Fortune Small Business writes about Microsoft dispatching anthropologists into the field to study small businesses.
Microsoft divides entrepreneurs into four broad groups, based on their degree of comfort with information technology. Each segment is represented by its own individual persona. At the Luddite end of the spectrum we find “Jerry,” a construction contractor for the past 20 years. Jerry is a lean, fortysomething white guy with close-cropped hair and a tight smile that may reflect his discomfort with computers (or with his new briefs.) Jerry uses e-mail because his customers demand it, but he’d rather just call them on the phone or meet up in person. He owns two elderly PCs, one for himself and another for his secretary. Jerry’s business is suffering from his lack of basic digital literacy. His secretary complains that her computer is slow, and Jerry is falling behind on billing and scheduling tasks.
At the opposite end of the tech spectrum, “William” maintains six brand-new PCs at his fast-growing financial services practice, all networked on a server. William is an owlish, amiable-looking accountant who bears a passing resemblance to the actor Bill Cosby. William organizes all his sales and marketing contacts in Business Contact Manager, and he employs a part-time IT whiz who prepares reports for him using Access, a Microsoft database application. But William still wants to boost his Internet presence and marketing capabilities in order to compete with local financial services chains.
Jonathan Schwartz points to a discussion (PDF file) at the UN recently.
[It] was moderated by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Editor of Internet and Technology Fortune Magazine. He was joined by:
John Gage, chief researcher at Sun Microsystems and member of the United Nations Information and Communications Technology Taskforce
Dr. Djibril Diallo, chair of the United Nations series of youth leadership summits
Justin Shaffer, VP and Chief Architect for Major League Baseball Advanced Media L.P.
Andrew Zolli, technologist and futurist-in-residence at National Public Radio and National Geographic
Chris Anderson, Founder of TED
Russell Buckley writes:
Crandy is the first independent company in Europe to be issued with an E-Bank Licence. This allows them to operate a mobile payment system and believe me, these things aren’t easy to get hold of.
Crandy allows you to do a number of things with your mobile.
You can transfer money to other Crandy users and top up your prepay card, from your phone. These are very important services. Partly, as they drive recruitment of members organically. But partly, as they cover the time lag between recruiting a member base and having merchants on board – there’s no point in having a payment method that you can’t use while everyone waits for merchants to be arrive.
However, increasingly, you’ll be able to use Crandy to pay at vending machines and parking meters. And to purchase mobile content. They even allow users cheap phone calls and sms.
Russell has more on mobile payments.
The New York Times writes:
In 1991, David Gelernter, a computer scientist at Yale, proposed using software to create a computer simulation of the physical world, making it possible to map everything from traffic flow and building layouts to sales and currency data on a computer screen.
Mr. Gelernter’s idea came a step closer to reality in the last few weeks when both Google and Yahoo published documentation making it significantly easier for programmers to link virtually any kind of Internet data to Web-based maps and, in Google’s case, satellite imagery.
Since the Google and Yahoo tools were released, their uses have been demonstrated in dozens of ways by hobbyists and companies, including an annotated map guide to the California wineries and restaurants that appeared in the movie “Sideways” and instant maps showing the locations of the recent bombing attacks in London.
Later this summer, Microsoft plans to introduce a competing service, Virtual Earth, with software that programmers will be able to use in similarly creative ways.
So far the uses have been noncommercial. But Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are creating the services with the expectation that they will become a focal point in one of the next significant growth areas in Internet advertising: contextual advertisements tied to specific locations. Such ads would be embedded in maps generated by a search query or run alongside them.
One of the conference tracks in CommunicAsia was on next-generation networks (NGN). NGN will have a big impact on the future of computing and communications as networks become converged, higher speed and ubiquitous, leading to the emergence of new services. In this series, we will explore NGN and discuss new applications. For countries like India, NGN offer a great opportunity to leapfrog to a state-of-the-art broadband infrastructure.
As we discussed in last weeks Tech Talk, South Koreas IT839 initiative offers some insights into tomorrows world of converged networks. As I wrote in my Business Standard column on CommunicAsia: Convergence is finally becoming a reality as the next-generation networks with all-IP cores are making it possible to have triple play services (voice, data and video) flow over the same network. Convergence is also happening in terms of the fixed line and wireless worlds in both the networks and handsets. Convergence technology drivers include SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and IMS (IP Multimedia System). There will be a time soon when our handsets will support WiFi and GSM/CDMA, such that in hotspots they would use WiFi to make and receive calls, while at other locations they would use the cellular networks.
This is what I wrote in my Tech Talk on Disruptions recently: For the most part, voice has been carried separately from data, while video has had its own network. Now, it is all changing as next-generation networks built around IP at their core, and voice and video are digitised. Voice becomes yet another application as is already happening with VoIP, and network TV shifts to networked TV (to borrow a phrase from Esther Dyson). IMS, MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) and SIP are some of the building blocks for these networks.
While I use the term next-generation network more broadly, here is how the ITU defines NGN: a packet-based network able to provide telecommunication services and able to make use of multiple broadband, QoS-enabled transport technologies and in which service-related functions are independent from underlying transport-related technologies. It enables unfettered access for users to networks and to competing service providers and/or services of their choice. It supports generalized mobility which will allow consistent and ubiquitous provision of services to users.
The promise is clear: a converged world where we can get the applications and services we want where we want them and on the device of our choice. This has been the Holy Grail in the telecom world for many years, but finally things seem to be coming together.
Tomorrow: The Rationale