Sun Learning Exchange: Indeed, What If Work Meant Community?

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

In early June, Sun Microsystems announced the Sun Learning Exchange. This is a commercial offering that borrows directly from Sun's own experiments, experience, and expositions on learning. We've written about this in a Forrester report: Tap The Potential Of "YouTube For The Enterprise," and now it's available to others.

Sun's CTO of Learning, Charles Beckham, has tapped his experience as a Java entrepreneur (he was part of the team that built one of the first J2EE application servers, NetDynamics) and bent it to the challenges of on-the-job learning. In an interview with Charles last fall, we came away convinced that his just-enough, wisdom of the crowds, power of video approach to learning was important.

 

Three things anchor the Sun Learning Exchange:

  1. The power of all employee-generated media, including video, audio, and blogs.
  2. A learning platform that is minimally invasive and maximally open to social contribution.
  3. A metric on social contributions to drive participation.
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Google Wave: Surfing The Future Of Collaboration

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Google is a remarkable company. Need proof? Just consider how reliant we are on Google Maps to find our way around the world. That didn't happen by accident. It happened because Google empowered a couple of brothers, Lars and Jens Rasmussen, to open up the developer APIs to the mapping engine.

These same two brothers announced yesterday at Google I/O developer conference a new technology for communication and collaboration. This new collaboration engine unites email, instant messaging, blogs, wikis into a single hosted conversation. Check out the demo here and the announcement here.

These conversations or "Waves" take place inside Safari, Firefox, or Chrome and look like email on steroids. (Lars said that they took the 40-year old model of email and redesigned it for today's Web-based world.) But it's way more than that. With Google Wave, Google has:

  • Opened a new path to reinvent how we collaborate. You have to see it to understand, but why would you need four products when one Wave will do? It's a new conversational metaphor that will also easily support document-based collaboration.

  • Put the code base into open source to attract investment. Google will attract the best and brightest developers and development with this move.

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Exchange 2010: Tier Your Workforce, Split Your Domain, Save Money

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Microsoft today announced the public beta of Exchange 2010. This product is a natural extension and improvement over Exchange 2007 (and anybody on Exchange 2003 should really be looking at it), but it also introduces at least one important new capability: email archiving.

But I'll let my colleagues explain that in more detail. I want to focus today on one aspect of Exchange 2010 that should matter to information and knowledge management professionals at large firms: saving money by moving occasional users to the cloud.

Microsoft's Software + Service strategy has rapidly matured and is native to Exchange 2010. This architecture of a single environment that spans on-premise and cloud-based gives large firms an opportunity to leave some mailboxes on-premise and host others in the cloud to save money without incurring admin hassles.

Exchange 2010 is the first product that Microsoft has engineered to run as well in the cloud as on-premise. That means it will be easier to split your domain and run a single managed environment (meaning one admin console, one archiving management tool set, one legal hold implementation, one message filtering solution) across an on-premise and cloud-based implementation.

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Hello People, BlackBerry Is The Killer Enterprise Device Today

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Sigh. I guess it was to be expected, but the Apple opinionsphere has been overstating the case for iPhone. Based on the careful research that we did, we do think that iPhone is ready for the enterprise to consider. But that doesn't mean other mobile devices aren't more enterprise-worthy.

And if you you think iPhone case studies are falling out of the trees like acorns in autumn, trust me -- they'renot. It was hard to find three companies willing to talk opening about their iPhone experiences. In fact, it took me almost six months to find those brave souls.

So, let's be clear:

BlackBerry is the dominant mobile device for the enterprise in the US and will be for the foreseeable future. In fact, I wrote about BlackBerry's mobile collaboration platformlast fall. BlackBerry is a great platform for mobile collaboration because of its security, network, manageability, form factor choice, global carrier support, ISV experience, and superior messaging capabilities.

We hear from many Forrester clients that they would have to pry BlackBerrys out of the "cold dead fingers" of their employees. That says something about how important that device is to productivity.

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Making iPhone Work In The Enterprise

by Ted Schadler

If you had asked me three years ago whether the mobile industry would become a free-for-all of innovation and opportunity, I would have been forced to sigh and say, "can't see how -- the carriers don't seem interested in unlocking that potential."

I would certainly have been wrong as Apple has so impressively shown with its iPhone strategy (with first AT&T's and now 100s of carrier's support).

After 21 months in market, it's quite clear that Apple is redefining its third industry: first the computer industry, next the music industry, and now the mobile industry. With 25,000 applications (yes, mostly consumer applications today) available on Apple's private store and a reported 800,000,000 downloads, the iPhone has become a new platform for innovation.

At least one major enterprise vendor -- Cisco -- now treats the iPhone ahead of BlackBerry devices as a tier one device, at least as demonstrated by its WebEx and Cisco Call Manager applications.

But enterprises have been slow to adopt the product because of legitimate security and manageability concerns. Perhaps no longer. We found three enterprises willing to talk about their support of iPhone:

  1. Kraft Foods uses iPhone support to signal new suipport for employee culture change. Adding 400 more iPhones a month, on track for 4,000 iPhones by year end.

  2. Oracle Corporation responds to employee demand for iPhones. 4,000 iPhones globally and counting.

  3. An IT senior director at a California-based pharmaceutical company makes iPhone a priority. January 2009 launch, adding 100+ iPhones a month.

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Cisco's Flip Kick Into Video Authoring: It's The Bits, Folks

Ted-Schadlerby Ted Schadler

It wasn't a surprise to see networking expansionist Cisco buying Flip, the popular video camcorder (though the price tag was steep especially given Cisco's recent stock decline). The logic is simple:

  • Cisco sells networking gear.

  • It needs customers to want to buy more gear.

  • Video generates 10 or 1,000 times the bandwidth needs as anything else.

  • Anything that generates video bits will fuel Cisco's growth.

  • Flip makes a product that has captivated on people's fascination with video storytelling.

  • Cisco buys Pure Digital for its Flip and consumer brand. QED.

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The Web At 20: What It Means For Collaboration

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

A wander through history today with apologies to those looking for punchy bullets.

The Web turns 20 today. Frickin' amazing if you ask me. My 10-year old wonders out loud what we all did before the Internet (by which he means the browser-based world of Club Penguin, Google, Yahoo!, and YouTube). And for the life of me, I can't remember, either.

How did we collaborate? Well, I remember that I wrote lots of letters to friends to stay in touch and was thrilled when someone wrote back (it was too expensive to make long-distance phone calls). My 7th grade buddies and I also wrote away to Pennzoil and STP to ask for stickers to put on our notebooks. I also spent a lot of time in the library (any library anywhere) and in book stores looking for books, magazines, research papers, whatever.

And for sharing information? Copies, copies, copies. I was an early and big fan of the mimeograph machine, stinky beast though it was. We used to sneak into the Physics office in college to get extra blanks in case we messed up when making copies for a seminar. And you had to get there early on seminar day to command a slot in the mimeograph line. (It was a blessed breakthrough when the Xerox machine was installed -- and only a dime a copy!)

And for creating, editing, co-authoring? It was typewriters, paper, and purple pens, folks. And pen and ink for graphics. Ugly stuff, but amazingly it worked. It took days or weeks do a turnaround, though.

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Telecommuting Will Rise To Include 43% Of US Workers By 2016

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

It was shocking to me anyway that we already have 34 million Americans working at least occasionally from home today. And that's with broadband to only 56% of US homes. But that's what the data say. And with our Consumer Technographics survey of 61,033 US and Canadian consumers, you can be confident that the numbers are accurate.

But it's even more surprising to run the numbers forward to 2016 and see how many Americans will work from home then: 63 million! We just published our US Telecommuting forecast that shows how an additional 29 million telecommuters will enter the remote workforce. What's going on?

  • First, broadband pipes to the home, work laptops, and secure VPNs bring the tools that most information workers need right to the kitchen table or bedroom office. And collaboration tools like instant messaging, Web conferencing, team sites, and desktop video conferencing make it ever-easier to stay in touch and contribute to the project.
  • Second, employees rightfully point out that they will save time in commuting and can get more done for their employers with that time. The benefits of work flexibility and leaving gas in the tank are also real.
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Google Tests An Offline Email Client

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

This has been long rumored by Google Apps watchers, but we get confirmation today: Google is testing an offline email client. This is a Google Gmail Labs feature, which means that it's really test code for the brave. In fact, the Gmail Labs site helpfully warns that "there's an escape hatch" if a feature breaks.

That said, this is a big deal for Google. (Caveat: I haven't tested it yet, so I'll have to report back once I do). Here's what it means:

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Google Apps Shows Some Commercial Clout With A Reseller Program

Tedschadler by Ted Schadler

I spoke recently with Stephen Cho, the product manager for the new Google Apps Reseller Program. It's quite clear that Google has learned from its Postini reseller program, from partners like Appirio and Cap Gemini, and from Microsoft's Exchange Online reseller program.

First, the details:

  • Resellers own the customer. That means billing, first line support, the works.This is in distinct contrast to Microsoft's program for Exchange Online, where partners can sell and benefit from the business, but the Exchange customer would write checks to Redmond.
  • Resellers get 20% margin. That's in the US, anyway. That means $10/user/year. Period. Have you ever seen such price transparency (and low points) in any reseller program? I haven't. The entire term sheet would fit on a 1/3rd of a page.
  • Enterprises can't be their own reseller. They have to sell to at least someone other than themselves. Otherwise, this would be a simple way for a enterprise to whack 20% off the already low $50/user/year cost.
  • Google will provide technical admin support if requested. They won't provide end user support. though. That's one of the value-added services that a VAR can provide.
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