Mobile Enterprise Pillars

Mobile Enterprise Weblog has a post by Michael Sampson on “The 7 Pillars of IT-Enabled Team Productivity” built around “enabling employees to access team data, people and applications from any physical location is one important aspect of an overall collaboration environment.” The 7 pillars:

1. Shared Access to Team Data
2. Location-Independent Access to Team Data, People and Applications
3. Real-Time Joint Editing and Review
4. Coordinate Schedules with Team Aware Scheduling Software
5. Build Social Engagement through Presence, Blogs and IM.
6. Enterprise Action Management.
7. Broaden the Network through Automatic Discovery Services

New York Times Dashboards

David Weinberger writes:

…starting in April, NYTimes.com is going to publish thousands of topic pages, each aggregating the content from the 10 million articles in its archive, going back to 1851, including graphics and multimedia resources. [NOTE: They are not opening their archive. The content will likely be descriptions created for the Times Index; you’ll still have to pay to see articles in the archive.] Topics that get their own page might include Boston, Terrorism, Cloning, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Condoleeza Rice. News stories will link to these topic pages. And the Times must hope these pages, with their big fat permanent addresses, may start rising in Google’s rankings.

I think this may bring about two crises (“crisis” in the old sense of crossroads):

First, if the topic pages don’t give away enough information, if they have too many enticing links that make us pay $2.95 to retrieve the article, they will position The Times as a hoarder rather than as an authority; initially, they are thinking about publishing the summaries written for The Times Index, not the archived articles themselves.* It’s crucial to our trust in newspapers that we feel they are on our side, working to make us all better informed; it will be a sad day for the mainstream media when we lose that sense.

Second, the first comparison we’re all going to make is to the Wikipedia page on the same topic. My guess is that, while nothing can duplicate The Times’ 150 years of cultural artifacts if they’re made freely available*, we’re going to find the Wikipedia page more useful, more current, more neutral, and more linked into the Web. If we don’t, we’ll edit the Wikipedia page until it’s better. And then we’ll link it to the NYTimes.com topic page. In this head-on comparison between what the best of the closed systems can do with what the newest of the open systems comes up with, you’ll hear the groan of the hawser as the ship of trust changes berths.

Cell Phone Ads that Consumers Love

[via Pavan] HBS Working Knowledge writes:

Flytxt, founded in 2000, was one of the initial practitioners of mobile marketing and an early advocate of permission-based communication. The company was formed by three friends drawn from the venture capital, consulting, and technology industries.

As Flytxt’s cofounder and director of corporate development, Pamir Gelenbe, formerly of Morgan Stanley, explains it, “We were involved in the IPO of a company providing content for the ‘mobile Internet.’ Morgan Stanley invested in Iobox, a portal with a valuation of $25 million that offered free messaging to its members. The company was sold six months later to the Spanish telecom firm Terra for $200 million. That convinced us that messaging was the way to go. However, given the money flowing to start-ups at the time, the company faced a competitive landscape.” But Flytxt’s founders had a novel idea.

Flytxt’s take on the business proposed that consumers would be most interested in joining text-based “clubs” affiliated with certain brands. At first the company had difficulty convincing potential clients that permission-based marketing was both a viable and an effective model. The founders spent months working to secure a November 2000 assignment from EMAP Publishing’s music magazine Smash Hits. Flytxt’s marketing program for the magazine asked readers to text-message biographical details such as age and gender to a special number, thus enabling the magazine to alert them to news about album releases, celebrity goings-on, and other facts of specific interest to the individual. The goal was to build reader loyalty while compiling a database about their tastes through interactive dialogue.

Once potential advertisers saw the company’s marketing model operating successfully, clients as well as competitive start-ups recognized its power. Mobile marketing offered a new, extremely potent means of building affiliation with the users of a given product. And it could easily garner vast amounts of data about the product’s audience. This was a super-targeted effort that couldn’t possibly be anything other than successful.

XForms

InfoWorld writes:

XForms is an entirely legitimate offspring because it achieves two worthwhile purposes: It further elevates the position of XML as the medium of exchange for Web site data, and it eliminates a number of weaknesses in standard HTML forms. (Thats a polite way of saying that the premier goal of XForms is to replace HTML forms.)

For those unfamiliar with HTML forms, a form is a part of a Web page an input field, a text box, a radio button that includes an input control. XForms, meanwhile, is built on an MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture. The structural details of the data manipulated by a Web form are purposely separated from the forms visual details. Thus, XForms code that describes the data to be input and output is not entangled with the code that displays that data a common problem with HTML forms.

Indeed, XForms takes things a step further, leaving the visual details of the display entirely up to the user interface. For example, in HTML forms the multiple options presented by a “select” tag are rendered as a menu. In XForms, the programmer can render those options in other ways. In other words, the display portion of an XForms form describes the intent of the forms controls, not their appearance.

All this factoring makes XForms easier to work with than HTML forms. For example, a change in the structure of the data requires less alteration of the display code. In addition, data is exchanged between Web form and server using XML. And XForms can call upon its cousins XSL and XPath for input format and type validation (for example, making sure that a quantity input field contains a positive integer), as well as for calculations and special formatting.

Consequently, much of a forms business logic that must now be done by scripting can instead be done by XForms. The result is cleaner, and easier to read as well as maintain.

Alternate Reality Video Games

The New York Times has a story from News.com:

These games are intensely complicated series of puzzles involving coded Web sites, real-world clues like the newspaper advertisements, phone calls in the middle of the night from game characters and more. That blend of real-world activities and a dramatic storyline has proven irresistible to many.

“It’s a very addictive form of entertainment,” said Steve Peters, a Las Vegas musician who is one of the founders of the Alternate Reality Gaming Network, a set of Web sites devoted to the topic. “People stay up all night; it really is very immersive.”

It’s exactly that dedication that has made alternate-reality games powerful marketing mechanisms. The two biggest games so far have been associated with products: Stephen Spielberg’s “A.I.” movie and Microsoft’s “Halo 2.” Advertising executives say it’s a promising tool.

“When other people are missionaries for your brand, you’ve got something special,” said Jordan Fisher, director of brand planning at Perceive, an advertising agency in Los Angeles. “The brand becomes something much bigger, has a purpose rather than being just another product on the shelf.”

TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Web and Information Models

The five trends that we discussed — user-generated content, RSS, mobile phones, broadband and internationalisation have profound implications on the way we will access information going ahead. Even though we have come a long towards getting information on our fingertips, we are not really there yet. As we look at the fourth generation of search (after Yahoos directories, Altavistas crawlers, Googles PageRank), we need to rethink the model of the Web and the world around us. This will help us consider what next-generation search will be all about.

Rich Skrenta has kicked off the discussion in this direction with a recent post pointing out the difference between the Reference Web and the Incremental Web:

Google searches the reference Internet. Users come to google with a specific query, and search a vast corpus of largely static information. This is a very valuable and lucrative service to provide: it’s the Yellow Pages.
Blogs may look like regular HTML pages, but the key difference is that they’re organized chronologically. New posts appear at the top, so with a single browser reload you can say “Just show me what’s new.”

This seems like a trivial difference, but it drives an entirely different delivery, advertising and value chain. Rather than using HTML, the delivery protocol for web pages, there is a desire for a new, feed-centric protocol: RSS. To search chronologically-ordered content, a relevance-based search that destroys the chronology such as Google is inappropriate. Instead you want Feedster, PubSub or Technorati. Feed content may be better to read in a different sort of client, such as Newsgator, rather than a web browser.

There are 4-8 million active blogs now. At this size, you can still “know” the top bloggers, and find new posts worth reading by clicking around. But when the blogosphere grows 100X or 1000X, the current discovery model will break down. You’ll need algorithmic techniques like Topix.net or a Findory to channel the most relevant material from the constant flood of new content.

After I read the post, this was my immediate reaction:

Rich is on the right track, but there are a few additional points which need thinking:

– We need to think beyond just text to multimedia for mass-market content creation and management. [Think Flickr.]
– In emerging markets like India, the mobile and not the computer will be at the heart of the Incremental Web.
– The interface has to go beyond the search box to more natural navigational interfaces. [Think Speech.]
– The published content is being amplified/tagged by the mass market — this also needs to be taken into account. [Think Del.icio.us.]
– A user’s “subscriptions” will be the filter through which the user will want to see the Incremental Web. [Think RSS+OPML.]

Next Week: The Future of Search (continued)

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