Jabber as IM standard?

From News.com: “Jabber, the XML-based instant messaging application that interoperates with multiple IM services, is close to winning approval for its own dedicated working group within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a development that would elevate the technology from one of many competing IM also-rans to that of a potential industry standard.”

Airports, Roads and Malls

In my globe-trotting, I have come to the following conclusion: the three things that an emerging market needs to get recgonised as an interesting destination for tourists and investment are good Airports, good Roads and Malls. Airports and Roads are obvious. Airports seem as the entry point and the first impression of a country. Roads – who wants bumpy rides? Also, the lack of good roads can make one think: “what kind of a country is this if they cannot even build proper roads”. Malls is perhaps the surprise in the triad – I think seeing Malls with global brands gives one the confidence that the city/country has been “ratified” by the world’s majors, so it makes one feel that much more comfortable.

Bangkok, China, Beijing have all three. None of the Indian cities have any of the above. That is one (simplistic) explanation of why China gets the FDI and India doesn’t.

Weblog + Browser

Writes John Robb: “A weblog tool is the natural next step in the evolution of the browser. A weblog tool shouldn’t be something that is located on a remote website or server. Rather, it’s what needs to happen to the browser in order to reach the Web’s next level. The browser needs intelligence. It needs two-way publishing capability. It needs to allow you to subscribe to news from updated sites and allow you to share files and collaborative content directly with others. Only then will the browser live up to its potential.”

A comment from Rahul Dave in one of the comments:

A very simple way of achieving this: Use mozilla’s XUL. If I had a week of complete freedom to do this, I could put a great interface on Radio’s aggregator, with wysiwyg editor, and as mentioned rarlier, presence based and non prescence based im, using jabberzilla and tcp.im.

Check these screenshots of the oeone linux desktop to see whats possible with mozilla based development these days.

This may be useful for Rajesh too, its an open-source desktop, and has a built in application api in javascript. Mozilla can also spean xmlhttprequest(from the ie world), xmlrpc, soap, and jabber, and there is available a mechanism to add additional protocols as shared libraries using protozilla(protozilla.mozdev.org), which has been used for example to add freenet and named pipe support…

XUL is an XML dialect. Functionality is built in javascript with the ability to talk to components written in python, ruby, java, c++, and javascript itself.

Need to understand this more. I like the basic concept: browser and blogging tool integration using Mozilla.

Connecting Employees

Writes John Robb: “The only good way to connect employee is through a combination of K-Logs, digital dashboards, and composite web apps (all using Web Services behind the scenes). It’s inexpensive, flexible, and able to scale to handle the most complex business needs.” This is an alternative to all the expensive enterprise software apps that companies are doing their best to spend their money on! We have to make it happen.

DVD’s Success

From the NYTimes, a quote from Warren Lieberfarb, president of Warner Home Video: “[The DVD player] is the most successful home entertainment device in history. In five years, it has gone from zero to 30 million households, and a quarter of those have more than one DVD player. Nothing else has come close to doing that in such a short time, not CD’s, not VCR’s, not personal computers, not even television itself.”

Sun, Java and Linux

Sun bets its future on Java is the contention of David Berlind of ZDnet:

Contrary to popular belief, Sun’s recently announced forays into desktop and server-based Linux are not all about belatedly jumping on the same bandwagon as most of its competition (including IBM, HP, Dell, and Intel). Instead, the move is all about placing the biggest bet in Sun’s history.

I’ve repeatedly maintained in this column that processing power–a.k.a. MIPS–is a commodity. For all but the most finicky of technology buyers, the difference between SPARC and the Intel architecture (IA) is now, more than ever, about price. It’s a war Sun cannot win.

The latest idea is to break with the Sun tradition that has long exalted Solaris/SPARC as the ruling technology and replace it with the heir to that throne: Java.

The Java ecosystem may be Sun’s best and most natural bet….Java may already have ten times more developers than Solaris. Despite Microsoft’s recent decision to stop bundling the virtual machine with Windows, Java has a volume rivaled only by Windows. And the Java applications base is rising rapidly.

But it’s also the stool’s weakest leg. For Java to succeed Solaris/SPARC in the Sun kingdom, Sun had to concede that Solaris and SPARC are commodities. That would clear the way for Intel and Linux support, both of which Rob Gingell (of Sun) also sees as commodities, and both of which are already a part of the Java ecosystem. In fact, given Java’s independence from the operating system and hardware layers, Intel’s and Linux’s volume make them more important drivers of the Java ecosystem than either Solaris or SPARC will ever be.

TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: Marching Ahead

The ultimate battlefield is the marketplace. And as we march ahead to do battle, let us keep these words from Michael Porter in mind (Financial Times interview with Rod Newing, June 5, 2002):

If theres anything new about this era, its that competition is increasingly global with more ideas, skills and knowledge-intensity. With the Net, a new way of conducting business is available, but it doesnt change the laws of business or most of what creates a competitive advantage. The fundamentals of competition remain unchanged.

It is important to be operationally efficient to be competitive, but its not enough. There is a crying need for a distinctive strategyFundamental to the success of any company and any effort to develop strategy is having a proper goal for business clearly in mind. This is to create economic value by selling a product at a price that is greater than the cost of producing it. The best way to measure economic value is a superior return on capital employed.

This series (my longest, stretching over 5 weeks and 34 columns) has been about technologys 10X forces which are impacting us, and how we can think about them as windows to new worlds. In whatever we are doing, technology can make a big difference. By understanding the underlying forces at work, we can build a mental map of the present and future world. This will help us to better leverage technologys 10X tsunamis. Every wave brings destruction of the old order and opportunities to shape the new.

Id like to end with these words by Indias new President APJ Abdul Kalam (from his new book Ignited Minds):

[I want] my young readers to hear a voice that says, Start Moving. Leadership must lead us to prosperity. Young Indians with constructive ideas should not have to see them wither in the long wait for approval. They have to rise above norms which are meant to keep them timid in the name of safety and to discourage entrepreneurship in the name of trade regimes, organizational order and group. As it is said, Thinking is Capital, Enterprise is the way, Hard Work is the solution.

Every nation has struggled to achieve its goals. Generations have given their best to make life better for their offspring. There is nothing mysterious, or hidden about this, no alternative to effort. And yet, we fail to follow the winning trackI believe that when we believe in our goals, that what we dream of can become reality, results will begin to follow. Ignited Minds is about developing that conviction in ourselves, and discarding the things that hold us back.

Not all of us may be winners as we participate in the efforts to build new futures. Yet, we will all have contributed to the wheel of progress. What is needed is a mindset to challenge the mindset and think globally. Countries like India have to embrace technology. It is a competitive world out there, and we have the potential within us to play against the best and win. It is a world which values ideas and knowledge. It is world in which perhaps the biggest 10X force is Vision we need to be able to a imagine a different future, and then go out and build it.

Anand on Emergic Software

Enclosed below are two emails I received from Prof. Anand Patwardhan (School of Management at IIT-Bombay), who also happens to be a very good friend. The emails provide a lot of food for thought, especially in the context of what we want to do in Emergic and John Robb’s post on the Next Generation Desktop:

Most of the time we need to do very simple information processing tasks – write a letter, send an email, do some arithmetic, play a game. Sometimes, we need to do something more complex. This is as true with software as it is with hardware. And it is as true for enterprise software as it is for application software.

First thing we need to do is to separate the function from the application. That is, separate the task (or function) of writing a letter from the use of MS Word. To do this we need a different architecture for the applications, one in which functions can be invoked as required (again, server side computing will help here). Having done, this we perhaps also need to change the front-end completely from a computer-oriented desktop to a task or function oriented desktop. The digital dashboard should actually become a functional tool. Perhaps one could use a diary (personal blog format) to maintain the context, rather than a file system. So that even when I’m writing a letter, the previous context is available to me. Actually, I’m not completely sure about this – to the extent that we have migrated the office metaphor to the computer – tasks, corresponding to folders, individual items to files, I dont know if we can move completely to a diary orientation.

Second, we need to have a lot of application integration at the back end. So, that many things can happen automatically on the server side. For example, format conversions, or other kind of processing (virus checking etc.).

The second email:

It is actually very hard for developers to think of a user who is not like themselves. We are actually not representative users at all for Emergic. We have been used to a situation where we had to end up knowing a good bit of computers to really use them, and in situations where we dont, we are almost at the mercy of the machines, or the support people / system administrators. For a “real” user, the computer is a tool, to perform tasks or functions. Ok, so this is nothing new (Don Norman – Invisible Computer, Dertouzous – Unfinished Revolution), but what does it mean for us, and what can we do about it in practical terms?

So, with this in mind, let me try and put down what I think the Thin Client (TC) desktop should look like and do.

The TC desktop should have a diary, a writing area and a set of icons for functions, and a “command interpreter” of sorts for non-standard tasks. What might the standard tasks be? Depends on the user segment. I can think of groups of tasks, for example, communication tasks (email, chat, message), daily tasks (these are all related to the “diary” metaphor – would include, for example, to-do lists and appointments, daily accounts, and notes). Accounts is actually important. By this I dont mean Tally, nor do I mean MS Money and Quicken, but a simple tool where I can enter expenses and receipts and which understands what is being put in. MS Money and Quicken are good examples of what happens when we put everything but the kitchen sink in the application.

There is also a group of “common tasks” – this really depends on the context. Might include writing by default – but even there, customization is possible, for example, for secretaries there may be a separate button called write letters. This button might invoke the same application, but with a letter writing module, but in any case, the user should not worry about what is being run. If we really go segment-wise, I think we will find that are are a fairly limited number of tasks in all, spread over these three groups – communication, daily and common.

When it comes to the UI, in a sense, the advantage of Linux for us is precisely that it is modular and customizable. That is, we can layer our own UI over the X server.

Many of these ideas have been tried by Apple, but then it is a single piece – you cannot take apart the hardware / software bundle and reconfigure and reprice it the way you may want for the particular set of users you want to address.

This brings me to my next point, going beyond the UI to the application architecture and design. A product like MS Word is extraordinarily powerful and feature-rich. This is because the designers have had to figure out in advance all of the ways in which a user might use Word, because once the application is out there, it has to function by itself in whichever environment it is and for whatever use it is being put to. Emergic needs an application architecture which on the other hand, caters to really the least common denominator, only the core set of
features that all users will need. It needs a unified way to store data (perhaps XML), so that other applications can also access it and work on it for special purpose tasks. We need to be able to customize the application very rapidly – server based computing is an advantage here, as we dont have to worry about modifying the application on 100’s of clients.

We need to replace feature-richness and consequent design costs by rapid specialization for particular settings.

So, as I see it, Emergic really starts looking like a software solution now, with a UI component (partly server based and partly on the TC), an XML-based data model for data storage and handling, and core and extended applications invoked by the user. There is, obviously, an OS there, but completely transparent to the user on the TC.

Many enterprise (and even consumer) applications are based on the notion of “automation”. Sure, some things can (and should be automated). But what I think is more important is for IT to assist the user, and not only automate. In trying to automate, we are in fact making it more difficult for people to use IT in the first place. Because, for example, we are asking business logic to conform to the information model embedded in the ERP. If you recall, this was exactly the difference between a transaction processing system and a decision support system that was brought out during our SME survey.

Whew, I think thats it for now! Btw, feel free to put the emails I’ve been sending you on Emergic – I’ve no idea how to create a blog, but I’d be happy to get and respond to comments.

Crucible of Leadership

From the WSJ:

Leadership advice is easy to find these days: workshops, conferences and private coaching sessions, often for a hefty price, on how to make the leap from executive to leader.

Yet those who have proved their ability to inspire rarely say they were guided by formal instruction. Instead, they point to life experiences that were pivotal in helping them recognize a capacity to make things happen and to get others behind them.

Many of these people show some qualities of young children: curiosity, boundless energy to put into practice what they learn, and a willingness to pick themselves up and keep going when they fall.

Warren Bennis , founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California, and Robert Thomas, senior research fellow of Accenture’s Institute for Strategic Change in Cambridge, Mass., believe all leaders have undergone at least one crucible experience that unleashed their abilities and taught them who they were.

The two professors studied 43 leaders — half of them 70 or older and half 35 and younger — for their book “Geeks and Geezers” (Harvard Business School Press) due out next month. Their transformational experiences varied from being mentored, to climbing a mountain, to losing an election, but ultimately proved more important than the person’s education, intelligence or birth order.

“Sometimes it is an event, sometimes it is a relationship … sometimes joyous, sometimes tragic … but it’s always a powerful process of learning and adaption,” they write. “It is both an opportunity and a test.”

Continue reading

Desktop Linux

Quite a few articles on Linux on the Desktop on ZDNet as part of its special report: “Fueled in part by Microsoft’s grip on the desktop market, corporate interest in Linux as a desktop alternative continues to gain momentum. Though there are still hurdles to face for corporate adoption, products such as Ximian Evolution and StarOffice are helping to make the Linux desktop a corporate reality.”

Another viewpoint comes from Freezer Burn with an Apple OS centric viewpoint: “Linux has no future on PowerPC hardware as a desktop. Apple has that covered. Unless you’re absolutely against commercial software, you don’t need to use Linux…One has to think that the current situation of Windows dominance has done some good for the computer industry. Because of this, there are far more x86-based computer being used by people than PPC computers. And for this, Linux is still viable for the desktop….So Linux definately has a place on the desktop.. but not on PowerPC hardware. OS X has taken care of that.”

Still no mention of Linux on Thin Clients. Linux TCs are disruptive. Everyone today thinks of thick, new desktops. That is because the context is either US, Western Europe or Japan. Change the context to India, China, Brazil and see how the picture changes! It opens up a new world of opportunities and ideas, which is exactly what the tech world needs today.

RSS helps Udell’s Re-entry

Jon Udell went off on vacation for a week without his computer and re-entered the world spending more time in Radio’s RSS Aggregator than email: “You’d think a week’s worth of almost a hundred RSS feeds would be overwhelming. To my surprise, it wasn’t. I spent more time looking through this stuff than my email — and I suppose this made my total reentry time more than it otherwise would have been — but the process was enjoyable. There were no demands, no requests, just information useful in varying degrees. Crunching through an email backlog is a stressful experience. But nothing in the RSS haul raised my blood pressure. It was like eating a good dinner. I went for a walk afterward to digest it, and felt well-nourished.” Good food for thought!

TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: A Review

In this series which has spanned 5 weeks, weve looked back to some of Techs 10X Tsunamis, and looked at the present and the future at what we can expect. Heres a quick round-up of the 14 Tsunamis we covered:

1. Google: Google has become the info utility for many of us. Any information that I am looking for on a topic, Google is the first place I will look. Even if I am searching for a person, an address, a phone number, Google finds it for me. Google has become an extension of my brain it remembers things for me. It has, in effect, become my other memory.

2. Wireless: While wireless has revolutionised voice communications over the past few years (there are now estimated to be a billion cellphone users worldwide), the world of data is also starting to get impacted by WiFi. Wireless technologies are providing the fabric to build a real-time communications infrastructure.

3. Web Services: Websites are turning themselves into programmable components, using XML and SOAP standards. This is the world of Lego-like software, where it becomes possible to build complex software applications from simpler building blocks which exist across the network.

4. Open Source: The next 500 million users who will come from the worlds emerging markets are the opportunity for Open Source software. An integrated collection of software applications needs to be made available at a low, affordable cost to double the base of computer users worldwide.

5. Outsourcing: As companies worldwide focus on cutting costs in the face of slowing growth, Outsourcing is coming to the fore. Manufacturing, Software Development, Web Hosting, Customer Support, R&D all are being outsourced as companies focus on their core competencies.

6. The East: Armed with their masses of people creating the domestic markets and the workforce, its low-cost infrastructure, a capitalist fervour for wealth creation, along with technological innovations, the Eastern dragons and tigers are not just catching up, but have an amazing opportunity to leapfrog.

7. Networks: Networks are everywhere. They help us connect to people, to places, to computers, to utilities, and even to memories hidden deep inside the ultimate network of them all, our brain. Networks and connections have existed since time immemorial. It is not networks by themselves that are the 10X force, but our understanding of how networks work which is the real tsunami.

8. Intellectual Capital: Intellectual capital has increasingly become the biggest differentiator in business. As knowledge-intensive industries like infotech and biotech permeate more of the world, the challenge before organizations is going to on how to build and grow their intellectual capital.

9. PCs for USD 100: As the users in the worlds developing markets buy new computers, their old computers need to find their way to the worlds emerging markets. recycling older computers and converting them into Linux Thin Clients can bring down the cost of the desktop to USD 100 or less.

10. Tech Utility: In the developed world, it takes the form of grid computing. In the emerging markets, it means making technology affordable by pricing it on a monthly installments basis.

11. Blogs and RSS: The combination of weblogs and RSS is what can dramatically amplify our ability to process information. They form the foundation of what I call the Information Refinery.

12. Business Process Standards: The standardisation of business processes will streamline intra- and inter-enterprise interactions dramatically in the coming years, laying the foundation for real-time enterprises.

13. RFIDs: The next leap in communications will be objects talking to other objects. Unlike bar codes which can carry very limited information, smart tags can store and broadcast object-specific information, giving each item its own unique identify and history.

14. Displays: As specialised graphics chips from companies push the envelope, it is now becoming possible to think of a more realistic 3-dimensional display. In addition, companies such as eInk are also experimenting with providing an electronic paper where the display ink gets dynamically configured based on what needs to be shown.

Tomorrow: Marching Ahead

Auckland’s WiFi Network

From New Zealand Herald: “Wireless operator RoamAD has built a network covering three square kilometres of the central business district [in downtown Auckland] where it is offering wireless internet access for owners of laptops and handheld computers equipped with “Wi-Fi” or wireless network cards, which typically cost $200 to $300….The venture will soon extend to a fifty square kilometre area of the city.” A sign of things to come.

Lotus Notes is dead – Steve Gillmor

The obituary: “Notes was killed by inventor Ray Ozzie, 45. Ozzie entered the Notes space on the Ides of August — Aug. 15, 2002 — armed with Version 2.1 of the Groove collaboration platform and its new peer-to-peer e-mail functionality. Notes, already weakened by years of assault by Microsoft and its Exchange/Outlook team, was finished off in recent days by Ozzie’s commandeering of another growing collaboration model: Weblogs.”

Says Ozzie: “I’ve experienced enough to have become convinced that a witch’s brew of revolutionary personal communications tools — IM, Groove and Weblogs — and their evolutionary mutations and outgrowths, collectively represent the ‘post-eMail’ world.”

Meetings with Bloggers

John Robb makes an interesting point about what happens when Bloggers meet Bloggers:

1) We don’t have to exchange business cards. They know where I am located on the Internet. I know where they are located on the Internet. My personal weblog has spam-free e-mail, and a link to instant messaging. There is a link to a bio page that provides some detail on who I am and what I have done.

2) By reading the weblog of the person I am about to meet with, I already know a lot about that person. Most importantly: I know how they think through reading their writings. There is probably no better way to supercharge a meeting than to read the weblog of the person you are about to meet with. It provides a strong basis of understanding necessary for high order interaction.

3) I can write up the results of the meeting on my weblog and share it with a wider audience. That provides feedback to the person you met with and shares the insight developed in the meeting with a wider audience.

I concur (and not just as one who has met with John recently). There is so much more depth because of the blogs – there is a context which otherwise would take up most of the meeting to explain which doesn’t need to be gone into. Blogs and the Meeting become part of the extended conversation, and not just discrete independent events.

TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: Displays: The Next Dimension

You are probably reading this on a computer screen or a printout on paper. Little has changed in these two modes of display in the past decade. Yes, the monitor may have gone from CRT to LCD, and the printout may have gone from being on a dot-matrix printer to a laser print-out. But in essence, it is still a static, two-dimensional world out there.

Computer processing power has leapt ahead to far beyond what is needed on the desktop. As specialised graphics chips from companies push the envelope, it is now becoming possible to think of a more realistic 3-dimensional display. In addition, companies such as eInk are also experimenting with providing an electronic paper where the display ink gets dynamically configured based on what needs to be shown.

Lets begin with the displays. The world of video games has long provided for realistic worlds using powerful consoles. This world will soon come to the mass market desktop. A Wired article (July 2002) on Nvidia (which makes graphics chips) describes the possibilities:

Eye candy – the purple glow along the horizon at sunset, a city skyline during a thunderstorm, the wrinkles in a puppy’s face, pornography – has power. While computers today mainly convey text information and 2-D images, advances in graphics processing will change what’s on our screens. And soon, high-res screens could be everywhere.

It doesn’t take much imagination to envision new uses for 3-D imagery. Already, many rental cars come equipped with a satellite-guided, 2-D map and a robo-voice that scolds you for missing a turn. Before long, they’ll have 3-D maps, like those being produced by Nvidia partner Keyhole Technologies, with the terrain rendered in real time. You’ll know what landmarks to look for, how to route around road construction, and how far to the next In-N-Out Burger. Same for air travel. F-22 fighter pilots already use simulated 3-D environments in the cockpit. Another Nvidia partner, Quantum3D, sees the day when commercial jets will have screens that render airscape in real time to help pilots fly, and land, in zero visibility. Or how about medicine? One day, doctors will use 3-D as freely as scalpels during surgery.

The electronic paper revolution has been led by E Ink. The technology is described on its website:

Electronic ink is a proprietary material that is processed into a film for integration into electronic displays. Although revolutionary in concept, electronic ink is a straightforward fusion of chemistry, physics and electronics to create this new material. The principal components of electronic ink are millions of tiny microcapsules, about the diameter of a human hair. In one incarnation, each microcapsule contains positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid. When a negative electric field is applied, the white particles move to the top of the microcapsule where they become visible to the user. This makes the surface appear white at that spot. At the same time, an opposite electric field pulls the black particles to the bottom of the microcapsules where they are hidden. By reversing this process, the black particles appear at the top of the capsule, which now makes the surface appear dark at that spot.

To form an E Ink electronic display, the ink is printed onto a sheet of plastic film that is laminated to a layer of circuitry. The circuitry forms a pattern of pixels that can then be controlled by a display driver. These microcapsules are suspended in a liquid “carrier medium” allowing them to be printed using existing screen printing processes onto virtually any surface, including glass, plastic, fabric and even paper. Ultimately electronic ink will permit most any surface to become a display, bringing information out of the confines of traditional devices and into the world around us.

Taken together, 3-D displays and electronic ink will change the way we receive and interact with information in the years to come.

Tomorrow: A Review

Meeting with Traction Software

I also met with Traction Software yesterday – with Greg, Chris and Jordan. Traction has a very interesting enterprise blogging platform – and I use the word platform with care. It has its roots in the work done in hypertext over the past decades and creates a very rich environment. For us who thrive in information, it works like magic with all its cross-referencing, “collection” and ease of publishing. A must-look if one is looking at collaborative applications with a blogging base.

Greg made an interesting point on his blog after the meeting: “It was very refreshing to talk with Rajesh this morning. He has a very clear, simple and direct way of making his points, while communicating a personal sense of his values and commitment. I’d call it his reality enhancement field in contrast to Steve Job’s well known reality distortion field. The experience made me reflect on the personal aspect of blogging that I find valuable: it’s the ability to use a cultivated record of the sources, insights and opinions of people I choose to trust (including me!) as a non-intrusive source of facts, opinions, and more effective understanding of their point of view.”

The one thing I am convinced about is that the blogging revolution and its use in enterprises is just beginning. Just like the web and home pages began as a consumer thing and later began being adopted by enterprises (initially through the efforts of small teams or even individuals running skunkwork operations), I see blogs penetrating deep into the enterprise – to a point that they will become invisible and embedeed in what we do as information workers.

John Robb on Emergic

Yesterday, I had a wonderful meeting with John Robb of Userland. John is one of my favourite bloggers, and it was a delight meeting up with him. We had a great 2-hour session on the world of blogs and software. He has posted his summary of our discussion on the K-logs Yahoo Groups (you must join it if you have interest in knowledge management or weblogs). Have reproduced it in its entirety here.

Dear K-Loggers,

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Rajesh Jain, the CEO of India’s Emergic, at my home (in the midst of a double birthday party for two of my lovely daughters). Rajesh is working on building a desktop for the 80-90% of people working at corporations in developing countries that don’t have PCs yet.

The problem is that in order to extend PCs to the vast majority of employees at these companies, the cost of software and hardware needs to come down to around $200 a desktop. He is already working on sourcing older PCs that cost $150 a pop. By putting Linux on them, they are nearly as powerful as new PCs we buy today with Windows (Windows has a lot of overhead that radically slows the performance of a PC). Next, he needs to be able to build almost every type of application people would need on a PC for under $50 a year. He needs Swiss
army software.

The solution of course is to build applications as websites on the desktop. Given that people he is selling to don’t have a legacy problem (they aren’t already using existing last generation apps like Office, ERP, CRM, e-mail, etc. from the major vendors nor are they likely to), the opportunity is to provide them a new, more functional experience. His idea, which I think is wonderful, is to put K-Logs at the center of the desktop for these employees and surround them with digital dashboards that connect them to the data they need to do their job. Search, very much like a Google on the desktop, would tie it all together.

Basically, the K-Log would serve as the routing system for employee data entry. This means, that employees could enter data into the system using a browser-based interface and route the data to where it needs to go (to one app
or multiple apps). This creates a single point of data entry for KM K-Logs, ERP, CRM, financial, and e-mail. All entries would be logged on a personal K-Log (a time-organized back-up brain). Some entries would be published to a central K-Log on the Intranet for general consumption by other employees (KM). A digital dashboard would enable employees to see data on sales, financial performance, e-mail, supply information, news, etc. All of that data would arrive as RSS subscriptions or Web Services delivered in real-time (all data displayed could be easily subscribed to ala carte — also data could be annotated and added to the K-Log through a simple post procedure).

The advantages to this approach are too numerous to list.

Although initially, much of this may be centralized, the longer term vision is to totally decentralize it. So, in five years, the standard PC used by a large percentage of the employees in the world may be running Linux, Radio (which includes a database, content management system, development environment, and web server that runs on the desktop — Swiss army software), and web apps powered by centralized Web Services built by Emergic.

Nice!

Note: It was so great to talk/work with someone that really didn’t care about all the buzzwords spewing out of the big technology companies. We are all so overmarketed in the states, particularly in regards to software, that most of us don’t realize how really bad or nonfunctional most of what we buy is. Buzzwords, jargon, branding, etc. totally cloud our judgement. Legacy systems and mindsets freeze us in place. Unfortunately, I think we are stuck with it. Rajesh is planning to build a system to allow companies in emerging markets to leapfrog us in terms of the productivity, flexibility, and functionality of their information systems. I expect tales of woe in five to seven years about how America missed the opportunity to reinvent software but didn’t. Fingers will be pointed, particularly given the billions that were spent. It would be interesting to see Microsoft, IBM, and Sun treated like GM, Ford, and Chrysler were 17 years ago when Japanese imports crushed their marketshare.

John has summarised Emergic’s Vision better than I ever could have!