At the MetaverseU conference at Stanford University this weekend, Ginsu Soon, VP of Business Affairs at Linden Lab, shared a framework for thinking about the future of virtual worlds. He said that in some ways it’s appropriate to draw an analogy between virtual worlds and the Web and in other ways it’s appropriate to draw an analogy between virtual worlds and the world in general. His main point — and it’s a good one — is don’t mix the two analogies.
Under Six Sigma, companies gradually improve process to enhance the quality of their products. With Social Sigma they use feedback from social networks to improve products.
Two great examples.
1) Credit Mutuel, the second largest retail bank in France, has been drafting its customers into product improvement through a program called, Si j'etais banquier -- "If I was a banker." The bank has recorded more than 50,000 suggestions, e.g., "If I was the banker, I'd explain the fees in clear terms." and recently let customers vote on the top 30.
2) GM's Fast Lane blog carries some amazingly straight-up conversations about GM's cars and trucks. Bob Lutz, the company's chief designer, uses the blog to hear firsthand from customers about design, quality, and product problems.
Product design and R&D will become much more of a continuous conversation -- not a black box, "Here it is!" process. Products will be revised under much tighter schedules, with obvious product errors corrected in new versions.
It’s official, the future of information management and infrastructure is software as a service (SaaS). Today, Dell announced its intent to acquire the powerhouse in email continuity and archiving, MessageOne. This acquisition will give Dell the cornerstone that it needs to build out its own suite of SaaS offerings. Dell clearly didn’t want to be left out of race as it watched Iron Mountain successfully building out its SaaS offerings and watched its competitors and partners complete significant acquisitions in the market including Seagate Services’ acquisition of Evault, EMC’s acquisition of Mozy and IBM’s recent acquisition of Arsenal Digital Solutions. Then there’s Symantec who is building out its Symantec Protection Network.
SDL announced today that it has acquired fellow global information management services vendor Idiom Technologies. Both SDL and Idiom sell software and services to help organizations manage global content. This marks the second significant acquisition for SDL in less than a year; last year SDL got into the Web content management business with its purchase of Tridion.
With Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! joining the OpenID Foundation, we may actually feel that something in federated access management is going to change. It is finally not the case of a vendor proposing a new standard – and adding to the cacophony of federation standards – but a set of moves towards a simple technology that today can alleviate password management woes at service providers.
Technology aside, OpenID will greatly help with reducing and removing the legal obstacles in the way of identity federation’s proliferation. When payment-grade, commercial, and trusted identity provider service becomes a reality – VeriSign’s joining the OpenID camp clearly points in that direction – and software-as-a-service companies (like salesforce.com), accept OpenID authentication from these trusted identity providers, then enterprises can truly start thinking about outsourcing password management identity management processes. When required, strong authentication integration with OpenID can rely on VerSign’s VIP or other vendors’ strong authentication acceptance network.
1) Google gets the best and the brightest from Yahoo. Why? Compensation. Microsoft, in a titanic mistake, eliminated stock options as an employee incentive early in the decade, replacing them with much less lucrative and leveraged restricted stock. If you're a hot programmer at Yahoo, you'll get options at Google -- not at Microsoft. Aside from compensation, Google's culture, speed, lack of bureaucracy, location, lack of legacy will be big attractors of talent.
2) The confusion factor. Microsoft has never acquired or absorbed anything as large as Yahoo -- unlike Cisco it has no culture or processes around large-scale integration. Microsoft's tight programming ethic will be naturally suspicious of Yahoo and its culture of media and advertising. When the inevitable integration plans are drafted, MSN and the search gurus at Microsoft will defend turf. In a market defined by a quick pace, Microsoft will take years to get this integration right.