be felt more with the emergence of platforms for the development of rich Internet applications and services. Ajax is enabling the creation of plug-in free Web apps that rival the performance of client-based desktop applications. These developments represent the very tip of exciting innovation to come — innovation that will require a new approach to venture investing led by a new breed of angel and venture investors that are able to successfully balance irrational exuberance with prudent funding to fuel the creation of new platforms for growth. But I agree with Bill that web 2.0 is not the solution to all issues and enterprises need to look far beyond in investing ad harnessing resources and efforts all around and integrate web 2.0 into these initatives.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Asia & SaaS Adoption

Recent estimates suggest that 5% of global software may be delivered as application on-demand. One of the well known players of on-demand, salesforce.com has been ranked as the third largest CRM player in the world. One of the often repeated cliché is that close to 1/4th of the software sold in Asia may be application on-demand in a few years from now. Given the cultural and economic complexity and diversity of the Asia Pacific region, the adoption of SaaS is not uniform across the region. Australia and New Zealand are closer to North America in terms of SaaS adoption trends, and Australia is the largest SaaS market in the region. China and India are seen as countries with the greatest potential in the mid to long term future. Independent research suggest that India may be the fastest growing market in Asia. But in reality, as much as I could see all around in Asia, the pace of adoption of SaaS is indeed slow. The cynical may see the pay-as-you-use model where licensing & services bundle in technical and operational support as far fetched, but indeed some leading edge companies have successfully demonstrated that atleast lightweight applications can be delivered this way. Most of these applications are aimed at serving large customer base or mobile salesforce. All the marquee names in software are coming out with SaaS models and are actively promoting it as well. Research suggests that when assessed on TCO models, enterprises under 500 employees may find SaaS adoption more economical for certain type of applications like payroll , CRM etc.There is reasonable evidence that for Asian ecosystem where a majority of enterprises are of the small to medium category while measured on a global scale, may find SaaS as a natural fit, the adoption rates seems to be less than promising. The cultural mindset seems to be coming in the way. Unlike most of the western enterprises which view IT as an investment and productivity enhancer, the asian enterprises despite having having global ambitions look at IT, mostly as cost. The enterprises here have just finished one wave of investments centered on internet and IP technologies and are quite cagey abou trying new technology models. This is pretty paradoxical as SaaS can help businesses realize benefits faster then others to start with and help organizations become more efficient by helping focus on running their operations. One of the things that I notice is that business getts more excited than IT when it comes to SaaS and young companies seem to adopt SaaS faster. Asia needs to look at SaaS more closely –at the moment SaaS adoption in Asia Pacific is definitely far behind the potential.

Update : Sriram pointed me to this viewpoint expressed by Oracle, confirming my views on limited SaaS adoption in Asia.

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Talent, Startups, Big & Organized

Increasingly the startup magic is definitely reaching a larger number of professionals around the world. Auren Hoffman writes that big companies are losing their “A” players and they’re struggling to attract “B” players. In an industry where everything is about people, large tech companies are in trouble because they are losing the talent war. And keep in mind, an “A” player in an organization can usually produce the same results as three “B” players. He asks, Why would you want to join a big high tech company (Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, HP, Oracle, or Cisco) when you can join a cool startup? At a big company you’re stuck with corporate politics, paralysis decision making, and a lack of getting things done. At a small company you’re having fun, pursuing your dream, and actually getting things done. I can neither agree nor disagree with Auren. Kathy Sierra points out the differences between startups vs big established concerns. No doubt big companies can be stifling( most of the time in big companies go into meets and conference calls), but they come with a set of many plus –infrastructure, system, customer base, brand etc. There are mavericks and self driven people who would make headway under any circumstances – there are some who would like to try out something new. These people would find startups very likeable. However for a majority it may not be all that suitable. One has to respect both perspectives and positions – the world is big enough to find right talent for both the streams and full of opportunities.

(Image Courtesy :Kathy Sierra)
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Innovation, Effectiveness & Success

A recent Booz Allen Hamilton study finds that in a group of 1000 companies surveyed, 94 “high-leverage innovators,” including Toyota, Apple, Christian Dior, Google and Caterpillar spend less than their competitors on research and development, yet consistently outperform their industry rivals across a broad set of performance measures. The study notes that these “High-Leverage Innovators” use many different models and approaches to outperform their competitors, but are generally noted for their distinctive skill in at least one element of the innovation process and are adept across all of the stages. Google, for example, is known for generating new ideas with blistering speed. Toyota excels at developing its products and processes far more efficiently and effectively than most other companies. And Apple is noted for its well-honed capabilities in project selection and customer understanding. In the list of 1000 companies analyzed, Ford tops the list on R&D spend and everyone will agree that Ford is hardly seen today as an innovative company. The report titled smartspenders finds that the high-leverage innovators distinguish themselves not by the money they spend, but by building strong capabilities in the four principal elements of innovation: ideation, project selection, product development, and commercialization. High-leverage innovators listen closely to their customers across the entire innovation cycle.

As I wrote recently, there is no link between R &D, productivity improvements or innovation. One does not need to spend about five billion in R&D to find that the next big thing does not exist. Its clearly organizational interest, result orientation, quality of leadership and the latitude the research team has and the integration that business and research has within the enterprise that matters a lot. Clearly these are the factors that get severely affected when organization grows. It’s time to look at assessment of new product /new revenue streams coming out of enterprises lot more closely as they begin to grow. innovation today is more about services, process, business models or cultural innovation than just product innovation. As Michael Scrage recently wrote brilliantly, the simple fact is that "R&D spending is an input, not a measure of efficiency, effectiveness or productivity.Ingenuity, invention and innovation are rarely functions of budgetary investment & points to the fact that Wal-Mart, Texco and Dell have miniscule R&D budgets, their quality, procurement and growth requirements have probably done more to drive productive innovation investment than any competing initiatives. Growing market competition, not growing R&D spending, is what drives innovation".

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Innovation, Freedom & Discipline

Michael Schrage has an interesting article on change management. He points out that “The Give Change a Hug” crowd swears that successful change management requires welcoming arms and open minds. They're wrong. Skepticism is best practice. Enterprise change hugging should be done with the same level of care as swimming with sharks or playing with porcupines: It's going to hurt no matter what ‘s done. Change management is pain management. Change management—like pain management—is really process management, and change leadership is really process leadership. That's true for people, systems and apps.
Pointing out that process leadership can provide manifold times more returns, he writes that foundational controls are essential for process leadership. Truly innovative companies value discipline as much, if not more, than they do freedom and flexibility of execution. The IT Process institute survey finds that elite IT performers weren't just two or three times better than median performers—they were seven or eight times better. High performers—roughly 13 percent of the 98 sampled—contributed on average eight times more projects, four and a half times more applications and software, four and a half times more IT services, and seven times more business IT changes. They implemented 14 more changes with half the failure rate. Top-tier performers weren't change embracers or innovation huggers. They identified and enforced "process commandments" that constrained wasteful behaviors while reinforcing productive discipline. Essentially stricter and better controls directly drives better execution – the effects of which can be seen in increased confidence, more effective usage of budgets and the loop of better returns on greater investments sets in, all other things being equal. Achieving tomorrow's high-performance organizations will involve massive changes throughout their process and capability infrastructures and methods. The complexity of implementing these changes will be daunting, and deserves a strategic approach intertwined with flawless execution.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nah To Open Source

Traditionally governments were symphathetic to the cause of the open source movement and were pushing some open source solutions for their selective usages. I was very surprised to see the ICT minister of the new Thai government saying that his government’s plan was a case of the blind leading the blind, as neither the people who are in charge nor the people in industry seem to know the dangers of open source software.

"With open source, there is no intellectual property. Anyone can use it and all your ideas become public domain. If nobody can make money from it, there will be no development and open source software quickly becomes outdated," he said. Apart from Linux, he claimed that most open source software is often abandoned and not developed, and leads to a lot of low-quality software with lots of bugs."As a programmer, if I can write good code, why should I give it away? Thailand can do good source code without open source," he said.

Please read this confession on linux from one of its chief protaganists. Sometimes good sense comes from the most unexpected source!! As I wrote recently, with open source solutions, the service providers/consultants need to take a massive leap of faith - more so with massive/time-compressed/aggressive/critical deployments planned - one that would be seen from first principles to be fraught with fundamental risks.

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HP Overtakes IBM As The Top Tech Player & Accenture Is No.1 In Services

The puzzle for tech sector business leadership is indeed getting more and more curious to watch. The MISO players are busy firing all the cylinders. But from the sidelines two others are declaring victory over the largest of the MISO group -IBM. Mark Hurd declares that as of this date, HP holds the title of the biggest tech company in the world. He means that - owing to an impressive acceleration of efforts, Hewlett-Packard's business divisions pulled together to deliver solid revenue and profit growth. While IBM has exited the PC business and Dell is focused mostly on a slow-growing corporate market and moribund demand for desktop models, HP is taking advantage of brisk demand from consumers, particularly for laptop computers. The company's laptop sales grew 24%, and the company is exploiting its vast retail presence in the U.S. and in emerging markets such as India, Russia, and Brazil. Indeed, HP surged against struggling Dell to become the PC market leader in the third quarter. Trends now show that Dell might have caught up with HP here. Courtesy of Manish saw this : Accenture beats IBM to be anointed as the No.1 service provider. For a change, IDC comes with a refreshing perspective - high growth areas include investments in SOA, infrastructure improvements, and application services and SIs that have invested in emerging areas, stayed close to customers, and focused on efficient execution are well positioned to capitalize on the market as it improves. Companies that will succeed in the SI market going forward will be those that embrace the evolution of the software environment, collaborate closely with partners and customers, possess a strong understanding of industry-specific business processes, and have a mature and seamless global delivery capability.
This is am impressive feat pulled off by Accenture. Accenture is investing heavily in high growth areas while most of the leading enterprises appear to remain comfortable spending on strategic growth and global initiatives. Some of the growth areas identified by Accenture include offshore services, vertical BPO,
remote ITO, bundling opportunities, SOA, ERP integration, and CRM activity. It is time to call MISO as MISOHA or MISHO.
This was expected – as I was pointing out repeatedly in the past : IBM’s downward slip was evident and it lost its status as the proxy name for services. Clearly, the competitive landscape for the SI services market will continue to evolve as vendors balance their SI investments and priorities with their overall portfolio of offerings and strategic direction of the company If we do a little analysis of HP’s triumphs, clearly Dell is fighting back and with HP expecting to cut another 2 billions of it costs in the next few quarters, its an interesting situation to watch. All indications are that HP is not focusing too much on services. So the IBM-HP could be a little lopsided given that IBM shed of its PC division and HP gains hugely through its printing business, while IBM is particularly strong in corporate IT. I think in a eyeball-to-eyeball race, IBM would win over HP in the enterprise segment, but that is not to take the credit from HP in reaching this exalted status.I would like to see HP pushing lot more innovative things on the back of its success and not merely focus on squeezing costs further and showing better bottomline – the underperforming divisions within HP ought to take the cue and run faster. Accenture overtaking IBM in services is a real thing to be acknowledged by IBM – Which I think, they will by pulling lot more punches in their services strategy – watch out. The enterprise tech game is getting more curious.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Globalization Of Technology Advances & Entrepreneurism

Courtesy of Jason Wood saw this insightful and interesting perspective. Matt McCall of Portage Ventures fame has an interesting post sharing with readers a sense of the mood at the DFJ global retreat. The group’ has a very different venture model from others. Its partners runsomewhat autonomous operations in cities across the world, linked together by common infrastructure, incentives and philosophy. One of the closest models would be BCG or McKinsey where each region draws from the resources of other offices, shares a common legacy but have somewhat independent regional operations. To that extent the experiences are more varied and have a more local flavour. As he reflects on his experiences at Half Moon Bay, based on discussions therein with the other DFJ funds and portfolio companies, it is clear to him the technology world has become more global than can be imagined. He writes :

Talent and ideas are moving rapidly across the globe. There are firms using Russian & Estonian programmers, selling product to Asia and competing with European competitors. New technology models in mobile are popping up in Asia & Europe years before the US and next generation silicon is emerging from China before our Valley brethren can get out of the starting blocks. It reminds me that our world is much more than simply building the best Midwest technology firms but rather about building the best global technology firms. The spoils accrue to the #1 or #2 firms and the rest get table scraps. Without this global perspective, it becomes very difficult to understand this global market.

My Take : Is it the end of the road for the west : No Way - Most leading Western companies are turning toward a new model of innovation, one that employs global networks of partners. These can include U.S. chipmakers, Taiwanese engineers, Indian software developers, and Chinese factories. IBM is even offering the smarts of its famed research labs and a new global team of 1,200 engineers to help customers develop future products using next-generation technologies. When the whole chain works in sync, there can be a dramatic leap in the speed and efficiency of product development .No doubt that the world is changing. Many developing countries are making rapid strides. The global commodization of education is definitely taking some sheen out of the US. The developing countries have their own dynamics when it comes to doing business. It is believed that most of chinese advances have some linkages with their government in some form. I think that the US definitely has the lead in tech innovation. No other country would enable immigrants to make the best out of opportunities. The US is the economic engine of the world – lets hope that it continues to innovate faster, better and emerge stronger. Collaboration in innovation is always a workable solution. Together with the Asia, the hotbed of economic activity today, let more innovation blossom and let the world prosper a lot more - innovation and prosperity are closely related.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Adapt For The Present & Build For The Future

Jeffrey Phillips writes an interesting point about companies needing to focus on adapting for the present and plan for the future – overlooking the option to copycat successful yesteryear models:
Looking at the competitive business scenario today, business finds that by the time it adopts the seemingly successful paradigm, the market has already begun to change. Jim Collins looked at firms that had been successful in the last several decades. The question is - what does past models of success have to do with building a successful firm right now and the conditions we'll face over the next few years. It is true that so much has changed in that time frame, as attention spans and market cycles have shortened and the amount of global competition has increased. So, he recommends that rather than Built to Last, it is prudent to adopt a new mantra - Able to Adapt.There’s no doubt that for successful business today adaptability is a key determinant for success. Coupled with speed of response, these qualities may become the most needed for survival today. One needs to survive and succeed today to last for battling tomorrow. Having said that, Jeffrey is spot on when he brings out that there are some things that all good businesses have in common - a strong corporate culture, a willingness to question the status quo, intimacy with customers and a well-defined strategy. What most firms need to add is the ability to quickly reconfigure themselves and become very adaptable, and the capability to traverse to a new business model as they arise. A close look at corporate dinosaurs or walking dead shows their inability to adjust their business model to capitalize on current business challenges or opportunities. While I agree with all these things, I can not underemphasize the need for a well enshrined vision and a deep rooted conviction in realizing it - this may be the lasting differentiator. One can keep on adapting but to what end – that’s where the vision part and the DNA of the company matters. No two ways about this. Like strategy & execution that need to go hand-in-hand, it should be Adapt For The Present and Build For The Future.

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BRIC : Not Bed Of Roses

A.T.Kearney’s Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index shows China & India as preferred destinations, the same survey scored China low — much lower than India — for its rule of law and corporate transparency.
Somebody recently asked me how is business in Asia – I replied business is robust but us may be more robust. I recently wrote that Asian cultures, business and economic environments are very different and can be quite paradoxical - some of the best developed cities/countries -in terms of hard infrastructure may be the most difficult places to navigate through the business ecosystem and get business done effectively. In some developing nations, the pace of business/ mechansim of decision making can be back breaking. In some countries in Asia, government linked entitities may have the upper say/act as key influencers. While one may talk about the changing world order, the new Forrester report shows that western CEOs view emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) as Alice dreamed of Wonderland: a place of unlimited opportunities where profits keep going up while costs keep going down. Alas, as Alice did, CEOs must wake up and get realistic about BRIC nations' short-term potential and proactively deal with the noneconomic challenges of expanding and operating globally. Most MNCs are enacting a short-term global expansion strategy based on assumptions about emerging markets’ long-term potential. The report highlights the cognitive dissonance that is fueling a bubble that could burst when MNCs’ global mega investments fail to yield immediate returns (i.e., within 2 to 3 years). Several myths are getting busted therein - The so-called "affluent Westernized middle class" in BRIC nations is much smaller then expected. Consumers in the emerging countries are now realizing that foreign goods are neither affordable nor suited to their needs. Unlike the US or parts of Western Europe that embraced “entrepreneurial capitalism” which lets market forces determine industry winners, BRIC politicians are promoting “nationalistic capitalism,” in which the government only partially opens up select industries to foreign investments but keeps many others closed for ideological or political interests. The fact of the matter is that while the US is the leading investor in emerging markets, thus exporting capital, it is also the world's largest destination for inbound investments, importing billions of foreign capital — including capital from India and China! — which creates well-paid jobs in industries such as financial services, consumer goods, and pharma that boast huge, sophisticated markets and top-notch talent If anything, the US's knowledge-based trade exchange with BRIC will engage all nations in a race to the top and not to the bottom. An interesting perspective here. I wrote sometime back that the US is the economic engine of the world - the situation is unlikely to change for some more time.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Language Of The New Era & Culture Of Participation

Jamais Cascio has an interesting perspective on the emerging culture of participation. In his own words, he sees that the we’re moving into a world where the public, through the use of collaborative tools and open models, can be as effective—sometimes even more effective—than traditional top-down authorities in gathering and analyzing useful information. We hold the world in our hands. We are rapidly developing the tools to allow us to work together, openly, transparently, responsibly, for our mutual betterment. It’s idealistic, but oddly enough, it’s a practical idealism. We know these tools work; we’re only beginning to understand their power. This is, more and more, an era of remarkable possibility—and we all have a role to play.
These terms, and the tools they describe, all build on the concept that working together in ad-hoc, emergent ways, we can accomplish far more than we can either as individuals or as part of some top-down hierarchy.
This list covers some of the characteristics of this emerging participatory culture.
- Collaboration
- Distribution
- Networks over hierarchies
- Transparency
- Ownership of reputation vs. ownership of property
- Ideas are catalysts for more ideas
- Technology-enabled, not technology-focused
Read the full note here.

The internet platform and applications primarily focused on information dissemination, electronic commerce is now fast becoming the base for a myriad of participative engagement tying various strata of the people . The participatory applications span from social software to group productivity applications and these are definitely having a huge impact on the society as a whole. Kevin Kelly noted that the deep enthusiasm for making things, for interacting more deeply than just choosing options, is the great force not reckoned 10 years ago. This impulse for participation has upended the economy and is steadily turning the sphere of social networking - smart mobs, hive minds, and collaborative action - into the main event.

(Pic Coutesy : Jamais Cascio)

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Hiring Practices : The Big Is Not Always The Best

Dr.Wendell Williams writes that the hiring practices of even good companies need to be examined critically , despite believing that they have best-in-class practices. He points out that hiring criteria run the gamut from "Y'all come" to get-to-know-ya interviews, to magic-question interviews, to highly structured interviews, to interview/test/simulation combinations, and on-the-job exhaustive tryouts. He takes the example of well publicized hiring machine and adds his insight, which I found to be indeed insightful. A company that has hired 4,000 people in the last 18 months expects each new employee to be smart, a fast learner, collaborative, curious, and love solving problems. Looking at these goals from a whole-job-whole person, this description only covers two of the four critical job competency clusters.After going through the hiring process he points out that to be seen as complete, the company needs to expand the profile to include planning/organizing ability, additional interpersonal skills, and a few more motivational aspects. In addition, it needs to clarify how-much of each skill is necessary for each job-type (managers, for example, need broader and deeper cognitive abilities and better coaching skills than job-holders).

He points out that the overall success the company has enjoyed in the past often comes from having a good product and being at the right place at the right time. Many newly wealthy employees forget the right-time-right-place effect and wrongly take full credit for their success. As a consequence, they are quite surprised when market forces fade (e.g., who can forget the effects of the dot-com bomb?). In any rapid scale-up many times, the set out plan gets for qualitative selection more often than not gets trampled, hoping that in the case of young talent, training & grooming would help in setting this right. The set of questions that need to be raised while considering hiring :
- hire people who score high on motivation and assume they are job-skilled;
- hire people who score high on skills tests and assume they are job-motivated; or
- hire people who score high on motivation tests and high on skills tests?

Interesting article worth reading and pondering over. Several times innovative solutions and situational wisdom helps organization to take calls – wonderful as they are as it helps the organization to grow, its also the case that over a period for time, organizations need to objectively reassess their hiring practices. Some times when record breaking hiring happens – quarterly additions in the range of 5000 people every quarter, the business dynamics are indeed different but good framework and practices always helps. What is also noted is the fact in a huge mass, best talent always seeks early exit upon the availability of the first opportunity but deadwoods and average stay put – in a downturn or critical engagements, this may naturally tend to push towards average performace. The talent quotient and organizational maturity indes should always show an upward trend and thats what would be the best measure of good hiring practices be upon reaching a certain scale and comfort in ramp ups.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Bill Gates On The Traffic Chase

A cautious Bill Gates warns against the rush to new Web-based software services, likening the frenzy to the days of the 1990s Internet bubble. "He sees that the world is 're back kind of in Internet-bubble era in terms of people thinking chasing more and more I think that he is right in saying that there are still some areas where it is unclear what's going to come out of that. Scobeleizer’s defence looks too weak – agreed that some factors may look different and less pronounced but the overall frenzy is certainly not justified. Whenever I talk of web 2.0, I keep saying that a good PPT need not necessarily become a good business.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Technology Extortionists At Odds With Business Needs

Vivek Ranadive points to the fact that the Web consumer has a short attention span, so competition is only a snick away and if enteprises are not real time, you are history. That applies to companies as well. I look at IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft as companies of the past. They have the database model. It is only now that they are talking about service-oriented architecture. They have been making big money from global customers for years. Customers are locked in. For any kind of change, they have to go back to them. The world of hardware, software and communications technology has changed. So, the fact that IBM is bigger does not make them better.
Andy Lawrence brings out that Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadive astounded some of his rivals by people by his full blooded assault on some of his rivals, including IBM, Oracle and SAP. Vivek sees these companies of being extortionists, who exploit the technical dependency of their customers by over-charging for software that does not deliver technical results. I recently heard Vivek echo such views. He sees that the database architecture of yesterday results in having silos of information. There is no use of knowing you have lost a customer? Enterprises would want to know before they get lost— so that you can win him back in time.'' The current database architecture can’t enable that. Not surprising given that vendors adopt an approach based on helping end-user organizations to buy and to create simple, clear and fair pricing. Ovum found that several phrases commonly used by vendor organisations cause immediate and adverse reaction within some end-user organisations - "sales cycle", "owning the customer", "solution selling" and "value proposition" are among the trigger phrases. One surprisingly common complaint was that the sales staff from vendor organisations did not understand the functionality of the products that they were selling. In some cases, the technical staff in customer/prospects were more aware of the latest product features and functions than the sales staff.Vendors also had a tendency to be "economical with the truth" regarding the ability of their products to deliver specific functionality. I definitely endorse the spirit of Vivek’s hard hitting views –in many enteprises existing technology investments and their pricing models prevent business and CIO's to try out new things. His vision that "Speed is God, Time is the Devil... Forget Return on Investment (ROI), it's all about Return on Minutes are quite the in thing for business today (discount the returns part here - I read it as planned returns on existing tech investments might be seen as less appealing and the competitive landscape of business is changing fast in general - so you have to make investments to stay in the game)and technology investments and solutions should support and enable this transformation in an economical way. Google realised the need for supporting such a thing of late.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Innovation : Need For A New Mindset

Peter Drucker once laid out what he saw as the three ingredients of the discipline of innovation: focus on mission, define significant results, and do rigorous assessment. What looks seemingly simple are amongst the most difficult things that organizations can hope to achieve. Just came across this interesting interview with Innosight’s Mark Johnson. He believes the most important piece that needs to be in place is having a common language and a common way to frame innovation. That allows groups to collaborate in a way that allow innovation to happen given that they think about it in the same way. All too often different groups speak a different language of innovation. When that happens there’s what’s called an absorptive capacity issue – knowledge transfer which is so important for innovation to take place doesn’t happen because the fundamental language is so different between units. Quite true – many large organizations are blind to the fact that the reported innovation in various business lines hardly appeal to the whole organization – many disbelieve the innovation reported by other groups as these are generally hailed as respective leader’s showmanship. On the other hand, as Clayton Christensen observed, a small company can disrupt the market and gain an advantage against a much larger competitor with a revolutionary new product. This happens a lot on the tech industry. Many startups try to develop "giant-killer" technologies and once they are proven technically and in the marketplace they are bought up by the larger company or one of its competitors.
William Baumol once brought out that most of the private sector expenditure on research and development is attributable to very large corporations. These corporations emply scientists and engineers, personnel characteristically highly educated and technically erudite. But, despite this concentration of knowledge, talent, and expenditure in these major enterprises, an examination of the list of revolutionary technological breakthroughs since the onset of the Industrial Revolution suggests that they were contributed in overwhelming proportion by independent inventors and small, newly founded enterprises, not by major firms. Finally, and intriguingly, a review of the biographies of the most celebrated of these innovators shows, in a surprising share of these cases, a most remarkable absence of rigorous technical training and, in many cases, little education at all. In these changing times, one can’t overlook the impact that Internet can bring on the innovation process itself. Larger companies need to go beyond thinking of just depending exclusively on their own internal resources for ideas and competitive advantages. The large dose of cheap capital and private equity funding, abundant talent dispersion – all these are making size of the corporation a relatively minor factor in harnessing innovation. Ironically organizations that are run the conventional way – essentially one those built for scale make things so inflexible that innovation becomes a PR issue more than anything else. Competitive forces across industries clearly point to the fact that the pressure on growth push the innovation cycles to be shorter and one that need to be achieved at lesser costs. A portfolio management approach would clearly suggest that innovation involving a set of partners and startups may be the best approach for organizations.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

The Coming Change In The Enterprise Software Arena

I wrote a brief note for sandhill.com on whats happening in the enterprise software world - The traditional platform vendors are working hard to define new outline for traditional layers like operating system, middleware etc. Historically the traditional separation has been brought out by commercial vendors and this line keeps changing with the moves of the platform vendors. The traditional separation between these layers is fast disappearing with the concerted efforts of the platform players. If these are to be recast, it opens up multiple questions. Some of them include the likes of where (the direction) this can take things towards and how (the enablement) is this made possible. Undoubtedly SOA is playing the role of a linchpin here. The redrawn boundaries between traditional separations of layers are pushing the framework into the world of business processes. The middleware & SOA combination is shifting the control from applications into this block. Such a strategy gives traditional vendors a good lock-in over with assured recurring revenue whether the infrastructure expands or applications get built on top.
Most of the vendors in MISO group are playing this game albeit in different ways. While the big players are pushing things in this direction, the nimble, innovative upstarts are actually making smart moves – coming in from different directions (delivery, ownership, licensing, cost structure etc.) and forcing the traditional big players to more aggressively push things to control and protect their traditional space. Unknown to many, the change agenda being pursued by the so called envelope pushers are being dictated by these “outside forces”. Aggression as a defensive posture best explains the move of the big players here. As I see it, ultimately these would benefit business and the tech world immensely. Business could look for composites to take a real move into their ecosystem for vertical /niche applications, integrators would actually ride this wave which throws up humongous opportunities and we can see the platform players /others look to charge customers on usage basis for services like usage of shared repositories and components. Read the full note here.

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Speed As The Key To Success In The Web World

Marisa Meyer of Google says that the company has learned its short history that speed makes all the difference for the web consumer and how Google understood the power of speed. In a consumer research on search page design they found that those in the control group with 10 results stayed longer than those who asked 30 results. The control group's search, which displayed 10 results, took .4 of a second vs. those getting 30 results, took .9. Today, Google allows users to do a search that touches anywhere from 300-700 machines before it comes back to you in .05 of a second. Greg Linden confirms this to be true in early days of Amazon.com as well. Google says that they have applied this lesson in enhancing Google Maps as well resulting in demonstrably better results in usage.

Look at the contrasting but well thought out approach here : Most web companies want to keep people on the page, they want it to be "sticky", Google prefers that people spend less time, but do it more frequently. The cumulative volume is what builds the traffic and this comes from the consumer's positive experience on the site. Why speed matters?– because it it generates a steeper learning curve. YouTube’s steep growth is in a way owing to Google video’s slow process of uploading!! How I wish, yahoo and a host of Ajax proponents get this message – Yahoo mail’s new interface takes ages to launch!! Am sure that this is hurting Yahoo mail users and new users trying to evaluate Yahoo mail for regular usage.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Corporate Accounting & Changing World

Six major firms — among them PWC, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche — say the corporate financial reporting system is bust. They say it delivers a lot of dense, impenetrable information without giving the full picture of a company's performance. Quarterly information disclosed are pass’e. The crux of the recommendation is that alongside standard information like earnings, sales and cash flow, it should be mandated that companies disclose nonfinancial data – after all in today’s connected world, information flows quite fast . Bringing tangibility to traditional intangibility seems to be the goal here. In a way, earnings call provide opportunities to get such information – but sometime, big companies do not expose the key management executives even in such occasions. Even common financial measures are classified as non-mandatrory disclosures today. Many progressive enterprises today do report key performance measures – only thing is these need to be reported in a standardized way. For example, the ARPU factor of telecom service providers, employee turnover/addition for consulting firms, the load factor of airlines, the inventory turns for process industries – in other words the top 10/15 critical measures that a CEO is expected to monitor – but to be reported in a standardized way. Obviously we need to have vertical/geography specific add-ons/flavours. After all stakeholder valuations are based on assessment centered around a set of such factors.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Consultants & Pricing Discipline

Pricing is always a tough call to make. Different service providers have different approach towards pricing depending on various factors like sector, vertical, geography,technology,customer etc. A recent case involving Accenture made significant impact to its share prices as well. The power of influence of commerical team in different organizations vary quite dramtically. Some finance departments inside organizations are focussed in doing their accounts, some are more strategic and can provide point analysis for various pricing scenarios and recommend a best course of action. As an organization grows, several of the so called contextual decisions may hurt them in the medium to long term. Indian headquartered firms also take different approach to pricing. The buyers also take different approaches towards engaging outsourcing at a broad level and engaging consultants for specific opportunities. They have to take a disciplined approach as well. Is the case different for the numerous boutique consulting firms? No says this Forbes article. Many consultants simply underestimate how much a business will cost to run and warns against new entrants trying to charge less as an entry strategy. It makes it hard to up the fees later and so suggests that new entrants can look at making the first engagement free of cost and demonstrate value before finalizing on a pricing structure for future. Its interesting to see the various patterns of billing practiced by consultants of different industries : information-technology consultants will charge by the hour, while more high-level consultants like strategic planners or management coaches will charge per project. Lawyers, accountants and wealth managers tend to nab those retainers. As for how much to charge, strategy consultants usually command the steepest fees, followed by operations-management, human-resources and IT gurus. Most consultants are cagey about their fees, so studying the competition is a bit tricky but here’s the most sensible advice : No matter what price you charge, be sure to give customers what they paid for. Look at the interesting set of slides on how to price your consulting services.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Andy Grove : Knowledge,Discipline & Execution

Harvard Business Review's Working Knowledge has an interview with Harvard’s Richar Tedlow, author of the book, Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American. The book gives a glimpse of Grove’s style of management outlining Grove's approach to management. The publisher’s claim that Tedlow has built the book around a year-by-year, blow-by-blow account of Intel's ups and downs, punctuated by Grove's contemporaneous musings, drawn from his private notebooks. Some of the points that Richard makes about Andy Grove stands out. He points out that for Andy, putting common sense on a pedestal as against the "uncommon nonsense" epitomized by the "virtual" cheering at parades in his ealry days mattered more. Grove's career has innumerable lessons for the business executives of today and tomorrow. Grove is an autodidact—a man capable of teaching himself a remarkable variety of new skills. Writing down his thoughts plays an important role in this process of teaching himself. Grove's experience growing up in Hungary became a foundation for the "Intel way." What Hungary was, Intel was not. Intel culture emphasized knowledge over power, common sense, and respect for ideas. The act of writing contributes an important element of discipline to his thinking. Pointing out that he has an uncanny ability to abstract himself from a decision in which he is deeply, emotionally involved and view the problem as an outsider would he adds that this ability to view issues that for others would be fraught with emotion in a clinical fashion, has led to some of his most astute decisions.

Grove’s upbringing and his far reaching decisions in every stage of Intel’s growth is known to all – he is amongst the best known name in recognizing the power of knowledge. I particularly liked Richard’s observation that for Grove, writing down his thoughts plays an important role in this process of teaching himself. He adds that the act of writing contributes an important element of discipline to Grove’s thinking. How true – blogging is useful to me on a number of counts – two things stand out – helps me to create a wider and deeper view, helps in articulation and more than anything else it enforces a discipline.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

IPV6, China, Asia : The Shifting Internet Power

More than 15 months ago, I spotted the determined moves that China was making on IPV6. Chinese attempt at control involves the Internet's physical infrastructure. Within China, the Web looks more and more like a giant office network every day, centralized by design. Last month, China announced its latest build-out—the "Next Carrying Network," or CN2. This massive internal network will be fast, but it will also be built by a single, state-owned company and easy to filter at every step. Its addressing system (known as IPv6) is scarcely used in the United States and may make parts of the Chinese Internet and the rest of the world mutually unreachable.

Bob Cringley brings forth the issue very well. In the current addressing scheme, China received a very small number of IP addresses, and this was causing them a lot of difficulty. If they stayed with the existing system it would have resulted in a nasty network kludge. So they made a national decision to implement IPv6 and put in a good network design. With IPv6 China has the address space they need and it is working well for them. Of course, the rest of the world is still on the old system and to communicate with China an address translation is needed. This is becoming a pain. Countries who want to do lots of business with China or who want to do lots of business through the Internet (India) are now seriously looking at their own IPv6 plans. He points to this as leadership through good example. China has done something very impressive and now others are taking notice. The US thinks that it controls the Internet, but China is proving otherwise. While China is building a national resource, the US government is letting companies turn the public Internet into an expensive private toll road. This is yet another case of the power shift towards Asia – afterall, Asia has more than 1/3rd of the internet users in the world. With the changing footprints ofinnovation, the future of the net looks interestingly poised.

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Rick Sherlund Logs Off

Courtesy of Vinnie saw this announcement of Rick Sherlund leaving Goldman Sachs. Clearly amongst the most respected and a long time veteran in the financial analyst community with a penchant for deep analysis as can be seen here, it would be a difficult void for GS to fill.. The analyst landscape is certainly changing, as far reaching things are happening in the enterprise software industry. Look at this – even seasoned analysts can get tripped when giant execution machineries fail to click in time. I heard several friends say very good things about him in the recent Enterprise 2006 meet. I hear similar things about him around the world when I talk to industry veterans.Here’s wishing him well in his new endeavors.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Office Live : Pushing The Frontiers

One of the great things about the internet is that it’s a sort of leveler. It does not respect big or small, rich or poor, race, color etc. Besides its such an empowering medium for those who embrace it. Microsoft, generally considered a laggard in embracing the net, has come out with a new service offering.
David Pogue reviews the much talked about Office Live.
Office Live is a suite of services, mostly free, to help the little guy get into the game of online sales and marketing. It’s intended for small businesses, but individuals can use it, too. In Office Live, Microsoft has vaporized a number of obstacles that once stood between tiny start-ups and the big time: the cost and hassle of establishing a proper Web site, the complexity and expense of playing the search-engine ad game, and the headache of maintaining proper books. Office Live is no insane giveaway. The finished Office Live is light-years better than the clunky beta version that Microsoft says 175,000 small businesses have been testing. Microsoft makes no pretense: Office Live is intended to make money. But it will do so very cleverly, sometimes almost invisibly. Microsoft hopes that if it helps your business along enough, you’ll eventually upgrade your free account to one of the more elaborate paid plans. To many analysts, the significance of Office Live isn’t the small-business tools; it’s Microsoft’s big step into the new world of Web-based software. Surely, the gurus say, this is the future of software. Imagine: No viruses! Instant upgrades! Access from any PC in the world!

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Oracle Plans To Buy Stellant : Sensible Move

Oracle plans to acquireStellant.Recently I wrote that more consolidation of ECM space appears plausible – that would be bringing together platform/infrastructure players, portal players, ECM players together. This was written based on Opentext buying Hummingbird and IBM offering to takeover Filenet. When the Filenet news came, I wrote that this is now going to bring into shaper focus the competition between the major players in the ECM/WCM space. Once can expect more action centered on acquisition by the majors – Oracle, HP, EMC & may be Microsoft( actually it has a different approach in terms of the product play than rest of the players – but ironically, in my view, if anybody they must be acquiring the likes of filenet – if not for anything else atleast for the customer base! And gain a firmer foothold). Almost all players in the ECM/WCM space may now be looking at merger/exit strategies that may include the well known players like Vignette, Interwoven, Stellant etc.. besides BEA. John Newton, co-founder of Documentum and the main force behind Alfresco writes on IBM buying Filenet as signifying that consolidation is truly on its way. He also confirms my earlier view that clearly, the reason for these mergers is not for technology, but for market share and customer base. As he sees it with the level of overlapping technology in these systems, the problems inherent in consolidating the repositories must be outweighed by the desire to consolidate customers. This is a sensible acquisition seen from Oracle perspective. They are weak in the content management space While Vignette/Interwoven might have appeared to be more glamorous, this is really good for them. Actually, I see that Oracle is able to improve things when they buy products in spaces where they have not been there. This is quite similar to their Glog or Portal acquisition. Wherever they buy for marketshare - we may have to wait and watch the results. Existing customers of acquired product demand more. Too big a width may affect their bargaining power in large system integration deals - so it may make sense for them not to just roll up and bundle all these new products. After all the customer always want more choices.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Entrepreneurial Mistakes

I was in a conversation with someone known to me working in a different industry – he thought his enterprise had an entrepreneurial streak – while not being skeptical about what he was saying, I told him too often we confuse unstructured and aimless pursuit as entrepreneurial – suddeny he asked me whats the litmus test for measuring that. I pointed him to this small piece by Seth Godin.
1. Expecting gratitude in exchange for having done something that was hard.
2. Spending money as a substitute for doing something great.
3. Not realizing that it's your company, and your marketing better be as good as everything else.
4. Listening to other people. If they're so smart, why aren't they running your company?
I particularly like this one - Don't take a poll. Don't ask your mother-in-law, that's for sure. Cover your downsides, double your desire to take a risk and then just do it.
5. Failure to measure.

Even in large organizations, it makes sense to check on these lines: Are these relevant questions to our own functioning – How do we rate ourselves on all these. Exercises like these assessed in alignment with corporate/divisional objectives are true indicators of the sense of entrepreneurism inside the enterprise. Draw a similar list of questions on innovation. Make an honest try in answering these and you will know where you stand. Read the note at WorkHappy.net: The top five mistakes, entrepreneurs make when they market. Interesting read.

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