Social Networks: Good Or Evil?

Nigel Fenwick

As we witness truly historic events in the Middle East brought about in part by citizens empowered by social networks, we are also seeing disturbing trends that may yet result in social networks becoming a force for evil. 

A client recently pointed out how timely this sentence was from my recent report on social innovation networks:

“Even state and local government services are not immune as disgruntled citizens quickly assemble and make their voices heard, potentially to the point of toppling unpopular leaders.”

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SlideShare Brings Another Collaboration Tool To The Consumerization Of IT Party

TJ Keitt

Today, the popular online content-sharing site SlideShare released an audio/video/web conferencing solution called Zipcast. At face value, this is yet another entry into an already crowded web conferencing market. What makes this different is SlideShare is home to the sales and marketing presentations of 45 million users. This makes Zipcast a natural extension of that content store, allowing SlideShare clients to hold inexpensive webinars for prospects. SlideShare's offering is compelling:

  • It has a good set of features. Zipcast provides many of the presentation tools sales and marketing pros expect when hosting a webinar. There's streaming audio and streaming video of the presenter. Slides can be pushed to the attendees and -- in a nice twist that stays true to their roots -- said attendees can advance slides independent of the presenter.
  • It's inexpensively priced.  Zipcast is available to SlideShare Basic (free) and SlideShare Pro customers at no extra cost. Pro customers get added benefits, such as an option to host password-protected meetings and use an audio bridge from FreeConferenceCall.com. Considering Pro licenses start at $19/month, this severely undercuts WebEx and GoToMeeting pricing.
  • It's optimized for the Splinternet. If you've been following the work of my colleague Josh Bernoff, you know that when we refer to the "Splinternet," we're talking about the Internet's fragmentation thanks to mobile devices, social networks and password protection. To deal with this, Zipcast is an HTML5 application that also runs as Flash for browsers not currently supporting that standard. And to allow for quick access to meetings, people can enter through a SlideShare profile or with Facebook Connect.
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Looking At The Nokia Microsoft Deal From The Mobile Apps Perspective

John McCarthy

Today’s deal between Microsoft and Nokia acts as a temporary lifeline for both companies. It gives Microsoft access to the largest handset provider, and it allows Nokia to defray some of its operating system development costs. I have just finished a report, “Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software And Services Landscape,” that will hit the Forrester site on Monday, February 28.

In the report, Forrester states, “The explosion of app innovation that started on the iPhone and then spread to Android devices and tablets will continue to drive tech industry innovation and have far-reaching pricing and go-to-market implications for the industry. Three different vectors of innovation that have been percolating under the surface will combine over the next 3-5 years. Mobile, cloud, and smart computing together will foster a new set of 'intelligence everywhere' apps.”

And based on that research, I believe that deal does not address the biggest issue for both companies – attracting apps and app developers. For Nokia, it now sends the message that Symbian and MeeGo platforms are no longer the long-term app focus. For Microsoft, it creates an eight-to-twelve month void/pause as developers wait to see what the new Nokia hardware looks like.

At the current rate that Apple and Android are recruiting third-party and enterprise app developers, this could mean a gap of 100,000-200,000 applications by the time the first Nokia Windows Phone device ships. This is likely a lead that even the combined resources of Microsoft and Nokia could not bridge.

Windows Phone 7 Is Invited To The Mobile Dance By Nokia

Ted Schadler

Make no mistake about Nokia's global power. They are still the dominant handset maker globally. But Nokia somehow missed the shift to the handheld computers we call smartphones and tablets.

Make no mistake about Microsoft's tenacity. They will drop a cool billion to enter a market. But they have tried and tried and tried again to build an operating system that can work on the handheld computes we call smartphones and tablets.

Well, Windows Phone 7 (now where did the "7" come from?) is a good mobile OS, at least on smartphones. No idea whether it will work on tablets. (We know Windows 7 itself won't.)

And Nokia's smartphone platforms like the E7 are a decent piece of hardware.

Now that these two megaliths are partnering up, Microsoft's mobile OS has a chance for relevance. I and my colleagues have predicted and urged you, our enterprise customers, to focus on three mobile platforms: Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and RIM's QNX. Well, it's time to take a flier on Microsoft as well.

It's way too early to tell if this partnership will be successful or if anybody, particularly your US and European employees, will care about Nokia smartphones or tablets running Windows Phone 7. But if they nail the product experience. If they sign up the carriers. If they quickly roll out a good, competitively-priced tablet running the same Windows Phone OS. If they port Word and PowerPoint and OneNote and Excel and SharePoint Workspace to that tablet and phones. If they attract ISVs. If they attract independent developers. If they build a decent app store. If they sign up the mobile device management vendors. If they execute brilliantly. Then they could be relevant.

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How Autodesk Tackles The Next Frontier Of IT-For-Green

Chris Mines
How Autodesk Tackles the Next Frontier of IT-for-Green
My travels last month took me back to the Bay Area for client meetings and a chance to spend some time at the Autodesk Gallery, a very cool space near the ferry building in San Francisco. Autodesk uses it to show off its customers' design innovations, not coincidentally created using the company's design software. The event in January showcased how customers are using Autodesk visualization software to improve the sustainability of their product designs and implementations. This is tackling sustainability right at its core: making products that are more energy- and resource-efficient, easier to manufacture, easier to reuse and recycle, right from the start. The products we saw at the event included:
  • A new research facility at NASA Ames down the peninsula. This super-green building is aimed at "beyond" LEED Platinum standards, incorporating a variety of innovative design and engineering elements all captured in building information modeling (BIM) software. The Feds will use it as a laboratory for energy efficient buildings, spreading its best practices and learnings across the broad portfolio of US government buildings and research facilities. NASA is also working to make the design blueprint a working model for efficient ongoing operation of the building.
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HP Synergy, Not WebOS, Is What Will Differentiate HP

Frank Gillett

 Today, I attended the HP webOS event at the Fort Mason Center, San Francisco. My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps is writing about the TouchPad, but I’m more interested in where HP takes webOS and how it relates to the Personal Cloud idea I first published more than a year ago.

 I'm interested in where HP will take webOS — HP won't stick to just consumer markets, and it won't just build smartphones and tablets. Todd Bradley, HP’s EVP for Personal Systems Group, announced that HP will put webOS on PCs and printers before the end of the year.

 Two strategic things that I think HP will do: 

  • Put webOS on business PCs, not just consumer PCs. HP has long wanted more control and differentiation than they can get just putting a UI layer on Windows. HP will create conventional PCs with webOS, to stretch the webOS into the core personal devices market. That creates a much larger market for developers, which is vital to succeeding with a new OS. At the event, HP’s Steven McArthur, SVP Applications and Services, said HP plans to "build the largest installed base of connected devices in the world." 
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Why Do IT Roles Fail?

Marc Cecere

I’ve been researching why IT roles fail (or at least struggle mightily and often futily). The roles that come up most often are the ones that are not directly building or maintaining systems. These include architecture, planning, vendor management, relationship management, PMO, and security. As I’ve collected this information, there are themes emerging to explain why they fail. These include:

  • Wrong skills. An architect was told to define the standards for data tools but lacked the skills to convince others they should care.
  • Inadequate capacity. Relationship managers at a midsized firm were sold as strategic partners to business leaders but were also required to run large apps groups that had recently suffered layoffs. They just didn’t have time for the strategic bit.
  • Lack of support. The leader of vendor management was supposed to provide advice and oversight on which vendors were selected, but the CIO did little to rein in other managers who previously had bought what they wanted from who they wanted.
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"Day One" For IBM's Social Business Strategy: It's Business In The Empowered Era

Ted Schadler

I just got back from Lotusphere after waiting out the sixth blizzard of this "snowmaggedon" Boston winter. The venerable Notes developer and administrator conference received an injection of business relevance on Monday when Lotus GM Alistair Rennie announced IBM's Social Business strategy. The conference motto was "Get Social. Do Business." In a private conversation, Rennie called Monday "day one" for social business.

The importance of Rennie's announcement was reinforced by the IBM brand presence and by presentations from IBM senior vice president Mike Rhodin and IBM senior vice president of marketing and communications, Jon Iwata. I believe that for IBM, social business is a strategy on par with its e-business strategy in importance and transformational potential. This will be clearer to everybody once IBM's advertising and product engines get cranking.

As for us, well, we're an easy sell on the strategy's transformational potential because what IBM calls social business, we call Empowered, and we wrote a book about it. Here are some charts to help make the connections clear.

The first picture is a diagram that captures the technology dynamic of the empowered era and indicates the organizational response that will be required. In a nutshell, companies will need to respond to the demands and expectations of empowered customers by:

  • Empowering employees to respond to the needs of empowered customers. (This is what our book Empowered is about.)
  • Listening to the market conversation using social listening platforms. (That's the subject of our book, Groundswell.)
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Sputnik Moments Drive Education Investment: Good News for Tech Vendors

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

“Winning the Future” was the theme of the recent US State of the Union address.  With the global economy and new education performance rankings as our “sputnik moment,” the president urged Congress to invest in the future – and in education.  As put it in the speech,

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success.  But if we want to win the future -– if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas -– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

So what exactly was the sputnik moment, or one of them?  In the recently released OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, the US didn’t do so well.  US students were average performers in reading (rank 14 in OECD) and science (rank 17) but well the below the OECD average in mathematics (rank 25).  The new top fliers in the PISA study are: Shanghai, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

According to the OECD report,

Education is the single most critical investment to raise the long-run growth potential of countries. In the global economy, the performance of education systems is the yardstick for success, particularly in light of the fundamental technological and demographic challenges that are re-shaping our economies.

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Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Inclusion... and Education helps get there from Davos 2011

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

If you haven’t read George’s notes from Davos 2011 yet, definitely take a look.  I too have been thinking about the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos  – but not attending… maybe someday…

Education has been top of mind for me lately with my upcoming report scheduled to launch this week (stay tuned).  So, as I looked through the notes and quotes from the meeting I was heartened to see that education was top of mind there as well.  Education and education reform certainly peppered the program, part of sessions on everything from new realities and inclusive growth, to women and society, national innovation, the net generation, cancer, regional development, cloud economics , entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and the ageing workforce.

Some of the questions addressed – and to which education and investment in education in particular was often a solution – included:

  • If structural change is a new reality, then what major adjustments should leaders prepare for, and how?
  • How can educating and empowering girls and women impact the acute challenges facing the world?
  • How are national innovation systems created and maintained?
  • In the digital era, how is the "net generation" workforce reshaping the future of business?
  • What innovations, if scaled or replicated, would enable the Middle East to achieve its geopolitical, economic and social aspirations for the future?
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