Yahoo Enterprise Portal

From Line56.com:

Enterprise 5.0 is angled toward letting portal managers simplify information management of relevant content through more than 100 personalized modules. Since Yahoo says more than 70 percent of business users already visit Yahoo from the workplace each month, the extension to enterprise services within the firewall is a logical one.

On the user front, 5.0 embeds “content in context” so that modules will dynamically refresh based on changes in surrounding modules and applications. A sales executive for example, could profile a series of client prospects, and with each new entry, surrounding business objects, both internal applications and external content, would reflect the change.

A research note from The Delphi Group puts the announcement in the perspective of a changing model of information delivery. “The direction here points to the content event of the decade: The emergence of the info-service appliance — the personalized Web content device(s) — that will set new paradigms for the delivery and use of professional information in the enterprise.”

Decentralisation and Information Router

Kevin Werbach has a couple of good comments:

  • Decentralized tools for collaborative work (what I provisionaly call postmodern knowledge management) will be the next great category of enterprise software applications. [link]

  • [The Information Router] will be the next great business software application, alongside the word processor, spreadsheet, browser, and email/calendar/address book. Groove and Radio Userland are two examples; Traction is another interesting one I saw recently….The issue is how to manage information without managing it. We want the right information to get to the right person at the right time, but there’s usually no way to know those things ahead of time. We also want to leverage the Web, which is centralized and has links that can break and go in only one direction, while engaging in bidirectional freeform interactions like Weblogging. [link]

  • Gizmodo – an eCommerce Weblog

    Nick Denton has launched Gizmodo. Its an interesting experiment – offers an aggregation of reviews on gadgets with links for purchase. Its one of the more innovative variations I’ve come across. [Some blog posts on Gizmodo]

    Am convinced that blogs are for more than just publishing one’s thoughts and liked links. They are a new format on the Web, offering a lot of room for creative thinking. What one should focus on: “value-added aggregation”. A lot of us do it for content. Nick Denton has just done it for gadgets.

    Some blogs I’d like to see from bloggers (and not the standard publications):
    – Books Blog: what are bloggers like me reading
    – Travel Blog: places to see, stay; things to do
    – Management Tips: how to be more effective (spiced with experiences)
    – Business Ideas: just reading about innovative ideas can spur thinking
    – Entrepreneur Profiles: the stories of people like us, who are willing to take a different path

    Blogs are Voices – of people. They come more from the heart than from the head, and that’s what makes it so interesting. They are by people like us. Being able to aggregate blog posts by category (rather than trying to classify blogs or bloggers) could offer up interesting slices of information, which we are otherwise missing out on. Content (news) is just one slice which has been leveraged so far.

    Li Ka-shing: Asia’s Warren Buffet?

    Writes the Economist:

    Alone among Hong Kong’s property tycoons, Mr Li knew when to branch out overseas and into new industries. Equally rare, he always found and hired the best professional managers, many of them foreigners. Most importantly, his investment record has, so far, outperformed that of all other Asian tycoons. Everyone who has worked with him raves about his nose for opportunity.

    Like Mr Buffett, he appears to look for value, but comparisons with the Sage of Omaha are overdone. Mr Buffett crunches piles of numbers in the search for undervalued companies, then holds their shares indefinitely. Mr Li, by contrast, is, on the face of it, the archetypal Asian asset-trader. He tries to time the market. He is patient but swoops with phenomenal speed when opportunities present themselves. Global Crossing is a case in point. It has few synergies with Mr Li’s other telecoms assets. Mr Li first made an offer in January, then withdrew it, and then came back with a new offer, two-thirds lower.

    Tracking Technologies

    Writes the Economist: “The new generation of tracking devices combines two existing technologies. One is a global-positioning-system (GPS) chip, which uses radio signals from a network of satellites to work out where it is on the earth’s surface to within a few metres. The other is a mobile-telephone chip, which broadcasts that location to whoever needs to know it. The result is a pocket-sized, or even wrist-sized, personal locator.”

    There is a more detailed explanation about the technology offered by ADS:

    Applied Digital Solutions (ADS), of Palm Beach, Florida, calls its version of the technology a digital angel. The angel comes in two versions. People get a pager-like device that clips on to their clothing. Animals get a collar.

    The angel is intended to look after old people who have become forgetful and young children who have become too adventurous, as well as dogs who are too interested in the bitch next door. The wearer’s guardians define a perimeter beyond which they feel their charge should not wander, and receive alerts via mobile phone or pager when he has gone beyond these boundaries.

    The digital angel can also issue an alert when its wearer has fallen down, or when there has been an unexpected change in local temperature of the sort that might be caused, say, by someone falling into a pond. For that to happen, the wearer needs to sport a specially modified wristwatch which has suitable sensors and a wireless link to the pager. Moreover, ADS claims to be on the verge of introducing a version of the watch that can collect and broadcast medical data such as pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature, electrocardiogram readings and even blood chemistry.

    ADS’s device is a type of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip. Such chips are already implanted into animals to act as pet passports, identifying beasts that do not need to go into quarantine when they cross frontiers. When an RFID chip is interrogated by a reading machine operating at the right radio frequency, its antenna picks up a small amount of energy from the signal. This is used to power the chip. The device then broadcasts data in the chip back to the reader.

    Project Management

    FastCompany writes about lessons learnt by Microsoft Project’s GM, stating: “We live in a project world, where project managers and project teams work together to deliver results on time, on budget, on spec, and on the money…Project’s general manager, Chris Capossela, says that he uses his own project’s thorniest problems, and their solutions, to run better projects everywhere…In fact, in the course of upgrading Project, the project team came across a number of important lessons and improvements that can make any project more likely to succeed.”

    Key Learnings:
    – Expect the unexpected
    – Measure work done, not hours spent working
    – Don’t crack the whip; share the work
    – If you want the right people, you have to know what you’re looking for

    Network Computer Redux

    Writes News.com:

    When Sun–and Oracle–first talked up the concept of the network computer in 1997, much was made of its potential as an alternative to a Microsoft-centric PC world. The general idea was to offer stripped-down access terminals that would connect to a network, where most of the computing muscle and complexity resides (a world presumably powered by big Sun servers, of course). Unfortunately for Sun, early customer enthusiasm faded after the price of many Windows-based computers fell below $500.

    Sun may have been a victim of timing, but since then, a lot has changed. Microsoft, a convicted predatory monopolist, still grapples with its corporate image in the post-Enron era. Also, the software giant isn’t winning many friends with a new, more expensive licensing plan that many customers find onerous. All the while, Linux is getting a serious look in corporate America as an alternative operating system.

    Although a low-end Linux desktop wouldn’t technically qualify as a network computer, it would be a means to the same end: Elbow aside Microsoft but keep rivals (such as Dell Computer) away from bread-and-butter accounts, such as call centers, which use Sun’s more-expensive servers.

    Will it work? Assuming Sun doesn’t trip on its delivery, corporate customers might just be receptive this time around. And the clincher would be Linux.

    The Network Computer concept is quite similar to what we’ve been working to put together with our Thin Client-Thick Server project. I think the time has come – but its important to keep in context the market one wants to address. It will fail if one targets the developed markets because there the issue is not the price of the computer but the support costs. The price is an issue in the emerging markets, and that is where the focus should be.

    The TC-TS solution does three things:
    – reduce cost of hardware by using (recycling) old PCs
    – reduce cost of software by using open source on both the desktop and the server
    – enhance manageability by centralising computing on the server

    This is, according to me, the winning combination to ensure that computing goes mass market for the world’s have-nots – the next 500 million users.

    Internet Stats

    From Yahoo! News:

    Worldwide Internet use grew slowly in the second quarter, with 553 million people now connected to the Web from their homes, according to a Global Internet Trends report from Nielsen//NetRatings. That figure represents a 4 percent growth rate, down from 7 percent growth in the first quarter of this year.

    According to the report, the United States continues to dominate the Internet population with 166 million users, or 30 percent of the total, followed by Europe with 24 percent, Asia-Pacific with 14 percent and Latin America with 3 percent. Germany, with 32 million users, the United Kingdom, with 29 million, and Italy, with 22 million, are among the largest non-U.S. markets.