This blog continues to share ideas and hopes to generate discussion on social business, knowledge management, and emerging technologies. It also increasingly covers my home, New Orleans, my painting, and travels.
Here is another in my series on paintings within paintings as I look up close to see images that are interesting to me within paintings. I am also looking at technique with these images. These images are from the New Orleans Museum of Art located at 1 Collin diboll Circle (504) 658-4100. I took art lessons here are a young kid in the 50s when it was known as the Delgado Museum. The last photo shows the front of the museum.
Here is another in my series on paintings within paintings as I look up close to see images that are interesting to me within paintings. I am also looking at technique with these images. These images are from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. It is located at 925 Camp Street (504) 539-9600. The last two images are from the roof of the museum.
The consumer Web has been a driver of enterprise innovation for some time as I am sure that all of you know from Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0 to BYOD, the list is long. There is another trend is emerging, the app store. We are very used to just going to a consumer web app store and downloading what we want. I did it while I was writing this post.
The post, Time to Open Your Own App Store, covers the trend nicely. It notes that Michael Ni, chief marketing officer for Avangate, a provider of an e-commerce service platform, says solution providers will need to start setting up their own app stores. Many have and I would agree. It is trend I hear about through conversations in the marketplace and it makes sense. Influenced by the success of mobile computing applications, enterprises are asking vendors to deliver applications in a modular and flexible way.
It concludes, “In a world where customers are increasingly starting to mash up applications to create any number of composite applications, the solution provider has to be able provide access to a full range of applications because a lot of customers simply don’t know what they want or need until they see it.”
The world of software is dramatically changing from the openness of social software to the new means to host this software through the cloud, as I mentioned in my last post, to the means to purchase software. The core issue here is that software is becoming more customer centric. In the good days for systems integrators, like several of my former employers, were used to figure a five times software cost for the implementation. Now people expect that number to be closer to zero. Or that implementation provides some value like connecting social software with enterprise apps and not just getting it to work. The world is changing and app stores are part of the new order.
OpDemand is a Colorado-based startup that aims to improve ease of use for cloud developers. They announced General Availability of their cloud infrastructure management platform in April, which allows software development teams to leverage raw cloud infrastructure without being overwhelmed by technical complexity. More recently, they announced an upgrade to the platform that allows developers to collaborate and share management capabilities within the cloud environment.
I spoke with Gabriel Monroy, CTO and Joshua Schnell, CEO to get more details on what they are doing. I discovered right off that they and their third co-founder, Yoni Gorelov, are fellow Tufts graduates. We are just a few years apart. They have picked a robust field, as I see new studies on the growth of the cloud almost daily.
There are several ways to get involved in the cloud from SaaS on one hand, where you turn everything over to a provider to IaaS on the other side where you take a good bit of control and responsibility yourself. With IaaS you still use a cloud service provider like Amazon but you take control over the set up and management. This control offers more flexibility.. However, the responsibility part can be a challenge for many IT shops who do not have the skills to handle it. Gabe saw this first hand at his work and the three of them saw the business opportunity this gap presents. I would certainly agree that this is a smart move and a good place for a startup.
More specifically many IT organizations lack: a repeatable system for provisioning workloads, automated configuration management, tools to overcome cloud complexity, cloud optimized workloads, and processes for fully automated environments. To address these issues, OpDemand provides proprietary orchestration technology that dynamically assembles and disassembles complex infrastructure blue prints. There is also automated configuration management with a simple and intuitive interface. I saw the interface in action and can attest to this.
They showed me how you can set up a Clojure application. With a few clicks it was ready in about 5 minutes. In the pre-cloud days, a similar set up would take 2 – 4 weeks including time to procure hardware. Even in the cloud days, an IaaS implementation without OpDemand would take 1 – 2 days of reading manuals, hoping they are accurate, and a strong set of related skills. OpDemand was so easy even I could do it. You can see the interface below.
There are other significant benefits. They have a Stop button. This feature can be very handy and save a lot of cost as many cloud instances are used to develop and test apps. They do not need to be running all the time racking up service costs. However, the stop and re-start process without OpDemand is so complex that most, if not all, development teams simply leave the service and cost meter running all the time. With OpDemand, you just click the Stop button and it stops. Then you click start and it starts up again. Below you can see a sample screen indicating which apps are running and which have been stopped.
There is also an activity steam, labeled Events, where you can see auto-generated status updates. You can also share environments to facilitate collaborative management among a team of developers. Josh said that sales have grown rapidly since their April launch and I can see why. They question to me for a development team is: why not?
I remain very connected to Darwin Ecosystem and follow their blog. One post offered some advice I wanted to expand on here. Nicholas Herold wrote the post, 8 Qualities of a Successful Competitive Intelligence System. He began by pointing out the fragmented way many organizations go about competitive intelligence. Even need a competitive intelligence system is used there can still be issues of finding the right stuff at the right time and noticing the outliers that are predictors of critical market shifts. Nicholas lists eight qualities that you should look for in a competitive intelligence systems to reduce the risk of missing what is truly important. They are found below with some comments added.
1. Monitor unique topics of interest – you need to be adjust what you are looking and focus in on clearly defined areas to discover what is happening with precision
2. Operate in real time – this is critical, otherwise you will be a follower, rather than a leader.
3. Be independent of sources – you need to be able to pull in multiple sources and not be tied to a few that n might bias what you art e looking at
4. Be human centered (rather than allowing algorithms to determine relevance and importance, the experience and knowledge of the human is utilized),=. This is one of the most important. Tools like Google decide for you what is important and arrange content according to their viewpoint. The person needs to have clear visualization of what is happening so they can scan it and make intelligence decisions on what to drill down on.
5. Eliminate the noise – you need filters to get rid of unrelated content
6. Display emerging patterns – good visualizations of changes in the topics of interest helps you discover trends that may impact your decisions
7. Simplicity – allows for the human to use the tool effectively. Many complex competitive intelligence tools require too much expertise in the tool, putting distance between them and the expert on the content of interest.
8. Speed – this is enabled by both simplicity and real time content aggregation
After exploring ancient Athens (see other posts) I took a cable car to the top of Lycrabettus Hill for sunset. It is the highest hill in Athens with amazing 360 degree views. I watched the sun set over the surrounding mountains and then walked down. Here are the views.
The new Acropolis Museum is very informative with models of how it appeared at different ages. They did two inventive things. You can see through glass floors the old neighborhood underneath the museum site. There are many layers to this city. The top flow is shaped like the Parthenon and has its size. They have placed the remains of the decorative sculptures in the correct position so you can get a sense of scale and placement.
Business Week reported that LinkedIn said posts from Twitter can no longer be displayed on its site, as Twitter is trying to encourage users to visit its own services. I wonder who is next, as Twitter is increasing its focus on getting more users to look at tweets through its own website. This is to boost advertising revenue. Business Week wrote that the company expects to generate at least $1 billion in advertising revenue in 2014.
So I did two things right off. First, I looked at my own Twitter pages and did not see any ads. I wonder why I am so blessed and where this revenue will come from? Second, I checked my Typepad blog and my tweets are still appearing there.
Now when I first saw colleagues using Twitter, I thought it was a waste of time. I compared the firehouse of tweets flowing through their site and wondered if we are we creating a Tower of Babel Babel Babel or can real meaning be covered in 140 characters?
“…his universe consists of an endless expanse of interlocking hexagonal rooms, each of which contains the bare necessities for human survival—and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books is random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just a few basic characters (letters, spaces and punctuation marks). Though the majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for any given text some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of an infinite number of different contents. Despite — indeed, because of — this glut of information, all books are totally useless to the reader, leaving the librarians in a state of suicidal despair. However, Borges speculates on the existence of the “Crimson Hexagon”, containing a book that contains the log of all the other books; the librarian who reads it is akin to God.”
Then I discovered Tweetdeck through some colleagues and it made sense to me. Tweetdeck was like Borges Crimson Hexagon. I could bring meaningful order to the fire hose flow. Twitter was one of the worst interfaces to its one data. Many of these problems remain, although I do go to the Twitter client for some purposes. I am afraid that if they kill off access to the other interfaces that provide order, that Twitter will go back to being a Library of Babel to me. That would be sad as I am a convert and use Twitter a great deal now.
Luis writes, “It's time for social software to begin to discover the path of how it can embed itself into our day to day workflows with much more effectiveness and efficiency, by focusing on those common tasks and activities we keep repeating on a daily basis, but that, in some cases, generate a bunch of business pain points for which social networking tools could be that aspirin to get rid of the headache.” He goes on to add, “empower employees to become smarter at what they already do at work, with perhaps a lot less effort involved altogether!”
I could not agree more. Luis offer a term from Alan - AlanLepofsky - Social Task Management. This is a great concept. I offered a use case for it from the past, Integrating Transactions and Interactions: A Fable, but was not smart enough to call it what it really is as Alan does. Luis adds, “Social Business will become a corporate reality as soon as it starts understanding, and fully embracing, how it needs to mix and mingle with our day to day workload, i.e. tasks and activities.” This is a great job for social media. Luis goes on to articulate this concept with greater depth. I think his post is required reading so I will repeat any more here.
I am now moving to a summer schedule of three posts during the busienss week (Monday, Wednesdasy, and Friday) but will continue the two fun ones on the weekend as it is the summer. I am going to be travelling a lot but will be connencted most of the time.
North Bridge Venture Partners has released the results of its second annual Future of Cloud Computing Survey. The research was supported by 39 industry collaborators, including Scribe Software. The 2012 survey captures current industry perceptions, sentiments and emerging trends in cloud computing. A total of 785 participants, spanning industry experts, users and vendors responded to the survey. This was an increase over the 417 participants in last year’s survey. The majority of respondents were in the C suite, while line of business and IT managers were next in line with about equal rates.
The results indicated that companies are increasing their trust in cloud solutions, with 50 percent of respondents confident that cloud solutions are viable for such mission critical business applications as e-mail and CRM. The top reason for adopting the cloud was scalability, with 57 percent of companies identifying it as the most important driver for cloud adoption. Business agility was ranked second in the drivers for cloud adoption, with 54 percent of respondents focused on agility.
The primary inhibitor to adoption remains security concerns in the growing cloud marketplace with 55 percent of respondents identifying it as a concern. It was followed by regulatory compliance (38%) and vendor lock-in (32%).
The majority of respondents (53 percent) believe that cloud computing provides a lower total cost of ownership and also creates a less complex IT workflow. At the same time, over a third of respondents (38 percent) claim no impact on IT hiring as a result of cloud technologies.
This is part a growing body of research that supports the growth of the cloud. The report concluded that investment is rocking but there is still work to do. There is six times more spending on SaaS as compared to other software.
This post covers some of the other sties besides the Acropolis (see separate post). They include the Roman Agora (market), the ancient Athens Agora, Hadrian’s Arch, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Thession.
I saw the Acropolis first thing before it got too hot. Very impressive but they are doing a lot of work on it. When I first saw it in 1966 there was no renovation going on so it was uncovered. But this is essential work so I am glad they are taking care of it. It still remains impressive. The Parthenon is the centerpiece but they are other beautiful buildings and areas.
The new capability are part what's now called Cisco WebEx® Social (formerly known as Cisco Quad™) and build upon existing offerings that help employees share knowledge, find experts and information and form effective virtual work teams. With this release of WebEx Social, Cisco is introducing the following capabilities:
Cisco now provides integration with WebEx Social and Microsoft Office that enables workers using Word, PowerPoint or Excel to jointly edit and post updated documents, presentations and spreadsheets back to WebEx Social.
Email no longer has to be a siloed application. With enhanced e-mail integration, workers can stay in e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook while also creating and posting updates to WebEx Social.
Cisco is introducing mobility enhancements to the WebEx Social iPhone and iPad client that will give workers the ability to transition from social networking to real-time IM, Web conferencing and voice calls directly from their mobile application.
With new browser-based video calling, people can seamlessly escalate to a high-definition (HD) video conferencing session, without going to a separate application. These sessions are compatible with a wide variety of video endpoints, including Cisco TelePresence®, IP video phones, mobile and soft clients.
They are also offering flexible deployment models: With this release, customers will have a choice of deployment models. WebEx Social is available as an on-premise (WebEx Social Server) offering, partner-hosted (through Logicalis, ACS and Alphawest) and a Cisco-hosted cloud-based solution.
I noted to Raj that while all of these great efficiencies in synchronous and asynchronous communications can lead to tactical improvements, I wanted his views on how they can be used for strategic transformation. He replied with three main themes.
First, one of the major trends is the mobile worker and decentralized, disaggregated enterprise. WebEx Social is designed to support this transformation in how enterprises operate. It enables flexible working and gives the worker access to the company activities and culture with an immediacy of interaction and access as if they were co-located. There is the ability to participate in explicit and implicit communities of interest and practice. Through activity streams, you can subscribe to topics and individuals and gain access to information and expertise. So the first major theme is bringing the organization together virtually where physically it has been dispersed.
The second theme is breaking organizational silos. Many firms are still managing the organization in very hierarchical, siloed information and interaction flow. Hierarchy helps to manage certain business processed but can be a real impediment to the demands of market acceleration and globally engaged work group. Collaboration is a non-linear, iterative, people process. It involves exchange, and worked-empowered course-correction.
Up until recently many software vendors have focused on automation of those repeatable process, HR, ERP, etc, that operate in hierarchies. But now 85-90% of corporate assets are intangible. It is a whole new game. Accelerating innovation is where collaboration can really add value. I added that's kind of productivity on steroids - innovation in the day-to-day work context.
Raj continued that WebEx Social allows you to stay on top of topics and relationships to your day job. It is a mixed model, you have conversations, you check data and are able to reduce the distracting context switching of your modalities.
I agree, and for companies where decisions were made at the lower level of the hierarchies, the higher the operating margin (see McKinsey report 2010). WebEx Social empowers tools actually empower them to do it.
Raj said this is how you flatten the enterprise with collaboration tools like WebEx Social.
The third theme is scaling and capturing knowledge. You can now connect knowledge, scale knowledge beyond old school confined networks and have new people with common interests discover each other and interact. Raj said that now you can more easily create knowledge and knowledge capture is inherent to the collaborative process.
Raj said that the new capabilities are along these 4 vectors:
How do you bring social into the contexts people are working in every day - WebEx Social helps broaden participation by enabling employees working on mobile devices, email and personal productivity applications to easily engage in social collaboration with their colleagues.
How do you maintain and advance your leadership in integration? In addition, flexibility deployment is a hallmark of Cisco's overall collaboration strategy. The tools can used on premise or hosted through partners, or the Cisco hosted cloud.
There is more simplification with a user experience cleanup, streamline, enhanced flow. They are also bringing social to where people work as you can see from the new integrations with tools like Microsoft Office. Now you do not to have to worry about how to get hold of a person, just click to connect by video, telephony and chat.
Raj said that their customers are asking for integrated suites - integrating these workloads - IM, meetings social are all part of a unified offer. This market direction builds on WebEx leadership in meetings business. It is the number two cloud provider for business applications. They understand what it means to run a secure application. There are 6.5 million users that are licensed to host a meeting and 31 million people a month attend a WebEx Meeting. There are also 3 million mobile downloads and I ma sure this is growing.
Raj offered some sample use cases of WebEx Social impacting productivity. One is arming the sales teams. To better collaborate on an RFP. What if you have a complex customer RFP and you are a member of a distributed organization. You have two weeks to prepare a comprehensive response to the customer. In the old days it was fire an email out to 25 people and pray. You had no visibility into what the progress has been made and who's involved, lots of follow up and redundancies.
Now with WebEx Social you can create a post and share it with an initial list of 25 people with the RFP document, maybe a spreadsheet and allow those people to share it with appropriate people, and now you have an activity stream that shows you where it is in the process, new information that's been brought in. You've got transparency, visibility and you've captured all the knowledge that's been involved in the process. You've got a more comprehensive artifact and you can share it with other sales teams.
Raj offered another example - his own staff meeting. He can post the staff meeting agenda. All staff can edit the post and you're not wasting time on disseminating information you're focusing. People do not have to engage in information updates at the start of the meeting and everyone can be up to speed and ready to solve problems at the start.
The world is changing and business tools like WebEx Social enable companies to move towards the promise of the connected enterprise. I like the improvements and the more streamlined market positioning.
They provided a demo, as that is the best way to see how this new functionality works. The desktop sync capability provides the ability to work offline in the Windows desktop environment. Then you can share your work with others as you go back online. You can re-sync whenever you are online. The process can be scheduled by the user in terms of frequency. You can see a desktop sync in action below.
There are three organizing themes: People, Groups and Projects as you can see below.
There is also a drop zone where you can place materials that you want to share and then decide later how you want to share it. I like this feature as I am always thinking of stuff to share but do not want to interrupt the flow of work to do the actual sharing. I also sometimes later decide later how I actually what to share it.
They have also integrated Moxie with Outlook. This is another component of Desktop Sync. It transforms traditional email threads into social discussions in a collaboration platform. Users can create new discussion topics directly from Outlook, or start with an existing email and create a discussion around it. When sending or reading emails, users can also view any recent activities inside Collaboration Spaces of the email recipients, providing up-to-date social context. Users can also post status updates directly from Outlook. You can see a sample screen below.
With this integration you can move emails into Moxie to start a discussion on a collaborative platform much better suited to conversations than the tangled and overlapping email threads that often emerge. You can see below how you can create a discussion in Moxie's Collaboration Spaces directly from Outlook.
I like these two complementary moves. They both provide added flexibility for working with social tools that will certainly increase adoption. They also allow social features to be embedded where real work is done and not be a separate isolated application.
I loved Athens as I stopped here for two nights and a day and a half after spending almost a month on Samos. I titled this post modern Athens as opposed to ancient but I spent most of my time in the older parts of the existing city. It was an unexpected desert at the end of a long time in Samos. The people at my hotel, Acropolis Museum Hotel, are very friendly and want me to tell everyone good things about Athens, as people are afraid to come. I told the receptionist that it reminds me of my hometown New Orleans when people where afraid to go and it needed the tourist revenue. So I said I will write wonderful things on my blog. My coverage is divided into five posts, this one, the Acropolis, the other ancient areas, the new Acropolis Museum, and sunset from Lycabettus Hill. I also got one of the receptionists to show me where not to go on the map. But this is the case in any large city. All of the interesting areas are quite safe and full of people at all hours.
The first afternoon I walked around the Plaka neighborhood with a lot of old buildings and had dinner on a rooftop restaurant with wonderful view of Acropolis at sunset. Then went to a roof top garden restaurant with great live music, Stamatopoulos Old Tavern 26, Lissiou Plaka. I decided to come back there the next night for dinner to hear more music.
The next day between exploring the ancient sites, I had a nice lunch of friend calamari and fried eggplant at a sidewalk café. I also saw some markets in the Monastiraki area and the uniformed band below. After watching sunset on Lycabettus Hill (see separate post), I went to my live music restaurant that had a different but equally good band. They have music every night. I had grilled calamari and zucchini fritters. Another magical night in Athens with sunset on the highest hill and the dinner in roof top garden with live Greek music. I recommend it as a destination city or certainly a place to spend time on the way to or from the Greek islands.
It is the weekend so I am back to my series on Greece. I have covered sections of these two areas in other posts but here are scenes from the areas in between. First, I will start with the North coast where the main road goes along with sea for much of its length. It has great beaches that are often windy and wind surfing championships are held here. On my last afternoon in Samos I had lunch at Avlakia with some friends and you can see it in the last pictures.
Here is the south coast with equally good beaches. It has a more gentle tone. I spent a quiet afternoon at one of them sitting under a tree and reading. The only time I actually read while I was on Samos. There were too many other things to do.
There will be more business posts on Monday July 9 but I am north of San Franciso for my younger daughter's wedding tomorrow. Here are some photos from the cattle country in west Marin County where the ceremony will occur. These photos were taken when we vistied the area in December to scout it out.
Hey - Let's keep the July 4th going through the wwekend. Busines blog posts will start again on Monday July 9. Here are some photos from Tomales Bay north of San Francisco taken in December. It is the land of oysters and crabs. I am back in the area today for my younger daughters wedding beginng with an BBQ at the Hog Island Oyster Company - see below. Tomorow is a dinner at Nick's seen in some of the following pictures.
For all those who celebrate this holiday, here is wishes for a great and safe time. I only hope that our nation gets less dividied and more unitied and that differences can be discussed in rational rather than divisive terms.
Before we bow down too low to our new masters I would say “it depends.” As Don Norman argues in Things That Make Us Smart it is time for us to adopt a more human-centered perspective and to insist that informational technologies enhance and complement human cognitive capacities rather than undermine them.
Harvard historian Niall Ferguson wrote, “It is the unforeseen that causes the greatest disturbance, not the expected.” One of the skills that people have over computers is knowing where to look next and to quickly see anomalies. If you dumb down a task you will likely take away the person’s ability to see the unexpected.
Most external algorithms and machine driven intelligence rely on rules and predetermined taxonomies that can hide the unexpected. People-centric tools can enhance our natural, and perhaps evolutionary, cognitive abilities to notice the unexpected.
IBM’s Watson has demonstrated that you can build a machine to handle some level of cognition. However, this takes considerable effort. Watson was built and trained by a team of experts over a number of years. It uses math algorithms coupled with semantic analysis to allow it to understand a natural language question and determine the probability that its answer is correct.
However, Watson is good for a very specific task and it is not perfect. The years of training may make it better than most, if not all, humans in playing Jeopardy. Although there is a debate as to whether it was really faster reaction times that caused its victory. Regardless, Watson will fail against humans in most of the other tasks we face every day as we just have too much flexibility in our processing power.
We sometimes underestimate our abilities. Recent research by Martin Hilbert (USC) and Priscilla Lopez (Open University of California) noted that all the computers in the world combined have just recently reached the processing capacity of one person. They wrote, "the 6.4*1018 instructions per second that human kind can carry out on its general-purpose computers in 2007 are in the same ballpark area as the maximum number of nerve impulses executed by one human brain per second."
So the issue is not whether computers will outpace people but how the two can work together. Computers are very good at doing boring tedious, repetitive tasks that drive people crazy at a rate and scale far beyond what people can do. This frees people up to do the more complex and interesting tasks.
These are the two largest towns on Samos. Samos is the largest town and main port with a deep natural harbor. You can see it below. I ate a nice lunch of mixed grill fish and eggplant salad at the Garden restaurant that was in the Lonely Planet guidebook. This was the only time I ate at a guidebook place. You can see pictures of it below. I sailed from Samos town to Kusdari Turkey to see Ephesus on the smaller ferry seen below.
Karlovasi has the university and so has a more student orientation. It is also embedded in the more mountainous western part of the island. I spent much more time here as George Mattea and his friends live in this area. I walked around the old town there with George and his girl friend Mytro. Myrto said they build the old town up on the hillside out of sight of the sea so pirates could not see them. The pirates were mostly from Egypt. When a pirate ship was sighted the watches who light fires on the hilltops and then others would do the same warning the villages. The era of the pirates was about 1600 – 1800. We walked from the old town down to the port and had coffee at the port. The flag was at half mast because it was Good Friday.