Reuters CEO Speech

Jeff Jarvis live-blogged a speech by the CEO of Reuters, Tom Glocer:

He says that media historians will see the acquisition of MySpace by News Corp as a turning point. Sites like Myspace are rebuilding our world because they provide a means for anyone who has anything to share to do so. What we are seeing today is an almost continuing talent show.

Technology is creating a kind of weird, hybrid world of mashups, he says. He recognizes a demand for this new kind of creativity and there is also an advertising demand for it.

What has really changed is the nature of publishing, a Gutenbergian transformation that involves both tools and distribution.

SaaS Predictions

Amy Wohl makes some predictions about the software-as-a-service market:

1) This market is growing in a serious way. I would expect a company of any] size to be able to purchase all of the software function it wants and needs as a service, rather than as traditional software, installed within its own firewall, within 3 to 5 years.

(2) Of course, I don’t expect every company to want to move all of its IT needs to the SaaS platform in that time period. I do expect even large companies to move functions that are used only occasionally or only by small numbers of users to an outside service provider.

(3) SaaS will increasingly look like a great solution for commodity problems like Email, for companies of any size. Remember, having Email supported by SaaS means outsourcing your Spam problems, too, and most of your virus problems as well.

(4) Look for large traditional software players to start to seriously offer SaaS-based alternatives to their traditional software offerings. These have to be serious, full-function alternatives rather than Microsoft’s recent foray into on-line services, offering incremental services to Office users, but still requiring the customer to install Office on every workstation and multiple Microsoft servers within the firewall.

(5) Watch the innovator companies like Google figure out how to be SaaS vendors beyond the consumer function they offer now. Inevitably, they’ll offer software to the small business market and they may decide to move beyond that into services that appeal to the remote workers of large companies, for example.

Mobile Context Importance

Rudy De Waele points to a post by Kelly Goto: “Traveling through a remote area in the south of Spain has caused me to rethink the importance of context in the mobile user experience. Without an active internet connection (only available through a much-used public hotel lobby) I have started to rely on my mobile as more than just a business tool or communication device – it is a lifeline. I have been able to recieve urgent SMS messages and email through my P910a and it has offered much comfort knowing I can reach my colleagues, friends and family at any time. Context is the missing piece of most testing and research methods, because during a normal usability test or a short interview, it is impossible to gain insight on the true emotional impact and lifestyle needs the mobile device has on its owner.”

Tracking Data

David Hornik writes: “As long as I have been working with startups, i’ve seen the power of iteration. The businesses that have succeeded have been the ones that carefully track the key variables that drive success and then work tirelessly to find new and creative ways to positively impact those variables. Web businesses endlessly tweak user acquisition strategies, user retention models, virality and the like. Price optimization companies work to pinpoint the key variables that have the greatest influence upon acquisition, retention and profitability; they then use their customer’s incoming data to continually revamp the statistical models and maximize the value of the customer base as a whole. Practically everything that impacts a startups business can be modeled, tracked and measured and the most successful entrepreneurs can never have enough data upon which to act and react.”

Better Search

Fred Wilson writes:

Text search works well enough to be useful, but it doesnt work well.

And before we get close to perfecting text search, we are off to new horizons with audio search, video search, etc. Will Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Ask and others continue to invest in improving text search or move their efforts to searching other forms of media? I suppose the answer is both but clearly there is an impression among many that text search has been done and that impression is wrong.

I believe there is opportunity in improving text search, but few investors want to take on Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others by backing another search company for good reasons.

What if we had an open source search engine that everyone working in and around the area of search could plug into? The companies working in tagging, shared searching, audio and video search could offer their results/indexes to the open source search engine so that their meta data could be considered in preparing the best results? Could this work? And what would the business models be for the companies supplying the meta data? And would consumers adopt such an engine?

TECH TALK: The Value of Vision: Thinking Vision

So, how does one go about building a vision of tomorrows world? Here are some things that Ive found useful over the years:

Read Widely: I think reading broadly is very important. Ive found ideas and insights coming from the unlikeliest of reading material. Books, magazines and blogs can all be good fodder for the mind. Very often, I find people limiting what they read based on their interests. This is not a good idea. It tends to narrow ones outlook.

Talk to People: Talking to others is a very good way to building out a vision of tomorrow. One needs to have a base set of ideas for discussion. Beyond that, finding what different people react to and how can help sharpen the vision. There isnt much to worry about other people copying ones ideas. If it is that simple, then one better be thinking something different! Talking to people also helps distill out the message much better rather than playing around with it in ones own mind.

Write a Blog: Writing is another way to share and get feedback. In the nearly five years that Ive been writing the blog, I have found very good insights coming from people. Blogging also forces a discipline of reading and getting the key message out to people.

Deep Think: Thinking is easier said than done. To think means to be able to drill deep down and figure out from first principles the key tenets of the vision. This requires going beyond the superficial and in our world of interruptions, this can be hard to do. Some of my best thinking happens when I am traveling especially in flights.

Learn from History: One can learn a lot from previous case studies of successes and failures. Just because something failed earlier doesnt mean it is likely to always fail the idea may have been ahead of its time. Also, learning from different disciplines can be quite helpful in building out the vision.

Use New Technology: One has to experiment and try out new technologies early. This gives a glimpse of tomorrows world. There will be some pain and even some glitches. But the trajectory of innovation will ensure that things become faster, better and cheaper. That future world is what one has to build for.

Travel: Going to different places is a great way to learn. Free from the physical limitations of the office, the mind starts to wander free. Seeing how people do things in other places and putting oneself in different scenarios can be very educative.

Iterate: Finally, one has to experiment and iterate through with new ideas. Think of these as stepping stones along the path. One must not be afraid of failure. Feedback from the real world should help in fine-tuning the vision.

As we look ahead, we need to build the world of tomorrow. We must not be afraid to think and dream big. In doing so, vision will play a key role as entrepreneurs seek to construct the future. Will combined with vision can make all the difference.

Continue reading