Job of a Great Manager

800-CEO-READ Blog points to a quote from Marcus Buckinghams next book “The One Thing You Need to Know : … About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success.”

The chief responsibility of a great manager is not to enforce quality, nor to ensure customer service, nor to set standards, nor to build high performance teams. Each of these is a valuable outcome, and great managers may well use these outcomes to measure success. But the outcomes are the end result, not the startling point. The starting point is each employees talents. The challenge: to figure out the best way to transform these talents into performance.

That is the job of a great manager.

Five Across and Bubbler

SiliconBeat writes about a new web publishing tool:

At its simplest, Bubbler is a hosted a blog service, not unlike Blogger or TypePad. But instead of updating their blogs through a browser-based Web form, users post entries through a Bubbler desktop application (downloadable for free). This makes it simple to drag photos, audio and video files, office documents or just about any other type of file into a window and have them uploaded to your site.

Other features let users easily change the look of the their web sites, create individual Web pages and invite friends or colleagues onto their blogs as authors. One feature called Reporter allows users to post real-time entries to their blogs in much the same way they would send IM messages. Multiple users can even post concurrently, creating an IM-like conversation on a single blog.

Five Across offers Bubbler as a hosted blogging service. It’s also pitching it to Internet service providers that want to offer hosted blogging as a service. And there is a corporate package that includes instant messaging and the Bubbler Server for companies that want internal blogging.

Interactive TV

Technology Review writes about how IP-TV works:

IPTV converts a television signal into small packets of computer data like any other form of online traffic such as e-mail, a Web page or the Internet phone service known as VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol — making it easier to integrate the various services on a TV screen.

Using the home’s high-speed Internet connection in both directions, a channel selection is transmitted from the set-top box to a local facility, which sends back only the packets of video and audio for the desired channel. The packets are reassembled into programming by software in the set-top box.

A conventional analog or digital cable signal uses far more bandwidth. Every single channel is sent all the way to the set-top box at all times. Each channel requires a separate stream, and there’s only so much room on the wire.

That’s why IPTV addresses a more pressing need for SBC, which is replacing its major copper phone cables with speedy optical fiber. SBC is not, however, replacing the local lines to every home, as Verizon is.

The stock examples of an IPTV future include caller ID, e-mail and voice mail on the television; programming a digital video recorder via cell phone; pulling up data during a sports match to see how an athlete’s record; and watching a show from multiple camera angles.

At a minimum, both SBC and Verizon expect to offer an interactive program guide that might enable viewers to watch a sample clip, program a digital video recorder, pull up information about the actors and director or search for other shows on a related topic or from the same genre.

SBC has indicated it may offer other interactive features from the outset such as the ability to program one’s home digital video recorder over the Internet.

Blogs in Business

Dave Pollard writes:

The value propositions for blogs in business are:

* They make contributing information simpler, easier, and more automatic
* They make it easier to update information on a timely basis
* They make information more context rich
* They allow the authors of key business information to build and retain ‘pride of ownership’
* They make contributing information more fun, since it becomes more like ‘publishing’
* Each individual’s ‘collection’ of shared information is easy to define and assess at performance evaluation time
* They make information easier to route, to ‘subscribe’ to, to canvass and to ‘mine’

See what I mean? All nice-to-haves, but not enough urgency to survive the budget cuts.

I think, as a result, business will embrace blogs (1) when they finally do get an executive sponsor, and (2) when they have no choice. An executive sponsor who is passionate about blogs and has authority to move ‘pet’ projects forward can push blogging initiatives through even in the absence of a broad sense of urgency. The designers of blog tools could make this happen sooner if they reinvented the tools to improve worker productivity and work effectiveness — there is at least some sense of urgency about that.

The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time

Mobile PC has compiled a list. Here is how they define gadget:

What defines a “gadget” anyway?

* It has to have electronic and/or moving parts of some kind. Scissors count, but the knife does not.
* It has to be a self-contained apparatus that can be used on its own, not a subset of another device. The flashlight counts; the light bulb does not. The notebook counts, but the hard drive doesn’t.
* It has to be smaller than the proverbial bread box. This is the most flexible of the categories, since gadgets have gotten inexorably smaller over time. But in general we included only items that were potentially mobile: The Dustbuster counts; the vacuum cleaner doesn’t.

The top 5:
1. APPLE POWERBOOK 100, 1991
2. ZENITH SPACE COMMAND TV REMOTE CONTROL, 1956
3. SONY WALKMAN, 1979
4. MOTOROLA STARTAC, 1996
5. CDI MECHANICAL MOUSE MODEL 4-101, 1970

TECH TALK: Best of Future Tech: Part 4

Two columns in August 2004 (11 and 25) discussed the notion of the computing Kumbh Mela. Every twelve years or so, the world of computing sees major breakthroughs which transform the landscape. Think of this as the computing equivalent of the Kumbh Mela. The last major breakthrough was during 1992-94 when the launch of Microsoft Windows 3.1, Intels Pentium processor, SAPs R/3, and the web browser Mosaic heralded an unprecedented period of all-round growth until the slowdown in the early part of this decade. The next computing Kumbh Mela should be just around the corner. What will it be?

My answer: The next big thing in computing will be about building a platform which makes the two most important creations of the past the computer and the Internet available to the next users at a fraction of todays prices. What emerging markets like India need is the equivalent of a tech utility which makes available commPuting as a utility to the masses. A centralised platform that makes available computing as a service and accessible via thin clients over a high-speed broadband infrastructure, neighbourhood computing centres that provide access on a pay-per-use basis, a community-centric content platform which makes available local information and helps small businesses connect with each other, and investments in education and healthcare to make sure they reach rural people these are the elements of the tech utility.

The September 8 column discussed the characteristics of the New and Next Net — Always-on, Ubiquitous, High-speed, On-demand, Multi-format, Two-way, Personalised and Not Free. This New Internet will make possible path-breaking applications and services. From voice-over-IP which will allow phone calls anywhere in the country for a flat fee to video-on-demand which can provide education and entertainment to users when they want it, from software-as-a-service for businesses to automate all their processes to multi-player gaming platforms which will transform leisure time, the New Internet will create new opportunities as well as threaten conventional business models. It will force players in computing, entertainment, consumer electronics and entertainment to tread into each other’s territories.

Innovation in India was the subject of the September 22 column. India needs to build an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship to build upon its success in services to occupy centrestage in the world of technology in the years to come First, we need entrepreneurs willing to take risk Second, we need early-stage venture capital and mentoring for the start-ups Third, entrepreneurs with the initial capital will need mentoring Fourth, we need talent willing to join start-ups Finally, there is a need to focus on the middle of the pyramid market.

Tomorrow: Part 5

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