Mobiles in Enterprises

Danny Shader of Good Technology says in an interview:

With cell phones becoming incredibly powerful, the line between cell phones and computers is blurring. But the modalitythe way people use themis very different. Today, a lot of people think of their laptops as mobile, but I think laptops are portable meaning you take them from place to place, interact with them, and then turn them off. These handheld cellular things, on the other hand, are always on, always connected, and always available for instant interaction at the point of business.

The first thing people seem to want to do is send e-mail, but it goes way beyond that: They want to access corporate data. Notice I didn’t say corporate applications, because the application interface is different when you’re in a truly mobile environmentwalking down the street, dealing with customers, and so onbut the data sources are the same. So a significant amount of the work that people are doing on laptops today is going to migrate into these handhelds, which means it’s going to be a gigantic category. But because the data sources are the same and because some (but not all) of the same applications are going to need to run, people are going to want to use standard development toolswhich means that the standard operating systems are going to win in this world.

I wouldn’t call mobile devices computers because the word computer connotes certain things. But it’s clear that in Asia and Europe (for different reasons) people are using their cell phones for more than just telephony.

Information Innovations

John Jordan writes:

The world of data has entered a notably rich period of evolution. Search technologists at a variety of startups and deep-pocketed incumbents are engaged in an arms race, with new tools and capabilities appearing almost weekly. (Examples include A9’s Open Search, Ziggs, Picasa, Browster, Oodle, and EVDB.) RSS is expanding beyond news and blog feeds. Tagging and other bottom-up classification methods, including wikis, are growing at a phenomenal rate.

Why do these matter? Taken in the aggregate, they reflect a new set of assumptions about people and what they do with information. Depending on how things unfold, we might get much closer to wide usability than the hard-coded obtuseness of a relational database or enterprise application typically allows. Rather than having to know some arbitrarily defined, precise syntax to get from A to B, for example, people can both name and define something themselves and then trust new search and display techniques to learn what they need to know.

All in all, it’s hard to project where the co-evolution of wikis, tags, XML, search, and databases will lead. Google has shown that relational databases don’t scale infinitely, but indexing and search just might. In the other corner of the heavyweight boxing ring, Yahoo’s purchase of Flickr gives it access to new technologies and not accidentally a way of looking at the world that will certainly bear fruits in the future. On the client side, new technologies in cell phones have the potential to add location to the context equation, with huge implications for both privacy and relevance. Having end-user appliances that are simultaneously a sensor (whether fixed, like the A9 search history, or mobile) and an input/output device changes the game still further.

Siebel and Salesforce

ZDNet contrasts the strategies of the two companies in the CRM market:

Siebel and Salesforce.com have two different approaches to the same problem. Siebel is focused on delivering prepackaged applications targeting different industry verticals. “We’re committed to delivering companies at least 80 percent of the functionality customers need, and then provide them with the ability to configure those applications to make up the last 20 percent,” said Bruce Cleveland, who worked with [Marc] Benioff and many other software-as-a-service pioneers at Oracle and is Siebel’s senior vice president and general manager of OnDemand and SMB business.

“We have a difference of opinion on who should pay for [customization]. We do 80 percent for industry-specific editions. Salesforce has a toolkit and lets customers customize on their own. We reach the same endpoint,” Cleveland told me. “Marc’s [Benioff] approach might work for smaller companies or accounts with fewer requirements, but we didn’t create 22 vertical editions for altruistic reasons. We got our teeth kicked in walking into enterprises that wanted 80 percent [solutions] and not having to pay us to do the work to sell into their industry. When you walk into an Ingersoll-Rand, they want you to have figured out the [industry specific] customization and do it for them. They want to tweak and change things, but not wholesale reengineering. Marc will find this out when he is selling upstream.”

Phill Robinson, senior vice president of global marketing at Salesforce.com, counters: “We have a very different strategy than Siebel. We give customers the ability to use Customforce to make our product unique to the way their businesses work. Customforce takes hours, not days and months or years [to implement]. Siebel has cookie cutter vertical editions that won’t be specific enough to meet customer needs. They are stuck with the old client-server way of customization, which is expensive and difficult.”

Syndisphere

Steve Gillmor writes:

In this ecosystem the contract is based on continued attention, not captured attention…In the Syndisphere once youve signed on, it takes more effort than its worth to sign off. Unsubscribing requires real motivation.

Branded aggregators are the order of the day, as publications try to stem the tide away from their portals and into the Syndisphere. As we move from the page view model to the attention model, publishers are playing a futile game of chickenwaiting for their competitors to jump into feed advertising first. Google and Overture have already made the new rules clear: advertising will only work if it is perceived as information.

TECH TALK: When Things Go Wrong: Why Failure Happens (Part 2)

No Profit Engine: Entrepreneurs tend to jump on to the next new thing even before theyve got a solid foothold into the marketplace. This happens because they are enamoured by the ideas and the belief is that thinking about the problem is as good as solving it! They thus fail to build a profit engine, which can be the foundation for future growth.

Diffused Focus: Entrepreneurs tend to be creative people and have a different view of the world. They are fascinated by new ideas. As a result, the focus on the present can get reduced and diffused. Focus is critical for an early-stage venture, and this is not something an entrepreneur can delegate. It is the entrepreneurs mind which knows what needs to get done and can navigate with a compass, rather than a map. But, a laser-like focus is needed on ensuring that the first product succeeds and can be converted into a profit engine.

Analysis Paralysis: When things start going wrong, entrepreneurs tend to go into a frame of mind which causes them to over-analyse the situation. As a result, decisions which need to be made quickly for the course correction dont happen and the situation worsens. An entrepreneurs brilliant and analytical mind can, at times like these, become a liability. This is where an entrepreneur needs external sounding boards people who will hold a mirror to the reality of the business.

No Accountability: Entrepreneurs feel that they are a law unto themselves and they can do no wrong. They think they know it all and others dont have the context to understand either the market or the business. This supreme feeling of confidence can lead to a lack of accountability. Every entrepreneur needs some checks and balances and this is unlikely to come from within the organisation.

An entrepreneur is one by choice. Even when things go wrong, few will walk away. They will instead hang on there and fight it out. In most cases of failure, it is probably a combination of factors which leads the entrepreneur to go wrong. Recognition of the failure is the first step towards getting back on track. Entrepreneurs dont force themselves into failure and yet, it is their actions which can threaten the business. It is times like these that test the mettle of the entrepreneur.

No amount of theory can guide a business. At the end of the day, it is an entrepreneurs gut that will guide the business. There will be ups and downs in fact, there will be more downs than ups over the course of the early days of the business. For an entrepreneur, each day is different with its own set of challenges. Each day, the entrepreneur works towards reducing the risk of failure. Yet, at times, some of these very steps can push a business deeper into the mire.

This is the ultimate reality game. One, which needs to be played, to be experienced. One, in which the journey itself is the ultimate prize. It is a journey where failure is the ultimate teacher. Failure is bound to happen. What the entrepreneur does when things go wrong is the real litmus test that decides how successful the business and the entrepreneur — becomes.

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