Shawn Lippert writes: “The Personal Mobile Communication devices of the future will thrive with platforms that can support many applications. One application is Symbian OS that you find on most Smart Phones and new PDA’s. Opera also makes a browser that looks like a windows browser with easy to use menus. What is going to be great about these wireless and Mobile devices is the integration and support of services. These services are going to include personal streaming radio, TV on demand, News bursts, Customized Search with pictures, links, and optional preferences that let you link to an all in one account for all you Needs that would include E-Wallet, E-Mail, and a Portable phone number that you can take from one device to another. However this phone number will change to VOIP as it catches on. Wireless and Mobile devices of the future will integrate GPS features with information services.”
Companies like Microsoft and Google are great examples of how today’s info-based economy lets businesses create vast shareholder wealth using very little financial capital but loads of human capital. Software firms are hardly the only examples. Pharmaceutical firms like Lilly and Amgen, retailers like Kohl’s and Walgreen, even manufacturers like Dell and Applied Materials are all devising business models that generate tons of wealth with very little capital. The phenomenon is global. The world is steadily becoming less capital-intensive, generating more wealth from less financial capital. Money isn’t what today’s firms need most. Even if it were, it’s abundant and cheap–look at all those buyout firms trying to invest more money than they know what to do with. No, the best companies understand what they desperately need. It’s talent. Talent of every type is in short supply, but the greatest shortage of all is skilled, effective managers. It’s hard to believe that China could have a shortage of anything human, but it does. Even there, where you can hire factory workers by the million, companies can’t find enough managers. “They’re constantly getting stolen away,” says Tom Johnson, former CEO of Chesapeake Corp., a packaging maker with a plant in China. “Labor is abundant, but management is scarce.”
The most valued traits in managers, especially if they’re approaching the highest levels, are not entirely what they were five or ten years ago. Obviously they still have to deliver knockout results. It’s how they do it that’s changing.
In October, Software released Composite Application Integrator, which helps companies build Ajax applications by automating the coding and the engineering. The offering, which costs 599 ($736) per developer seat, interacts with CentraSite, another Ajax product that Software developed jointly with Fujitsu Ltd.
Sun Microsystems Inc. is adding Ajax support to its new Java Studio Creator 2. The test version of the product has had more than 20,000 downloads. Dan Roberts, Sun’s director of marketing for developer tools, calls this level of interest “huge,” reflecting Ajax’s popularity.
Salesforce.com Inc. has also developed a free Ajax tool kit for outside developers adding software to salesforce’s AppExchange site. And BEA Systems Inc. has Ajax support in its AquaLogic User Interaction product.
Bill Burnham writes:
The real innovations yet to emerge are coming on the supply side of web. And they are coming into being primarily as a result of the confluence of three important trends: social networking, search, structured blogging.
RSS and its extensions on the demand side, combined with structured personal (and business) websites and search on the supply side will transform the web from a passive entity into the Active Web and will comprise the first major step towards a more autonomous web that adds real value to peoples daily lives without requiring constant effort and input.
Jeff Jarvis wrote a blog post entitled Deconstructing the Newspaper. Around the same time, there was a Business Week column by Jon Fine entitled The Daily Paper of Tomorrow. Put this along with declining advertising dollars for print (with a shift to the Internet) and one can see a need for change. In India, though, the situation is quite different. If anything, more newspaper editions are on their way. Looking ahead, in the Indian context, the combination of the three screens (TV, computer connected to the Internet and mobile) will impact reading habits. But we will get to that a little later.
Newspapers waste too much money on ego, habit, and commodity news the public already knows. In an era of shrinking circulation, classified, and retail ad revenue and in the face of shrinking audience and increasing competition papers have to find new efficiencies and cut these expenses to concentrate instead on their real value (which, Ill argue, is local reporting).
Newspapers also have to have the guts to stop trying to produce one-size-fits-all products that serve every possible reader and interest in one edition. When they were monopolies, newspapers tried to have something for everyone so they would attract the largest possible audience and assure their status as the marketplaces in their markets. But today, that can be terribly inefficient: What is the real cost of maintaining stock tables for the few readers who still use them in print? More on that below.
And newspapers have to take an even more frightening step: They need to start driving readers from print to online.
Jeff made a telling point: When reality catches up to advertisers, and when buying ads online in a distributed world is made easier and that will happen will newspapers be ready? When that day does come, newspapers will even have to consider selling print as a value-added upgrade to online, the reverse of what is done today.
Jeff had a harsh prescription for the newspapers. Stock tables have to goReduce coverage [of national news] to digests and major newsPersonal finance is more of a national story than a local oneTV listings are a gonerEntertainment listings work best online if they are comprehensive and searchableSyndicate sports columnistsNational sports coverage is a luxurySyndicated features like bridge and advice columns, similarly, get no ad revenue and have nothing to do with the local mission of a paper.
Jeff suggests that newspapers focus on local news. Local news is what should matter most to a newspaperThe essence of a newspaper is local news with some other services and distractions. It is important for newspapers to boil themselves down to their essence and figure out how to do better at providing that unique and valuable service.
The point newspapers need to ponder: What is the role of a newspaper in a community and in readers lives. If it is still expected to be all things to all people in a nichey world, Im afraid the business will not work. Thats why newspapers need to figure out their essence.
Tomorrow: More Comments