Wohl on .Net

Writes Amy Wohl in her newsletter, after a visit to Microsoft:

Gates went on to define .NET as software to connect information, people, systems and devices. In other words, everything.

He refers to waves of .NET. The Tools Wave is finished now and we are entering the second phase in which we emphasize breaking down barriers. This will be all about identifcation and security as well as how data is stored. Microsoft expects it to take three or four years to be completed.

The real bottom line, I believe, is that Microsoft is struggling to on the one hand try to move Visual Basic programmers over to Visual Studio .NET and, on the other hand, to speak to the Linux/Unix/Java community and try to get some conversion/migration activity going. The first is obviously going better than the second.

Wohl goes on to say that Microsoft is targeting “the Enterprise” and how it will face challenges in that segment.

Another important points she makes: “The rush to standards means that operating systems are less important. The development platform may no longer be the operating system you run, but rather a set of standards you choose to embrace (or your selected set of software chooses to embrace on your behalf).”

For our enterprise software, the set of standards that we are focusing on are:
– J2EE/EJB for the software “insides”
– Web Services for application integration (software components)
– RosettaNet for business processes
– RSS for the digital dashboard

Emergic Update

BlogStreet: We have launched a beta with the Blog Neighbourhood Analysis and a listing of the top 500 blogs at http://www.blogstreet.com. We will not be doing further development for now. The site should grow its blogs automatically. Need to step back a little and think what we want to do next. The basic technology developed needs to be (later) applied to within enterprises for the blogs.

Digital Dashboard: We’ve launched blogs internally for 15 people in our company. Have built this on MovableType. Have enabled private, group and public blogs. RSS Aggregator is also available for all. Now, lets see if people blog!

From next week, we will have a unified update for BlogStreet and Digital Dashboard called “Information Refinery Infrastructure (IRI)”. In the near-term, we want to look at Traction and Scopeware. We also want to do IM-based blog notification. In parallel, also do a more detailed study on XSLT.

Thin Client-Thick Server: We have begun talking to organisations outside to get beta customers where we can deploy the solution. Initial reaction is quite positive. In Aug-Sep, we need to get 8-10 different organisations where we can do a beta.

Enterprise Software: Have been examining various platforms for the development. We’ll be using a mix of some commercial tools for the initial work and then port to open-source software. The idea is to (a) get our project – Client Information System – done, and (b) get a sense of what the best development tools do.

802.11 in India

A Kumar wrote in with the following update on the wireless licencing in India:

1. In the US, the FCC amended its Part 15 rules in year 1997 to make 300 Mhz of spectrum available for high speed wireless digital communication with un-licensed operation. This band called the U-NII ( Un-licensed National Information Infrastructure) band, provides spectrum at:
5.15 to 5.25 Ghz for indoor use, ( Lower band )
5.25 to 5.35 and ( Middle band )
5.725 to 5.825 for outdoor use. ( Upper band )

The peak transmitted power is limited to 23 dBm for indoor and 30 and 36 dBm ( 4 watts ) respectively for the middle and upper bands.

So, wireless operators ( WISP’s ) rolled-out large scale networks using this
spectrum, as it was free and no spectrum royalties payable and this did result in low cost products as these Radio’s were made in huge volumes thus resulting in
economies of scale.

2. In India though, these band are already used in some sensitive applications:

a. 5.15 to 5.25 Ghz for Aeronautical and Radio navigation
b. 5.25 to 5.35 Ghz by Earth exploration satellites, Space research
c. The upper band has been opened by WPC for use by ISP’s and other telecom operators for point to point as well as point to multi-point links.

Hence it is my view that 802.11a products could de-generate RF signals used for these applications, as you are aware ingenius RF Enginners in India, will rig out RF links spanning 10-12 KM’s with this so called indoor WLAN products in 5 Ghz by getting the chipset at < US $ 100 and pluging a high gain antenna of 18 - 24 dBm. 3. So, in hindsight India could opt of 802.11g standard , whenever the capacity of 802.11b is saturated as we can get 54 Mbps out of the same 2.4 Ghz spectrum used in 802.11b. 4. I also understand that in Germany and other europrean countries and Australia the 5 Ghz spectrum is used for similar RADAR applications and hence they may not approve of 802.11a standard. Thanks for the update, Kumar. Very useful.

Brazil’s Financial Crisis

Brazil Teeters. Will It Be Contagious?, asks NYT:

For months, Brazil’s financial markets have been in turmoil, and unless there is emphatic international financial support soon, the country, South America’s largest economy, could well face mass corporate defaults.

Brazil’s currency, the real, has lost 23 percent of its value against the dollar this year – most of it in July alone. Brazilian companies cannot borrow money, especially from foreign banks, which are even pulling money out of the country. Last week, Brazil sent an emergency delegation to negotiate aid from the International Monetary Fund. In Brazil’s presidential campaign, meanwhile, the growing appeal of two opposition party candidates is making international lenders and multinational investors even more nervous. And many economists expect Brazil to renegotiate its $250 billion public debt no matter who wins the election in October.

When neighboring Argentina plunged into recession four years ago, the international damage was largely contained. But Brazil is different. Its economic tentacles reach into every country on the continent and beyond.

Blogging and KM

Amy Wohl‘s post is about a year old, but as relevant today. She asks, “What if blogging and Knowledge Management got together? That is, what if we took the technology that allows Bloggers to quickly annotate their journeys through the web with information about the whys and wherefores with a KM system that allowed their organizational colleagues to use the weblogs as a source of expertise?”

She goes on:

Consider:

— If experts could use blogging software that was part of their normal work environment, probably part of their browser, to note and annotate web sites they wanted to share as part of their area of expertise (note the expert decides what to share, avoiding privacy problems);

— If these weblogs were collected by the KM system and then indexed by a spider against an organizational taxonomy (list of categories) that was optimized for the organization, its interests, and its experts;

— If organizational employees could search for collections of expertise by topic (or, as they became aware of their identity, by expert), assisted by the spidered weblogs

All of this assumes that such weblogs would be internal to the organization (or limited to authorized external users such as contractors and business partners).

Knowledge Management offers the possibility of allowing organizations to tap into not just the documents theyve created, but the expertise of their employees, past and present. Weblogging is interesting because it is a fairly non-intrusive way of allowing workers to share the process by which they seek, analysis, and select information.

If we could then add to the process some of the web-certified techniques for validating information and expertise we could further enhance the KM process. For example, we could (as popular expert sites on the web do) encourage users of KM expertise to rate information and experts on their usefulness so that others could pick based on high ratings. Or we could ask experts peers to validate their information before it was posted (as occurred in the Xerox Eureka experiment), so that each piece of expertise carries more credibility.

Users today nearly live on the web. If we can offer them tools that extend that experience and build on it, taking their web work and turning it into reusable information for their colleagues, perhaps KM is not so far away as some think

TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: Outsourcing (Part 2)

Manufacturing is only one of the segments being outsourced and disrupted. Business Process Outsourcing focuses on an organisations repetitive business processes and seeks to outsource them. Writes The Economist (November 29, 2001):

Behind strategic outsourcing’s growth is a realisation that a specialist may be able to provide a routine service at lower cost, and with better technology. There are other benefits. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an accounting giant, handles BP’s finance and accounting, procurement and computer maintenance. We take their back-office staff and put them into our own BPO company, so that they become our front-office staff, who make the money for us, and are thus more valuable to us than they were to BP, says Ton Heijman, head of PwC’s BPO practice. Ask a chief financial officer how much time he spends on personnel issues, and he will say 50-60%. Outsourcing these saves that lost time.

Now, outsourcing is going one step further, beyond cost savings to create value on a broader front. Writes Nuala Moran in Financial Times (July 3, 2002):

The maxim on which the outsourcing market was built, outsource the non-core activity to focus on what is core is about to be turned on its head. With five to ten years experience of using outsourcing to offload marginal systems and reduce costs, companies are beginning to appreciate how it could help with their most important functions and processes.

As a result, a new type of deal is emerging, called strategic, or transformational outsourcing in which the service provider takes on and runs critical systems. And whereas before companies would outsource individual processes to different providers, they increasingly have the confidence to combine several processes into a single contract.

In the short-term, this is expected to provide the taken-for-granted benefits of lower costs and higher reliability. The transformational element comes in taking the cost savings and using them to fund the design, build and implement a new system.

Little wonder then that IT-enabled services is booming in India. Wipros recent acquisition of call-centre company Spectramind is a signal that BPO is no longer at the bottom of the pyramid of services, but has arrived. The IT services majors are going to increasingly offer BPO as part of their core portfolio of services. It is about partnering with enterprises to take some of their core business processes and do them at a lower cost, but with the same, if not greater, efficiency. It is about building long-term, deep relationships, enabling the corporate client to transform its business processes.

Says Ismail Amla of CSC (as quoted in the Financial Times, July 3, 2002): It is not an outsourcing debate. It is about organisations fundamentally restructuring themselves with flexibility as the paramount objective. It isnt a question of outsourcing non-core activities or getting a service more cheaply elsewhere, but a question of getting the best process, which is a key differentiator from the old model of outsourcing.

Outsourcing is here to stay. IT, IT Services and BPO are just the beginning. The next big thing will be outsourcing computing more on this later when we talk about Grid Computing.

Additional Reading:

  • Tech Talk: Indias Software Industry: The Next New Thing (February 14, 2002)

    Tomorrow: The East: Uncaged Tiger, Rising Dragon