Monday, November 27, 2006

Web 2.0 @ School (Part 3)

This is my second post on the topic (click here for the earlier one).

I just read Part 3 of the series of articles on how the new web technologies and paradigms are affecting eduction. The article covers: educational blogging, photo sharing, educational podcasting, wikis, video sharing, Web 2.0 courses, School 2.0, and more.

Interesting wiki (supportblogging) introducing students and teachers to blogging for education.

Hope you enjoy reading the blog as much as I did!
Event Management

Just came across a review of eventwax, a free tool to manage event registrations. Will give it a spin when I get a moment. Will love to use it or a competitor (let me know if you know of one) for our CTO Roundtable events.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Example of an Enterprise 2.0 Intranet

I came across this case study of an intranet incorporating Enterprise 2.0 features on Andrew McAfee's blog. We are in the process of developing a plan to start incorporating similar features on our intranet in 2007. I would have loved to get some metrics on the site that Andrew saw.

Interesting excerpt from a comment on the blog:

“To give you some background, what we’re really trying to do is enable four broad types of connections throughout the Intranet (which can be chained to result in specific interaction scenarios):

People -> Content
People -> People
Content -> People
Content -> Content

When people are looking for information, it may be found on a web page, in a blog, on a wiki, in a news article, in a document, in a person’s head, or perhaps within a group of people. The delivery mechanism or medium often doesn’t matter. We want to get that information to people as fast as possible so they can perform their work.

Sometimes this involves actually finding people (subject-matter experts, or “go to” people based on role or responsibility) that can help by either consulting on a problem, attending a customer visit, presenting to a customer, etc. In other words, you’re not looking for the information in a person’s head, but actual participation from that individual.

We see tagging as a potential connecting mechanism that could enable these interactions seamlessly throughout the Intranet.”

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Enterprise 2.0 (What is it?)

Came across a very interesting announcement from Intel - SuiteTwo (Enterprise 2.0 suite powered by Intel). I feel that this package has sufficient functionality to install as Phase I of Web 2.0 applications within the Enterprise.

Leading thinkers in this space have come up with the SLATES (Search | Links | Authorship | Tags | Extensions | Signals) paradigm to describe the functionality that forms the core of this suite. In Dion Hinchcliffe's words:

"SLATES describes the combined use of effective enterprise search and discovery, using links to connect information together into a meaningful information ecosystem using the model of the Web, providing low-barrier social tools for public authorship of enterprise content, tags to let users create emergent organizational structure, extensions to spontaneously provide intelligent content suggestions similar to Amazon's recommendation system, and signals to let users know when enterprise information they care about has been published or updated, such as when a corporate RSS feed of interest changes."

We will look at this suite and evaluate inclusion in our corporate portal.

My favourite blogs on the topic:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I just saw this post by Thomas Hawk on cool calendar mashups with 30 boxes:
Yo, Yo, Yo, Check This Out, 30 Boxes Builds a Kick Ass Calendar Mash Up Machine

The ease of use is incredible. It took me 30 seconds to mashup my blog on to a calendar: check it out!
Click here to make your own.
Beyond RSS - Widgets

I am a huge fan of consumer home pages - netvibes, google personalized homepage,, pageflakes, etc. The products currently have very similar functionality: the user can configure a set of Tabs with multiple feeds (each in a separate box) on a each tab. Users get to consolidate information from multiple sources on a single home page. Several of the media sites have started offering similar functionality on their My______ pages. I saw WSJ launch theirs today. My home page is on netvibes and I have approximately 50 feeds setup on 5 tabs.

These products started out as web-based RSS readers, which is how I have mine setup. However, the technology has been evolving at a very fast pace and all products now allow you to include widgets on the Tabs.

Suddenly, widgets are everywhere - mac os supports widgets, vista supports widgets, you can chose from a plethora of widgets to enhance your blog. There was even a conference in the valley called WidgetsLive. I love the pace at which technology evolves.

Yesterday, I spoke with the executive team at Clearspring - they help customers create and syndicate widgets. The best way to describe them is Feedburner for Widgets. Over the next 6 months my web home page will be a "bag of widgets". This is very exciting, especially for a media company, as the content owner gets to control the look and feel of the widget on the user's home page and also, get traffic information for the widget.

You might want to check out the news on the BBC Backstage widget competition held recently. Here is a link to the cool winning entry: BBC World News Widget.

It will soon be a widget widget world!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Meg Whitman

Meg (CEO of ebay) made a presentation on her company during a reception hosted by Sierra Ventures in Palo Alto. She has a very different background and style as compared to Eric Schmidt of Google. Eric is a technologist (XerocParc, Sun, Novell) and Meg a marketer (Hasbro, FTD).

About ebay (the auction site):
Meg presented some very impressive statistics about the site that I did not capture (hopefully I will get a copy of the presentation and will post a summary of the stats).

One of ebay's key challenge is to get employees to remember that the customer is the buyer and not the seller. It is easy to forget this because the mostly hears from the sellers. It is very easy for them to prioritize the needs of the seller over the buyer.

This was the acquisition made by ebay when they realized that PayPal had quietly become the wallet on ebay. It was clear that ebay needed to own Paypal. However, it took them a long time to acquire - after intially refusing to buy for 500 mil, they finally bought it for $1.5 bn. Interesting fact: at any given time PayPal has $2 bn in customer accounts.

One of the largest telcos in the world: they currently carry 7% of world's long distance voice traffic. The engineering team is based in Estonia (Meg had great things to say about the tech talent available in that country) with some PhDs drawn from Finland. Their current focus is to deliver Skype on mobile phones.

Meg's biggest mistake
Contrary to he instinct, she did not replace the head of technology immediately after her start at ebay. There was a complete site meltdown (22 hours) when he took his first vacation. It delayed ebay's launch in Japan and Yahoo is now runs the largest auction site in that country.

Driving Innovation
Med does not believe that disruptive innovation like PayPal and Skype will come from within ebay. On the one hand, I am surprised that they are unable to put together a team that can drive innovation. On the other, I am impressed that Meg would publicly admit the same.

All in all, a very interesting presentation and discussion.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Eric Schmidt

I attended the first CIO conference hosted by Sierra Ventures and had the pleasure of participating in a Q&A session with Eric, CEO of Google.

Eric kicked off the discussion by sharing his disappointment in the lack of sufficient media coverage on the fundamental shift that is currently underway in technology. The current move of putting data and applications in the cloud can best be compared with the shift from a centralized mainframe environment to a desktop PC environment. He encouraged everyone in the room to go out and by a $500 PC and see for ourselves how little additional software you need to be productive. Accepting that the key issue is that the paradigm does not support disconnected computing, Eric feels that this trend will only strengthen in the near future.

Answering to a question on how Writely fits in their strategy and how they expect to monetize the investment, Eric indicated that their main expectation from Writely is to better know their customer. His comment reminded me that everything I write in my blog is being stored by Google to get them to know me better. I will love to see my electronic picture in Google's eyes,

Here is a summary of the Q&A session:

Q: What is the future of search?
A: The key lies in knowing more about the customer to be able to pick the search result he or she expected from a search. For example, a user searching for "hot dog" could be looking for food stands in the neighbourhood or help for an uncomfortable dog on a beach in Florida.

Q: What do you think of the microsoft / novell partnership?
Historically, all partnerships with Microsoft fail. However, there is always a potential for a first.

Q: How will linux evolution be affected by the focus from oracle and microsoft?
The linux community is very resilient and will find a way to continue to thrive.

Q: How do you keep the Google front page clean and simple and handle requests for using the real estate?
A: Say No!

Q: On YouTube acquisition
A: Will know after the deal closes next week. YouTube was bought for two reasons - video is the next frontier and they attract a lot of eyeballs.

Q (I asked): how do you balance the fierce independence and aversion to control amongst the young employees and the compliance requirements for better controls?
A: Believes that the core principles of freedom that the county is built on will eventually roll back the efforts to assert controls.

These are all the questions I remember. I enjoyed the discussion in a small town hall format very much. Thanks to Sierra Ventures.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mobile Advertising
Just read a very interesting article on advertising on mobile devices. I know, even the thought of getting ads on my cell phone sends shivers down my spine. However, mobile technologies will continue to invade our private lives over the next several years ... you can run but you can't hide.

The primary reason that mobile advertising promises to become a significant ad market is that the mobile operators have a lot of relevant information about the consumer to target ads very accurately: location, personal information (gender, age, etc.), income.

In addition to the ability to providing web links, mobile ads provide an extremely simple call-back features. This alone can significantly drive up response rates.

Finally, imagine how presence information can be leveraged to send advertisements when you are actually using your device.

I just hope that providers will internalize the concepts of "Permission Marketing"!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Navigating Applications in the future using Search
Oracle talked about their new Enterprise Search product at Oracle World and talked about the potential of using search as the primary tool to navigate through data and transactions. Search and e-mail alerts (for routing workflow action items) have the potential of being the navigation interfaces to the applications of the future. This paradigm is clearly portable to the tiny screens of mobile devices.

Let us fast forward to 2008 and look at a use case - Hiring a new employee:
  • Jane, the hiring manager, logs on to the corporate portal using the biometric interface on her mobile device. A search box is presented with 5 links to the most recent searches.
  • She searches for "Hire New Employee"
  • Based on the policies of the department and her profile and access levels, the portal invokes the HR application and presents the "Hire" page with the 5 requisitions that she is allowed to fill
  • She selects a requisition and searches for the candidate she wishes to hire. Jane picks the candidate from the results and initiates the appropriate workflow for the transaction.
  • The system triggers the appropriate workflow and communicates with the candidate, Jane's supervisor and the department's HR personnel via e-mail to get the transaction completed
I think Search is key to enabling enterprise applications on a small screen mobile device!